The Amy Dilemma – Chapter 4 – The Inner Workings of the Human Heart
Written by circes_cup :: [Friday, 13 June 2014 05:16] Last updated by :: [Friday, 13 June 2014 09:43]
The Amy Dilemma – Chapter 4 – The Inner Workings of the Human Heart
Warning: This chapter features adult content. If you’re not of a legal age to read this stuff, don’t.
Disclaimer: This is a work of pure fiction. No semblance between the characters described here and real individuals – living or dead – is implied or intended.
It was a week before Amy returned from Washington. She had been flown out there in a charter jet: idiotically, nobody had told the travel agents that she could fly herself. But the return trip had been shrouded in mystery. No hey-can-you-pick-me-up-at-the-airport stuff from this girl.
Instead, Dave Gordon simply descended the stairs one morning to find her there, snuggled on his couch. She was playing with the stainless steel ball that had formerly been his handcuffs. It glowed red, as if it had just been in a furnace. Her hands, of course, were unburnt.
“Hey daddy-o,” she almost sang. “Watch this.”
While one hand held the ball, the other formed a blur, slowly extending away from the metal sphere. Trailing behind it was a tendril of steel, being twisted, apparently, into a yarn of sorts.
“How did you learn to do that?” Dave asked, trying to ignore the absurdity of having an industrial forge for a adoptive daughter.
“My girlfriends taught it to me. My NEW girlfriends.”
“The other Enhanced Females?”
“How did you guess? You make it sound so, I don’t know, official.”
“They – you – are the subject of quite a bit of official concern.” He decided not to mention that there was a command center at FEMA specifically dubbed the Amy Room. “How was your orientation with the Agency?”
“It was BORING. And they weren’t very nice. All they did was lecture me. I played hooky after the second day.”
Lecturing her? Dave cursed to himself at how inept some of these guys could be.
“But then I met up the other enhanced girls and we spent the whole weekend together,” she continued. “That was totally cray-cray.”
Oh no, Dave despaired, another teenage cipher. The look on his face must have been transparent.
“’Cray-cray’ means ‘crazy’, Daddy. Like ‘crazy fun’.”
“And where did you go cray-cray?”
“Manhattan,” she beamed.
Dave groaned. “You should have called. “As long as you live in this house, I’m the responsible adult in your li-”
“It’s FINE, Dad. I didn’t DO anything with BOYS, or drugs or anything …”
“… and the Brooklyn Bridge is still standing. And Empire State Building too …”
Dave shuddered to think that, upon learning that his girl had some fun, the appropriate parental response was to wonder whether the Empire State Building was still standing.
She continued, “… We just partied a little – all PG and stuff – and then we went shopping. That was very cool.”
“How much did you buy?”
“A lot. My girlfriends all fought with each other over who would get to lend me their credit card. Did you know that they are rich?”
Dave knew. Modeling contracts, highly specialized, classified government construction work, hazardous materials handling – their services were worth a bundle. All of the enhanced girls had experienced significant wealth appreciation. Cray-cray wealth appreciation, in fact. “How much did you buy?” he insisted.
“She cast her eyes downward. “Like fifty thousand dollars worth. It’s coming out in six separate boxes.”
Dave was speechless, at first. “Are you kidding me?”
“Daddy, I HATE it when my clothes don’t match. If I buy one thing, I have to buy the entire ensemble to coordinate with it.”
It was more of her damn anal retentiveness, he lamented. “Honey, we can’t AFFORD that. I have no job. What’s worse, the Treasury department has frozen all my accounts. I can’t even access the money I do own!”
“We don’t have to pay the girls back. The girls just like being around me. It makes them feel good.”
“You don’t know anything about financial matters. Nobody spends fifty thousand dollars on another person without expecting something in return. They are setting you up for something.”
“They DO expect something in return. To be around me more!”
“You don’t get it,” Dave scowled.
“No, YOU do get it!” she screamed. “You’re old and your unenhanced. You think you understand us, but you don’t!”
The comment stung. He watched her return to metal-shaping project, scowling as her hands moved twice as fast, shaping threads twice as fine. If he hadn’t seen her feat with his own eyes, he wouldn’t have thought it was possible.
Unenhanced, she had said. He had never thought that being a human being could be a source of shame, but it was now.
