APOLLO: 6 am. A new day.
(Ring Ring Ring)
I slap my alarm clock. Once. Twice, until it's quiet again. I roll over, try to get a few more minutes sleep, but it's no use. I can hear Eros moping around upstairs.
I feel around in the dark for the light in the bathroom. Still groggy, I blink in surprise at my own face. I ruffle my hair. More grateful than ever to have it now that I gotta look at Eros' dome every day. The world's a bleak place- No need to add to it with a bad haircut. I hear the shower in the upstairs bathroom cue up. Great. I'll get to eat breakfast without having to stare at him crying into his Cheerios.
There's a woman who works in our kitchen. Not sure where she comes from or even when she gets here, all I know is that no matter how early we rise- she's always here to make an omelette. She's maybe a gen or so above me. She's told me her name but- ah, so many people tell me their names. You'd think with the population shrinking as much as it has this awkward song and dance would get easier, but no.
APOLLO: I smile at her as she chops scallions. So nice to see someone doing what they love.
WOMAN: Looking wonderful today, as always. You must be excited for your trip.
APOLLO: I smile. If only everyone in my life gave a shit about me like this name-less lady does. I'm the father of the first new human... Sure some people know the truth, but I'm the one putting in all the long hours of hand shaking and photo opps. Not to mention putting up with Persephone. The woman takes a momentary break from her chopping to hand me a steaming cup of coffee.
WOMAN: The transport should be here shortly.
APOLLO: Thank you.
I say, genuinely enjoying the woman's company. She turns to me.
WOMAN: I assume Persephone is also going.
I say shortly, a little unhappy the conversation has turned to-
WOMAN: And then Rhea too?
APOLLO: Uhm... yes.
WOMAN: How exciting. So fiery. Not like her sister that's for sure.
APOLLO: I swallow the coffee- now tasting a little bitter in my mouth.
WOMAN: I know there's no way to tell- but do you think... she might be carrying soon too? We have a bet down at the center- some people think Persephone will carry again before Rhea even starts but not me. There's something about her that just-
APOLLO: I dump my coffee into the sink.
You know what? I'll take my breakfast in my room. Bring it to me when you're finished.
Her fat, cherry face depresses a little bit.
And make a new pot of coffee. There's something wrong with that one.
I throw over my shoulder as I stomp up the stairs. I can't even have a fucking meal without someone making everything about those two fucking girls.
APOLLO: 9 am.
(Train hissing to life.)
I enter my room- slightly smaller than I wanted and too close to Eros'. There's a small dresser and a thin- very thin mattress. Can you believe people used to travel like this all the time?
I guess the drawback of a fully populated world was the obligation to see any of it. I lie down on my side. Could be worse. Could have anyone to share this bed with. I trace the empty space beside me.
I'm so lonely.
When things used to happen or thoughts occurred to me. Jokes. Questions. I had someone to share them with. Even when I lost Hera as a partner she was there if I really needed her. And for everything more casual, I had Eros. Other chaps. Shylock. People who... cared about me. Or atleast didn't hate me. Everything that happens to me only makes me feel more isolated.
I stretch to make the bed feel as small as possible. No one is missing. I flip onto my back. That's when I see it. A note. On the ceiling. I get to my feet- stand on the bed and easily reach the thin peice of paper. A large letter "A" and then two words; "Kitchen. Oven."
I trace the letters, the ink smudges a little. How fresh is this? And more importantly... where's the kitchen?
I hop off the bed and open my flimsy bedroom door.
I see there a stone faced Rhea. Her eyes obscured by large sunglasses. She barely acknowledges me. Just checks the number on the door to the left of mine. She raises her glasses, checks again.
RHEA: Fuck me in the ass.
APOLLO: She sighs. How lucky we would all be to be saved by her. She yanks open the door to what must be her room.
I take the few steps to reach her doorway.
You got your own room too.
I think only the boys are sharing.
She throws her beat up back pack into a corner. Shrugs out of her leather jacket and lets it fall to the floor. She leaves it there. Runs a hand through her messy hair. She rubs an eye- smears whatever day old makeup was there a bit.
The fact that anyone wants to get within five feet of her is a miracle. The fact Clark is dying to be with her is incredible. I suspect something about being the last eligible non-pregnant bachelorette has something to do with it.
She tries to push open the small window hatch by her bed. No luck.
RHEA: Guess I won't be throwing myself out.
APOLLO: Part of me- a very small part. Feels a little sorry for her. The pressure on her must be unbearable. And she's nearly sober. AND she doesn't have Eros to pal around with. Knowing all of that, it's made it a little easier to let her unload on me. She's not mad at me, she's mad at her own circumstances.
No one, NO ONE likes copping. Maybe in the beginning, when I was 15 I was excited about it... but now... I'm exhausted. Plus I think every second I make eye contact with Rhea's dead eyes takes a year off my life. It's too hard for me to have to be with her like that.
RHEA: What kind of locks are on these doors?
APOLLO: Uh, dead bolts? Yeah the... slidey kind.
RHEA: Well I'm going to need a few more. It's insane she even put us this close together.
APOLLO: We do bicker.
I say lightly. Rhea has never been a morning person.
RHEA: You killed my friend, you twat.
