Asking Questions

Here is a little scene based on a word prompt from the WriYe DreamWidth (goldfish).  It’s set before my November NaNo.  Gilbert is seeking advice on Ilya’s little problem…

**

The last time that Gilbert had seen them, they were leaping from one bowl to another.  At the time, he’d tried not to wonder why someone would want to train goldfish to leap out of hot water.  He’d also tried not to think about what had happened to the fish that hadn’t taken to the training.  Instead, he’d gone about his business.

Now, he frowned at Dr. Beaumont as she walked over to the river with the bowl.  Two fish swam in circles around the bowl.  They seemed to know that something was about to happen.  “What are you doing?” he asked.

“Ah, Dr. Schneider,” she said, as she dumped the bowl – along with the pair of goldfish – into the river.  “How is your little project going?  I have heard that you’ve added to your… collection.”

Gilbert nodded.  She’d utterly ignored his question.  That wasn’t unusual.  He ignored Wolfie when he asked questions about things he wasn’t supposed to know.  That reluctance to answer alone served as something of an answer.  “I’ve got three more… Chorus members,” he said, using the code word that the Agency had given him to use when referring to people housed in the Singer units.  “I’m having trouble with one, though.”

“Oh?”

Nodding, Gilbert held out a file.  As she took it, he said, “Singer three, codename Tanner, named Ilya Putin… he’s been leaving, for lack of a better word.”

Dr. Beaumont’s eyes scanned the pages as she read quickly.  After a moment, she nodded.  “You wonder why this might be.  Yes?”

“Yes,” Gilbert said, crossing his arms over his chest.  “The Boss said you had a theory that might explain it.”

“My theory is that Ramias, Kazlauskas, and Jefferson have one thing in common,” she said.  Then, she waved at the water.  “They are goldfish.”

“Goldfish?” Gilbert said, blinking.  He shook his head.  “I don’t follow.”

“Goldfish will only grow so large,” she said, motioning with her fingers to show the average size of a goldfish.  Then, she smiled and pointed towards the river.  “Unless they live in a larger environment,” she said.

Nodding, Gilbert said, “They fit, so to speak, in the Singer unit because… it’s not any bigger than the natural body they used to have.”  When she nodded, he frowned.  “And Putin?”

“Is not a goldfish,” she said, shrugging.  “He is the carp and the goldfish bowl is too small for him.”

For a moment, Gilbert stared at her.  Then, his eyes widened.  “Most people are goldfish,” he murmured.  She smiled and nodded.  Meeting her eyes, he said, “Felicja… she’d be a carp too and Madeline.”

“Yes,” Dr. Beaumont said, grinning.  “What,” she said, “do you supposed would happen if you tried to keep a carp in a goldfish bowl?”

Gilbert bit his lip and nodded.  “We need to find a way to make his transition back to his own body permanent,” he said.  “Otherwise, he’ll die.”

“Precisely,” Dr. Beaumont said, nodding.

It was a few moments before Gilbert spoke again.  Then, he nodded and looked intently at Dr. Beaumont.  “I have some ideas.  Would you be willing to help?”  When she smiled, he took that as a yes.  Then, he started back towards the building with her trailing behind him.  “What do you do with goldfish?”

“What does your little brother do with all those ducks?” Dr. Beaumont asked, which of course, wasn’t really an answer to his question.  At the same time, it told him all he needed to know.

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Inspiration Always Comes at Night

The photo prompt from NaNoWriYe’s DreamWidth was a tough one today.  I couldn’t figure out how to fit it in with “To Wake the Dreamers”, so I wrote an unrelated story.

This was the picture:

inspiration

“If she hasn’t got any gifts at all?” Director Williams said, frowning darkly.  He shook his head.  “If she just guesses, what percentage of the time will she be correct?”

“A guess has a twenty percent chance of being correct,” Dr. Beaumont said, frowning.  She shrugged and then she was speaking to Felicja.  “Remember, Felicja: the goal of this exercise,” she said, her tone clipped and even, “is to anticipate which of the bulbs will light.”

Felicja nodded slightly.  “I’ll remember,” she said.  She was blindfolded, which bothered her greatly.  She wasn’t the most trusting person.  “What’s the point of the blindfold?”

“It is to prevent you from using a visual clue to get a any hint of which bulb might light,” Dr. Beaumont said.  “Are you ready to begin.”

“Whatever,” Felicja said, shrugging.  She wasn’t expecting to do well at all.  She’d tried to tell them that this wasn’t how her gift worked.  She saw things that happened already and she only saw them while she was sleeping.  Right now, she was wide awake and they were trying to get her to guess something before it happened.  It was backwards.

“This is stupid,” she said, even as she hit a button to indicate which light she thought might be lighting.  It was a total guess.  She had nothing to go by.  She continued hitting buttons, knowing that there was no way that she was doing anything more than guessing.

Finally, Dr. Beaumont said, “All right, Tinker.  You may remove the blindfold.”

Sighing, Felicja tugged off the fabric that had covered her eyes.  She rubbed at them and then frowned at Dr. Beaumont.  “So,” she said, “how badly did I do?”

