I put on my night robes and left my new apartment. I was not
able to sleep; this revelation I just discovered was too big to sleep on. I
needed someone to talk to, someone I could share this with who might shed some
light on this mystery. It was three o’ clock in the morning; no one was walking
the halls of the apartment, not a sound to be heard besides occasional creeks
from the building and the moans of whales. I tried to piece this all together.
How was Elizabeth involved in all this? Why was I in a floating city? Who was
that man walking towards her? None of it made any sense; I was not able to make
any sort of link, it troubled me. I was stressed, anxious, apprehensive and
worst of all curious, for the first time since I had these dreams, I was trying
to uncover its mysteries. This was a recipe for disaster; I would become
another Sylvia Plath and be sent to a mental asylum if I followed this path.
But I could no longer ignore it, these spells and visions I was having were
following me everywhere and were getting worse, doing nothing was not working.
I reached my destination and knocked on the door. No one answered, so I knocked
again, and again, until the door slammed open and out came a grouchy William.
“John? What in bloody hell are you doing here? Do you know what time it is?” said Will who was rightfully irritated.
“I’m sorry this couldn’t wait,” I said, walking into his home, not asking whether I could come in or not “I didn’t know who else to talk to.”
“You have ten minutes,” William said insistently “Ten minutes, then you leave me in peace.”
“Okay, Ever since I came here I’ve been having these dreams.” I said trying hard to make sense out of all this. “At first I thought it was nothing but I soon noticed they were all . . . connected. All my dreams end with this phrase ‘Bottle in the Winery’. Do you have any idea what that might mean?”
“Not a clue,” he said irritated, “listen if you’re having trouble sleeping I can recommend a psychologist to you, just let me know.”
“No it means something!” I said insistently “I just had another one of those dreams today, only the man saying that phrase told me this time I had the ‘Bottle in the Winery’ and as it so happens I wake up with a bottle of plasmid in my hand while I was sleeping. That can’t be a coincidence.”
“That is an interesting case, though what is this all leading up too?” Will said, not showing a sign of interest, though it did not bother me.
“I don’t know, I’ve been trying to tie all the dots, but they don’t add up, any of them.” I said a bit troubled
“Hmmmm, this is all very fascinating, but your ten minutes is up and I need sleep” Will said opening the door for me, it has not even been five minutes. “Cheers then.”
“Wait please,” I said “There is just one more thing I need to ask you, and then I’ll be on my way.”
“Oh jeez,” Will said a bit frustrated, “Get on with it then.”
“You work in the plasmid business so I reckon you know this. If the plasmid is the bottle, then what’s the winery?”
I did not get a response; I looked at Will and realized his facial expression changed from that of frustration to fear. He was hiding something, I knew it, no matter how good of a friend he was, I always remembered that he was a businessman; they always hold secrets to protect their self-interests. I decided to speak and said, “Well?”
“Careful Buchanan, that is a road you do not want to cross,” he said worryingly
“I need to, for my own sanity, I’ll be on my way” I said, getting up from my chair and walking towards the exit. Obviously I would not get anything out of him, so why bother trying? Suddenly Will closed the door. I was shocked by this, what did I say that drew him to this?
“John, I am begging you as a friend not to pursue this, nothing good will come out of it.” He said insistently
“Pursue what?” I said a bit irritated “All I mentioned was a goddamn winery and your acting like the world is about to explode, if you have something to say spit it out or let me go.”
“No! Buchanan you don’t understand the lengths we had to go through to undo the mess that Fontaine started; the riots, the uproar of the people, it took months to close those wounds he enveloped. If you do this, Ryan will enter another stage of paranoia and you’ll make my family go through another period of fear. I can’t let that happen, not again.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I said irritated that he tried to keep me here “Either elaborate or get out of my way.”
“Please sit down,” he said pointing towards his chair; I was hesitant at first but listened and sat down. If he tried to stall me I would walk out of here in a seconds notice. “I told you that Ryan faced political scrutiny and near turmoil after Fontaine’s death. People were furious and scared by Ryan’s decision to apprehendFontaine and many began to protest against him, asking the rest of the populace to kick Ryan out of his position and calling him ‘The Virtue less Dictator’. Ryan developed paranoia from this and began to exert his rule on the city; he used his security forces to disband protests, arrest those trying to rekindle Fontaine’s smuggling ring and sending them down to Fontaine’s Department Store, which now functions as a prison located at the lowest depths of the ocean. It was truly a horrifying time, Ryan meant well, but all of us feared that his actions would tear the city apart, for the protests only grew more ferocious with each act of force he committed. Weeks later a miracle arose from the ashes, we found the labs Fontaine used to conduct his experiments. Once we showed this to the public, the protests stopped and the people rekindled their trust in him, calling him a hero for putting him down. His popularity grew to tremendous heights and from then on the city has prospered. Looking into this will just open old wounds and Ryan might go back to that state of paranoia, you will bring us back to an age where civil war nearly began.”
