Escape Pod 879: Triptych
by Avi Burton
Delaney didn’t have time to change before the men in suits came and bundled her into the car. Her dress fell crooked against her knees, and her makeup was half-applied. The sting of cold air brushed against her bare shoulders. They hadn’t let her grab a jacket, either.
The hasty exit and lack of preparation made her think this semi-willing kidnapping couldn’t be for a public appearance. Security always made her change back into men’s clothes for that, no matter how nauseous the suit and tie made her. She knew the Senator’s people didn’t approve of her aesthetic, or her, period, but they gave her the brief grace of dressing how she liked—as long as she stayed hidden. If she ever left the house, it was as Senator Marcus Delaney. She’d never been allowed out before as this disheveled, in-between creature.
Delaney sat rumpled in the back seat of the van—Janus Delivery Services, read the logo imprinted on the side—and twisted her hands in her lap. There was a guard on either side of her, and one in the driver’s seat, who was wearing sunglasses. They were all white, male, and had a military look. Maybe Marines, definitely bodyguards, and not her usual handlers.
None of them made eye contact with her. Lines of tension dragged down the shoulders and frowns of the security guards. Something unspoken fizzled in the air, like a live wire, or a fuse burning down.
“What’s going on? What do you need me for?” Delaney asked. Usually, she was allowed a briefing before they came to take her, but she’d been ordered to get in the car without any other information.
“Quiet,” said the guard on the left.
“Did something happen?”
“Look.” Sunglasses in the front sighed, twisting the wheel. The windows of the van were tinted, and Delaney couldn’t make out more than faint road passing by. “You’ll find out when you get there. Don’t panic.”