Sister’s Orphanage: In troubled times, give your little girl the life that she
deserves. Boarding and education free of charge! After all, children ARE the
future of Rapture.
Rapture’s Public Address Announcements, you cannot go into any public hall or transportation system without hearing these messages. They were always reminding us that Andrew Ryan’s way is the right way.On top of that, if you made a good sum of money, you got to advertise your business through the announcements so the whole population could know about it. I agree with the entirety of Andrew Ryan’s ideology. Because of it, I’m happier than I have ever been in the past 5 years. Though I could not help but feel that he is simply shoving his message ‘down our throat’; parasite this, and parasite that, one warning after another through these announcements. It almost made me feel as if I was in a dystopia rather than a utopia if all I heard were these announcements and was locked in a room by myself all my life. But when walking with an extravagantly rich crowd in lavish malls, the announcements only added to the surreal atmosphere that is Rapture. So why was I complaining? Simply put, I was in an elevator, trying to reach the thirtieth floor of one of many apartment buildings in this city. I reached the fifteenth floor and already heard three of these announcements, there was the first one that did not use the word parasite and I was grateful for that. Nevertheless at this point, elevator music would suffice.
I looked at the card I had in my hand and opened it to read again.
My family and I are hosting a small celebratory dinner party at my home. It’s a yearly tradition of ours; I bring in friends and colleagues in to share dinner with and have elevated discussions. You would be the first ‘artist’ I’d ever invite to this event. It would be wonderful to prove to the rest of my cronies that not all you chaps are terrible conversation partners. I live in the Mercury Suites, room 34. Hope to see you there.
I closed the letter after reading it. I have not been to an intimate dinner party for a very long time. I was not sure that I can meet Firth’s expectations; I believed I will be a terrible conversation partner. But I have come this far, surely a dinner party will not prove my undoing.
The elevator stopped at the 20th floor and one of the few people inside it got out. Miraculously none of the people in it recognized me and gave me a‘congratulations’ for my performance. The first few days after it, I was happy to receive so much praise from the people, happily accepting it and acquainting myself with all types of people in Rapture. Now I feel like a mouse trapped by monstrous bears, gulping me up to satisfy their hunger. Or a mouse getting chewed up by a cat that wants to satisfy its sadistic persona. In the end, it seems that mice are always played out as the prey in the natural world. That’s one thing that mice and celebrities have in common, we will always be the victim of someone else’s needs. It sadly lead me to this conclusion; that mice would make better discussion partners than most people ever would.
We now reached the 25th floor and the last person inside the elevator got out. I gave a sigh of relief and started pressing the close button multiple times..
“Hold it, please!” A woman screamed
I put my hand forward to hold the doors and they opened. A blonde woman came through. She was in her mid-30s and was striking, as was a majority of the female population in Rapture.
“Thank you,” she said looking at me, but then she paused and gave a face of awe and then a smile. “You’re Rapture’s rising star John Buchanan!”
The spree has officially broken. What’s next; an autograph? Small talk? Will it ever end? But we were in a small room together, it would be rude of me to say nothing, and she might be someone influential in the city, I do not want to take the risk. “Is that what their calling me these days? Jeez Rapture needs a better class of stars.”
“Why?” She said “You’re a new face here; we need people like you, more than you think, and you shouldn’t put yourself down, it’s not good for the spirit.”
Her response was different from the praise that I was used to. This woman, there was something sweet about her; from her subtle tenderness to her gleeful smile. She was different from the rest of the females in Rapture. Seduction was their forte, but not in the case of this one. I do not know how to describe her but I know I have seen people like her; they are just of rare breed.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name?” I said
“Oh… OH how silly of me,” she said getting a little red, “I’m Diane. . Diane McClintock.”
“Diane,” I said, showing off a little too much interest
We reached the thirtieth floor and both exited the elevator. I assumed this was where we would part ways but we were heading in the same direction.
“Where are you heading?” I said curiously
“Nowhere really, one of Ryan’s friend is hosting a dinner party, he was invited and I insisted that I join him, I can’t help myself when good food is involved.” She said giving off a little laugh.
“Well as it so happens we’re heading to the same place.” I said also giving off a smile
“Really? Oh how exciting! I can introduce you to Ryan, I’m sure he will be happy to meet you.” Said Diane
“Actually we already met on multiple occasions.” I said, a little sad that I burst her optimism.