“But what am I looking into?” I said confused annoyed “How does the . . . winery have anything to do with this?”
“I . . . I can’t tell you,” he said sadly “As much as I want to help, But I have family, and I could lose everything if I tell you this, please try to understand what I am saying.”
“I’m sorry, but I have to do this, I need answers to my questions or I will turn mad. I know these are not figments of my imagination, what I am seeing and hearing in those dreams are as real and as genuine as this city . . . Elizabeth proved that. You don’t have to tell me anything, just take care of your family, I’ll find another way.”
“You don’t understa-“
“No Will, I do, I really do” I said trying to relieve him of his worries. “Trust me; nothing will happen to your family, I promise you, no matter what happens.”
“Fine . . . fine,” he said in defeat, opening the door for me, I was about to exit until he grabbed my shoulder, “Look if you do find what you’re looking for, tread lightly, you might not like what you see.”
“Okay, thanks for the warning,” I said, though it did not weaken my resolve
I looked at Will and saw nothing but concern in his face; it drew sympathy out of me and made me feel sorry about my decision, I really did not know what would happen if I chose to follow this path. “Will, you’ve been a true pal, ever since I got here you’ve treated me like a brother and I’m grateful for that, I’m sorry about tonight, I’m sorry that I’m making you so damn concerned about everything. In the future I hope we can put thisbehind us and have another one of your steak dinners, because I care about our friendship more than anything else over here.”
Will smiled at me and then said “Of course we can, the feeling is mutual. But I’m serious, be careful, there can be major repercussions to what you’re doing.”
“I will, take care.” I said, Will shut the door and I was back in the desolate hallway. Strange but I felt like that would be the last time I would see him. Not because I did not want to visit, but simply because of all these arising circumstances, I felt that if I went along this trail, nothing would ever be the same. But I had to, otherwise I will live in question for the rest of my life, and that simply was not an option for me. But what will those answers bring? Could these answers prompt civil war? No it was impossible, I had been here for months and all I had seen was prosperity and joy amongst the masses. The odds of their being civil war here was as likely as a nuclear war erupting in the surface, it simply is not going to happen.
My head was clogged with thoughts of the past; I could see the long pathway leading to Fleet Hall, hear the crowded bathysphere station filled with endless families, and smell sumptuous steak being cooked by Will’s wife. Oh Will, I wish things could have been different. I wish I was able to converse with you about politics and philosophy rather than finding answers to surreal dreams, I wish I could see visit your family on a weekly basis and share dinner with all of you rather than live a life of solitude and anxiety. There was so much I longed to do with my life here, so how did it come down to this?
I had to think of next steps, who else could I see that might have some answers? There was the man in Neptune’s Bounty, but that was my last resort, I elicited far too much fear from my last experience to want to go back. I would have to set up an appointment with Andrew Ryan if I wanted to talk to him, and that might take weeks. I doubt Sander has any clue as to what’s going on. Damn it I wish I expanded my social circle, now I’m stuck with questions with no one to answer them. I soon passed my apartment and headed to the elevator, staying in there would just make me even more paranoid than I already am. I went to the elevator and clicked the down button. I did not know where I was going, or where this trail would lead me, but I knew for a fact that nothing was in Olympus Heights so I went on. The elevator door opened, I was about to step in until I suddenly bumped into someone trying to come out.
“Pardon me,” I said, taking a look at this stranger, but to my surprise, it was not a stranger, in fact it was one of the two people I had been trying to avoid as of late, Elizabeth. She gave me a look of warning and dread, exited the elevator and headed into the empty hallway. I wanted to step inside the elevator and let her pass by, I was not allured by her anymore, but I was curious, she was one of the few people who knew about these spells I was having, and to walk by her would be a fool’s choice.
“Elizabeth!” I yelled to her, she ignored me and continued walking; I was not going to accept this and decided to pace towards her direction. I kept calling out her name yet she continued to ignore the calls. Strange, this was oddly reminiscent to the dream I had earlier, the more paces I strode, the farther she seemed. Elizabeth made a sharp left turn into another hallway; I decided to increase my pace and jogged towards that direction. When I reached where she turned, I felt a hand grab my shirt and was aggressively pulled to a wall. I was about to retaliate until I felt a sharp object touching my neck. Elizabeth was holding me and had a knife pointed directly at my neck. She was much weaker than me, I could easily break out of this hold, but she would instantly cut my throatso I did not take the chance.
