Chapter 1 - Awake
But I’m tired...
Get the hell up! We need to get out of here. It’s not –
The warehouse was empty when the man woke up but he could have sworn he’d heard the voice of a woman, angry by the sounds of it, trying to rouse him. He blinked at the ceiling. He was flat on his back in what seemed like ten years worth of dust. Fluorescent lights hung from the ceiling on long rusty chains. They swayed gently with the whistling breeze blowing in through huge broken windows. Light shined in too, in long, sheer beams projected from wherever time or vandals had spared the glass. Now the windows peered at him, compound eyes with either missing or milky lenses. All around him shipping containers formed angular mountains between the irregular pools of sunshine. They were all in muted hues, dead reds, rotten greens, and a horrible teal colour that made him think of a dirty, stagnant pond he’d once smelled, though when or where he couldn’t quite recall. In fact, he couldn't recall a thing. He sat up and patted the chalky clouds of debris off his shoulders then stepped out of the dust devil he’d created. He checked his wrist and found it bare, but if he trusted the windows despite their cataracts, the quality of the light put the time around dawn or dusk. So he closed his eyes and listened. Birds chirped a chorus in answer to his silent question, and he smiled, impressed with himself and his problem solving skills. Apparently, he liked puzzles.
“Now,” he said to the gloomy room, “who the hell am I?”
Sandy Gauss walked quietly into her boss’ office just in time to watch him top off an old fashioned full of chipped ice. Scotch splashed out over the brim and onto his fingers with bits of slushy, alcohol infused snow – his usual measure. Alcoholic tears formed pinstripes as they slid down the cool glass, pooling in the crook of his thumb. He toasted the air, eyes down, fingers rubbing his left temple, then downed the drink in a way that could have gotten pledge to frat brother in a single night. He slammed the glass down onto the desk and looked up in time to see her frowning at him. He sighed, and cued her to begin by motioning to the overstuffed leather chair facing his desk. She stood there, not quite looking at him, and clutching a report they both knew would be the end of them, of all of it.
“Mark, it’s 10:30,” she stated. She fidgeted slightly, rolling onto her left ankle. A bad habit of hers that made him cringe. It meant she was annoyed and she knew it annoyed him back. She rocked, a subtle left-to right jerk, somehow keeping her head straight and level. Her dark hair barely bounced. Feet just weren’t supposed to know that angle. He sighed, pushed the glass to the side, and twirled his hand slowly: out with it, that gesture said.
“Mark, you know what I’m going to say.”
“Why do they always send you, Sandy? Every time there’s a problem, I see your pretty little face."
He was still rubbing his temple and resting on that elbow, but the motion had become less desperate, slower and lighter. His eyes had also begun to gloss over. If there was one thing you could say about Mark Rowe, it was that he was thorough, even when (or maybe especially when) it came to his liquor. His eyelids drooped and quivered as he looked her up and down, taking her in and letting the warm, soothing rush of the alcohol lull him and carry away his anxiety. There was a dense smell of bergamot on his breath as he sighed at her. She rolled her eyes and nearly tossed the report at him. It slid across the desk, the spiral binding producing a high-pitched metallic whine as it slid against the stainless steel of the desk. He dragged it the rest of way, exaggerating the sound on purpose, and smiling at her sardonically. His belly was ablaze with the perfectly aged scotch, but already the warmth was leaving him. Soon he’d be left with clumsy artefacts of drink – the numbness, the slurred speech, the inability to give a shit.
She folded her arms across her chest, refusing to meet his gaze. “Just read the report. Ignore the numbers. They don’t matter. It’s not like the government’ll look at them. Last three pages are the final figures, results, conclusion.”
“Yes, Sandy. It’s a lab report. Sit down and cool your jets. I’m on your side, remember.” He flipped to the last three pages and skimmed through, frowning as he went. He mopped the hand that had been rubbing his temple across his forehead, rubbing the middle until there was a bright pink thumb mark between his furrowed brows. The skin there flaked and fell to the metal desk like snow and still he dug in, rubbing and picking at the ever harassed skin there as he read. He felt prickles in his armpits and between his thighs as he perused the final figures. His skin itched and throbbed almost painfully with his quickening heartbeat. His tongue ached for the sweet burn of liquor as he nervously slid the tip against the ridges on the roof of his mouth, which was already numb.
