Fantasies and Realities: Episode 15

Bibi is sitting in the waiting room, sipping tea with Dolmada as they wait for the next customer. It's been a fairly busy, but not rushed, morning.

Dolmada is nibbling on an oatmeal cookie contributed by a Church Lady, since there may not be time for lunch on schedule.

Dolmada: These are very good, Bibi. You should try one.

Dolmada is, like all Donors, perpetually in search of foods her channel will eat willingly, or at least with minimal arm-twisting.

Bibi: Maybe just a crumb from yours?

Dolmada: Of course.

Dolmada breaks off the largest segment that she thinks can be plausibly defined as a "crumb", in this case about a quarter, and hands it to Bibi.

Dolmada: The raisins are very good -- plump and juicy.

Bibi knew that was going to happen. If she'd wanted more she would have asked for a "piece" instead of a crumb.

Dolmada allows a moderate amount of ~~ gustatory enjoyment ~~ to suffuse her nager.

Bibi nibbles, including a raisin.

Bibi: Yes, they are very good, especially the raisins.

Bibi sips her trin, then has another nibble.

Dolmada: There's something ~~ comforting ~~ about oatmeal cookies, I've always thought. Perhaps because we used to bake them on rainy days.

Bibi enjoys zlinning Dolmada's nostalgia.

Bibi: Did your parents teach you to bake cookies?

Bibi says "parents" instead of "mother" because Dolmada grew up in-T where Gens of either sex are more likely to enjoying preparing food than Sime women are.

Dolmada: Yes. It's an effective way of keeping children occupied.

Bibi: My mother loved to bake, when she had time.

Dolmada: Well, as to that, I haven't baked, myself, in a long time.

Bibi: My mother had a wonderful assortment of cookie cutters we'd use for the big family Year's Turning party treats. I loved making those cookies, especially when I was really little.

Dolmada: Did you decorate them with bits of coconut, raisins, candied fruit, and frosting?

Bibi: Yes! That was the most fun.

Bibi nostalgically remembers being far too young to know about changeover, when life seemed so happy and secure.

Bibi: My brother used to pick the bits off just to annoy me. He'd steal the raisin eyes and run off bragging that he'd eaten all the eyeballs. I was so mad!

Dolmada chuckles.

Dolmada: Young boys are like that.

Bibi chuckles too.

Dolmada: My cousin used to do the same thing when we made gingerbread men, until I took two of the raisins and a strategic piece of candied orange peel and made an anatomically correct cookie. For some reason, he couldn't bring himself to steal those two particular raisins...

Bibi snickers and blushes.

Ralf is on his way from the train station to the Sime Center, having asked around to find out where it was. He hopes he gets there before he loses his nerve, such as it is. He hasn't actually made up his mind to donate, but at least he's going to look into the idea. Can't hurt; might help. Money is always useful.

Ralf arrives at the Sime Center gate, opens it, and walks up to the door. He hesitates for a long time.

Bibi turns as she zlins an unfamiliar Gen coming up the walk, then hesitating at the door.

Bibi: There's a non-donor out there, trying to get his nerve up, Dolmada.

Dolmada becomes appropriately ~~ serious ~~, and sets down her cookie.

Dolmada: Shall I answer?

Dolmada is already standing.

Bibi: Yes, please.

Bibi puts her tea and cookie fragment down and does her small, harmless and friendly act.

Ralf finally makes up his mind, at least for the moment, and knocks on the door, not knowing any better.

Dolmada goes to the door and opens it, stepping back just a bit while she does so to avoid crowding the visitor.

Dolmada: Welcome to the Hannard's Ford Sime Center. Please, come in.

Dolmada's depleted nager is providing what ~~ support ~~ to Bibi that it can, from across the room.

Dolmada: I'm Sosu Dolmada.

Ralf: Hi, thanks, my name's Ralf.

Ralf runs out of steam and just stands there.

Bibi: Hello, Mr. Ralf. I'm Hajene Bibi, the channel here.

Bibi gets up slowly and with a reasonable amount of grace.

Bibi: Would you care for some tea and cookies?

Ralf gets up his ~~ courage ~~ and comes in, standing in the room with his hands in his pockets.

Ralf: Um, yes ma'am, thank you ma'am.

Dolmada: The oatmeal cookies are particularly good.

Bibi: Please, help yourself.

