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Jailee glanced around the area. She was supposed to meet Conroy quite some time ago. The Mannahatta Café was located on the top floor of a massive structure that was once reserved for people to buy and sell things. No Conroy. She scanned for any broadcast signals and looked for nanocams before she took a seat, placed her backpack in front of her, removed her shoes and rested her feet on her bag, ready to plot her next move.

If any cameras were there, they would have caught Jailee suddenly laughing hysterically. Her feet were being tickled by some warm, wet brushing.

“Oh, stop! STOP!” Jailee laughed.

“You love it,” Conroy sniffed, giving her toes a pinch with his mouth.

“You covet my feet because you don’t have any.” Jailee said, looking around. “How did you do that? Where are you?”

“I’m right here, obviously!” Conroy brushed the sole of her left foot again making her scrunch her toes.

“I came here to see you, but I can’t see you.”

“That’s what I need to talk to you about.” Conroy cleared his throat. “One of the things. I think my new guy is trouble.”

“New guy? What happened to Carp?”

“His name was Culp, and that was two guys ago, but I’m not shaming you; you’ve been very busy lately.”

“Don’t tell me. Your new guy doesn’t want you to be seen by anybody else?” Jailee giggled again.

“He works for Sector.”

Jailee gasped.

“No no,” said Conroy, “Local Sector, not anything related to Division.”

Jailee gave a skeptical glare and held her forehead. “Where do you find these?”

“They usually find me and it’s usually when I’m swimming. Naked. Like I am now.”

“Except I can’t see anything because you’re invisible!”

“Nothing wrong with your sense of touch, is there?” Jailee’s right hand suddenly jutted away from her lap and lifted above her head. "Ohhh!"

“Conroy!” Jailee screamed, reaching for a cloth to wipe the goo off her palm, “I hope that was invisible ink.”

Jailee paused a moment. “Conroy? Conroy? Are you there?”

Jailee started feeling around and bumped his body with her forearm.

“Sorry. I usually fall asleep right after that happens.”

Jailee vigorously wiped her hand. “Explain why you’re invisible,” she demanded, tossing the cloth in his general direction.

“Sam, that’s his name, Sam,” Conroy yawned, “said that his department got some new devices released from some higher ups. He wouldn’t specify anything. But that this was new help for an old problem. So, he attached this item to… me, and I’ve been invisible ever since.”

“I guess you want me to take it off.”

“Take it all off.” Conroy chuckled.

“Where is it located,” Jailee asked, maintaining some semblance of decorum.

“It’s on my neck area. Unfortunately.”

Jailee reached out and felt something metallic touching Conroy’s smooth, thick, slick skin. “Did you have a look at this before it was attached? Do you know what color it is?”

“It’s colorless.”

“I guess that makes sense. “Jailee fingered the item gently. “It doesn’t hurt you if I touch it?”

“With my masochistic tendencies, I probably wouldn’t tell you if it did!”

“You’re being extremely cheeky today,” Jailee smiled. She felt for a clasp, reached into her bag and removed a small tool kit. After tinkering with the item with one tool, then switching to a smaller unit, the item opened up. The device became visible, but Conroy did not. Jailee’s eyes widened.

“What?” Conroy asked.

Jailee was looking at a timer of sorts. It was at 999. But what was it timing and what would happen when it reached its end? Jailee waited to see if the 999 would change. It appeared to be blinking at slow and regular intervals, but not moving.

“What?” Conroy asked again.

The counter moved to 998.

“It seems that opening that device had the unexpected effect of starting some kind of countdown.”

“You’re scaring me.”

The counter moved to 994.

“Don’t talk!” Jailee shouted. “It seems to be counting what you say.” Jailee scrambled back to her tool kit and found a magnet. She clipped it to the device.

“Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow!”

Jailee noted the counter still said 994.

“At least now this isn’t counting,” she sighed.

“But it hurts. And not in a good way.”

“We have to get in touch with your guy. How do we do that?”

“His name is Sam Reason. He’s in the satellite office of Sector near Wewatta Street. I have an idea. Let’s take this magnet off, and I just won’t talk until you come back with Sam.”

“Is the pain that bad?”


Jailee gently lifted the magnet off of the device, and Conroy breathed a sigh.

Then the counter started to move. 993. 992. 991.

Jailee put the magnet back on. The counter began moving more quickly 990, 89, 88, 87…

“Hold on,” Jailee said, scrambling through her tool kit again, then considered if anything she might do would speed the timer further. “I need to talk to Sam, right now. Don’t move.”

