So, Rory and Cyrus have just escaped a government facility, and they’ve got to go find Dr. Z. Rory is soaking wet and she’s wearing Cyrus’s sweater, and also her elbow is apparently flayed down to the muscle.
My toes were almost frozen and ached with every step. Cy’s pullover was warmer than my sweater, and keeping up with his pace was keeping my body temperature even.
This might be the only optimism we’ve ever seen Rory express. Yeah, we’re on the run from the government, and my elbow is ripped open, and I’ve got frostbite, but at least the rest of me is warm.
Cy details how they’re going to run from building to building in order to avoid being seen by the helicopters, but first, there’s romantic subplot to deal with!
Cy checked his watch. After remember it was broken, he looked away, grumbling something sounding like Arabic under his breath.
She knows what Arabic sounds like, but she can’t say for certain that the guy from the Arabic-speaking country is speaking it.
“Was it a gift? From her?”
“Can you just give me a straight answer?”
Yes, Cy! Right this minute, as you’re running from the government, tell me if that watch is a gift from your fianceé!
Cy tells her they have to go like, right that second:
“Okay, but when we get to where we’re going, you’re going to explain a few things. And I want straight answers. Promise me.” I knew this probably wasn’t the best time to be difficult,
but this also wasn’t the best time for him to turn me down. I wanted the truth, and I was determined to get it.
Now, some readers might be thinking, “Ah, finally! She is determined to get some answers!” You may not have noticed, but this particular pattern of Rory asking Cy for answers, not getting them, and then insisting that she will get answers from him no matter what, has been a maddening motif throughout the book so far. It’s been subtle, I know.
They get to Dr. Z’s house, where they decide to look for clues as to where the doctor might have gone, and to use the first aid kid. He butterflies and wraps Rory’s wound, and mentions that it should have stitches. They obviously can’t go to the hospital, because government.
Rory asks Cy where he thinks the “clue” to Dr. Zoidberg’s whereabouts is:
“Try the easiest path first,” Cy said, knocking his fist four times on the doorjamb–twice quickly, the next two slower.
The same knock came back.
Dr. Z was hiding in the ceiling the whole time.
Cy helped Dr. Z climb down, and I grabbed him.
“You’re okay!” I said, hugging him. From the corner of my eye, I saw Cy helping someone else from the attic. Before I even saw her face, I knew who it was and recoiled. “What is she doing here?”
“I could ask the same of you, ” she said, brushing off her tight sweater.
It’s Ellie, just in case anyone didn’t get that from the fact that there is only one other female character in this book and Rory hates her. Dr. Z says that Ellie came over with questions about her final, and she was there when Dr. Z was forced to hide from the Majestic.
Speaking of which…why wouldn’t highly trained CIA operatives check to see if there’s an attic in the house they’re sweeping?
Now, when things are life and death, when you’ve got a shadowy government organization out to get you, that’s no time for petty concerns like girl-on-girl hate, right? This is the part where Ellie and Rory have to work together to save their necks, right?
Only in some other book.
I narrowed my eyes at Ellie. I trusted Dr. Z, but with her deep V-neck sweater revealing at least three inches of cleavage, I knew she was after more than just help with finals.
When Ellie is first introduced as a character, Rory says the only tops Ellie wears reveal cleavage, so maybe she really was looking for help on her exams. She just wore exactly what she always wears.
“Stop staring at me, Rory,” she snapped in her Southern drawl. “It’s weird.”
You know what else is weird? How Ellie didn’t have a Southern drawl until chapter twelve.
“Whore,” I hissed.
“Whore” isn’t sibilant. You can’t “hiss” a word without sibilant consonants.
“Rory!” Dr. Z said in a loud whisper.
“It’s okay.” Ellie grinned. “She just wishes she had breasts.”
Her comment forced Dr. Z and Cy to glance down at the pitiful barely B cups on my chest and then at each other, both wishing they hadn’t.
I wish they hadn’t, either. Because this is fucking gross. The characters are in just about as bad a situation as a set of characters can be in. Dr. Z knows the CIA is after him. Cy knows…I don’t know, Cy knows everything. Ellie knows that she’s blundered into something dangerous, otherwise she wouldn’t have hidden in an attic all day. And Rory, above everyone else, knows how fragile life is and how much these agents who are after them will do to get what they want.
