Just like in the movies

Jevo settled into his seat in the last row of the theater. Mirena had always liked to sit up nearer the front so the screen completely filled her field of vision and she could feel entirely immersed in the film. That was a good analogy of her whole character, he decided. Always up front, fully involved, and eager to participate in the action, unheedful of the full ramifications of her actions.

Jevo, on the other hand, knew that sitting that close would give him a sore neck after the show, and he could appreciate the movie just as well from a distance. He had always preferred sitting in the back, seeing the whole picture at once. Perhaps it was a good analogy for the both of them. He watched things from a distance, analyzing everything he could about it, trying to understand its workings before he committed himself to it. He always had the answers. He always understood things. He knew how things would work out. It’s probably what attracted Mirena to him, because she often needed those answers, having flung herself into yet another activity without thinking it through fully. And Mirena was probably the best thing that had happened to him, dragging him along after her in all her crazy schemes.

But things were different now. Things had been different for almost five years now. Ever since the announcement. Since then, his life had been consumed with his work. The government’s plan was good–it offered hope to the people–but few knew that there were several technological innovations that had yet to be made. And time was running out. The theories were there, the principles rang true, but they hadn’t been able to make it work yet.

Jevo had put all his heart and mind into it. The past four years were almost a blur to him. Eat, sleep, and work. That’s all he could remember. A moment or two with Mirena, with Eloa. But mostly the work. The equations, the prototypes, the configurations, the tests. They were close now, he knew it, and that made him work all the more feverishly. But the meteor wouldn’t wait, and there was still work to be done. He could feel he was at the breaking point.

And here he was, sitting in a movie theater, waiting for a movie, a luxury he hadn’t allowed himself since the announcement. It had been Mirena’s idea. Relax. Live. Enjoy your time here. Answers come to us when we least expect them. It was all easy for her to say. She didn’t understand the problems they were facing. How could she? Her love was people, relationships, language. Technical details had never appealed to her, and while relationship issues might be able to be cleared up with some time away from the problem, the issues involving the hard sciences didn’t yield except through constant attack, diligent effort, unyielding perseverence.

He had the character, the knowledge, the training, and the mandate to solve those problems, and he would do it. But Mirena was right about one thing. He had to take care of his health. If he collapsed from the strain, who could pick it up after him? Wagkin’s team? No, he was convinced the answer was in quantum electronics. While it was a brilliant plan, Jevo knew that it’d never last. It couldn’t be made to, at least not in the time span they had available. Gloria’s team? Ha! She was bright, she could keep up with the best, but she didn’t have the inner drive to succeed, to innovate, to dare. At best she would be the excellent administrator needed to put his plan into action. If only he could get his plan to work. And there wasn’t really anybody else. At least not unless some unknown could figure it out. But since the problem wasn’t publicized, nobody else was even working on it.

Okay, enough about work. Jevo took a deep breath and tried to clear his mind. He couldn’t come here and still be at work. He needed to relax, to focus on the movie, to let the world slip by for a few precious hours while his spirit recharged. He would start back up tomorrow morning with more energy and more determination. But for now, the movie.

People had been shuffling in. Certainly nowhere near as many as he was used to from the years before the meteor. But the theater was probably about ten percent full by now. And Mirena would be proud of him when he told her tomorrow what he had done. She had been asleep when he left, tired out from taking care of Eloa all evening while Jevo had worked in his little office. He hadn’t wanted to wake her, but his mind had been too embroiled in his work to lay beside her and sleep, yet he knew his thoughts were too muddled to be able to be productive at work. So the movies. A waste of time? Perhaps. But so be it. The world wouldn’t end tonight. That was twenty years away yet.

The theatre darkened. Some stragglers hurried to find seats. One came into the last row, passed some half dozen empty charis and sat right beside Jevo. He couldn’t believe it. With the theatre well empty, why could some people just not understand common courtesy?

“Excuse me,” Jevo said, “there are plenty of empty seats.”

The man turned to him. Jevo couldn’t make out his face in the darkness. “Jevo, is that you?”

“Do I know you?” Jevo examined the man as best the lighting would allow. He was dressed too formally to be just another midnight movie patron.

“Are you Jevo?” The man placed his hand firmly around Jevo’s forearm.

“Yes, but…” Jevo stood, pulled his arm from the man’s grasp, and backed up several steps. He didn’t like this, and he wasn’t going to sit in the dark with a stranger who knew his name. The world had changed. It wasn’t safe anymore. “What do you want?”

The man got up, lifted a small device to his mouth, and said, “I’ve got him. Theatre 6.”¬† He turned toward Jevo. He didn’t seem to be in any hurry. He started moving slowly toward Jevo. Jevo turned and hurried down the aisle. As he neared the end of the row, another man came around the corner of the theatre’s entrance and stopped, blocking Jevo’s path. He held out a badge. “Jevo, come with me, please.”

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