The Fifth Severance

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Chapter 2

Beep! Beep! Beep!

I hear a piercing sound above me that startles me so much that it practically throws me off my bed. Talk about a rude awakening.

I frantically reach for my glasses which I left on the dresser by my bed. When I put them on, I initially think I’m having blurry morning vision and rub my eyes thoroughly but when I put them back on, I quickly realise that I actually cannot see clearly in them anymore. I remove them and place them back on the dresser.

Good morning Dr. Blay. How was your nap? I hear a female voice from above me that startles me.

“Who’s there?” I call out into the dark, empty room. “Alexandria, is that you?”

It’s me Dr. Blay, the voice replies but there is nobody to trace the voice to. This is starting to freak me out.

“Who are you? What do you want?” I’m so frazzled right now that I’m actually starting to think I’m being haunted by a ghost. I’m losing my mind.

I am the Automated Home-Improvement System, AHIS for short. The moment I realise that the voice is computerised, I feel my cheeks start to burn bright red due to my embarrassment.

I don’t know what happened to me but I seem to have lost quite a few IQ points. I clutch my head as a bit of a migraine takes effect. I must not have had enough sleep; yeah, that must be it, I’m still tired. I’m obviously not getting dumber, that’s preposterous.

“Oh, okay. Ummm,” I rub my temples while trying hard to remember something I seem to have forgotten. “Yes, ummm, AHIS, what’s the time right now?”

The time is 5:24pm, Sunday the 25th of...

“It’s okay. Thank you AHIS.” I cut it off because I now realise what is going on here.

The launch was slated for 12 noon on Sunday the 25th of May so obviously I must have been knocked out by the blast and taken in by these strange people.

“Um, AHIS?” I say.

Yes Dr. Blay?

“Can you please tell me how to reach Dr. Knoster and Alexandria?”

A hoverboard station has been provided outside which you can utilise to reach your destination, which is Sector D3.


Will that be all?

“Yes AHIS, thank you.” I turn to exit the room but a deafening roar from a beast deep in my belly just reminded me of what I put off to take my nap. “AHIS?”

Yes Dr. Blay? Do you need something else? Do you need me to show you how to open the door? All you do is just swirl your finger...

“No AHIS,” I interrupt it. “I’m a bit hungry; can you get me something to eat?”

Okay Dr. Blay. What would you like to eat?

“Ummm, I feel like having some pasta and tomato sauce.”

Alright, so would you like to prepare that yourself or should I?

“If I wanted to do it would I have asked you?” I say in frustration. This AHIS is a real piece of work that’s for sure.

You could have just said that you wanted me to do it instead of giving me the attitude, it says as a plate of pasta and tomato sauce appears at my bedside.

I grab the plate and instantly attack it. “Hey, watch yourself AHIS,” I say as I slurp up a long strand of spaghetti. “Hey wait, you aren’t real, I shouldn’t be talking to myself like this,” I say in a lower tone.

Who are you talking to Dr. Blay?

“No one and in fact, I’m done,” I say as I scarf down the last meatball and it disposes of my plate. I got that finished in record time, five minutes. I felt like I hadn’t eaten in ages.

I look down at my outfit to see if any sauce splattered on me. After wiping off a small dot of sauce on my shirt, I decide that it’s clean enough and get to my feet with a satisfied burp.

Again, I close my eyes tight, hoping that this is all a dream then I open them quickly only to see the same things. This is all obviously very real so I just sigh and walk toward the door.

I stare blankly at the white, egg-shaped door before me and notice that there is no handle on it. I’m definitely not going to ask for the AHIS’s help on such a trivial matter. Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place. I examine the door for a while then notice that a part of the wall is sunken in. I saw Dr. Knoster swirl his fingers over it to open the door when he showed me this room. Aha finally, progress. Should I use two fingers or one? I try swirling my left index over the panel to the left but nothing happens. I stand there perplexed and consider enlisting the AHIS’s help but that is most definitely going to be a last resort. I can’t have that thing thinking that I’m unintelligent or something.

I force my brain to think harder. If I swirled to the left and it didn’t open, that must mean close, so maybe if I tried to the right...yes! I step out of the room with such pride which I haven’t experienced in a long time. After revelling in my awesomeness for a while, I step forward and press the request button on the hoverboard podium. One appears within seconds and I mount it.