Her anger had not subsided. “If you don’t like this situation, maybe you should get a JOB. Then I wouldn’t have to go to my girlfriends for stuff I want.”
“I’ve been trying, but I can’t find-”
“What does it matter?” She retorted. “If you found another cop job, what would you make? 75? 100? I got a letter from a nuclear power company – they want me on retainer – one of their reactors gets a hole, and they call me to fix it. Normal people would die of radiation poisoning, but they told me the most I’d get get would be a nice TAN. And guess what, not a single reactor has ruptured in the US for almost fifty years. A million dollars a year, Dad, just to sit on my ass. Can you beat that?”
Dave didn’t remember how the conversation ended. It didn’t remember getting up from the chair. He didn’t remember how he wound up in the kitchen. All he could remember was that, upon arriving in the kitchen, the bottle of Scotch had looked very, very good to him.
Dave had never known what strawberry blond hair looked like when it was matted with tears, but he found out when he opened his eyes. The lateafternoon sunwas streaking into the room. His girl, with quivering lips, was stroking his hair. What the hell had happened?
The punishing throbbing of his head provided the answer – hangover.
“I’m sorry,” she blubbered, as she tried to dry her cheek with the back of her hands. She poked the bottle with her toe. “I made you come unglued.”
“That’s not true,” Dave tried to right himself, despite the agony in his head. “You didn’t turn me into a failure, honey. I got there all on my own.”
“Don’t SAY that,” she begged. “PLEASE.”
“A father, at a bare minimum, should be able to provide for his daughter. But look at me. You’re right. I’m a cop. The best I can earn – even if a find a job – is one-and-a-half afternoons of shopping.”
“I don’t have to shop like that anymore,” she pleaded.
“You’re not just growing into a woman, Amy. You’re growing into something more. I can’t possibly protect you better than you can protect yourself. I can’t possibly provide for you better than you can provide for yourself. All the things a dad is supposed to do – I can’t do them.”
At that, Amy’s tears subsided. She seemed to find some reserve of inner maturity, and the baleful child gave way to a young woman who was sitting up straight, her cheeks drying out, and a calmness marshaled into her voice.
“Tell me what you’d like to do. Job-wise, tell me what would make you feel … productive. In the best of all worlds, would you have your Agency job back, or would you do something else?”
The sage-ness of her demeanor forced Dave to ignore the throbbing pain and finish sitting up. “If you want to hear about unfettered ambition, in the best of all worlds, I’d found a new security consulting firm,” he replied. “But, Amy, that’s just a dream. I’d need all sorts of venture funding and government-”
Amy raised a hand, asking him for silence. She was punching a number into her phone. “Two-One-Two-blah-blah-blah,” Amy whispered to herself, before putting the phone to her ear. “Is Renata there …?”
Dave Gordon knew that name. She was EF2, in Agency nomenclature. Enhanced Female #2. Or, now, he supposed, one of his adoptive daughter’s shopping friends.
“Hey babe, it’s Amy! I need a big favor. I’ll be your bestie forEVER. My dad wants to start a …” She turned to him. “A what?”
“A security consultancy,” he offered.
“… a security consultancy. But he doesn’t have any money. He needs adventure funding.”
“Venture funding,” Dave corrected. “Amy, what the heck are you doing?”
“Renata wants to know how much you need,” Amy replied, her girl’s face all business now.
“I don’t know. I hadn’t really written a business plan. Maybe five hundred thousand?”
Amy scoffed briefly before returning her attention to the phone. “Get him, like, millions and millions … Can you do that …? Cool … Call me when it’s done, babe.”
“Amy what in the world are you doing? I don’t want to borrow from someone who can tear me apart!”
“Relax, Dad,” Amy instructed as she put the phone down and rose. She offered him a hand up. “It won’t be her money anyway.”
“Who’s will it be?”
“Could be anybody’s,” she replied. “Nobody on Wall Street says ‘no’ to Renata.”
The appointment on his calendar said only “Appointment” – no other information. That fucking secretary, he cursed to himself. He looked out his office window at the Manhattan traffic trying to get on the Bruckner Expressway. It was the end of the day on Friday. He should have left fifteen minutes ago. He certainly should not be here waiting for Mr. Appointment. Or Mrs. Appointment, as the case may be. If only he had enough information to know that it was somebody unimportant – then, at least, he could blow it off.
