Fork Road

Welcome to a world of conspiracy and psychological warfare as you've never seen it before.


5. 5

Amanda raised a hand at Lisa when she saw her standing by Room 0004, saying a silent, "Please not now, Andy," and reached into her pockets to fish out her keys.
Lisa's warm, friendly grin - which she had prepared specifically for this occasion in her compact mirror for about ten or fifteen minutes - sunk immediately into an angry frown. But she tried not to vent her frustrations on Amanda.
"So..." Lisa said, trying to sound casual as Amanda got the door open and threw it wide, so that it crashed and rattled against the wall, "I take it the meeting didn't go well?"
Amanda chucked her file into a stack of loose sheet and the entire pile fell into a heaped mess on the floor. Amanda sat on her bed and held her face in her hands. Lisa didn't usually stick around to hear the muffled sobbing - Amanda wasn't really one to cry in company - but she felt like she had to stay and support her friend.
Lisa went up to Amanda, feeling awkward as she'd never done this before, and sat next to her. She placed a hand on Amanda's shoulder.
"Leave me the fuck alone!" Amanda screamed, pushing herself away and curling up into a ball.
Lisa was slack-jawed in awe for a long time, before she found her wits to say, "Wow, it really did not go well."

Amanda sniffed and got up, going to her adjoining bathroom and fishing out a roll of toilet paper, tearing off a piece and blowing her nose. She came back to her bed and set the toilet roll down next to her.
"I'm such a messy crier," she sobbed, "God, does everyonesnot up this badly?"
Lisa smiled, "I think so, yeah," she said.
Amanda shook her head and muttered, "I'm sorry," she wiped her nose again, "I didn't mean to flip off at you."
"Nah, I get it," Lisa said, taking a packet of gum and offering a piece to Amanda, "You want to talk about it?"
Amanda refused the offer and said, "No. The very last thing I want to do right now is talk about it," she rubbed her forehead and said, "I need a drink. As soon as it gets dark, you'd better drag me through every club and bar in Philly. I am so... pissed."
"Why wait for dark?" Lisa asked, "We can go and hit the town now!"
Amanda laughed, "Fine. Alright, Andy," she wiped her eyes with more toilet paper, "Give me a second to sort mysef out."
"Ooh, why don't we go shopping? By some stupid, insane looking things to go out in later?" Lisa suggested, "I mean, you can afford it, so why not? Showing a bit of skin now and then wouldn't hurt you."
"Sounds like a plan," Amanda croaked, "I want to feel like death in the morning. Might invite Elina for the shopping part, said she wanted to go anyway."
"Awesome," Lisa said, getting up and leaving.

Amanda watched her shut the door, before she put her head down on her pillow and just breathed, trying not to think of anything. She sniffed and rubbed her eyes. They felt sore already. On a whim, she turned on her side and pulled open the drawer in her bedside cabinet and took out a small framed picture. He lookd the same as always. Dark blonde hair, cut in rough messy patches; intense, even cold, blue eyes; and an otherwise stern face, were he not smiling. Amanda looked at him with longing and sadness. She kissed the cold glass that covered the image and held it against her chest - like a schoolgirl fantasizing about a boy in a popular boyband might. 
"I miss you, Dann," Amanda said, "I miss you so much," she looked at the picture again, "We would have made a good team, if you were still here," she felt tears well up in her eyes again, "You would have defended me. I wish you were here. I want you so much, in times like this," she brushed the pictures face with her thumb and thought she could feel his skin - just a whisper of a memory - there beneath it, "I miss you, Danny. I love you," she kissed the picture again, "I hope you've finally found some peace. But I hate that you had to leave me. I'm going to England," she said to the picture, "I'm going to England to die, so maybe I'll see you soon, my Danny. Maybe I'll see you soon."
Amanda got up and placed the framed image back into her drawer and shut it. She sighed and took out her cell phone. She tapped a few buttons and called Elina. 
"Hi, Amanda," Elina said, sounding bright and happy. There was a lot of background noise and chattering. 
"Hey," Amanda replied, "Call your dad and tell him that Lisa and I will pick you up from school. Take you shopping like you wanted."
"Uh... Isn't he there in the office today? Couldn't you tell him?" Elina asked.
"I don't think i can handle speeaking to your father without kicking him in the teeth today. Sorry," Amanda said.
"Why? What happened?" 
Amanda shook her head, as if Elina might understand through the phone, "I... I'd rather not discuss it, Elina," Amanda said. "Just... just let him know."
"Okay," Elina said, "Okay, I'll do that. See you after school."
"Yeah," Amanda scoffed, "Now, get back to your friends."

