Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Tenth Day

In which the audience yawns and Graham falls a little more behind on word count.

Okay, this chapter is happening mostly in Seamus' head. There's a little more background info on him, and he's thinking about meeting Cassidy in the previous chapter. Character development or something. Yeah. I will attempt to be more inspired tomorrow.

Chapter 15

In Seamus' fourth day at the data entry job, habit had long since turned into monotony. He was also about ready to strangle the woman with a cold just two cubicles away from him, who sneezed constantly throughout the day by saying "Too! Too! Too!" That had gotten old really fast, and he couldn't help but think every single time that if she would just go ahead and have a real sneeze instead of all these silly little "too's" then she could probably get it out of her system and have done with it.

In continuing efforts to keep himself from being either bored to tears or driven insane, Seamus passed the time speculating about Cassidy. The brief conversation hadn't given him a whole lot to go on, but what he did know was very intriguing. This was someone else who had been having the same sorts of surreal experiences he had. Somewhere in Oregon there was another copy of the book he had found, and it was having similar effects on someone.

Though now that he thought about it, it hadn't sounded as though things had worked the same for Cassidy as they had for him. It seemed like the book had been trying to get her to do the bibliomorphing thing, but it hadn't quite been working. So maybe this wasn't a power that was completely dependent on the book. Had Seamus just been a very quick learner, or was there some quality inherent in him that had allowed it to happen so quickly and easily the first time he tried?

Of course, the last time he had tried, it hadn't worked at all, he remembered. That was before he met Cassidy, when he wasn’t getting anything from the book at all. It seemed as though the book was, in some sense, away during that time, as though it was the same presence, shared by both his book and Cassidy's, and it had been off orchestrating things somehow to bring them together last night. There was still no clue as to what the purpose might be to that, though perhaps simply bringing together two people with similar, paranormal abilities was purpose enough. Or maybe it wasn't really about him and Cassidy, and it was the books themselves that needed connecting and were using two convenient people as bridges. Seamus thought – and hoped – that was less likely, though he realized he couldn't really rule that out.

He liked the idea of the magical power being something of his own, something inherent to him and simply brought out or enabled by the book. Who wouldn't? Everyone has a fantasy somewhere in them of being the one chosen, special one. Being Neo in the Matrix, being the Wart pulling the sword from the stone to become King Arthur. But he had to admit that it was frightening as well. It opens up new possibilities, but also new dangers, and new responsibilities. There was no way of telling what it might require of him. And there were no role models to look to, no examples to give an idea of what might be in store. The book had pulled him into this on his own.

He wasn't entirely on his own anymore though, now that he knew about Cassidy. While it wasn't clear whether she had precisely the same power, ability, experience, whatever as him, she was at least in the same boat. He could talk to her about it without feeling like a lunatic. Just that thought gave him a feeling of relief and comfort. It didn't make the whole crazy situation any less confusing, but it meant that the confusion wasn't on him alone. He felt a sense of connection with Cassidy that surprised him. He found himself thinking ahead to the evening, and hoping he would get a chance to talk to her again. It was as if he missed her already.

Okay now, he told himself, don't go getting a crush on her or anything. That would be ridiculous. You barely even met her, and that was through some magical book version of Instant Messenger. Seamus very rarely got crushes on anyone, mostly due to his preemptive strike strategy.

He tried to think of what he did know about her, though. She was a college student, which narrowed things down a fair amount in terms of age at least. Seamus knew that just being at college wasn't necessarily an indicator of anything intelligence wise – even at Stanford there were too many exceptions to the stereotype. But still, she had seemed pretty sharp. And she definitely had an air of confidence about her. Seamus admired that. She was probably an extrovert.

Without any physical appearance for his imagination to latch on to, Seamus found himself picturing Cassidy as being very much like his ex-girlfriend, Natalie. They had been together for a year in college, and it was the only long term relationship Seamus had ever had. Natalie had been a small, strong willed girl, with almost fluorescent blond hair. She had been the one to ask him out on their first date, after having met in a cognitive psychology class, and she had been the one to do the leaving a year later. He had been moderately surprised when they broke up, though the warning signs had been there for a couple of months. She had felt that he was always holding himself back somehow from the relationship, like he was reluctant to make any significant emotional investment for fear of being hurt. For all Seamus knew, this might have been true. Maybe that was what had helped him get over the breakup when it finally happened. Anyway, it was over now, and for the most part, Seamus liked to keep it behind him. Natalie had moved back home to Pennsylvania after graduation, so he didn't run into her much anymore.

Seamus blinked a few times, and realized that it had probably been several minutes since he had entered the data from the sheet that was still in front of him. He hurriedly put it aside and picked up a new one, not wanting to look completely spaced out if Laura stopped by to check on him. Everyone knew that temp jobs like these were about as dull as, well, data entry (it doesn't get much duller than that, even in analogies), but everyone also knew that he was extremely replaceable, so it was always best to at least appear to be a dedicated worker, even when one's mind is somewhere else.

It was conveniently near quitting time at that point, though, so Seamus didn't have to focus on numbers for much longer. He shaved as much time as he dared off the end of his day, drove home, and took the stairs up to his room two at a time.