There Would Be No Running Away From the Dawn

Linda stalked back into her quarters, wrapping the shallow but nasty gashes in her palms with bandages as she walked. She then slung the laptop case off her shoulder and onto her bed before sitting down cross-legged to pick the computer up and finish the work she had begun earlier in the evening.

Headset in place over her ears, she listened very carefully to the audio recording that she had created earlier, critically analyzing every phrase. Several times she decided that there was too much information or simple rambling and carefully cut out the offending portions from the audio file and then adjusted the remainder to smooth the transition a bit. A couple of times she recorded new phrasings or versions of what she had already said and inserted the replacements into the flow of the audio.

The evening wore on as she worked there in the dark, illuminated only by the light of her monitor. Once she was satisfied that the file had enough information to be useful to its intended recipient yet less damning to herself and her daughter than it might otherwise have been, she saved the new version and listened to it through once more just to be sure.

Burning the file to a CD took just a few moments, and she wrote “To Prof. Warner” on the CD with a sharpie before popping it into a jewel case and sliding the case into a padded mailer. It felt so sloppy to her, allowing her actual fingerprints and handwriting to be on the CD, the mailer and the jewel case. She had to remind herself that she was doing things this way deliberately: for once she actually wanted somebody to investigate her.

The young woman stared at the mailer in silence for several long moments, then made the hard decision and proceeded to burn a second and third identical CD. On the second she wrote, “for Steve” and on the third, “For Devin.” Taking a look at her clock and noting the late hour, she decided it was time to try getting a little sleep… she was going to have to be up and out at Steve’s campsite before dawn, and she wanted to have her faculties about her for that.

*          *          *          *          *

After a difficult start, she finally drifted into something approaching a restful sleep, which was cut all too short by her hateful alarm. She hauled herself grumbling and swearing out of bed and staggered into the shower. Once finished with grooming, Linda returned and hastily dressed herself. She fished a gym bag out of the bottom of her closet and went through its contents, making sure that the items she wanted were there. After tossing this on the bed, she opened the drawer on her nightstand and withdrew a handgun. With quick motions she slid the magazine out to check its load, then replaced it with a fresh mag and holstered the pistol against the small of her back, then thought better of it and placed the holstered weapon into the gym bag instead. Then she swept a large duster off her bed and draped it across her narrow shoulders like a cape.

The CD for Steve went into the side pouch on her gym bag, then she zipped the bag up and carried it out the door, making her way out to the garage where Steve’s F-150 lay in wait. She clambered in, started the engine and drove out into the darkness of the moonless desert night with nothing but herself and what lurked inside her own soul for company.

Yet again, she found occasion to be grateful that the little round device in her coat pocket helped quiet the voice of Jez in her head and weakened the Bane’s influence over her personality and actions. This was going to be even less fun for the Bane than it was for her, and she really didn’t want the fight Jez was sure to put up when it realized what was going on. With a nervous smile to herself, she glanced over at the gym bag on the seat beside her. Jez could scream and rage all she wanted, but there would be no running away from the dawn.

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