I need sleep. At least there are now fewer than ten days left of this challenge! This is just a bit of backstory for a minor bad guy in the story. He’s not there to be THE BAD GUY. He’s there to mess things up for our heroines.
Thanks for reading!
Rex worked to look as if he was being neither ignored nor, the God forbid, forgotten. No, he was biding his time. When the right moment came, he’d march into the office and be heard.
He resisted the urge to check the time. People in control didn’t need to look at devices or timekeepers. People in control went where they wanted when they wanted. Other people looked to them to know when to come and go, when to speak, when to nod and bow.
Minister Caliosse’s assistant walked by for the third time, again acting as if he didn’t see anyone there. Rex shifted his weight from one foot to the other. Soon, he’d have to go to the bathroom, but if the door opened for him, if he was called inside, and he wasn’t there, it would be weeks before he’d get another appointment. And he didn’t have time for that.
The door opened, and this time the assistant looked in Rex’s direction. “The Minister will see you now,” he said.
Rex thrust his shoulders back and his chin up.”My appointed time was more than an hour ago. You should do a better job keeping your boss’s schedule straight.”
The assistant didn’t blink. “My boss is seeing you exactly when he wants to see you.” The assistant pushed the door further. “An important man doesn’t schedule a time to see a mosquito, but when one appears, he makes just enough time to take care of it.”
Rex’s already fake smile tightened. He moved past the assistant, avoiding the young man’s gaze, and he strode inside. The hard floor turned to plush carpet, swallowing his footfalls, and causing him to misstep. The spot where others had stopped to stand was worn. Rex meant to step beyond, into the pristine pale gray plush directly in front of the desk, but he hesitated in spite of himself. Once he hesitated, he stopped in the well worn space.
When the door shut behind him, he waited to be spoken to, his own words scattering away from him, which happened every time he stood in that exact spot. One day, he’d be the one to speak first. Maybe when that day came, he wouldn’t give his father the opportunity to speak back.
“I’ve let you in,” Minister Caliosse said. “Why don’t you get to the point?”
The minister’s expression remained impassive. “I know you insist on believing that woman who decided to burden the galaxy with you,” he said, “but I’d prefer it if you referred to me as minister. It took me far more work to achieve this position than to become your father.” He picked up a pen as if it might be a cigar, and turned the pen around in his fingers. “It was more enjoyable too.”
Rex welcomed the distraction of the pen. Better to keep his eyes on its gleaming gold edges. It was probably worth more than anything he himself owned. “I want a job on the Hypatian.”
The pen stopped. “This is not an application office.”
“I’ve filled out the application. And I am more than qualified. I am. If you would just look at my school records and…” His father’s fingers now pressed hard into the pen and turning strangely red. “But like anyone else I need references. And a word from you is the best reference in ten solar systems.”
The pen turned again, his gripped relaxed. “Why would I get you a job on the best starliner in the universe?”
Rex handed his father an unsealed envelope.
The minister set the pen down and took the letter. “I’m reading this, and then I’m kicking you out. Understood?”
For the first time, Rex knew his father was wrong.
The minister looked up from the letter and stared at his son. “All right,” he said. “I hear the Hypatian’s a beautiful ship. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.”
“Thank you,” Rex replied. “Thanks for your help.”
The minister folded the letter and slid it into his coat pocket. “I never cared much for travel,” he said. “Too unpredictable. You never know what might happen.”
“It’s the safest ship in the universe, father. I’ll be safer there than anywhere on this old moon.”
The minister picked up his device and turned it on. There were a lot of people to talk to. “You never know though. You never know.”