It was a grueling
process, but I managed to take out the bullet inside Elizabeth’s waist. Luckily
in the bag provided to me by Atlas, there were tweezers, alcohol and multiple
patches. I stopped the bleeding and lessened the pain in any way I could. “That
should do it; I suggest not moving for awhile. In fact, we should really find
you somewhere to sleep.”
“Duly noted,” Elizabeth said, looking tired and worn out. “Or I could use a plasmid and regenerate all that missing blood and tissue in less than an hour.”
“… yeah, you lost me there.” I said, raising my eyebrows in confusion.
“Plasmids are derived off of sea slugs, and in those slugs are agglomerations of parasitic worms. The alpha plasmids carried those worms, which was overlooked by most of the geneticists involved in the creation of the product. The dramatic physical changes and sudden loss of consciousness from the subjects who tried the product immediately shifted the methods of these geneticists, most notably Brigid Tenenbaum. One of these changes the subject underwent was rapid tissue regeneration. It was a protective mechanism instilled by the parasite to ensure the survival of the host. A ludicrous amount of red blood cells are produced which in turn produce more collagen, the building blocks to forming new skin. Henceforth a splicer is born. Haven’t you ever wondered why they’re so hard to put down?”
“They never gave me a chance to ask.” I replied with a brazen remark, it was all I could muster after that acute analysis. “H-how do you know all of this?”
“If there’s one redeeming aspect to this city, It would be the endless stash of books lying everywhere. I used to read anything I could find, whether it be a code book or a classical Alexander Dumas tale of heroics and valor. Books were all I had.”
“Now I just get shot at it so I could be rescued by a gallant knight in shining armor. What a cliché this whole thing turned out to be.” She said, snickering at the apparent irony.
“If it’s any consolation, I’m bruised, battered, and wearing black pants that were at one point white. Knight in shining armor is the last thing I should be compared to.” I said, amazingly she smiled, her face radiated with buoyancy and the gloom was gone, but she soon looked away. Her eyes closed as she laid her head on the wall, looking more at peace than she had ever been before. “I don’t recall a time you ever smiled.”
“I don’t recall a time I met you.”
“It’s funny, all those memories as John Buchanan, I still have them; the grand promenades, Fort Frolic, Andrew Ryan, Sander Cohen. It’s all still there, as much as I want to get rid of them.” I said in despondency, remembering Sander and his sick muse. There was not a single positive memory that came out of my experience in Rapture.
“And from the few times you saw me, you didn’t see me smile once?” She said looking at me once more, showing signs of curiosity from her facial expression.
“There was . . . one time. But it was in a dream.” I told her. The smile from her face vanished, but her eyes were completely fixated on me, wondering what I would say next. “You were in a beach located in a city . . . a city in the sky. All I saw were exuberant white folks traversing the place in high spirit. Then I saw a walkway and there you were, dancing to a song with more joy than anything I’ve ever seen before. Everything was so blissful and happy . . . I lost myself in that small time I saw you. It was the happiest I’ve been in my time here.”
A long pause insinuated, we were both silent. I finally look at Elizabeth and see her in an emotional frenzy. Her eyes were wide open in shock and disbelief, but sadness also came through behind the disbelief. “Go on.”
“There . . . there was a man who walked past me, a tall brooding man who blocked the sun and headed your way. I knew something was wrong so I tried to run after him but couldn’t do anything except watch. Then everything froze and the world around me shattered into pieces.”
I stopped there. Elizabeth was shaking, grabbing her arms, looking away from me and reminiscing. Suddenly that fierce, dark woman I saw in Rapture turned into a girl; a small, innocent, frail girl that in no way deserved such a lamentable life. The façade broke, that external mold she clang onto faded. The femme fatale was gone.
“Memories of a lost time, a time where happiness became a reality for me, where all my hardships finally culminated into something fantastic. Then, it all ended with the thrust of a knife.” She said, her voice cracking. “Is it so wrong for me to have wanted more than just this life? I wanted to love, to learn, to breath. Is that too much to ask for!”
