About The Laws of Space
The Laws of Space
Chapter 14 Begins
Chapter 14: In Love and Space
Susa announced her impending presence with the touch of her portable worldview, a watch-like device around her wrist. Almost immediately, she saw the Administrator’s face on the tiny screen. “It’s safe, Susa. My Space has been deactivated.” She did the same, then took a heavy breath and made her way up the winding stone walkway leading to the behemoth that was the home of Clement Pope. It wasn’t her first visit, but familiarity did little to suppress the inimitable grandeur of the Administrator’s monument to isolation. Susa knew to walk right up to the front entrance; Clement wasn’t one to come out for anything less than an emergency. As she neared, the door whispered out the trapped air from the sealed atmosphere of the dome. When it was finally ajar, she stepped into a “foyer” where she would be scanned for pathogens or any other harmful contaminates that might endanger Pope. Susa found the entire process onerous—ironically so. On her first visit, she had been smitten with envy at Clement’s fastidiousness and wanted a similar contraption installed at her own estate. Now it only frayed at what was left of her nerves.
Entering the sphere, she was met by Pope. Mechs diverted from his path in jarring motions as he made a straight line toward her.
“How are you? I know it can be off-putting, but allow me a moment of boorishness… I’ve missed you. I’m so very anxious to start our partnership—surely the Continuation will be substantially buoyed by our contributions.”
Susa could hear him talking but she had drifted somewhere between Continuation and Contributions. The beautiful L9 had come with two things to say; everything else was noise. Noise kept bouncing off her, noise from Pope’s leaning big-toothed mouth. She didn’t want to look at his face, all pink and powder white. Looks weren’t supposed to matter; productivity was the only thing—yet they mattered all the more with every straining moment that passed.
“I’ve got some news about the facilities,” she said, breaking into whatever Pope was rattling on about.
“Eh—okay,” he sputtered, taken aback by her manners more than the words. “Whatever it is, I’m sure it’s not a big deal.” The Administrator gathered himself, momentarily recapturing his Administrative visage. “Just tell me about it.”
Susa tried to relax her lissome body; as she breathed deeply, Pope found himself aroused by the movements of her chest and neck. He had wanted her for twenty-five years, since their first class at the EF. “Well, it seems that all the engineering is sound. Conveyors, processors, packagers—I checked and rechecked everything.”
“And the MFGs?”
“Operating at an optimal level. I couldn’t understand, couldn’t see it, but then I realized…”
“It’s the Regulars. They’re not performing. Not even close, actually. They seem… distracted. I don’t know how to say it, I don’t have the expertise. Their minds seem to be otherwise engaged, I suppose. It’s not like I can go down there and talk to them.”
“And this is specific to one facility?”
“No, that’s just the thing. This problem seems to be city wide.” Susa pulled out a folder from her overarm satchel and showed him the figures. He gave them a cursory glance, knowing Susa always did her due diligence.
“And did you check the numbers from the other four cities?”
“I did. Their production levels are down, too, but only slightly—still within the AOL margins.” She handed Pope the full set of statistics and while he looked them over she took a moment to look at her surroundings. No doubt it was the very pinnacle of Spacer safety, a crowning achievement by any sane standard. The Mechs were top notch, and everything was white and clean. Cold. So cold. Susa bit down on her lip and looked at the polished floor. Things were upside down.