Issue #68 – One Week

This entry is part 9 of 16 in the series The Descendants Vol 6: Returns and Departures

Part 4 – Friday
“Hi, Babs? Lillian Goldenmeyer.”
From the penthouse apartment she shared with her friends, Lily had a great view of the entire Dayspring College campus through the bay windows.
Despite only making calls, she was dressed for business; a navy wool blazer and skirt combo over a white, pleated silk blouse, stockings and modest pumps. She was also wearing non-prescription glasses because they made her feel more professional.
“Oh. Yes, you prefer Barbara. Right.” A quick glance at the palmtop in her hand reminded her that she was speaking with Barbara Thornton, the personal secretary of Hugo Vasquez, president of What You Like Records. “Now what I’m calling about—“
She grimaced. “Of course you’ve heard of me.” She chuckled, “Now as I was saying, I would like to set up and appointment with Mr. Vasquez concerning a wonderful promotional opportunity.”
Her heels clicked on the tile as she paced the hardwood floor of the living room in front of the bay windows. As she did, her expression grew steadily darker. “Look, if you haven’t heard of me, that’s your problem. The entire country should know my name by now: I am Lillian Goldenmeyer, agent and press secretary for Callie Krieger. You might recognize her as Vamanos, formerly of the Mayfield Irregulars.”
Lily stopped in her tracks. Unable to direct her glare at Barbara Thornton, she sent it out into the world below through the windows. “What?! Do you not have an internet connection? Do you actively avoid the news? The Mayfield Irregulars.” she over-enunciated each word.
“You know, the people who literally saved every man, woman and child from that super-powered psychopath earlier this year?”
“Inexorable.” Alice Rankin had been on the couch behind Lily, painting her toenails throughout the call without Lily even noticing.
“Right. Inexorable.” parroted Lily. Then she looked over to Alice and pointed at the phone before mouthing, ‘she doesn’t know who the Irregulars are’.
The response on the other end of the line didn’t improve her disposition. “No, it wasn’t the Descendants. Okay, well they helped. But only after the Irregulars wore him down after he more or less had his way with the Descendants.”
Fingers sliding over the screen of her palmtop, she turned on the big screen on the wall in front of the couch and sent the call to it.
Barbara Thornton’s voice came from the surround sound speakers. “I’m sorry, I still haven’t heard of the people you’re talking about. They sound local and we’re based in St. Louis.”
“But you have heard of the Descendants.” Said Lily. “And that’s what’s important because Miss Krieger was recently invited to join them as a reserve member.”
“That’s very good for her, but I don’t see how any of this has anything to do with Mr. Vasquez.”
Lily’s teeth squeaked together in her jaw. “Only because Sonja Remington, one of your label’s hottest new properties was also part of the Irregulars during the Descendants Awareness Day attack and she’s scheduled to have a concert in Richmond in two weeks. I’m calling on Miss Kreiger’s behalf to suggest a reunion of sorts. For publicity. After all, Miss Krieger is about to join the ranks of the world’s more elite prelate team.”
“I thought you hated the Descendants.” Alice asked, putting the cap on her nail polish.
“Shut up…” Lily muttered, “The mic is going to pick you up.”
“You hate the Descendants?” Barbara Thornton asked.
Lily slapped herself on the forehead and glared at Alice, who shrugged. “It’s not like that.” she protested.
“I should hope not.” said the secretary. “From what I’ve read, they’ve saved countless lives. I certainly wish we had people like them in this city.”
Rolling her shoulders, Lily stomped around behind the sofa Alice was sitting on. “Yeah. I’m sure. Until one of them melts your car with their powers and then has the nerve not to send the freak whose fault they had to be there in the first place to jail.”
“Excuse me?” asked the secretary.
“They saved your life.” said Alice. “Plus, Isn’t Liz still like locked up?”
“They destroyed my baby!” Lilly was working the hand not holding her hand into a fist. “You have no idea how much I loved that car. That car, mind you. I don’t care if they cut me a check, there’s no other car in the world like that one because it was mine!”
That was the end of Barbara Thornton’s patience. “I’m sorry. I don’t think Mr. Vasquez would be interested.” With that, she hung up.
“Wha?” the word devolved into a high-pitched shriek of disbelief and Lily looked from the big screen to her palmtop and back again. “D-did she…”
“Hang up on you?” said Alice. “Looks like. Sorry, Lily.”
Still fuming, Lily walked around the sofa and plopped down beside her friend. “That is so unprofessional!”
The pair looked to be perfect opposites; the dark skinned Alice in her red tank-top and pajama pants and Lily, short her usual summer tan thanks to all her time devoted to promoting Callie in her blue suit. The former threw her arm around the latter and gave her a consoling hug.
