tilly with the others: part 14

Tilly dragged the bundle buggy into her apartment and locked the door behind her. She glanced at the computer as she took the first load of groceries from the buggy to the kitchen. Emily still hadn't replied to her e-mail. Then again, she reminded herself as she opened a cupboard to put away tins, neither Beth nor Owen had contacted her either. So while Emily's statement that she had "something important" to tell her over e-mail was suspect, at least there hadn't been any negative repercussions to writing her.

On her second trip into the kitchen, she checked the clock on the oven. It was only 3PM, so she had an hour before her first Pizza Tela shift started. Rainia, her supervisor, had told her to be logged in and ready at least ten minutes before her shift started, but Tilly wanted to get on the computer well before that. First, she wanted to check her e-mail and see if Emily had replied this morning. Second, she had some additional details to her work environment that she would need to figure out. Tilly appreciated that Rainia had given her a Monday afternoon two-hour shift to start on.

She put the last of the groceries away and tucked the shopping bags back into the bundle buggy before shoving the lot into her front hall closet. She started to head for the kitchen, then stopped herself and went to her bedroom instead. It was just as well to start to use up the roll that Owen had spotted during the visit last weekend.

Tilly brought the roll of tinfoil back to the living room and laid it on the computer desk. She filled a pitcher with water from the kitchen tap and set it and a drinking glass on the computer desk too. She almost sat down before she noticed the living room curtains were still open. She walked over to the window and closed them firmly, making a point of not checking if anyone was trying to look in. If you were self-conscious about it, that was cause for gossip in itself. Besides, she was eight stories up; this was just being careful.

She returned to her computer chair and poured herself a glass of water while she waited for the machine to boot.

Tilly checked the drapes were well and truly closed, then turned her attention to the tinfoil. She pulled off a length she was certain was longer than she needed, in order to ensure there was sufficient overlap, then carefully wound it around her head. She used her left hand to hold the overlap in place, then used her right hand to twist the top until it formed a point and kept the makeshift cap on her head. The faint reflection of herself in the computer's monitor looked like a very shiny version of the elves which used to populate the fairytale books she read as a child.

She placed the VoIP headset over the cap gingerly, hoping it would help keep the tinfoil in place, but worried that the whole assemblage would fall off if she wasn't careful. She let go of the headset, and was please to feel it staying put. The cap rustled a little bit if she moved her head a lot, but otherwise it was quiet and comfortable. There. Hopefully that would work as the antenna the homeless man had advised her she'd need to hear the Others better.

Tilly opened her e-mail application. There were a few e-mails from friends, but nothing from Emily. She checked the clock and decided she didn't  have time to write back anyone before her shift started, so she closed the application and logged in to the Pizza Tela application.

She still had twenty minutes to go, so she decided to pass the time by playing a little solitaire until it was time to make herself available to take calls.

At ten minutes to the start of the shift she marked herself as available and sent Rainia a message as  "time card punch-in".

For the first forty-five minutes there were no calls. Tilly played several games of solitaire, and was considering switching to mah-jongg when she finally received a call. It was someone asking about the hours for pick-up at a location in Scarborough. Tilly looked up the information for them on the web site and completed the call.

She went back to playing computer games, and when she had beat the mah-jongg game for the fifth time she checked the clock. Since this was a training shift, it was only three hours long. There was only half an hour left, and so far she hadn't received any orders. The tinfoil was making the top of her head hot.

Fifteen minutes before her shift ended, someone finally called with an order. The man had an accent Tilly couldn't place and had a hard time understanding, but she was able to ask for clarification without making the customer irate. He didn't order a Hawaiian with hot peppers, and Tilly couldn't make out anything in the conversation which would indicate it included a message from the Others.

She marked herself as unavailable five minutes after her shift ended, just like she had been told during the training sessions. There was a message from Rainia, saying that even for a Monday afternoon things had been quiet, but praising her for the two calls she did take.

Tilly closed the pizza application and pulled the headset and tinfoil cap from her head. She rain her fingers through her hair and sighed. It had been an easy first shift, but a very boring one. She would have to make sure she had a book handy so she didn't get googly-eyed from playing solitaire when it was slow.

She decided to check her e-mail one more time, if only because at this point she knew she wouldn't feel like turning on the computer again for the rest of the day.

And there it was. An e-mail from Emily. Tilly double-clicked it and began to read.