Friday, March 16th, 2029
We’ve entered the car lot where Andy’s car is parked. It’s a slick red 2020 ZX Hybrid. Apparently it’s the fastest thing allowed on the road currently. We’re on the fourth floor and I can see the sun has begun to reach its peak in the sky out through one of the windows. It seems to be around noon. There are only about seven cars parked alongside Andy’s so it is kind of easy to pick it out.
It certainly looks nicer than the rest of them. He tells me it was a gift from this Jay guy, John’s biological father. It is slick with its red paint job and it looks like it could hardly hold all of us. We walk up to it and Andy takes the keys out of his pocket and unlocks the car.
“Alright, we all ready to go?” he asks.
“I have one question. Are we...going to be returning home anytime soon?” I ask.
“If we don’t hurry and stop this doomsday then you won’t have a home to return to,” Gavin says.
“There’s no need to be such a downer, Gavin,” Lindsey says.
“I...I’m sorry.” Gavin opens up the back door and slides into the seat. Iris and I slide in next to him, I let Iris take the middle seat so she can be next to Gavin. I don’t even have to wait for her to ask or anything.
Andy hops into the driver’s seat and Lindsey climbs in shotgun. Andy thrusts the car on and into ignition and he backs out of the parking space. He begins driving and I feel the need to get a hold of everything so far, but it’s just such a mess.
“So, is there anything else I need to know about this Radical-9 business? I mean, I feel like I’m a step behind and I want to know what’s up,” I say.
“There’s one thing I think you should know,” Gavin says.
“What is that?”
“I think I have a guess to who your father is,” he replies.
“Based on your blonde hair and blue eyes, I think you may be Jack’s daughter.”
“You mean like, guy we’re trying to stop, Jack?” Iris asks.
“But, my father is dead,” I say.
“Well, he’s as close as he can be without actually being. I had an old friend who had that same kind of blonde hair and blue eyes. She was Jack’s first child. I believe that she was your older sister, maybe even half-sister,” he says.
“Wh...what happened to her?” Iris asks.
Gavin takes a deep breath. “She died. She was what made Jack snap, and concurrently why I’m out on this mission. Well, it was the only reason before all of this “save the world” stuff came up,” he says.
Iris puts her hand on Gavin’s.
“Which also means that you also have another half sister,” Andy says.
“You mean Jen?” Lindsey asks.
“Wow, that’s insane,” I say.
Two half sisters? That’s certainly something I don’t hear every day.
There seems to be an uncomfortable silence. “Okay, I have an idea. Can we have a conversation that isn’t all about Radical-9?” Lindsey asks, breaking the silence.
Gavin looks up, a hurt look on his face.
“Honestly, I’m sick of hearing about the end of the world and the end of civilization. There’s plenty of time to worry about that and we are going to stop it. But I can’t deal with every conversation between any of us to be just about this virus. It isn’t us and it isn’t who we are.”
It is silent in the car. It is a tense silence and it remains for what seems like forever.
“Look, I’ll start by changing the subject,” she begins. “Sarah, what was your life like before?” She asks, turning around in her seat.
“I drew. I drew a lot and enjoyed it. Back in my house…in my room I have a bunch of sketches of various drawings. Some of them aren’t going to ever get finished, but sometimes it doesn’t matter.”
“I remember this one time from my childhood very clearly. I was about six years old and my mother had caught me drawing on the walls. It seems silly now, but I think that’s the maddest I’ve ever seen my mom. It’s still so fresh in my mind and I like to think of it when this gets to be a bit much,” I say.
Lindsey nods, “See? We can have a normal conversation, talking about our lives and such. It doesn’t all need to revolve around this one man. Iris, how about you?”
Iris looks at me and then down at the floor.
“Well, life before all of this was kind of hard,” she begins.
“You were sitting alone on my first day of school,” I remember.
“Yeah, I’m not very popular. I kind of scare some people off.”
“You certainly scared off Steve in art my first day,” I say, giggling.
“I simply said I’d persuade him to move his seat,” she says.
“Why were you alone?” Gavin interrupts.
“What?” Iris asks.
“In school,” Gavin says.
“Well, I kind of come on a little bit strong, I know this. It’s just who I am. That with the fact I kind of had visions of grandeur in school. I’d go against the crowd to believe that something greater was out there for me,” she says. I look into her brown eyes sparkle as she says this. I admire her bravery.
“Of course...that kind of put me in an awkward spot in high school, so I’d been outcasted. Nobody really talked to me unless they were making a joke. “Watch out for Iris, her attitude is so sharp it’ll cut you in half!” She mimics.
“Wow, I had no idea,” I say.
“And then Sarah came into your life,” Lindsey says.
“She’s been my first friend in a long while and I’m glad she showed up when she did. I’d gotten so sick of everyone being against me, I’d hoped and wished for just one person to stand with me. I’d hoped that someone would take me away from the life of loneliness and worthlessness.”
