Scene Eighty One
In which we check up on one of our other characters
Clare opened the office doors with a smile. She had spent hours in front of the mirror practicing that smile; it was pleasant but not news worthy; just another office drone going home after a long day.
The sun was getting low in the sky so it was kind of hard to tell, but she thought that there might be fewer reporters on the front steps than there were normally. The idea cheered her up and added another edge to her smile, got to get that under control, she thought.
Out of the corner of her eye she saw Frankie leaving a discreet distance behind her. She didn’t see how he was meant to intimidate the reporters from such a long way back, but it felt good to know that he was there.
There were other people around her of course, Sandra had been clear on the fact that she should try to leave every day in a loose group, so she had waited in the entrance hall until a suitably large group had appeared, and then she had just mingled with them.
She found that mingling wasn’t as fun as it used to be; it seemed like everyone in the building seemed to have an opinion on her new fame; which ranged from hearty congratulations to muttering and mutinous looks. So far though everyone had kept their feelings on the slow burn, she just hoped that they stayed that way until all the reporters left.
All the reporters fell into step with her, and started asking questions, but they were the same questions that they had asked yesterday; they really didn’t have anything else to go on. She had given them nothing to work with, and she could see on their faces that the great pluralities of reporters were getting bored with her. It was like her first boyfriends all over again, except now she was doing it on purpose.
Clare was still staying in her house, although she now kept a panic switch on her bedside cabinet. She had even used the tunnel to sneak back into her house again after reporters had bombarded her that first morning; as far as they knew she had just stayed inside all day and they gone to work late the day after.
Opening the door again and facing the reporters properly for the first time was one of the most difficult things that Clare had ever had to do; it had taken three hours and several calls to Sandra to work up the courage, but she had done it.
Looking back now she wished the plan had involved using the press somehow, she knew it was playing with fire, but she was almost certain she wouldn’t get burnt. Maybe next time, she thought, I bet there is a huge adventure here, just waiting for someone to get onboard.
Then she had the image of the press pouncing on her again. Too much, she thought, next time will have lower stakes.
When she rounded the corner she had a pleasant jolt of surprise. There had been people literally camping on her lawn before; there had been reporters in issue tents, news crews in their vans, bystanders in multicolored monstrosities, but now it was all gone, even the bystanders. The only thing that marked her house out as being different was that she recognized it. For the first time in a few days it really felt like it was her house, rather than some sort of communal property.
She opened her front door and walked in, making sure that she locked the door behind her, then she walked through all the rooms at a quick pace; letting her eyes and ears explore; she didn’t hear or see anything odd.
She opened the door to the basement; there was a cobweb covered hole at one of the corners, or rather there wasn’t; there was a board with about fifty cinder blocks piled on top in one of the corners. Let’s see anyone climb up through that, she thought. She closed the door and kept walking; letting her gaze fall on the small objects she had stacked around the place; they were all where she had left them.
Once she was sure that her house was empty, Clare smiled. Dinner now, she thought, then bed; I’m very tired.