The door whooshes shut behind me but I could swear that as it closed, I could faintly hear the AHIS say, “It’s about time he figured it out.” Wow, artificial intelligence with an attitude. The one who designed it must be a real smart cookie.

The floor of the hoverboard glows blue when I step on it which I take it to mean that it is on. “Please state destination,” the computerised voice says.

“Ummm,” I say as I think of the coordinates which seem to have escaped me. “Aha, Sector D3 please.”

Destination registered: ummm, aha Sector D3. Have a safe journey. What in the world? Does all the Artificial Intelligence in this place have an attitude?

The board starts moving suddenly but I am ready for it this time so I don’t fall. I stand very stiffly on the thing as we swiftly drift past many other people on hoverboards. I have such a big head right now due to my two achievements in the space of mere seconds but my big head deflates quite quickly though when we marginally miss another hoverboard user. I feel my heart leap into my throat as I sink to my knees. I know this sounds absolutely ridiculous, but I think the hoverboard did that on purpose.

The hoverboard reaches Sector D3 in about ten minutes of nervous near-misses that have left me jitterier than a drug addict craving an immediate high. I step off the board and take a few seconds to catch my breath, and also for my head to stop spinning.

I know that I’m not really in my right senses right now but I could also swear I heard a faint chuckle as I stepped off that thing shaking like a leaf. It must be in my head, right? Right?

I walk over to the elevator door do the same thing I did at my door and it slides open. I step into the tiny metallic room and press D3 with a swagger that I didn’t have a few hours ago. After the thing drops and stops at my intended floor, I step out with my big head inflated once more as I prepare to brag to Alexandria about my recent achievements. I spot her at the desk and I walk into the room, past the frosted glass doors. She has her mouth full with a sandwich so I just pull up a seat, take it and wait for her to finish.

“You cleaned up nicely,” she says to me after a period of silence that was made very awkward by her incredibly loud chewing.

“Thanks, you look nice too.”

In response, she flips her red hair over her shoulder and she immediately remembers that she has a wad of mayonnaise on her hand. She frantically wipes the mayo off her hair with her other hand but that only makes it much worse. She puts what’s left of her sandwich on the desk, making another big stain as she grabs a tissue and uses it to wipe the mayonnaise out of her hair. She then pops the rest off the sandwich in her mouth and rests her arms nervously on the desk in an attempt to save face after a really klutzy moment and it would have worked, had she not placed her elbow right on the mayo she dripped on the desk.

“You have a little, something, right there.” I point to my elbow as I try hard to suppress my urge to laugh which might hurt her feelings.

“I’m off the clock now,” she says and cleans the mayo off her elbow and the desk with a tissue and tosses the empty sandwich wrapper in the trash.

“Nice shot.”

“Thanks. I was a bit of a dustbin basketball pro back in high school you know.” She makes a fake shot to show her prowess.

“Hmmm, I was never really much of the sporty type,” I say. “I was more of the anti-social, science junkie kind of kid you know?”

“I know what you mean. I was never that much of an athlete either,” she says. “I hope you know dustbin basketball isn’t a real sport right?”

“Well, I do now,” I say honestly and she bursts into laughter. As she laughs, I stare at her and notice she has a little red blotch on her neck. Is that a rash or did I cause that when I attacked her?

“What’s that on your neck?” I say.

“Oh, nothing, just a scratch from a plant,” she says as she quickly covers it with her hand. She’s trying to play it off but why?

“Did I cause that?”

“Oh, it’s nothing, and it doesn’t even hurt anymore, see?” She moves her finger lightly over the red spot and I see her try to suppress the pain but I could see in her eyes that it hurt a lot.

“Alex,” I say as I take her hand in mine. I never realised they were this small, just like Martina’s hands. “I am so sorry. I’m sorry I yelled at you okay? I just got a bit too emotional for my own good.”

She waves her hand in the air like its no problem so I nod, release her hand and sit back in my chair.

“So, where is Dr. Knoster?” I say after some awkward silence ensues. “He told me to meet him here.”

“Who, Alfie?” she asks and I nod. “He’s at dinner with the other hospital workers.”

“Why didn’t you go with them to dinner?”

“Naah, I prefer to eat alone. I’m quite anti-social if you didn’t notice.”

“I hear that. So when will he be back?”

“Dinner closes at 7pm.”

“Wow, two hours just for dinner? What is it a banquet?”