Dr. Beaumont smiled.  “You were correct less than ten percent of the time,” she said, nodding.  “I found the entire exercise to be quite interesting.”

Felicja scowled.  “How can that be interesting in any way?” she asked, shaking her head.  Hadn’t she said that the chances of guessing each bulb correctly was twenty percent?  “I did terrible!”

“When you look at the guesses to see if they match the light that came after, yes,” Dr. Beaumont said.  Then, she chuckled softly.  “If, however, one bears in mind how you claim your gift works… well, you were able to correctly guess which light had just been on better than eighty percent of the time.”

A soft chuckle escaped Felicja’s lips.  “Well,” she said, shaking her head.  “That wasn’t what I expected.”

“You see now, why I find it so very interesting,” Dr. Beaumont said, her eyes twinkling.  Felicja could only nod silently.

Dr. Beaumont hummed softly.  “I makes me wonder the extent of your gift when your conscious mind does not interfere,” she said.  Then, she gave Felicja a playful wink and added, “That is why you see things in your dreams – while you sleep.”

“I just figured it was because inspiration always comes at night,” Felicja said, shrugging.  She gave Director Williams a faint smile.  “Isn’t that what they say?”

“Indeed,” the director said, crossing his arms over his chest.  Clearly, the results had surprised him as well – and not in a good way.

Dreamers – Part 6

So, today’s section was written using a picture prompt from NaNoWriYe’s DreamWidth.  When I first saw this image, I wasn’t sure what I’d do with it.  It seemed to work pretty well for Dr. Beaumont, however.

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The next morning, Gilbert headed down to the laboratory to speak with Dr. Beaumont.  He frowned when he saw that she had two fishbowls in front of her.  One bowl had two fish swimming around in it, while the other only had water in it.  He watched as she turned a dial and, to his surprise, one of the fish leapt into the other bowl.  A moment later, the second fish jumped over.

“All right,” he said, blinking.

Dr. Beaumont turned the dial back the other direction and then glanced over her shoulder at him.  “Good morning, Dr. Schneider,” she said.  “I trust you slept well?”

“For the most part,” he said, nodding.

“And did Taurys also sleep well?” she asked.  When Gilbert’s brows furrowed, she said, “I ask because he told Marian that he sometimes has difficulties sleeping.  He said it was something you had been helping him with, no?”

“No,” Gilbert said, shaking his head.  Then, he blinked and said, “I mean… he doesn’t have much trouble sleeping anymore, although he did at first.”

“He… lied, then?”

When Gilbert nodded, she hopped to her feet and went over to a file that was resting on her desk.  “This I find to be interesting, Dr. Schneider,” she said.

“People lie every day,” Gilbert said, shrugging.  “He probably wanted an excuse to ask where I was, so that he could eavesdrop on our conversation.”

“People lie, yes,” Dr. Beaumont said, as she wrote on a page in her file.  “Computer, even ones as complex as the RX program crafted, however… These do not lie, Dr. Schneider.”

“Oh, right,” Gilbert said, blinking.  He watched as she closed the file and moved to return to her fish.  Whatever she was doing, she probably couldn’t tell him about, so he decided not to even ask.  “Anyway, I needed to contact headquarters.  We need to speak with Dr. Alexandrova and… yeah, she’s in the Mushroom, so…” he trailed off, shrugging.

Dr. Beaumont frowned and nodded.  “Do you think that Director Williams will allow such a thing?” she asked.

“I have to ask,” Gilbert said, shrugging.

Nodding again, Dr. Beaumont pointed to a computer on her desk.  “You can call him through that,” she said.

“Thanks,” Gilbert said.  He stepped over to the computer and then pressed a few keys.  After a moment, a small video window appeared on the screen.  The seal of the International Intelligence Agency, with its shining lighthouse appeared on the screen briefly before Dr. Williams appeared.  Grinning, Gilbert said, “Hey, Boss.”

“Dr. Schneider,” Arthur said, his brows furrowing.  “What can I do for you this lovely day?”

“Tinker had one of her dreams again,” Gilbert said.  He shrugged.  “We need a word with Dr. Alexandrova.  Can you okay a visit to the Mushroom for us?”

“That depends on what Dr. Beaumont has to say about Singer,” he said.  He glanced beyond Gilbert and said, “Your report, Doctor?”

Gilbert slid to one side and gave Dr. Beaumont a faint smile.  She nodded once.  “I will have the formal report sent out by the end of the day,” she said.  “However, even now I can tell you that Singer is conscious – as much as you are.  He is completely trusting toward Dr. Schneider and, very likely, loyal to him as well.  I see no reason to believe that the consciousness of Agent Liutauras Kaslauskas is not inside PL-1.  For all intents and purposes, Singer is Agent Kaslauskas.”

“Thank you, Doctor,” Arthur said, nodding.  He looked over at Gilbert.  “Your papers will be there by noon, Dreamer.”

“Thanks, Boss,” Gilbert said, smiling.  As soon as the screen went dark, he nodded at Dr. Beaumont.  “Thank you very much.”

“I only spoke to what I know as truth,” she said.  Nodding, she added, “I wish you well, Dr. Schneider.  Have care with Dr. Alexandrova.  She is a completely deceitful person.  You cannot believe everything that she says.”

