"Comradette," said Sally, and then stopped. "Sister Comrade," she tried, but Hilary shook her head at that and bit her lower lip until it turned white. "Comradistina," was her third attempt, but they both winced at that.
"I think Comrade is gender-neutral, actually," said Hilary, but Sally flushed at that, and so she back-pedalled a little. "But a feminised version would be preferable. Maybe... maybe... Comrette?"
Sally thought about it, her eyes rolling up into her head as she did so. Hilary swallowed and tried to pretend that it didn't scare her when Sally did that. Finally her eyes rolled back down again, and she focused on Hilary.
"Comrette," she said, "I had completed the Nowomenklatura, as you requested."
"The Nowomenklatura. The list of names."
"Ah! Right. Which list?"
Hilary stared at Sally and Sally stared at Hilary, until finally Hilary half-smiled and realised what the problem was.
"Ah right, there are two lists of names. I asked you to compose one and Ermintheldra to compose the other. You're doing... the list of people to be dissolved by the state when the revolution has happened?"
"No," said Sally. "I didn't know that was available. Why did Ermintheldra get it?"
"I don't know," said Hilary. "It was just the order the lists came out in I suppose."
"You suppose? You know that woman doesn't like me! I'm going to be on that list!"
"Oh no," said Hilary. "I've already told her twice, no-one from the Party is allowed to be on that list."
"Told her twice?" Sally's voice was hollow and resonant.
"Well yes... oh, I see what you mean. Look, it wasn't you she kept putting on the list."
"Who was it then?"
"Oh... er..." Sally glared at her until Hilary began to feel really uncomfortable. "Oh ok, it was Suki."
"Suki's my girlfriend! Of seven years!" Sally actually looked ready to cry, which made Hilary feel even more uncomfortable.
"It's not that," she said, awkwardly. "It's got nothing to do with you. It's just... just that Ermintheldra thinks that Suki's a bit... butch, you know? She thinks she might sympathise with men when the revolution happens. She's just trying to keep us all safe, you know?"
"No I don't know! Of course she's butch, she works in a Steelworks! They're all butch in there, even the kids they illegally employ and the donkeys! There are little old women in there that are more butch than Ermintheldra and have used less lipstick in their entire lives!" Sally was shouting now, and little white flecks of spittle spotted her lips. Hilary tried not to let it distract her; Sally angry was always a little bit erotic.
"I know that Ermintheldra's a little... delicate," said Hilary, but Sally wasn't going to let her finish.
"She's a pussy, and a whipped one at that! She should be taken out with the men and shot as well for cheapening the cause of the revolution!"
Hilary was silent for several seconds, reflecting that that was exactly the argument that Ermintheldra had put forward for putting Suki on the list in the first place.
"Suki's off the list," she said finally, noting to herself that she'd have to check and make sure that was true. "How has your list come along?"
"The Nowomenklatura?" said Sally, not really calming down much. "Yes, it's done. It's here."
"And which list is this?" asked Hilary, wishing that she'd written down who'd had which list to write. One of them had her shopping list and she was starting to run out of things and really needed it.
"The list of names. Those who are entitled," said Sally.
"Entitled to what?"
"Just... entitled," said Sally. "I didn't think we should worry too much about what we're entitled too until we know what's up for grabs."
"That's not exactly a Marxist philoso–"
"Nor is putting my girlfriend of seven years of the list of undesirables."
Hilary froze for a moment, and then nodded, conceding that she'd lost this point for the moment.
"You're on here as Party Chief," she said, noting a name. "And I'm... what is this?"
"Stalinissima," said Sally. "Woman of most steel, steeliest woman, or woman made mostly of steel."
"The first two are for your first newspaper interviews, until we've settled on the kind of autocrat you want to be," said Sally. "The third is for when you die and we replace you with a robot."
"And why is Ermintheldra not on the list?"
"She's not entitled," said Sally. "I ran out of jobs before I got to her."
"And you got as far as 'Janitor for cleaning the party tables after elevenses,'" said Hilary, trying not to sound reproving. "So you clearly tried. However, she did write the other list, so perhaps we could put her down as Literati, or somesuch?"
"Somesuch," said Sally taking the list back and annotating it. "There you go."
Hilary looked it over. Ermintheldra was now listed as "Litter Box Eater (pp Hilary)."
"Right," she said weakly. "That's great then. How's the revolution coming?"
"Dunno," said Sally. "I gave Juliet Anthrax a couple of weeks ago and haven't seen her since."
"Gave her Anthrax? Surely you mean 'gave her the vial of Anthrax'?"
The two women stared at each other in mutual disbelief and belated comprehension.