I figured Ava has been really stressed since she woke up and never more than in the light of what happened to Zeke in the Red Building and the ridiculous amount of research she's been doing into the Egypt-Slender connection and all that. So, I decided to make us a nice candlelit dinner. I told Thage I was taking the kitchen for the night and set about my work. I diced some rashers and scallions, beat a few eggs with milk, salt and pepper, boiled up two bags of rice, chopped two chicken breasts and fried the whole lot up into my signature dish - Irish rice with fried chicken. I set the table all nice, lit up a few lavender-scented candles, put on some mood music ("Into My Arms" by Nick Cave, the greatest love song ever written) and called her down;
Me: -I walk to the bottom of the stairs- Ava! Dinner's ready!
Ava: -she opens her door and leans out- Just leave it. I'm doing FAR too much right now.
Me: Ava, PLEASE come down and take the food I made for you!
Ava: No, look, if I have to deal with these FUCKING morons, I'll do it on MY terms and with really REALLY fucking good research.
Me: Ava, PLEASE!
Ava: Ray, NO.
Me: Ava, you have to eat!
Ava: And I SHALL, love, LATER.
Me: Ava, PLEASE! For me!
Ava: This is SO much bigger than just you or I, Ray. No.
Me: Fine, whatever, I'll give the other plate to Thage or something.
Ava: You go do that, hun. -she slams the door closed-
So I went back to the kitchen, put out the candles, turned off Nick Cave, took Ava's plate into the sitting room, set it down on Thage's lap, said "Bon appetit", walked out, wolfed down my plate, left a note on the table and went for a jog (yeah, I know I shouldn't have jogged right after eating but it wasn't exactly an excercise jog).
I jogged randomly through the streets, figuring I'd eventually burn myself out and call Thage to pick me up. I figured wrong. I ended up back at the running track. I felt vaguely uneasy but I decided to do a few laps of the track anyway. I started at a jog but the faster I ran, the more I had to dig deep for energy and the more energy I pulled up, the more anger I pulled up and with the anger came everything else and before long I was running so fast that the whole world was blurring around me, blurring into the colour of anger and-
My legs gave out and I crashed to the ground. I tumbled over myself, my knees ripped up by the rough surface of the track, and landed lying on my back. My breathing came in deep, wet, throaty gasps and I looked up at the sky. Some people say that when they look up at the stars, they feel tiny but I never feel bigger. There is only a finite amount of matter in the universe and a tiny fraction of that matter is inside my body right now. When I die, bacteria will break my body down into its raw materials, which will be processed by other organism to make new life. And those lives will also pass, in their time, and become new life and the cycle will continue until entropy at last brings the eternal movement of mass and energy to an end. It never fails to amaze me that people can feel so small when we are all part of such a great cosmic existence.
When I got up, he was there.
I tried to jump to my feet but my legs wouldn't move fast enough. I shuddered into a sort of half-stand and stumbled away, looking back occasionally. I swear he was following me but he never moved from that one position. I can't explain it. It was almost like the farther I ran away from him, the closer he was.
I managed to shamble out on to the road and hail a taxi. Thage paid my bill when I got back. I swear, the second I get the chance, I am paying that woman back all the money I've cost her. Ick, all the sweat and dirt is making me feel disgusting. I'm going for a shower.