“Oh… he didn’t tell me anything about that,” she said
After that we were quiet for a minute and were trying to find our way to William’s apartment. These complexes run like Mazes, giving you a hint on where you need to go only to realize that it is a dead end. We gave up on the map and started following the numbers of other rooms, hoping no twists will turn up. We started walking across our chosen path and I decided to speak again.
“What’s your affiliation with Ryan?” I asked interestedly.
“You don’t know?” she said smiling, “I’m his companion.”
“His lover?” I said a bit bewildered, I never imagined Ryan to be the sort. I suppose anything is possible.
“Well, putting it that way it can sound a bit awkward,” she said “But yes.Oh look, we’re here.”
I turned my head and saw room 34, right in front of me. We looked at each other for a split second then looked away and I rang the doorbell. The door immediately opened, it was Rupert, William’s son.
“Rupert!” I said stepping into the apartment and shaking his hand “Good to see you again, this is-.”
“Ms. McClintock,” Rupert said “Yes we’ve met several times, how are you this evening?”
“Famished my stomach feels like it’s turning backwards,” she said giving out a small laugh “Can you tell Ryan I’m here?”
“Ms. McClintock, I don’t know how to put this, Rupert said “Ryan is not coming tonight, he’s a bit preoccupied with other matters.”
“Oh….. that’s a shame.” She said showing off a face of gloom. “The third time he stood me up.”
“I’m sorry, is there anything I can do for you?” Rupert asked earnestly.
“I can use a drink if you don’t mind.” She said
“Certainly! Right this way”
They both left and I was alone next to the door. I stood there for a minute and wondered, does little Rupert have a crush on Diane? The way he completely brushed me off and instantly sought to serve her? Either he is a sedulous server or young love has sprouted from the ground; except that sprout fell in love with a middle aged tree that is protected by a bulldozer, otherwise known as Andrew Ryan. But this was all pointless speculation, I decided to end it and walk into the apartment.
The apartment itself was beautiful and spacious. There was a large open area that made up the living room; it was occupied with lavish red furniture, small curtained tables that held different sorts of books and a center table that has a bottle of champagne in a bucket of ice surrounded by intricately designed wine glasses. The floor was composed of red marble with geometric shapes in the center to add to the art deco vibe. They were also along the walls which contained a variety of different abstract paintings. To my surprise there was also a mini bar that has a bartender in it, that is where Diane was preoccupied at the moment, along with her ‘close friend’. A large dining table occupied the end of the living room, but it was completely empty; no food, no silverware, no glasses of any sort. But there was red table cloth on top and over a dozen chairs. Maybe William will surprise us. The most stunning aspect of the apartment is undoubtedly its view of Rapture. The front wall was made up of curvedglass that showcased parts of the city such as Fort Frolic and The Kashmir. It also brought in rays of dim light from the ever so distant sun.
The apartment was absolutelyfull; there were over a dozen elegantly dressed people . Unlike the New Year’s Party though, they were not wearing masks and I could actually see all their faces, which made for a much more comforting evening. Though like the New Year’s party, they were a rambunctious crowd that liked to express themselves more so than the average individual. Smooth jazz was playing from a phonograph at the edge of the living room adding a soothing tone to the party. Put all these elements together and you had your typical upper class gathering where every person in here shows off their wealth. My only hope was that they did not find my mannerism to be appalling in anyway. I do come from a more slum like lifestyle.
I saw William at the end of the room with his wife talking to a few men. I walked towards him to grab his attention. He saw me and smiled.
“John, you made it!” he said approaching me, putting his hand over my shoulder and then screamed, “Everyone listen here, this is John Buchanan, and he is an artist. Now I know what you lot might be thinking. ‘An artist? Why in hell did you bring an artist to your home?’ Well let me put that he is an exceptionally gifted young man in both the piano and in the art of conversation.So treat him fairly and do not discriminate. Cheers!”
“Cheers!” the group yelled
And so my adventure began, but not in the way most people would imagine. Rather than travel daring roads and battle horrifying creatures of the night, I was prepping myself to be . . . proper; to use the vocabulary of the wealthy and adopt their body language, to not make a scene through expressing my thoughts on a certain political or social belief. This all sounds imprisoning and burdensome but it would be much worse for me if I act like . . . myself. These are simple people with a firm set of beliefs, and if I express mine and hinder their point in any way; it will not end up well for me.