Bibi gestures to the refreshment table, tentacles in, zlinning for a reaction.

Dolmada goes to Bibi's side, the better to protect her channel with a low field.

Bibi signals her thanks, sits and picks up her tea cup.

Ralf is radiating a mixture of ~~ fear worry anxiety greed eagerness ~~ under the ~~ courage ~~.

Dolmada sits down next to Bibi, trying to look relaxed while staying alert for nageric explosions from their obviously uneasy potential client.

Ralf: Well ma'am, miz, I came here to, you know, sell my stuff.

Dolmada: You wish to donate selyn?

Dolmada tries to suggest with her tone that doing so is a routine matter, and nothing to get upset about.

Ralf: If that's how you say it, yeah. Donorating. That's what the Rev said it was called, too.

Bibi: We always welcome new donors. Please, have a seat. Dolmada will get you some tea and cookies.

Ralf: Thank you, Miz. ~~ gratitude ~~

Ralf tries to smile at Dolmada as she brings the food and drink.

Dolmada smiles back, looking motherly, even though she lacks Bibi's charming dimples.

Ralf sees Dolmada's bare arms, but he's not quite sure he can trust everything he sees, after years of the D.T.s.

Ralf: Sorry, Miz Soso, but are you human, I mean like me?

Bibi observes that Ralf is acting somewhat brain damaged and hopes this isn't going to be too difficult. She wonders if this is the same severe alcoholic Layna, D'zoll and Shorsh told her about. He doesn't look, smell or zlin drunk at present.

Dolmada: I'm a Gen like you, although I've had schooling in how to work with channels like Bibi.

Ralf: [mumbled] Oh, yeah, sorry.

Dolmada hands Ralf a teacup and a plate of cookies.

Ralf: Thanks.

Ralf works on the cookies enthusiastically while trying not to swill his tea. His behavior is fine for Henree's saloon, but he ~~ senses ~~ it won't fit in well here.

Dolmada is careful not to appear to find Ralf's table manners noteworthy.

Bibi sips her tea, trying to look friendly and welcoming.

Ralf: [blurts] You know I don't drink any more. I mean, I quit drinking. So it's not the money. ~~ partial deception ~~

Bibi nods encouragingly.

Ralf: For years, I mean, since my b'y... died, I, well, it made the pain go away. But finally, well, I got sick of it. Sick of it. ~~ sincere ~~

Dolmada wonders why so many out-Territory Gens feel that they have to justify a decision to donate.

Ralf: Sick of being sick, y'know? So I stopped. I'm on the wagon now. The wagon.

Bibi: I understand. It's a very hard habit to break. You must have a lot of courage.

Ralf blushes at this praise.

Ralf: I guess it was when I got down to drinking that special stuff of Henree's -- he's the bartender in G-ville, you know?

Bibi: Yes, I've heard about Henree.

Ralf: Pour-stein, they called it, but he didn't serve it in no steins, so I don't know why. Anyway, that was it, it for me. Too low, even for me. So I heard what the Rev said, and what that fella Shorsh said to those two b'ys, and I thought, why not me? Ain't I good enough now?

Ralf looks ~~ inquiringly ~~ at Bibi.

Bibi: I can probably take your donation, Mr. Ralf. I'll have to check your health first, but since you haven't been drinking for a while, you should be able to donate.

Dolmada isn't quite sure she's following this conversation -- the Gumgeeville dialect is even thicker than that of Hannard's Ford -- but Bibi's summary is clear enough. She reflects that it doesn't matter too much, as far as her own job goes, why this Ralf has decided to donate.

Ralf: Just Ralf. I mean, I ain't no Mister, and anyhow Ralf's my given name, Miz Hajeen.

Bibi: Okay, Ralf. Would you like me to explain how I take a donation now?

Bibi doesn't think offering Ralf a booklet would be useful.

Ralf: Umm, yeah, yeah. Yes ma'am. Tell me.

Bibi: Well, I'm a Sime, of course, but I'm also a channel. That means I can take selyn from Gens without harming them, store it and then give it to Simes who need it to survive.

Bibi is zlinning Ralf's reactions carefully.

Ralf: Okay, yeah, I get that.

Bibi: So what we'll do, is go in the donation room there...

Bibi gestures, using a tentacle.

Ralf: But my health, how do you check that? I mean, you just look at me and you tell?

