Silver Wordsmith: An author's journey
For a while, Angzal sat watching her washed-out reflection in the blackness of her desk monitor.
Big scraps from a big carcass. Congressmember Frances Reyes may have gone, but she had left behind a whole host of words that took residence in Angzal’s mind like a ghost only she had the burden of seeing. Rzena was focused on his work which largely remained a mystery to her, though he appeared to derive a somewhat begrudging contentedness from his position. Or was this simply a form of unofficial exile, where having outgrown his ambitions or outliving his usefulness, he now served a life sentence? No mate with him here, nor his litter – he was a solitary figure in the still paltry Mraboran community on Earth, destined to leave no lasting footprints on a world that had become his home and his prison. This all made Angzal feel a bit better about her own situation, though she admitted a lot of the sheen had been rubbed off her new position.
“Are you heading out to lunch?” Rzena asked, sounding almost as if he might genuinely be concerned in her comings and goings, though Angzal figured it was probably because he’d hoped to get the office all to himself for a little while.
“No, I’ve had enough of Humans for today.”
Whereas Mraboran subsisted on a single large meal eaten before bedtime, Humans had the habit of breaking up their whole workday to eat. It was a trait of Earth culture that Angzal normally enjoyed, either getting together with her Human colleagues or heading out into the vibrant commercial district by herself. Today, however, was going to be a desk day, even if she suspected that half the time Rzena was just watching her work and silently judging, though she was yet to catch him doing it.
It hadn’t been an hour since Reyes’s exit from her office, which time Angzal spent going through her messages and accumulating a to-do list she had no intention of tackling until tomorrow, or possibly ever, when Rzena informed her that she had an incoming call.
“So? Send it through.”
“It’s from the comms hub.” Angzal could clearly see the flash of fang from Rzena, mostly because he made no effort to hide it.
“Oh great.” She was sure the timing was no coincidence.
“Don’t look so happy,” Angzal said as she walked by Rzena’s desk, even though he actually didn’t look like anything at all, which Angzal was certain was intentional and intended to irritate her.
Angzal took the stairs up five floors to the comms hub. Humans had an infatuation with elevators; really with anything that moved them from place to place. Sometimes she’d catch them taking elevators up only one or two floors, and though they seemed to feign embarrassment at their submission to sloth, she knew full well they had every intention of doing it again. At least in the stairwells she was pretty much guaranteed to only bump into other Mraboran, so if she could only ignore the wood paneling that was so ubiquitous in Human architecture, it was almost like being back home.
It wasn’t a busy time at the comms hub. The only other user was a bored Human sitting in the reception area waiting for the requested call to patch through. While calls out of system had to do be done through one-way messaging, live calls that were off-world but within the stellar system needed to be handled through designated comms centres as no personal tablet or terminal could handle that kind of load. And there was only one individual within the system who would have any interest in speaking to Angzal.
“I will let the Ambassador know you’re here to take her call,” the comms operator told Angzal and she also took a seat. The way these calls worked, one party would either show up at their comms hub, make a call, and wait for the other person to arrive at their respective comms room, or else the originator would place a call request, and then the other would confirm their availability and wait for the originator to return to their call. Either way, someone was always waiting. If ever one needed to discern the relative social status of two individuals, all one had to do was find out who waited for whom during off-world calls.
In the end, Angzal was forced to sit almost a half hour, which made her thankful she’d brought her tablet, and since the waiting itself was part of her job, she figured there was no need to do double duty and spend even a minute of that time working. The Human that had been in the waiting room with her must have been particularly low on the pecking order because he was still there when the comms operator called up Angzal.
The Ambassador’s image appeared on the wall-to-wall screen of the sound-proof call booth, her yellow eyes standing out starkly against a cowl of dark fur that marked her for an individual of particular rank and prestige. Her clothes too, which for most Mraboran consisted of tan leather straps crisscrossing each other in various arrangements, stood out with their shades of austere dark green and brilliant blue.
Michael is a husband, father of two, lawyer, writer, and is currently working on his first novel, at a snail's pace. A very leisurely snail. All opinions are author's own.