Lucinda's Journal Entry 4th November 3118
I'm getting the weirdest pregnancy cravings. Popcorn, melted cheese, pickles and dark chocolate! I'm in the mess hall which doubles as a cinema, and the cats are here too and so is Nan.
Kitty has a hotdog, but she takes out the sausage and bats it around the table. "I'm gonna get ya, sausage! I'm gonna kill ya!"
I put a finger to my lips. "Please be quiet, Kitty. The films starting. It's a classic. Pride and Prejudice with Kiera Knightley."
"Indeed. It is a classic love story," says Nan. She sighs. "I got Master Gabriel to take an interest in it. I would read it to him in the evenings."
Alice glides in. She's dressed in the blue overalls of shift 13 again. She sits beside us. "Good afternoon, girls."
"Ugh! Not her," groans Kitty.
"Miss," says Nan, inclining her head.
Lady gives a chirrup of greeting.
"Hey, Alice. Where's your double?" I ask.
"I don't know," says Alice with a sniff, "she's nothing to do with me. She's quite mad."
"So, you want to watch Pride and Prejudice with us? You said it's slushy nonsense."
"I can always change my opinion," she replies. "If it stood the test of time, then it warrants another look."
"Absolutely correct, Miss," says Nan.
Then Alice tenses. Other Alice comes gliding in. This time she's dressed in black overalls. I wonder why?
"Luce. Cats. Nan." She gives us a nod, but makes a point of ignoring Alice. But then she sits down right in front of her.
"Excuse me, I can't see," says Alice through clenched teeth.
Other Alice shushes her.
"Excuse me, I can't see through the back of your stupid, porridge brained head," says Alice.
I groan. "Please cut it out."
"Yes, some of us just want to watch the film and enjoy each other's company," says Lady.
"I just happened to choose a seat at random," says Other Alice with a sneer. "If Alice wants another seat, she should move."
"Right." Alice stands up. "Where shall I sit?" She pretends to consider. "How about here?" She plumps herself down in front of Other Alice.
"Look at this. Miss Maturity," scoffs Other Alice. She rises and glides into the seat in front of Alice.
I sigh. "Will you both please just grow up?"
"There's only one immature idiot here and I think we know who she is," says Other Alice pointing at Alice who points back at her.
Other Alice glides in front of the projector and sticks her hand in it so her hand casts a shadow bunny on the screen and then she says in a harsh squeaky voice: "Hellooo. What do you think of Alice?" Then she blows a raspberry.
Kitty gives a mewling giggle.
"We have an insuperable problem," murmurs Nan.
I'm sick of this. I stand up.
"This can't go on." I sigh and bury my face in my hands.
"They can't both stay," says Nan softly.
"Right. One of you has to go," I tell the Alices.
They point at each other. "Yes. Her!"
"I was here first. I nurtured poor Luce through those early critical days to keep her sane," says Alice. "It helped me begin to see things in a new light..."
Other Alice sneers. "We're the same person. And I will always be the image of your twisted psyche. You will never change."
Alice's lip quivers...
I have a bit of an idea. I point at Alice. "You've gotta go. Control room, 15 minutes."
Other Alice gives a twisted grin and rubs her hands together. "Oh, I so look forward to it." She's sick. She actually follows me to the Control room.
I point at the door. "Out. Now."
She grumbles and glides past Alice who is gliding over the threshold, clad in a white gown.
"No one will mourn you," says Other Alice, with a ghoulish grin.
"Why the gown, Alice?" I ask her.
"I want to die, just Alice. As I was born. No uniform. Not even the overalls of Shift Thirteen."
I sit at the small table. "Sit, Alice." She sits down at the other end of the table. I lean across the table and gaze at her. She stares back at me dully.
"Is there anything you want to tell me, Alice?"
She purses her lips. "No. Nothing."
"What do you have to lose by opening up, Miss Alice?" asks Nan.
"I heard Other Alice picking on you last night. It's your way of keeping stuff bottled up. It might help to talk about it," I urge.
"Now that I'm doomed, I can tell you…" says Alice slowly. "My father never loved me, because I wasn't his. I was the product of one of Mummy's affairs. I was denied all the breaks the officers on the Rosasphere had." She breathes through her nose, her breast rising and falling. "My sisters had all the charm and the talent. I was just a product of our mother's loose morals. Hopeless. Half-wit. Hideous failure. I hate myself."
"Oh don't," says Lady sounding upset.
"You act like you hate everything, because you hate yourself. Figures," says Neb.
"Alice…" I begin, reaching for her hand. Of course I can't grasp it. It's like trying to grab hold of a shadow. "No right minded person would think less of you for something that was not your fault. I certainly don't. You were the victim in all of this. It must have been very hard and upsetting to find your Dad was not your biological father."
"Yeah, you're a sweet, kid," says Alice. "I complained about you being a useless assistant, but deep down I knew there was no one else I could stand. And no one else who could stand me."
I sniff. "That's so nice." From Alice, that sort of confusing statement is as poignant as, "I love you."
"And if I called you 'freckleface' it's because I was jealous." She says it in a rush, her pale cheeks flushing faintly pink. "You would not be as pretty with even skin tone."
"I'm jealous of her complexion too," chimes in Neb.
I'm not entirely sure what to think of that. "OK, both of you…"
"How long are you dragging this out?" mewls Kitty. She's crouched on a table nearby. "I'm hungry. I want you to get to work. You're looking at one hungry pussycat."
"Yes, go on, delete me!" scoffs Alice.
"Already done," I tell her. "I deleted Other Alice while we were talking." I show her the remote for the VP centre I used.
Kitty giggles. Nan claps her hands together. "Well resolved, Miss."
Lady give a cat smile. "See? There was no need to worry."
Neb giggles. "Maybe you have changed a bit, Alice. Other Alice was even more objectionable than you are."
Alice blinks. "You let me bear my heart and soul…?"
I hold her gaze. "You weren't going to confide in me otherwise. But now you know that if you do want to talk about anything, I'll listen."
Alice gives a slow nod.