But let’s all stop for a girl-fight and poorly executed boob joke.
Cy asks Dr. Z for the flash drive, and Dr. Z refuses, because it’s the only thing record he has.
“It’s important, Argus,” Cy said. “Please.”
Dr. Z’s eyebrows pulled in, forming a deep crease between them. “Argus is my first name, and no one calls me Argus but my mother. How did yo know that name?”
It’s probably on the staff directory. You don’t get to just waltz into a college and become a tenured professor without ever giving anyone your first name.
I looked to Cy, wondering how he knew half of what he did. Part of me wondered what side he was on. He had helped Dr. Zorba, but then he was going to steal the specimen from him. To anyone else, Cy would seem like the enemy, but something inside me told me he wasn’t.
Something inside her has to tell her that, because so far, Cy hasn’t been developed beyond “mysterious wise foreign guy.” If we knew at this point that he was an alien (I mean, we know that, but if Rory knew that), we would be able to go, okay, I understand why she feels Cy can be trusted, when two chapters ago she had doubts about who he was and why he wanted the research. Instead, suddenly and without any further information, she’s just like, “Eh, I trust him.”
The professor’s eyes bounced back and forth between Cy and me, and then he let out a sigh in surrender. “I don’t suppose you’re both working for Tennison?”
Okay, that first sentence made me laugh. That kind of phrasing, where something can be taken as horribly literal, doesn’t generally bother me the way it does other people. Like, I understand that Dr. Z’s eyes don’t actually leave his head and bounce back and forth. But for some reason, stuff like that drives some readers crazy. This one, just because of the phrasing, made me laugh, because I couldn’t help imagining it.
So, Dr. Z thinks his whole operation has been infiltrated. Ellie says it “wouldn’t surprise” her if Rory is a turncoat:
“You know all of zero about this, Ellie, so shut the hell up,” I hissed.
“We’ve spent all day in this house and in the attic. I know quite a bit actually.”
Dr. Zoidberg tells them that he didn’t tell Ellie anything important, but they ran out of things to talk about. You know, I would think any situation in which you were explaining to someone why they’re hiding in your attic from soldiers would be perfectly reasonable.
Cy and Dr. Zoidberg go away, leaving Ellie and Rory alone. Just so we can get in another good, solid dose internalized misogyny.
“Is that who spent the night in your room?” she asked, nodding to Cy.
I could tell she was goading me, so I said nothing. I didn’t want to give her the satisfaction.
She laughed once. What am I saying? He is way out of your league.”
My eyes targeted her. “At least I don’t have to fuck geriatrics for grades.”
Ellie smiled, clearly amused she’d gotten under my skin. “Oh, Rory,” she lilted and then circled slowly around me, “I could smile at them and get the grades. I don’t have to fuck anyone. I’m just attracted to intelligence, which is why I find nothing appealing about you at all.”
Then they started having passionate hate sex all over the everywhere.
Reminder: that underline indicates italics in the text.
Cy and the professor come back, and Cy says:
“I have it, Rory. I’m afraid it’s time for me to go.” He glanced at his broken watch. “I must be at the remaining foundation of that old gas station next to the Old River Bridge at a very specific time. If I’m not, I don’t know what will happen.”
Ellie leaned down. At first, it didn’t occur to me to react. Even when she pulled a small pistol from her boot and pointed it at Cy, it took me a second to register what was happening.
Dr. Z’s eyes widened. “Ellie, what on earth–”
Ellie kept her gun on Cy. “Before you scoot along, handsome, how about you give me that flash drive?”
Cy was disturbingly calm. “I knew Tennison had to have a contact on campus.”
OF COURSE! Of course it’s absolutely okay that Rory has thrown some really hard misogynist insults at Ellie. Like “whore” and ” “cum-burping gutter slut” and “slutty, whorish whore.” She’s the villain! And even though Rory didn’t know that until right this moment, all of her past hatred toward Ellie is completely justified.
Ellie laughed, and then suddenly her Southern accent disappeared.
As quickly as it appeared.
Anyway, as I was saying, Rory doesn’t have a misogynist bone in her entire–
I kept thinking that she must have been sleeping with this Tennison and got pulled into this somehow.
Even as a villain, Ellie can’t be anything other than the “cum-burping gutter slut” Rory labelled her as in the beginning of the book.
