She went through her nightly ritual,
though she had no anticipation of falling asleep. She removed the flowing robes
of the New-worlders, folding them over a hanger and placing them in the shower.
She turned on the sonic head to freshen them. Washed her face. Brushed her
teeth. Brushed her hair, enjoying the sensation of the bristles on her scalp. She
noted the special sensitivity, the scars, where the halo once screwed into her
"Life can be a
She walked over and turned
the drier off.
For the juvenile fun of it
she turned down the lights, opened the shower door and moved her hand along the
length of the clothes, centimeters away from the material, and watched the
static jump from the clothes to her hand. In the darkness it looked like a
miniature lightening storm. She mumbled her favorite cliché. "You have to
enjoy the little things in life."
Sometimes it's all that
keeps you sane.
Daemon's eyes lolled
sleepy-red. She throttled the deck with her tail.
Life is short, and the end
unpleasant. She loved Daemon, but the place left by Molly burned acidic. An
electrified, barbed wire strangling her heart.
Toni lathered those annoying
dry spots with lotion. Grimaced at the mirror. Long gone, the rippled-taut
stomach. But otherwise, the old husk looked okay. If she didn't turn sideways
so she could see the worse scars on her back. Kept her hand off the back of her
neck where they started.
"Kory Mae, select
some drowsy jazz for me to fall asleep to, please." She walked into the
other room and pulled back her blanket. Daemon jumped up on the bed, made her
endearing groan as she plopped down, eyes already closed.
"Reduce light ninety
percent." She sat. The cool sheets felt refreshing, sensual against her
I should have taken a
shower. A long one.
But she didn't stand. She
leaned forward to stretch the muscles in her neck and back. She hadn't been
doing her exercises. Her neck was going to freeze tight again if she didn't
start behaving. She reached up and followed the deep scar that started at the
base of her skull, as far as she could down her back.
Crazy people are the ones
you have to watch.
"Kory Mae, if Chewie
is in his stateroom, give him a ring please."
A moment later her
co-pilot, engineer, deputy, and best friend replied. "How can I please
"You only have to be
"Then what can I do
"Call me Toni,
instead of Captain."
"Toni. What else can
I do for you?"
accommodating. Have you always been that way?"
"Not from the way you
talk about me."
"But that's only when
I don't think you're listening."
They were quiet a moment.
Toni couldn't think of anything to say, but she hoped Kory Mae wouldn't
time-out the connection, thinking they were done.
"Are you in bed,
"No, Ca— Toni."
It hurt. A tiny bit.
"Was Julia nice to you?"
"She's always nice to
"You know what I
He didn't answer right
away. "That's nice music you have playing."
"Kory Mae has good
The ship's persona said,
"Thank you, Captain."
Brought a smile to her
face. "So, is she thawing?"
"Toni, go to
Emotions closed as tight
as a human male.
Can't you tell me
everything will be good?
"Good night, Chewie."
She listened for the
gentle twerp indicating the connection dropped. It didn't come for several
moments, as Kory Mae gave them time, Toni would swear, to emotionally