"A Change of Fates"
Gary Baker, May 2013
(part of a much larger project)
After Anna left, Corporal Roi Anxo leaned onto his lifted knees and heaved a loud sigh. It was anyone’s guess how he was going to get through this alone. Not only did he have obligations to return to the well for the armed services that payed him, but now he also had a reporter to help and a press organization to save.
With his chin resting on his knees, the soldier turned his right palm to gaze at the reporter’s card from the corner of his eyes. The business card itself was primarily white, printed on thick canvas-like paper, with a red and purple ribbon effect twisting together aimlessly at the lower left corner. Across the top, in bold black calligraphy, stood the words “The Orderly Tribune” which spanned almost the whole way across. Just beneath the institution’s name reflected the name “Anna Kilinger, Editor in Chief” in reflective maroon lettering of a somewhat smaller font. At the bottom, strewn from the ribbons all the way to the opposite side of the card, the reporter’s phone number, email, and organization number had all been printed in a clear font of roughly the same size as the reporter’s name and title.
Grumbling, Roi rolled his head to face the bay windows and watched through them as douglas fir branches swayed in the breeze over a pale blue sky. Off to the right side of the window, he could just make out the foothills on the southernmost side of the mountain range. These roaming hills lay blanketed in various forestry interspersed with the occasional building spire or apartment complex.
Most of the buildings would be familiar with military personnel stopping by time after time, though more than half were probably owned and occupied by local citizens from the years before the Armed Forces had moved in. Yet somewhere out there, amongst the multiple stories of office buildings and apartments, stood the Orderly headquarters and the handful of people employed there.
The corporal began to wonder how many had families, how many of them had spouses and which ones had pets under their care. Did he really have a right to tell them all to pack up their things and move, just because he wouldn’t give their newspaper that payed them one single story to stay afloat?
It was more than obvious that he would be fine for years to come no matter what happened, what with all his experience in mechanics and military engineering. Even if he were to get court-martialed for leaking secure information to the public, Roi knew that he could always apply for a civilian job in the auto industry, or perhaps even aviation repair in an area where business executives kept their private jets and helicopters.
Besides that, Roi admitted, while he, himself, was nearing his late twenties, by letting the newsgroup go under he might end up displacing civilians old enough to never make it in a new career.
He sighed and swung his legs over the bedside, then tucked Anna’s card back into the knife flap of his right boot. He was about to lay back down again when he noticed a pile of papers sitting beside the sink beside the window. Curious, Roi shifted his weight out and over until he was on his feet again, then pushed off the bed and trekked across the room on wobbly legs.
He reached the counter easily enough, though why his legs were weak was something he could only wonder, and leaned over to peruse the pile. The first was a white page of legal information: his full name, his military identification number, his date of birth, height, weight, and blood type, and even his ethnicity and hair color. He scanned through for anything of interest and found the allergen section where the words ‘cotriethylate benzol’ had been scratched out with a blue pen. The initials, H.W. stood beside the crossing along with a date and time of the signing.
Curious still, Roi rifled through the other pages, finding both a yellow page of handwritten notes about his possessions, as well as a pink carbon-copy page of notes about his arrival. The corporal scanned through hastily etched penmanship and pulled out small tidbits that he could understand.
The foremost that stood out was something that had been written by another hand altogether, claiming “military personnel brought patient to E.R. due to apparent reaction to electrostatic shock.” The fact that he’d just released what felt like years of static build-up into hospital machinery not even a full hour ago, combined with this to leave the corporal more confused than before. He now knew that something had happened at the well that had transferred a large voltage of electricity into him, though almost impossibly without harming his bodily tissues much more than stress and some throbs of pain.
Yet as much as that had him unsettled, the scribble of his arrival date almost caused his knees to fail and send him sprawling on the blue and white tile floor.
He’d been here for over a week, and almost two weeks, at that.
“No shit,” he breathed aloud.
He leaned onto the counter to stay stable with both arms out like support beams to either side, and let his head hang loose. The notion that he looked much like his benefactor of a mosquito named Derrick the Derrick back on base trickled across his thoughts and was gone. The world seemed to have given a new twist to it’s rotation, his momentum still trying to carry him in the original arc. What had happened in all that time? Had Embla and Jackson gotten the glory of his find? Perhaps the whole mission had been scrapped as soon as the drill had been broken, the well allowed to cave in and cover up any findings the military didn’t want known?
Suddenly Roi shot his gaze to his reflection in the mirror, locking eyes on a face he never liked to see much. “What if they got the material mined away?” He whispered to himself, worried he would never see it again, as impossible as mining it away sounded. But he had to see it again, something within that he couldn’t fully describe had him wanting nothing less than to see the wall just one last time, even if only the once.
Nothing else mattered anymore, which scared him shitless. For the first time in his life, Corporal Roi Anxo, son of Senor Aldo Rhueda-Anxo, husband of Antía Canton-Laza and current owner of Anxo-Canton Vintner Enterprises based in Galicia, Spain, had finally found his purpose. He’d wandered for years, avoiding the expected future of running his father’s business in an attempt to find himself, until he had run haphazardly into heavily-coerced recruitment into the American military service.
Roi had thought the maneuver merely as something to get through, some task to see himself reach the end of and be on his merry way from then on, yet now he had other ideas running through his mind like waves of electricity in a surge of thunderstorms over a rundown power plant.
It all had to do with that well. His life had turned in some major degree by finding it, and he’d be damned if he would let someone else take the credit for his destiny.