She looked away from me, sadness and grief consumed her. I sat next to her dumbstruck, everything I thought I knew about her was wrong. But none of that mattered now, I had to do something to unshackle her from this burden, this lumbering weight that was tearing her down.
“What did you tell me in my final moment as John Buchanan?” I asked her. She slowly turned around and looked at me. “’Together . . . we’ll be able to break the system, once and for all.’ You started that, you gave me purpose to do some good here and focus on something other than my own selfish desires. I was going to grab Elena and haul ass, but you showed me all the suffering and the misery that these girls have to endure and I in good conscious can’t leave them. And maybe, after all this is done, you can get back all those lost years. Come with me! There’s a US navy ship waiting up there to get me and my girl back. I could set you on your way; you could go wherever you want.”
‘W-what do you mean we can’t?” I said, perplexed by her statement.
“We can’t break it . . . I’ve looked at every possibility, every variable, and in the end it all remains constant. There’s only one thing I can do and that’s dent it, but I need to do this without your help. It’s the only way.”
I was stunned, staggered by her answer. After all this time, after everything I have done trying to find her, she just tosses me away. “No-no-no-NO! We were supposed to save them together. You expect me to live with myself if I leave all of you here?!”
“Please just listen to me, it’s the only way these girls will have any sort of future, you need to-“
“How?!” I said fueled with anger, “How does me not helping help you in anyway?
“You just need to trust me, I can’t tell you anymore-“
“That’s not an answer! I risked my life trying to find you and this is what I get? What aren’t you tell-“
“YOU DIE HERE!”
“. . . What?”
“You die here . . . and there’s no . . . escaping it. I saw it, you on the ground with a large hole in your chest. We work together and both of us will be riddled with bullets, there is only one eventuality that works and it involves me and me alone.”
“I can’t believe this, good god are you a clairvoyant? A psychic? You think I’m falling for your mystical bull-“
“No, I don’t expect you to believe me!” Elizabeth yelled “But I see all that is and all that will be. I lost that power and missed this, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for everything you had to endure. But please if you care about these girls in anyway, you’ll let them go . . . including your daughter.”
“ . . . Elizabeth . . . we’re parting ways now.” I said to her, picking up my bag and speed walking away from the toy store, leaving Elizabeth here alone, by herself, defenseless.
“Please!” Elizabeth screamed, raising her hand, pleading me not to take this route. “You go after her, you die. You can’t change that.”
“FUCK!” I screamed at the top of my lungs and fell on my knees. How did it come to this? How did everything I bled for come to this?
I stand back up and take a seat next to Elizabeth. We’re both silent, overwhelmed with emotion, unable to express anything through words. We stayed like that for minutes, just staring at blank walls and ceramic mushrooms.
“So you could see the future?”
“We’re in an underwater city where crazed maniacs throw fireballs at one another and you have a hard time believing that?” she said in disbelief.
“Fair point,” I said without a hint of emotion. I immediately grab my bag and desperately look for a cigarette, I was aching for one. There was nothing there and I threw another anger fit by throwing the bag.
“So what now?”
“Now . . . I suppose a few more questions would be appreciated.” I said, depression seeping into my inner being. “You saw my future, so why encourage me to help you?”
“I don’t remember why, I lost my ability to see what’s behind all the doors. I just remember fragments, bits and pieces scurrying in my head at random succession.”
“Well that’s convenient.”
“I’m not lying to you, I have no reason to.” She said defensively
“I know . . . I-I’m just a bit overwhelmed right now that’s all.” I said in a quieter, defeated tone. “But why then did you call me out when you had those powers? When you saw everything?”
“Well when I had those powers, and these are the words of a friend, not mine, ‘I was a bitch’ . . . to put it bluntly, and in the simplest way I can.” She paused after that in embarrassment, a smile creeping in as she looked away. I looked at her face, puzzled by her statement. A giggle came through followed by a burst of laughter.
