One Hundred Days of Hunting
by Kaas Baichtal
I saw him today. He's definitely the one. Young, unmarried, childless. Not a virgin, of course, the Tecton would never allow that. But innocent of love.
It was the courier job that turned him up. I'm glad now I didn't quit it. It had seemed like such a good idea when I took it; all those pickups and dropoffs to the World Controller's office and the District offices and the big City Sime Centers should have given me several chances to come face to face with Farrises. But it turns out they all hide behind secretaries and clerks and aides and even lesser channels. I had almost given up on that particular tactic, and on the job.
But today, when I made a dropoff at the Inner Norwestern Regional Office, there he was, waiting for an appointment. It was his scent I noticed first. Strange, like exotic herbs. I looked up at him as I was leaving and that's when I realized what he was.
I have a very vivid picture of it in my mind. He was standing in the waiting area, ignoring the chairs. He was so tall, like a prince. He looked down at me when he felt my attention on him, and for an instant his eyes focused, his own attention met mine. On the way out, I asked the outer office who that was waiting for the Regional Controller and they told me his name. It was nobody I'd heard of.
I've done some checking, though, and he's for real. A Farris channel. Not of the Zeor line, but no less genuine for that. He was born, and is stationed, in a town called New Othwol in Norwest Territory. They said he'd only be here for two weeks, on business of course. Two weeks will be enough though. He was in hard need when I saw him. I'm due tomorrow.
Now all I have to figure out is how to see him again.
A wasted day. I quit the courier job and applied for a clerk position and a janitorial job at the Inner Norwestern Regional Office. They said they'll let me know within the week. It's a long shot, but then so was the courier thing.
Spent the day inquiring at hotels. First I tried the ones near the Inner Norwestern Regional Office, and then I worked my way back toward the train station. No luck so far, but at least I know where he isn't staying.
[later the same night]
Aha! I was looking through the bio sheets I found at the library, and discovered he never stays at hotels, only the Tecton employee housing. I knew these gossip sheets would be good for something, some day.
It's a City Sime Center, the one in the Financial District. Small, but it does have three rooms for travelling personnel. I was able to verify that he's staying there when I applied for a maid position.
I've been reading these bio pages more carefully. Some of this information is not very encouraging. It says he has no hobbies, and no interests. He is intensely private, with few close friends and rarely even leaves whatever Sime Center he is working at. He just works and sleeps - that is, when he sleeps. How do you woo somebody like that?
I have to see him again. Neither the Inner Norwestern Regional Office or the Financial District City Sime Center has made a decision about hiring yet. I tried walking past the City Sime Center several times today, but the window to his room was dark. He must go back there only to sleep. Maybe he doesn't go back there at all.
[later the same night]
I broke down and bought a copy of the Tattler just to see if there were any sightings. None. Maybe he's not famous enough, although most Farrises rate a mention. He must be holed up in the Inner Norwestern Regional Office.
I think I scared the hiring woman at the Inner Norwestern Regional Office silly today. I don't think I'll be getting any job there. I'll have to be more careful with the City Sime Center. I'll wait until they contact me. I can't risk losing that chance too.
[later - around 2:00 AM]
I saw him again!!!!! I have taken to lurking outside the City Sime Center hoping to catch him stopping in for something. A Tecton marked carriage pulled up and let him out. Unfortunately, two guys, guards they looked like, escorted him to the door. It was too risky to try to approach him then, but I got a wonderful view.
He moves so gracefully. Not just Sime-graceful, but blood-graceful. His face shows it too, not only his Farrisness but the aristocracy of his other families as well. And his nager was much more zlinnable, outside of that stuffy waiting room. So majestic, like an ocean.
I have to talk to him. I have to find a way, somehow.
[later - around 4:00 AM]
I figured out a way. I knew this courier uniform would be useful for something.
It worked. I went into the Inner Norwestern Regional Office pretending I still worked for ZipQuick. I told them I had a package that had to be signed for by him, and that it was urgent. They said he was working a shift, and I told them it was an emergency.
They took me to a small room to wait. I was all alone. I couldn't sit down, I was so pumped up. Finally he came in. He was wearing a disposable gown over his uniform and a mask hung around his neck. He looked tired, and sweaty. He zlinned distracted. His hands and forearms had been freshly scrubbed and as he took the package from me, his damp skin sent a jolt through me like an electric spark.
I let him zlin how strong my arousal was. The poor thing, he is a lot younger than he looks. His eyes widened as I tugged the package aside onto a table and then pushed him back up against the door.
"Give me a Farris child," I demanded of him. "That's all I ask of you, and I'll do anything you want in return for it."
