Friday, May 05, 2006


"Darby Vailmont" I repeated dimly as Rotler, the supervisor, introduced me to the new girl.
"Miss Vailmont is on her way up" he said smoothly "she needs some experience in here before she can move up to the clerks department."
Darby Vailmont was only just on the decent side of sluttish. Rotler was having trouble concentrating on anything other than her rather fantastic cleavage that was making a bid for freedom between two straining buttons.
"Ann Parker" I said, holding out my hand and breaking the cleavage spell.
"I'll leave you to get on then, the firm has plans for this young lady."
"Asshole" Darby said when the slimeball was out of earshot.
I liked her already.

My new workmate had a surprising number of talents and she was more than willing to share them. She despatched the office Romeos with a flick of her dyed blonde hair and could say more with one of her ruby delight nails than a whole dictionary of insults. Darby also proved that she could work and was soon flicking the mail around to different departments nearly as quickly as I could.
"Don't you get bored?"
"No," I replied "I can lose myself in here and I don't have to think about anything else."
"And you have something that you want forget" she asked sympathetically.
I found myself telling Darby my sordid life secrets.
"Nightmare" she said.
I waited for the usual snub after imparting this particular piece of information but my leprous bell failed to ring for Darby Vailmont and she continued to treat me as a human being.
The screen had never behaved like this. I called Darby over as I tried to retreive some less colourful sight to my eyes. She tapped a couple of keys and the screen calmed, revealing a black and red dragon logo.
"That's those Geishan wassnames, best get rid of it quick before upstairs realises that you've hung onto it longer than you should."
"But who are they?" I asked, after hastily sending the offending article to its new home.
"Not really sure, just know that they are too far up the food chain for the likes of you and me."
A week later I sat on the desk and watched Sam Portman's arse crack disappearing once again under my link machine.
"Don't usually get a peep out of you Miss Parker" his muffled voice said.
I had been 'down' five times in the last week and Rotler had been hovering with that look that he usually reserved for the idlers.
"Have you been back through your files?"
"Checked them all," I said as Sam's head reappeared "nothing would get through would it?"
"Still hear of the occasional virus" he said vaguely.
"I'll go through them again then."
Sam nodded sagely. He knew that I knew that he didn't have a clue but we would keep it to ourselves.
"You've got a gremlin stuck in your pipes" Darby said leaning over my shoulder when maintenance had gone.
"I don't understand, I've been through everything. All linkmail was above board and went to the right places."
"When did it start?"
"Last week, sometime after that Geishan thingy?"
"Stick a trailer on it."
"I can't do that" I said in horror "it's above my station."
"Rotler won't stand for it much longer, you'll be issued with a bright new shiny link before you can say'oops I've done it again!'."
I scowled. A new link was notoriously hard to break in and it would take weeks to get used to its foibles.
"Go on, trail it"
Darby must have added some strength to my formerly weak character. Before I knew what I was doing I had checked over my shoulder and had punched in the seven digits that would take me to the court of Slazenger and Boyd if I was caught.
"See, hot trail" Darby said.
We watched the progress of the Geishan mail as it made its way through the hallowed halls of Balain's oldest law firm.
"There, it went to the right place" I said reaching for the terminate button.
"Wait" she said, slapping my hand back.
I watched in horror as the mail stopped in the billing office and then came straight back to me.
"It obviously liked you."
"But where is it?" I moaned.
"Stop right there Parker. You are not going back to that frump of a creature that I was faced with when I started."
I glared.
Darby got her thinking head on and I searched in a few places that I had dismissed the first time around. In a little used memo pile there was a small red, flashing icon that I knew had not been there before.
"Open it."
"I can't," I gasped "I'll be sacked."
"Don't you ever take risks Ann Parker?" Darby snorted.
"Not if I can help it, I did once and look where it got me."

I could still feel the embarassment of that night, an event so awful that it had kept me locked in my cupboard-like appartment ever since.
"But night is when the whole world comes to life" Darby had said, trying to lure me out of my comfort zone.
"I came to life, got drunk and humiliated myself in front of a thousand people. I don't go out at night, ever!"
"No need to blame it on the night, I can do all that in broad daylight" Darby had smirked.

"I did some research on those Geishan" Darby said idly, cleaning the invisible dirt from her inch long talons.
"Only the most secretive organisation in the whole universe."
I groaned loudly.
"Take a risk Parker" darby whispered in my ear and before I could stop her, a hand shot past me and depressed the icon of doom.
The sun was sinking towards the horizon as I reached the shuttle terminal.
"What am I doing" I muttered as I made my way across the vast concourse.
I stood patiently at the flight booth until the attendant deigned to look up fom her link.
"Booth closed" she said snappily.
It would have been so easy to turn around and leave quietly but a darbyness crept through me.
"I have a ticket" I said quietly.
She looked me up and down. I knew I didn't look the part in my bargain basement outfit but I held out the ticket defiantly.
"Hmm," she said, pencilled brows shooting up towards her hairline "just a mo."
I could hear her stocking rasping together as she disappeared into an office.
My ticket wasn't a real one after all. I could stop all this brave nonsense and go back to being plain 'scared of the dark' Ann parker.
The stockings returned.
"Seems that you are on this flight, sorry for the wait. If you would be so kind to go through those doors someone will help you."
"Thank you."
"No problem Miss Parker, wouldn't want you to miss the chance of a lifetime."

The doors opened before I got to them and a red uniform with a dragom logo ushered me through. We hurried along a corridor and up a fligt of stairs that led to the most luxurious shuttle that I had ever seen. The strangely arranged seating swept downwards and to my embarassment I was escorted to the front row.
It took only seconds to realise that I was out of my mail-sorting depth. I was hemmed in by some of the most illustrious and important people that my planet had to offer. The blade diamond, sitting to my right, had a body guard of its own and to the left was someone who looked suspiciously like the Prime minister. I sunk lower into the red leather as the engines purred into existence.
"A drink madam?"
I looked up at the painted Geishan in full costume. She took my breath away.
"The Diva is said to change lives" she said in husky tones.
I managed a weak smile and recieved a fine glass of wine from a set of ruby delight nails.
Seconds later the whole of the front wall of the shuttle slid back to reveal the true horror of what I had done, stars glinted at my foolishness. Here I was, plain Ann Parker, sitting in the darkness of space with permanent night all around me and before me was The Diva Jaspari, the greatest singer of our time.

She sang, the night melted away and I felt my chains slipping soundlessly to the floor.