Jailee padded over to the desk in the empty Café, and saw a comm device.

“Who would you like to speak with?” came the automated reply.

“Sam Reason of Sector.”

“One moment.” The comm paused. “What is the code protocol to complete this connection?”

“Code protocol?!” Jailee dashed back to Conroy.

“I’m going to have to find someone else to help,” Jailee said, pulling her boots on. She glanced at the timer. 930, 929, 928… “I’ll be right back.”

Jailee dashed downstairs and outside to look for anyone. As usual, no one in sight. Jailee was trying to count along with the timer. She thought 750 or so. Just then, a man in a wet suit came out of the lake as Jailee entered the park.

“Sir, please! Do you know anything about timing devices or about overriding comm device protocols?”
The man removed his goggles and tank, setting them on the ground. “That’s what I do.”

Jailee helped him out of his SCUBA gear, and led him to the top floor, and the Café.

“He’s right here. Conroy? Where’s the timer? Con-“

A concentrated explosion from the lake splashed bright pink water high enough to hit the exterior glass of Mannahatta Café. As the water rolled down the window, it made a valentine heart shape.

Jailee stared blankly as a single tear welled from each of her eyes. Then, they turned red with rage.


This entry was created for LJ Idol using the prompt “A Terrible beauty has been born.”

This is Jailee's third LJ Idol Appearance. Her previous appearances were in Week [3] and in Week [15].


( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 3rd, 2014 11:06 pm (UTC)
Great story, I hope you continue with it.
Aug. 4th, 2014 01:25 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! It was an ideal fit for the prompt to continue the story this week. And thanks for commenting.
Aug. 4th, 2014 01:27 am (UTC)
I think I wasn't tracking everything here, because of having missed a few previous episodes, but it does seem sad to lose a character I feel we just met... hopefully he will be avenged.
Aug. 4th, 2014 01:36 am (UTC)
It IS sad! I'm the first one to admit it. But thanks for the hope and for reading and your comment.
Aug. 4th, 2014 07:53 pm (UTC)
A concentrated explosion from the lake splashed bright pink water high enough to hit the exterior glass of Mannahatta Café. As the water rolled down the window, it made a valentine heart shape.
I'm torn between a sad "Awwww..." and a nostalgic one.

Poor Conroy. :(

(ETA: LJ, why did you log me out?!?)
Aug. 5th, 2014 01:53 pm (UTC)
Oh there you are! Thanks for your sympathies and for both of your comments!
Aug. 5th, 2014 03:37 am (UTC)
Oh dear. I sense comic-esque ninja fury on the rise next episode.

I too am sad for the loss of Conroy that it seems we haven't known for long.
Aug. 5th, 2014 01:57 pm (UTC)
It is a sad moment (less sad than if you knew more about Conroy) but certainly a motivational element for Jailee. Thanks for reading and commenting!!
Aug. 5th, 2014 06:32 am (UTC)
This was a fascinating blend of the weird and the normal, almost like Magical Realism (except, you know, sci-fi). The three tales of Jailee have felt like they're each slightly different genres. I'm dying to see where it goes next.
Aug. 5th, 2014 02:02 pm (UTC)
Thanks! That's very high praise. I like the concepts of real but maybe more where there's like a short gap to leap to get there, not some completely futuristic place that would occur in four hundred years, if we did everything perfectly!

And you're right, there are different elements happening in each of the three... it's like making a stew with all the ingredients. It just got turned up to a boil!
Aug. 6th, 2014 02:59 pm (UTC)
Nicely done. Poor Conroy.
Aug. 6th, 2014 05:45 pm (UTC)
!!!! THAT was a shocking twisty ending and it works so well. Nice sci-fi piece of world-building here and you had me caring about these characters very quickly!
Aug. 6th, 2014 11:44 pm (UTC)
Good story! Too bad you had to blow Conroy up. He seemed like an interesting character.
Aug. 7th, 2014 05:48 am (UTC)
RIP Conroy :(
I wouldn't want to be SCUBA dude right now
Aug. 7th, 2014 12:58 pm (UTC)
Nice Take...I enjoyed reading it..:)
Aug. 7th, 2014 05:20 pm (UTC)
I liked it.
Aug. 7th, 2014 06:22 pm (UTC)
Interesting to see her story develop!
Aug. 7th, 2014 08:59 pm (UTC)
the world here is really interesting - it feels vaguely futuristic and scifi, but still very recognizable. conroy and jailee's banter is cute.

i had a feeling conroy was going to explode, but i was still bummed that he did. and i liked the heart on the window. it's ironically lighthearted.
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

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