“Hey! If it isn’t Mr. Buchanan himself, the musical prodigy
of Rapture,” said a man walking towards me to shake my hand, in which I did the
liberty of doing. This was the fifth man who came to applaud me for Buchanan’s
fame. It has been two months since his last performance and he is still getting
praise from the public, Sander was right when he said ‘this will be the show
people will talk about for ages to come.’ One thing John Buchanan and I had in common
was our spite towards these fans. Patrons of the arts many call them; I just see
them as nuisances who envy me. Only as Will Sullivan, my spite and hatred
towards them had grown to astronomical heights. I did not even consider the
possibility that the residents had a clue as to what Andrew Ryan was doing. But
Elizabeth words stayed in my head.
Those contempt with their lives tend to look the other way when the unspeakable happens, as long as it doesn’t affect them.
In the end no one here was innocent besides the many children that occupied Rapture. I walked in the crowded lobby of Olympus Heights and saw children everywhere running about and playing different games. Everyone here was looking at them with feelings of glee and joy; they pride themselves on having such free spirits roaming the city. I looked at them and all I could see were the green glowing eyes and the purple veins streaking from their face. I saw the impending future of children who have yet to experience an ounce of life. I thought more and more of Elizabeth’s words.
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.
Looking at these children and remembering those words made me feel like I had a greater responsibility to the little ones that inhabited this city. If I left here with my daughter but ignored the pleas of others, then what type of monster would I be? How would I be different from the bastards that walk amongst me? I will find my daughter, but maybe that can go hand in hand with helping Elizabeth. She is supposed to be going to the Department Store in the near future. That is where I will be as well. I briefly recalled the warning Turner gave me, yet could not remember a single thing he said. Biblical metaphors always threw me off. All I remembered was that the devil lurked the halls of Fontaine’s Department Store. Whoever that was I would be ready for him, nothing was getting in the way of me finding my daughter.
“John Buchanan you young chap, how’s the rascal treating you?” said an older British man that popped out of nowhere.
“Um . . . good thanks.” I said “Listen I need to head out so if you don’t mind-“
“Oh of course, his majesty is waiting for you, I understand . . . cheers then.” He said, and then walked away. Strange people lived in the city; some would corner you and entrap you with words so they could fill their ego, others are just clueless bystanders who follow the crowd. He was part of the latter.
I walked to the checking counter and asked for the manager, Barbara Morgan, it was time to return to her what was never really mine. I was called into her office and so I entered. Inside was a gleeful woman in a gloomy dimly lit room.
“What can I do for you today Mr. Buchanan, I trust your new home is more than satisfactory.” Barbara said
“Yeah about that, I need to return the apartment,” I said a bit nervously, not knowing whether or not there were repercussions in leaving the elitist class. “I need to return it right now.”
“Mr. Buchanan, if there is something you find displeasing about the accommodations I provided, I would have you tell me at once.” She demanded
“No, no it’s not that at all . . . I just have a few financial issues I got to deal with, and right now I can’t afford an apartment.” I said hoping that was an adequate enough answer.
“Very well then, I will have you reimbursed immediately, if you would just wait here.” She said standing up and preparing to leave her office.
“Thanks,” I said, she walked out and left me alone in her office. It contained many pieces of abstract artwork, though not the type a parent would show to his or her child. They were dark and portrayed the vileness of this world. There was one behind her desk, a painting of a distorted man covered in black paint. He was scraping his face with his hands; his shrouded body was melting into liquid. There was something in that painting that was clear as day, the figures eyes. The eyes of a slave, forever imprisoned by his own grief. It was glaring at me with utmost hatred. I looked away, all I thought of it was that it was a terrible impersonation of The Mona Lisa. But out of temptation, I looked at the hideous thing on the canvas, that glaring conniving demon that was piercing through my soul. It was still looking at me, with more hatred in its eye than the last time I beheld it. His melting skin began to move to the floor, his hands came off his face; the distorted blackness gradually left the figure. What was melting off him was not his skin but his façade; a man began to emerge out of it.Soon all the darkness and distortion was gone and to my horror the man in that picture was me, and he was moving like he was alive. He pulled out a cigarette from outside the canvas and started smoking it, and then he looked at me and smiled.