Well, it was a start anyway.
It is obvious now that I went about it the wrong way. I should have sent him a letter first, explaining what I wanted in a businesslike fashion and describing how it could benefit him. A petition, rather than a demand, and one that gave him space and privacy to consider it. Perhaps he simply does not know how to react to a person face to face in anything but a professional situation.
My God, he was shaking like a leaf when he ordered me to keep my hands off him. The gossip sheets say he has never known the love of a woman, and from what I saw I believe them. The Tecton has technicians who can keep a channel healthy in that way, if it's necessary. If he knows no pastime but work, and no home but their employee housing, why should he not also use their technicians? It seems such a sterile, clinical way to remain a man. Maybe a person who works around the sick all day appreciates that, though.
I told my mother I am moving to New Othwol. She freaked out, predictably enough.
Was at the library today. It turns out New Othwol is almost two weeks away from here by train in midwinter, no wonder my mother threw such a tizz.
Can't get anywhere near either the Inner Norwestern Regional Office or the City Sime Center, now. They've stepped up security. Did something else happen, or is it all because of me? Probably the former, though there hasn't been anything in the news.
He'll have to leave almost immediately to reach New Othwol before he's due for transfer again. I took a quick trip down to the train station but there was too much there to scope out in only one night. I'll go back tomorrow.
The Tecton has special cars that the really important channels ride in. Red, with the Tecton symbol on them. Went down to the train station again and saw them in a side yard, dozens of them. I'm sure a Farris, any Farris, would rate a red car.
Asked around some to see if I could figure out what schedule he was heading out on, but the clerks were no dummies.
Really have to get cracking on moving out of my apartment. After five years, the place is full of junk.
Score! On impulse got up at 4 AM and went and dumpster dove the Inner Norwestern Regional Office. Found enough information on old paperwork that I was able to bogart my way into the offices for about 10 minutes. That was long enough to find someone who knew when he was leaving. Amazed I got out of there without being spotted by security. But I have what I want.
There's only one problem: he's leaving tomorrow morning first thing! I know what I'm going to be doing for the rest of today, frantically packing and throwing things out at my old place.
Took a break and watched them preparing red cars in their yard tonight. One of them is the one he'll be riding in. But which one?
Been so focused I never really thought about getting on a train and leaving Capitol for the first time in my life. Now I'm watching snow and farmland whizzing past. Very surreal. Can't wait to see New Othwol and find out what the jobs and housing are like.
Was up at the crack of dawn, went down to the trainyards and waited for our train to come in so I could see them attaching the red car. It's at the very tail, right before the signal car. Wish I could have watched him board, just to make sure he did. Guess they did that on the sly in a different yard.
This is the first time I've been truly relaxed in months. There's nothing I can do now but wait. There's a lot of freedom in that.
One thing does nag me: I don't know for certain it's him in that red car. It would be a good idea to find out, just so I am not worrying about it unnecessarily.
[a bit later]
Talked to the conductor and managed to get reseated in the second-to-last car. This way if he disembarks at one of the stops, I have a better chance of spotting him. A pity the red car has no window in its connecting door. I wonder if the door is locked? I wonder how many of these other people would notice if I got up and tried it?
Still no sign of him. Either he's not on board, or he's keeping a really low profile. You'd think he'd want to come out for a breath of fresh air now and then. On the plus side, I did see someone come out of that connective door about an hour ago. It was a Tecton escort.
Aha! Caught the escort coming back and asked who that was in there. It's him, all right. I feel so much better.
The train has stopped out in the middle of nowhere. A small avalanche dumped onto the tracks and will have to be dug out by hand before the train can proceed. All renSime passengers are helping, in shifts because there are only so many shovels. It will be good to do some augmenting, when my turn comes. Sitting in this seat with nothing to do but look out the window is starting to drive me nuts.
Been hoping he would go outside to stretch his legs a bit, but so far that red car has shown no sign of life whatsoever. That's too bad because if he came out now he'd have to come out right in front of me. I'll keep watching until my turn comes.
Can't believe I've been on this damn train for five days, and I haven't seen him even once. I've got to find a way into that red car.
OK... maybe I went too far. No, I definitely went too far. But I don't regret it for one moment.
Once I'd planted the idea in her head, the little girl couldn't possibly resist. I had been watching her run back and forth from car to car for days. Mischievous little punk, be a terror when she's a teenager. Finally I arranged to run into her in one of the connecting passages. There, where it was too loud for anyone to overhear, I told her what the emergency stop cord does.
