“Would you like some coffee?” I ask Ryder.
Ryder has gotten dressed for his construction job. He’s eating some sort of protein bar or something like that. The awkwardness in our kitchen is beyond anything that I could imagine. We don’t have a robot any longer to do things so I’ve been doing everything around the house including making coffee. He stares at the coffee. I’ve come out in the main room with nothing on but some tight briefs and a robe. I can tell that he is uncomfortable when he sees me. Truth is I know the sex was good even though I don’t remember it. I feel weak in my knees and sore all over. I don’t know what went down last night but a part of me wants to replay the entire scene.
Maybe that’s why I’m trying to seduce him this morning. I watch him swallow his protein bar whole. He looks sexy in his construction uniform. His hard hat and ripped jeans make him look like the manly Aries he is.
Still there is a vulnerability to him. He gazes at me and nods.
I pour him some coffee. It’s so awkward and I’m so nervous that I spill it.
We bend down to wipe up the coffee at the same time. Our heads smash into each other. We stare at each other for a minute and each struggle to get rid of this awkwardness. The awkwardness is beyond anything that either of us imagined.
“I’ll clean it up,” he offers.
I watch as Ryder cleans up my mess for me. When he’s done he pours his own coffee and just stands there. I can tell he doesn’t know how to deal with this.
I have to say something first.
“So about last night,” I state.
“Yeah. About last night.”
“Do you remember anything?” I ask him.
He sighs, “I remember doing some…wild things. I thought it was all a dream though. Um. This morning I found a whole bottle of empty lube on the balcony. Um. I don’t remember buying lube. I guess we must have stopped somewhere or…I don’t get how we used the whole bottle. Could you imagine?”
I was in pain. I could barely sit. It’s the reason I’m perching on a stool right now.
“Yeah. I kind of can imagine.”
“What was that about?” he asked.
“You drugged me,” I state.
“C`mon you agreed to take the Roar yourself,” he tells me, “Don’t phrase it like that. Don’t phrase it like I’m some sort of fucking predator.”
“I’m just saying what happened.”
I don’t know if I feel violated. I just imagined the first time I had sex with my husband it would be of my right mind. I know I’m sounding defensive but it’s all coming out wrong for whatever reason. I think about pulling it back but he’s already offended. I blame it on myself. I can’t believe I took that drug. I can’t believe we both had such bad effects from it that we couldn’t even remember using up a whole bottle of lube the night before.
My only regret is not remembering what happened last night. Why can’t I just tell him that?
It’s too late though. He’s already pissed.
“Not my fault. Listen. Get over yourself. I’m not a predator. We got a little fucked up and things happened that we both clearly regret. What? Do you think I tried to fucking rape you? I don’t want you. I said it a million times. You’re the one who is forcing me to stay in this fucking marriage.”
I’m shocked that he would go there. It wasn’t like I was putting a gun to his head. I don’t know what pushes me over the edge at that moment. Maybe it was his comment. Maybe it was the fact that we had sex under the influence the night before. Maybe it was the fucking pain in my asshole that was putting me in a bad mood. I just was pissed beyond comparison at that point.
“Don’t be fucking rude. You should be lucky you have someone like me,” I state.
“Someone like you?”
“Yup. Someone like me! A Libra! Who has a future! Not some Aries who glues together bricks for a living. Not some random Ram who probably will never be shit in life.”
I regret the words as soon as they come out of my mouth.
He gives me a hard look, “Is that what you think of me?”
I don’t think he would have been hurt by what I said but he clearly is hurt. Before I get the chance he is walking hard towards the door.
I want to apologize. I want to take my words back. I don’t have the chance.
“Fuck you,” Ryder says before he leaves.
It’s the last day of orientation at the Justice Hall. Going into class I feel the worse. I’m having marriage issues. What’s worse than having my serious marriage issues is the fact that everyone around me seems to be happy as fuck.
One of the instructors walks in, “Today you will be going through a simulation of how it would be like to really do your jobs.”
