The screen is black and the sound of an alarm clock buzzing can be heard. The camera pulls back and the blackness turns into the black plastic between the glowing red digits of a digital alarm clock. The clock reads:
6:03 am, February 2nd 2123
The camera pans around the small room and a disheveled bed comes into view which as the camera pulls back further contrasts with the otherwise tidy one-room studio apartment. The camera turns around and moves down the wall until it comes to a partially closed door. Pushing the door aside, the camera zooms into a bathroom where a young woman wearing sweats and a sports bra has her head in a sink.
The camera cuts to the woman's profile and the rhythmic bleating of the alarm clock is abruptly interrupted by an explosive cough which sends the woman's head whipping out of the sink which is now obviously full of water and spraying water over the bathroom.
She coughs some more and the camera follows a few drops of blood which plop into the sink. The tendrils of red slowly coiling through the turbulent water before the woman's face interrupts the tranquil scene as she plunges her head back under the water.
The camera cuts back to looking at the woman from the vantage point of the bathroom door. The camera watches for an unbearable amount of time as the woman holds her head under the water. The rhythmic bleating of the alarm clock seems to speed up as time goes on, racing right up to the point where the woman coughs again and takes her head out of the sink, coughing more blood into the tepid reservoir.
The camera pans around to looking over the woman's right shoulder. She looks up into the sink's mirror, a sad pleading look on her face. The woman is obviously distressed, dark circles under her eyes, blood dripping from her lips, her eyes terribly bloodshot, and is clearly identifiable as Diedre Thornhallow.
Diedre grips the sink and the camera pans around to look at her face, and you can see the tub opposite the sink behind her. She wipes her mouth with her arm, which only smudges the blood on her lips. She mouths hoarsely to the mirror,
She pauses as if listening to the mirror.
"I know, I know, I jus' fergot. All I could t'ink o' was them two grasshoppers who got breaded as… as jack-o-lanterns."
"Well it's de bloody yak's fault, eid'r way. They gots the corruption, the witchcraft, the entities…"
She looks down into the sink, and her face twists into a sour expression.
"It's not honey anymore."
She chokes on some tears and then plunges her face back into the sink. The only sound now is the dripping of water on the floor and the rhythmic bleating of the alarm clock. As the camera pulls back, Diedre's reflection can still be seen in the mirror. The reflection is looking down with a sad compassion on the woman whose head is in the sink. As the camera is pulling out of the bathroom the reflection stretches out its hand, as if to place it on the woman's shoulder. The door closes as the camera pulls fully out of the bathroom.
* * *
The camera spins, and the bedroom is now visible again with the bed nicely made and a bible and notebook are placed carefully next to the clock, as is an empty teacup. The clock reads 6:54 am, and the rhythmic sounds of the alarm clock are replaced with a strange smattering *wham-wham* noises. The noises' origin is soon explained as a large punching bag flies in view from behind the camera, narrowly missing it.
The camera dodges the bag's return swing and spins. The room changes and now Diedre is in the apartment building's workout room. She is furiously slugging it out with the punching bag, each hit shaking the camera slightly. Her hands are wrapped in cloth tape which is slightly bloodied, her hair is a mess, and she is sweating profusely.
She has gained a small audience of men, and one of them tries to approach her. Before he can get any words out of his mouth, Diedre turns, snarls at the man, and gives the punching bag a fierce hit—low enough to imply a crotch hit. She glowers at the man and turns to leave.
The camera follows the man's eyes as he looks down at the bag. There is a sizable dent in the bag which does not appear to be reshaping itself. The man's eyes widen and he turns back to his cup of coffee.
* * *
The camera turns to follow Diedre, but she is already back in her apartment grabbing her bags and heading for work. She darts out the door, and closes it. A split second later, the door reopens, and she reaches in and grabs one of four smallish boxes on her kitchenette.
The door closes again, and the camera backs out of her apartment to the outside of the building. Gravity appears to catch up with the camera as it falls rapidly to the ground, catching Diedre as she leaves the building. The camera follows her down the sidewalk for a few steps, then speeds up in front of her, following the crowd of people headed towards the mag-rail station. The camera moves up to the train tracks where the doors close. Behind the glass doors, Diedre is standing with an extremely bored look on her face as the mag-rail lurches forward.
The train speeds on and time speeds up as the camera follows the rail through Angelus. It passes the sky-hook, and veers to the right out of the Sigma Sector as if making a detour around a section of the city. The mag-rail stops again, but this time the camera follows it into the station and focuses on a tall woman with white hair and a tail. The woman gets on the mag-rail, and is immediately recognized by Diedre. The two women begin talking, and the camera moves in to get a closer look as the train speeds back up.
