Nico (vilakins) wrote,
Nico
vilakins

Ficlet: One Man Rescue

Last week on b7friday it was the 100 best first lines challenge. I wrote two. Here's the first one: 650 words, set PGP.

One Man Rescue

Granted: I am an inmate of a mental hospital; my keeper is watching me, he never lets me out of his sight; there's a peephole in the door, and my keeper's eye is the shade of brown that can never see through a blue-eyed type like me. Well, I suppose there's really more than one person behind the brown eye, and it really isn't always there. It just feels like it.

This place is supposed to be a cut above being court-martialed and executed for treason; it seems my uncle called in a few favours. I'm not kidding myself it was for me; Dev the Devious never cared about anything but himself and a guilty verdict would mean the whole family would be sold off, and that's just him now.

So I sit here and smile. I smile because the more teeth I show, the better they treat me. It frightens them. I smile at that brown eye now, and it blinks.

"Bloody hell, Tarrant, what's the albedo on those things? Not very fair, trying to blind a chap when he's working on a lock."

"Vila? Is that you?"

"I've been me all my life, yeah." The door opens and there he is, in cleaner's overalls with a bucket and mop: a sight for sore eyes, as my mother used to say. "Hurry up, put these on." There's another cleaner's outfit under the rags in the bucket, but I just stand there, holding it, because I'm wondering if I really have gone mad.

"Make it snappy, I haven't got all day."

So I put them on and follow him out.

"And try to look inconspicuous, if you can. I mean, no one ever looks at me, but a long tall drink of water like you?"

I put my head down and lower my eyes and look defeated and harmless like he does, and it works. No one even looks at us. Once we're outside, he pulls off his overalls and he's wearing a dark blue uniform with a lightning flash on it, just like the one on the fast little ship we're heading for.

"Did you steal that?"

"I'd like to say yes," he says regretfully, "but I really am a fast courier. Wasn't hard getting this run either; no one likes coming here. Took me a few trips to find out where you were."

We're up and away in no time; Vila's a good enough pilot and the only one Avon ever trusted in Scorpio alone--yes, I noticed--so I sit back and leave it to him.

"Why me, Vila?'

"Who else was there? Soolin took off as soon as we escaped."

"All right then, why now?"

"Couldn't manage it before."

"Vila."

"Look, I quite like this job, you're in and out fast, no one notices you, and it pays quite well, especially with an extra job or two on the side, but if I teamed up with another pilot, we could do the longer runs. You get to go all over the place in the fastest getaway ship the Federation has to offer."

And I'd known Vila long enough to guess the rest: I need people. And why not? So do I. But still, why me? "And you trust me?" After what happened with Bayban and Blake?

"Yeah." Vila looked at me. "When everyone thought I was dead in that black hole, you were the one who came out to get my body. For all the 'honour among thieves' stuff on the vids, there's not that much of it about." And I saw I was wrong about brown eyes; some of them can see right through the surface of a blue-eyed devil-may-care flyboy.

Funny thing, I couldn't smile then. But I nodded. "All right, Vila. You're on." And I held out my hand like you do to a partner and an equal, and we shook on it.



I used line # 71: Granted: I am an inmate of a mental hospital; my keeper is watching me, he never lets me out of his sight; there's a peephole in the door, and my keeper's eye is the shade of brown that can never see through a blue-eyed type like me. —Günter Grass, The Tin Drum (1959; trans. Ralph Manheim). Which is cool, because I enjoyed that book and the film; I like Grass.
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