22 Aug Chapter 7: Home
Sun streams though the gap between the shade and the edge of the window, waking me up. I wrap a robe around myself and shuffle to the kitchen of the large four bedroom penthouse apartment I call home. I liked the all-white minimalism of it the second I saw it. And as far as the cost—being a CEO does come with some perks, like a very healthy salary.
My roommates Laik (who you met earlier, he’s Mizem’s chief of operations), Gian and Rills are making breakfast. I sit down at the kitchen table and start going through my mail. It looks like Gian is leaving most of the work to the other two—her contribution appears to be sampling the fruit Rills is slicing. Poison tester?
“Hey Gian, quit eating all the fruit. You’re scarfing it down faster than I can cut it up, babe.” Rills is wearing an apron with ‘Don’t Trust Anyone Over 20’ printed on it.
Gian slaps him on the ass. “You’ll just have to cut faster.” She grabs the bowl filled with fruit out from under him and brings it to the table. Gian is the oldest of us at nineteen, but she looks older with her long hair and angular face. She took over from her mom as the administrator of a local hospital. Rills is eighteen like me and is tallish with an athletic build. He runs a recording studio. I know it’s uncouth to define people by what they do, but these days what you do can be critical to everyone’s survival.
“Hey, no fighting kids,” Laik says as he snags the just-popped toast from the toaster. He plates it on his way to the table. Laik is the baby of our bunch—he’s only sixteen. As short as he is it still looks like his bones have grown faster than his scrawny body can keep up with. He pulls out a chair and climbs into it, perching on the edge of the seat like a bird. “Cevs, have you heard anything from the Association?”
“No.” I pick a piece of fruit out of the bowl with my fingers. “I can just picture them frantically trying to contact the Oliot and getting no response. Serves them right.”
I’m almost through the shrinking pile of junk mail. Ooh, my Bavul VIP card has arrived! I rip open the envelope and pull out the brochure—I see the card is tucked inside. Elegant typography informs me that I now get priority boarding and two free carry-ons. They’ll even hold the shuttle for me if I’m late. Sweet!
Rills grabs a piece of toast. “You had a run-in with the Association? Nasty folk, all-the-way-round. They came sniffing around the studio once, but I think they could tell we weren’t making any money. No use bothering with us.”
“Cevs… got rid of them,” Laik says behind mouthful of fruit.
“I was lucky and just happened to have some information that worked to our advantage. It could have turned out quite differently.” One of the many negative aspects of the affliction is ‘family businesses’ like organized crime have flourished.
Gian pokes a hole through her toast slice and spins it around on her finger. “You should be more careful Cevs, you play way too fast and loose with dangerous types like that. I worry about you.”
“You have a point,” I say, although I can’t imagine I’m going to change my ways. I pick up another piece of junk mail, look at it, and let it drop to my feet. A bad habit, I know, but at least it’s easy to keep track of what needs to be recycled—it’s all over the floor.
Rills, the speed-eater extraordinaire has finished already. “I’m going to shower,” he says as he rips off his apron and shirt on the way to the bathroom.
“I’ll join you,” Laik mumbles, his mouth still full of food as he gets up from the table.
At this point I should mention that Rills, Gian and Laik are in a thruple. Three-person relationships have been out of fashion for a while but appear to be getting popular again. They all seem happy with the triad arrangement. I sometimes feel like a fourth wheel when I’m around them, but they assure me they like our living setup and wouldn’t change a thing.
My parents encouraged me to leave the nest when I turned sixteen—they thought I should get the chance to enjoy living like an adult for as long as possible before the affliction set in. So I found my own place and lived alone until I moved in with my ex, but that was only for a few months. She was kind of crazy but I liked living with her. I could easily live solo now but I’ve decided I like having roommates. There’s something to always having people around to talk to or go out with.
Gian has begun cleaning up so I walk over to the sink to help her.
“Cevs, what happened to your ear?” Gian grabs my auricle and bends it down.
“Ow! I just scraped it on some concrete. Nothing serious.” I grab a dish out of the sink and wash it.
Gian stops drying the glass she’s holding. “Did the Oliot do that to you?”
I keep washing and don’t answer.
She sighs. “I totally believe in what you’re doing Cevs, but I think you might be biting off more than you can chew. Let us help you.”
“I will, I appreciate that.” I change the subject. “Gian, how’s it going at the hospital?”
“Oh, the same. A new batch of kids just arrived but at least they seem to be functioning better as doctors than the previous batch. It’s taken forever but the old guard have finally figured out a pretty efficient way of working with the kids to share responsibilities.”
I finish scrubbing the last of the plates. “I can imagine that would help in the middle of a delicate surgery.”
“Yeah that, and fewer people screaming at each other.”
I picture a fifty-something doctor in a shouting match with a fifteen year old holding a scalpel. Laik walks in the kitchen wrapped in a towel. He kisses Gian. “What are you both talking about?”
“Work. Just boring stuff,” I say.
“Not for me, I love work,” Laik says as water drips off his hair onto his shoulders. “Hey, Cevs—I think I have another possibility for you.”
I catch the twinkle in Laik’s eye. “I’m all ears, but let’s wait for Rills, he should hear this too.”
Gian looks perplexed but I know exactly what Laik is referring to. Right after I started as CEO of Mizem I began inspecting the books, and I didn’t like everything I saw. While the majority of our dealings were on the up and up, there were a few sales that in my opinion were, to put it mildly, unethical. So I had Laik keep tabs on the order flow to look for anything not quite right. He was the one who tipped me off to the Oliot poison gas purchase—the chemical they ordered does have uses other than killing enemy troops, but not in the monumental quantities they wanted.
I took on these cases as my ‘projects.’ I figure since I’m running the company I can help shape how it does business. Laik begged me to let him help on a project, but I said no. Sometimes they can be dangerous and I didn’t want to drag anyone else into that. But I realize I can’t do everything myself, so I told him for the next one he’s in. Laik in turn recruited Rills and Gian, who agreed to join the cause. I’m not sure what I’ve gotten myself into, but I’m willing to see if four is better than one.