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Reid showered while concentrating on a favorite classical musical piece. He had been struggling to master the work on his time off. His morning study of the cello’s deep voice always left him feeling centered and refreshed for the day. By now, Reid was six weeks into Green Key. He loved every minute. He found it difficult to complain about his three day weekends. He turned off the shower, as the hot water ran out, and grabbed his towel from the rack. While drying himself, Reid stepped out and slipped.

Reaching for balance, Reid clutched the shower curtain as it tore away into his hand. Humidity collected on every surface. Every firm surface was slick to touch.

Reid grunted, head striking the ground. Pain surged from his forehead. His opened his eyes and found himself lying in a brown substance covering the floor and toilet seat. His head spinning, he slumped into the muck. Attempting to rise, he fell time and again due to the brown slippery substance. Angered, he only succeeded in coating himself further. Entangled in the shower curtain and his towel, free movement was impossible. Vision blurred, Reid dragged himself to sit, back leaning against the wall.

He rubbed his forehead with a slimy hand while studying the state of the compact bathroom. He would not be able to shower without the shower curtain, and the unfamiliar brown crud was everywhere. Reid tried not to think what it could be. His only towel was sopping wet and coated with the muck. He cursed, realizing his clothes were no longer by the sink. He considered walking down the hall to get a clean towel from the laundry closet. Reid fumed as he attempted his morning once more.

I’m missing the morning meeting. Waiter on duty is Miles, too. Not too patient for a Waiter, that guy.

Reid groaned.

His calm was broken. Not a good day.


The Dining Hall was quiet save for the clinking and clatter of breakfast plates. Miles blearily signed, leading the morning huddle. Ever the grouch before his coffee to wake him up- but then again that never really cheered him up anyway, Paul thought. Paul saw Reid come in as Miles was nearing the end of the team huddle. Reid attempted to assemble a plate at the back of the room, unnoticed by no-one. He turned to find a seat, immediately realizing what happened this morning.

“You look like you got ready in a hurry. Technical difficulties this morning?” Paul signed to Reid from across the room, with a sly grin. He raised a chocolate pudding cup in a toast. They had unloaded an entire pallet of the pudding cups the day before. He savored a bite as the meeting continued. Well pleased with himself, he signed to Reid, “This stuff tastes even better now than it did when I was a kid!”

Ah yes, Paul with the jokes. With murderous eyes, Reid slicked down his still wet hair, pulling off some residual brown pudding. Miles cut in.

Did you have something to add to our conversation? Miles grumbled aloud, rudely interrupting the morning huddle, speaking to Reid directly. Seeing Reid’s attention diverted, Paul squinted, attempting to read Miles’ lips.

Whoever shipped us all those chocolate puddings needs a couple extra doses of Soil. Reid responded dryly as much to Paul as to Miles.

Miles was not given to anything resembling joviality this early in the morning. Turning his attention back to the room, he continued the meeting in sign, “Thanks for your contribution, Reid. Perhaps you and Paul can get started on reinforcing those South American supply lines. There’s always plenty of work to be done, reaching those jungle villages. Enough work to maybe keep you two out of trouble for a while. Or at least until you move onto Yellow Key and get out of my hair.” The partially deafened man winced as his coffee scalded his tongue. He sloppily signed his way through the remainder of the morning meeting, which focused on the favored choice of coffee for coming shipments.

Coffee- such weird stuff, Paul thought, partially paying attention, partially avoiding Reid. The coffee industry had essentially died off long ago. With the rise of Soil, everyone had stopped drinking it. Apparently, regular shipments were still sent to the Plant, for the Residents who worked there. What a strange oddity. The stuff was completely foreign in Paul’s household growing up. Paul could not stand the taste, but he could use the caffeine’s kick on occasion.

Paul caught a glare from Reid as the meeting adjourned. Smiling, Paul pretended to look over Will Grave’s head as the poor man walked by, then jumped in surprise as if Will had snuck up on him. Paul laughed and struck up a conversation with Will as they left the room, leaving Reid to eat alone in the Dining Hall.

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