“Oh naah, that’s just how long it takes for everyone to finish eating and then to brief Alfie on their progress for the day.” I nod silently in my seat as I absorb all this information.

“So, how are you and Dr. Knoster related?”

She begins to tap her fingers nervously on the table and then she eventually says, “Look, I know Alfie wouldn’t like me telling you this but I’m going to anyways.” She leans in closer as if whispering a teenage secret to one of her best girlfriends about whom her crush is. “Dr. Alfred is my big brother.”

I immediately jerk my head back in shock. I look into her face then imagine Dr. Knoster’s face. I then begin to laugh hysterically but she doesn’t seem to be laughing.

“Nice try Alexandria,” I say, “but I’m a bit too smart to fall for a silly prank like that.”

She twists her mouth up like a sulking child which reminds me so much of what Martina used to do when she got upset that I almost called her Martina instead of Alexandria.

“I’m not kidding, we’re siblings; he’s only older by four...” Before she can finish her unbelievable story (which means I didn’t believe a word of it), a voice from behind us interrupts her.

“Ah, Dr. Blay, so glad that you made our appointment.” He walks over to where we are and takes a seat beside me. “Alex, please be a dear and fetch me my tripod.” She slowly gets off her seat, glares at him for a split-second and then disappears into another room.

“So,” I say to try to break the awkward silence that has ensued between us, “I hear you have dinner at this time everyday.”

“Yes, we do. It’s in the main conference hall in Sector 2. You should come and see it some time, it’s magnificent.”

“I definitely will,” I say as I think of something else to say to keep this going. “So, I guess you are kind of like the big boss of this whole place huh?”

“Uh, well, I wouldn’t say boss per say. I would travel more along the lines of motivator or leader,” he says then runs his hand through his greying-blonde hair.

I look at my feet again. My laces look tied but once I take a closer look, it appears that I forgot to tie the right one. I remember a show I watched on TV where a magician tied his laces by simply wiggling his foot. I guess this is a pretty good time to attempt this feat and launch my magical career since considering all that has happened, this would be one of the normal highlights of my week were I to recount it to another person.

I raise my foot slightly into the air and wiggle it a bit. The laces flop all over the place like sickly noodles then fall limply at the side of my sneaker. I try with a bit more force but still to no avail. I look up to see that Dr. Knoster is staring at me and smiling.

“You’re doing it all wrong.” He bends over and intentionally unties his shoelace. “The trick is in how you shake your foot, see?” He points down to his jet black shoe which is now untied and after just a few wiggles of his foot, the shoe is tied perfectly.

“What the? How did you...”

“I used to be a bit of a magic enthusiast when I was younger.”

“Wow, you need to teach me...” I was about to finish my sentence but I’m interrupted by a remote source.

“Awww, look who’s bonding over a bit of magic.” I turn my head to see that Alexandria is standing at the doorway staring at us with a goofy smile on her face.

“Do you have my tripod?” Dr. Alfred stops her from going further with her friendship talk.

“Yeah Alfie. Think fast!” She tosses a white oval tablet towards me but before it reaches me, Dr. Knoster has caught it already.

“I told you to be careful with this Alex, it’s a prototype.” She rudely sticks her tongue out at him and comes to reclaim her seat next to me.

He slides his finger over the front of the device and immediately a hologram viewer pops out. He scrolls through it then clicks a file. He sets it on the coffee table before us and the hologram enlarges. He now turns to me.

“So Dr. Blay, what’s on your mind?” he says. “Anything particular bothering you?”

“Oh, uh, well yes, quite a lot in fact. You need to be a bit more specific.”

He shifts in his seat so that he now sits facing me directly. I won’t even begin to describe to you how uncomfortable I feel right now. I soldier on anyways.

“To begin with, I was really wondering what happened to my family?” That question hangs in the air like a particularly bad odour.

“Okay, I think I will go in a different direction with this. Instead of answering your questions directly, which might confuse you, let me instead begin by telling you the history of the Underworld. That would make everything go much smoother.”

“Okay, yes, but I was just pretty worried that...”

“Dim the lights please.” Alexandria gets off her seat and slides a dimmer on the wall that dims the lights. The pale light of the hologram now illuminates the whole room.

“We begin our journey not at the day of the launch, but actually a year ago, at a Nobel Prize seminar. Dr. Ignatius Blay announces to the world that he has started work on a probe that will be launched into space to replace our ozone which was thinning out very rapidly.