Angrily, he punched the intercom. “Mrs. Henderson, is that appointment here yet?”
The door cracked open slightly, and a feminine voice called in. “Mrs. Henderson told me she was leaving for the day. But I’m your appointment. Shall I come in?”
He had too much steam coming out of his ears to answer. But it didn’t matter. The door opened anyway.
Now, he liked to think of beautiful women like light bulbs. Seeing a beautiful one always seared something into his brain, the way one’s eye would see spots after it looked at a bright light. Most of the women in his office were thirty watt bulbs. His secretary was about fifteen watts, much to his dismay. There was one intern who had been closer to sixty watts, but she was back in school now.
But the woman that walked through the door – looking at her was like staring into the sun.
Waves of jet black hair tumbled over flawless, mocha-colored skin of her bare shoulders. Her face was breathtakingly perfect – full, dark red lips, pronounced cheekbones, annoying flawless skin. And those eyes – they were dark, like two magnets. And if those were magnets, then his head was full of iron filings: every thought in his body instantly re-aligned around her.
Her dress, his spasming mind managed to note, was an off-the-shoulder style, leaving the rollercoaster curves of her collarbone bare. The bottom of the dress was hemmed at the mid-thigh: by examining the space between that hem and her high heels, he was able finally to understand what a perfect pair of legs looked like.
What he didn’t understand was the physics at work in the middle of her body. His ex-wife used wear off-the-shoulder dresses occasionally, but that required a strapless bra – not a problem for his ex, as she was a B-cup anyway. But the tits in front of him now-
“It’s good to see you again, Bob.” She stepped toward him, placing one foot in front of the other like a gymnast on a balance beam. Each step set off a symphony of mesmerizing motion. She extended a hand.
He shook it, and felt a wonderful electric tingle flow through his body. His face must have betrayed his bewilderment.
“Renata,” she explained, in a voice that melted his spine.
Ren-a-ta. He rolled the name over in his mind. He wished, wished for all the world, that he could place her. Even more, he wished she would say it again. Coming from her lips, anything at all sounded like the sweetest of music. He tried to say something, but nothing came to his head.
“I used to work for you,” she intoned. “It was a long time ago. I think you once referred to me, behind my back, as your ten-watt bulb. Since then, my luminescence has been … enhanced” She smiled, radiantly.
“What can I do for you?” Bob felt lucky to have gotten the words out.
“It’s more like what can you prove to me.” The syrup of her voice coated his mind in delicious warmth. “I’m raising venture funding for a friend’s start-up. I sent a few emails around to a few banks asking for investments – got very little back. But those guys – the ones on the emails – they’re morons anyway. They never achieved what you did. She ran her finger over the lucite desk plaque that commemorated the moment his firm hit the $20 billion mark.
Yes, he gloated to himself. He was a bigger fish that those other morons.
“Given your stature in the industry, I thought it would be wise to do more than just send an email. I wanted to come over and add a more personal …” She ran a finger over his pectorals. “… touch.”
“What are the specifics of the investment?” he asked.
“Security consultancy. Very in demand in this post9/11world.”
“Particularly in demand now that there are these enhanced women running around.” Good going, Bob! You made a point to her.
“Yes, indeed,” she agreed. “Organizations public and private must know how to guard against Enhanced Females. If those girls gain access to the corner office, they can wreak all kinds of havoc.” Her fingers danced down his forearms.
“Does the entrepreneur … does he have a business plan?”
“Do you think I’m pretty, Bob?” she replied.
He nodded vigorously. YES, YES, MY GOD, A THOUSAND TIMES YES, the iron filings in his head screamed. Did she answer his question, he found himself wondering? Did he even ask a question?
“See,” she pouted. “That what I don’t get. You used to teach microeconomics, right, at a business school?”
“So, when a product is a pure commodity, what happens to its price?”
Bob’s brain screamed in protest as he forced it to think. “The price … the price migrates along the demand curve until it intersects the supply curve, which is market equilibrium.”
“Very good,” she affirmed.
He felt a warmth inside. Wait a minute, wasn’t HE teaching HER?
