Something had to change, that was for certain. Penny was trying to act like her normal self but she stopped staying in the bedroom once Teri sort of pretty much started sleeping in the same bed as me. Not that we did anything. Erf, not that I wasn’t tempted…
I made extra time to spend with Penny between everything I was doing. It really cheered her up, and cheered me up as well. I think Teri was a bit confused at the sight of me pillow fighting with ‘nothing’. I told her it was really Penny but she was obviously not convinced. I had to make her real but what could I do? Steal from Landgraab Facilities? I couldn’t go that far. Spraying sinks and hair dye was a looooong way away from thievery. Could I really do something so… illegal?
I hated Landgraab Facilities, and they had done wrong to my father. Did that give me the right to do wrong to them? Two wrongs do not make a right. But how else was I supposed to get that chemical? Or should I just go back to looking for a rainbow gem?
I did not want to do that. Look at what happened to my father for following strange voices on the phone. I wasn’t going to do the same! Except what if that was the only way to make Penny real? I can’t do it, I thought as I got out of a long soak in the tub. I don’t trust it. I can’t trust it. But all that is left to me is doing something illegal. But I can’t do that! I can’t become a criminal. Can I?
I wound up finding the blueprints for the facility, just in case. I studied the floor plans, my fingers gripping the edge of the paper so much that I wound up getting a few paper cuts. As I wrapped a bandage around a particularly nasty cut, I thought perhaps I could pull it off. Security in town wasn’t exactly tight-knit. There was even a known criminal gang, almost always slipping under the radar. I knew where the lab kept the low-grade stuff, since I had gone on a tour. Surely I could just sneak in… grab the vial… sneak back out. Simple, right?
“Teri, I need to ask you something…” I couldn’t tell her any of the details but I seriously needed some advice. I had no one else to talk to. I considered maybe asking my not-really-cousin Katie, but she was busy being pregnant. I had no idea what she saw in that creeper boyfriend of hers (I kinda wanted to punch his lights out) but she seemed happy. So that left me with Teri. I wished I could confess everything but all I could try was a sort of hypothetical situation.
“If you cared about someone, would you do anything to help them live?”
Okay… maybe that wasn’t the best way to start the conversation.
“Let me try again,” I said with a false chuckle. “This is just something that’s been on my mind since we watched that movie ‘Sim Q’.” I looked down at my hands and pressed my fingertips together, hoping I wouldn’t mess up my words. I was a pretty clumsy person, both physically and mentally. My words got as tangled up as my feet, at least I assumed so from all the conversational mistakes I made. “If someone you love very much, like your child or… spouse…” I bit my bottom lip and looked away from her. “Or best friend. If something was going on with them and the only way to help them to live a full life was something illegal… would you do it?”
She was quiet for a moment then when she began talking it was slow and meaningful. I was glad she was taking this seriously. “That’s a difficult question, Cal. If it’s someone I love, as you said, I would try my hardest to do anything humanly possible to give them their life. Would I, for instance, take another life for the sake of a loved one? I… I honestly don’t know if I could do that.” Her eyes crinkled slightly as she gave me a slight smile. “I’d like to think I would do anything, but it’s hard to tell what I would do unless I was in that situation.”
I pushed myself up into more of a sitting position and sighed. “What if it wasn’t something like murder? What if it was something like… stealing? If you had the chance to… steal a medicine that you couldn’t get, to help a friend live, would you do it?”
“If they were that desperate for medicine, surely they would get the help they needed,” she said as she lifted her eyes up to look at the ceiling, as if that would have an answer for the question too. “Are we talking about someone in particular?”
“It’s just something that’s been on my mind,” I said quickly. That’s the truth, at least. “If someone I cared about was at risk at not having a, erm, a full life… I would want to do what I can. Say this person has no money or no means to get real help!” I leaned closer to her, my hand moving onto her wrist. “It’s impossible, let’s pretend. Would you steal the necessary c–medicine for them Risking everything? If you could?”
She upturned her hand so she could slide her fingers between mine. “I think if I was forced into a corner then yes, I would do anything. How about you?”
I lay back down, pressing my cheek into my pillow, my fingers tightening around hers as I looked up at her. “Yeah,” I agreed. “If I was forced into a corner.
Needless to say, my dreams that night weren’t too pleasant. I had so many nightmares of being arrested and put in jail, or else being caught by the lab and–due to my lineage–put under the scalpel for studies.
“What was that about yesterday?” Penny’s voice floated into my ears from where she stood at the foot of my bed. I glanced at her and frowned as I pushed myself onto my feet.
“I didn’t know you heard us,” I said, shrugging as I walked over to my dresser. Teri had started keeping her stuff in here so it took me a minute of fumbling to find my own clothes. “You were in the other room.”
“The door was open,” she pointed out. “Are you going to steal something?”
“Don’t read too much into it!” I laughed. “It was because of a movie we saw recently.”
She rubbed her cheek and made a snuffling sound, indicating she didn’t believe me. I took her arms and pulled her a bit closer. “Don’t worry about anything, Penny. Okay?”
She bowed her head, nodding. “Okay, Calcifer. I trust you.”
How could I be doing this?
I can’t trust a voice on the phone, not like my father…
I had to do this to give Penny life…
Pushed into a corner…
I woke up, heart leaping into my throat. It was late morning, Teri was at work, Penny was in doll form, I was by myself. Nothing but me and the knowledge of what had happened.
I leaped out of bed, gasping for air and trying to keep my hands from shaking. Reaper, I thought, clutching at my hair and sliding down to my knees. Guilt squeezed my body like some sort of giant snake, pushing the air out of my body, causing the blood to rush in my ears. Suddenly I felt as though everyone knew exactly what went down. I got up and began pacing, tugging at my bangs, working out what I needed to do next, trying to forget the event. I really wanted a drink but thankfully felt too edgy to go out.
Though I will have to go out, I thought as I slowly got dressed. I had a lot of work ahead of me and knew just the place to work in secret. Though I knew I needed a bit of help, so it wouldn’t be in total secret; but I knew Uncle Aiden would be willing to help out.