Paul Decelle ~ Forty Thieves

Episode 7: Musings on Hold

part of: The Shadowed Ones

by Jeff Beardwood

Related by Daegle, Member of the Shadowed Elite in the Fourth Generation of the Wanderers 

As I sat, phone cradled against my ear waiting, I had time to reflect on the weeks leading up to this moment; the bizarre first encounter with Katia…the cat and mouse game she’s played with Peanut…the weeks of uncertainty since, as our leaders decided how to respond. I could hardly believe I had come to this place.
I chuckled to myself in the silence. The empty room I sat in echoed the laugh back in hollow mimicry. Ironic. Maere had objected to my first contact with the Wanderers on the computer. It was a breach which had set many events into motion. It was hard to get used to the idea that he now supported this phone call.
The person who answered the phone had obviously been just as unsettled by my call. I could tell by the tone of her voice when I’d announced my name and asked to speak with Katia. “Please wait,” she’d announced. I heard her steps hurry off and fade. Clearly Katia had talked to the people she lived with about me and our encounters. I found this unsettling for some reason, though it made perfect sense.
It was some moments since those last hurried steps had faded. What was happening there? Why was it taking so long for her to come to the phone? Was she trying to compose herself before coming to speak with me? Was she angry at my invasion of her space?
Well tough. As foolish as I had been to log on to that chatroom in the first place, it was she who had initiated all the contact since. She was the one who had haunted our pod. Maere had no choice but to report all that was happening to his superiors. Their reaction had been directly prompted by her dogged pursuit of me. Why couldn’t she have just left it alone? I really did have a grudging liking for this strange being. Those kinds of admissions are dangerous and hard to face in my position.
Impatience. As I waited, I listened to the sounds in Katia’s life. Children’s voices rushed past the phone laughing then drifted out of hearing range. I could faintly hear music in the background. It sounded Celtic, with some kind of flute leading the sad melody round and round.
Nervously I drummed my fingers on my chair in time to that haunting music.
Even over the telephone, a warmth emanated from her home that was alluring. What would it be like to live in a setting like that? I wondered if it was so very different from the pod I worked with. Although for security reasons we didn’t all live in the same place, we worked together very closely as a team. In a situation like that, you get to know people pretty well. You laugh at inside jokes no one else understands. You come to appreciate and love the quirks of your mates. For the right kind of person, it’s a rewarding lifestyle. I would have bet Katia’s Wanderers felt very similar in their daily interactions.
I’m a pretty private guy, but at my core, I need that kind of interaction…that kind of support in the background behind everything I do. I wonder what it takes for someone to be suited to be so closely bound to a group?
I know I’ve seen first hand what it takes to not be well suited. I remember for a short time we had a member in our pod who was not well suited to the closeness I crave. This was before Clive joined us. The fellow who worked in his capacity back then was named Dar. We all went out of our way to try to help Dar feel a part of our group, but he had such a strange way of looking at things. I remember him saying, whenever he was teamed up with somebody he wanted to make sure he did his half. So instead of aiming for 50%, he was always shooting for 60%, just to make sure he was carrying his share. Now it’s amazing to have somebody pouring themselves into a job like that. The problem seemed to lie in this quantifying everything to death. It became like a competition and then it became a source of resentment. The truth is, Dar was never really working for the group. He was working for his self image as it was reflected back to him by the group.
This is not to say we never have disagreements now. As a group, we have remarkably few, but we can each be wildly bull-headed at times. But at our core, we work as a team with common goals. We’re willing to sacrifice and willing to forgive.
I wondered, does Katia have these same ingredients in her life? Are these the building blocks of the wonders I’ve seen her perform?
In my musings, I hadn’t even noticed her steps approaching over the phone line. It was the same voice I’d remembered in soft, whispered tones when she had first thwarted our mission. She sounded breathless, anxious.
“Yes Katia.”
“Well, how wonderful you’ve called,” she sounded sincerely glad.
“We have much to talk about,” was my answer.
“Yes, I guess we do at that.”