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Revision as of 15:44, 21 July 2019

School Spirit
Dramatis Personae

Flicker, Nandini


"If anything's going to kill me, it's rotations."


Blackburn Research Facility - Rec Room

The sign by the door says "Rec Room", but someone with a permanent marker bookended the first word with "W" and "k" at some point, and the subsequent effort to undo the vandalism was lackluster. Inside it is not usually that much of a wreck, though it might be more interesting if it were. One corner is dedicated to the reasonably sized flatscreen television mounted on the wall, with several rows of folding chairs arrayed before it. Another is centered around a set of tacky vinyl sofas bracketed by two bookshelves largely stocked with supermarket checkout paperbacks (about half James Patterson by volume, with Danielle Steel heavily represented, and there are at least six copies of /Fifty Shades of Gray/ at any given time). The rest of the space is more modular, but usually plays host to several card tables ringed with folding chairs, supplied by a shelf of games, from playing cards to chess (with a couple of improvised pieces) to three different flavors of Monopoly.

Once again, it's quiet in the rec room. There are times, certainly, that it's bustling; times it's more popular with the inmates here, but so far it's been the quiet times that Flicker's chosen to tuck himself in here. He's seated in a corner of the couch, a KJV Bible in his lap. His scrubs are neat, his hair neatly combed, his face clean shaven -- though the large dark bruising spread swollen and puffy across one side of his face and squeezing one eye shut mars his attempt at looking put together.

A brown-skinned young woman wanders into the rec room, still cramming the last few bites of a burrito into her mouth. She finishes it off at the water cooler, where she downs one cup of water, then another, as she glaces around the room. In the middle of the second cup she stops dead, eyes locking on Flicker. Leans forward, eyes widening. Then abruptly chokes on the water she was drinking. After a quick fit of coughing, though, she brings the remainder of her water with her and stalks over toward the reading corner. Hovers at the end of the couch. Steps sideways, peering at Flicker intently. Finally seems to make a decision and approaches him. "Hi. Sorry -- to bother you, but I think...um. Do you...go to NYU?"

Flicker looks up from the pages, his finger paused on a line in the book. He studies Nandini for a moment, an uncertain smile frozen a little lopsided on his puffy face. "I did. Do. I -- yes. I'm sorry, do I know you? I don't mean to be rude, my head's -- just been a little fuzzy lately." His cheeks have flushed lightly pink. He closes the Bible, holding his finger between the pages.

Nandini lets out the small breath she'd been holding. "You probably -- um, there's really no reason you'd know me." The blushing seems to be contagious, though not nearly as obvious on her dusky skin. "I'm second year. Medical -- you too, right?" She picks at the seam on her paper cup, shifting her weight from one foot to the other. Seems to notice the cover of his book for the first time. "Oh! Sorry, am I disturbing your...prayer?"

"My -- oh. No, no. I was just reading." Flicker shakes his head, his smile easing. "Yeah. Medical. I'm Flicker. I -- can't exactly say nice to meet you, huh?" He glances, briefly, around the bland room. "I'm sorry you ended up here. I hope it doesn't kill your taste for medicine."

"It...yeah. My name's Nandini." Her lips press together, and she picks harder at her cup. "Not-so-great to meet you." She shakes her head. "I don't know, it's...honestly, I haven't really thought all that much about school. This has been so -- surreal. I thought I was hallucinating at first. Now..." Her lips press together tight. She does not notice when her cup starts leaking. "I'm sorry you're here, too."

"Nandini," Flicker echoes, careful but a little stilted all the same. "How long's it been, for you?" He shifts in his seat, pulling his leg up beneath him. "I don't think it gets less surreal. I mean -- I know I'm. New. But I was in before. A -- a long time ago." He looks down at the cover of the book. Back up at Nandini. "You're leaking." He nods to the cup. "I mean, not here-here. A different here. There's -- a lot. Of labs."

"Two months." Nandini sounds very confident. But then frowns. "I /think/. Since the end of finals. I don't even known my grades." She looks down at the leaking cup. "Oh shiiii --" She tosses back the rest of the water in her cup. "Thanks. Um, yeah, some of the others have told me. I don't really know what to..." She drops down into a seat across from Flicker. "Wait. You were -- you've done this before? And they let you go, or you got away?" She seems suddenly more alert.

"I don't think any of these doctors will write you an excuse note, either." Flicker shakes his head solemnly. His eyes drop to where his hand rests against the cover of the Bible, a finger tracing its title slowly. "I don't think they let anyone go -- ever, really. I'm not sure." His voice is quieter. "Some people broke me out." There's only a slight pause before he continues: "And then we broke people out of a dozen more, after."

Nandini scrubs one hand over the side of her face. "You know, I don't think the profs would buy it even if I did have a note. They probably hear wilder stories every single term." She shrugs, slowly picking apart the empty paper cup. "/Oh!/ You're the guy -- the others have been talking about! The um...'raider'?" She's quiet for a moment. "Has anyone ever broken.../themselves/ out?"

"Worse, they might buy it," Flicker's mouth twitches, "and think you're slacking for not spending your time in here studying." He looks up at the ceiling, the small narrowing of his eyes just making the puffiness look even squintier. "Once," he says cautiously, "one of my team went in on purpose to organize a breakout from inside."

Nandini huffs a brief laugh. "I /knew/ I should have brought my books." There's a quiver in the words, for all the casual bravado. "If I ever get out of this place, I'm never going to complain about insomnia again." Her hands go still on the tattered edges of the exploded cup. "I take it that's not why you're..." She lowers her eyes, staring fixedly on the bible in Flicker's hands. "Sorry. That's probably kind of a cruel thing to ask, and I'm sure you've been getting it a /lot/."

Flicker swallows hard. His eyes stay fixed on the ceiling. "I'm here because I got caught." His voice is level. "But I certainly don't intend us all to die in here." The next twitch of his lips is -- /just/ a little more pronounced. "If anything's going to kill me, it's rotations."