Sorry this is late again – I’m on holiday this time and couldn’t find a wi-fi hub till today!
Sophie smiled tightly at the young woman behind the reception desk, but managed to keep her voice level, almost friendly:
“Look, I take full responsibility if anything goes wrong. You know that Abigail trusts me; I am her friend and her office manager. Unfortunately you can’t call her right now because she’s ill, but she has asked me to get something from that room for her.” She paused, took a deep breath and tried to ignore the woman’s sceptical expression. “Look, I know you don’t know either me or Abigail well. That must be hard when you are not long in a new job, but trust me. I need to get into that room because she really wants the sculpture. Don’t ask me why – hopefully she’s just realised that it doesn’t go with the rest of décor.” If the other woman noticed the strain in her smile, she didn’t show it. Instead she just laughed and commented that it was about time; the ugly thing gave her the creeps.
The receptionist led Sophie up to the room and unlocked the door. Rather than follow her in, however, she glanced nervously around and quickly made her way back to the reception desk. Sophie ran her eye around the room which had been tidied and cleaned; the squat sculpture hadn’t been touched.
Close up, Sophie felt just as repulsed as Abigail now seemed to be by the ridiculous thing. She still had no understanding of what had possessed her friend to make such an awful figure, let alone why she had decided that it was necessary to sleep in the same room as it. She picked it and up a shudder ran through her; causing her to jump back, and then to laugh and shake her head.
“Grow up, Sophie” she muttered “She’ll have you as daft as she is.”
She tried again to lift the sculpture before dropping it a second time. Chiding herself softly, Sophie grasped it more firmly. This time she was unable to stifle an alarmed squeal as she snatched her hands away. She looked at them in shock, turning them over so that she could inspect them thoroughly, they were unmarked. She stared at them for a bit and then shook her head in disgust.
“Get a grip” she said to herself then, licking her lips nervously, she positioned herself in a half squat with her feet either side of the machine like Indiana Jones trying not to trigger a trap. She snickered and rubbed her mouth, paused and then grabbed at the sculpture in a business like manner. Immediately she jerked backwards and tried to throw herself across the room, away from the thing which lurched into ugly, malevolent life. It didn’t work. The sculpture followed where she led, her hands still fixed firmly to its sides. It had her.
Tia let out a triumphant cry. This close to her goal, some of the living matter had already begun to coalesce around her. There was no turning back now but she needed more matter. The stupid friend was perfect. She wondered if having so much of Sophie’s essence meant that they would look alike. Would she be able to step straight into the arrogant child’s life? It would save her the bother of trying to build herself one. She had been watching her through Abigail’s mind for months, but now she was close enough to see the creature for herself. She imagined a laugh, no belly yet to do it properly. The irony was delicious. Willing herself further along the loop Tia began to imagine a life constrained by biology and matter. Like a lover leaving a bad relationship she worried that it wasn’t the right thing to do; but she knew deep down that she had no choice. Even if it was physically possible, she could never allow herself to turn away now.