Archivist note: This post is from an older recovered archive.
((Posted by Scottie Melnik on July 24, 2010))
Even through the capture of the Slenderman, Mister Pocket’s coma, and the great fundraising campaign of that last couple of weeks I hadn’t forgotten my vow to watch out for Miss Namori. Her startling transformation upon her return from the desert had worried me to no end and I spent as much time as was believable making lame excuses to run into her. However I felt a little more at ease when Miss Iniko arrived. From our first encounter it seemed that perhaps this woman would keep Miss Namori a bit more stable. In fact it seemed that the woman did have a calming effect on Bianca. And then Miss Iniko left Babbage.
Shortly after Bianca had also left Babbage for a few days. The moment I heard of she had returned I quickly made my way to the hostel. I wondered who I might find there. Would it be the sweet, funny young lady I’d known for so long or this new creature, full of malice and hate? As I made my way from the port to the hostel I crossed the tracks in Babbage Square, hardly noticing them as I turned over the last several encounters in my mind. The conversations always seemed to be somewhat of a chess game with us. The game was a dark one indeed and I’m loathe to admit that I had been pulled down into it a few times. She had a way of pushing me and for whatever reason I seemed to be under her skin as well, although I’m still not sure why.
I could see the hostel and I slowed my approach, attempting to clear my mind when I realized something was different. The slightly off kilter “Rossa Luna” sign had been taken down and nothing put up in its place. I shook my head at the fact that there may yet be another change in her life and only had a moment to consider that perhaps a sense of permanency might help her situation when I reached the doors. I placed my hand upon the handle and took a deep breath, closed my eyes for a moment, and entered.
Inside it seemed bright as ever and I looked around. Nothing seemed out of place but Miss Namori must have been busy somewhere. Not wishing to intrude I casually walked up to the reception desk and rang the bell a couple times. As I waited I noticed the register had a couple names in it. Just as I was about to see who had enjoyed (hopefully) a stay at the hostel Bianca made her appearance from the back room. I say Bianca because almost immediately it seemed it was indeed my friend. While she seemed a bit tired I didn’t detect that anger that seemed to have consumed her so recently. I would have breathed a sigh of relief if I wasn’t keeping so carefully guarded. At that moment my hand went to settle on my hip where I usually kept my-
Damn! In my haste I had forgotten to arm myself. Since the time she held a letter opener to a rather vulnerable spot I had always made sure I was able to defend myself with her. This wasn’t good, but I wasn’t about to turn back now.
“Hello Mr. Melnik. Can I help you?” Her voice held a flat, tired tone signifying that she had been doing quite a bit of work. She didn’t seem exhausted, just… tired. I thought that might be a good sign, idle hands and all.
“Good evening, Bianca. And how are you today?”
“I’m well, I suppose. Yourself?”
I smiled at this and yet watched her carefully. It’s strange how being vulnerable keeps you prepared moreso than having a weapon at hand. “Quite well. And you do seem better today. Is everything okay?”
She smiled sweetly at me, like the girl I used to know, “Oh yes, after a good night’s sleep I don’t feel so ill.”
I softened my watchful gaze, everything seeming to be in order, “That’s great! What happened to your sign outside?” With that same smile she replied, “I took it down”
“You’re not going to run your hostel anymore?” Again, I grew a bit worried about where this could be headed. But she shook her head with and that smile grew wider. “I miss the days of old, I suppose. Back to the performance arts I go.”
I was ecstatic and probably grinning like a fool at this revelation, “Oh! That’s fantastic!” But at this her smile faded. “I hope so…” Her eyes seemed to drift to the window and she sighed a bit.
I cocked my head, “What do you mean? You seemed to do well before and I have every confidence you can do it again.” At this she sighed, “I hope to try… Things are different… I used to be sick. I don’t know what energy I have to carry on such a venture so soon.”
I followed her eyes to the window, attempting to see whatever it was she was looking at. I saw nothing. Offhandedly I replied, “Sick? Oh, yes, you definitely haven’t been yourself.”
“Was I bad?” she asked plainly. I turned my eyes back to hers, nodding slowly, “You… pushed. You just… weren’t yourself, let’s say.” I saw a small smirk cross her lips and I instantly steeled myself against whatever may be coming, but nothing did. It took a moment to realize that it wasn’t the same damned smirk she used when she had played her games before. This one seemed genuine and she didn’t ask what it was she had been pushing for like I would have expected from the other. In fact, she didn’t say anything. Realizing the conversation had stopped I tried to start it again, “So you’re feeling better, then! I’m certainly pleased to hear that.”
