We were probably about halfway to her house when Lindsi beckoned me. I headed over, dodging a couple of people who couldn’t see me.
“Hey, do you actually have anywhere to go?”
Not really, I admitted, reluctantly. I guess it couldn’t have been that hard for her to figure out, now she knew what I was. You shouldn’t be talking out here. People are going to think you’ve gone mad.
“And I don’t look like it already? Yeah, yeah. I just… why not come back to my place for a bit, all right? We did a whole lot back there.”
I smiled a little. All right. Thanks, Lindsi.
She kept quiet, but she smiled back, and I realised I didn’t feel quite so alone any more. Well, until I started thinking about it. I pushed that away, and kept following her.
Her house really wasn’t that far from mine, just a few streets away. Like a lot of the places around here, it was one building in a line of similar ones, each somewhat in need of repair, but more age-worn and battered than dirty. I got the feeling that people probably did clean them, but they just looked scruffy no matter how clean they were.
“Okay, here it is! Number twelve. Wait ’til I tell everyone what happened!”
She tried the door, and let herself in. It wasn’t locked. I stepped in after her, looking around. We’d walked straight into what looked like the main room, with comfortable chairs and a screen panel on one wall. Someone was sat in one of the chairs, looking over her shoulder at us as we came in. I guessed that was Lindsi’s mum. She looked slightly stressed.
“Lindsi! There you are! What were you doing all day? I was worried about you.”
“Sorry, Mum!” she responded, almost automatically. I had to hide a smile: I recognised that tone! “But did you see the water?”
“Yes, I did — almost an hour ago, wasn’t it? Went absolutely horrible for a while, then started running clear. I suppose they must have finally got around to doing some maintenance.”
She frowned. “What?”
Lindsi tapped her left foot on the floor. “It wasn’t maintenance, Mum! Nobody had been down there in years – it was us!”
“Me and a friend of mine. We found a way into the water treatment area under the biodome. It was such a mess down there! So we cleaned it out, and now everything seems to be working again!” She folded her arms. “It needs proper repairs, though. Some of it’s really broken. But that isn’t as important now that the rest is fixed.”
Her mother stood up. “So, wait — you’re telling me that you went under the Dome, into the restricted area, and started messing around with things?”
“Well, yes,” Lindsi admitted, “but just look at the water now! I don’t know why someone didn’t do that years ago. It wasn’t hard or anything, it just took forever. My friend doesn’t even know why that area’s restricted. It’s just a huge filtration system, really. There’s nothing bad about it. Well, maybe the maintenance tools – but they could just lock the storage area!”
She frowned again. I thought she looked concerned more than anything else. “You should still be careful. I don’t want you getting yourself hurt. What with…” She tailed off, but it was pretty obvious what she was talking about. Lindsi pretty much continued for her.
“What happened to me already? Yeah, but I feel fine. I might as well get on with my life for now — I’m fine, really! And if-”
At that point, there was a clatter of feet, and someone else burst into the room — her little sister, Kima, the girl I’d seen before. “Lindsi! You’re back!”
“Of course I am,” she said, smiling. “What, you thought I was staying out all night? Don’t be silly.”
“Well, no-o… say, say, did you see what happened to the water?”
“Uh-huh! In fact, I did it!”
“You did?” Kima’s eyes widened.
“Sure. I found out where the filtering system was, see, so I went and had a look at it. Turns out the reason the water was like it has been is that pretty much everything was messed up. So, I fixed it. That’s where I’ve been all day.”
“Wow… you really did that by yourself?”
“Not really. I had a friend with me.” Lindsi smiled, and I got the sense that she was aiming it at me, even though she couldn’t so much as look my way. “I don’t think I’d have managed alone.”
“Can I ask you something, Lindsi?” her mother asked. “Why now?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well… yesterday, this happened to you, and now…”
“I’m going mad?” She tried for a smile, managed about half of one. “I don’t think so. I just — I guess I realised I don’t know how much time I have left. So I have to get things done.”
“Things like cleaning the water supply?”
“Yeah.” Lindsi paused there for a moment before going on. I wondered what she was thinking, how much she’d say. How much she could say. “The Ship’s in trouble, Mum. Things keep breaking down. If nobody else will fix them, then I guess I have to. The Dome wasn’t supposed to be like this! Everyone talks about how it was better in the old days, but nobody does anything about it. It’s time somebody did.”
“But why you?”
“Who else will?”
She didn’t seem to have an answer for that. Lindsi sighed and sat down. “Anyway, I’m back now, aren’t I? What’s for dinner?”
And that’s how it went, from that point on just an ordinary family evening. Except that her parents were tense and she looked pretty weird. As for me, I sat around and watched things, Lindsi talking to me in a whisper when no-one would notice. I had to admit, I didn’t feel as lonely. Maybe it was the way she acted, like my invisibility was a great secret we shared and none of the rest of the Ship had any clue about. Maybe it was the way that even though she knew I was dead, she didn’t act like it. Maybe what we’d done together helped, too. I don’t know… but it was the best evening I’d had since I woke up. And, finally, I even got some sleep, lying down on her family’s sofa. Or maybe just above it. I didn’t really care.
The Fused by V. L. Bending is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.