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The Rats, the Bats & the Ugly: Chapter Twenty Two

       Last updated: Saturday, July 31, 2004 12:40 EDT



Evening in Shaw House, Virginia's rooms

    Dr. Thom smiled urbanely at her. "Ah, Miss Virginia. And how are you?"

    Virginia, who had been having a whispered conversation with Fluff on the subject of escape not two minutes before, managed to smile back. "Fine. Happy to be home. A bit tired still. I'm craving something. Maybe coffee?"

    She could almost see the cogs ticking over in his mind. "Well, we can't give you too much, you know. It interferes with your later sleep-quality. But a little more would do no harm."

    She knew perfectly well it wasn't coffee he was thinking about. She couldn't wait to get out of his nauseating company. "Was there anything else, Doctor?"

    "There was a call today from someone who called himself 'Chip.' Do you know anyone by that name?"

    There was a crash from the bathroom.

    "Wha—?" Thom snatched the door open. Ginny grabbed the chair and lifted it, ready to bring down on his head if he caught Fluff. In a way, she was grateful for the interruption he'd provided. If Dr. Thom hadn't been distracted at that moment... he'd have seen her face.

    Chip! Chip was trying to phone her! In her isolation she had begun to doubt, suffered the uncertainty of any young woman about her first love. She wanted to dance.

    "Weird. There's no sign of anyone, but this glass has smashed onto the floor." He looked up at her. "It's all right, Miss Virginia. There is no one here."

    Shakily, she lowered the chair. "I must have left it on the edge of the bath! I'm sorry. It's... it's the kidnapping, Doctor. I have nightmares about it. You brought it back, mentioning Chip."

    She put on her hauteur, copied from memories of her mother. "He was the little Vat soldier who rescued me. What did he want?"

    "To see you," said Dr. Thom. "Don't worry. We'll tell him you're not well enough."

    She yawned. She'd perfected that. It was a nice touch, she felt. Perhaps acting was not her metier, but then, she'd decided that Thom was so vain that he would fool himself that she was falling for his patter and that all his plots worked perfectly. "I suppose I'd better see him. I suppose he'll want money. Vats always do. I'll need some, Doctor."

    He looked thoughtful. "All right. I think it will be best if he sees you very briefly. We need to allow the public to see you, at least once."

    Ginny's fingernails dug into her palms. But she managed to answer lackadaisically. "If I must." Now she wished even more desperately that he'd go. Where had Fluff hidden? Or had he reached the window in time? And she still wanted to jump and scream and dance with happiness and relief.

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