As the Page Turns : Episode 6

Created by Kerry, Liz and Minh while they should have been working.

More info can be found at memlib.diary-x.com

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Last time, on As the Page Turns:
~ Emmot turns the package over in his hands, the possibility that something vile--maybe anthrax, or ricin, or maybe some unfortunate soul's left earlobe--might be waiting for him inside never crossing his mind. He pulls out the bright pink and purple box from the paper and lifts the lid. "Shhhhiiiiitttt."

~ Cliff slumps back in his chair and crosses his arms, "What did you want?" Alastair responds, "The Dean is coming by later today to discuss the move over to the new library. I need you to give him a tour of the place and explain what our plans for renovation are. Think you can handle that?"

~ Sophia shakes her head, "No. I may not remember much but I do know that's it's not a good idea to take money from guys you've just met. Especially if you don't have anything to pay them back with." Athen pauses and nods. "Okay, let's consider it a loan."


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In Isis Lee's Apartment



Athen holds the door open for Sophia and then takes one of her bags and carries it into the kitchen. "So, I take it you found the store?" He begins to put the items away.

While he does this Sophia takes another walk around the apartment. It's neat and bright, the sunlight coming in from the windows is almost enough to make her squint. She takes note of where all the knick-knacks are, so that if she moves them, she'll know where they go. She pauses for a moment in front of the bookshelves in the living room, reading the spines. By the time she makes it back to the kitchen, Athen has almost finished putting the groceries away.

"So, your sister has a thing for New Age stuff, huh?"

"Kind of, yeah. Hey, listen, sit down, will ya?"

Sophia sits down in one of the chairs at the kitchen table. Athen sits across from her.

"I called around. I think I found you a job at the library. It's a job in the cafe that'll be open on the new side of the library. You'd be working for a for a friend of mine, Jo Banner. I'm gonna warn you, she's a former convict. I arrested her for the murder of her ex-husband several years ago. She's out on parole now, and running the cafe. She's agreed, as a favor to me, to give you a chance. Do you want it?"

Sophia is quiet for awhile, then she looks up, "I don't know anything about cafes. I wouldn't know what to do..."

Athen laughs, "I told Jo that. She said she'd be willing to train you, especially since she needs someone to work with her. I told her about your history, or lack thereof, and that's fine with her too. She said we can drop by later so she can check you out, if you want. You want?"

Sophia blows a big bubble with her purple bubble gum, "Sure."

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In the Stacks



A man wearing a black fedora, a black trenchcoat and a pair of black flip-flops is tiptoeing around the stacks. Suddenly a hand reaches out from behind the shelves and pulls him into a dark aisle.

"Mr. Montgomery, I presume?" Ivan takes off his hat and extends his hand. Cliff ignores it.

"Yeah. Siemenov?"

"At your service."

"Excellent. Listen, here's what you're gonna do. I'm supposed to be giving some old guy a tour of the library in about an hour. I want you to call me on my cell phone so I can get out of it. Then, I want you to go and give the tour in my place, saying that I'm busy or in a meeting or something. Think you can do that?"

Ivan considers it for a moment and then nods, "Yes, I zink I can handle zat. Just take him on a tour, zat is all?"

Cliff looks back at him, "Yeah. And while you're at it, why don't you tell him that story about shellfish. He might enjoy that."

"And after zis, I can have a job here? In ze library?"

"Yeah, sure. If you can pull this off without a hitch there'll be a job here for you. Now, take this number and call me at precisely 4:17, okay?" He presses a slip of paper into Ivan's hand, "Now go wait somewhere, and try not to let anyone see you lurking around, okay?"

Ivan walks to the end of the aisle, turns, and gives Cliff a quick salute. Then he bounces out into the center aisle and runs off somewhere to wait. Once he is out of sight, Cliff takes his hand--the one he used to give his number to Ivan--and wipes it down on the nearest book he can find.

He waits around for a few minutes and then leaves the shadows of the stacks. As he comes out of the stacks, someone walks right into him--Demona!
"What the? What are you doing up here? And what are those?" He begins to yell at her but remembers where they are and lowers his voice down to a fierce whisper.

"I'm looking for you, that's what I'm doing. I've been looking for you all day. Do you know that they actually expect me to do things down there? When you said that Grace worked in Circulation, I thought all I'd have to do is sit around and pretend to be cheerful.

"Look at this!" She shakes a handful of papers at him, "What am I supposed to do with these things. I don't know what to do with a ... a particle slip. Do you?"

He grabs the papers from her and looks at them, "That's paging slip Demon-face. You find the books listed, that's all. Should be simple enough."

He drags her back into the stacks that he's just exited from.

"But what I really want to know is why you're wearing those things on your face." He takes the glasses she's wearing off and waves them in front of her face.

