Capacitance: Chapter 12

It’s a day late on the bi-monthly (I have decided 2 posts a month instead of 1 every week) Capacitance chapter post, but better late than never I suppose! 🙂 Enjoy Chapter 12! I probably should have been doing this a long time ago, but I linked the post which subsequently has links to all the previous chapters below.

Links to Ch. 1-11:

Chapter 12

Runey remained in Room 6 of the Underground until an hour after noon when he finally saw the obviously distraught Juleia give his dorm room door what was surely a satisfying and window-rattlingly loud slam and then exit the hall. He couldn’t help but note her eyes were red and puffy from crying, but he tried not to think about it too much. During his sojourn in the small room under the hum of the ghastly fluorescent lights, he had mainly considered the Professor and how deeply he had infiltrated the University system. Runey had been a member of the Restorationists since shortly after he had arrived at the University, but he had no concept of the overall progress of the group. Keeping individual members in the dark about the organization’s overall strength was a key way to maintaining secrecy and lessening the risk of exposure should a student be caught and questioned by the wrong people. However, now Runey was realizing that he might be involved in something truly large; the Professor had said the Restorationists had caused the university-wide group projects to occur—that demonstrated an extensive level of influence in all the colleges as well as the University Board of Directors. The Professor’s own access to the dorm security cameras suggested another kind of power; if the Professor could tap into the security footage from Design, what else did he have access to?

Runey’s mind was vacillating between a sense of triumph and deep unease; he reveled in the fact that he belonged to a group that had an under-the-radar sort of pull and access, but at the same time he did not relish his every move being watched. He knew there were ways to tap emails and messages on phones, ways to spy on phone conversations, ways to plant bugs and trackers on an individual—the possibilities were endless. It thrilled him and chilled him simultaneously. He knew his assignment was important to the Restorationists, but he hoped that every aspect of it wouldn’t end up being monitored; surveillance on him personally indicated a level of distrust, in his opinion. Runey couldn’t help but feel wounded by the Professor’s harsh treatment of him after the tryst with Juleia; sure, he knew he was wrong, but his self-confident nature made it difficult for him to understand how the Professor couldn’t just trust his process. There was no need for stern lectures and vague, veiled threats to Juleia.

As much as the threats to Juleia made Runey nervous, they also clued him into just how important his mission was. Clearly, he was expected to succeed and the Professor and the Restorationists would go to any lengths to make sure he did not have any distractions in his path. The Professor might be just as good at reading people as I am; by threatening Juleia he knew I would endeavor to steer clear of her since I don’t want anything to happen to her, but he also knew it would remind me how important this is. Remind me of the challenge… he thought. Armed with the realization that the Restorationist organization and his own personal mission were both, more likely than not, bigger in scale and more important than he had realized, Runey once again was consumed by the thought of the challenge and his sense of dedication to the cause. He knew now that he absolutely had to avoid Juleia at all costs. He hoped the Professor would help him out on that front; surely it wouldn’t be hard to put one of the many Restorationists in Design on Juleia and try to keep her out of Runey’s way? Runey certainly hoped so—last night had shown him that when it came to Juleia, he had a great weakness. He had acted almost without thinking, out of pure impulse, and—admittedly—desire. Still, he wanted to somehow get a message to her that would explain things; ruthlessly, he tamped down the thought—he had bigger things to worry about.

Runey needed to find Mara. He still hadn’t received a reply from her. He thought about calling her, but a call was just as easily ignored as a message, and instinct told Runey she wouldn’t answer. When the laptop screen in front of him showed Juleia leaving his dorm room, Runey waited till she was off the screen, then snapped the laptop closed and left the room. He had decided to go up the hill and pay a visit to the Science compound. Perhaps he would get lucky and run into Mara; at the very least he planned to ask around and see if he could find a directory or someone who could tell him where Mara lived and worked. If he came to her on her own ground, there was really no way she could walk away from him like she had the previous day. And, deep inside he had an intuition that she would not want to walk away from him; Runey once confident, once given the chance, he could make Mara warm up to him, like him, and eventually fall in love with him. The events of the night before and the dressing down by the Professor that morning had not wounded his self-confidence in the slightest—rather, they had served to make him more aware; and for a resourceful person such as Runey, awareness was a most valuable condition.

Runey climbed the steep steps up from the Underground, and listened carefully at the entrance to the storage closet; hearing no overt noises indicating people in the room beyond, he pressed a green illuminated button on the wall which released the back wall of the storage closet and allowed him to step back through to Studio 4b in Design Block A. He took a moment to listen again before opening the old wooden door of the storage closet, but only silence resounded beyond the door. Stepping out of the door and locking it behind him, Runey experienced the rush of relief he felt every time he exited the Underground undetected; he felt sure he would be able to talk his way out of it were he ever to be discovered, but the thought of the Restorationists being exposed sent a chill through his body—especially after his realization today at the true threat the organization could pose to the government. However, the small rush of adrenaline faded fast and Runey was quickly up the steps and out the door of Block A. He walked quickly up the hill, through the colored arch and out of the Design compound, wanting to put as much distance between himself and Juleia as possible.