“Well, at least you tried.”
A spark of the same flame Alice remembered as preceding a cruel prank on a less popular schoolmate or change in the former conserv-girls’ fashion lit in Lily’s eyes. She gave Alice a quick hug in thanks for the support and swiftly returned her attention to her palmtop.
“I tried and I’m still trying.” she crowed. “It’s a good thing I have Quintessence Premium.”
Her fingers danced on the phone’s screen, seeking out the program on the palmtop. Quintillion’s Quintessence service was a fairly standard social media site, but the Premium features included things like the Q-Yearbook, which grouped everyone in the user’s graduating class together in an opt-out directory using most recent photos arrayed as a mirror to their high school senior yearbook with quick access to not only their public information, but the information from their yearbook and contact information from their Quintessence accounts.
Alice raised an eyebrow. “Um… why is that a good thing?”
“You’ll see.” Once more, Lily sent the program to the big screen. It displayed the Programming Club’s group picture. When she selected the club president, an information block came up on him: Randall ‘Randy’ Gleason, currently attending Caltech. “Perfect.”
She double tapped his face to call up his contact options and chose his current phone number to call. After two rings, he picked up and Lily didn’t even give him time to answer. “Randy? Hi, this is Lily. Lily Goldenmeyer from high school? Do you remember me at all?”
There was a pause before Randall slowly replied with, “High school was only four months ago.” Alice covered her mouth the avoid snorting.
“Oh good, so you do remember me!” said Lily.
“Yeah…” He said with the caution of a rabbit who just saw a snare in his path.
Lily performed one of her trademark girlish giggles, which with only a few exceptions, had wreaked havoc on many a teenaged boy’s reasoning skills. “I’m so happy to hear you say that. Listen, I was wondering if you were still into computers like you were back then.”
This time the pause was more awkward and so was Randall’s voice on the phone. “’Way back when’ was this summer. And you’re calling me at my dorm… at Caltech.”
“Just ask the question.” Alice hissed in Lily’s ear.
Unfazed by either of them, Lily continued in her most bubbly voice. “Very cool. So I was wondering if you might… I don’t know… hack into Hugo Vasquez’s personal palmtop and make it so I can connect to him directly? Because that would be super.”
On the other end of the line, Randall laughed, though he didn’t sound like he was sure that was the right response. “Is this some kind of joke?”
“Um, no.”
You want help from me. You. Lily Goldenmeyer: the girl who had her friend Kim ask me out, then posted pictures of me crying after I realized I’d been stood up to Quintessence?”
Lily laughed nervously. “I did take those down…”
“People called me Lonely Boy for the next year and a half—and that’s not the only time to did something like that to me!” Randall exclaimed. “And now you need help? Seriously?”
Lily’s smile faltered and she looked to Alice for help, only to find her friend averting her gaze. “I-I could pay you for the work.”
“How about ‘no’.” said Randall. “I don’t care what you’re paying. I hate you. And now, I can finally say that without having to worry. Now I know why McAllister did it all the time.” He disconnected the call there. It took a moment for Lily to come back to herself enough to disconnect on her end. Then she sat with Alice for a time and stared at the phone.
“He hates me?” She asked, the words and the idea behind them tasting bitter in her mouth.
“Lily…” Alice started, but quickly realized that she didn’t know where to go with it. But she needed to say something and it occurred to her that she needed to tell her friend what she needed to hear instead of what would make her feel better.
“Yeah. He hates you. He hates us: Me, you, Kim and Callie especially since we were the worst. And not just him.” She shrugged, “At least Callie’s pretty much been redeemed from what I’ve heard online.”
Lips twisted into a scowl, Lily asked, “But not you, me or Kim? But we’re Callie’s friends! We stood by her even before she was helping save people and stuff.”
“I think you’re forgetting what massive bitches we were.” said Alice. “Of course I did too before I started reading the class of ’76 message-boards. There’s a tag that’s for nothing but talking about how the ‘conserv-girls’ made high school suck.”
“But that was high school” Lily defended lamely.
“That wasn’t even a year ago.” said Alice. “And hey, I’m not pointing fingers at you here because I thought it was funny too back then. But on those boards, I keep seeing people I who thought liked us and thought we were cool complaining just as hard. They just laughed along because we’d make their lives hell too, I guess.”
