Kya stared at Don open mouthed and in shock. She blinked slowly, three times, as her boss ran his hand through his thin hair smoothing down his comb over. His lips slightly upturned, he grinned at her victoriously.
“You want me to watch over the machine that’s replacing me?” She asked in a flat tone.
Don Georgetown nodded, his grin turning into a full, toothy smile.
Kya could smell the bitter, burned coffee on Don’s breath as she thought through her current situation. “What if I decide to just break it?” Kya asked.
“We both know you won’t do that.” Mr. Georgetown replied in a calm voice but Kya noticed a definite malicious energy emanating from his eyes.
Images of his hands around Elliot’s throat flashed in Kya’s mind, and she nodded her agreement to his statement.
Kya took her seat at her desk and set about watching over the shiny new robotic arm.
Leonard came in amidst a rush of others, Kya thought the train must have just dropped them off. He came walking towards her and Kya felt her spine stiffen as she prepared for his assault.
“Hey, Kya.” He said in a gentle tone, just above a whisper.
Kya turned to stare at him, unsure of how to respond. If she didn’t know better, she would have sworn he looked sad.
“I’m sorry things turned out this way.” He took a deep breath, closed his mouth and exhaled through his nose before continuing. “But that’s the game.” He shook his head as he spoke, glanced around quickly and then leaned in closer to look Kya straight in the eyes.
Kya was confused by Leonard’s behaviour, but she tried to maintain a hard expression. She stared him in the eyes, even though she would have much rather looked away.
“You are smart and talented and I hope you find out how to help yourself succeed.” He continued.
The words hit Kya and rang in her ears. She couldn’t remember the last time someone had said such positive things to her and it bothered her that Leonard was the one saying them. She wanted to say if you knew that, why have you been such a jerk for the past three years, but instead she stayed silent.
He patted her on the shoulder and said loudly. “See ya, Keea! Hah! It rhymes!” And he turned from her to walk away.
Kya felt the heat of rage flare up within her. “What the hell was that about?” She said in a rough tone.
Leonard turned around, laughing. He waved at her and allowed lightning to spark between his fingers. “You really are painfully clueless!”
As Leonard walked away laughing, Kya opened up a browser on her computer and began to search for a new job.
It wasn’t shocking to Kya that most businesses now required someone to have a super for anything more than manual labour. It had been slowly changing over the course of a few years. She thought back to when only military and high ranking government officials were given Supers, and then how slowly it spread throughout society. The genetic manipulation split the world into two classes and Kya was sitting on the wrong side of that divide.
After five hours of looking at entry level, service and maid positions while watching a robotic machine perform her normal tasks without a flaw or delay, it was time for Kya to head home. She couldn’t feel more thankful that her day was done. Grabbing the certified check from her desk, and sliding the few personal items she kept in her cubicle into her purse, she got up to leave.
The stress of being unemployed slowly pressed down on Kya, and though the time she wanted to search for Amelia and Elliot was now available, something was still holding her back.
Don Georgetown was standing near the entrance to the department, his hand outstretched, palm facing up. “I’ll need your security badge.”
“Of course.” Kya responded curtly as she removed the lanyard and placed the badge in his hand. “Anything else?”
“That’ll be all. I don’t expect I’ll be seeing you again.”
Kya exited the department, mumbling under her breath, “I hope not.”
Arriving back at the apartment, Kya immediately noticed that Sam wasn’t home. A flashing green light drew her attention. It was Sam’s tablet on the dining room table. Kya went over and tapped the power button and a message appeared. Gone out with friends, be back in a few days.
Kya exhaled and a groan escaped unintentionally as she sat, folded her arms on the table and allowed her head to rest on them. She closed her eyes. Half of her was relieved that she didn’t have to explain to Sam about her job, but the other half was sad that he wasn’t there to help her through it. She let her mind wander over all of the stresses in her life, and tears flowed from her closed eyes, though inside she felt cold and devoid of emotions.
Kya was pulled out of her moment of distraught by her phone alerting her to a call. She reached her hand into her pocket and pulled out her cell, keeping the other arm and her head firmly planted on the table. She opened her eyes to glance at the display; it was Mattie.
“Hey.” Kya said in a rough tone that she barely recognized as her own voice.
“Wow!” Mattie responded with a giggle. “You sound like you’ve been hit by a bus!”
“Just about.” Kya said hollowly, lifting her head from the table.
“What’s going on?” Mattie asked, her voice suddenly full of concern. “I got your message yesterday, but I totally forgot to call, I had a busy night with a doctor’s appointment and then dinner with Rory’s parents. I am so sorry. How can I help?”
“I don’t know.”
“Okay, well, what’s going on?”
Kya didn’t know where to begin or what to say. She opened her mouth, unsure of what would come out. She took a deep breath and then spoke. “Amelia’s missing. I think my boss killed my friend Elliot at work. I got replaced by a machine. Sam’s gone.”
“Wait. Slow down. First, what happened to Amelia?”
Kya told Mattea about Amelia’s texts and her connection to the Black Market, and then about Elliot’s disappearance, and her visit to the police station. She finished up with a recount of her final day of work. Mattea listened and prodded Kya on when necessary.
“Man, Kya!” Mattea said when Kya had finished. “That is all so terrible. Do you think Mr. Georgetown replaced you because you’d been snooping through the videos?”
“Nope.” Kya rolled her eyes. “I think he replaced me because I was replaceable. He’d been threatening to for a long time.” She thought of her interaction with Leonard that morning. “I never really played the game. I made myself replaceable.” As Kya said the words, she knew they were true, and it felt like a knife twisted in her gut. “But,” she said after a considerable silence, “at least this gives me time to search for my friends.”
“Way to look on the bright side.” Mattea said. “I want to help you out in any way I can. If you want me to come over tonight…”
“It’s okay.” Kya said, knowing it would be a long trek for Mattie to make on a work night.
“Well then, after work tomorrow I can help you. Rory’s supposed to take the car to his basketball game with friends, but I can drop him off, then come see you.”
“Yeah, maybe.” Kya said, though she was fairly certain that wouldn’t work out.