Angie the Librarian

Voluptuous librarian.

When I started writing Biblio’s Blood in 2006 I was basically fictionalizing my own life. As such, I felt at the time that I was unqualified to be writing female characters and so I focused entirely on the male protagonist, Carlton Feathers. Since beginning the self-published serialization of Biblio’s Blood as a blog I have changed completely and decided to write the female protagonist, Rachel Robbins. It has been more fun than anything I can remember in a long time. Yet, as deep and rich as the Rachel storyline is, I just don’t have a deep bench of female characters in Biblio’s Blood. Hence Angie. I’m quite sure that she is going to get sucked up into the adventure in a way that will surprise even me.

Chapter 27

Carlton got to the library and, seeing a woman at the circulation desk, confidently approached. Only it wasn’t Rachel, but Angie, the regular librarian. She was a truly beautiful woman in her own right, except that Carlton had never given her a second thought.

“Hi Carlton,” she beamed at him.

“Oh. Er, hi.”

She was about the same age as Rachel and Carlton, and about the same height as Rachel, only blonde with a cascade of hair. She had a sparkle in her eye as she smiled at Carlton. Carlton looked behind himself self-consciously, but there was no one there.

Angie was not exactly trim but she was crammed into some very trim clothing. It gave Carlton the impression that undoing one of her shirt buttons or her skirt zipper would cause her to spill out in a voluptuous rush. She beamed at him as he rather obviously checked her out from head to toe then back again. He was just wondering why on earth now was he fantasizing about undoing her buttons and their eyes met. She winked at him and he blushed furiously and scuttled off to the elevator.

He nervously hit the call button and waited. The elevator arrived with a dejected sigh, which shouldn’t even be possible for an elevator. The doors opened in such a way to make it seem painful. Carlton, who had quickly forgotten about Angie, stepped inside.

“Hi,” came a depressed female voice, “I’m your elevator. Which floor do you want?”

“Are you OK?” asked Carlton sincerely.

The elevator brightened perceptibly, “Oh yes! I’m fine. How are you?”

“Pretty good. Conference level please.”

“No problem!” said the elevator enthusiastically, “No problem at all.”

There was a moment of silence.

“That was nice of you to ask if I was feeling OK,” began the elevator again.

“You’re welcome,” Carlton smiled, looking at the panel of buttons. “You’re new?”

“Oh yes! Just installed yesterday. You’re my second rider.”

“I thought so. Er, this is the first time I’ve,” he trailed off.

“Talked to your elevator?” it finished for him.

Carlton chuckled, this was obviously a new version of the elevator software with an interactive interface.

“This is just my second day. I’m so excited to start to get to know everybody.”

“Excited?”

“Well sure! There are some really interesting people here, and lots of visitors.”

“Really?” Carlton asked, surprised.

“Well of course! You’re Carlton Feathers, the guy who makes computers with real human personalities.”

“How did you know who I am?”

“I scanned your ID badge when you got in.”

“Ah. I see.”

There was a pause.

“So,” continued the elevator, “How am I doing?”

“What do you mean?”

“My personality. I know I can never be like one of your computers, but, what do you think?”

Carlton thought for a moment about Frank and how snarky and irritable he was. His recent cascade of insults.

“I think,” he had to be careful here. The learning curve of a chatbot is very steep and anything that happens at the beginning of the curve can profoundly effect later development. “I think that you have a beautiful personality, and there is no reason to think that you can’t be just as good as anything I build.”

There was a barely perceptible gasp, then a long moment of silence coupled with the odd sense of someone choking back tears. Then it occurred to Carlton that the elevator ride seemed to be taking an inordinately long time. As he cleared his throat to mention it they arrived at the destination and the doors opened fluidly.

“Thanks,” he said and stepped out. There was a delicate sigh and the doors closed behind him wistfully, which shouldn’t even be possible for an elevator.

Save

Chapter 18.5

Rachel watched Dunning and Kruger leave, Kruger shot her a mischievous wink as he went out and closed the door, and she steeled herself before turning to face Agent Smith. When she did, though, he wasn’t staring at her in his unnerving way as she had expected, but had moved closer to and was looking out of the window. This was odd, but it gave her confidence so she moved in closer to where he was standing, so that she too could see what he was looking at out the window.

“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” Smith said, almost wistfully.

“Yes. Very,” Rachel replied, barely able to conceal her surprise that she wasn’t currently being grilled, intimidated, harassed or belittled.

