‘Temper, temper, Jiminy. I am not faulting you. My comment was merely observational.’
“Don’t call me that. I ain’t no bug thing.. If you want me, just call me Travis.” He glared at the screen as his mind tried to figure out what to do. He realized, that suddenly he felt that this girl was his charge, and he had to look out for her. Somehow, it had become personal. The recognition of that feeling had him unsettled. What about Kimmy? I owe her. She put up with all my crap and never complained.
‘Kim is a good, living woman. You’re a whisper in someone’s ear, Travis. You have a new job’ the letters spelled out in light pink and purple.
Yeah, a new job. Again he was struck by the lack of emotion he’d thought he should have. The sense of loss was there, as was regret, which pressed down on him like a weight whenever he thought of his life. I have a lot to make up for. Maybe this is my chance. He looked at the screen, hoping that there might be a verification of this chance. the screen remained a blank grey. So I have to figure this out. Like hell, I ain’t no thinker, I never even liked kids. This may be too much.
‘Throwing in the towel, already, JIMINY?’ The words scrolled in a bright red outlined in a dark, dark violet that seemed to Travis like hungry mouths eager to bite into him.
“I-I ain’t quittin’.” His teeth chattered at the cold sensation along his spine as he looked at the letters, bright and pulsing like blood. “I ain’t gonna quit. You said I had to do this, so don’t get antsy.”
‘I never said you had to do it, just that you were chosen. You can quit, any time you want.’ The letters were in a deep maroon-brown that reminded Travis of dried blood, which nearly unnerved him. The fear seemed to make the letters grow, until they rolled all the way up the curved wall to the center of the ceiling. It was a feeling like seeing vultures waiting for something to die.
“I ain’t gonna quit!” Travis locked his legs and prayed he wouldn’t fall over. Despite the challenge in his voice, he wanted to be anywhere else but here.
‘You’re not?’ The bright red letters printed up, one at a time, floor to ceiling.
The effect was intimidating. Travis wanted to run, but his own stubborn streak kept him on the platform. “I’m not, you sonuvabitch. I ain’t runnin’, and I ain’t quittin’.”
The letters shrunk back to a more ‘normal’ size and the red faded to a pale pink that shaded to a bright blue at the top. ‘Point for you. Now get some rest. The boss won’t be waking up for at least a day.’
Travis thought about that information, then stared at the screen. “I’m not going to sleep until she’s safe.”
‘You really don’t have a choice. When the boss sleeps, you will sleep. You’re part of her so get used to it.’ The letters were in a calm green that made Travis sleepy just looking at them.
He closed his eyes and bit the base of his thumb to stay awake. “No! I ain’t sleepin’!”
‘Yes, you will, but there is time between when the boss goes to sleep, and you do that you can talk more directly to her. You might think of that for the next time something like this happens. Her actions are going to count as yours in the final balance. Ta.’ The letters were a lazy, fuzzy purple. Travis felt his feet shuffle towards the wall, which split and opened a door just big enough for him to fit through. He managed to shuffle to the bed, and fell wearily upon it. He saw yellow lights on the sign above the door, but his eyes were too unfocused to make out what they were. There was the faintest sensation of a connection, then it was gone as the letters faded and he descended into the darkness of sleep.