“It’s over if we lose another one,” she said when he put his hand down limply on the desk. His eyes were pointed at the report but he was a million miles away, calculating, parsing this information. He’d known it was bad, but not a 100% failure rate sort of bad. A salvageable bad, maybe. He reached for the tumbler and the matching crystal flagon. The set had been a gift from the board – congratulations on the first successful shift.
“So what’s changed between then and now, Sandy? That’s what we need to be looking for. Why has it stopped working?” The tumbler was full again, the flagon nearly empty. The chipped ice floated lazily in the diluted scotch, clinking like delicate wind chimes. Rowe was a nervous drinker but it seemed like the report was going to dry him out. She shrugged and collapsed into the chair. She’d never felt so defeated.
“You’re doing the pre-shift, you’re screening the candidates? It’s all you, right? Nobody else?” he asked, bringing the glass to his lips, eyes still on the final numbers. She nodded and rested her chin in the palm of her hand. They sat there, the two of them invested in this ailing project, looking exactly past each other. Trying not to see each other. “So what could have changed,” he said limply into the room.
“Goddamnit! You know what’s changed! You’ve shortened the leash. How am I supposed to diagnose a problem I’m not allowed to see? Please Mark!” she blurted. Rowe only shifted his eyes to her for a moment before draining the tumbler.
“Unless that intern has been messing with the equipment, everything is exactly the same. You know what the problem is. We all do. We’re all being fed on this and you’re going to let us all starve for some schoolboy crush? You know who I am, Mark. You know how it’ll go.” She was breathing hard and had leaned forward in the chair, planting both hands firmly on the stainless steel desk between them. He would not look at her. He wondered how two people could see each other every day and still manage to never to actually look at one another. He lifted his glass to his lips, then, realising it was empty, lowered it into his lap and sat like a scolded child. Her face was red but calm. She seemed more out of breath than anything. Sandy was not accustomed to talking much. “The problem, it’s got to be there, in the past. None of the subjects know enough to see anything wrong. But I’d know, Mark. If you’d just let me go. I could fix it. I can fix it. But it has to be me.”
"Why you, Sandy? You can monitor the shift with Roger. It'd be almost exactly the same. I just don't understand why you seem to have this death wish!"
She glowered at him, but there was no sharpness to her stare. Her face seemed to be going through the motions - something those closer to her had learned to accept. She sighed.
"Mike, I just have to do this. Dad trusted me with it and I've let it get out of hand. I don't think I can explain it any better than that, but it's what has to be done."
Her eyes were flat, staring just beyond his though her voice was firm and even pained. One thing Mike had found in his 40 years, was that love let you in on when somebody was lying to you. He looked away from her, hurt but used to the sensation. Finally he spoke. He was staring into the bottom of his glass as though it had wronged him. He was tired of getting in her way. “And I guess you’re determined.”
She sat back immediately, composed as normal, face cooling. “I can do this. I’ve been training all my life. I know what to look for. Please, Mark. Just for long enough to see where they’re all going.”
She looked down at the desk intently, regarding her own reflection, talking to herself more than anything now. “We track them all to this one spot, but our maps of the time are iffy and the area has long since been gentrified. We can’t go ripping up people’s basements, least of all when they’re the spoiled-brat kids of the guys funding us.”
He nodded, and began to reach for the scotch. But he thought better of it and instead, handed her back the report. “I don’t want this.” Whether he meant the report, the scotch, or the impending trip she’d be making, she couldn’t tell.
It was a little after noon by the time the man got to what seemed like a nice little town. There was one large main street running through it and pick-ups parked along both sides. A row of small shops was punctuated at either end by a gas station and a diner. The whole thing couldn’t have been more than half a mile long. The town itself was a neat little grid with smaller plots fading into larger ones as he got further from the main street. He quite liked it. The word quaint came to mind. At least, when the other wasn’t busy chattering away.
He had checked his pockets after making his way out of the field of warehouses. They were large and rounded, more like hangars really, but without any aircraft in sight. He’d found a stick of gum, peppermint, which he popped into his mouth only to find it was about as pleasant as chewing cardboard but it at least got the job done on his breath and for that he was grateful. He felt like he’d been asleep forever and he certainly smelled that way. His pockets offered no other clues so, for the time being, he’d taken to calling himself John. Hi! My name is John, and I like peppermint gum! It was not at all distressing – after all, he couldn’t think of a reason why he should be worried. Civilisation wasn’t all that far off and he wasn't hurt or even hungry. He felt strong and able, and seemed to be in decent shape.