“Why are you following me?” she said demanding an answer. “I told you didn’t I? Stay clear from me.”
“Agh, I figured out what the ‘Bottle in the Winery’ is,” I said talking to her while at the same time trying to avoid that blade. “I was hoping maybe you can help me out with some questions, if you don’t mind.”
She gave me a look of annoyance and let me go. There was absolutely no way this was the same girl I saw in the dream. How can one go from innocent school girl to a violent individual who carries a knife for wandering strangers? Humans are such distorted and aloof creatures. Never before have I had a life and death experience like this, maybe Will was right, if this was what I had to deal with from now on for uncovering the mystery then it was not worth it.
“I told you already my business is not with you, you’re better off asking someone like Ryan about your thoughts, I’m sure he’s got much to say on the topic.” Elizabeth said
“Seems like you already have insight on that too. Just help me out and I promise you’ll never see my face again.” I said.
She gave off a sigh and then said “So be it.”
She started walking to where she was originally going and I followed. We went through the empty hall and did not exchange a single word. Only this time it was because I did not want to, you ask her one thing and she will give an answer that will break the hearts of men; in a wicked way. She soon stopped, took out a lock pick, and opened up one of the rooms effortlessly.
“Where did you learn that?” I asked a bit stunned
“Childhood hobbies I suppose,” she said.
She entered the room and I followed. She turned on the lights and I entered a room of which the likes I have not ever seen before. There was no bed, no tables; rather there was amovie projector and loads of footage on the floor. There were endless ripped pages from different news articles hanging on the wall, red arrows were drawn and they all led to a single picture of an old man. He had a pronounced white beard and looked like he was in his mid-50s. He had this sort of tallness and grandness that you do not usually see at that age.
“Who’s this?” I asked
“An old friend I haven’t seen for a long time,” she said “I’m here to pay him a visit.”
“That’s a lot of trouble you went through for an old friend. Why did you use a lock pick to open your own room?” I said looking at the endless articles. Elizabeth did not respond, she was looking for something in the pile of movie reels on the floor. She grabbed one of the reels, stood up and faced me.
“What is it exactly that you’re looking for?” she said
“I already told you, insight to these dreams I’ve been having, what do they mean?”
“That’s not specific enough, Mr. Buchanan, let’s avoid the fundamentals and move to the key point. What is it that you’re looking for?”
“The bottle is the plasmid, so what is the winery?” I asked
Elizabeth did not answer back; she walked to the movie projector and loaded the film. She then looked at me and said, “You’re not going to like what you see, are you sure you want to do this?”
“Yes,” I said anxiously
She turned the projector on and a white screen appeared, then a video began to play, it showed an empty room, in the middle of it was a medical table of sorts. On it was a small girl, who was unconscious. Everything was so motionless and silent in that room, all I could hear was the girl in the video breathing. I then heard a door open off screen and in came two doctors of sort. One was a white female with curly brown hair and the other an Asian man with large circular glasses. The man looked at the camera and began to speak.
Clinical Trial Lot 5 Dr. Suchong/Client Fontaine Futuristics, subject ready for implantation of filthy slug. Little girl well sedated, only viable host for procedure. Once complete, symbiosis between two subjects begin. ADAM yield increase 30 fold once finished. Fontaine very pleased with results. Ms. Tenenbaum, proceed with surgery.
He went away from the camera and went up to the table. Both doctors put on their surgical masks and took out their instruments. The female took out a small knife and removed the young girl’s shirt. She then placed the knife at the center of the girl’s stomach and to my horror started to cut it open.I looked at Elizabeth in disbelief and noticed she herself was looking away. My attention went back to the screen; the doctor finished her atrocious act. The male doctor then used another instrument to open the wound. The door opened again and came out a man that was holding a water tank and inside it was one of the vilest creatures I have ever seen in this earth. It was a small grotesque creature that carried a glowing white liquid on its back, this must have been the slugs that Ryan was talking about, the ones that produce ADAM and in turn plasmids.
Now we implant slug into little girl’s lower stomach.
