A gamer friend introduced me to Sabaton, a heavy metal band on Youtube, but it was not Sabaton’s music that made my jaw drop. No, it was the combination of music, animation and history in their videos that has me gobsmacked.
In the first video I watched – First Soldier – I learned about a short, farm boy who became one of the most decorated heroes in France. In this video, I learned about a Serbian woman who became the most decorated woman in history.
Watch for yourself and tell me this is not storytelling for a new age?
I’m a little late with this post, but finding ‘favourites’ to post has been a lot harder than expected. Not because I don’t like The Godsend. Far from it. In some ways it’s my favourite part of the story because there’s a lot of action in it, and horrible choices, and gaming. But…that’s actually the problem. Most of my favourite bits are either spoilers for the whole story, or lose their impact without the context of what comes before. And that would be another spoiler.
So apologies, but no action bits. Instead, I’ve chosen a chapter called The New Girl. It’s not as long as it sounds and introduces a new employee to Innerscape. Her name is Marisa Bell, and she’s been recommended by the Chairman of the Board, Andrew Walker. CEO, Peter McAlister isn’t happy about having to find a place for the Chairman’s protégé, but he has to suck it up and make the best of it:
The New Girl
The taxi dropped Marisa Bell off at exactly 3:50 pm the next day, and Peter McAlister watched her every move through closed circuit holo as she swung muscular, silk-clad legs out of the taxi and adjusted her short grey skirt. The skirt was part of a retro power-suit that highlighted curvaceous hips and a narrow waist. Her bust, however, was surprisingly small.
Zooming in on the woman’s face, Peter saw bright red hair, attractive features, and deep green eyes. She was attractive enough but nothing out of the ordinary, certainly not the femme fatale he had been expecting.
If anything, Marisa Bell looked more challenging than seductive, a far cry from Andrew Walker’s normal squeeze. The current Mrs Walker was a pneumatic blond with more ambition than brains, and the previous Mrs Walker had been same, both of them airheads, except when it came to money.
Had Andrew Walker finally changed his taste in women? Or was his story about a ‘friend’ actually true?
Shrugging slightly, Peter turned off the surveillance display and sat back in his deep, comfortable chair. True or not, Marisa Bell was now his problem. But at least she looked smart, which might help with Emily.
As the Nursing Liaison of Patient Care, Emily could not refuse a direct order, but she could make life very unpleasant for Marisa Bell, if she chose to do so.
If that happened, Peter would have to ‘rescue’ the Chairman’s protégée by placing her in another department somewhere, or taking her into his own office, heaven forbid-
The chiming of the comms unit broke into Peter’s thoughts, and he sat up straighter as his secretary, James, announced the arrival of Ms Bell.
“Any word from Emily Watson yet?” Peter asked.
“Not yet, sir,” James said. “Should I offer Ms Bell some refreshment while she waits?”
“Yes, good idea. Oh, and let me know as soon as Emily gets here.”
Rising from his chair, Peter walked to the huge plastiglas window that took up one entire wall of his office and stared out at the gardens. The rain had stopped, but the unseasonal weather continued. He hated waiting, for anything.
* * *
Emily had always meant to be a little late, just to keep Peter McAlister off balance, but just before she was due to leave, a genuine emergency had cropped up, making her well and truly late. And now she was busting to go to the bathroom.
Well, they’ll just have to wait a bit longer, she thought as she came out of the elevator and headed straight for the Ladies room.
Beautifully appointed, with flattering lighting and not a single full length mirror in sight, the executive bathroom was usually a treat Emily liked to savour slowly. Today, however, she was in a hurry and barely noticed that one of the stalls was already occupied.
When she came out a short time later, a woman in a well-cut grey suit with rich red hair done up in a chignon, was washing her hands at one of the white marble sinks.
Innerscape did not get too many casual visitors. Could this be her?
Acting on impulse, Emily smiled at the woman in the mirror as she washed her own hands.
“I always love using this bathroom,” she confided. “Makes me feel important.”
“Oh, but nurses are important!” the woman said with a quick smile of her own. “My mother was a nurse, and the stories she told us about doctors! Make your hair stand on end.”
“Are you a nurse, too?” Emily asked.
“Me? No, I was never smart enough. I just do filing and that sort of thing, although I’ve been told I’m a good listener. Sometimes patients need a friendly ear, you know?”
“Very true,” Emily said. “As nurses we try to provide emotional support as well as medical support, but the medical has to come first.”
“Oh, I’m sorry!” the woman said, her expression horrified. “I didn’t mean to imply that nurses didn’t listen. I just meant-”
“No, it’s fine. I’d be lying if I said we can be all things to all people. So what are you doing here today? Do you have a relative coming to Innerscape?”
“Oh, no. I…I’m here for a job interview.”
“A job interview? Oh, how silly of me!” Emily said. “You must be Marisa Bell!”
“I…yes?” the other woman replied, her expression uncertain.
“Not to worry,” Emily said. “You’ll be working in my department, so Peter McAlister asked me to sit in on the interview.”