William introduced me to a man by the name of Lloyd Webster; a tall sophisticated man in his mid-50s. He was the creator of a series of vending devices that sell a variety of high quality snacks and other such commodities. He called these machines, ‘The Circus of Value’. They became extremely popular and are now in every corner of Rapture. Too imagine that a simple thing like a highly ornamented and flamboyant vending device with a daunting clown plastered on it would become one of Raptures most demanded products. The consumers of this underwater utopia had strange taste indeed. He was a radical man as well as highly self-interested, talking about stocking these machines with more precarious material to boost his stock. But almost everyone here had the same mentality.
Next I met a cosmetic surgeon by the name of Dr. J.S. Steinman. Unlike everyone else here though, I heard of this fellow. He is well known and has made revolutionary discoveries in the field. Andrew Ryan personally invited him to Rapture to practice his field without the moral obligations of the surface. He has a medical practice inside Raptures medical pavilion and takes his many patients there for him to work on and treat. They all claim he performs miracles and is able to turn the most deformed individual into a thing of beauty. He’s grown quite rich from his work and is now among Rapture’s highest brass. I asked him what he owed his resounding success too. He replied with “ADAM provided the means to my success. My vision of perfection led to my success.”
And so the cycle continued, I met one successful businessman after another, and though I found their path to success fascinating to listen to, I could care less about their political beliefs which they seemed adamant to share. Eventually I decided to go to the mini bar and get a few shots of alcohol myself. Diane McClintock was nowhere to be seen, but Rupert was here still, I wonder if she just brushed him off. Or it could be nothing at all; it did not matter, for my highest priority right then was to get shots of Vodka. I sat down on one of the stools and ordered three shots for my first round and started to ponder on my thoughts. Everything feels so empty, nothing here bares substance or value to me, it is all just a set of formalities I am forced to compose to carry a certain image. Maybe I am philosophically astute and am able to uncover all the mysteries surrounding human nature. Or maybe I am just introverted and dislike being in crowds for too long, therefore possessing me to make quick judgments before properly assessing something. In the end, all I wanted . . . all I truly wanted . . . was to be with her . . . Elizabeth. It is all I had desired ever since the auditions. Yes Sander warned me about my potential downfall if I pursue this path, and it would be easy for me to avoid this if I was simply infatuated with her. But it was not infatuation; it was possession, of my mind and body. How can the human mind fight against the supernatural properties of possession? I tried looking for her countless times; I looked in Frolic, Mercury Suites, Arcadia, yet I could not find Elizabeth. The best thing I could do then was to think about her; her dark eyes and curly hair, her blood red lipstick and flawless skin. I thought that was all I would think about for the rest of the day, but suddenly I got a slap in the back. I looked behind me and it was none other than William. He gave me his typical smile but looked agitated as well. Was it something I did? Or is he tired of the crowd as well?
“Thank you for coming, none of the geezers over there make for good drinking partners, rambling on about ‘the order of things’ and other such matters. It wounds the head. So here I am with a friend hoping to have a simple discussion on modest matters such as love. Tell me, have any girls caught your eye?” William asked curiously, he was not drunk but he did have quite a few drinks, which explains his boisterous attitude.
“Will,” I said, also a little out of loop from the drinks, “Have you met someone by the name of Elizabeth?”
“Elizabeth?” he said waiting for a last name.
“Just Elizabeth, she’s the girl that went through and passed Sander’s auditions, his official new songbird?” I asked, hoping he would shed light on this situation.
“Elizabeth . . . Never heard of her. Do you happen to know what area in Rapture she lives in?” Will said
“Not a clue.”
“Hmm, a mysterious songbird”, He said “that would make for quite a story.”
We were quiet for a few minutes and just sat in the bar motionless pondering upon mysteries that tangled our mind, until William finally spoke.
“Who is this girl too you?” he asked
“For now, a curiosity.” I said in response “I don’t know who she is, where she is from, or even what her last name is. All I know is that she was different fromall the other girls in the auditions; she was darker, gloomier, and a complete mystery to me. That alone can drive someone like me into madness if I don’t uncover this mystery.”
“You know, for an artist, when it comes to abstract concepts such as affection, you are painfully technical.” He said “You’re in love with her; you should chin up and accept that.”
“Now wait a-“
“You’ve been thinking of her night and day, you think that nothing in this world matters anymore if you are not alongside.You have searched endless hours to find out where she lives. I think this is more than just a mere curiosity.”