On the horizon he could see the spokes and boxes of a not too far off city and begun his journey, almost sure he'd heard somebody whisper Clarke as he headed off to meet the skyline. He’d been walking for about an hour and caught scent of a diner and had carefully approached a man leaning against one of the now apparently ubiquitous pick-ups – this one a wonderful shade of dirt – and had gotten a free sandwich along with directions to the nearest town. Munroeville, population: small.
It turned out not to be too far and right on the way to the city he'd spotted. As he crested the hill that led to the main street, at least a dozen needles poked at the sky, separated by domes and boxes. He had stopped when he saw it. Part of him wanted to take it all in, to survey it, to judge it against something. A picture arose in his head and briefly he glimpsed pieces of that metropolis – an ailing apartment building with a fat cat sitting in the window of a second floor apartment; a park full of boisterous mallards chasing each other and fighting for food; a pristine and sharp office building, short but long, massive in fact, displaying the words… And then the memory had stopped abruptly. There had been a warm feeling, fondness maybe, or just simple relief at the recognition of a place called home, but he was absolutely sure it hadn’t been his.
And then: Ah shit, he felt me.
By then people had stopped to ask him if he was quite alright, if he was lost, maybe from the city. He’d smiled politely, waving them off as nicely and quickly as possible as he picked a random direction to flee lest they smell him, and found a street that opened onto a small park lined with weeping willows. There was a shady spot not too far into the park but deep enough to give him some repose. He leaned against one of the willows, closing his eyes and breathing deeply.
Shit. Mark is going to –
Who the hell are you? Don’t tell me I’m a goddamned schizoid amnesiac on top of it!
And that had apparently been exactly the wrong thing to say to the other because a moment later he was on the ground holding his head not because it hurt but because of an immense pressure from within. He forced his palms against the sides of his skull until it did hurt. He was sure if he let go, his head would pop like an egg in a microwave and splatter the lovely scenery. But hard as he held on, consciousness was fast becoming a harder to hold onto than his grey matter. The world slipped away from him and he slumped against the tree, trying to decide if he was dying or dead already and if he should mind either way.
Then the world went black.
Sandy’s knuckles had turned stark white and her feet rolled under her as she twitched and jerked in the chair. Mark watched helplessly behind the glass, waiting for her to first wheeze out into blackness and then come to when she finally got her breath back.
“Jesus, Roger, could you be more careful?” Mark said to the man sitting beside him. They were the only two in the room full of monitors and blinking panels. Normally shifts called for huge teams of ten or more people – neurologists, cardiologists, technicians, psychologists – but this one had to be kept quiet. They had ten days before the final report was due and if Sandy was quick, they’d be able to duplicate the experiment with a sanctioned candidate legitimately before then. If not, well, she wouldn’t really have a mind with which to worry about anything anymore, would she?
Rowe was the attending physician. Roger Gauss, Sandy’s brother, was the tech – a hard win for Sandy after Mark had fired him. Roger's fist had become intimate with Mark's face after a particularly stressful day. Mark had handed Roger his walking papers. Roger had lost the love of his life, and was not ready to lose anybody else, but the board hadn't felt the same. Sandy had trusted Roger to quietly move on, and he had, but trusted him even more with her life. Mark knew that if anything went wrong, chances were he wouldn’t be so accommodating a second time, but for now, he was their best bet.
“Could you be less of a prick? That’s just how it works. Kinda hurts to have your mind ripped out of your head. Did I mention I think you’re also a prick for letting her do this?”
“Fuck you. Just keep her safe, Roger.” Mark flipped on the mic that connected the two rooms and when Sandy seemed well enough he asked, a little too eagerly: “Who was it? Did you recognise anything?”
Sandy licked her lips with a dry tongue and coughed. Her head was still swimming even if her body had given up the spasms. “Would you give me a minute to collect myself, Mark? This isn’t a race. Not yet anyway.” He flicked off the mic and rolled his eyes impatiently.
Roger made to say something but bit his lip figuring things were tense enough. Still, he kept an eye on his sister while keeping one on her stats. Her black hair was sweaty and matted all over her forehead. She had bags under her big blue eyes, the same eyes he had, but those had always been there. Sociopathic theoretical physicists in line for Nobel prizes didn’t tend to get much sleep in his experience. Or eat right. She looked deflated in the chair. He wondered what would happen if she ever let Mark have his way. She was a wisp of a woman. He’d almost certainly crush her with the beer gut he toted around like a badge of honour. He just barely stopped himself from picturing all two-hundred-and-forty pounds of Mark’s six foot frame burying his poor sister in sweat and grunts and scotch fumes.
