"I thought you'd be home earlier tonight," she might say casually after they settled in to eat honey-baked chicken, facing one another from either side of a bottle of wine.
I worked late. I just worked late. St(more)op grilling me. (But that's not true.) "Oh yeah, after work a few of the guys wanted to go out for beers. I got to see the tail end of the game, it was pretty fun."
"Oh, cool! Sounds like a good time."
"You watched that guy walk all the way across the room," he might say as they waited in the concession line for overpriced popcorn, playfully poking her in the side.
I didn't. I wouldn't! How could you think I'd-- (but that's not true.) "He ain't bad, look--now those are the kind of arms /you/ have."
or the classic:
"How are you?"
Fine. I'm fine. (But...) "I feel pretty wound up right now. I don't want to talk about it yet."
That gets a sympathetic arm squeeze. "That's okay. Wanna knock back a beer and watch TV?"
The summer sun sank down below the window sill, but not yet below the horizon. It cast the living room in a twilight glow which nobody bothered to disrupt by turning on more lights, because you could still see. Sort of. The electricity was saved for the air conditioning.(more) The bill could only go so high this month to be payable and not melting was more important than reading fine print without squinting past the shadows.
Melissa was doing just that, scrunching her eyes in the hope of seeing past the growing dark to finish the last few pages of her David Eddings novel. She sat on the edge of the couch at an odd angle to hold her book up to the window in order to catch the last of the light. Her mind worked one word at a time, differentiating text from shadows like it differentiated fiction from reality.
It was that last distinction that informed Melissa that the footsteps she heard were her roommate, and not the footsteps of Althalus the thief sneaking up to rob her. She timed it carefully in the back of her mind, reaching for those last few sentences before she was interrupted. "... spring had returned to the House at the end of the world, and..." Three, Two, One.
Melissa looked up just in time to see Emily walk through the doorway from the kitchen into the living room. The moment she saw Melissa, she stopped and her face feel from a look of determination to a dumb, blank look.
"I was going tell you something, but I forgot what it was," Emily admitted, looking pained and confused.
"Well. Then it must have been a lie," Melissa replied shortly before lifting her book back up, returning to her evening's struggle. (less)
They hit the body five feet down. Jeremy's shovel split brain matter but Matt didn't care it was what was in in the back of the head that his fence was interested in so they kept digging. Careful to keep further brain matter away from their bodies.
(more) "Don't hit the head again or the rest of the body, badly. That's where the bulk of our take comes from." Matt said to Jeremy who's shovel kept slogging out brain matter and blood dirt.
"This guy was hit." Jeremy said as his shovel pulled out the body. Guts spilling out. "How much of this do we want?"
A horrible stench rose and Matt pulled back. "We just need the rest of the head and neck." Matt said as he pulled back. "The head and neck. That's how they download things. They want this guy's thoughts. They get 'em pure. Like torture only without torture. They just kill him and then download his thoughts into a matrix. AI sorts them out. As long as there isn't too much brain matter messed up."
Jeremy pulled the head and neck out of the grave. "What if the head is too messed up? Can the AI figure all that out?"
Matt looked at the mess. A whole mess made worse by extraction of the body but not something an AI couldn't figure out.
"Probably," Matt said to Jeremy. "I doubt anyone knows what this head has to give up. Synthetics, they can lie well to AI's. Probably this was a worthless gig. Probably, we get paid for spending a night digging up a body that won't actually talk to an AI. We got paid though, right?"
Jeremy put the head and neck into a bag. "No one knew it was here. No one knows it's gone."(less)