I was stunned by his answer, “How do you know all this?”
“Because that’s exactly how I acted when I met Amelia for the first time,” he said giving off a small laugh. “I was so dumbfounded by her presence that I hid from her in fear that I would pass out just from looking at her. Of course I was naïve back in the days, I’m sure you won’t need the paramedic’s every time you look at this Elizabeth.”
I could not help but laugh with him. I can always depend on William to lighten the mood. For a man in his mid-40s, he had the exuberance and energy of someone in the prime of his youth, a quality that very few possess. We continued talking until suddenly I heard a bell from the distance. The apartment quickly became silent. Amelia held the bell and looked at William as if he was supposed to do something. I looked at him; he was a bit confused at first but soon figured out what he was supposed to do.
“Ladies and gentleman,” William said with a commanding voice “If I can have you all gather in the dining table. Dinner is waiting.”
Everyone’s eyes began to glow. I thought they would all run in a chaotic frenzy to the dinner table. Instead they stayed true to their position and walked to the table, with the typical grace and elegance I was accustomed to seeing. William sat at the end of the table while his wife at the front, the rest of us just sat down wherever there was a chair available. It was strange though, he tells us to sit down yet the table is still empty, not even any glasses to be found. I seemed to be the only one curious about this. Everyone else was just casually conversing in the table. I looked at William; he was looking away from the rest of us and gave a ‘thumbs up’. I then hear the door open and look back. To my surprise I see waiters and waitresses carrying a multitude of covered plates. They surrounded the table and gave one plate to each guest. They exited then another group of waiters entered, this time carrying things like utensils, glasses and expensive wine bottles. In a matter of seconds the table was set and the platters uncovered. What I saw in the plate made my heart melt; it was steak, the best looking steak I had ever seen in my life. It was cooked to perfection and seared with sauce and blue cheese. I was stunned by this, and by the looks of the rest of the guests, they were as well. We all looked at William and gave him a round of applause, for he has certainly made the month of January something truly special. We all began to eat; I cut my first piece and immediately put it into my mouth. It exploded with flavor; this was a heavenly delight, which makes me feel guilty that I must swallow it, why waste such eloquence only for it to be digested in our bodies to come out as feces.
“If you don’t mind me asking, where did you acquire such sumptuous meat? Steak isn’t exactly in high supply anymore.” Asked one of the guests
“Well it was quite simple actually.” Said William “You see after Fontaine’s smuggling ring was disbanded, there was an excessive amount of contraband items still in Rapture. Some items went against the Ryan ideology and had to be expunged. Then there were items that carried no symbolic residue at all but were very profitable; items such as steak. I had a longing for meat from surface animals and decided to buy all of it. Did it cost me a preposterous amount of money? Yes! Was it worth every dollar? Absolutely! I hope you all feel the same way”
They all nodded in agreement and continued on with their meal. As the dinner moved on, everyone started conversing to a high degree; we shared laughs, compliments and other such pleasantries. But the main attraction of this dinner was not the small chats or the food, but rather the debates. In a social setting such as the living room, one does not engage in deep discussions that can take up a large amount of time, but rather just engage in what I like to refer to as small talk. It begins with things like ‘Good to see you’, ‘how was your day?’, ‘how’s the family?’ ‘It was nice seeing you’. It is usually the same process over and over again; no one wants to stay with one person for too long and therefore makes quick time for each guest. But in the dining table it is a different matter; here you can express your belief in certain topics and have long debates on it. The best part is that the person you’re debating with cannot leave the table until he or she is finished with all the courses, otherwise it would be looked upon as a sign of disrespect. Almost an hour in and we have gone over topics such as whether or not it is right to take advantage of these contraband items, whether Andrew Ryan made the just decision in putting down Frank Fontaine, and soon we discussed the place of social classes. A female by the name of Lucy Hemingway argued that those in the lower realm of the stratosphere should remain where they are.
“Look, it’s not that I have anything against those who are less privileged, all I am saying is that there is a natural order to this world and those who try to amend it make everyone suffer. Our epicenter will collapse and the economy comes crashing to the ground.”
“But this is the realm of Ryan,” says one of the guests“he believes in the progression of human beings, both mentally and materially. For them to be able to pursue any path without interference from some federal institution, if we deny them these basic rights then we are no better than the infidels on the surface.”
