Copyright © 2013 Mary Hughes
All rights reserved
Vickie returned from lunch irritable. She tried to work, but couldn’t keep her mind on the simplest task. So she got up and went to the gym.
“Thought I might find you here.”
“Why?” she puffed.
“Cliff does the same thing when he gets worked up. He works out. Hey, you’re doing that wrong, you know.”
She threw him a look that, if she had been any less tired, would have wilted him. “Really? I didn’t think you could do this wrong.”
“Oh, sure. You have to stand straight, otherwise you’re not getting the maximum benefit out of it.”
She straightened her posture, found herself worn out in five minutes, and stopped.
John, who had been warming up on the cycle, came over. “Great. Now, what weights do you do?”
She shrugged. “Oh, you know, the manly ones. Two hundred pound
and the like.”
“Okay, since this is your first time, let’s start over here at the machines. Free weights are more effective, but you need to have some strength built up first, or you might hurt yourself.”
“Hey, I built Cliff’s body, I can do yours.”
“I don’t want a body like Cliff’s.” Yes, I do, said her libido. She shushed the traitorous thing.
“What was that?” John looked over his shoulder.
“I said, what is that thing there?”
“This is the first machine I want you to try. We’ll start with twenty pounds. It’s for your back muscles
, this set here, feel them?
Okay, now pull smoothly, and don’t let the weights fall on the way back. Good.”
While she worked out, John kept up a steady stream of conversation, to distract her from
the pain, Vickie
thought acidly. But, turnabout was fair play, so as long as he was talking, she
asked him casually about he and Tess.
John just grinned. “I wouldn’t have noticed.”
She started pushing the weights savagely.
“Hey, take it easy. You don’t build strength that way.”
John took her through machines for her biceps, triceps, pectorals, gluteus maximus and muscles she couldn’t even find, much less remember the names of. When John finally called it quits, she felt like a colander full of spaghetti, she was trembling so hard.
“I think you’ll do just fine. Remember, don’t
work out tomorrow.
Do some aerobic sorts of things.
Then the next day you can do the weights again.”
‘Every time I sit
remember. Or try to stand. Or lift something. Or do anything. ’
John laughed, and Vickie left for the sauna.
It was a relaxing treat after a hard work‑out,
and Vickie had come to rely on the few moments she had to herself before going
back to the office. Although it was
winding down. By next week, not only
would she see real results in her workout, but in the project as well. Her
part, at least, would be done. Then she
would send a copy of the system to Cliff, along with
the HCC300 prototype for beta testing in Middle Yemen. The chip factory there
almost done , and ready for mass production of the HCC300. The computers would then be shipped back here
for software bundling and sales.
Vickie hated her own part in it, but at least she
involved in Fahrrad’s national
defense net. Cliff had
taken the reins on that when he got to Middle Yemen.
Vickie sighed. If she kept this up,
she would not only be
here when he came back, but she would be
apologizing to him. She had finished all but some very small details,
which Tess and John had promised they’d take care of. Tess, of course, was
staying. Vickie was packing up this weekend. She didn’t have to be back at work
until Wednesday, but she was planning on taking a few days off when she got
home to relax. ‘Two days ‘til Saturday,’ she
thought. ‘Then I’ll pack up and go home, and Sir
Humphrey Hawkesclyffe in all his radiant glory will fade from my mind like a
bad dream. Sure he will.’
She okayed the shipment and watched as the special couriers carefully lifted the large freight box and carried it away. She turned from them before they could see her eyes glistening. Even if she managed to rout Cliff from her mind,
every day she would see
reminders of him . The company appeared
daily in the stock column,
the man himself was often quoted in the trades. With the arrival of the new
computer and DALE chip on the market, she was sure
the exposure would only increase. Maybe she should find a new profession. Like
stunt pilot. Or maybe the
armed forces .
She laughed ruefully. The way John had trained her, they’d snap her right up.
She’d been standing there too long. Some of the employees walking past were staring at her strangely. Well, she felt like a stranger now, too. She shook her head, remembering it was less than three months ago, her first month here, when she felt like she was home at last. Ironic.
Vickie walked slowly to the gym for a workout. There was really nothing much more for her to do. She avoided John and Tess, feeling like a wet blanket around them. She couldn’t even face a sundae any more. After she worked out, she returned to her office and buried herself in detail. She worked until 9:00, went home, slept poorly, and did it all over again the next day.
Finally it was Friday. She said good‑bye to all her people, then all of his. Tess and John were cleaning up some detail
off‑site, so she was
spared the hardest good byes of all. And she
would see John and Tess off and on, after
all. But it
would never be the same.
She dragged herself home
. ‘No, my
apartment , she corrected herself. My flat is
home. ’ She
started packing, but found herself too tired. As she got ready for bed, an
abbreviated version of her normal routine, she promised herself she would get
up early tomorrow to do it. Tomorrow she would pack. Tomorrow she would go home.
Good‑bye, Tess. Good‑bye, John. Good‑bye, Cliff.
The man at the desk waited tensely. If the phone did not ring today, he would have to call some of his most highly‑placed contacts.
usual not to hear at least something.
The man knew the other’s disposition had been sour when he had
gone, but now he wondered just how much.
At eleven p.m
he packed his things up to go home. He was very
worried. He hesitated, just
a little while longer. Maybe the phone would still ring.
It did. The man grabbed it immediately.
“Where the hell have you been?
going on over there?”
There was static from the line. Then the other man’s voice came, flat and weary. “The old system is gone. I had to install the new one.”
The man’s tirade died immediately. “Then it’s hopeless. Why did you do that?”
“He was paranoid
enough to pick up some traces
from my hacking with the old system.
But there’s still a chance.”
“I only connected the local system. And I know how to break it.”
The man was even more concerned. “You said you’d get out as soon as everything was ready.”
Crackling obscured part of the reply. “…finish this myself.” Then the line went dead.
[M2]I left the first training session in but the rest made it into a fitness book. Research and knowledge are good, but it's a novel. The emphasis is on character, motivation and conflict, not their workout routine.
[M3]This is a great example of how event hopping can get confusing. She's reflecting on two weeks from now, then two weeks ago, then she IS two weeks from now...I cleaned out considerable clutter. Which will make it easier to see dust and damage in the next edit pass.