The newest doctor put down the tank and took a grabber. He used it to take the slug out of the water tank. The slug, like the girl seemed unconscious, for it was not struggling in any way. He held the slug right on top of the girl. Suchong opened the wound further, and then came the unspeakable. They slowly put the slug into the girl’s stomach, a large grotesque slug into an innocent girl’s stomach. It was unbearable to watch, I could feel my insides twisting at the sight of this. What human being can do this to a child? The film then stopped and there was nothing but white light. Elizabeth turned off the projector and lit a cigarette.
“What the hell was that?” I said dazed and panicked. “You tell me what the hell did I just see?”
“The product of men with dreams of grandeur.” Elizabeth said “The type that lacks the capital of men such as Ryan and Sander but seek to acquire it by any means.”
“Who did this?” I said.
“Does it matter? What’s done is done and cannot be undone. You should acquaint yourself with that phrase, it might prove helpful.”
“No more games!” I said forcefully “Be straight with me and give me what I want to know!”
“These little girls are the winery.” She said blowing a puff of smoke and facing the large window wall of the apartment. “’ADAM Factories’ some call them. The slugs didn’t produce enough of it to meet the demands of the consumers and Fontaine was losing money. A geneticist under his employment, Brigid Tenenbaum figured out a new method to produce thirty times the ADAM a slug can produce, a symbiotic relationship between host and slug. The only viable host for these procedures was children, little girls who have not gone through an ounce of life, and now function as slaves to the so called free market.”
“So these were the experiments that Fontaine conducted. But Ryan put a stop to them, how are there still so many plasmids on sale?”
“You really think Ryan is going to bury a gold mine? He maybe a man with vision but at the core he’s just another businessman, the type that sacrifices moral principles for feelings of majesty.”
“No, that’s not true, you don’t know Ryan,” I said apprehensive of her response. “I met him; he’s a man of the people, a hero to the city. He made this place to escape the clutches of the surface; he wouldn’t do something like this.”
At this point she began to laugh again; it was a low laugh that filled me with dread. What did I say that was so amusing? Do I have it all wrong?
“See, its men like you that make the world such a vile place. The answer is right in front of you yet you refuse to look, you just blindly follow those who you presume to be divine. It’s like watching someone that claims to love God and the church, yet never read the Bible.”
“You think I played a part in this?” I said in disbelief.
“Of course; you played a part in this, Sander played a part, Firth played a part, everyone in this appalling city played their part. You all just turn your head the other way and play the innocent bystander. So content with your lifestyles, none of you would dare try anything that might alter it.”
“No, no , no!” I said enraged “I’ve been here for months and I have seen nothing but . . . happiness amongst the populace, there is no sign of discontent from anyone other than you, just you. Why is that? Are you one of the parasites Ryan keeps talking about? Do you want to bring the whole system down?”
“Do you hear yourself?” she said giving out another laugh “You see thisplace like it’s been touched by God himself. All I see is another group of fanatics with a different set of books.”
I was silent and stunned. If this was true, the world I knew, a world of endless opportunity and surreal lavish environments, had turned into one bursting with schemes, lies and atrocious acts against humanity. My hero Andrew Ryan, a man of justice and grand visions for humanity, had turned into a hoodlum, one that exploits little children to increase his level of income. The world as I knew was collapsing and I grew furious by this, because Elizabeth was right, by turning away from the truth I played a role in this atrocity. I wanted to make Ryan pay, first he grafted humans into mechanical beasts and then he implanted slugs into little girl’s stomach, girls who cannot make their own decisions.
“How . . . how do you know all of this?” I said confused on how she attained what seemed to be highly classified material
“My sources are my own Mr. Buchanan; I suggest you follow yours rather than simply running from them.”
“What other sources?” I said more flabbergast than I had ever been “What are you not telling me?”
“You’ve been running for months, running from the one thing that might shed light on your misfortunes. You’re still running from it, only this time in circles around it.”
It then hit me; I knew exactly what she was talking about, how could I be so blind? But it filled my heart with dread; it was the last place on Earth I wanted to visit. The man, the girl, the dream and the phrase; she wanted me to see the man, the man in Neptune’s Bounty. It was the birthplace of my paranoia, the beginning of when I could no longer separate what was real from what was in my mind.