“I’m nervous,” Lloyd says.
He looks my way. I don’t exchange his stare. Right now I’m still feeling some type of way about the fact that he is dating Apollo. I know I shouldn’t but I can’t help it.
We have been brought to our first courtroom. There are twelve of us sitting there. All the Liberties sit in the jury box. The court officials come in after. They are all Capricorns. The Capricorns are easy to tell because they are all very methodical. They seem level headed and practical. It would make sense that they were the court officials. Libras may make up the judge and jury but the Capricorns run the court.
“All stand for the High Liberty,” the Capricorn Bailiff announces.
We are all surprised when the High Liberty comes out. We are all a little nervous. Why would he come out just for a stupid simulation? We are still in orientation but this seems a little bit more serious than we were expecting.
“What’s going on?” Lloyd asks me.
I shrug, “I don’t know.”
The High Liberty walks out and sits in the judge’s seat. He has on his court dress. This is the first time the others have seen him but I recognize the High Liberty. He is stoic and cold.
“Today you will judge someone for the first time,” the High Liberty says, “This will be your first look at the new system that we have. It’s changed in the last few years. It’s a lot different from what you all learned in your textbooks. Bailiff. Bring out the case.”
A few of us are talking amongst ourselves. We are all nervous. The man is brought out in handcuffs by the Capricorn a few minutes later. At first the man looks familiar and when I look at him harder I can tell why. He’s looks like the guy with the scorpion tattoo. He looks like he was the one who was staring at me the one day I left court. I don’t think he’s the same guy but he looks similar maybe related in some way. He is handsome guy. He has good features. I think he might be of Latin origin even though it doesn’t really matter. He has dark eyes, jet black with a shaved head. He looks like he is probably in his mid-20s or so. He has full lips. A couple of the others are staring at him. I even see a Libra fan herself on the bench. He’s definitely attractive.
He must be a damn good actor to get so many panties wet.
The High Liberty speaks, “In this scenario…this man is a Scorpion rebel. He has been charged with Treason against the government. He has conspired to take down the Zodiac system. Everything you need to know about his case is in folders in front of you.”
We open up the folders. His name is Silas.
“He looks dangerous,” Lloyd states.
A couple of the others are whispering about the same thing. Silas has a short bio in the folder. It doesn’t have much information. He’s age 25. He was born in Scorpio Nation which used to be California. It’s a dry area with a lot of valleys. They had a drought years ago and it caused their economy to tank. Silas was born poor with little education. His neighborhood burned down when he was younger. It doesn’t say how. As a survivor he was sent to the capital but he refused to be married by the matchmakers. He was supposed to be arrested for refusing but he ran away. Then it goes into his charges of domestic terrorism. At the age of 19 he joined a group known only as the Zodiac Killers. Every year one of them went out on a killing spree. This was his year. By the age of 21 he was leading the group. He killed three Capricorns, two Aquarians and one Gemini outside of the government building.
I take a deep breath, “Damn…”
He is dangerous. I’m shocked that this is our simulation. It seems a little gory. It wasn’t like we’d be judging real terrorists? Right? I look at the other Libras. They are all taking their time to review the file. Everyone has the same look as I did. They are disgusted. They are terrified. It doesn’t help that Silas is giving us this dangerous blank stare.
The High Liberty looks over at us, “After you are finish reviewing the file…I’ll need you to judge him.”
“Just like that?” I ask.
The High Liberty looks over at me, “Just like that. The old court system no longer works. As Libras your job is to cast judgement. Is he innocent or is he guilty?”
The others are whispering. No one is questioning this though. It sounds a little weird to me. It sounds a little abrupt. There was nothing in this file about motivation. There was nothing in this file about anything like that. I’m a little confused.
“Doesn’t he get a lawyer?” Lloyd asks, “Doesn’t he get a public defender? Something like that?”