“So you’re this Will Sullivan I’ve been hearing so much about” said the portrait of me, “You’ve been out for less than a day and already show a lapse in refined taste and eloquence, selling my apartment without my consent. That’s just rude.”
“ . . . and you are?” I said, questioning my own sanity
“John Buchanan, pleased to make your acquaintance,” he said “I would shake your hand, but . . . well life as a portrait isn’t exactly the most spacious.”
“How the hell are you still inside my head?” I asked my former ghost “I thought Doc Turner got rid of you for good.”
“The brain is a curious subject, it’s composed of physical mass and is visible to the human eye, therefore allowing humans to treat it, but the mind is something that will never be completely cured nor understood due to its abstract nature. So in a sense you got your body back but I’ll always be next to you, we’re going to be the best of friends.” He said with devious smile
“That’s how I talked when I was you? Christ my wife would have loved you.”
“Not all that interested in your wife, there is only one-“
“Yeah, yeah I know that you get all riled up when Elizabeth ever comes up. I got your memories remember? I don’t have time to talk about your needs, so if you don’t mind get out of my head”, I said insistently
“First get out of my body, you’re ruining everything. Selling my apartment and then going into Fontaine’s Department Store? You’re out of your wits my friend. Here you got a grand life, some lovely friends you can always have a chat with. Why throw that all away? For the slim chance your daughter might be alive? It’s a hellhole in the Department Store, the chance she’s alive is the same as you undergoing divine revelation. It isn’t going to happen.”
“You know for a ghost you seem to be missing a big part of the issue here.” I said
“And what’s that?”
“I don’t play the piano.”
He did not answer back, I looked up at the painting, and it was back to its former self; an atrocious self-deprived man covered in black. Good riddance, the last thing I wanted was ghosts of my past following me. The door to the office opened and Barbara came in with a duffle bag, presumably with my money.
“Here you are,” Barbara said opening the bag “one hundred thousand dollars, I can count it if you wish, so there will be no misconduct.”
“No that’s fine, sorry for the bother but would you mind telling me how you came by that painting?”
“Marvelous isn’t it? A Sander Cohen original, he tried to capture th-“
“Thanks, that’s all I need to know, I’ll be off now.” I said reluctantly. Of course it was Cohen; I cannot take a shit without seeing some sort of representation of his artwork. I stepped out of the office and went back to the lobby of Olympus Heights. My next step was finding a nearby bankto see if Sander put in my weekly pay. Fortunately there was one right next to the café here. I immediately went to it and asked to make a withdrawal.
“You have a total of fifty thousand dollars in your account, how much would you like to withdraw?” the banker asked
“All of it, put it in this bag” I said to the banker, holding out my duffle bag which already contained a hefty sum of money.
“What do you plan to do with all this long green?” he asked
“Buying a private bathysphere, can’t take the metro system anymore, if you get my meaning.” I said
“Very well then, fifty thousand dollars out of your savings account, I hope you have a pleasant afternoon.” He said, I walked away from the bank, at this point I had enough cash to buy the bathysphere. All I had to do now was go to Market Street. Market Street was a residential and retail promenade that served the many needs of the wealthy. If you wanted to buy the highest quality luxury items, that was the place to go.I soon entered a bathysphere station which to my surprise was almost entirely empty. For the first time I entered a metro bathysphere without anyone else in it. The ride most certainly would take around 15 minutes, which gave me the opportunity to get a little shut eye before I embark on my treacherous journey. I closed my eyes and entered into the darkness once more, hoping that I would not undergo another vivid dream.
“Wake up Sully!”
My eyes opened and to my astonishment John Buchanan was sitting right in front of me. The ghost of my past has come to haunt me once more, taking a multitude of shapes but always coming back in the form of my body.
