As he tried to focus his attention on his PDA, he felt her looking over his arm to see what he was doing. He continued to scroll through, in paper terms, reams of data and charts and executive summaries of various reports related to todayís assignment. Still the girl never seemed to lose interest, in spite of his silent ignoring of her presence, until finally she spoke again.

"Whatís that?"

He took a deep breath to temper his annoyance. "Itís my job."


He shook his head, and started reading again.

"What kind of job is it?"

He took another deep breath, this time audibly sighing it out in a rush. "Environmental science. I show people and companies how to improve the use of their resources and how to comply with environmental regulations."

"Wow. That sounds pretty awesome. Iím studying environmental science in school. I really like it."

He nodded, but didnít say anything, as he, once again, turned his attention to the PDA. However, the familiar sound of the train approaching announced that he wouldnít have much more time to review his work. While the PDA could connect to the web while he was on the train station platform, it would not be able to do so while he was on the train.

He turned it off as the first stirring of the trainís pressure wave reached him and seemingly drew the masses of people toward the side of the platform where the train would stop. He nodded at the girl as he stood and ambled to wait for the train. The breeze caused by the train was substantial and the squealing of the brakes heralded its arrival at the station.

Four silver train cars roared into the station, decelerating so quickly that someone would think that it had arresting gear like that used to stop aircraft landing on super carriers. The passengers visible inside the glittering monstrosity swayed forward and threatened to topple over as they fought against their momentum, then snapped backward when the train finally came to a rest, almost falling over in the other direction. Fortunately for those awaiting the train, most of the people standing on the train were doing so because they were going to exit the train at this station.

Subconsciously, Joel looked to see where the girl named Minerva stood. He did not see her and figured that she had gone to another door or even another car to enter the train. When he pushed his way onto the trainís second car, and found a semi-secluded area toward the front of the car across from the chamber where a driver could sit. It was semi-secluded because of an aluminum panel behind the seat, which was only able to seat two persons. The seats were sculptured plastic meant to afford comfort and lateral support to the occupant, much the way bucket seats anchor a person in a high performance automobile, especially one that handles like itís on rails.

The warning chime sounded, letting the passengers know that the train would be leaving soon, and then the doors shut, and the train was off.

Joel looked out the window as the train moved into the mostly dark corridor that was the tunnel. An occasional light would flash past, allowing an on-looker to see the underbelly of the city, and the infrastructure that made up the underground network for the subway system. Heíd worked to help the transit company more efficient in its energy consumption and in its worker safety. It was one of his first projects. Better days, to be sure.

A presence suddenly encroached upon him, and when he turned to see whom it was, he was shocked to see that it was the vampire girl again. Her face lit up and she smiled widely when she saw that she had, at last, found him again. She quickly sat beside him, looking at him the entire time.

"My favorite place to sit when I can get it," she said of the place they were alone together. "I bet itís yours too."

Joel hadnít really thought about it before, but he did often find himself there whenever he could, so he had to admit that perhaps she had a point. Still, he didnít say anything, and peered out at the brightening light as they rolled quickly into the station. They had to brace themselves against the rapid deceleration.

"We seem to have a lot in common, wouldnít you say?"

He looked at her perplexed. "What makes you say so?"

"You work in the environmental science. I am studying environmental science. You like this seat. I like this seat."

"Two things isnít exactly a lot."

"Well, we also share a crŤche."

He frowned. "A what?"

"A crŤche."

Joel didnít know what that was, but didnít want to admit it.

She grinned, teeth showing, when she deduced that he didnít know. "Look it up on your PDA. It has a dictionary, right?"

He whipped the device out of his pocket and keyed in different phonetics until he found the definition of the word that matched her pronunciation of it, and read:

Creche <kresh, krāsh> (n) 1. a representation of the Nativity scene 2. day nursery 3. a foundling hospital 4. a group of young animals (as penguins or bats) gathered in one place for care and protection usually by one or more adults.

After reading the definitions, her assertion still didnít make much sense. Even less so.

"Weíre in the same day nursery?"

"Sort of. I would say that we are in the same place seeking care and protection."

"Is that so?"


He humphed and replaced the PDA. "If you say so."

"And, we also have one other thing in common."

"And that is?"

"We work together. Or, should I say that I work for you."

He frowned again. "How do you work for me?"
"Well, I will when you give me a job."

Joel found himself laughing. "You want a job? Is that what this is all about?"

"No. But I need a job, and your work sounds like something I would love to do."

"Youíve got game, Iíll give you that."

"So, does that mean Iím hired."

"Not a chance. First of all, how old are you?"

"Just turned four Ė fifteen."

"Not old enough to work legally, without papers."

"I can get papers."

"What skills do you have?"

"I can type. Sixty words per minute. I can file stuff. I can clean bathrooms. I can cook. I can do lots of things that might be useful in an office. And I am pretty smart. I have an A average all throughout my life. Perfect attendance too. Good behavior."


"And I am fun to be around, too. Youíll love having me around."


Unto the Living Earth © 2007 Walter R. Milton