And it was good she wasn’t since she knew that Luke had eyes for no one but his Faith. He was almost slavishly devoted to the gentle, unassuming woman who now worked exclusively with the children Retrieved by the program and her adopted son, Bart. She was the perfect mother, even though she could never bear children from her own womb, as no woman in their world ever would.
‘How long until morning?’ Eilish asked absently, shifting back so she could stare at the overly ornate moulding on the lofty ceiling above. Such a high ceiling in such a small room made the space seem even more restricted. She rubbed at what was left of her pompadour hairstyle, loosening more strands from the mound on top of her head. She would need to hire a maid to do her hair during the next month if she was to pass as a lady of the upper echelons of society.
‘We arrived at two and this is March, so I wouldn’t expect much activity before seven. Sleep if you want to. I brought a book to read.’ With a grin, he pulled a stained, yellowing Penny-Dreadful from his pocket. The title: Varney, the Vampire or the Feast of Blood, was arranged around a crudely drawn skeletal figure in a bat cape leaning over a sleeping woman. It was laughably awful and she wondered what archive Luke had raided to secure the thing. Most material in New Atlantis was kept on computer. There were few, if any, hard copies of books left preserved.
‘It was in Wardrobe. It’s probably a bit antiquated, even for this period, but it’ll attract little attention if it’s found. Unlike a Neville Shute paperback might.’
‘A guy who wrote adventure stories during the early part of the twentieth century. I used to read his books on missions. There’s always a lot of boredom when you’re waiting around for something to happen.’
Eilish nodded thoughtfully at this gem of information. ‘A bit like our Jumps. I used to buy a book or two to read while I was grooming my Targets. You cannot be with them twenty-four seven, and after a few days of sight-seeing, most places are a bit “same ol’, same ol’,” as I think they used to say.’
She was starting to become aware the differences in their speech patterns. Luke still spoke like an American of the 1940s, while she used the formal speech of twenty-fourth century New Atlantis. Hers was far closer to the speech of this time than his was, she knew, even though he was born in this era. That was a relief for her, because it meant she didn’t have to try to adjust her language. Her linguistic downloads could do it for her, but it was still easier if she could just stick to what she knew.
‘You’ve been a Jumper for a long time, then?’ Luke sat down on the side of the bed, also seeming to be a little uncomfortable with their close quarters. She wondered if it was his background that made him consider it unsuitable for a couple to share a room when they weren’t married.
‘Since the beginning, I have always been a bit restless. I was only thirteen when the Last Great Plague wiped everyone out. Too young for a clone and too sick for manual labour. So they moved me to New Atlantis and put me to work in the Knowledge Centre. By the time I got my first clone, I was ready to DO something with my life. I did not want to be stuck in a mouldy old Knowledge Centre forever. I wanted to see the world – or what was left of it.
‘I was uncharacteristically restless, so I was told. Everyone else was shell-shocked after the LGP and for years afterward. All anyone wanted to do was knuckle down and work to survive. But I was never like that. I had been an Irish orphan living in one foster care home after another most of my life. I did not feel like I lost much with the LGP – not as everyone else did. And I had always moved around, so it was ingrained into me…
‘Sorry I am giving you my life history and you just asked about my Jumping.’ Eilish shrugged and grimaced as she became aware of how she was running on.
‘No, go on, I’m interested… better than Varley, the Vampire, anyhow. If we’d been in the back-end of this century, I could’ve got Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but hey, Eilish the Restless Irish will do as well.’ He laughed, visibly more relaxed now that they‘d started talking. Making quick work of it, he slipped off his shoes, sat back against the headboard and leaned his elbows on his knees. He watched her with bright, blue eyes that didn’t seem to miss a thing.
‘Ha, do you know how many times people have played on the “Eilish, the Irish” thing? Not very original. But anyway, if you feel like being entertained by my life story, here goes.’ She flopped over onto her stomach and rested her head on her hands, elbows bent to support them.
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Genre – Romance
Rating – Between PG13 and R (sensual but not erotic)