“Get back in your square frame, I don’t have time to deal with your-“
“Shenanigans? The only one who’s pulling the elaborate scheme is you, using my identity and money to fulfill a dream that might never come to be. Come on you’re smarter than this, you know how this is going to end. Why not just live a life that most people dream of having?” John said proudly
“John, how long do you think I could pull off being you; a smug son of a bitch who thinks comfort first, then the safety of little girls. I wouldn’t live your life even if someone pointed a gun to my head.” I said
“Oh don’t be naïve, you know how these systems work, you’re an employee for one of them. We do these things in the name of progress. I mean have you ever seen a society so rich and satisfied with its lifestyle? One that is so prosperous that the rich no longer make up only one percent of the populace? We’re so well off that when the CIA got a glimpse of what goes on down here, they told themselves, ‘we need some of that’. This is all done for the greater good of the human race and your agency sees that. So why can’t you?”
“Because the god damn ‘prophet’ of this city took my daughter in the name of progress”, I said, growing angrier the more he talked. Buchanan then took out a cigarette from his pocket and began smoking it, while at the same time shaking his head in disappointment.
“You see its people like you that irritate me. You would kill hundreds if it meant saving your family. Family is as much a backwards institution as religion; one would destroy in the name of God, the other in the name of love. How many countless innocents must suffer in your pursuit of one girl? If you go down this path, thousands of lives will be destroyed and all the death will be on your hands.”
“That won’t happen,” I said firmly
“And how can you guarantee that?”
“It won’t, now if you don’t mind, my ride is over, so scram,” I told Buchanan, he did not answer back. The light in the bathysphere suddenly turned off but went back on a second later. He was gone, vanished into thin air. I suppose that’s a common trait for ghosts; to have the ability to appear and disappear whenever they choose.
The bathysphere arrived at Market Street and I quickly got out. Unlike the station at Olympus, Market Street’s was jam packed with people. It almost felt like a snow day in a New York metro. I could see a multitude of mothers and fathers leading their children out of the crowd, dozens of angry men yelling at the ticket man, and even a barbershop quartet singing a tune at the side. It was difficult to get out without walking into people constantly; most of them would politely apologize if I bumped into them. Market Street must have been a popular destination for residents of Rapture; it was more populated than Frolic itself, which I am sure Sander found displeasing. I found the exit to the station and quickly went through it, what was on the other side was a large hallway that had a neon sign that said ‘Welcome to Market Street’.
If Frolic was the center of art and pleasure, then Market Street was the center of scenery and fine dining. The Rapture promenade was every rich man’s dream; it showed the full extent of Rapturian artistic prowess, had immaculate shops on every corner, and dining tables all across the promenade where people sat, drank wine and ate macaroons. This place was so rich and lush with life, it almost made me want to leave behind all my plans and listen to Buchanan’s advice . . . almost. I walked past the impeccably designed halls and the lavish stores that encompassed them to make my way to ‘Gregory’s Bath Works’, it was the only place I knew of that sold private bathyspheres, and I meant to get one. That was my final step in Rapture, after I head to the so called abyss known as ‘Fontaine’s Department Store’.
“John?” said a familiar voice; I turned around and saw a man that was well acquainted with Buchanan, but a stranger to me, William Firth.
“Well this is a surprise,” said Will, “What are you doing in this part of town?”
“Just . . . taking a stroll”, I said reluctantly, I did not have the time to deal with this.
“Great! . . .listen John are you still pursuing that thing we discussed?”
“And what might that be?” I said
“The bottle in the winery, don’t you remember?”
I looked at him in complete astonishment. How did he know about the code name to the plasmid? Then it came to me, John Buchanan told him; that fool was not able to keep his mouth shut. Firth was a liability and at this point I could not afford one, especially when I was this close. More memories of John Buchanan’s past began to appear in my head, I suddenly remembered that this man was a husband and father, just like I was at one point. If I took him out then Buchanan would be right, blood would be spilt in the name of love. I would leave his children fatherless, taking away their innocence at an early age. So I decided to do the one other thing I was good at but led to my divorce. “That’s behind me now, besides, I like life as it is. Don’t want to change it and risk everything because of paranoia.”