“What?” she said shaking her head in disbelief at my sudden outburst.
“Oh it’s nothing, your friend described it perfectly, that’s all. Not the current you of course, the one I met as John Buchanan.” I said, another prolonged silence began. At this point I was wondering why it was taking so long for Garvey and Dennis to show up, it’s been nearly thirty minutes. Though I could not imagine navigating through this building was an easy feat. I will call them in fifteen or so minutes if they do not respond by then. Something came to mind, a question that had been bothering me for quite some time, even after the pandemonium that we just went through. “That man, the one who took you from the walkway, was he the one that made you undergo all . . . this?”
“No, quite the opposite, that man, Booker Dewitt, changed everything. He was my savior, my valiant knight, the only one whoever cared for me.” She said smiling and looking out into the ocean. “He saw me more than just a thing and with his coming, the world became infinitely bigger. The possibilities were endless and for once I was free, free to do whatever I so desire. That man, for the longest time, was the only one I could call friend.”
“Then why did my dream show him as some sort of impending doom as opposed to a hero?”
“Maybe that impending doom isn’t really Booker himself, but everything that transpires after his coming. Choices are presented to us and those choices lead to an eventuality that shapes the course of our lives. I had the choice of taking his hand or rejecting it. But even with both choices, terrible things would happen under my hand; one being a lesser crime and the other being the burning of the Sodom below. Maybe that impending doom was more of a question than anything else; what eventuality would be worse, the one where I take Bookers hand or the one where I reject it?”
“So which, um, eventuality ended up being worse?”
“They’re both the same, there’s no such thing as a greater or lesser crime.”
“But…” I said, her beliefs conflicting with mine. “How could you say that? There’s a world of difference between a single murder and a full blown genocide.”
“Be it a rock or a grain of sand, in water they sink as the same. Be it a single murder or a genocide, a monster is born out of the ashes.”
I could not respond to that, after all I thought I knew of the world, I simply was not able to give a proper response. I just look at her with stunned eyes and quickly turn away in embarrassment. Her knowledge seemed infinite, her wisdom far beyond mine. I was just a pawn in a much greater game, everything finally became clear.
“Hey,” Elizabeth said in a calm voice, putting her hand on my shoulder to give me comfort. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing, it’s just maybe you’re right. I don’t have a grand role to play in this upcoming cataclysm.” I confessed. “I’m just a regular joe with regular issues, everything here is larger than life, too large for me to be a part of.”
“And yet, even with all that said, you’re still going after her.”
“I-I can’t leave her.” I said, choking up, losing all masculinity in a matter of seconds. “She’s my daughter, my own flesh and blood. Elena is all I have left in this world.”
“I know.” She said, giving me a heart wrenching smile. She knows in her heart that I will not make it out of this alive. In some ways, I felt the same way. “You remind me so much of him . . . I hope that in another life, our paths cross again.”
“Will . . . will we ever see each other again?” I said, exposed, naked. Emotionally I-I was all over the place.
She looks at me devastated, her eyes began to water. We both knew this was the end of our short journey together. She tries to smile and turns her head. “No . . . no this is it…”
A tear flowed down my eyes, my mouth trembling, unable to open. It all hits me, the clobbering weight of it all. I look away from her, trying with all my power to prevent myself from breaking down by taking deep, desperate breaths. Then, I felt her hand on my cheek and another on my shoulder. I was frightened, scared out of my mind, but slowly, I turn towards her and look upon her face one last time.
“It’s okay,” she whispered, she herself on the verge of tears “It’s okay…”
Hysteria broke through, tears were pouring out of my eyes, my face wrinkled and distorted in all areas. I burst out crying, covering my face, ashamed that I came to this state. After all these years hiding under a shell, I finally came out. Her arms clasped around me as warm tears fell to the ground. Everything became faint; everything began to turn into a vague impression.