ONEMillie: The Underlying Problem
It was more of a lodge than a cabin but “cabin” is what they called it. The walls were made of heavy, thick logs, after all. The main living area was a broad space leaking from kitchen to dining area to a two-story-high lounge arranged around a tall, fieldstone fireplace.
Millie sat on one of the couches, staring out the windows, and frowned. It was snowing outside—big, fat, fluffy flakes—but she really wasn’t noticing.
She was alone in the room and then she wasn’t.
Davy was wearing a tropical-weight suit with the sleeves of the jacket rolled up on his forearms. He unrolled them as he asked, “What’s wrong?”
Millie sighed, her eyes tracking up to the ceiling before returning to Davy’s face.
Davy glanced up to the second-floor landing. “The usual?”
Millie jerked her thumb up. “Go look at her door.”
He sighed. “She is an irritation of the spirit.…”
Millie completed the phrase, “… and a great deal of trouble.”
Davy vanished. After a brief pause Millie heard laughter drift down the staircase. Millie stood and jumped, appearing beside Davy in the upstairs hallway.
A sign, scrawled on butcher paper, was tacked to a closed bedroom door. It said:HELP!BEING HELD PRISONER BY TELEPORTING ALIENS!KEPT FROM NORMAL LIFE.SEND FRIENDS.ALSO ICE CREAM.
Davy was shaking his head and still laughing.
“Stop it!” Millie said. “You’re not helping!”
“You gotta admit, she is
funny,” Davy said. “Takes after me that way.”
Millie snapped. “What—you think you’re
funny?” She pulled at Davy’s arm, leading him back toward the landing.
Davy raised his eyebrows at Millie and grinned.
“Okay, she is
funny, but the underlying problem is no less a problem.”
Davy’s smile faded and he jerked his chin down toward the kitchen, and vanished.
Millie followed to see him putting the kettle on.
“What choice do we have?” Davy said. “I mean, really?”
Millie shook her head. She felt like she should
have an answer but she didn’t.
Davy hugged her and that was good … but the underlying problem was still no less a problem.
And it could only get worse.
Copyright © 2012 by Steven Gould
STEVEN GOULD is the author of the beloved classic Jumper, basis for the 2008 film of the same name, as well as Wildside, Helm, Blind Waves, Reflex, and Jumper: Griffin’s Story. He is the recipient of the Hal Clement Young Adult Award for Science Fiction and has been nominated for both the Hugo and the Nebula awards. Gould lives in New Mexico with his wife, writer Laura J. Mixon.