Fantasy Drabble #310 "I'm Saving My Love For You"

He needs no rope to help him reach the window, he has a spell to float himself up the wall. He needs no cover of darkness, he has a spell to render his form invisible to the guards. It is night, though, because that is when she asked him to come.

The Princess is waiting at the window. She cannot see him, but she hears the rustle of his clothes. "My father is asleep."

"Heavy snores the head that wears the crown?"

"Something like that. And…" She pushes a strap of her dressing-gown from one shoulder, and grins. "Stay invisible."


The security door closed with a whoosh of sucking air and a loud click.

"Lieutenant." Of course they'd sent someone like her in: pretty, clothes a little too tight, disarming smile. They're too sophisticated to send in a heavy with a phone book.

"How're you doing?"

"I should ask you how you are. Have you been treated well?"

"Nobody's beat me up, if that's what you're asking. They could be more polite."

She sat down opposite me, across the table. In front of her she set down a file folder, a PDA, and a plastic baggie. "People don't tend to be polite to officers who talk about losing the war."

I shrugged.

"Do you think we're losing the war?"

"The first battle was seventy light-years away. The next one will be here. At Sol. What does that tell you?"

"We'll be ready for them."

"That's what we said before Epsilon Eridani. That's what we always say, officially, isn't it? Isn't it?"

She'd been trying not to stare at the burns on the side of my face; now she let me catch her doing it. "You had quite a hard time at Epsilon Eridani, didn't you?"

"I came back. I'm the exception." I shrugged. "Forty ships, plus the troop carriers. Nearly a hundred thousand dead? Or worse, captured? I had it easy at Epsilon Eridani."

"Is that why?"

I let it hang there. Eventually I said, "Is that why what?"

She held up the plastic baggie. I couldn't read the markings on the bag, the writing was too small, but my slipdrive was clearly visible at the bottom. "Why you were taking this out of the building—"

"I work from home sometimes."

"You know that's against the rules."

I shrugged again. "You know everyone does it anyway. If we didn't, the work wouldn't get done. Is that what this is about?"

"No." She opened the file folder, took out an 8x10 photo — actually printed on paper — and held it up. "Do you recognize this man?"

Of course I did. "No."

"You were in the same place as he was eight times over the past year, always on a Sunday, always after copying classified data to your slipdrive."

"It's not a crime to be in the—"

"Did you pass the data to him?" She leaned forward. There wasn't anger on her face. She was showing just enough cleavage to be mildly distracting. "I can't help you if you're not honest with me."

"You think he's a Woolie agent?"

"I think you think he's a Woolie agent. He actually works for us."

I blinked. "So then why all of this? Why am I not already out in front of a firing squad?"

She leaned back in her chair, sighed. "Because regardless of what you say, you did have a hard time at Epsilon Eridani. I read the file. You floated in an escape pod full of smoke and your own filth for three weeks. It broke you. You're not a traitor. You're sick."