“You want me to visit the man, but why? You’ve already answered all my questions; I don’t see a reason to go back.” I said insistently
“You’re time with me has expired, don’t come back here.” She said standing up and showing me the way to the door. I was confused by the suddenness of that. But I suppose the answers to my questions have been . . . answered, therefore I can leave. The question is what do I do now? I was filled with loathing and hatred towards this place now. What they did to that little girl was unforgivable.But what could I do? Protesting against them would do nothing, in fact, I might get the black bag, if Ryan does such a thing. I can save up money to get a personal bathysphere and use that, to escape, but the only have an hour worth of air supply, and that was nowhere near sufficient enough. The only reasonable thing to do was to move on with my life. I was about to leave until I felt Elizabeth grab my shoulder, I looked behind me startled by this action. She then said “Right now I look at you and see an imposter, a coward who after everything I’ve shown and said, is still running, this version of you, this façade . . . he’s hopeless, a true resident of Rapture. Please do me a favor and go to Neptune’s; the man will reveal another version of you, one that will set things right here. When you do this, come find me, I’ll be in Fontaine’s Department Store in the foreseeable future and will undergo similar tasks. Maybe . . . together . . . we’ll be able to dent the system, once and for all.”
“Who are you?”
“Do this and I might tell you.” She said in a sympathetic tone. She then did the one thing I never expected, she smiled. It was similar to the one I saw in the beach. It was the first time I saw her smile here, the dark eyes I knew all too well started to glow with light, it was heartwarming. This was the first time I saw something different in her; whatever I saw in that dream, there still is a part of her that remains . . . a girl. Sander was wrong about her, whatever occurred in her past has not defined her. “You might not find me to be as bad as you think.”
She shut the door and I was once again in the hallway alone, stunned, dumbfounded, speechless. Revelation after revelation entered my mind and had become a part of my existence. No more running, I must confront my fears and take hold of them, I do not claim to understand what Elizabeth meant when she said this version of me was a façade, but I knew the life I was living, the apartments, the booze, the pleasantries, those were all part of the I that I was living. I was the artificial bystander that stood by while so many suffered while I profited, I profited off the blood of children. Children who will never experience things like childhood, love, marriage, family. Innocence is something no longer relished by society, we would throw it away in a heartbeat in the name of science and industry. I will go to Neptune’s, find the man, then find Elizabeth, and attempt to break the cycle of violence and exploitation. I went to my apartment, entered my bedroom and stared heavily at the bottle containing the plasmid; ‘The Bottle in the Winery’. How much I desired to take that bottle and slam it into a wall, to continue stepping on the shattered glass until there was nothing left. But I could not, for this was my admission ticket to see the man in Neptune’s. I picked it up and put it in the duffle bag I was given by the banker to carry my money. Even that I wanted to burn, all these were the product of vicious men, men I once had the utmost respect for. But it might prove useful in the coming days, so I filled the duffle bag with that as well. I opened the exit door of my apartment and was about to walk out without looking back, but I could not help myself. I turned around and glanced at my home; the spectacular view, the ornamented living room, the door to my bedroom and my bathroom. How can such a place of beauty be created by such men? How can anyone of that nature recognize this sort of splendor? I walked back into the room, slowly heading towards the clear wall that showed off the city. My nose was a few inches off the wall, my eyes were not directed towards the city, but rather they were pondering the endless ocean. I could almost see ripples of water flowing south of the city, the infinite bluethat covered the Earth. I wish I could just stare at the endless ocean for an eternity, I wish that in the end, everything was to be shaped they I wanted it to be. But that was not possible, I’m only human. I had to press on, let go of that I held dear. I was about to leave and begin my expedition, until something miraculous happened. A school of fish no more than a few inches from my clear wallcame into sight. They began to dance outside my window; all of them were in perfect unison, creating a whirlpool of movement. I stood there astonished at what I was looking at, fish after fish moving to form a perfect shape, through an almost effortless movement. I began to shed tears, it was all too overwhelming, I did not want to let it go, I just wanted to stay in my room, and never be bothered again. I did not want to be disturbed with issues of morality and justice, I just wanted a life where I could be happy, is that so much to ask for? A life that is morally found and fair? The school of fish began to disband; I put my hand on the wall hoping, praying that they would not go, that they would stay by my side and make me feel whole. But they just faded away into the ocean; soon there was nothing, nothing but me and the limitless sea. I began to fall into despair and began to cry like I never did in the past. I fell into the corner of the room and hugged myself. I could barely breathe and was gasping for air, my eyes flooded with tears. I was still a child, I just wanted to cling on to what I knew, I did not want to give it up. This lasted for five minutes, until another miracle ensued, I looked to my glass wall and saw a single fish circling the wall. I looked at it in awe and splendor and sheer happiness. I put my hand out and the fish stopped directly in front of my hand. It just stood there, gazing at my hand, showing curiosity, and then it went away. I stopped the excessive sobbing, picked myself up, and was leaving the apartment, never to come back, I had to let go. I opened the door, stopped one more time to take a final glance, and then I left, shutting the door and walked away.