“I hope I didn’t offend you-”
“Far from it. I like honesty. I think we’ll get along just fine.”
“Thank you, that means a lot to me.”
“Well, we’d better go, or Peter will fire us both!”
* * *
“So what do you think?” Peter McAlister asked after Marisa Bell had gone.
“She’s nothing like I thought she’d be,” Emily answered slowly.
You can say that again, Peter thought. He was still having trouble reconciling the competent woman he had seen getting out of the taxi with the sweet creature who had just left his office.
“But she does seem…very nice,” he said, wondering if Emily had picked up anything odd.
“Yes, she does,” Emily said with a frown. “I just hope she isn’t too kind hearted. Sometimes Patient Care can be rough.”
“She’s probably stronger than she looks,” Peter said carefully.
At one level he was glad Emily had taken to Marisa Bell, but on another he could not shake the feeling there was more to Marisa Bell than met the eye.
“I hope so,” Emily said as she rose to leave, “because I think she’ll actually make a great addition to our staff.”
“Well, that’s good news,” Peter said. “Keep me posted.”
“Of course,” Emily said with a laugh. “But I don’t think there’ll be much to report.”
I hope not, Peter thought as Emily bustled out. I really hope not because I’ve got enough on my plate already.
I hope you enjoyed meeting Marisa Bell. Apart from Miira herself, Marisa is my favourite female character. She’s ‘bad and mean’, to quote from the Louis the Fly commercial, and yet she’s not all bad. She likes cats, and dreams of owning her dream home one day. And she’s broken.
As a student of human nature, I’ve always been fascinated by why people turn out the way they do, what makes them tick. In my not so humble opinion, we are all the result of nurture on nature. In other words, our experiences act on our innate traits to mould us into the adults we eventually become. Nowhere is this process more stark than in the people [or characters] we call villains.
To an outsider looking in, all villains may appear the same. They do bad/cruel/vicious things so they are bad, cruel, and vicious. But very few people see themselves as evil. In fact, to quote Rebecca Solnit ‘We are all the heroes of our own stories…’ And that includes ‘villains’. They do not see themselves as bad. And unless they are born psychopaths who really don’t care, they find reasons to excuse their bad behaviour, or diminish its ‘badness’.
So, is Marisa Bell truly bad? Mwhahahaha! You’ll have to read the book to find out. 🙂
If you only have time for a few snippets, this warmed my heart:
‘I left that day with a full heart thanks to all the “thank yous” and “I love yous” from the residents. We were invited into many homes, and even offered tea and coffee. I went into a few rooms with elderly, frail people and young children (this was optional and only if we felt safe). We felt like guests. ‘
Near the end the nurse writes:
‘I have so many wonderful memories of the past few days, all positive. I’d like the broader community to understand that sometimes media portrayals of what goes on are not necessarily true.’
For a very long time now, I’ve noticed that 9 out of 10 news stories are about people who are not infected by the virus ‘doing it tough’. I don’t deny that a lot of people are doing it tough; a massive drop in weekly income will do that to you. But where are the stories about our local heroes? The doctors and nurses and paramedics and yes, police officers who are risking their own lives to keep everyone safe?
And how about the heroes who keep our cities alive? The jobs they do are poorly paid but vital. Can you imagine what would happen if our rubbish were not collected? Or if the power went off and there was no one there to turn it back on again? Or how about food? It doesn’t just appear magically in supermarkets.
We owe every one of these heroes a huge vote of thanks, yet the media ignores them.
And last but not least there are those who have been infected. Why aren’t we hearing their stories? I’ve heard one story about a 23 year old man with Type I diabetes. He came down with Covid-19 and survived, but it wasn’t fun, not be a long, long stretch of the imagination.
If governments want us to co-operate then we need to be told the full story, the good, the sad, and the scary, not just the stories that confirm that life is not ‘fun’ at the moment. If we are to have any kind of life during this pandemic, we all need to rediscover what it means to be socially responsible. We all have to become heroes.
The actions of the Formula 1 teams stand in stark contrast to the self-centred morons who :
packed pubs and clubs in the UK before Boris shut them down,
flocked to the beaches in Florida
flocked to Bondi beach in Sydney despite the new law restricting public gatherings to 500.
I’m sure there are heaps more examples worldwide, and it’s time we called them out for what they are – potential killers. They are not heroes, and history will not remember them kindly.
But this post is about individuals and companies who really are heroes in the fight to save lives. If you know of one of these heroes in your part of the world, please post it under the tag of #VirusBusterHeroes. Then we can all use the tag to spread a little good cheer over Twitter and other social media channels.
And remember, heroes can be quiet people, selflessly performing a small act of kindness to help someone else. For me, that quiet person is Amie, the girl who works in Leo’s bakery in Warrandyte. When Amie realised why I was wearing a mask, she offered to deliver fresh bread to my door. And she did.
Amie is my local #VirusBusterHero. Thank you, Amie.