Dolmada watches Ralf, gauging as best a Gen can his reaction to the sight.

Bibi: Well, I'll ask you some questions and fill out some forms for you. I'll also examine you with my Sime senses to see if you have any illnesses.

Ralf: Umm, okay. That's good, I guess. ~~ uncertain ~~

Ralf is finding this donorating business more complex than he'd expected.

Bibi: I can do that most accurately when we're in a transfer contact.

Bibi wonders if Ralf noticed her tentacle gesture.

Ralf didn't really notice: he's seen way stranger and scarier things than that.

Bibi: I'll demonstrate how I take a donation with Dolmada here.

Ralf: Umm, okay, yeah, that sounds good.

Bibi: First, we take each others' hands..

Dolmada obligingly presents her hands to Bibi.

Bibi takes Dolmada's hands.

Ralf watches with ~~ interest ~~.

Bibi: [whispered Simelan] This guy is a little brain damaged.

Bibi then signals "expect the unexpected".

Bibi: Then I'll move my hands to her forearms... and lightly hold her with my handling tentacles.

Dolmada increases her ~~ support ~~. She tries to look calm, relaxed, and generally not upset by what's happening, as well.

Bibi zlins carefully and holds herself ready for a possible slam as she slowly extends her tentacles and loosely wraps them around Dolmada's arms.

Dolmada responds with a bit of ~~ warmth and encouragement ~~, otherwise holding steady.

Ralf's attention suddenly becomes ~~ riveted ~~ on Bibi's tentacles, but his overall emotional mix doesn't change that much.

Bibi: Then I'll tighten my hold and extend my lateral tentacles. They're very delicate, and if the donor moves he can hurt me, so it's important to stay still.

Bibi, as usual, doesn't mention that staying still will not be optional, but enforced with Sime strength.

Ralf isn't hearing a thing. He's still ~~ focused ~~ on Bibi's tentacles.

Ralf: [very softly] My God... My God...

Dolmada turns to look at Ralf.

Dolmada: There's nothing to be alarmed about, Mr. Ralf. Bibi's not hurting me, and she wouldn't hurt you, either.

Bibi is getting worried about Ralf's reaction, or non-reactions. She isn't zlinning much from him except focused attention, but she thinks he could suddenly panic or slam her or do almost anything.

Dolmada sees Bibi's concern, and tries to smooth the ambient as best she can.

Ralf: [still fascinated] 'Mnot alarmed.

Bibi goes ahead and extends her laterals.

Dolmada ~~ relaxes ~~ into the contact, hoping to ~~ steady ~~ Bibi.

Ralf begins to shift slowly from ~~ fascination ~~ to ~~ worry ~~.

Bibi: All right so far? Do you have any questions?

Ralf: Nope, Miz Hajeen. Nope, no questions.

Ralf returns to ~~ fascination ~~.

Dolmada: It's not unpleasant, as you see.

Ralf: Yeah... Yeah.

Bibi: Next, we'll make a lip contact. Then I check the donor's health and take the donation. The donor doesn't feel anything, and it only lasts about a minute.

Bibi makes a brief lip contact with Dolmada.

Bibi: Then I retract my tentacles, and fill out a payment voucher for you!

Bibi demonstrates the release, but not the voucher writing.

Ralf relaxes. ~~ overwhelming relief ~~ He's ~~ surprised ~~ at how simple it all seems after all, once you get through that paperwork part.

Bibi gives him one of her friendly, harmless, winning smiles, with dimples.

Ralf: Okay. Can we do the question part now?

Bibi: Of course. Come with me.

Bibi gets up slowly but gracefully and leads the way to the donation room.

Ralf follows, his fascination now replaced with ~~ apprehension ~~.

Ralf: You're just gonna ask me questions, I mean, I ain't so good at that reading and writing part.

Bibi: No problem. I always do all the reading and writing.

Ralf: ~~ relief ~~

Bibi sits at her desk and gestures to the donor's chair. This will put Ralf a good bit closer to her than he was in the waiting room.

Dolmada sticks close to her channel's side, without appearing to hover too much, she hopes.

Ralf sits down on the lounge instead ~~ uncertainly ~~.

Bibi takes a set of forms and turns toward Ralf. She goes through the questions slowly, repeating or explaining when necessary. It requires a fair bit of patience to get useful coherent answers out of Ralf.