“Is that why you had believed all of this Radical-9 business so quickly?” I ask.
“I had always believed that there was something out there that needed my help. Something at all that I could do to be of any help whatsoever. Of course, this was the furthest thing from my mind. I mean, all of this does sound out there. I don’t think I would have believed you if I didn’t believe in myself. I have this little voice in my head that keeps telling me to go on, to keep believing in this. I believe that this all is it. I want to prevent the world from ending,” she says, plainly.
“That’s very brave of you,” Gavin says.
“And Gavin? I know you, but these two have only just met you, so why don’t you tell a little about yourself?” Lindsey says.
“Me? Well, there isn’t much to say that hasn’t already been said. When I was young, thirteen approximately, my parents were killed. I’d been told that they’d died in a car crash, but that had just been a bold-faced lie. Jack killed them for trying to stop his plans, they were working under him, you see,” Gavin begins, making sure to emphasize the death.
I see Iris’ hand tense up slightly, but she stays quiet.
“After that, I was placed in an orphanage until I was eighteen. I’d worked various odd-end jobs and saved enough money to attend college, Ohio University, for the curious. A year passes and everything has the illusion of being normal, but then in my sophomore year I meet Jay. It seemed to be like any normal meeting, it was at this science presentation he’d been hosting at my school, supposedly he’d been doing it all over the country to try and find me. Later that day I’d been kidnapped to participate in something called the Natos Game. In short, it was a test set up for me to ‘unlock my potential’ with my jumping abilities and to learn about all of what Radical-9 was. A bunch of the survivors of the Natos Game had pitched in to bunk in an apartment complex in the ruined section of San Francisco, but it turned out that I was actually on the moon in a time after the earth is destroyed because of Radical-9,” Gavin explains, nearly out of breath.
“Gavin…” Lindsey begins.
“You said that this virus isn’t us, Lindsey. That is doesn’t control who we are, but that is me. I’ve been infected by this virus and it’s controlled every aspect of my life since I was born. Its control over me is as deep as my very existence and it has controlled every single action I’ve ever done and will do. Its reach has taken my parents, my education, my friends and possibly my sanity,” he says and freezes. “You don’t know how it feels having everything inside of you feel like it’s wrong. To feel like what you’re thinking is wrong and to feel like your whole existence is wrong.”
“Gavin, that’s enough,” Andy cuts in.
“You don’t need to lash out on Lindsey or any of us for that matter. We’re here for you and I do know what you’re talking about. You aren’t alone in this and you need to realize that.”
Lindsey looks up, “I’m sorry that my problems aren’t as important as yours or Andy’s or Sarah’s because they’re caused by Radical-9. One thing I’ve learned about all of this is that the past is past. You have to look for the good in the present and hold onto that or else your feelings will drown you headfirst.”
Gavin looks straight ahead for a second. “I-I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to insinuate that you or your problems are any less than ours,” he says.
“And I’m sorry for going about this the wrong way. It’s just…things have been so hard, for all of us. When I first met Andy in Elysium I’d fallen in love and it felt like we could take on anything together. I still believe we can, but this has definitely proven to be quite the challenge. I just don’t want us obsessing over this virus as if it is the only thing that exists. Otherwise it will consume us, even after this is all over. Our relationships exist, our bonds. Our world exists and our spirit exists,” She says, a burning fire in her gaze. “You’re not just Radical-9 because you’re here.”
“Yeah man, you’re so much more than this. You’re a good guy and a good friend,” Andy says.
“If it means anything to you I think you’re a good person,” I say.
“Thanks you guys,” he says. “It just feels like the whole world revolves around this sometimes.”
“Once this is all over we’re all going to go to the beach…any one and we’ll just sit there and relax, together.”
“Sounds like an interesting idea,” Andy says.
“It’ll be time to celebrate when we end this and every single one of us is going to be there, because I’m not letting any of you die on me when we’re this late in the game,” Lindsey says.
“Right,” Gavin says. I look at Gavin and for the slightest of seconds he seems to have been staring off into the distance, but in a flash he is back and looks like nothing had happened.
“Well, I’d hate to end this touching moment, but we’ve arrived,” Andy says. The car begins to slow down and finally stop. Andy opens his car door and steps out. Lindsey is next to step out. Iris gives Gavin a hug and whispers something like, “Everything is going to be okay.” I unbuckle my seatbelt and open up my car door. When I step outside, I see a solitary warehouse. It is about half of the size of the courthouse, but that doesn’t mean it is small in any sense of the word. The yellow paint on the outside had faded and scratched to an almost different color entirely. Snow covers the ground outside and a cold wind blows past us, whistling throughout the holes that have been ripped into some empty oil drums a few feet away.
“Come on, let’s go introduce our new guests,” Andy looks to Gavin and Lindsey, nodding his head towards the warehouse.