When she’d caught her breath, Sandy turned the mic on from her side and spoke firmly: “Same so far. Woke up in Clarke, checked in. My name is John.” She stopped, looked at the men. They were both watching her earnestly and suddenly she felt on display. Could they tell she was lying? Mark’s dark eyes seemed to be boring a hole right through her brain. They were bright and eager for more, something they knew she wasn’t saying. The trip forward had made her woozy, unsure, and a little anxious – all things she wasn’t accustomed to. She felt uneasy and uncomfortable in the long medical chair and noticed that her back had become itchy with sweat. She wanted to wiggle her hips, to catch her shirt on a seam, anything, to scratch. It felt like grass beneath her, warm and bent with her body heat, fighting for air and grazing her gently. She almost thought she could smell it. And was that a light breeze kissing her knees?
It's just residual sensation from the pull. I'm sorry I had to do that, said her own passenger, the one that they couldn't see.
It's fine. I thought something like this might happen. They don't know I was going stealth, Sandy replied. Her forehead was damp but she was coming around. She'd done the pulling before and made a mental note to try to keep it to a minimum in the future if possible. If there was a future. You didn't have to pull me though. I can handle myself.
You are not cleared to make those kinds of calls. We're doing our best here and you need to trust that. Where did you wake up?
A warehouse. It was about two miles out of Munroeville. Sandy could feel the woman's frustration inside her. She was anxious herself and not entirely sure where to take all of this now, but for the first time in her life, she was glad she was a soldier.
Like a hangar? Sandy sent the other woman a picture from her memory and the other woman seemed to smile from somewhere deep within herself.
We're right on track, Ms. Gauss. You are cleared for contact.
She stared straight ahead, trying to look deep in concentration. Mark was already suspicious of her intentions, but if she would need information. She would need time. Got it, she told the voice in her head.
Sandy had heard the same story from the first subjects, the ones who'd come back. They'd come to at the Complex and followed their orders. Had they been lying like she was now? Had they been contacted too? For a moment she contemplated telling the boys, but knew that they'd only worry. There was something in that voice, something soothing. And the voice knew things about her, things only her brother knew. Like that she called her mother 'May' and that she hadn't cried at her funeral because deep down inside, she hadn't much cared. It sent a chill down her spine, picturing her mother's corpse, so perfectly powdered and still. The cheeks so much pinker than she'd ever seen her cancer riddled mother. Mark snapped her back to reality:
“What is it? If you want to stop..,” he trailed off. It wasn’t a question but more of a suggestion and Roger couldn’t help but notice how quickly Mark was speaking. How his voice was shaking. His undeniable nervousness. Perhaps all understandable given a woman’s life was on the line, a woman who he desperately wanted to fuck, but still, he seemed a little too edgy for an experiment that had only just begun. In fact, Roger could see the man’s heart beating in his neck as well as he could hear his sister lying through her teeth.
“Nothing,” she replied. “Let’s go back in, boys.”
“Be careful,” Roger told her. She smiled, gave him a thumbs-up, and turned off the mic. All three of them swallowed hard as she closed her eyes.
They came to not too long later. The sun had barely moved and the shadows were all the same. John put a hand to his temple, where it felt like someone was still digging into his skull. There was a flash of a memory: hanging off a mattress on the floor, his chin supported by a bucket.
“Hungover,” he muttered. Then there was a strange swimming sensation, as if for a moment he was diving. His ears popped and he instinctively stretched his jaw so he could hear again. The world came rushing back.
Is she back, he thought.
Yes. We need to find a mirror, a woman’s voice said. She sounded uneasy and hurried, like she was being watched and maybe running from something. It was a paranoia John could sympathise with considering she seemed to be stuck firmly in his head and capable of taking control of his person.
“Why do we need a mirror,” he asked the tree he’d passed out against. He was groggy and confused, but the pressure in his head was beginning to subside. It flared a little whenever she talked but it had ebbed for the time being. He rubbed his temples gently.
I need to know who we are, it, no, she explained.
“Well that’d be a piece of pie wouldn’t it,” he said cheerily and stood up.