I’m glad that Lloyd is at least as concerned as I am. As Libras we studied law forever and lawyer is usually present unless he waived his rights for one. This guy Silas doesn’t seem to be defending himself either. He’s just standing there. This process seems weird. Maybe it is just a part of the test. Maybe the High Liberty is just messing with us? There is no way possible way this is how real court cases were done now.
“He doesn’t need one,” the High Liberty says.
“What about witnesses?” I ask.
The High Liberty shakes his head, “All of those things are antiquated. They are outdated. This is the new way.”
“Why weren’t we taught about this?”
The High Liberty gives me a hard stare.
“You’re being taught now, Law. As Liberties it’s your job to hold the scales. All your life you have been taught what is right or wrong. The Aquarian police who arrested him put together his file. We can’t depend on witnesses to tell the truth. We can’t depend on lawyers who try to twist the truth. We have to find the truth. This is all that you have. This is the fairest and most balanced way. This is the new system.”
The new system.
I figured this would be a longer process. I had no idea that the new way of doing things had become so…simplified. I look over the folder again. How do we know that this information is true?
“Can we ask him any questions?” I ask.
The High Liberty looks at me as though I’m losing my mind. It’s clear I’m sticking out like a sore thumb. I’ve always just followed the rules. The problem here is that these weren’t the rules that I had learned. Maybe Libras did know more about being fair then other signs but we should at least be given the information we needed to make the right decision even if it was a simulation. The others seem a little irritated at me. They probably want to end this little orientation and get on with their days.
The High Liberty none-the-less nods, “Take your time Law. Ask him whatever you’d like to.”
I look over at him.
“Did you do this?” I ask him.
It was the first question. The prisoner Silas looks at me. He has this strong expression on his face. It’s full of spite and mistrust. He’s a damn good actor because for a second I almost think he hates me.
Whispers fill the room. The coldness in his answer is chilling. It’s almost like he doesn’t give a fuck that he killed all of those people. Maybe that is a clue on how we are supposed to vote or something. The other Libras are shaking their head. Silas literally just pleaded guilty. He just gave himself up. No argument. Who does that? I mean they could have made this simulation a little bit more realistic. His eyes are so black. It’s like a deep dark black hole with no way of getting out. He just stares at me with those chilling eyes. It creeps me out. He doesn’t look at anyone else at that moment.
“Why did you kill them?” I ask.
He doesn’t respond. Silas just stares at me with those deep dark eyes. A few seconds go by.
“Does it matter?” Loreal asks, “I say he’s guilty.”
A chorus of guilty goes down the line. As the Libras judge him Silas doesn’t respond. He just stands there. It’s almost like he expected that. It creeps me out how he does it. It creeps me out being in the same room as him. I know he probably isn’t even a real Scorpio. There aren’t any of those left really. He has to be a Leo. Leo’s are damn good actors. Still. This Silas guy is freaking me out.
Actor or not.
Lloyd closes his folder, “Guilty.”
I’m the last one left. It’s pointless for me to say anything. He’s already guilty. The High Liberty stares at me though.
“Law. What is your judgement?” he urges me.
“Does it matter?” I ask.
“Yes. It must be unanimous or else it’ll be a mistrial. I’d like to know your decision.”
This wasn’t much of a trial. This wasn’t much of anything. I didn’t have anything but a folder with a couple sheets of future. Is this the new way of doing things? Society was now judged by a handful of people in a room who knew nothing about this guy. I had no real information about him. Still when I looked at Silas he had the eyes of a killer. Those eyes were dark and dangerous. I wonder if the real Scorpios were like him. I’d heard Scorpios might have an innocent Pisces like exterior but on the inside they were quite the vindictive sociopaths. I wonder if they all were terrorists like him.
The others stare at me wondering what’s taking me so long to make a decision. I take a deep breath. I have to do it. It’s sad. He’s so young. He’s so handsome. Why would he become a murderer? Why the hell was I hesitating due to some simulation?
I just needed to go with the majority.
I close the folder.