"I'm wearing them so I can see," she says as she grabs blindly for them. "Without them I'm almost completely blind. Now, give them back."

She jumps around for them a few more times but he's holding them far out of reach.

"Why weren't you wearing them yesterday, or the day before, huh?"

"Because yesterday I had my contacts in, that's why. I wouldn't be wearing them today if I hadn't ripped a contact this morning while I was trying to put it in. Why do you care anyway?" She makes one last attempt to grab the glasses misses, falling backward into the shelves instead.

"Why? Because Grace doesn't wear glasses, that's why. She's had perfect vision all her life. If she were to suddenly start wearing glasses, people would start asking questions. So you'd better go get some new contacts quickly because you're not getting these back. Got it?"

He turns and exits quickly before she can get her balance back. Behind him, he can hear her yell his name angrily, and then the sound of books falling to the ground, but he ignores it. He opens the doorway to the stairwell and begins to head down, tossing the glasses on the floor of one of the landings as he goes. When he exits the stairwell he almost runs into Luke Graham.

"Hey Cliff," the young man says and moves out of the way, "Have you seen Grace lately? Rick wants to know why she hasn't gotten back with those paging slips yet."

Cliff pauses for a moment. "Have them check on fifth. That's where I saw her last."

"Thanks, will do. Ohhh, and the Dean's waiting for you. Rick sent him up to your father's office."

Cliff keeps walking but lets out a string of words loud enough to make Luke cringe as the young man enters the stairwell.

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In the "Tar Pit Cafe"



The Tar Pit Cafe is a cozy little corner of the new, as yet unopened, section of the library. In addition to the coffees, teas, and snacks available, there are a few computers, some comfy couches, and a couple of tables. All color-coordinated so that they mesh in with the brand new image of the library.

As Athen and Sophia walk in they have to weave between the maintenence employees working over-time to finish before their deadline. But, after a bit of darting inbetween ladders and power tools they arrive at the register where they are met by a slightly disheveled woman who has her back to them.

"Jo?" Athen tries to call her to get her attention but the extraneous noise is too loud; she can't hear him. He takes a step behind the counter and taps her shoulder, "JO?"

She reacts immediately. First she slams her foot down on his instep, then she shoves her elbow back into his gut and then twists away from him.

Athen crumples to the floor moaning. When she sees who she's just attacked, Jo falls to the floor next to him and begins to apologize.

"Athen, I'm so sorry. I didn't know it was you. Do you need something? Are you okay?"

Athen coughs and then tries to sit up. "No, no, I'm fine. Really."

Convinced that she didn't do any permanent damage, Jo sits back on her heels and begins to chuckle.

"That's what you get for trying to sneak up on an ex-convict."

Athen begins to laugh as well, "I guess it serves me right."

They stand and Athen remembers why he came. He brings Sophia forward and introduces her.

"So, you're the mysterious woman without a past. Nice to meet you, I'm Jo Banner. I'm sure you've already heard bits and pieces of my sordid past from Athen there, but if you have any questions, just let ask."

She leads the others over to a slightly dusty table and motions for them to sit. She does the same. Sophia looks around and then begins to speak.

"Athen told me that you might have a job for me, and if that's true, I really appreciate it. I don't, I mean, I don't know if I even would know what to do, but I learn, I mean, I think I learn quickly and I'd do my best. I know that, I really would try to do my best." Sophia quiets down and begins to nervously chew her gum again.

"If you don't know, that's fine, I'll teach you. The expresso machine isn't that hard to master. After a few times you'll be an old pro. So, I guess you're hired then."

Athen looks up and smiles, "Great. Thanks, Jo. I really appreciate the favor. She's staying at my sister's place if you need to get a hold of her and ...

Athen is interrupted by the electronic version of Natural Woman that doesn't hold a candle to Aretha's.

"Shoot, it's work. Do you mind?" The women shake their heads, he gets up and heads toward the corner.

"What do you mean 'Where have I been all day?' It's my day off. ...'On call' my left shoe, I'm not on call today. O'Malley is. Yeah, remember? Short, chunky guy? Says 'Hunh?' a lot? Yeah, him. Wait, the CIA called? They're sending an agent? Why didn't you tell me earlier? Okay, okay. I'll be right over."

Athen turns to the two women who are trying very hard to pretend that they haven't been listening to his conversation. "Sorry ladies, I've got to go into work. Sophia, do you think you can make it back to Isis' on your own? You've got the keys?"

"Yeah, I'll be fine. Thanks so much for your help."

Athen quickly renavigates through the construction and exits the cafe. Jo and Sophia sit for a moment and chit-chat. After a few minutes Jo stands up, "Hey, let's go back to the counter and I'll teach you what to say when customers complain that a small regular coffee costs a buck and a half."

Sophia cracks her gum and follows.