Lily tossed her palmtop onto the coffee table and threw herself back into the sofa cushions. She closed her eyes and craned her neck bat. “I knew that.”
“You did?”
“Yeah.” said Lily. “But like my mom always told me: there’s the in crowd in high school and the outsiders. And life sucks for the outsiders. I wasn’t going to go through the stuff she says she did, so high school started and I decided I was going to make the in crowd before anyone could say I was out of it.”
She cracked an eyelid open and looked at Alice. “You wouldn’t have wanted to be in Randy or Cyn’s shoes, would you? No good friends, dateless…”
“That doesn’t mean I don’t still feel bad, hearing what they’re saying.” said Alice, idly twirling the nail polish n one hand.
“If you want to get to the top, you’ve gotta step on people.” Lily said, without much conviction. “That’s how my dad does things.” She ran her fingers through her hair. “You think that’s why Kareem isn’t into me?”
Alice shifted around she that her back rested on the arm of the sofa. “Sorry, but I wouldn’t be surprised. I remember back in school, he was probably the nicest guy in the class, but that more or less made him invisible as far as we were concerned. Plus, except for Melissa, you didn’t really get along with his friends at all.
“That and he does have a girlfriend.”
“Please. I am so much hotter than Miss Chumbucket.” said Lily, sniffing her indignation. Then her expression turned thoughtful. “You don’t think Callie ever felt like we were stepping on her, do you?”
Alice folded her arms as if against a sudden cold. “I never really thought about it, but we did crack on her an awful lot about being poor.”
“But if she felt like that, why move in with us? Why let me be her agent?” The answer to that came to Lily without Alice saying a word. She sat up, a worried look on her face. “Unless she’s like the people that laughed when we did stuff to people in school and doesn’t think she’s got a choice.”
Sitting up straighter, Alice looked at her friend with concern. “Lily, you can’t believe that.”
“You don’t know if I’m right or not.” said Lily. “Oh Jesus, I never meant for her to think that. I… just thought it was funny, and I got to show off a little, you know?”
Getting off the sofa, Lily resumed pacing, this time without the palmtop. “But she knows we’re really her friend, right? We were all there for her when she told us about her powers, and we had that costume made for her—and I’ve been busting my butt trying to make her a celebrity.”
Alice tried to get a word in, only for something else to come to Lily’s mind. “Oh god, except I’m sitting here right now today trying to use her to get us all tickets to a Sonja Remington show!”
Finally out of nervous energy, she collapsed onto the sofa again, head buried in her hands. “Oh god, I’m the worst friend ever.”
For her part, Alice also frowned at the new possibility of what might be going on in Callie’s head. “Look…” She started, “We don’t know that’s true. Maybe we should talk to her about it.”
“What’s that going to do?” Lily asked, miserable. “Maybe she isn’t thinking it, but then telling her would make her think it. Then she’ll be made at us and maybe use her powers to leave us in the walls or something.”
That was met with a steady gaze and a scoff. “Okay, now you’re losing it. You know Callie’s not like that.”
“Not like that now.” said Lily. “But after she thinks her friends betrayed her? She might be like that girl n the movie that killed everyone at her prom!” One more spark of horrible understanding went through her and she suddenly turned to look long and hard at Alice.
“You’re not mad at me too, are you? Or Kim?”
“Say what now?”
Lily wrung her hands in her lap. “I did stuff to you too. All of you. Like that Valentine’s Day when I made you all break your V-Day dates to mess with McAllister.”
An ambivalent look crossed Alice’s face. “Ask me that night and I would have wanted nothing more than to wring your neck over that.” She admitted. “But that was just Lily being Lily and the rest of us mostly going along way too easily. We probably should have told you to be screw for that.”
Her expression softened, “But you got better in senior year, especially when we dropped the conserv-girl thing, and when we hung out with Melissa for a while. And the rest of us stopped following so blindly.” folding her arms and sitting back, she looked thoughtful. “Now high school’s over, and I guess we’ve got to grow up. I know reading those boards made that kind of clear to me.”
Lily hung her head. “You’re right. There’s no point trying to be Queen Bee anymore, huh? Especially when there’s no Greeks at Emerald.” With a long, low sigh, she reached over and picked up her palmtop. Switching to phone mode, she started scrolling through her contacts.
“Who are you calling?” asked Alice.
Lily smiled a thin smile. “Callie. To see if she wants to do a reunion with Sonja Remington in the first place.”

