"You called for me, sir?" I peaked into the office room shyly.
"Ah, yes, Dr. Harley's girl, am I right?" Dr. Dreyfus stood up from his creaky chair. I glanced around the cluttered office before letting myself move into view a bit more. I nodded at his assumption.
"How would you like to do something very important for me?" He said. I mentally rolled my eyes at his tone. He said it like he was asking a dog if it wanted to play fetch.
"What do you need?" I tried to keep my voice from wavering.
"Will you do it?" He avoided my question. My worry was growing even larger than it had when my mother had told me Dreyfus wanted to see me. I forced myself to nod, afraid of what would happen if I said no.
"Wonderful. The generators aren't going to last much longer. I need you to travel up to the old dam and get it working. The energy would set us up for years." He clapped his hands together and started dusting them off before turning away from me. I held in a gasp. No one has been up at that dam for the past decade. I knew I couldn't get out if it, I would probably get yelled at, even if I could force up the courage to speak up.
"Leave as soon as you can. First light tomorrow would be phenomenal." He handed me a sheaf of papers. "There's what you should know about your assignment." He shooed me away. I gave another stiff nod and slid away from the doorway, chewing my bottom lip. I made my way through town, hopping rooftops and fire escapes to avoid the crowds below. When I got to my building, I climbed the fire escape one floor down and pulled open the apartment window.
"Rain." I looked up at my mother's voice. She was standing at the threshold of my bedroom. "What did Dreyfus want?" She wrung her hands over her heavily pregnant stomach worriedly.
"Mom, you shouldn't be on your feet." I walked over to her, pulling her out into the small living room and to the patchy couch. She yanked her hand out of mine and turned me to face her before I could urge her to sit. She placed her hands on my shoulders and looked me in the eye.
"What did he want?"
I sighed. "He wants me to go to the dam in the mountains and fix the workings. The generators are gonna go out soon."
"What's going on?" We both turned at the new voice. I seen my older brother, Dax, watching us. I repeated myself, signing at the same time.
"No." He said and signed. "There is no way I'm letting you go there alone. No one has been there since the Ape Rebellion, it's not safe."
I was flattered by my brother's concern, but I brushed it off. "I'm going, Dax. We're all going to be in the dark if I don't." I argued.
"You think they can't find someone else to do this? Rain, no." He gave me a sharp look. It used to be off-putting back when I wasn't used to the intensity level his eyes have been able to get to ever since he went deaf.
I was pretty proud of my big brother. He lost his hearing when he was sixteen and was able to keep his speech and learn how to sign fairly fast. I guess you have to when it becomes your only way of communication. I just wish at least some of the people here at "Group Golden Gate" as Dax liked to refer to us as, would take the time to at least learn a few basic signs, and not rely on his lip reading or my interpretation. 'Yes, no, help, thank you' would that be so hard to learn?
"Dax, I'll be fine." I said and signed. "There's nothing you can say to change my mind." I turned to my mother. "You either."
Mom sighed, and nodded slowly. "I know, I know. But you're not going alone. Dax, you're going with her." She signed.
He gave an irritated sigh. "Fine." He turned away, presumably to go pack.
"Sit down, Mom. I'm going to go pack." I said, giving her a hug. She held me close before plopping down on the couch with her book.
I walked back into my room and closed the window I'd entered through. I grabbed a backpack and put three sets of clothes in, three water bottles, and my camera, along with a handful of extra memory cartridges. (I hit the mother load when I found a discarded box full of them, taped and sealed, unopened.) I liked to take pictures of everything, because you never know when something's going to change for good.
I grabbed my bow and quill full of arrows and hung it on my doorknob, also grabbing some extra arrows so I wouldn't have to stop and build more. I made the archery set myself, whenever I find branches and sticks smooth enough, I take them and make arrows out of them. I added a tent and tied a rolled up sleeping bag on top of the bag. When I was satisfied that I had enough, I stuffed in my tool box and walked to the bedroom door across from my room and opened it slightly, looking away while I reached my hand in and felt for the light switch. I flickered it up and down until I heard a grunt.
I walked into Dax's room to see him finishing up his own backpack. "We leave in the morning." I signed. He nodded and zipped up his backpack. I beckoned him to follow me out to the living room. He did, and I pushed him toward Mom on the couch and pointed to her. I continued walking into our meager kitchen and walked back into the living room with three cups of tea. We save the coffee for special occasions. Well, Dax and Mom do. I can't stand the stuff.
I found Dax massaging Mom's feet. I handed Mom her mug before touching Dax's shoulder. He looked up and smiled at me as he took the cup. I sat down next to Mom and sipped at my tea. She brought her arm around my shoulders and stroked my hair with her long fingers. Dax sat on her other side and placed his hands on her stomach. He gasped and broke out into a wide grin after a few seconds. I smiled and put my hand on her large stomach next to my brother's. I felt my own smile stretch my lips farther as I felt the movement of my new sibling under my palm.
"I can't wait to meet them." I said.
"Them?" Mom asked.
"I don't know if they'll be a boy or a girl, and I don't want to call them an 'it'." I explained. She smiled and we sat there in comfortable silence until Mom announced that she was tired. Dax and I took the time in helping her waddle to her bedroom. She surprised us by pulling us into the bed with her.
"Come sleep with mama." She said in her baby voice while signing.
"Mom." I pretended to whine.
"We're not babies." Dax signed. "I'm a grown man."
"You're always gonna be my babies." She pulled us down beside her, and we gave no protest. I was glad to be able to cuddle with my mother and brother. I fell asleep with an arm over my mom's tummy, right next to Dax's.
----the next morning----
I sighed as I fitted my bow string over my chest. I looked out the window at the heavy fog over the Golden Gate Bridge, hoping it would be burned away by the sun soon. I walked out my bedroom door and found Mom saying goodbye to Dax in front of the door. I paused to watch her sign.
"...keep her safe. Remember to stick together. If the dam is unsafe, come right back home, I don't care what Dreyfus has to say."
I continued toward them and knocked on the wall. Mom turned to me and Dax followed her gaze. Mom hurried as fast as her pregnancy would allow to embrace me tightly. I stepped away slightly, afraid to hurt the baby, but kept my arms locked around her neck, breathing in her lavender scent.
When she pulled back, her eyes were teary. "Aw, Mom." I pouted, hating when she was sad.
"Don't worry about me. I'll be fine. Just go, fix that hunk of junk, and come back home." She signed and said.
"Maybe you should stay with Malcolm..." I crossed my arms over my chest, chewing on my lip worriedly. I didn't want to leave her alone so close to her delivery, and I knew my mother's childhood best friend, Malcolm, would keep her safe while Dax and I were gone. He had been a close friend to us for years.
"No, no, no. I was an independent woman once, I can be again. And it's only for a short time." She tutted before leaning forward to kiss my cheek. She did the same for Dax before I kneeled down in front of her bulging stomach.
"Take care of Mom for us, okay? Hopefully, we'll be back before it's time for you to join us." I spoke to the bump. Mom and Dax watched me with warm (and watery) smiles. I pulled out my camera and looked at them with a puppy dog look. They both sighed and Dax put his arm around mom, waiting for me to join them. I smiled and moved next to Mom, holding the camera out in front of us before clicking the button. I looked down at the image and smiled.
"That's a keeper, Kitten." Dax said as he looked over my shoulder. My smile grew as he used his nickname for me.
We hugged one more time before Dax and I walked hand in hand down to the outskirts of the city, toward what used to be Muir Woods.