"So Chrysine, gimme a Danny, wouldja? How d'ya take a Richard wi' dat?" Diedre asks, cocking her head slightly and motioning towards the other woman's furry white tail.
The tall Clade looks confused, opening and then closing her mouth as she tries to figure out not only what to say, but what was said to her in the first place.
"Uhm..." She leans over, placing her head closer to Diedre's, "Officer Thorhallow, did you just ask me something?"
"Yeah." Diedre says with as much chipper as she can manage.
"Oh..." There's a long pause as Chrysine's ears twitch. Finally she bends down again. "What was it again?"
“I was just wondering how you take a crap with a tail sticking out of your butt." She nods in the direction of Chrysine's rear again. "Do you have to bleach it?"
The tail in question lashes from side to side before curling protectively across the front of its owner’s thighs. “I keep my tail very clean,” Chrysine replies, uncomfortably aware of the stares the conversation is attracting. “And brush it every day.”
"Well, ye d'one hell of a Robin job. I haven't been able to do anything with my Bonney Fair," Diedre points at her hair, which is sticking out in every-which way, "in a few Donkey's Ears. Not ever since I got my Clever. What do you use for conditioner? Nothing seems to work for me."
Simply trying to parse the slang is bad enough, but keeping up with the changes in subject leave her almost at a loss. Chrysine glances at Diedre's colorful hair and then her own stark white tresses. One hand (followed by several curious eyes) brushes the downy softness of her tail. "Arctic Snow Super-Styling Mousse," she rattles off in a manner that suggests anything slower would have caused her to forget something. "A friend at the Untervasser suggested it."
"It looks great, although you must go through a lot of it."
“Thank you Officer Thornhallow. I try to always look my best. Otherwise people might get the wrong idea.”
Diedre puts on a face of feigned indignation, "Chrysine, are you saying that you think I'm scruffy and disgusting!?"
The Clade blinks and takes a step back, ears flat, nearly pushing someone over. The young man, angry at being shoved starts to make an issue of it, realizes he’s looking at someone a good six inches taller than he is, and quickly ducks away. “No, no. But people think Clades are. They think we are all dirty and unkempt.”
"Well I don't think that. You're probably the most well-kept and tidy person I've ever met. Maybe too much. What do you do for fun when you're off-duty?"
"Read." Chrysine dipped into a pocket and produced a small e-book. "Right now I am studying The Tao Of Jeet Kune Do."
"That’s not..." Diedre gives Chrysine a stupefied look, "I meant what do you do for fun, with other people?"
The tall Clade blinks, once, twice, as her ears twitch in confusion. “What do you mean?”
"You know... hang out with friends, clubbing, going to malls...."
Now it’s Chrysine’s turn to look stupefied. “Do what?”
There's a pause as the two women stare uncomfortably at each other. Diedre blinks a couple of times before continuing.
"A team that works together needs to play together. Friday night, since we're not storming the gates of..." Diedre takes a quick look around, "Uh, the gates of Hell, I'll take ye t' the Rub-A-Dub, have us a few Tumbles, and Kick it until the cows come home. Waddayasay?"
The look on Chrysine’s face makes it perfectly clear she has no idea Deidre has just said. Still, she managed a nod and opens her mouth to reply. "Great!” Diedre cuts her off short. “Me and you after our shifts on Friday. Dun ferget!"
The train stops at their destination and begins discharging passengers. "Whoops, our stop." Diedre says as she holds the door for Chrysine. "Guv'nor'd better have somethin' good fer us today."
* * *
The camera cuts, and the two women are heading into the Jungle, through the same set of bullet-proof glass doors as yesterday. Diedre is a tentative half step behind Chrysine and the camera stops at the front desk, where Sergeant Esterhaus is working on paperwork. Diedre backs up into the camera's view as the steel door to the inner workings of the precinct opens and closes.
Diedre looks at the man for a moment, and clears her throat.
The man looks up, "You didn't forget where to go already, did you rookie?" the man says in a tense tone of voice.
"No," Diedre replies, quietly. "I wanted to apologize for yesterday… For being as rude as I was."
"You had no way of knowing." The Sergeant replied, and went back to the paperwork.
"Still…" Diedre said. And more softly, "It's different here isn't it? Not knowing if your friends will show up to work the next day."
The man looks up from his paperwork, "You have no idea."