We hang out after the events. None of us are talking about it. We end up going to town square which is the area in the city that a lot of people hang out. There are all these booths with gadgets and things to try out. The Capital city is different from where I was raised. Seeing all these different signs was amazing. I notice a group of Sagittarians. She says all of the Sags are reckless and stupid. Right now a few of them have decided to be daredevils and light fireworks in town square. I laugh at the idea really. A part of me wants to go hang around the Sags or maybe even the Pisces who are all artistic playing music on the bandstands. I don’t do it though. Everyone is separated to their own groups. A part of me wonders if Ryder was here if he’d want to explore the other signs and see what made each of us special. I even start to move away but I’m stopped by Loreal.
“What’s wrong with you?”
I just want to take my mind off of the Silas Simulation. I want to hang out with the other signs. The reckless Sags make me laugh. The Leos are attention whores and I wanted to stare at them. I wanted to get to know what made the Cancers so emotional all the time. I wanted to understand what made the Capricorns so calculating. Instead I’m here with the same friends I’ve had all my fucking life. And honestly…I don’t know if I’m enjoying it.
“Don’t you guys think that was weird?” I ask, “The Silas trial?”
“What’s weird about it?” Loreal asks, “It’s a simulation of this year’s Zodiac killer.”
“It wasn’t much of a trial,” I respond.
“You said he was guilty,” Lourdes responds, “Besides. Look at the guy. He was guilty as hell. They wouldn’t bring in an actor who looked like that for no reason. I hear every year there is a new Zodiac Killer. Those Scorpios don’t let up. They are some sexy killers though. I’ll tell you that much.”
Lourdes starts laughing. The others laugh with her. I don’t. Even if it was a simulation they based this is off of real life.
“I know. It’s just…”
I pause. I just didn’t think it was fair. I didn’t think it was really balanced. We judged a guy’s crimes in a matter of five minutes. It was weird. It wasn’t realistic. Could this really be how trials were done now? Why weren’t we told this until now? The others aren’t thinking about it though. Lourdes and Lizabeth are eating ice cream for god sakes. They don’t seem to be giving a damn about this.
Lloyd puts his hand on my shoulder, “Relax. It was just simulation. The High Liberty was probably just testing us out to make sure we were comfortable making decisions. I’m sure it was all staged like that to save time. The High Liberty is a busy man. A real trial will probably be a lot longer.”
Lloyd always has a way of making me feel better. He gives me a few pats on my back and honestly I feel like he’s probably right. There’s no way that is how a real trial is conducted.
“Enough about the Zodiac Killer,” Lizabeth says, “Let’s talk about what we all REALLY care about. Sex. All I want to know is how good has it been?”
I laugh as my friends start talking. In the corner of my eye I see Ryder has made it to the square. He is standing there with some of his friends. He is in the distance next to a food truck. They are buying hot dogs I think. The Aries guys are all dressed in overalls. A couple of them have dirt on their faces. It’s clear they’ve been working in some filthy places but I have to admit it’s sexy in a way…especially when I see a bunch of them covered in soot shirtless. I never looked at them that way before but after sex with Ryder I have to admit the whole bunch of them were kind of sexy. Ryder is one of the shirtless guys. His muscles are gleaming in the sun in Town square. He uses his shirt to wipe a little ash off his face and then swings it over his shoulder. His chest is so built. That’s the sexiest part of his body. It’s like a big ass wall of muscle.
He looks at me again, but when our eyes meet he turns away to talk to his friends. They are sitting over at a bench watching some Leos performing on the bright green turf.
“The hubby is perfect. He made a bath for me last night,” Lourdes is telling us as we sit on a nearby bench, “He put rose petals in there and played old school music. Then he comes in the bath and…”
She starts rolling her tongue in circles on the ice cream. She does it in a coy way in case anyone is looking. It causes the others to laugh at that moment. As they laugh I just struggle to get comfortable with friends who I’ve always been comfortable with. Lloyd is the only one who sees me fiddling around like that. I’ve felt so far removed from the group after the dinner. It’s clear that they had their reservations about my marriage now.