As I'd figured, several Gens were up walking around and got injured. That worked brilliantly as far as getting my coy Farris out of his bright red shell. Unfortunately, I didn't see much of him on the way out because as soon as the train had come to a complete stop, he flew out that door like the nine hells were behind him.
Well, with any luck, he'll come back in a more leisurely fashion once the injuries and transfers have been tended to. I wonder if he'll recognize me? I hope so. I'd love to see the expression on his face.
[illegible due to water damage]
[illegible due to water damage]
[illegible due to water damage]
[illegible due to water damage]
They say that the Ancients had trains made of steel, and even tracks of steel. It seems impossible. Might as well say selyn used to spring from the ground like water.
Can't deny there would be some advantages, though. Weight, for example. A train made entirely of steel instead of wood and plastic could never have been derailed by a sudden gust of mountain wind.
Shouldn't complain, though. Aside from the discomfort, inconvenience and delay, the latest accident has been a win for me.
The last 4 days were wiped out of this book when it flew out a broken window and landed in a snow drift. I don't feel like rewriting it all, so I'll keep the recap short: I only got to see my Farris once, when he returned. And yes, he did recognize me. A short time later the conductors came and reseated me near the front of the train.
I'm bushed. They decided the engine was OK so they roped all of us renSimes into helping to right some of the cars. I'm starting to rethink the notion that the weight of a steel car would be an advantage. If one did derail, you might find enough renSimes to lift it into place, but half of them wouldn't be able to get near it for the crowd.
The cars we did were near the front, they were nearly up already because they were still attached to the engine and coal cars. But first, before they even talked about the ones in front, they tried to do the red car. It was the tail of the train that had gone off the tracks first. They say the reason the car is red is so that rescuers will know to rescue the people in that car first, and also so Gen rescuers can see it better. Actually, it all happened so slowly that nobody required rescue or even healing, although a couple of people panicked and there was nearly a kill. I haven't seen that Farris do a lick of physical work since I met him, but he can move pretty damn fast when a renSime is about to make short work of a Gen.
After about three hours of trying, they gave up and said the cars would have to be done in order. Since no one was trapped in the red car, it wasn't as much of a priority as it would have been otherwise. So we went and did the others in the front.
The Gens will be sleeping in the upright cars tonight.
It's real early morning. Everyone else is still asleep, huddled around fires in blankets. Now I know why they kept those cars so bloody cold, it's to toughen us up for wintertime derailments.
Went for a walk earlier, just to find him. Took me a while, but I did. Couldn't get too close because those shenned inconvenient escorts of his. You'd think a grown man could go out without armed guards. What's he afraid of?
He touched me!!!!
After we raised most of the rest of the cars, he came around and served all of the rensimes in transfer, to make up for the augmenting.
The moment I released him I remember looking up, capturing his image in my mind: his dark eyes, his long nose, his sculptured lip curled in disdain. He seemed so cruel and arrogant in that moment, an ice prince. I caught myself at the last minute, and instead of simply letting go of him, my hands and tentacles lingered, testing the shape of his arms. I had not realized before how gaunt he was. I could feel sinews, veins, under the sheathes. And then he pulled away and turned his back on me, plunging his arms into the bucket of hot water they'd provided for him.
I wouldn't have washed my own arms even if I had the option. Tonight I'll smell and taste his ronaplin, as I try to sleep. Despite his contempt for me, he served me the most wonderful transfer I have ever had. All I can think about now are his tentacles, and his lips. And how to get back in phase with him. And how to win his positive regard.
Travelling again, finally. More crowded now, as one car was too damaged and had to be left behind. We're three days off schedule. Speaking of schedules, what is that Farris going to do if we don't reach New Othwol by his due date?
Reading back I realize I didn't do that transfer justice. But how to describe it? There was that taint, that savage little taste, of the kill. I didn't know my Farris was disjunct like me. That makes me all the more determined.
Trees, trees and more trees. And tunnels. Boring. Spent the time daydreaming about what I want to name my kid.
Arrived at New Othwol today. Strange town. All new, laid out like a clockwork.
Couldn't watch him disembark from up close, there was a crowd of people mobbing the platform and I couldn't get through. Did manage to get to a higher area of the platform and watch from afar. I could see a Tecton coach waiting at the other end of the platform, as near as it could come. Fancier than the ones in Capitol. He didn't come out until a bunch of people in Tecton uniform arrived to block the crowd. Some were security guards but one, a Gen woman, was obviously his assigned Donor. You should have zlinned her nager!
When he came out, he turned his head and looked straight at me. I am sure he recognized me, and he might have even been looking for me. Then the Gen and a male channel, must have been a friend of his, grabbed him and started hustling him off through the crowd, the security guys cutting a path.
