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Secret Society Part One

The phone rang in the study. It was like a reverse-time anachronism, the electronic trill out of place inside the wood paneled walls, the spines of centuries-old books like mummy wrappings, paintings like oil and canvas skin cells shed by the last millennium's monster. The threat-sense that death may only be hibernation, the way the room determined the interpretation of the ringing. It was too potentially symbolic of futility and the failure of subversion.
Garner followed Kimberly into the room from the noise of the party, where Coalesce electronic pop had won the day. "I hate it in here," he said.
"Then get out," she said, waving him away and reaching for the phone. He smiled sheepishly and exited, the black man in a dark green suit, moving like a lion moves.
Kimberly, shoulder-length blond hair with platinum highlights, sun-peached skin, slim black high-neck and skirt. She tapped the telephone panel to activate the redundant line encrypt, easing into the padded leather chair, cordless receiver to her ear. She hated it in here too, though she wasn't sure why, and hoped that Perdieux would return, someday, changed, with a desire to redecorate.
"Go ahead."

 She listened and kept her features still, the low and constant terror of never feeling alone.
"It's... No, I understand. Okay, patch me through."
Lights on the panel flickered. Kimberly relaxed her posture, crossed her leg.
"Deborah, you can do this. You're okay, you're breathing. Start there.
"I want you to describe where you are in psychological terms. No Debbie, not what happened. Where you are, right now. Yes. Okay. Debbie, you have to include your breathing in the description, don't you? Right. That's it. Is there a material door there too? Alright, I want you to open both doors simultaneously - yes you can, Debbie. There's nothing in the description that says you can't. And when you do you can stop describing for me, keep the version you have but listen to me."
Kimberly uncrossed her leg and straightened in the chair.
"Everything I say becomes part of the description. Go." Kimberly breathed into the phone, deep and steady. She flinched at a loud, abrupt sound that came over the line but breathed evenly.
"'Telepathic Stereo'... 'On The Orchestra Bleed'..."
Brae and Miranda came through the door; he was about to ask Kimberly if everything was okay but stopped, Miranda smiling over her shoulder at something said in the party. Brae, billboard model good-looking like they all were, dark hair and light skin, short-sleeve button-down and dress pants. Miranda, Korean, long hair straight, baggy pants, Octagon logo red shirt. They were younger than Kimberly and Garner, more recent.
"'Corner You'll Get'... 'Insert Plug'..."
Miranda, reflexively glancing about the room, whispered, "Why is she listing song titles?"
"It must be an op," Brae answered quietly, with sympathy.
"Really?" Miranda's voice rose briefly. "Song titles... Wow, this is cool."
"Maybe," Brae said, waiting. Then, "Maybe you should go back."
Miranda closed her eyes. "Okay."
"'The Underside of Water'... Debbie, you'll have to cut the line now. You're doing great. Yes, you are. Yes, I will."
Brae circled behind Kimberly, leaned over the chair and wrapped an arm around her shoulders. She adjusted the phone as she fit into his embrace, the panel lights flickering.
"I did what I could," she said into the receiver. "She was doing well... Yes. Let me know."
She hung up and rested a moment in Brae's arms. Patted his elbow, stood up.
"C'mon," he said. "Let's go get a drink."
Kimberly rested a moment in the feeling of saturation, mingled thrill and fatigue. Looked around the room.

"Yeah, let's get out of here."