“Lloyd; I hear you and Apollo have been hitting it off,” Loreal states.
Lloyd hesitates. He looks over at me. I can tell that he is concerned with how I feel. That’s the thing about Lloyd. He is nicer than most Libras. He actually is very considerate.
“I think he still has feelings for Law,” Lloyd states, “It’s still a little weird honestly…but we are trying to work on a solid friendship first. Things are getting…better. You know?”
It is a random thing to say. The girls look around at each other with this awkwardness. It wasn’t hard to tell that Apollo still had feelings for me, but he seemed to be getting along just fine with Lloyd when I wasn’t around. I remember seeing the sweat that day I walked in on them. Had they just been having sex?
“It doesn’t matter,” I respond.
“No. I’m married to Ryder. Apollo will just need to get over me.”
I sound more firm than I want to sound. Truth be told I missed Apollo. The fact that he was with my best friend of all people was really killing me. It was eating me up on the inside. Still. The rules were the rules.
Lloyd thankfully catches onto the tension.
“Well enough about Apollo. He was old news right? How was your night Law?” Lloyd asks, “Did you guys do anything?”
I think about telling them. I think about telling them about the fact that I did drugs for the first time or the fact that we might have had an amazing night but I couldn’t remember any of it. I think about telling them about how we argued this morning. It all sounds a little chaotic though. It all sounds like a mess. It doesn’t sound fair and balanced.
So I just shook my head, “Everything’s good.”
“Good?” Loreal asks.
She’s suspicious. She can’t help but to be a fucking bitch right about now.
“Yeah. Good,” I repeat.
“I don’t want to be the one to break it to you…” Loreal starts.
She always is the one to “break it to me” and always says that she doesn’t want to be the one to do it. Truth be told though I think she wanted to be. I think she really enjoyed it. It doesn’t surprise me Loreal is about to start talking shit but what does surprise me is that my other friends have this weird awkward look on their face. It’s the look people have when they have just been talking about you and an intervention is about to take place.
“What is it?” I ask.
“We’re concerned about you,” Loreal responds.
I give her a look. There has never been a better example of the word Frenemy. Loreal was patronizing me right now. She wrinkles up her forehead and pretends like she is concerned. She’s eating this shit up right now. She loves the fact that I’ve been paired up with an Aries.
I force a smile, “I’m fine.”
“We’ve been talking and as a group we don’t think Ryder is good for you. We can tell you’re trying but it seems like he’s sabotaging your relationship. He seems to have a temper problem. And he seems a little controlling especially when he dragged you out of dinner.”
“He didn’t drag me out of dinner. He asked me to go with him. He’s my husband,” I respond.
Loreal shakes her head, “And we are your friends. He’s a little too aggressive for you Law. I’m just concerned.”
“I’m sure you are,” I say rolling my eyes.
She crosses her arms, “Whatever. I’m trying to help you out. I’m saying what everyone else is thinking. He’s not right for you. No Aries is right for you. The plural of Aries is Arians, which is creepy in itself. Hitler was an Aries. But if you want to be happy with Hitler…do you boo.”
I am annoyed by Loreal right now. I can’t believe she would really go there comparing Ryder to Hitler. The others just stand there with these blank faces on. Even Lloyd is quiet right now. No one is coming to my defense.
“You all agree with her? You all are going to sit there and let her talk about my husband like that?” I ask.
Loreal loves it. They are backing her for the first time in her miserable little existence. I’m sure right now she feels like she has come to the front of the line and is the leader of our group of friends. Maybe she feels like she’s accomplished something. She smiles with this proud sense of satisfaction.
I shake my head, “Me and Ryder will be fine. I’m not leaving him. Thanks for your concern.”
I walk away.
I sit further down next to a few other Libras. Even my friends didn’t support my marriage. The more I thought about it though the more I was figuring that maybe they were right. I was giving everything to this marriage with Ryder and he wasn’t giving anything back. He wasn’t even trying. He was acting like I was forcing him against his will to be in this marriage. Then again. Maybe I was.