The massive oak trees made dappled designs on the lush grass of Campus green as Runey walked up the hill from design to merge with Oak’s March; this main thoroughfare would take him directly to Science. Runey was curious to get a closer look at the Science compound; he always saw the towering buildings looming in the distance like a mountain range of swirling glass and stern granite, but he had never actually been up the hill to see the place in person. In fact, he wasn’t even sure he was supposed to be there; the eminent Science department was not a place that came off as very welcoming to visitors. The three buildings came into sharper clarity as Runey climbed up the steep hill, his long legs making the trek up with ease; finally he crested the hill and knew he was in Science as the sidewalk was obviously of freshly poured cement and the grass was still a deep green, plush and perfectly manicured. Yes, they cater to Science in every way; even their lawn is perfectly groomed. Although most of these people probably don’t even notice. As opposed to the Design compound, where students flocked to the (not nearly as well-kept) lawns any day the weather permitted, there were no students outside in the Science compound. Runey supposed they must all be in the buildings in front of him.

To his left was the shortest—but still monolithic—of the three buildings, a solid looking structure more of granite than glass, with a sign out front that said Seminar Hall. In the middle was the famed SciSky; Runey didn’t need a sign to recognize the architectural marvel of glass and steel soaring up to the sky—architectural drafting being Runey’s preferred type of art, the elegant design of SciSky always took his breath away. On the right was an unmarked building whose structure of rough granite and smooth glass created a harmonious marriage of modern and natural elements; this particular building was the only place Runey could see any sign of life on top of the hill as he watched a few students entering its tall glass doors. Briefly, he debated whether to go into the building on his right or SciSky first, and decided to try SciSky, simply because he was innately drawn to it in a design sense—his intuition told him Mara would be in the building to his left with all the other students, but SciSky couldn’t go unseen for Runey.

Runey strolled purposefully toward the gleaming building, marveling at the front steps which featured a pebbled trough in their center which water flowed down; as Runey got closer he saw that the water was coming from a modern fountain indoors and then flowed to the outside and down the partition in the steps, creating a marvelous indoor/outdoor feature. Runey shook his head with a chuckle of disbelief as he compared his bland, outdated dormitory in the Design compound with this work of art. He reached one of the thick plate glass doors and grabbed the brushed nickel handle—the door wouldn’t budge. Of course it is locked, they aren’t going to let just anyone wander in, he thought. The clear glass of the door afforded him an easy view of the lobby of SciSky; Runey didn’t think “lobby” was a word on a large enough scale for what he saw inside. Beyond the gorgeously understated, zen-like water feature was a bank of elevators, arranged in a quadrant enclosed in glass that, free-standing, soared up through the high ceiling of the lobby to the residences above. Around the fountain and the elevator, the walls were ringed with shops and restaurants that Runey could see, even from this point, sold wares that were of premium quality and boasted interior finishes that were just as lavish as the products they sold. To Runey’s right, the entire corner of SciSky was an open expanse of windows, exposing a gym full of state of the art fitness equipment. Wow…no wonder they never leave, Runey marveled as he took in what he could of the lobby from his limited position outside.

As Runey stood lost in reverie at the luxurious world of Mara and the other students in Science, someone walked up the steps on the other side of the waterfall; Runey watched as the young man simply grabbed the handle and swung the tall glass door open. Quickly hopping over the waterfall and dashing to where the student had entered, Runey attempted to grab at the door as it swung back closed, but he was too late. He pulled on the handle which had just allowed entrance so easily, but it would not budge for Runey. The handles themselves must have individual palm print recognition or something, Runey realized, and didn’t know why he was surprised. He laughed to himself again, thinking about the juxtaposition between the impenetrable fortress that was SciSky, and the headphoned, oblivious warden of the front desk in the Design dormitory.

Undaunted, Runey loped back down the front steps with easy, loose strides and turned towards the other, unmarked building. Approaching the entrance, he tried one of the doors and was relieved to discover that it was not locked. Once inside, he found himself surrounded by pure white marble, shining chrome and delicate glass; the elevators, once again sheathed in glass, led up and down to parts unknown, and the stairs were a maze around and above him—the room was purely a hub for students to go elsewhere in the building. Runey could see no other doors on this level, not to mention an information desk or kiosk. He wandered through the maze of stairs, and all around the bank of elevators and didn’t see anyone or encounter any directory. After wandering up a handful of the twisting staircases, and finding no help at the top of those (usually it was another elevator, or a key-card access door, or, most frustratingly, yet another flight of stairs), Runey decided this building was also a lost cause. Most infuriating to him was the lack of people out in the open in the Science compound—other than the students walking into this building and the one who had entered SciSky, Runey had seen no one. It gave him an eerie feeling to be walking around in all these places of sterile, modern beauty, yet seeing no people.