Amanda ended the call and slipped her phone back into her pocket. She looked at herself in a mirror for a second, decided she didn't care what she looked like and stepped out of the room. She locked it behind her, and looked up to find Han waiting for her.
Amanda gave him a dark look, "Get out of my way," she said to him.
"I'm not going to let anything bad happen to you," he said to her.
Amanda rolled her eyes, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, fuck off," she said, trying to push passed him.
Han blocked her path and said, "Listen to me," he held her arms and said, "I didn't do this to put you in danger."
"I said: fuck off," Amanda repeated, not trying to free herself, but becoming very tense.
"Look at me!" Han ordered.
Amanda slammed the heel of her foot on his toes. He let go and hooted in pain, holding his foot and hopping a little.
"I hate you," Amanda told him, "And I will always hate you. For this, if nothing else."
Han growled, "If you haven't realised, Amanda, I'm trying to protect the world from nihilists! You should be too!"
"I was," Amanda said, "Valfreyja-"
"Fuck Valfreyja!" Han cried, "This isn't about-"
"It is!" Amanda exclaimed, "And just because you're too blind to see it, doesn't mean it isn't! What is the worth of a world, if you can't move your little finger unless She permits it?" Amanda strode up to him and looked him in the face, "We keep the world safe and ordered, but we do not restrict it to our whims. We protect it from people who want only its end, but we don't enslave people. Valfreyja was a custodian. A symbol of love, beauty, fertility, but also gold, black sorcery, war and death. Valfreyja intends to enslave the world. And now, through Briar and Xavi and you: she will. And I will be her conduit."
"That won't happen," Han said.
"When it does, I hope you'll be proud of yourself. I won't be there to congratulate you, so take my blessing from now," Amanda shoved him, "Thank you for making a mess of things," he began walking away from him.
Han called to her, "Where are you going? This isn't-!" his phone started chiming loudly.
"That would be your daughter," Amanda said, leaving him to it.

She checked out of the building and met Lisa outside. It was a bright day and surprisingly chilly. Amanda hadn't noticed it with the warm central heating inside, she regretted not bring her coat, but wasn't bother to go and get it.
"Andy," she said, taking out a cigarette and lighting it, "Are we walking or driving?"
"You know my answer," Lisa laughed, coatless and shivering herself, "Got another one of those?"
"I don't share these," Amanda said, holding her cigarette between her fingers, "you know that."
Lisa groaned, "Oh, come on, it's cold today!" she pleaded.
Amanda rolled her eyes and took another out. Lisa popped it in her mouth and Amanda lit it for her. They watched clouds stream from their mouths for a moment, before Amanda tugged Lisa's sleeve and pulled her to the car. It was a small car, compact and with a hybrid engine, dark in colour (Amanda liked flashy cars, but she didn't like the idea of having one for the simple reason that it would probably get stolen before she had the chance to drive it very much). They got in, Amanda taking the passenger seat and Lisa taking the driver's seat. 
"Funny," Lisa said, putting in her seatbelt and gesturing for the keys, "You don't usually let me drive."
Amanda passed her the keys and didn't bother with her seatbelt. Once Lisa started up the car, she rolled down the window and blew smoke out of it. Amanda shrugged, "I'm pissed. Probably run some poor sod down without realising it if I take the wheel, so enjoy it while you can," she muttered.
Lisa smiled and pressed forward, heading towards Elina's school, "Ooh, does that mean I get to choose the music?" she asked.
"Sure," Amanda shrugged again, "But if you have to ask, you probably don't deserve to."
Lisa blew a raspberry at her and tuned the radio to something very EDL and loud. Amanda groaned under her breath, but didn't say anything.

"So..." Lisa said, turning the volume down a little, "Going home to England? Should be interesting, right?
Amanda tapped her cigarette out the window, "I thought we weren't going to talk about it," she put it out on the in-car ashtray. 
"I think we should," Lisa replied.
"Why's that?" Amanda said, looking over at her, "And how would that help either of us? You want to have fun today, don't you?"
"Well, yeah," Lisa said, "But I'm sick of you coddling me and keeping me out of shit. I want to be included."
"What has that got to do with anything?" Amanda asked.
Lisa sighed. Moment of truth, "I want to go to England with you and Han."
Amanda didn't say anything.
"I want to do what you guys do," Lisa continued, "I want to see the world and be with you when Han takes shots. I want in on the action. I'm not a child any more. And I'm sick of you treating me like one," Lisa waited for Amanda to speak. 
"Will I have to start calling you 'Lisa'?" she asked.
Lisa furrowed her brows, "...No?"
"Then it's your funeral, Andy," Amanda shrugged, looking out the window and seeing the colours and sites blur as the car zipped passed them, "Take it up with Hans. Doesn't really matter what I have to say."

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