(Marita at the freighter dock, Patient X)
Two days ago the world was sane. At least, as sane as it gets with the clock ticking down to an extraterrestrial invasion. Now everything has been tumbled end-for-end: Alex's first ominous call, incinerated abductees, a new alien enemy. Long, tense hours in a military jet, the fear gnawing steadily deeper into her. At their destination, the horrifying evidence.
Then her own personal horror. Before the incident, no decision had ever been unilateral. They'd always discussed. Debated--heatedly sometimes--but in the end there'd always been agreement, a united front. Strength.
Shattered, now, over the fate of a boy.
For months he's been a pillar holding up the ceiling over her world, Alex with his raw grit and his determination. His grin; the smoke of his voice; the strong arm that's gathered her in when she was half-asleep, or teetering at the breaking point. As if some small part of life could be steady, dependable. A lighted window amid the vast darkness she must tread.
Marita swallows and forces her eyes open. Overhead, through the sunroof, high wisps of white scuttle across a rectangle of stark blue, thinning gradually as they go, separating and then reforming. How like the ties in life, she thinks.
Granted, her desire to draw Mulder into a collaboration to fight this new enemy offers no clear indicators pointing toward success. But Alex's plan seems laced with foolish bravado, or revenge they can't afford. Perhaps both. The old men's network is like a cancer, spread out below the surface, lying in veins and organs, lurking. Cutting out one part of it--even the heart or head, if it were possible--won't kill it. And what's left will rise to strangle the plan that's become her child, the only child she'll ever have in this world. The one she's committed her life to. When it come down to the choice between a man and your child, there's no question.
If only she could slow the world down.
Marita makes herself take a slow, deliberate breath, in and then out, and forces her fingers, one by one, to let go their death grip on the steering wheel. She and Alex have barely talked since the rebel strike--a few hurried, static-filled phone calls. Clarity is what's needed now. She knows--as well as she's ever known anything--that he's dedicated to the success of her plan, to the salvation it could bring. Things could look different in person, the breakneck rush of events past.
Glancing up again, she squints against the bright blue of the sky, then reaches for the door and steps out of the car, the echo of her pulse loud inside her. Salt air blows her hair to one side and she looks up at the dark hulk of the ship, its shadow angled toward her.
Clarity, she reminds herself. Her heart seems to bang against the thin fabric of her blouse.
Once aboard, she'll know what she has to do.
© bardsmaid 2005 |