“I know,” he said, grimacing.  “It’s a chance we’ll have to take.”

Dreamers – Part Four

Getting down to business.  This section picks up right where the previous one left off.  This was written using another picture prompt from the NaNoWriYe DreamWidth.  (It’s also rather long.)

**

Taurys fell into step with Marian and smiled. “You don’t want to get changed first?” he said, shaking his head.

The other man gave a shrug. “Dr. Beaumont will be cross enough that I’ve taken this long,” he said, shaking his head. Then, in relative silence, he led them through the winding corridors. Taurys could feel that they were moving upward, towards the surface, but he didn’t say anything.

They passed several rooms and Taurys could hear people hard at work inside most of them. Sometimes, he could hear the clatter of keys. Other times, he could hear soft discussions or the workings of machinery. Finally, they reached what was clearly some sort of examination room. Tensing, Taurys looked sharply at Gilbert.

“She’s not going to hurt you,” Gilbert said, his tone clearly meant to reassure. He smiled faintly. “The Cabinet just wants to… you know.”

“Make sure I’m actually in here,” Taurys said, his voice soft. He looked around the room and added, “Verify that I’m not just some sort of very complex computer program, like RX-9 was.”

“Just so,” a new voice said.

Taurys looked towards the speaker. She was a petite woman with short brown hair and dark eyes. She was a little heavy-set, but she looked healthy in spite of that. Her features, while not striking, were even and held a sort of plain-spoken beauty to them. Taurys took in all of this at a glance and then looked towards Gilbert for some sort of introduction.

Gilbert adjusted his glasses. “Dr. Beaumont?” he said, tilting his head slightly to one side. He stepped forward, extending his hand. “I’m Dr. Gilbert Schneider. I’ve read of your work. I find some of your theories simply fascinating.”

“Charmed,” Dr. Beaumont said, taking his hand briefly in her own. “I know of your work as well, Dr. Schneider. I look forward to examining Singer.” As she said the last word, she looked over at Taurys.

Taurys shifted uncomfortably. “Dr. Beaumont,” he said, nodding politely. He fidgeted with his bangs and said, “I… prefer people to use my name.”

Dr. Beaumont regarded him critically for a moment. Then, she nodded. “Taurys, then,” she said. She waved dismissively at the others. “If you would leave us, then I shall begin my examination.”

“Sure thing,” Gilbert said. He smiled at Taurys. “Just be yourself and I’m sure everything will be fine,” he said. He nodded and then Marian escorted him and Felicja out of the room.

Once they were alone, Dr. Beaumont turned away and picked a clipboard up off a nearby counter. “You may undress, Taurys,” she said.

“What?” When she looked over at him with a frown, he felt his cheeks warm. “I can’t… I mean, you’re a woman and that wouldn’t be proper and…” he trailed off. She was a doctor, after all. She wanted to examine him and undressing was a normal part of that. Ducking his head and fidgeting with his hair, he said, “Could I have some privacy, maybe?”

Dr. Beaumont wrote on the page clipped to the board and then nodded. “I will give you a few moments, of course,” she said. She waved towards a cabinet and added, “You will find the gown in there, no?”

“Uh, thank you,” Taurys said, as she turned and left. He heaved a sigh as he shook his head. He rubbed at his brow. “Get hold of yourself, Taurys. There’s no reason to be so shy.” Then, he turned to the cabinet. He found the gown she had spoken of. After shedding his clothing – down to his boxers – he pulled it on and then stepped over to the door.

“Awkward,” he murmured. Then, he peered into the corridor. He gave her an uneasy smile. “All set,” he said, shrugging. “Sorry for the wait.”

“It is no problem,” she said, smiling brightly. Then, she stepped into the room. As he settled on the examination table, she took out a stethoscope and set it against his chest. Taurys heaved a sigh and looked up at the ceiling.

“Dr. Schneider did a fine job with your body,” she said. “It is nearly impossible to tell that you are not… organic.”

“Yeah,” Taurys said, smiling wanly. “Sometimes, I forget that myself. Then, I’ll…” he trailed off as laughter met his ears and he sighed. “I’ll hear Gilbert, laughing down the corridor and remember that I really shouldn’t be able to hear something so far away.”

“Indeed,” Dr. Beaumont said. She finished the physical examination. Then, she said, “I am going to show you a series of pictures and I would like for you to tell me which, if any of them, jumps out at you as… different in some way.”

“All right,” Taurys said. As she set a binder in his lap, he tucked a lock of hair behind his ear and frowned. She opened the cover and he looked at the first set of pictures. They were pictures of animals: a rabbit, a songbird, a deer and a bear. He tapped the bear. “Bears are omnivores and these others aren’t,” he said, his voice soft.

He turned the page and found that the second grouping was like the first. One image stood out to him as, in some way, not belonging. This went on for some time. Finally, he came to four pictures of children. His gaze locked on one in particular. “Milda,” he breathed. He felt his cheeks warm and his hands tightened on the binder. Looking up sharply, he said, “How did you get a picture of my daughter?”

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