Monday, November 15, 2010
"The doctor will see you shortly," the receptionist had said, but between Teresa's anger and the growing pain in her hand it had felt like that was hours ago. Sitting on the paper-covered examination table in an antiseptic room, with only the hiss of central air and the slow ticking of a clock to keep her company, it felt like yet another place where time entered and never left.
"Had to lose my temper, didn't I?" she groused, kicking at the paper tail that dangled below her feet. "Had to blow up. Had to stomp off. Had to leave all my fucking books in the waiting room…"
She noticed the valve labeled "PURE OXYGEN" in the wall behind her, and for a moment considered using the last vestige of her dwindling magic to force the valve open and set the whole room ablaze.
"You won't do it," said a familiar voice. The computer monitor on the cabinet across from her woke from its sleep mode with a low hum to reveal Netty's face. "It's too fast for your liking. You prefer the slow, painful route, smoking yourself to death over decades."
"Fuck you," she answered reflexively, not wanting to admit the truthfulness of the words. "You think you know me, but you don't. I'm more than data in a file. You push me hard enough, I will burn this whole thing down just to spite you."
Netty tut-tutted. "Ms. Reyes, your anger is entirely misdirected, but I shan't try to dissuade you from your assumptions. Instead, I ask you this: what if I want you to burn everything down?"
She glared at the screen. "You just try me."
"No, I am completely serious," Netty continued. "I know that you are exceedingly well-read, surely you have not missed the inherent occult symbolism of grouping you with Mr. Yarrow and Mrs. Fulcrum. There are three of you – a trinity, a prime number, the minimum number of sides to create a polygon. Young, middle-aged, and old; maiden, mother, crone. Creator, nurturer, destroyer. Judge, jury, and executioner."
"Wait just a goddamn minute," she interrupted. "You put me in the crone position?"
Netty shrugged. "Atropos suits you. Yarrow, as you surmised earlier, is still a virgin, and do you truly wish to debate your parenting skills?"
There was a loud popping sound deep within the monitor as electronic components heated, failed, and caught fire. Thin plumes of toxic smoke rose from its vents as the picture froze, warped, and died. "No," she said to the darkened screen. "Nothing to debate."
The smoke alarm above her began to shriek, sounding much like the high, shrill note of a cat with a burning ember tied to its tail.
The Fine Print
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