21 | REMEMBER
“So… we’re really screwed?” Eli asked in a tiny voice, the hope and optimism draining away. Something within him wanted to refuse the facts that had been dumped on them like faeces, to believe that Louis did genuinely care for them and was somehow coerced to speak in the way he had, that humanity still had the teeniest, tiniest bit of good somewhere… but it was all just hope. Pointless emotion in a world productivity levels were all people cared about.
Survival of the fittest, where the fittest crushed their enemies and used the weak to glorify themselves.
“We should grab our things and ru—” Ethan punched the wall so hard the room and the people within it shook as Em attempted to speak through her tears.
“Are you stupid or what? Did you not hear what that coward said? They know! They know we’re talking to Tiger Lily! If we run, we’re going to be caught! We’re goners, let’s face it, okay? They’re going to do whatever they want, and we have no way of escaping! They’ve always gotten their way and they’ll continue to, just like how our entire lives have been lie after lie after—”
Eris, who had been listening quietly and trying to figure out how the SmartGlass-esque side of her worked, finally decided to interject before Ethan further allowed their emotions to get the better of them. “Ethan—”
“Punching the wall and screaming isn’t going to solve the issue. Sit down, breathe and think rationally—”
“What’s there to think about, huh?” He fired back with a vicious snarl, “Em and Eli are poison and antidote respectively. I’m apparently some freak muscle experiment and you’re a literal cyborg who’s probably bugged or something, which Em was apparently right about. Have you ever thought that you might’ve been bugged all your life to spy on—”
“Louis wouldn’t need to send in reports if I was bugged. I’m pretty sure it’s a new development,” Eris deadpanned as she removed the folded piece of paper from her pocket and placed it in Eli’s hands. “By the way, we’ve got a packing instruction slip here. Read it. Quietly.” Her look at them was as hard and pointed as she could manage without giving anything away.
“Why is it on pa—” Eli was about to ask until he caught sight of the words on it. He looked back at Eris as the others crowded around him to read. “Eris—”
Ethan read and read, anger fueling him by the second, his eyes blazing with ferocity as he tore the paper from Eli and crushed it in the palm of his hand. He clenched his teeth as the widened eyes and agape mouths faced him.
“I’m done with this… this bullshit… ”
“Don’t. We’re screwed, Eli, so stop with the stupid attempts to be optimistic and happy, I’m done,” He hissed, storming out of the room with the crumpled slip in his hands.
No one tried to follow him as he stormed into the toilet and slammed the door shut.
When it closed, Ethan got down to business, shoving the crumpled mass into his rinsing cup and filling it with water as he recalled the message one last time, the message that had been scrawled in the now-obsolete inked pen at the bottom of the slip. The message that he was terrified to forget; the message which Em and Eli had better carve into their minds for good, given that they were apparently made smarter than him for whatever blasted reason. He had no idea how it had happened or how Eris managed to retrieve it but he knew he wasn’t going to be able to ask, despite all of his natural impulses.
There was still so much Ethan did not understand—but this time, he wasn’t going to question. It was the last sliver of hope in their lives—and he had to remember, no matter how questionable things were, if they were going to get out alive.
He inhaled deeply as he tilted the glass, pulled out the soggy thing bleeding with smudged ink and began to crush it into fine shreds, the now-deciphered message which Em had been raging about earlier replaying in his head.
1. Obey - obey on your first mission.
3. Pick - pick option three as target on first mission. C.Wong and D.Chan
2. Run - run on your second mission.
R 7-11 - the ruins. Find the logo.
Don’t tell 0501.- only speak to Eris about these matters if her SmartGlass is shut off. Find out using codeword: bitter gourd. She was given specific instruction not to read this message. Remember all of this.
Ethan, put on a show of anger and destroy this piece of paper immediately after first read.
APPEAR AS IF YOU NEVER RECEIVED THIS - BE DEFIANT AT THE START… BUT MAKE THEM BELIEVE YOUR SPIRIT OF REBELLION HAS FINALLY BEEN BROKEN BEFORE THE FIRST OFFICIAL MISSION.
Be very careful, you are on thin ice.
Remember - there is no room for error in this city.
— your ally