She nodded excitedly at me with that sweet smile, “That makes two of us!”
I widened my eyes at that, one of the red flags with her was that she tended to speak as though she were two people. Then I suddenly realized she was more than likely agreeing with me and I couldn’t help but laugh, “Yes, two of us! You and I, yes…”
It was her turn to cock her head, a few strands of hair falling out of place, “Did you think I meant someone else?” I shook my head with a grin and stifled my laughter and ensuing chuckles, quickly changing the subject to her new establishment. We bantered about what acts she may have perform and it was just nice to talk to Bianca again. She didn’t even see as tired now and she became rather animated about her renewed interest in the arts. I should have guessed it wouldn’t last.
She picked up the registry in the course of the conversation when a little black spider from beneath it. Before I could even take in the sight she snatched up the letter opener (the one I knew all too well) and stabbed it into the desk, splitting the spider in two and burying it within the wood grain at least an inch.
My eyes grew wide at this and I nearly jumped back, “Whoa! Damn Bianca!”
She looked at me with a bit of shock of her own and then down at the desk, jumping back herself in a near panic, “Oh my!”
Trying not to be too quick about it yet really wanting to get to the letter opener first I reached out for it and gripped the handle. I had to rock the opener a few times to pull it free and kept hold of it, just in case. “What was that all about?”
“I… don’t know…” she said, covering her mouth and her apparent embarrassment. I withdrew a handkerchief from my back pocket and wiped the blade clean of what little left there was of the poor spider. Her aim was astonishingly true. I’d have to remember that. “A jumpy, aren’t you?”
“I have been lately, I just got back into town,” she said as she looked down, “I had to go away for a bit with Uncle Michael to see father, get a couple things tightened up and sorted out.” She suddenly blushed and shook her head and brought a hand to the side of her face, “Boy, how stupid we all felt once we realized the problem.”
I arched an eyebrow, clearly interested in this news, “Tightened up and sorted out? What was the problem, Bianca?”
She scratched her cheek and smiled sheepishly, “I can’t really… tell you that Mr. Melnik. Papa’s orders.”
I sighed but I nodded, accepting that answer for now. I’d learned to not push her the way she pushed me when she was, well, herself. “I see. Your father is rather protective, is he?”
She replied “I believe so, but if I recall, it isn’t for my own safety,” and rubbed her chin thoughtfully for a moment.
That sounded like trouble. I furrowed my brow and asked what she meant by that but she merely shrugged, “I don’t know.”
I nodded, figuring again that I didn’t wish to push the subject. It really wasn’t my business at this point. She had just revealed that she was in the care of her family and from what I could see it seemed to be working. Aside from a bit of jumpiness. With a sharp object. And yet I guessed I could still watch her, make sure that whatever results I had been seeing were taking hold.
“Alright, then. Well, I’m certainly glad everything’s okay. And it seems you have your hands full with… everything…” My voice trailed off as I became aware she was just staring blankly at me. There was no hint of life in her eyes at all. I brought my fingers up and snapped them before her, “Bianca?”
With the snap her eyes widened and then narrowed on me viciously, “Why hello, Mr. Melnik. When did you get here?”
I couldn’t hide the surprise on my face. I withdrew my fingers from her line of sight, knowing I must be careful, I played along. “I just got here.”
She looked at me, tilting her head to scan every inch of me. Her eyes stopped on the letter opener I held and she smiled and her eyes flickered. “I thought we played that game. You didn’t seem to enjoy it then… Or was it because I had the letter opener?”
A game indeed. The board was set and she had just made the first move.
*Comment by Tepic Harlequin on July 25, 2010 at 4:13am
oh err! you know, i’m not sure snapping yer fingers was the wisest move……
*Comment by Ashai Kohime on July 25, 2010 at 9:28am
A game of strategy to be sure… Watch your back Mr. Melnik, lest you lose the upper hand.
*Comment by Gabriell Anatra on July 25, 2010 at 11:44am
Ah yes, something is rather ‘off’ about the young woman. I doubt it’s schizophrenia though. She seems too mercurial even for that. As Ms Kohime suggests, watch yourself, this one seems quite dangerous.