“But what if there’s only one? And there’s nothing else like it in the world.” She slipped the sleeves of her dress off her shoulders, and then pulled it down over her bust line.
There was no bra. Her tits were huge and full and firm and magnificent in every way. He had never seen their equal.
She reminded him, “I asked you a question. What if there’s only one, and nothing in the world compares to it?”
“That’s a monopolistic environment,” he answered, elated that he was able to produce the response.
“And what happens when the product is a life necessity, too?” The dress continued its trip down her Latin body. So fit was she that her midsection appeared to be populated by six copper-colored stones – except that they undulated with every breath. “When the product is a necessity, Bob?”
He struggled to think. “Like food, or water, or shelter, or …”
“… affection?” The dress slid down over generous Latin hips, taut with unreal fitness.
Affection was somewhere on Mavlov’s needs hierarchy wasn’t it? He couldn’t remember. But he desperately wanted to agree with her. “Yes, affection could be a necessity too.”
The dress slid down over her black lace panties, revealing the full, sculpted glory of her derriere. “What happens then, Bob?”
“A monopoly,” he reasoned, “on something that’s a necessity … the price would go to infinity.”
“That’s right,” she concurred. “So, let’s summarize today’s lesson.” She stepped out of the dress and approached him. He felt her curvaceous bosom flatten slightly against his chest, spreading warmth across his pectorals. He felt his manhood go riotously hard. “And so what price does a rational actor pay for the affections of a woman who has no equal?”
“And how much venture funding does my friend get?” Her skin had the scent of sandalwood, and he felt the iron filings of his mind straining every more urgently into her magnetism.
“Anything,” he replied. “Please, anything.”
It was two hours later when she slipped her feet back into her high-heels and made her way toward the door, navigating around exhausted male limbs and discarded pieces of men’s attire in the process.
She pulled out on her phone and found the list of recently received calls, pressing her finger on the top of the list. When Amy’s voice came on the line, it triggered an involuntary thrill through the woman. Renata had to calm herself slightly before speaking.
“All done, boss.”
“Come on Lazy Bones, you're going to be late for school!” Dave shouted up the stairs.
“Okay, OKAY” returned a girls voice as heavy footfalls thudded down the stairs.
Dave screwed the lid on his coffee a little bit tighter and opened the passenger door for Amy. She chewed on an apple while she struggled with her backpack.
“I wish I could just fly there,” she complained. “This is one part of life that hasn’t changed. It still sucks.”
“You asked for it to be this way,” Dave reminded her as he started the car. “And I agreed. You should enjoy being a normal kid as long as you can. After your identity leaks to the press, you’ll never feel normal again.”
“It’s just weird being in a new school district. I’m making friends all over again. And the girls hate me.”
Dave could understand why: as much as he hated to admit it, Amy was simply the most stunning fifteen-year-old anyone had ever laid eyes on. In fact, switching school districts had been more necessity than choice: her transformation had been so dramatic that it would have raised the suspicions of even the most unobservant people.
As Dave pulled out into traffic, he was annoyed to see that Amy hadn’t fastened her seatbelt. If heavens forbid he had to slam on the brakes, she would go right through the dash and windshield, and it would cost a fortune to repair it. He was tired of reminding her. But what annoyed Dave even more was the fact that she was doing her homework on that very same dash. Pick your battles, Dave, he thought.
“Amy, I thought you said you were going to do your homework last night.”
“I didn’t feel like it,” the girl responded defiantly. “If I’m all super and everything, why do I need to keep doing all this stupid stuff? I can earn more than the entire teaching staff at that school – combined – without being any smarter than I am.”
“Homework is important,” Dave argued flatly. “School is important. You never know when you’re going to need it. In this house, teenagers go to school, no questions asked.”
“Hhhhhmrmrmpph,” Amy responded, her blue eyes glowering and she crossed her arms in protest. “Physics is so BORING.”
“Here, let me see,” Dave offered, grabbing the paperwork from her as they waited at a long light. “’Question: what is a Tesla Coil? Answer: It is a shock absorber on a Tesla car.’ Amy, did you even read the chapter in the book? The CAR is named after the GUY, and the GUY invented something that’s important to our understanding of electricity.”
“Oh,” Amy replied, disinterested.