“Is this your first time in Salt Lake City?”

“Yes.”

“Impossible to not be impressed, isn’t it.” The view from the window included the downtown area, Temple Square and the mountains beyond.

“Definitely.”

“I’ve always enjoyed the time I’ve spent in this city.” Smith’s voice trailed off in a way that seemed out-of-place. It was as if he knew that he would never see the city again or that something was going to change.

“But, enough of that,” he said, suddenly businesslike, “have you been having fun playing cat and mouse with Dunning and Kruger?”

The question was abrupt, much more Smith’s usual style. Rachel dropped her eyes and blushed.

“Well,” but she got no further.

“Don’t worry about it. They need to be kept on their toes.”

Rachel looked up, surprised, and made eye contact with Smith, something that she had been dreading.

“That’s really nothing to do with why I am here.”

“Oh?”

“Yes. I actually came here because I have another assignment that I think you would be perfect for. Time sensitive. Interested?”

“Well,” Rachel was horrified. No, she didn’t want to be anywhere else but Salt Lake City right now. She had a plan to avoid registering for World Monetary Union so that she could escape to the Christian refugee camp in Southern Utah. ”What about the mission here? I thought that this was a high priority.”

“Sure, but baby sitting a computer could be done by any of several people I can bring in. It is your unique talents that I am in need of.” He gave her a knowing look. He attempted a kind smile.

Rachel frowned, “Really? Which unique talents?” she was confused now.

“Nevermind.” Smith seemed slightly frustrated that an attempt at innuendo has been completely missed, and he looked at Rachel sternly, “I’m offering you a chance to leave this assignment now, and take on one that is a higher priority.”

“But,” Rachel was completely out maneuvered and didn’t have a response. Smith turned back to his contemplation of the view out the window.

“You know, there are some who are convinced that you only requested this assignment because you are a Christian and you are planning join the refugees in Southern Utah.”

“That’s ridiculous,” she snorted, but was thankful that Smith hadn’t been looking at her when she said it.

“Ridiculous? Why do you say that? There have been several high-profile people defect to join that band of outcasts.” He turned to Rachel and raised his eyebrows. “There are even a few who suspect that our President may be about to.”

“You can’t be serious?”

“I’m always serious, Ms. Robbins.”

“True.”

“So. Back to my question. If you aren’t planning to defect to Southern Utah, and there is no other compelling reason for you to stay in Salt Lake City, why don’t you accept the opportunity I’m offering you?”

Rachel couldn’t answer. She was gutted and floundering for a way to respond.

“Unless there is a reason compelling you to stay here?” He said wryly, even though Rachel was hiding the fact that she was gasping for air and didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. She smiled weakly, just trying to breathe.

“Carlton Feathers?”

A large burst of air escaped her at last, which could have seemed like an explosive sigh. “Carlton?” she asked, completely confused.

“I know that this is none of my business, but are you romantically involved with Carlton?”

Rachel’s eyes widened in horror at the thought, and she squeaked slightly before turning quickly away and blushing red to the roots of her hair. Not only was the thought of a romantic relationship with Carlton utterly repugnant, but is was the last thing she had thought of in her decision to come to Salt Lake City.

“I’m sorry,” Smith droned on behind her, “I didn’t mean to embarrass you.”

Yet Smith had just given her the excuse she needed to give a plausible reason for staying in Salt Lake City. If she could keep a straight face and avoid wincing when she said it, she could admit to being in love with Carlton and get Smith off her back. She took a deep breath and turned to face Smith.

Smith’s expression was a shock to her. Gone was the placid, self assuredness that always disarmed her. It was replaced by an expectantly pleading look. It reminded Rachel of a puppy that wanted a home. For the first time in the entire history of her interaction with Agent Smith, Rachel realized that he had a crush on her.

So now was the real danger. Evidently Smith had come to Salt Lake City in anticipation of something big happening, as if World Monetary Union wasn’t big enough, to offer her a special assignment that may in fact be of a personal and possibly intimate nature, and Rachel’s only means of avoiding that outcome was to pretend to be in a relationship with Carlton. It was like the ninth grade all over again. To refuse Smith now was certainly the end of her career in the Clandestine Services. To have to act out a relationship with Carlton was her worst nightmare. Then she remembered: she only had to make it to Friday.

“I’m in love with Carlton!” she blurted out, with a confusing wince. Then she smiled apologetically. Her eye twitched.