I’ve got to be honest, I was a little surprised that Edel agreed to an interview with me. I mean, she isn’t exactly known for being a wordsmith, is she?
I’m a little nervous. She is quite frightening and I am regretting choosing her as my first character to interview. Maybe I should have pulled Gemma out of my head and invited her into my dining room for a chat instead? That would probably be an easier flowing conversation.
I look up, startled to find Edel standing in the doorway, her eyes fixed on the empty space behind me. I swallow my nerves and remind myself that I am the one who is in charge here. I mean, she isn’t even real. Not really.
“Hello, Edel. Take a seat.” I gesture to the empty chair, still tucked underneath my table.
The way she moves her eyes sends a ripple of nerves slithering down my spine. At first, her body doesn’t move, only her eyes as they glance in the direction I just pointed. Her eyes return to meet mine, and I offer her a nervous smile, suddenly understanding what Jay means when he tells people she is terrifying. My smile has no effect on her, and it does little to ease my discomfort.
I clear my throat. “Sit down,” I say again.
She offers me a curt nod and takes a seat. I breathe out, noticing how my chest quivers. Nerves perhaps?
“So…” I let out another bumpy breath and try to wrap my nerves under control. “Thank you for coming.”
Her face never alters. Her sullen gaze is directed at the table and I wonder if she is even paying attention. I steel myself and decide to get on with it. This is awkward, and difficult, but it will only be worse if I continue to drag it out.
“How are you?” I clear my throat and inwardly grimace. I won’t be winning any journalism awards with questions like that, will I?
She stares at me, and I realise she doesn’t know how to answer. I mentally berate myself for my own stupidity. It’s like I haven’t been paying attention all these years she’s been in my head.
“Can you introduce yourself for our readers?” I ask hopefully.
Her gaze remains fixed on the table and the harsh words escape her mouth with effort. “I am XJ545-12”
I offer her a wry smile. “That’s not your name though. Do you know who I am?”
She stares at me and I can feel my skin prickle with nerves. “You’re Ashleigh.” she blinks once. “That’s not your name though.”
My eyes widen. She knows more about me than I thought. Okay, I need to take control of this interview before it goes completely off the rails, I clear my throat and say, “Tell our readers about your book!”
She stares back at me. “Which one?”
I clear my throat once more and try to lubricate my dry mouth. “There’s only two! But I meant the new one.”
“You have many in your mind.”
I smile. I suppose if I know what’s in her head, then she must know what is in mine too? She doesn’t return my smile and I realise it is because she knows what is in my head. She already knows her fate and the long and sometimes painful road she will take, even though it isn’t written yet.
“It’s not all bad,” I whisper. “Without me, you would still be locked up in Poly-Gen. You would have never met Jay. Or Danny.”
She glares at me and I feel myself shrinking. “And what good came of me meeting Danny?”
Okay, she has a valid point there. This isn’t going well, I need to move it along. “What do you think to freedom?” I ask, trying to steer the conversation better.
Her stony face glares back at me. A flicker of anger ripples under the surface, but she refuses to answer.
“Okay… erm… You’ve had lots of new experiences and seen many new things and places since you broke free of Poly-Gen. What has been your favourite?”
Still, she refuses to answer. Damn! I Knew I shouldn’t have started with Edel! I rack my brain and try to think of a fluff question- anything light and friendly that will hopefully take that murderous look off her face. Inspiration hits out of nowhere. “Who’s your favourite character in the book?”
A smile! Well, a hint of a smile at least. “Jay,” she answers curtly.
“Jay is kind to me.” She sits up straighter and leans slightly forward in her seat, her palms rest face down on the table in front of me and she looks quite menacing as her eyes bore into mine. “You have hurt me. You have made me suffer for years.”
I swallow. I don’t mean to be this sadistic. How can I explain that it isn’t my fault- these things just happen.
She continues, “I don’t care what you have done to me. But if you hurt him,” she pauses and it gets the desired effect. I am almost shaking with fear as I await her next words. “I WILL END YOU.”
The force of her threat causes my heart to pound in my chest. I avert my eyes, unable to keep looking at this terrifying genetically modified human before me. Closing my eyes for a second, I try to get a hold of myself and get back on track. When I look back at her, there is nothing but an empty chair.
I don’t know what I was hoping for, trying to bridge the gap between reality and my imagination, but it didn’t go how I wanted it to.