“’Question: what is the difference between voltage and wattage? Answer: Voltage is in the metric system.’” Dave handed the paperwork back to you before he hit the accelerator. What was he going to do with her? Nobody told him that teenagers these days had so little fear of a failing grade. “Amy, you have to do better.”
“And what if I don’t?” she retorted, arms still in a pretzel.
“Then I’m going to make tomorrow’s car ride just as annoying.”
That brought a smile to her lips.
Dave changed the topic. “Did you try the knife on your palm yet – like you promised – to get comfortable with what your skin can handle?”
“No, it’s … it’s still just too weird for me,” she admitted as she shoved her homework back into her sack. “Did you get the check from Renata yet?”
“Yes, kiddo, I did. But I frankly don’t know what to do with it. $100 million to start up a consultancy? There’s no way I can produce a return on all that money. Most of it will just sit in a savings account.”
“I thought it would make you happy,” she pouted.
“I’m very grateful, Amy. I am. But I feel kind of silly. I did nothing to earn that money. It’s just a result of you pulling strings for me. I should be providing for you, not the other way around.”
Amy thought about that for a moment, and then brightened. Give the beauty of her face, the transition from bad mood to good was breathtaking, like watching the sun rise. “You do provide for me, Daddy.”
“How? I have no jo-”
“I’m not telling!” She pecked him on the cheek before opening the door onto the school sidewalk. “You have to figure it out.”
By noon, Amy had had enough. Greedy stares from the boys. Jealous stares from the girls. Even the teachers couldn't keep their eyes off of her. Lunch came as a welcome relief, because it promised her the chance to slip away for a bit. The school was not an open campus – meaning, students were not allowed to leave during the day – but the second story window in the girl's locker was, in fact, wide open.
She enjoyed the soft breeze on her face as her body shot skyward. She made sure to keep her path entirely vertical for the first 5,000 feet. Teachers occasionally looked out the windows for truant kids. They never looked through the skylights.
As she slowed her ascent, she took a deep breath and took in the view. Flying was still new to her, and the coolness of views like this was not lost on her.
It was as her eyes were roaming the landscape that she saw the smoke. Curious, she accelerated toward the white plume. It was an overturned ambulance, perhaps 100 yards from the roadway. It had tumbled down a steep slope.
Amy felt curiosity turn to dread. The cell phone emerged from her back pocket, and she quickly had Dave on the line. “Daddy, it’s and overturned ambulance. What do I do?”
“Aren’t you in school?”
“I took a break. I’m flying around. The accident – do I help or just pretend I never saw it, stay anonymous?”
There was a pause on the line. “Go ahead and help. Can you get them to a hospital?”
Amy scanned the horizon. “I don’t even know where I am, or where the hospitals are!”
“Use the maps app on your phone to email me the location. I’ll take care of calling it in. You do what you can to assist until more help arrives.
Amy did as he asked, and then pocketed the phone as she sped down to the shattered vehicle. The scene contained two medical technicians, no patient. One of the technicians was clearly dead – a sight for which Amy was unprepared. The other was barely clinging to life: she could hear the irregular, weak patter of his heart even before her feet touched the ground next to him.
“Get the defibrillator,” the injured man rasped, motioning with his chin.
Amy followed the motion of his chin and found the alcove where the defibrillator was supposed to be. It was gone. The only thing that remained was the signage: “Secure Defibrillator Unit Here; Keep Charged to 2000 Volts.”
The device had clearly become dislodged in the violence of the accident. Amy looked up the hillside; the vehicle must have rolled over a dozen times before landing in this spot. Equipment and crumpled vehicle siding was strewn all over the hillside.
Amy scanned the area with her superhuman eyes: nothing. “I don’t see it anywhere,” Amy reported.
“Find it,” he rasped. “It’s my only chance.”
Amy darted into the sky and again scanned the hillside. She had excellent vision but, unlike the comics, no x-rays. The alcove was perhaps the size of a large purse, so the device would have to be about that size as well. It could be under a piece of debris, in a small trench, under the vehicle itself. Who the hell knew? Her frustration grew.
“I can’t find it,” she reported.
“Keep looking. It’s my only …” his eyes went wide. His heart was clearly failing.
Amy flew around again, but still no luck. Fuck this, she thought. Time to start thinking like a supergirl. If all he needs is an electrical shock to get his heart going, there’s more than one way to do that.
