With hail ricocheting off the wing, backsides bouncing on their seats, her hand gripping his, painted nails digging in, not daring to breathe, let alone speak, his brain exclaims shit, how’s this thing still flying?! As wheels touch the ground and spent air is released through every orifice he strains to hear her breathless whisper. “Sorry, Sam, your fingers are bleeding.”
Sam grins as he looks at his deeply scarred hand. “When I said get a grip I didn’t mean quite so literally! At least this one is already ugly.” Amy gives his hand a kiss; a trace of Sam’s blood merges with her lipstick.
Both give a nervous laugh as the pilot nonchalantly announces, “Welcome to Kangerlussuaq International Airport, gateway to the Greenland ice-cap.”
With all formalities done on board, they step out into the lacerating cold, wind whipping hail almost horizontally. They bend into it as they stride the five hundred or so paces towards the blue frontage of the yellow signed Arctic Venture Air-Ice Laboratory. Its sheltered door opens to reveal a beaming smile and a Nordic accented, “Welcome to AVAIL.”
Sam introduces Amy to Liv, the resident project coordinator, though to everyone who stays here, she’s known as the Angel of the Ice. “We are pleased to have you here, Doctor Styles. Professor Nighy, of course I know well – I wish you luck!” Amy throws a knowing look at Sam, who, with a smile, shakes his head at Liv. “Ha, I see you know him well enough. Good as I have to ask you to share a room.” With a mischievous glance at their widening eyes she adds, “But with two beds of course. That is okay, yes?”
Amy quickly responds, “No problem at all.”
“Of course, Liv,” Sam replies, and with raised eyebrows continues, “Amy, no candid camera shots, okay?”
Liv and Amy burst out laughing and exchange knowing looks.
The thud of back packs being off loaded from a pick-up truck move them on, Liv watching with affection, the wayward genius and the animated young woman who so obviously adores him. They find their packs, steaming in the hall and drag them into their room, number four. With their overnight things laid out, hers neatly, his…well, the opposite, they head for the communal kitchen, both starving. Their luck’s in: the local crew have knocked up spaghetti bolognaise as there’s a full house tonight, all new arrivals – French, German, Canadian and American, the latter all from NASA.
Sitting round in twos and threes, introducing, enquiring, and above all listening, the game all scientists play is on. Sam, the master, times to perfection his “hello” and “see you later” as he moves about. His reputation within their world invites him in, and his charm and wit engages. Being British is his trump card; he plays them all to win. He takes in everything, as heard and how it’s said, reading bodies, sensing vibrations from minds that have no idea he’s picking, extracting, sifting to give his the sharpest edge.
He spots Amy out of the corner of his eye, and can’t resist a smile. Amy, the natural distractor, eyed up by all, male and female tonight, it seems. Her charms are more obvious – the way she moves, the way she touches ever so briefly, and he is not immune. He says he loves her mind, the quick and lateral way it works; their chemistry says much more.
In the everlasting light time moves on with no sign other than the heaviness of eyes. Amy takes the lead, dissuades all carnal simmerings with a “With him” when asked which room she’s sleeping in.
Sam whispers, “Well done, though not sure you’ve done my reputation much good.”
Amy cups her hand to his ear and breathes, “You should be so lucky. We need to go, make our excuses.”
Sam yawns. “Time to turn in, an early start and all that. Goodnight all.”
Back in their room, Sam locks the door, then rubs his hands excitedly. “Right, get them out; let’s have a good look at them.”
“Hey, steady on! Oh, you mean the devices.” A red-faced Amy bends and retrieves a multi-pack of gum from her lap-top bag underneath her bed. She unwraps a stick, and passes it to him.
Sam can’t stop grinning. “Brilliant.” He sees instantly the practicality of the disguise … insulation, protection, adhesion, gaseous permeability, and white.
“Just don’t forget and chew the damn things, okay? We don’t want to be analysing you for explosive emissions, do we!” Amy teases him, as she basks in his single word acknowledgement of her ingenuity.
Sam holds the gum stick at arm’s length, end-on, breathing deeply, as he rotates himself slowly in the natural light streaming through the window from a now windless grey-blue sky. Half a turn made, a faint pulse, a flicker, the nano-probe senses something. He nods his head, and she gasps. “What the hell have you eaten?” He looks at her, his face unreadable. He’ll never tell her, but she’ll find out; she knows this device’s secrets.
Three am it starts, a strangulated guttural sound, “Mad … Mad … Mad …” Her name … Madeline, part suffocated in his pillow. It’s three years since the nightmares began, three years since he lost her. An accidental fire, no one’s fault, the investigation concluded. Sam’s never believed it. He blames himself; he did not do enough. His scars say otherwise. Those on his body have healed, those inside are still weeping.
Amy stands over him, naked. Her instincts take over; she lifts the duvet and spoons herself against him, her lips upon his ear, gently easing words in, bringing calmness to him, as she’s done before, departing before the man he’ll let the world see awakens, with no memory of the night, save a tingle in his ear every time that she is near.
Standing in the shower, Amy’s tears flow away unseen, her vulnerability exposed unashamedly. Her muscles tense as her lips just want to scream how could he?! She’s surrendered everything to be with him, clinging on in hope that the day will come when he awakes to find her, and that it’s her name on his lips. Her scream breaks free, “Who the hell is Erin?!”
[EDC Writing©2017 – ‘Their Days’ – posted on Monday & Wednesday]