I was in the crowd that day and from my seat, I knew that a bumbling idiot like Dr. Ignatius Blay, working closely with highly volatile nuclear materials will no doubt mess up big time, no offense. It was from this day that I decided to enlist the help of a few people to put steps in place to save humanity when you inevitably messed up, which you did.

I enlisted my sis...ummm, Alexandria, to work on the engineering side of proceedings with her team since she was always a mechanical genius. I drew the plans for the Underworld, and I completed them within two-days, since I refused to sleep, knowing that the very human race is at stake. I now had the plans, but now, it was time for a location.” He swipes the hologram and the slide changes. “What you see before you now is the former site for the NASA chemical waste disposal site. NASA used to generate a huge amount of chemical waste back in the day when they were developing nuclear weapons for the army during the war and didn’t want to endanger any human or wild life by dumping it indiscriminately. As a result, since they could not go far enough away from life on the surface of the earth, they decided to go under it.

They dug a huge tunnel into an underground cavern that goes down about eighty kilometres, and lined the area with a radiation resistant heat-shield that would keep the harmful material in. All this work was completed on the 18th of August 1964, but this was all on the hush hush, especially from those pesky environmentalists that were always up in NASA’s business.

I saw this as a golden opportunity to make my dream of the Underworld a reality so I arranged a meeting with my boss at NASA, Dr. Andrew Hobbs. After pitching him my idea of transforming the wasteland, as the dumpsite was affectionately known at NASA at that time, into a living, breathing, functioning civilisation, he was so impressed that he wanted in, but he also warned me that he had to pitch my idea to his boss, who in this case, was the President of the United States.

After three weeks of deadly anxiety and frantically gathering my people, I was called into Dr. Hobbs’s office. I entered and the man had a gloomy look in his eyes which definitely wasn’t promising. After sitting me down, he told me that the President turned him down and that we cannot use the wasteland for any other purpose than what it was designated for. I left the office devastated, completely sure that that was the end for mankind.

As I left to break the news to my team, I heard someone calling me from behind. Dr. Hobbs caught up with me and dropped a card with some keys in my palm. He explained that this card is the master key-card to the wasteland. He also gave me permission to use the place, even at the risk of losing his job. I give him an affectionate hug and run off to tell my team that our mission to save mankind is on.

We began the real work about a week later. We managed to get funding from a little scientific institute from Pennsylvania called the Harlem Reef Research Institution. The real challenge was clearing out the rivers of sewage and nuclear waste that flowed all around the place. We managed to suck all of it out and store it in a storage tank for future disposal. This process took the best part of two weeks. Finally, we could now get down to some serious work.” He swipes the slide again as I readjust in my seat. “We began by constructing the main building, which is the hospital, we are now in. This building is made entirely out of concrete and fibre-glass, making it incredibly malleable, which is a very good property for it to have considering the shaky plates of the earth upon which this building sits on. This building took the best part of three months to complete and we decided that if we created all the others in this manner, we would just run out of time so we built the other buildings to float above ground. Afterwards, we just went crazy with any scientific idea we could come up with, since we had all our funding from the institute.” He pauses a bit and gets up for a drink of water. He wipes his mouth and comes back to continue the slides. “It was now a week before the launch. We had made tremendous progress, completing about 70% of the buildings and innovations you see around here now. It was now time to assemble the people.

I divided my team into six parts; the first team to collect the alphas, which include great minds of the planet and those whom we decided would be invaluable to the new human civilisation. The last five groups were assigned to round up the others, like our sponsors and others who had helped along the way in our work. Two days before the launch, we had a total number of some three hundred and fifty-three people.

On the day of the launch,” he swipes the slide again, “I managed to catch Alexandria sneaking out to do God-knows-what. Now, at this point, I need to ask you if I need to continue because what I will say may hurt your feelings.”

I nod my head and he looks into my eyes for a while. He then nods and displays the next slide.

“I asked her where she was going to just a few hours to launch. She refused to tell me and stomped off to her room. A few minutes to launch, I decide to check her room and low and behold, the girl was missing, and a large pile of her blonde hair was lying on her bed next to a razor.” I look at Alex and imagine what she would look like blonde and back at Dr. Knoster. “I immediately knew where she had gone to since I knew she had had a soft-spot for the mighty Dr. Ignatius Blay for as long as I could remember. She had cut her hair to masquerade as a guard to sneak out. I knew I had to find a way to stop the launch or else she would be killed.