You don’t need to talk out loud. I can hear your thoughts. Just concentrate a little harder, like before. He nodded at this and started to get to his feet. He could feel the grass in his fingers, a little more rigid and unforgiving than he would have thought given the beauty of the willow above them. As he stood up he scratched the small of his back, which was by now a reservoir of sweat. The day was wonderfully warm and he was determined to at least enjoy the sunshine while getting a little lost on his way back to the main street of quaint little Munroeville.
He’d been asleep maybe an hour and a half and what he guessed was the Munroeville lunch rush, had lulled. There were four or five people walking down a wide boulevard, which he learned, as he passed a sign, was predictably named Munroe.
Just find a big window. Try to look like you’re window shopping. The last thing I need is for you to get thrown into some podunk jail. John laughed a little to himself and sauntered casually up to the closest display. Whether the voice was his or not, it at least sounded sane enough. Though somewhere in the back of his mind, he wondered if the truly insane actually had any idea they'd gone round the bend and back again.
There was a large chest inside the window, laid out on velvety cloth. “Mack’s Hobby” was stencilled in gold and blue in an arch above it on the glass, turning the display into a huge shadow box. The chest inside could have fallen right off of a pirate ship. It was cracked open with all sorts of gleaming treasures inside along with toys and other odds and ends. A sword seemed to be keeping it open, propped against the bottom of the lid, and comically fake foil money - possibly filled with chocolate - spilled over one side just waiting for Long John Silver to bury. John felt warm nostalgia tingling in the guts of his subconscious, that feeling of home and recognition but not for a place. A burning for a time, or an era. His childhood. He followed the nostalgia to sometime deep in his mind were there stood a shanty tree house with pirate posters all over the walls. I think I was a kid once! he said to the woman excitedly. She replied: Did you think you sprouted from a cabbage fully formed? My name is Sandy by the way, and I’m done looking. Did you even bother? He was surprised to find that exasperation was communicable, as she somehow rolled her eyes at him then forced him to pull out of his reverie and focus on the watery reflection on the glass.
His face swam into focus, drowning out the chest and the bringing him back into the moment, and he had to admit, he was quite pleased. His eyes were either green or light brown, the light wasn’t good enough to tell, but they were big and oval and framed by thick, dark eyebrows. His hair was long, just past his ears, and streaked with what could have been naturally sun-bleached stripes of wheat-gold. It hung in loose, greasy looking ringlets, which he found himself wanting to stretch and curl. He was average height but broad-shouldered, with not so much the physique of a trained man, but of a man who uses his muscles every day, all day. He had a bit of a stubble, a bit darker than his hair, and almost invisible against his dark, creamy skin, but trimmed neat enough. He could feel rough stubble, short and grating where his beard had been shaped under his neck and on his cheeks. In fact, he was rather well-groomed for somebody who’d woken up in an empty, dirty warehouse, hearing voices.
The woman, Sandy, seemed to be excited by it all but not in the way he would have liked – it means you’ve been outside a lot and recently, either in the sun or, I guess to a really good salon. Either way it’s good news for me, for us. Somebody might know who you are and you definitely weren’t out of commission for long.
He shrugged and smiled big, teeth bared. They were big and straight, a bit too big for his mouth but not ridiculous. His tongue ran across them, feeling the soft grittiness of unbrushed teeth and, surprisingly, a wire across the backs of the bottom row. You must have had braces. He nodded, to himself, not sure if he'd thought it or she had. It sounded wrong though, like the homey feeling he'd gotten while staring at the Clarke skyline. He ran his tongue along the top teeth again, big and perfectly aligned, and somehow alien.
John stepped forward, a sudden look of distress on his face screwing up his bushy eyebrows.
“Big bunny Ben,” he moaned gently. The woman – Sandy – seemed to come forward to steady him. What is that, she asked, sounding suspiciously calm.
Maybe my name? It hurts to think about. I don’t know. I can’t remember. It wasn't exactly a lie. There were no specifics in his brain, but there were alarms going off. Something was keeping him disoriented. He clipped his thoughts and tried to shut them away, not sure if he was ready to let her in on what he was feeling. He had to shut her out until he was ready. God, why was it so hot all of a sudden?
Sandy pressed their hand against the glass, letting him feel its coolness while keeping him from reeling. Her mind was beginning to swim and race with images she couldn’t quite decipher. She struggled to keep herself afloat.