“What? . . . John you made the right call, I was . . . afraid at the time. But now I get it . . . stay silent, don’t stay silent; it doesn’t make a difference.” Will said, he then handed me a newspaper which headlined ‘Missing Girl’, “Todays story in the Rapture Tribune, most people here are thinking this was a tragic accident, others are happily taking part in this. Five months ago another girl was abducted and no one has seen her since. This isn’t going to stop.”
“Right, why do you care all of a sudden?” I asked
“In a few years my girls will be six years old, who’s to stay they are not next?” Will said
He seemed sincere, but at this stage I was not able to afford to have a small time businessman following me around. I had to tell him another lie, one that will make him steer clear from my path.
“You’re delusional, this is Andrew Ryan we’re talking about, not god damn Stalin. He’s a man with principles and . . . taste. He gave me a life that I never dreamed of having, how can I pay that back by going behind his back?” I said, struggling to find the right words to say to Will, I was nowhere near as eloquently spoken as Buchanan was.
“John, what has gotten in-“
“Will I’m sorry but I got an appointment with Sander in 30 minutes, it was nice bumping into you pal, stay in touch.” I said, quickly leaving before he had a chance to respond. At first I did not think upon my visit with Buchanan’s friend, but suddenly I grew full with sadness and regret, sharing memories with Buchanan made me realize that William was one of the few good men in Rapture. My former self recognized that and formed a close friendship with him. I in a way just betrayed Will, abandoning him in his time of need. But I was not his friend, that version of me was buried deep inside my head.
After a series of interruptions from ghosts of my past, I finally made it,‘Gregory’s Bath Works’. I was about to enter the store and buy the sub that would lead me to my daughter, but then suddenly someone grabbed and pulled my shoulder.
“Will, I told you I gotta-“
“You John Buchanan?” It was not William Firth, there were two men standing right in front of me wearing dark trench coats. One was white, the other African American, and both were very built. There was something menacing about them, from my first glance, I knew they meant trouble.
“What’s it to you?” I said defensively
“We have a warrant for your arrest,” said one of the men, taking out a pair of handcuffs. I looked at them in bafflement. How could they know? How could they possibly know? Neither I nor John gave any hint of Will Sullivan. God damn it . . . I was compromised; Rapture was officially one of the most dangerous places in the world for me. Though I did not break character, to them I was still John Buchanan, so I better act like him. “On what charges?”
“For conspiring against Ryan Industries and for falsifying your identity, Will Sullivan,” he said, coming ever closer with those handcuffs. At this point I was in complete bewilderment; this was not possible . . . unless . . . son of a bitch.
“Come on, put your hands where I could see them,” said one of Ryan’s security goons. And so I did, raising my hands so they can embrace the cuffs of imprisonment and certain death. That was not going to happen.
I grabbed the handcuffs and pulled it towards me, forcing the guard holding it to lose his balance. He fell to the ground and I immediately pressed my ankle into his nose. The impact made the goon fall to the ground and grunt in pain. This gave me a narrow time frame to make a run for it. The other guard, stunned by my action, reacted too late to my furious escape, allowing me enough time to get a good head start on them.
“He’s making a run for it!” One of the guards screamed
I dashed through the crowd, brushing through pedestrians as fast as an artist moving a brush of paint through his canvas. This was my field of expertise, I dealt with the same exact thing in Cuba and got away, the only difference was that I would have to make my own exit plan here. The guards were clumsy, I could hear them bumping into people while trying to come after me. At this rate, I would lose them in less than a minute.
“Shock the bastard!”
I heard something fairly close by, it sounded like a surge of energy enveloping somewhere, I looked back and saw lightning gather in one of the security guards hands and then, BANG!
Blue streaks of light came at me in the blink of an eye and hit me. Jolts of electricity flowed through my body; I could no longer feel my heart beat, and my nerves felt nearly nonexistent. I fell to the ground and began to lose consciousness, slowly descending into a deep sleep. They got me . . . it was over.