The music blared loudly in the studio. It drowned out the news report on the monitor in the other room. It drowned out the vibrations from the SatCom on the far table. The only thing it couldn’t drown out was the flow of creative energy from painter to canvas, a continuous motion of paint on brush, onto canvas, and repeat.
Without warning, the music stopped. It caught her off guard. ‘What the hell!’ she thought, irritated that she had been interrupted this way. Was there something wrong with her sound system, she wondered? As quickly as it stopped, the music resumed, loudly as before. She felt a twinge, a tiny uneasiness, in the back of her neck. She checked the sound system; turned it off; turned it back on. It responded as it should. She made a mental note to have a technician look at it. She checked the time, mindful that she had a luncheon to go to, and decided to wash up and get ready.
As she rinsed her brushes she noticed something odd about the water pressure. She opened the faucets wider so she would have more water to rinse the soapy brushes. Normally she had plenty of water flow. What was going on here? She made another mental note to get the technicians to examine her water system as well.
These little glitches made her mildly annoyed as she cleaned up her work area. She looked at her fledgling painting, glistening with wet paint, waiting to be developed more fully. What would this one become? An abstract yes, but what little images would emerge from within, as if hiding amongst the folds of a multi-coloured cloak?
She had all but forgotten the man from the gallery opening the night before – until now. She looked at the fresh paint on the canvas and wondered if similar images would appear in these paintings. Where had those images come from in the first place? She had to have channeled something from what she had read, or seen on the news reports. Something in her subconscious mind had regurgitated those images onto her canvas. That had to be it, she concluded, as she dressed for lunch.
She gathered her wrap, SatCom, and purse, then went to the door. She raised her palm to the encoder. Nothing happened. The door did not open. She was becoming very agitated by now, and placed her palm again to the encoder. This time the door opened. She paused, frustrated by the glitches of this morning. She took out her SatCom from her purse and contacted the apartment’s in-house technician.
“Hello? Yes, this is 3366. I would like to have someone come and do a system scan on my flat. There have been some glitches this morning with the sound system and the door. Please also check the water system. The pressure was down this morning. I will be out all afternoon. Can you come then? Ok. Thank you. Goodbye.”
She stepped into the transport tube, entered her destination into the encoder, and was delivered immediately to the restaurant where her friends were eagerly waiting for her. As she approached the restaurant she was stopped by a few eager admirers asking for an autograph. This was normal in her life and she happily obliged. If it wasn’t for her fans, she would not be the success she was and she was grateful for their continued support. She chatted briefly to some art students, and then bid them goodbye and entered the restaurant.
After hugs and kisses, they all retired to the private dining room to enjoy their meal and celebrate the birthday of one of her oldest friends. Amidst birthday presents, this group of old friends enjoyed some gossip and camaraderie. This was one luncheon she was happy to attend, she thought, as she looked around at the faces of these people who comprised what she referred to as ‘family’. Although she had to force herself to leave her studio on days when she felt most creative, once she was amongst these friends, she was always glad she came.
There was one face here she didn’t know well – Dolly, the woman who had called her this morning wanting to get together for shopping. She was the cousin of a friend, and over the last few weeks had been accompanying them to all the social engagements. She was not familiar with the life of an icon and was shocked at the boldness of the people outside.
“I just have to ask you this, Kara… how can you stand that?” Dolly asked, “How can you stand to have them push so closely to you, and grab your arm and make demands on you that way? It would unnerve me to have those people get too close to me.”
“It doesn’t bother me, “ Kara replied. “They are my fans, and they buy my work. If not for them I would not be where I am today.”
Dolly shuddered at the thought of being accosted in that manner, but the rest of Kara’s friends laughed and commended her on being a thoughtful and caring person. By the time the food came, everyone had moved on to discussions of fashion, movies, the latest gossip and other more entertaining topics.
Just as dessert was being served the lights began to flicker in the restaurant. Everyone was shocked. There hadn’t been power issues in the city for over 50 years! Kara reported the strange occurrences at her apartment and soon they were all sharing similar tales of dimming lights, low water pressure, and malfunctioning systems. In typical fashion, however, the response to it all was that there must be some systemic technical glitch and that the technicians would soon sort it.
Then someone mentioned the news reports from the morning. Apparently these Terrans were pretty smart and managed to elude the Security Units and disappeared into the Middle Ground. No one at the table even knew exactly what the Middle Ground was, but they had heard the term mentioned many years ago when Terrans were supposed to be more common.
Kara mentioned that she thought Terrans were extinct. Hadn’t someone said that? Everyone else agreed that they had heard this too. It was a surprise to hear of Terrans now, but surely this was a rare occurrence, like a solar eclipse or something. It would be sorted by the Security Units and that would be the end of it.
Liam, who had been silent through most of the discussion, quietly spoke up: “Maybe we don’t know everything there is to know about the Terrans. Maybe they aren’t extinct at all.”
Everyone stopped talking and turned to look at Liam with surprise. Then Paul, the joker of the group, laughed out loud and said: “Ohhhhhhh , yeah, the Terrans are gonna get us!” He laughed again and chided Liam for being so suspicious. “Man, you are always looking for conspiracies and hidden meanings! Sometimes it just is what it is, and if it wasn’t, then we’d be told. We live in an enlightened world, buddy, and there are no secrets anymore. Step into the 23rd century!”
Everyone laughed, including Liam, and the conversation moved on to less political topics. Everyone, that is, except Kara. She felt strange, as if trying to remember something but not being able to. Something Liam said seemed to trigger this feeling, but she couldn’t put her finger on it. As they chatted away, she quietly tried to shake this feeling of déjà vu.
Liam glanced over at her, with a strange look on his face. What was he looking at her that way for? She smiled, and he returned the smile, but it felt odd. It felt as if there was something just a tiny bit out of whack with the scene. Why couldn’t she get this feeling out of her head? It had to be left over from last night. She decided to mention it to her friends. Maybe one of them might actually know this man and she could finally get this issue sorted and done with.
Unfortunately no one knew who he was. No one even remembered seeing him there last night. This was to be expected, of course, because it was quite crowded at the gallery and no one was really focusing on the people they didn’t know. She decided to refrain from mentioning what he said, or what she saw in the paintings. The fact that she, herself, saw these images in the paintings was, perhaps, just a one-time aberration, brought on by the man himself. He planted the idea in her mind. She was tired, and had been drinking. Even if she did see the images, it wasn’t important anymore, right? The paintings were sold and the man was gone. She had to just let it all go.
Liam sat beside her and quietly said: “You look puzzled. Hope I didn’t say anything to upset you. You know me, I’m always thinking outside the box.”
She smiled and looked at him. He wasn’t smiling. His face was very serious and she again felt that twinge. He took her hand. “It’s going to be ok,” he said, and then smiled.
That feeling of déjà vu still hovered, and she shivered a bit. Liam smiled again, then kissed her on the cheek and muttered something about being “creative” and “over-active imagination”. She wasn’t sure if he was meaning her or himself.
By now they were on to the coffee and tea part of the luncheon and she sipped her Sumatran decaf cappucchino, savouring it’s dark full-bodied flavor. With no further glitches, the luncheon soon came to an end and after kisses and promises to “do it again soon” she was off to her afternoon photo shoot and interview.
She entered the transport tube and turned around to wave goodbye to her friends. Liam was standing just a bit apart from the others, looking at her with that strange look on his face. At that moment one tiny memory was slowly being triggered in her subconscious just as she entered her co-ordinates to the encoder left for her appointment.
© 2008 Tallulah