Where I find out it is much easier to remember the narrative after 24 hours that after a week.
“Ha!” Saul said out of the blue. ” It actually says that on page 37.”
After all the excitement had died down, the crew of the steam ship magically appeared from what seemed like everywhere. They began pumping out the water from the flooded engine rom and repairing the pipes. Up on deck, others had thrown grappling ropes to snag brush and trees so they could pull the ship closer to the shore and keep them from drifting downstream uncontrolled.
Saul tried to step and help with the repair efforts, but he was pushed rudely aside by crew members with confused looks. That was when Bob Thehero said it.
“The little people have two very important job when the heroes are engaged, stay out of the way and clean up the mess afterwards.”
Saul had just found that phrase, word for word, on page 37 of the Hero’s Handbook.
Ilya just nodded silently at him. They had retired to what Saul had described as a ridiculously well appointed stateroom, where he had flopped onto a couch to read the handbook. Ilya had tried to engage him in conversation several time, but after Saul had answered a question with “uh huh” for the third time, she gave up.
Ridiculously appointed or not, there was little else to do in the stateroom other than sit, change clothes, or leave. She sat for a time, but after a while her eyes fell on the only other thing of interest in the room. Saul was laying there on the couch, reading the handbook, at times aloud, and chortling. She watched him silently, and then, after a while, began to really look at him.
“Listen to this bit,” he said , “Pretty people are often a source of trouble, regardless of gender, but particularly when they are female.” Saul looked at her and she felt herself suppressing a jump, like she had been caught doing something she shouldn’t. He said, “That’s kinda sexist, isn’t it?”
“Depends on the context,” Ilya said.
“I suppose, lemmie see.” Saul looked back at the handbook and read. “Females are a particular burden. They can never be heroes themselves, so when they are not mere little people, the tend to fall into three categories, the maiden to be rescued, the love interest, or most dangerous of all the Femme Fatale, who seem like heroes at first, but always end up being villains because of their willful ways….. yep that is pretty sexist, I’d say. This world of yours is a mess. This shadow line must have evolved into one of the Pulp Fiction mainlines. Serves me right for playing along the border between Science and Art. All you get is bad science and worse art.”
“Uh huh”, Ilya said as she stood up and crossed the room over to the couch.
“I’d love to put whomever wrote this in the same room with Gaia, she’d knock some sense into him. Women can’t be heroes….. PUH-lease!” Saul scoffed and tossed book over his shoulder. “This world needs an enema.”
Ilys was standing right over him by this point. She looked down at him and said, “Do you think I’m pretty?”
Saul looked up at her with a confused look and said, “What?”.
Ilya dropped down and planted her lips gently onto his. Then pulled back, smiling shyly.
Saul’s eyes went wide and wild, “Oh no,” he said as he scrabbled off and around the couch so it stood between them. “No no no no, we are not do this. This is not happening.”
Ilya, smile dropped. Her face going completely neutral. Then she smirked and said, “Gotcha!”
Saul stood in a stunned silence for a moment, then her words percolated through the panic. He smiled and wave his hand dismissively. “Aw you… You totally got me.”
“I know right,” she said brightly.
Saul came out from behind the couch and headed towards the chair where Ilya had previously been sitting.
Ilya turned to pick up the Hero’s Handbook from where it had landed on the floor by the wall…
….and secretly wiped away a single tear while Saul’s back was turned.
And I am way past out of time.