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At the Circulation Desk



Demona is clutching onto the stair railings for dear life. Everything in front of her is a blur, so much so that if she couldn't hear that loud Rick Harding in the background, she would have no other way of knowing that she had finally reached the first floor. She cautiously lets go of the railing and takes a step, relieved to find that the ground in front of her is flat.

She slowly moves in the direction of the voice, dragging her hand along the wall for support. She can just make out the blurry shape of the circulation desk when she hears someone call for Grace.

It's that damn cop. She pretends to ignore it and keeps on her slow trek to the desk. When she finally reaches it she can't find the doorknob to let her in. Luckily the door is opened for her.

"Geez Gracey, where've you been? Carson told me she sent you out with paging slips hours ago. Where are they?"

Demona doesn't answer, but the man next to Rick does.

"Ehh, she probably went over to the After Shift to get a midday drink. I think I can smell it on her. What'd ya have? Fuzzy Monkey? Surrey Slider? Jim's Nuts? Ehh? What was it?"

"Rick, keep your ape-head brother away from me or I swear, I'll ... " Demona clenches her fists tight and debates the benefit of throwing a punch. She's pretty sure she'd hit one of them.

Rick turns to his side, "Will you just be quiet, Dick? I don't know why you just can't shut your mouth while we're down here. I'm perfectly quiet when we're upstairs and you're working."

"I was just trying to help. For a moment I though she smelt like the underside of a barstool. I was mistaken. I'm sorry."

"Why does your help always end up ruining my work day? Huh? Just answer me that."

Neither of the two notices that Demona has slowly put on her coat and is carefully heading to the door. They don't hear her as she mutters that she's got something in her eye and is leaving.

"I'm ruining your day? Well, you've been ruining my life since the moment you were born," Dick yells.

"What? How is that? I was born first!"

"Yeah, you know what that means, don't you? You may have been born first, but I went in first!"

Rick looks completely amazed for a moment, "What? You went in first? We're Siamese twins blockhead! You wanna take a moment and explain to me how you 'went in first?'"

Dick ignores this last comment. Instead of listening he raises his hand, and the hand that connects him to Rick, to his ears and begins to hum. Rick looks at him for a moment and then moans.

"Noooo, please, no. For the love of God and all that is holy, please, no. No Liza, not tonight."

But Dick doesn't hear him and his humming is beginning to get louder. Soon the words are audible as well.

You dress me up, I'm your puppet
You buy me things, I love it
You bring me food, I need it
You give me love, I feed it ...


Rick begins to look around, "Grace? Grace, where are you? Come on, can't you help a guy out? Calm him down? Grace? Grace?"

But his words go unheard under the strains of Liza Minnelli's Rent.

Dick ignores his brother and keeps on singing.

I love you, you pay my rent
I love you, you pay my rent
I'm your puppet
I love it ...

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In the Stairwell



"And zis is ze main staircase. Zis is what ze patrons use to get from one floor to ze other, especially since ze elevator is off limits now."

Ivan gestures down the stairs, "Why don't ve take a look, yes?"

They begin to walk down the stairs, Ivan stops on every landing to describe what can be found on the floor. Finally they reach the first floor landing. The Dean looks tired but Ivan is still raring to go.

"Now, as I vas saying, ven my mother returned from her trip to ze islands, she brought back the vith her ze crabs..."

"All right," the Dean said, "that's enough. Not only am I convinced that you know absolutely nothing about this facility, I'm very tired of hearing all about your mother's crab issue. Are we done?"

Ivan nods his head.

"Good, then I'm going to find Eduardo and write up my report recommending your immediate termination, and, if it's possible, deportation."

The Dean turns to go but as he does, his foot slips on something--Demona's glasses!--and he tips over. He tumbles and rolls down the stairs. Luckily, he stops on the landing. Ivan rushes after him and bends over the old man's prone body.

"Ha. Now let's see you deport me you old hag." He stands for a moment, and then drops to his knees again. He places his hands on the old man's chest and then rolls him toward the stairs again, pushing him off of the landing.

The Dean's body bounces down another flight and the old man moans with every bump. This time he lands in front of a steel door marked To Fallout Shelter. He moans and moves a bit but cannot manage anything else.

Ivan follows him again and checks the man's pulse. Then he takes a big breath and starts to run up the stairs, yelling for help as he goes.

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In the Fallout Shelter



Help! Help! Help!

The words sink into Graces' unconsciousness, pulling her out of her dream. She sits up on her cot as she realizes what she's hearing.

Then she rushes to the large door in front of her and begins to pound, yelling as she does.
"Help! In here! Can anyone hear me? Please!"

She pounds for until her hands hurt and yells until her voice is raw.

"Alas," she says, "will no one save me?"

The End

Stay tuned for the next exciting episode of As the Page Turns.

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