Thursday, April 3, 2014
Short story project: Unidentified Flying Object, Part 8
“Hi Claire,” said the clerk behind the counter.
Regret flooded me. I shouldn’t come to a place where I was familiar, even if they knew nothing more about me than my first name. The overly friendly staff might ask me who Jason was on a subsequent visit, but I couldn’t turn tail and run now, it was too late. The only thing left was to cross my fingers that they’d forget I’d had a companion so I ordered my coffee to go.
Jason asked for the same then placed a five dollar bill on the counter.
“Is that together?” The clerk raised his eyebrow at me as he rang in our order. He almost seemed in disbelief that I could be here with someone. I couldn’t blame him, I’d come in alone almost everyday for the past year.
“No.” I dug through my purse for my wallet.
“Yes.” Jason pushed the bill across the counter.
“No, here.” I dumped my coins on the counter, one rolling away in my haste. I wouldn’t own Jason anything, not even the price of coffee.
The clerk’s gaze flickered between the two of us, clearly trying to figure out what was going on, so I fixed my most annoyed expression on my face to discourage inquiry. Whether he took the hint, or wasn’t all that interested after all, he took our money, handed Jason his change, then poured our drinks. Cup in hand, I left the coffee shop without another word. What had I been thinking? Jason’s good looks and sob story were clouding my judgement.
“Have I done something wrong?” It sounded as though Jason was stomping on the sidewalk beside me.
In no better humour myself, I pounded forward. “If you haven’t figured it out by now, I don’t like getting involved with people.” I was barely keeping my voice under control. “I avoid relationships to keep myself safe, and now you seem determined to force yourself and your problems on me.”
Jason grabbed my arm, forcing me to stop. He stared at me as he breathed heavily through flared nostrils, then yanked me toward a nearby alleyway. Once we were partially secluded from the street he released his grip, but the glare he gave me was sufficient to hold me in place. “You need to look outside your own bubble, Claire.”
“And you need to accept that I don’t want to get involved.”
“Then why did you save me?”
“Bad impulse.” I shrugged, then walked deeper into the alley. Sunset was still an hour away, but if getting into the air meant getting out of this conversation and away from Jason, I’d consider it. I kept my gaze focused on the rectangle of light that indicated the street on the other end. No footsteps sounded behind me.
“Homian Power Research.” He was testing me, trying to bait me. I wouldn’t accept the challenge. “They research humans with unique powers for the military.”
My fingers went numb. “Fuck.”
To be continued...look for more of the story on Tuesday, April 8th, 2014