About Vaal

Landon Porter is the author of The Descendants and Rune Breaker. Follow him on Twitter @ParadoxOmni or sign up for his newsletter. You can also purchase his books from all major platforms from the bookstore
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  1. Kaine and A’belle, huh?

  2. No one said Wendy was creative. :p

  3. Rereading this one and…
    “and the Lily, short her usual summer tan”
    THE Lily? I mean, I know she’s a bit full of herself, even with her newfound epiphany, but… 😛

  4. and flares his nostrils

    How fitting you can fly
    fitting that you can fly?

    I know exactly how you deal with an unnatural human
    how to deal

    some thirty points of vicious raptor
    probably “pounds”

    and blasted sent an unpleasant chill
    one superfluous word, but I’m not sure which

    done that, however, then the Haast’s eagle

    of Zero while be low, she heard
    I’d put “of Zero while, below, she heard”

    her hip pouch. Are you sure?
    missing quotation mark

    “Just keep in mind that if the police don’t know about magic. If a controlled animal attacks them, they’ll use anything to can to stop them.”
    that the police […] anything they can

    the exhibit only feature

    We ere protesting

    No wonder her was so ‘successful’

    she dropped thing around her
    dropped… the temperature?

    Zero over the animals’ heads
    flew over?

    • Also the low-land gorilla transmogrifies to mountain variety at some point.

      30 points of raptor may not be a mistake though, could just be mechanics showing through. You can make a pretty swell bird with 30 points.

      (That last part was a joke.)

  5. Hmm… Do eagles and gorillas have superior hearing compared to humans? Or do the Descendants have ear protection in their standard kit? (Along with the bulletproof costumes and all the other goodies.)

    • Humans lack the ability to perceive a wide spectrum of sound frequencies. The screamers have a setting to target those frequencies when dealing with animals and another for humans, which links to a noise cancelling device in the comms.

  6. I am bad at this writering thing. Corrections should go up tonight along with the month’s posting schedule.

  7. Ah, Lifesavers Inc. is back! I wondered whatever happened to that! That’s a really great way to bring it back. I definitely approve.

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