I asked a woman at the ticket office if she could recommend an inn near the Sime Center, and she gave me this address.
With great glee I went down to the Sime Center on legitimate business: to register myself as a new citizen. I think I managed to scope the place out pretty well. It's tiny compared to the big city ones, but plenty big enough for a Farris who is trying to hide from someone to hide himself very well.
Asked somebody what position he holds there, and was told he is the Assistant to the City Controller. That's good. Nobody with such a big deal job can make himself scarce for long.
Bit of a scare today. Went down to the public library and was delighted to find a number of actual books about my Farris and his family of birth. Unfortunately, when I got back to my hotel room there were some Tecton security goons waiting for me. They weren't in their uniforms, but I recognized one of them from the train station. They took away the books and told me to stay away from him, or else.
Distracted myself from my real problems by going out and applying for jobs. No use in going for the Sime Center, so I applied at some chic food stops in the immediate vicinity. Was pleased by the wage those positions pull down. It's an employee's market. That's good, as I was starting to worry a bit about money. Now I will be able to look for an apartment. I wish I knew where he lives.
Picked up a copy of the Spy, a local gossip rag. My Farris is really big time in this town. The magazine was stuffed with sightings and speculations about him. There were several photos, as well. After what happened with the security people I am afraid to cut out the pictures and hang them on my wall or even put them in my purse, but I can look at them.
Each one shows a different face of him that I have never seen. He doesn't smile, but his eyes change: fiery, or dark, or dreaming.
I have made a rather disturbing discovery: It turns out I am not the only one interested in having a child of him. There is actually a club, the We Love You 4-Ever Fan Club. I am not sure how I feel about that. Are those people allies, or enemies? Should I contact them, or not? Part of me wants to speak to other people who feel the same way I do, while part of me wants to protect my right to him.
Got hired at the Carrot Stop. Supposed to start in two days. It is a cute little lunch place for Simes, right across the street from the Sime Center. Gets tons of government employees in on lunch break.
I need a night job too. Have no legitimate reason to hang around the SC after dark.
To my astonishment I ran into him on the street. He walked right past me today, in the trade and commerce district. He was alone. He stared me down as if daring me to try something, but I was too surprised to move. Then he was gone. Argh!! I can't believe I just stood there with my mouth hanging open!
Broke down and attended one of the We Love You 4-Ever meetings. Had to miss my first day of work to do it, but I'm glad I did. These women are an amazing source of information. I am a bit worried about some of them though. They seem to be obsessed.
Here is the daily schedule of my Farris:
4:10AM - Light comes on in dorm window.
4:25AM - Tecton coach arrives at the side door of the dorms.
4:30AM - He and his roommate (this is the channel who met him at the train station) leave the building and get in the coach.
4:31AM - Coach passes under balcony of Myrnie Leeble who is a member of We Love You 4-Ever. All the ladies present for that morning scream "We love you!" at the top of their lungs. If the coach's curtains are not already closed, this is when they close.
4:34AM - Coach passes the point where Jassica Pernoult was accidentally run down by one of the coach horses while trying to get a spontaneous autograph about a month before I got to town.
4:36AM - Coach passes under the 25th Street Overpass. All We Love You 4-Ever ladies present scream bloody murder and jump around like lunatics. Nearby shopkeepers setting up for the day smile indulgently.
4:49AM - Coach passes through the main receiving gates of the government complex that includes the City Sime Center. We can't get in past there.
4:50AM - The two channels enter the Sime Center.
5AM - The Gen members of We Love You 4-Ever go home and go back to sleep. The rest go to the Public Infirmary to visit Jassica Pernoult. She is a club hero because he leaped out of the coach to save her life after she was trampled. She keeps hoping he fell in love with her during that process, or at least will come back a few weeks later to see how the patient is doing, but so far no dice.
10:45PM - A Tecton coach arrives at the same spot where they were dropped off.
10:50PM - Arat and Jeniard leave the City Sime Center and enter the coach.
10:52PM - Coach passes under the 25th Street Overpass. Screeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaammmmmmmm!!!!
10:55PM - Coach crosses the railroad tracks at 33rd and Wheat.
10:56PM - If coach is running more than 30 seconds late, it sits for 10 minutes at 33rd and Wheat while the Norwest Pioneer to Eugie and All Points Between sits blocking the road. This is where a We Love You 4-Ever member is statistically most likely to succeed in obtaining an autograph.
11:04PM (assuming no train delay) - Coach arrives at The Harrow And The Mow, an eatery that projects a rustic image but is so expensive that only public officials, high order Tecton personnel, and the independently wealthy can afford it.