I left the base and raced towards the launch site knowing that there were only a few minutes to launch. I was hoping she had found you but I didn’t find her in time so I decided that the only way to save her was to get you to stop the launch. I ran towards the launch site and as luck will have it, you were also on your way back from the bathroom. I tried to appeal to you to save mankind by pointing out a mistake you did in your calculations but you laughed in my face. It was at this point that I decided to leave you to die but I was incredibly worried about my, Alexandria.” He leaves to get another cup of water and comes back. “When it was under two minutes to launch and there was still no sign of Alexandria, I had to accept the inevitable and make it back to the base. I barely made it back and even got hit by a bit of radiation on the way in, leaving me looking just a bit older than I actually am. At this point, I would like to reveal that Alexandria and I are siblings.”

“Wow,” is all I can say after he finishes his long narrative with news that I already know.

He signals to Alex to increase the lights and he turns off the tripod. He takes another drink of water before sitting by me on the conjoined metal chairs.

“Okay, so I have just three questions.”


“Number one, how in the world is it possible to build a place of this size and stature in less than a year?”

“Well look,” he places his cup on the table, “I know that all of this might not make sense but I can start the slideshow again if you need clarification.”

“No, no, let me ask my second question.” He settles back in his seat and I continue. “Okay, so you said that this place was a former dumpsite for radioactive waste made by NASA?”

“Yes, exactly.”

“Then if that is the case,” I say, “Then why isn’t everyone here poisoned by radiation? And since when did NASA start producing radioactive weapons anyways?” He shifts uncomfortably in his chair as I ask these questions.

“Look, I said if you’re confused I don’t mind starting the presentation again.”

“No, forget it. My third question is what happened to her after she didn’t make it back?” I point to Alexandria.

“Well, that’s an easy one,” he says almost in relief. “I went out soon after the blast to look for her and found her covered by a bunch of rubble by the entrance to the Underworld. I took her inside before the radiation mutated her beyond recognition and reconstructed her lost body parts. I also gave her new hair, red in colour since she cut off her original hair trying to masquerade as a man.”

“Okay, so how did I survive? I thought you left me to die?”

“Well, initially I did, but Alexandria refused to see eye-to-eye with me. She sulked for weeks on end, constantly pestering me to save you. She even refused to eat for a whole week.”

“I did not! He’s lying!” she rebuffs from behind the desk.

He ignores her. “Eventually I’d had enough caved in. I decided to try to find you in what was left of the earth, whose atmosphere had dissipated to barely about one percent of oxygen and the rest being deadly uranium gas and dust. It took about three weeks of searching before we found your horribly disfigured and rapidly mutating body inside a cave surrounded by post-humanoids.”


“Oh yes, the blast wasn’t strong enough to kill everybody on earth, but it did super-saturate the air with radiated oxygen molecules that mutate those who breathed it in. You weren’t fully mutated when we found you but we had to stop the mutation. We tried everything to save your humanity but the mutations had taken a firm hold of your body. The only way to save your humanity was to cryogenically freeze you until the mutagen died.”

“How long was that?”


“How long did you freeze me for?” All this new information is giving me a massive headache but I try to keep my sanity by clutching my hands tightly over my skull.

“Oh, let’s say a couple of years give or take.” I hear a huge gulp after he finishes as he takes a drink.


“Yes, it took quite a while before the mutagen died in your blood. As a result, your memory was a bit, distorted. It’s been returned now I hope?”

“Yes, I guess so,” I say. “I have just one more question.”


“Well, I was just wondering if you saw anyone, else, inside the cave.”

“Is there anyone particular you have in mind?”

I grab my head harder as it rests in my palms. “I was thinking of my wife, and my kids.”

“You had a wife?” He practically spits out the water he is drinking in surprise.

“I already told you I had a family,” I say while feeling very insulted. “Why are you shocked anyways?”

“I don’t know,” he says. “I’m just surprised that anyone would be in a relationship, let alone procreate with you.”


“What? I’m just saying it like it is.” The true hurt of that insult hasn’t reached me yet and he should just hope it doesn’t else when it does, he dies by my hands right now.

“Well, someone did, and she was really special to me,” I say. “Her name was Martina and we had two kids, Jason...and Alexandria.” I see him shift uncomfortably near me as I say Alexandria’s name. That’s very odd. These people must be hiding something from me.