Calm down, she cooed. He closed his eyes of his own volition and leaned forward until his forehead touched the window. He nearly slipped. He’d broken out in a sweat, but she helped him stand firm and regain himself. Sandy had no time for him to faint now and she certainly wouldn’t let herself go down. She wasn't sure if who he was mattered as much as what they needed to do, but she did know that she needed him clear and focused. He would be who she needed him to be because she needed him to be. Right now, she needed him to be a man on the move. They were starting to draw attention to themselves.
We need to go. There is a lady staring at us.
He swam back into reality and forced his vision to consolidate. There was no one he could see. What the hell are you? Some sort of ninja?
I can see her in the window. Your, our left. Come on, John.
He reluctantly opened his eyes and looked to the left, where an elderly lady was indeed giving him (or them) the stink eye. He had no intention of explaining his situation and was pretty sure he'd be okay, but his posture was definitely communication something not above board. For some reason he knew he had a cover and that it was thin and easily blown. He also felt an urgency manifesting within him. For the first time since he'd woken up, he had a real desire to figure out just what the hell was going on. Acting like a crazy person might just get in the way of that, even if he was hearing voices. So he pushed himself off the window slowly, rocking gently back onto his heels and regaining his composure. He smiled and laughed a bit, tapping on the glass.
“Just like the one Pop Pop got me when I was four! I can't believe it!” He tried to sound overjoyed, but could hear the warble in his voice. The woman peered through the window, indiscreetly, and seemed pleased enough that the strange man in front of her had just been overcome with childish joy at the idea of his beloved toy chest having survived.
“I had a pink one when I was a girl,” she told him, not quite smiling, but softening her brows enough to at least look interested. “Mack’s is really the only place in the county to carry such things anymore.”
“I was thinking of picking it up for my boy,” he told her, smiling.
“I’m sure he’d love it, wherever he might be,” she said with false sunshine, her passive suspicion starting to show. It was time to end this little encounter. She stepped over to him, studying his face, a fake smile plastered on her own. “Not to be rude. We just don't usually get people coming to Monroe to shop. Well, anyway, I really do think it would make a wonderful gift, but as to whether or not Mack would part with it..” She trailed off, though her eyes stayed glued to him, scanning him with machine-like precision and committing him to memory.
“Then, I guess for now I’ll just have to look. I'm just passing through anyway.”
The woman nodded and rubbed his arm, smiling for real now, as softly and as warmly as a grandmother, happy with the thought of him moving on. “Well, it's always nice to get out and about. You have a good day, dear! Don't linger too long in the sunshine.” A veiled threat?
He thanked her and wished her a good day then pretended to look at the rest of the display as the woman sauntered off and finally entered what appeared to be a beauty salon. She cast him a glance as she entered, squinting. He waved with one hand, and shielded his eyes with another, a subtle reminder that she wasn't the one looking into the sun. She hurried in with an embarrassed smile, flashing dentures that were a bit too big for her face. Big bunny Ben.
I don’t think she knows me, at least, he told Sandy.
I don't think she wants to either. This is a small place and she was right to tell us not to linger. We can't leave a trail. That’s Clarke, she answered. He took another look at the skyline they were heading toward. He nodded, and reminded himself he needed to stop doing that. We need to go there. I think I can help you figure out who you are if you help me figure out when we are and what’s been happening to my colleagues.
Whatever, man, lady, whatever. Not knowing who you are doesn’t lend itself to so much urgency. No bills to pay, no family to get to, no job to hate. Except somehow I think I’m just always like this.
Vessels tend to be... There was more to that but she petered. He supposed he'd found the limits of his ability to lie, at least for now. She could hide her thoughts from him to some degree though and that was encouraging. Maybe he wasn't just imagining that rift between them and if he wasn't, maybe he could widen it to the point of escape. He no longer believed he might be crazy. Craziness didn't have quite the same knack for self-preservation, and that word, 'vessel,' had riled him up. He knew exactly what she was talking about, except that he didn't feel like a vessel either.
Still, there were things he couldn't let her know just yet. If she could wedge the rift open, it meant he probably could too, even if it might be a matter of skill. He imagined pulling a curtain and soundproofing it, then yelled her name in his mind.
Did you say something, she asked. He shook his head. Damn. Old habits die hard. He smiled, walked, and watched as the buildings of Clarke grew tall.