Ralf: Okay. Let's do it, huh? ~~ restless ~~

Ralf blushes. ~~ embarrassed ~~

Ralf: I mean, you do whatever you do.

Bibi: Okay, I'll come join you there now.

Bibi sits on the transfer lounge next to Ralf, and offers her hands, tentacles retracted, after signaling Dolmada for extreme vigilance and moderate support.

Dolmada moves with Bibi, keeping up her ~~ support ~~. She wishes she knew more about this donor, so she could more accurately predict his responses.

Ralf remembers what's what from the demonstration, if not the explanation, and extends his arms.

Ralf: 'Mready.

Bibi: Do you think you can take my hands now, Ralf?

Ralf: Oh. Yeah. Right.

Ralf takes Bibi's hands in his.

Dolmada watches to see if Ralf is upset by Bibi's Sime warmth.

Bibi: Okay, now I'll move my hands onto your wrists... and extend my handling tentacles.

Bibi extends her tentacles without touching Ralf's skin with them, bracing herself for anything...

Ralf watches passively as Bibi does this to him. ~~ flat affect ~~

Dolmada doesn't trust this passivity, and watches closely for any sign of a strong response.

Bibi wonders just how badly Ralf has pickled his brain over the years. She wraps her tentacles loosely around his arms.

Ralf: That's good. You do that. And then you tighten up, right?

Ralf's tone is one of mild curiosity.

Bibi: Yes, like this.

Dolmada would be holding her breath, except that would interfere with the discipline of ~~ support ~~.

Ralf feels the tentacles tightening on his skin, but his feeling is almost ~~ unconcern ~~.

Bibi: And now I'll extend my laterals. They'll feel a little moist and maybe slightly tingly, but it won't hurt. Remember, you can hurt me if you don't stay still, okay?

Ralf: I remember, Miz Hajeen.

Bibi: Good. Now I'll make the lip contact, and hold for about a minute while I check your health and take the donation.

Ralf nods.

Bibi finds herself cringing inside, waiting for a bomb to go off, and does a rapid relaxation exercise. She signals Dolmada for strong support, just in case.

Dolmada provides it, to the extent a lowfield Second can.

Bibi makes the lip contact and zlins Ralf's health. What a mess.

Ralf: ~~ fatalism resignation ~~

Bibi perceives that Ralf is running on about 15% of a normal liver, the rest being replaced with scar tissue, and his kidneys aren't much better. His heart and the rest of his organs have been weakened by chronic alcoholism.

Dolmada watches Ralf and Bibi ~~ intently ~~ for signs of trouble.

Bibi isn't sensitive enough to accurately evaluate the state of his central nervous system, but it's definitely abnormal and his brain is somewhat shrunken even to her limited sensitivity.

Bibi doesn't think donation will do him any harm, and the draw may actually do him some good. Too bad D'zoll or Hiram isn't here to work off their entran on intensive efforts to rehabilitate this badly abused body.

Ralf thinks he probably isn't in such good shape after years of drinking.

Bibi begins to carefully and very slowly draw selyn, thinking how remarkably tough the human body is, continuing to function despite substantial damage.

Ralf gives up his selyn entirely normally until Bibi's about half done, and then suddenly collapses and hangs limp from her tentacle grip. ~~ heart attack ~~

Bibi breaks the lip contact.

Ralf stops breathing and starts fibrillating.

Bibi: Shidoni, Dolmada. His heart's gone arrhythmic!

Bibi flops Ralf onto the floor and begins CPR. It's the rare times like this that she wishes she were a Farris. Well, at least Simes can keep up CPR with sufficient strength indefinitely.

Dolmada holds ~~ steady ~~.

Ralf's heart begins to respond nicely. He resumes breathing, a bit shallow but not life-threatening.

Dolmada reaches around to a cabinet for the emergency medical kit, just in case.

Bibi makes a lateral contact again to monitor.

Dolmada: Is it steadying?

Bibi: Yes. So far, so good. Shedoni!

Dolmada opens up the kit and locates potentially useful medications.

Dolmada: Was this a response to donating, or just bad timing?

Bibi: He's a complete mess inside, but I didn't expect this to happen. He was so pathologically calm... I think just bad timing.

Ralf's breathing returns to normal as he goes from unconsciousness to ~~ sleep ~~.

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