Pinching the bridge of my nose, I threw my mask on my bed, letting my body fall down beside it. I groaned, wanting nothing more than to get out of these suffocating clothes. Who knew a day shift could be so tiring when all we needed to do was walk around and be alert. The burning sun on our black uniform didn’t make it any easier either.
Sighing, I pushed myself up and off the bed again. Starting with my coat, I stripped down layer by layer. A quick shower didn’t sound like a bad idea, but what good would it really do if I’d have my usual shift in only a few hours. Running my fingers through my sweat soaked hair, I shrugged at the thought. A quick rinse wouldn’t do any harm.
A knock on my door stopped me in my way to the bathroom. I turned to it instead, shielding half my body as I opened it. Underwear or not, I wasn’t about to show my colleagues more than needed. On the other side of the door stood Félix still in his uniform, his mask dangling from his neck.
“Something you need?” I asked.
“Let’s grab dinner together,” he said. “I’ll pay.”
I raised my brow. “Sure, is Hop coming too?”
“Nah.” Félix looked back at her door, pointing at it with his thumb. “She said she was busy.”
“Busy?” I leaned against the door frame.
“Sleeping,” Félix said with a chuckle. “Anyways, let’s meet downstairs in twenty minutes, okay?”
“Alright, later.” I closed the door, trying to recall what I had been doing before I was disturbed. A shiver that ran down my spine did just that. Right, a quick rinse and a change of clothes. I gathered the trousers and shirt that I was going to wear, laid them out on the bed before I removed my last layers of clothing and hopped into the shower.
Sighing, I closed my eyes as the heated water hit my skin, washing away the layers of sticky sweat my uniform had created. It was strange, now that I thought about it, for Félix to show up like that and inviting me to dinner. Sure, we talked every now and then. I considered him a friend. It was just that we never went out for dinner or anything. I only did that with Hop, and if we ran across him on our way out she would offer him to tag along, which he in turn declined.
I wondered why the sudden change of heart.
Félix took me to Delisuh, a sushi restaurant at the edge of the city close to the wall. We were seated in the back of the establishment. I looked through the menu after the waiter had noted down our drinks. Félix did the same, already scribbling down a line behind the dishes he wanted to order for the first round. He seemed to have come here before several times as he barely had any difficulty deciding what he wanted.
“Here.” Félix slid the list and pen to me. “Do you know how this works?”
“Yeah.” I nodded, taking the pen. “Hop and I have been to restaurants like this before.”
Félix leaned back in his seat, crossing his arms. “You and Hop really do everything together, don’t you?”
Shrugging, I place the menu down, putting the list of dishes back into its holder for the waiter to take to the kitchen. “I’m not particularly social. My father used to tell me how cautions one should be around others, especially if you’re a Nox. I’d rather have a few close friends than dozens of backstabbing ones.”
“Can’t agree more.” Our drinks arrived and were placed on our table. Félix eyed the woman who brought them strangely as she walked off before leaning forward over the table. His bore into mine, his brow drawn together slightly. “Can I ask you something?”
“Sure, what is it?” I said slowly, taking a sip of my lemon flavored water.
His eyes darted from side to side, his voice quieter than it had been before. “Do you know who the government is?”
I frown as I set my glass back on the table. “Paradisum’s Hall, of course. Why do you ask?”
“I mean-” he paused for a second when the waiter returned our list, the first round marked as used. “Luca, do you know who the people are in the Hall?”
I opened my mouth to answer but closed it again when I realized I didn’t know. I’d never really thought about who the people in control really were, neither was I ever told. “Why do you ask that all of a sudden?”
Félix licked his lips. “With that dead boy showing up out of nowhere, one that you brought in, don’t you think it’s odd how they try to cover it up?”
Sitting back, I let out a long sigh, glancing around the nicely decorated room. He had a point. I couldn’t deny that I never had my doubts, but don’t we all? “Well shit, Félix, I thought you’d at least leave the dead for the third round.”
Félix leaned back as well, relaxing ever so slightly. “All I want is for you to think about it. If everything really was perfect why would you have doubts?”
That night I couldn’t help but think about what Félix had said. I wasn’t sure why he asked me this today. Why now make me doubt my loyalty to Paradisum? He knew the body had shaken me up, maybe more than I’d like to admit out loud, but he seemed to know my mind had wondered to doubt before that. Perhaps it would be better if I stay away from Félix for a while, or at least keep a close eye on him.
“Luca, look out!”
I flinch at the screech in my ear, snapping back to reality, and finally seeing the building I was about to collide with. Clumsily, I turn my body, setting my feet against the window, and tried to jump back to the building I had leaped from. I had to stretch out my arms to catch the edge of the building. Sighing, I started to pull myself up.
Hop leaped to me, offering her hand to help me up. “Are you alright, you really scared me there.”
“I’m alright, only distracted, as usual.” I forced a chuckle, tugging at my hood.
Crossing her arms, Hop narrowed her eyes. “Are you sure? Did something happen during dinner?”
I shook my head, unsure if I wanted to bother her with these doubts. I should tell her at some point, but I wasn’t feeling up for the task. “I’m just tired, is all. It’s been a long day.”
“You can say that again,” Hop sighed, dropping the matter for now, which I was grateful for. “Let’s just get this over with. How many do you have left?”
“Two,” I said, taking a quick look around to find the path. “You?”
She held up three fingers, glancing behind her. “I’ll see you back at base than, if I’m late don’t wait up. You really need your sleep tonight.”
“How sweet of you to worry.” I bumped my shoulder against hers. Hop laughed, shoving my back.
“I just don’t want to go through the trouble of getting used to a new partner.”
I chuckled, stopping at the edge of the building’s roof. “Sure,” I said before leaping to the next building, following my lines. The cold wind of that night blew my hood off. I didn’t bother to put it back, enjoying the cooling effect it offered.
Things were going to be a lot different from this day forward. An aching in my guts told me it would probably never be the same again. The past two years had been the calm before the storm, and I didn’t appreciate those days enough back then. A storm was brewing, I felt it in my bones, something wasn’t right.
The night wasn’t peaceful anymore. Glancing around, every shadow seemed to move. The gas floating in the air seemed more ominous than usual. As I jumped through a cloud of it I was startled just how dark it was, how thick and blackening. I fell to the next roof, rolling onto my back, and laid there while trying to catch my breath. My mind was spinning. The moon disappeared and I couldn’t tell if it was behind nature or toxics.