“But doing so will not only mean the degradation of our economy but our culture and welfare as well,” Lucy said “Sure any individual with a creative streak has the ability to acquire a certain amount of wealth. But will he ever be able to truly live amongst us?Will he eat peas with a spoon or a knife? Will he be contempt with what he has or will he seek more wealth and do unspeakable things to acquire them?”
“You’re referring to Frank Fontaine, aren’t you?” I asked
“As a matter of fact I am. Here is a man who had everything; an insurmountable amount of wealth, the respect of the lower class, and power. Yet that wasn’t enough, he needed more, he wanted all of rapture to himself. He wanted us to bend down on our knees and to do it he performed barbaric experiments on people like us to get what he wanted. He is a man who was in the bottom of the food chain and then rose up to rival Ryan, and we paid the price for that. Never again could this happen, with new wealth come new greed, we must be vigilant of such things and prevent it from happening again, Ryan’s way is our path to salvation.”
We were all silent after this, I personally did not have much to say but usually the other guests would speak instantly, so why stay quiet now?
“Well surely one of you has something to say?” She asked looking at all of us for a response.
“It’s not that we don’t have a response Lucy, we know about your loss. Why bring this up?” said William
“Don’t treat me like a child; I am perfectly capable of discussing this subject without getting emotionally hysterical.Come on I’m a big girl, speak your mind.” Lucy said insistently
William was hesitant and looked a little bit guilty but then spoke, “How did you acquire your wealth?”
Lucy gave off a small laugh then spoke, “You know this, my father owned a fishery empire on the surface and passed down his inheritance to my husband. We decided to move to Rapture where demand for fish was high and the competition lackluster. Our enterprise grew and we lived a happy life, as happy as any fairy tale you can come up with. Then Fontaine came over and . . . well . . . it’s something I don’t want to get into right now.”
“Yes I heard this version many times already,” William said “Don’t get the wrong idea, I have nothing but sympathy for your husband, may he rest in peace. But for you, well, let’s just say I’m not very sympathetic to those who tell lies.”
“What?” She said
“As a business man, I keep tabs on all my competition, including you; business dealings, stock changes, how much you inflate your services; all of us did this. In terms of your fishery, that really was only your father’s cover. What really helped increase his flow of money were the services he provided to people who needed illegal actions to be takencsre of for top bill. To be blunt, your father was a mob boss, which is the worst kind of hoodlum. The only reason you were even admitted here was in fact your husband, who wanted to right the wrongs of your father and turn an illegitimate business into a legitimate one. But it’s alright we don’t judge, all of us had rusty beginnings whether it came to poverty or preying on other peoples fears. Hell I owned a barely legal pawn shop at the surface, yet here I am now eating a steak dinner with some of the wealthiest people in Rapture. Circumstances have changed for the better for most of us. So rather than judging the insignificant imperfections of those who actually worked their way to the top and comparing us to the man who killed your husband, who by the way has some striking similarities to your father, you celebrate our positive attributes and focus on the present. You’re a wonderful lady who is making an active effort to live up to the legacy of your husband, but this argument you instigated is completely misguided and to a certain degree hypocritical. I say we end it now and move on to something a bit more joyous, wouldn’t you agree?”
The room was silent again. I looked at Lucy, she was devastated, tears were rolling down her eyes. It looked like she was about to say something, but she did not. She then looked at her steak and did not look away. Why? Why did she look for so long at that slab of meat? Tears fell onto the plate and slid onto the bottom of it. She left her chair and ran out of the room crying. The silence continued it was eerie and dark; everyone was stunned by Will’s response. But Will did not seem to feel anything, he was impassive.
“I apologize if I was a bit too harsh on the girl. She needed to be told by someone, she was growing delusional of the past. But enough of that, we shouldn’t end this on a bitter note. Let’s bring out the dessert.” Will said
Everyone went back to their previous mood and seemingly forgot the events that just transpired. But I did not; it was not because I felt sympathy for Lucy, she attacked all of us for being born to a lower class when she herself acquired her riches through the suffering of others, something Ryan himself bears unredeemable. Will looked at me and was curious why I did not move on. “John, are you alright? Was it really that traumatizing?”
“No, no of course not, you did the right thing, she need to hear that,” I said
“Then what is it?” Will asked
“It’s just that . . . it always comes back to Frank Fontaine doesn’t it . . . it always comes back to him.”