Hoping this condition would be different in the Seminar Hall building, Runey walked across the Science compound once again. The door of the Seminar Hall was also unlocked. The interior of this building—while still lavish in its appointment of silvery granite floors and doors of clean natural wood and glass—had a more down-to-earth feel than the other two buildings Runey had visited. He found himself in a lobby, facing a phalanx of double doors in front of him. Curiously, Runey pushed open one of the doors and found himself staring down into a large amphitheater with rows of sleek silver desks which appeared aesthetically pleasing, but also terribly uncomfortable. Letting the door fall back into place, Runey noticed a flight of stairs in the far right corner of the lobby; he followed them up and was delighted to see they led to a pale wood door marked “Student Services.”

He opened the door enthusiastically and entered a waiting room area, appointed with stylish cream colored leather sofas and pale wood side tables, carefully arrayed with scientific publications. In lieu of a reception desk, a stand mounted with a tablet computer stood in one corner of the room with a sign above which said “Check In.” Runey walked over to the tablet and read, “The Director of Science Student Services is in and has no appointments at this time. Please tap the screen below and you will be seen to momentarily.” That’s convenient¸ Runey thought, and pressed the “Make Walk-In Appointment Now” button as indicated on the screen. He had barely settled down into the comfort of a cream colored sofas when a small woman appeared from behind a door to his left; Runey recognized her instantly—it was the woman who had been in the neon orange get-up yesterday at the gathering on Campus Green. Today she had traded in neon orange for a more casual look featuring a bright red fur vest which matched her plastic framed glasses. “How may I help you?” she asked, looking at Runey with an odd look. Runey couldn’t quite place it, but he could swear he saw recognition in her eyes. Maybe she saw me on the Campus Green yesterday and knows I am not Science.

“I had a couple questions about locating a student,” Runey began, getting up and heading towards her office. He didn’t want to have this conversation in the lobby, but rather where they could both be sitting down—on more even playing field she would be more likely to give him the information he needed. Moving into her office, he saw a nameplate on her desk, “Dr. Melinda Beliz.” “Dr. Beliz, I really need to talk to this girl I met during the group meetings for the new project yesterday. Do you know how I can find her?” He asked with a smile, after the two had settled into Beliz’s office, Runey in a cream colored armchair in front of the desk, Beliz behind the desk in her swivel chair.

She smiled at him with orangey-coral lips, “Well, I don’t know why you had to come to me; you could just use the Student Directory. It includes each student’s dormitory apartment number, their lab number, and their telephone number. The directory is available to all Science students, surely you know this. What did you say your name was again?”

“I didn’t. It’s Runey,” he extended a hand to her, and included his most winning smile before he continued, “And if I understand you correctly, the Student Directory is available only to students of Science. That’s where we have a problem—I’m from Design. So I was hoping maybe you could help me get the information I need.”

Beliz’s eyes narrowed and she said, “So, you want me to help you track down one of the students in my college, when I don’t know you at all?”

Runey tensed, he could tell she was getting defensive, “I just thought—“

Beliz cut him off, “No. No I absolutely cannot and will not do that! You are a young man I have never seen or met before, coming into my office asking me to help you track down the location of one of our female students—if I heard you correctly. Now I am sure you can understand and comply when I ask you to leave immediately!” The small, brightly clothed woman’s voice was surprisingly strong given her stature, and Runey was taken aback. Once again, his intuition had failed him; he had seen someone he thought could be easily swayed into doing what he wanted, but she had proved stronger stuff. These Science people are a hard bunch, Runey thought.

He decided to try one more time, “I know it looks bad, but I promise I don’t mean her any harm. Honestly, I met her in my group yesterday and I wanted to ask her on a date. I wanted to do it in person,” he said hanging his head slightly while at the same time giving Beliz a guilty smile, trying to play on any sense of romanticism.

It didn’t work. Beliz stood up, and walked to the door and opened it, clearly indicating Runey should leave. “Well, if this young lady is in your group, you will have ample time to see her in person next Tuesday. In the mean time, there is nothing I can do for you. If you don’t leave this building and get off the Science compound this instant, I will have no choice but to have security forcibly remove you, and I will report you to the Board of Directors personally. We simply cannot have this type of…stalking behavior up here; our students are busy doing important work. I have said it before and I will say it again, access to this compound should be restricted!” She seemed to grow a couple of inches taller in her fury—Runey had to give it to her, she really cared about her students. He was starting to fear a little bit for his person, so he felt no qualms about leaving her office, and heading down the stairs as fast as he could. Sighing, he chalked his trip up to the Science compound as a loss, and turned his back firmly on the buildings and walked down the hill as quickly as he could; he had the acute sensation that Dr. Beliz would somehow know if he didn’t leave the compound immediately. His retreat was ill-timed; unbeknownst to Runey, at the very moment he was walking down the hill, and the Science buildings fell out of view, Mara was crossing from SciSky to the Portal after finishing her lunch. This had been one of the rare days when luck was not on Runey’s side.



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