The night's rain stopped sometime before 6 a.m.; when I left the house my breath showed in the air a little bit even though it was July.
I cycled along quiet streets grey as pencil lead. I'd been booked for a block of these early morning shifts, a welcome(more) change from the midnight-to-eights casual staff was usually assigned.
Even the downtown eastside was Sunday solemn. A few people walked the sidewalks, junkie-worn about the edges. Crows picked at litter in the gutters and the whole neighborhood had a feeling of something sleeping through a dream. Traffic lights changed red-to-green for no traffic. I ran every red safely and arrived at work ten minutes early.
The woman I was meant to cover for had arrived a few minutes before me.
"What are you doing here?" Darryl the nightwatchman asked, shrugging into his oversized lumberjack coat. "Mallie is already downstairs."
"Oh shit," I said. I knew the whole story immediately. Scheduling had screwed up again.
I found Mallie in the smokeroom, taking a quiet minute for herself, her black hair still tidy before the labours of the day. She started laughing when she saw me.
"Scheduling fucked up," she guessed, and I folded my arms, laughing because what else can you do? But pissed off, too. The money.
7 am. My day was an open field in front of me; moments before I'd been anticipating a day spent cleaning rooms and mopping the floors, already smelling the industrial cleaner that would embed itself into my pores before the end of the day, a chemical lemon indistinguishable in my mind from dirt itself.
You can't get sugar from shit. Instead of hitting the casino to try and win a day's earnings I backtrack along the dead streets, choosing the long way home.(less)
Carver's nose was still bright red and dripping and his eyes were bleary when he showed up at the lab the next morning. Eden took one look at him and raised her eyebrows. "Go home."
"I brought a whole box of tissues."
"Tissues aren't going to keep you fro(more)m infecting me, and I doubt you can think straight in that condition. Go home."
He shook his head, then wavered, reaching for the door frame. Eden opened her mouth to protest again, but he interrupted.
"Considering the information that's at stake, would you let something like a cold send you home?"
"The information will still be here once you recover. I'm not going to pack up and disappear."
"I want to help find it," Carver said, raising his voice-- which brought on a coughing fit. Eden winced and thought of germs staining the spines of her books. But she knew she would not be able to send him away.
"Go wash your hands, thoroughly," she said with a sigh. "I'll get you some cold medicine."
She found the bottle that Candace had sent her and brought it to Carver.
"Two pills whenever your head feels muddy. They should begin working in a matter of seconds."
Carver eyed the bottle. "...What's in those?"
Eden frowned, sensing where this was going. "They taste like sugar. Candace is very popular with children for that reason."
Carver began to say something, then closed his mouth.
"You've never taken potion before," Eden said icily.
He tried to wriggle out of the accusation. "It makes me uneasy. It's not... repeatable."
"Six hundred years' worth of being one of our most trusted healers isn't repeatable enough for you?" (less)