Flying to the front of the ambulance, she placed a hand on the hood of the car and closed her superhuman fingers, crumpling the steel like it was nothing more than a bedsheet. With an effortless swing of her arm, she ripped the hood off, tossing it a hundred yards behind her. Amy found the vehicle’s battery easily – a black box that said “12V” on it. She gripped the battery by the handle and tugged, effortlessly shattering the metal mounts. With her other hand, she ripped some of the electrical cables out too.
It was only an instant later that Amy was by the crash victim’s side, his shirt torn open, revealing his chest. With the cables already attached to the car battery, she whispered a little prayer to herself before connecting them to his chest.
Electricity cackled away. The man groaned and shifted uncomfortably. She listened for a heartbeat.
Amy tried again, reconnecting the car battery to his chest.
She looked at the battery, which for this vehicle was easily twice the size that the defibrillator unit should have been – twice the size, and likely twice the power. Why wasn’t this working?
She tried one more, hearing the urgent thump-thump of her own of her own heart but nothing of his.
He was still now. The electricity still cackled across him, but it his body did little in response, as if she were electrocuting a sack of potatoes. As if she were electrocuting a corpse.
“Nothing, nothing, NOTHING!” Amy pounded the ground with her fist, causing the earth under her to tremble.
She grabbed the battery and tossed it away in frustration. The object took off like a rocket, colliding with a tree at absurd speed, eliciting a loud SNAP as the trunk shattered and the canopy toppled over.
In the distance, she could hear the sounds of the sirens approaching, and she felt her hands shaking in exasperation. The sirens were approaching, but there was no one left to save.
That night, the Gordon residence had all the cheer of a funeral parlor. Amy bit her lower lip in silence. The sky blue of her eyes seemed somehow to have clouded.
“Why didn’t it work?” she finally asked.
Dave finished pouring his tea and appraised her. “Amy, you shouldn’t hold yourself to such a high …”
“I said, why didn’t it WORK?” she boomed. Her voice rattled Dave’s saucer as he carefully placed the mug on it.
Dave sat down across from her couch and screwed his courage up slowly. “Do you know the voltage a defibrillator usually operates at?”
“The signage in the ambulance said ‘2000’.”
“And a car battery?” he asked.
“There was a ‘12’ written on the top of the battery.”
“Those numbers sound about right. A car battery doesn’t have nearly the voltage needed to defibrillate a human heart.”
“But the car battery is so much bigger!” she protested. “It HAS to be more powerful. It’s strong enough to run a damn truck!”
“It is indeed more powerful, Amy. But there’s a difference between wattage and voltage. Car batteries are powerful, but each individual unit of power they deliver is actually quite weak, and can travel only over metal cables. A higher voltage is needed to cross a human chest cavity and reawaken a heart. That’s why the defibrillator signage said 2,000 volts.”
“How the hell was I supposed to know THAT?” Amy cried in frustration.
Dave tried to control his eyes, but they wandered there anyway: Amy’s physics homework, ignored from the other night, was lying on the coffee table. On the very top page was a question about voltage and power and current and impedance. He tried to divert his eyes but it was too late. Amy had seen his gaze.
She grabbed the paperwork off the coffee table, her eyes darting back and forth across the words.
“Oh, no,” she whispered. “I could have known.”
“Amy, don’t do this to yourself. No high schooler could reasonably expect to be placed in a situation where this knowledge …”
“If only I’d bothered look at this fucking stuff. And now I’ve let you down, and them down, and everybody down!” She buried her face in her bent arm and started to sob.
Dave felt his heart breaking for her – so much growing up for the poor girl, and so fast.
“Amy, come here,” he said, gathering her up in his arms. “Some days you’re going to win. Some days you’re going to lose. But as long as you try your best, that’s the only thing you can do.”
“But, this time, I didn’t try my best. I blew all that stuff off because I thought it didn’t matter. And now a guy is dead.”
Dave didn’t know what an experienced father would have said to that. Should he have been stern? Forgiving? Would a real father have had the answers? He had just told his adoptive daughter that trying her best was enough – but in his case, was it? As he thought about his own inadequacies, he wasn’t so sure.
So just held her – as if he were a real father – and hoped that would be enough.