I clutch my head hard as another headache takes effect. I must get this checked out.

“Tell me about your wife.” I take my head out of my hands and realise that Alex is now sitting beside me with a curious look on her face.

I was trying to avoid talking about this subject altogether but there is just something about the quiet concern in her voice that puts me instantly at ease. She reminds me of Martina so much that it doesn’t make any sense.

“Her name was, is Martina, as I just said.”

“Wow, what a lovely name. Was, is she foreign?”

“Yes, well her father was Swedish. We met while I was still in college.”

“Wow. You said that your daughter was called Alexandria?”

“Yes. She is your namesake I guess.”

“I haven’t met her before but I’m sure that she is pretty and really smart.” She does that hair-flick thing and I laugh.

“Just like you huh?”

“Hmmm, I didn’t even think of that.”

“Sure you didn’t.”

We sit there in a bit of reflective silence until Dr. Alfred speaks up. “Well, I’d better be getting back to the dinning hall.”

“Okay. See you later Alfie.” She is practically shooing him out. He exits the room but then returns soon after to say, “Oh and please don’t do anything I wouldn’t do. This whole facility is wired with security cameras,” he looked at me all the while he said this then touches his hand to his eye before he leaves, looking at me the whole while.

That man really doesn’t like me.

I have been sitting here chatting with Alexandria for the past half hour and I’ve learned a whole bunch about her and she about me, for instance, their parents died when they were in their teens and her brother took care of her for a few months until their uncle found them and took them in, but he kicked them out soon after when their cousin falsified a story that she punched him, but that was only after he tried to pick a fight with her. They went to an orphanage where they stayed for a while until Dr. Alfred got a scholarship at NASA for an invention they submitted into a junior inventor’s competition, a highly-advanced communicator of sorts.

“Wow, you’ve have had a really hard life,” I say to her as I sympathise with her. “How do you deal with all of that?”

“I’ve found that it is better to keep positive instead of sulking or being mad at the world for no apparent reason all the time.”

“That’s a fantastic attitude to have,” I say as I look deep into her green eyes that remind me of something or someone I just can’t place my finger on at the moment.

She doesn’t reply but just keeps looking into my face. After a while, I see her eyes shut and she begins to lean toward my face. I think she is going in for a kiss! I would have enjoyed this otherwise but when an image of my tiny daughter in my wife’s arms flashed through my head, I immediately get a vomit feeling in my stomach. I quickly dodge her lips and plant the kiss on her forehead, as any father would do to their daughter.

“I’m sorry, I just can’t do that,” I say. She looks a bit hurt.

“Why not? Am I that unattractive?” I see a tear glistening in her eye.

“Oh no, far from it. You are a beautiful young woman and any man would be lucky to have you.”

“Then why don’t you want to kiss me?”

“Well, it’s because, you’re, you.”

“What? That makes absolutely no sense. I knew it, you are repulsed by me!” She wipes her eyes and moves to get off the chair.

“Wait,” I follow her back to her desk. “Don’t cry Alex, I didn’t mean it like that. I meant to say that you, remind me so much of my daughter.”

“I’m sorry too,” she says. “I shouldn’t have tried that. I should go.” She makes a motion to leave but I stop her and persuade her to stay.

“It’s strange for me too,” I say. “It’s too soon.”

“I can only imagine.”

“Alexandria, look I want to be clear,” I take her hand in mine and look her straight in the eye, “I don’t think I will ever see you as anything more that a daughter or a close friend.”

She doesn’t say anything but she does have a disappointed look on her face. I let go of her hand and lean on the desk hoping for something to happen to change this incredibly awkward topic.

“Have you been given the tour of the place yet?” she says as I secretly praise God in my head that she changed the topic to end this awkwardness that had filled the air.

“No, I haven’t really had the time to meet anyone or see anything so far.”

“Then let’s go,” she grabs my hand and begins dragging me out of the room. She is surprisingly strong than what her stature would give away.

“Where are you dragging me off to?”

“For a tour of course.”

“What, right now?”

“There’s no better time that the present.”

I am about to be given a tour of this place against my will, but surprisingly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. It beats sitting here in awkward-city talking about how I can never love this beautiful, smart girl because of my wife whom I’m not even sure is still alive.

One word to sum up my life right now: Complicated.

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