I sit on a bench. I’m away from them.
“Is this seat taken?”
I turn to see Apollo. I’m surprised to see him actually. I don’t answer before he sits down. He has on a uniform. It’s a cop uniform. He has a badge on. He looks important. I can tell that he’s settling into his new job well. Apollo had always been someone who I thought would be a good law enforcer. He had a good moral compass.
“Are you on duty?” I ask him.
“Yeah. The High Liberty is about to visit the square any minute. We are beefing up security,” he tells me, “Saw you sitting over here alone. I know that face. You’re acting like a Cancer.”
I laugh, “Is it that bad?”
“Yeah. You’ve been really sad lately,” he explains, “Talk to me about it?”
“I think…I made a mistake.”
I can’t believe I’m about to say this. I can’t believe I’m about to admit to him how I really feel. I swallow hard at first and take a moment. I have to make sure this comes out the right way.
“With not marrying you…” I admit, “Honestly I’m not compatible with my new husband. I saw at that party that things were weird. Lloyd says you still have feelings for me?”
“I know I’m asking so much,” I respond, “I know you’ve been intimate with Lloyd and I shouldn’t care but it bothers me. I know that you and Lloyd are getting to know each other as husbands. Truth is I still have feelings for you. Truth is I still love you and I know it’s all wrong. I know that I should probably stay away from you.”
“I don’t want you to stay away from me,” Apollo responds, “What I want you to do is divorce Ryder…”
“What about Lloyd. I saw you two sweating…”
“What? We were working out. I haven’t touched the dude,” Apollo responds, “All I was waiting for was this…”
“You telling me how you feel,” Apollo returns.
Before I can respond Apollo leans in and kisses me. He kisses me hard. His tongue enters my mouth. He doesn’t care that we are in public. I don’t know what comes over him when he does it. He kisses me so fucking hard at that moment.
“Wow…” a voice says.
I turn at that moment. I see Lloyd. He is looking at me. He just shakes his head. He’s pissed. I knew my friend long enough to know that he was pissed.
“Your husband is right over there. Why don’t you go fucking KISS him instead?” Lloyd asks.
He points over at Ryder. Ryder is still with his friends but his eyes have been on me this whole time. He had to have seen Apollo kiss me on the bench. Ryder gives me a hard look but just walks away with his friends. He doesn’t say a word. I wonder what he’s thinking.
Lloyd on the other hand is very clear. He’s pissed off and there is nothing I can do about it. Still I am willing to try to fix this but before I get the chance I hear someone on the microphone. The cops are gathering and Apollo looks like he is about to say something to me before he is called away.
In a few minutes I see the High Liberty come out.
The High Liberty is standing on stage. He’s surrounded by his personal guard…the Virgos as well as the public Aquarian policemen. They are all over the stage. Everyone starts to gather around the stage to hear what the High Liberty is about to announce.
“Today we had a trial for the Scorpion Silas. He has been found guilty for the crimes of domestic terrorism and treason. Because of this I am going to sentence him to death.”
I’m shocked. It was real?
I turn to Lloyd. He seems just as confused as I am. The fucking trial we had earlier was real! The High Liberty was sentencing Silas to death for what we did earlier. I’m beyond shocked that what we did in that courtroom actually mattered. I am getting nervous. My heart is racing especially when Silas is put on his knees. He’s on the floating stage and everyone is staring at him.
They pull out a gun and point it at his head right in town square!
They were going to kill him because of OUR votes!
This was really happening! It was really happening right now. They were going to kill him.
“Do you have any last words?” the High Liberty asks him.
Silas looks out into the crowd. There is this darkness in his eyes. The Zodiac killer seems to find me in that crowd. He seems to find me standing there alone. He looks past all of these people and his eyes set right on me.
It’s almost like he’s talking to me.
“You’re going to pay for this,” he promises, “You’re going to die…”
Those are his last words before he is shot in the back of his head!