“Rory, really. For someone who watched her mother and best friend get raped and murdered right in front of her eyes, you’re so naive.”
I need someone who remembers the story better than I do to verify whether or not Rory’s mother and friend were raped. I don’t remember that ever being mentioned. I remember them mutilating them, but I don’t remember anything about rape. I searched the book for “rape” and found numerous instances of “scraped” and “draped,” but only two mentions of rape, here and near the end of the book.
So, Ellie says she wants the flash drive, or she’s going to kill Cy. I know this is how stories are supposed to go, but I think if I’m ever in charge of pointing a gun at someone to get what I want, I’ll just shoot them and all the witnesses and take the thing I was supposed to get. I think I’m like 100% more efficient than any of the bad guys on TV.
So, yeah, Ellie is going to shoot Cy, but Rory stands between them and tells her not to shoot, and Ellie laughs at her.
“You really are thick, aren’t you? Get out of my way before I shoot you in your fucking face.” She looked around me. “I’m going to kill your little girlfriend, Cyrus. How is that going to sit with your council?”
Cy tells Ellie that she can have the flash drive if she promises that the Majestic won’t ever bother her again.
She chuckled. “you know I can’t make that promise. There’s at least one jackass in our department who can’t stay away from her.”
“Benji,” Cy said.
I looked at Cy and then at Ellie. “You’ve wanted to believe he couldn’t be trusted from day one. That doesn’t make sense anyway. Benji’s not even twenty, and you immediately assume that he is working for the CIA?”
Okay, so, totally believable that Ellie the “cum-burping gutter slut” could be working for the CIA, but not Benji. Not the person Ellie had sex with. That would be ridiculous. So ridiculous that we’re going to keep arguing about it for like a page:
“Someone else is out there, watching us, and you’re so set on Benji being the bad guy that your’e going to overlook clues to who it really is!”
Because it makes a lot more sense that the guy with a room full of computer technology, who has doggedly pursued you without any apparent reason to do so, and who had Ellie’s number in his phone, would be not at all connected to her or the organization that she works for.
“How old is Ellie? They could be recruiting out of high school for all you know,” Cy said.
“Yes,” Ellie sneered. “Because there’s no way I could be older and just be posing as a college student. How did any of you make it into KIT without being able to add two and two?”
Rory might not be able to add two and two, but she’s good at hardcore misogyny:
“She’s full of shit for once instead of geriatrics.”
“You might work for Majestic, but they pimped you out. You’re a legit whore after all.”
This is the chapter where I seriously considered DNFing this, then I remembered I was recapping it.
So, for about a page now, Ellie has had a gun aimed at Rory’s head, and for some reason, she never fires it. I wish she would have, because:
Before Ellie could mouth off again, I reached for her gun, pulled it out of her hands, and flipped the barrel so that it was facing her. I cupped the grip of the gun in my hand, getting a feel for it. The move felt as if it all happened in slow motion, but in reality, it was about two seconds.
“Last time I checked, they didn’t teach that in self-defense class,” Ellie said, clearly surprised.
“I took an advanced class.”
It wasn’t a total lie. Sydney’s older brother, Sam, had picked up a lot of useful things during his time in Afghanistan.
And then she goes on to explain, once again, that Sam taught her how to defend herself to get over the pain of his sister’s death, which I guarantee would be a 1,000,000% more interesting story than the one we’re reading now.
Now that Rory has the gun, she points it at Ellie. Cy yells, “don’t!” and Ellie runs out. Cy asks Dr. Z for the flash drive, revealing that he never had it at all:
“I had to provoke her. Something wasn’t right.”
Ellie is just such an evil female that he could smell the evil on her.
Dr. Z tells them he’ll give them the flash drive, if they tell him the truth. Well, good luck, Dr. Z, because every chapter for the past five chapters have been one character saying they need to know the truth, and the other one saying they’ll tell them if, and then absolutely no exposition at all happening. Looks like the same thing is going to happen now, because Cy says they don’t have much time, etc.
“Then give me the short version,” Dr. Z said simply.
Cy thought about this for a moment and then nodded. “Okay. You might want to sit down, Professor.”
I’m on the edge of my seat. I can only hope Cy is an alien from the Planet Of The Super Whores and Rory will be consumed in a molten ball of hatred for her own gender and the whole book will be over.