Thursday, September 22, 2318
Grifkin is the kind of man that people initially overlook. The round, quiet older man that sits in the corner, unobtrusive. His graying hair and soft appearance, endearing. While you think he is idle and unconcerned, he is in fact biding his time. I could cut myself on the sharpness of his mind which I found out nearly by accident.
I had become a habit, a routine, something predictable. Each day was the same, how easy it was for me to fall into a dance, especially when I felt safe. That is no longer true. In the course of a single day my entire world collapsed yet again.
I am beginning to wonder just how many times I can have this happen before I break.
The freedom they had given me, the ability to roam the halls was a farce. Every corridor, every door, every entrance was blocked or locked besides a select few they chose to leave access to. The library was one, my room, the cafeteria and the testing rooms. Other than that I was trapped like a rat in a cage. Which is exactly how I felt meandering through the dark, solid walls. Until yesterday.
I think my mind worked like it had in the Dome, detecting and devising while I focused on other things like reading the books my father had wrote. Oh! And what vividly stimulating books they were, filled with all the things he told me of and so much more. There was an entire series dedicated to the study of his research with molecules and nanotechnology, injecting small machines into the living tissue of plants and animals. So far his experiements were failures. But I imagine my father, in a long white coat, hunched over these very books, the ink flowing freely under his intense gaze. I run my finger over the indented markings, the overstuffed chair molding around me and the scent of dust and paper filling my nose and feel close to him. But I digress, this isn’t the time for nostalgia.
On that morning I had a stomach ache and stayed in my room longer than usual. How easy, it seems, for others to fall into the same steps I dance. They didn’t think to look for me or monitor me, so predictable I had been, so on this day I rose later than usual and headed toward the kitchen. Fifteen steps before I reached that door another lay. My eyes caught the sight before I realized what I saw. A fissure in the door, a line of light seeping through, for whatever reason it hadn’t fully shut. I stopped, listened for sound and heard nothing, felt no one. My fingertips gingerly eased it open.
The flexible foam shoes were soundless, I am sure I stopped breathing. The sound of my pounding heart would surely give me away. I could hear voices, loud, arguing, coming from further down the hallway. I pressed my back against the cold wall just outside the open doorway. I couldn’t see in and didn’t dare peek but I knew who was in there without needing to look.
“You have to tell her!” I heard feet pounding against the floor and imagined Tybal pacing as he yelled, his blue eyes flashing.
“She isn’t ready. You see how she is, burying herself in Monroe’s books. We need to wait.” Came Grifkin’s easy reply.
“I waited long enough for her. She needs to know. If you won’t tell her I will.”
“No. You won’t.” A razor edge entered Grifkin’s voice. I pictured him sitting, relaxing in an overlarge chair as he did talking to me that night. But where there was comfort in his voice then, it was stripped away now. “She didn’t grow up knowing, like you. She didn’t have the years of acceptance or training. Monroe did what he could trapped in the city but it wasn’t nearly enough. You saw the test results.”
“She’s fine. She’s perfect. Let me tell her. Let me have her now.” Tybal sounded almost petulent. My heart squeezed in my chest. My mind grasped for something, something it felt it knew but couldn’t access or remember. I ignored it, focusing on their words and listening for footsteps in the hall.
“I won’t let you distrupt this project with your pettiness. It has taken us centuries to get to this far and as far as I’m concerned it can wait a few more decades until she is ready. You know it won’t matter in the end but for this to succeed you will follow my directions. Do you understand me, Tybal? She is the important piece, you, my son, are expendable. Don’t forget you’re not the only one in line, just the first.” Tybal growled, his footsteps grew closer, my eyes darted around for a place to hide but there was no where. I took a deep breath, relaxed and as he turned the corner smiled at him as if I stood here every day.
His eyes widened nearly imperceptably but he didn’t say anything just grabbed my elbow, pulling me along beside him, never even missing the beat of a step. As the hallway door shut behind us -Tybal giving it an extra push just to make certain- and the smell of dinner bloomed in the air, he finally spoke.
“How much did you hear?”
“I heard nothing.” He smiled at that.
“Oh, now, don’t be like that. I know you heard us…bickering.”
“Well, maybe I heard a little but I don’t understand. Tybal, please tell me, explain. It was me you were talking about wasn’t it?” I placed my hands on his chest beseechingly. I felt the warmth through his dark shirt. I felt awkward and unsure and slightly nauseous though from his nearness or the information I overheard I still am uncertain. His hands came up to my shoulders as he looked down at me.
“I can’t.” I could see the pain shooting through the clear sky of his eyes. And then I saw it, as vividly as if I was witnessing it before me. I saw a star, a silver speck in the blackness, flame and move, streaking across the night sky. I knew the names of these things as I watched them, the burning white trail; the coma, the white-hot head; the nucleus though I had never seen them in anything more than pictures. Now they moved in slow motion across the empty canvas of the Universe.
And then I felt it, a tingling that had nothing to do with Tybal. I felt a pull like nothing I had ever felt before, so different that words escape me how to describe it but I know it was a calling. When my vision cleared and the tingling subsided Tybal was smiling down on me. I opened my mouth to explain but closed it again. There was nothing I could tell him. He already knew.
“I will come get you in a few days. I have to make some arrangements first, but there is something I want you to see.” I nodded dumbly, still recoving from my vision and he left.
“Faylinn,” Grifkin’s voice sounded behind me. I froze, half opening the cafeteria door. I pasted on a smile and tried to look innocently. I didn’t want him to know I over heard. I wasn’t ready to piece together what I had learned. I know I didn’t want him to know of the vision. Instinct told me that would be bad. He wasn’t who I thought he was. This place wasn’t safe anymore than the Domes or the City. And I was trapped. He smilied in return, the viper I heard only moments before was now hidden behind a teddy bear. “Make sure you’re up early tomorrow. There are a few more tests we need to do.” I swallowed hard, afraid this time, of these new tests. Tybal was expendable. What did that mean? I wondered if he could read my guilt and fear on my face but I schooled myself as much as I could and nodded.
When he left he took my appetite with him.