11:05PM No one who belongs to We Love You 4-Ever can afford it so instead they go to Murrah's a few blocks down. It's a dive. The We Love You 4-Ever crew are so infamous the place runs a drink special just for them.
11:45PM Arat and Jeniard leave the Harrow and get back in the coach which has been waiting. No, it is not possible to stow away on the coach. That's been tried many times.
11:50PM They arrive at the dorm.
12:00PM Lights out.
Went by the Carrot Stop today. They told me I no longer have the job due to missing the first two days. Walked next door and got a job at their competition, the Berry Bar, on the spot. Went back and flaunted the position at the Carrot Stop lady. Ha!
First day at the Berry Bar. Learned how to handle strawberries safely. Betsu Magler from We Love You 4-Ever came by and told me a bunch of the ladies are going down to the Courthouse to see my Farris speak on some local political issue. Didn't think that sounded too interesting but if he was going to be there OK. Saw about a million Tecton people come in and out the Bar all day. A bunch of them probably work with him.
[late that night]
Whoa! That was a rush! We went and sat quietly through about 3 hours of hearings. Couldn't really see my Farris although it was obvious to zlin where he was in the seats up ahead of us. Then when he finally got up to talk, he hadn't even gotten a word out when about twenty ladies all stood up and screamed "We love you!!!" all at once. I hope someone had a camera because the taken-aback look on his face was priceless. The whole place broke out in laughs. But what happened next was even funnier -- about a hundred people started cheering and clapping, and pretty soon the whole place was standing up and applauding. Our Farris just stood there as if he was not sure what to do, and then after a few minutes of sustained applause he turned and looked at his friend, the roommate guy, who was there too and gave him a sheepish sort of smile. When the place was finally under control again, and his speech was to begin, the first thing he said was, "The 'We Love You 4-Ever' fan club, ladies and gentlemen," with a perfectly straight face and held out his hand in our direction, and the whole place place broke out in cheers again. My heart is still pounding!
Can't believe I got a job at a place that serves strawberries. There is no way he is ever going to come into a strawberry joint. Not that he ever goes anywhere. Wish I could think of a way into the Sime Center that didn't involve getting hurt. Too bad it's nowhere near my transfer day. Should think of ways to legitimately use up two weeks' worth of selyn in one go.
Probed Tecton employees about their jobs today. "Heya Sosu Bob, how's the Controller treating you today?" that sort of thing. Too bad I can't ask them about the Assistant Controller and have it not come out weird. But there's always the chance someone will gripe about him and then I'll be able to ask every day.
Big We Love You 4-Ever meeting tonight after work. Place was packed. They told me there were dozens of members but never really believed it gut level until now. Someone passed around the handwritten manuscript of a fictional novel starring our Farris as the hero. Must have been something in the punch because I got loose and made the mistake of blurting out the story of my accosting him in the spare examination room with the fake package and shoving him up against the wall. Am now hoarse from repeating it to everybody because every last one of them wanted a personal re-telling. The author of the manuscript said she is going to include it in her next work, except that the scene will end with a torrid make out session between us... perhaps on the examination table. Couldn't decide whether to ask her to change my name or ask her to leave it the same.
Mabel Bentworth and Jasmine Cokado offered to let me sleep on the couch in their living room until I can find a permanent place to live. I am not sure I should take them up on the offer, money problems or no. That's where at least half the We Love You 4-Ever meetings are held. Do I really want to get involved with it that closely? Still exhausted from last night.
The more I think about it, the more I am certain that I'll be assigned to him for transfer. How many disjunct channels could there be in a town this small? Still haven't thought of what I could do to waste a whole two weeks of selyn without getting in trouble for it, short of getting a construction job. I am not that desperate. Yet.
We Love You 4-Ever fans have been showing up at the Berry Bar every day. There are ten Gen members and today eight of them showed up and ordered stuff. Then they commandeered a bunch of chairs and tables and camped there for nearly five hours people-watching and getting into shrieking one-upmanship contests. My boss was not pleased.
That does it. These We Love You 4-Ever people are driving me crazy. They just never stop, day in and day out. Feels like I am being smothered or something. I am going to move to a different hotel, quit my job, and not have any contact with them any more.
[later that day]
My boss wouldn't let me quit. She offered me a big raise and even begged me. If she wanted me so bad why was she giving me such a hard time about the We Love You 4-Ever people hanging around?
[later that night... 10:52PM]
First night in the new hotel. It's on 25th and Hay. Can hear the We Love You 4-Ever ladies in the distance, harassing the Tecton coach as it passes under the bridge. Why does it make me feel lonely?
[to be continued...]
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