APOLLO: "Friend" is a strong word.
My anger flares up. Probably because this is what drives me insane. Eros and Rhea treated her- Iris like shit.
You didn't know her and you definately didn't like her.
RHEA: You don't know any-
APOLLO: You bullied her and isolated her when you made sure no one you liked was allowed to like her.
APOLLO: I was the only person she could have a real relationship with.
RHEA: Weird way to describe fucking behind Hera's back.
APOLLO: She spits before she can catch herself. There we go. That little flash of cruelty. It has no effect on me. But it reminds Rhea of how she really felt about her blonde, beautiful rival.
RHEA: I could call Iris fake and a bitch and a liar and it still wouldn't make me the one who killed her.
APOLLO: No. But it would make you complicit. We wouldn't have had what we had if it wasn't for you.
RHEA: Get out of my room.
APOLLO: She snarls.
Where's the kicthen?
APOLLO: 9 :30 am
Took a little longer than I hoped but I found the kitchen car. No thanks to Rhea. The actual kitchen is in a little metal room in the center of the car. There's a staircase and a bathroom at the head and mroe stairs at the rear. I push through the door and am immediately within four feet of the oven- the benefit of such a cramped space. I take a beat- look around, then pop open the appliance. Huh.
I pull out a brown leather bag. Locked. There's a note stuck to it. "She shouldn't have all the important information left in the world. The only thing you need to open this is yourself. Keep this bag safe. You owe it to me. - PB."
Theres only a few gens left that still have last names, and therefore initials. I look at the bag- old and beat up save for a glossy little lock at the top. It blinks with a red light.
Nothing. I press my finger tip onto the light. Nothing.
Whatever. I hate to waste good leather but-
I grab a knife, attempt to cut around the lock but the second the blade digs into the leather-
The blade stops. Like it's hitting something metal on the inside.
Now is definitely one of those times I wish I had someone to talk to. I grab the bag and head back towards my room to sort this out.
But when I get back to the sleeping compartment Charon is gripping the window banister. Clutching his chest.
I ask. But he GRABS me by my shirt. Easily JERKS me within a few inches of his face. I drop the bag.
CHAR: How do I get off?
APOLLO: I try and gently remove his hand- he's streaching out my shirt. And also kind of scaring me.
Let's get you a glass of-
He SHOVES me backwards. My head hits a closed door. Opened seconds later by- Hera. Great.
There's a light crease in her forehead. Dark eyes large with worry.
HERA: Char, what's going on?
APOLLO: I'm the one on the ground. She's so maternal. It kills me.
He’s fucking out of his mind.
I grumble. She ignores me.
Also man? Be careful this bag is important.
I say as I get to my feet, hoping one of them asks about it.
CHAR: I just need to get off the-
APOLLO: Char heaves before we LURCH with the train. I stumble and fall into Hera who reflexively SHOVES me. I fall into the door. My forehead catches on the knob. I'm bleeding. I'm 100% bleeding. But Hera is watching Char run off. The bag. Where's the-
APOLLO: Hera holds it out to me instead of apologizing.
Char's acting weird.
I say. Trying to keep her with me for just a second longer.
APOLLO: She says. Hmm. not engaging. Let me try appealing to that famous carer impulse-
Is my... face bleeding?
APOLLO: She says quickly. Pushing past me and heading in the same direction Char went in.
APOLLO: 2 pm
Rebekah calls us all into the library car for a quick chat. She's draped in some kind of... poncho. Shawl. It's not pretty. Flanked by two bulky men a gen or so older than me.
REBEKAH: Hello. Hello.
APOLLO: No one returns her greeting. I just nod in her direction. I'm not saying Rebekah should be nice to me- absolving me of what happened with Iris was great. Not that she did it for any reason other than to avoid the uncomfortable truth about Dion AND it provided a super convenient reason to get rid of Black but... whatever whatever... She's always cold if not outright rude to me. As if she's spent her whole life working for the cause when she really took a 15 year hiatus in the woods. And no, I don't think carrying artificially makes her all that great. No more special than stuffing something in a closet you weren't using anyway.
REBEKAH: This is Truman and Ford.
APOLLO: Ugh, the American President batch. Fantastic. She doesn't bother telling us which is Truman and which is Ford because she probably can't tell their bulky frames apart either.
REBEKAH: They will be accompanying us on the journey.
APOLLO: Rhea says. She and Rebekah are my favorite "Will they/won't they murder each other" pairing.
REBEKAH: And what?
APOLLO: Rebekah replies cooley.
RHEA: And where is the rest of the staff?
APOLLO: Rhea whines.
REBEKAH: There isn't any. I trust you people can be self sufficient for a few days. Like normal people.
RHEA: Just to be clear-
APOLLO: Rhea starts-
RHEA: No cooks, cleaners, doctors, or Hercule Poirots on this Orient Express?
APOLLO: Clark suppresses a giggle. Rebekah is unmoved.
REBEKAH: Everything you need is provided. Food and other supplies are stocked already because your complaints are as derivative as Agatha Christie.
APOLLO: She sighs.
RHEA: You can't be derivative is you invented half the conventions of a genre.
APOLLO: Rhea snaps. Rebekah just looks at her bored.
REBEKAH: Whatever. I don't care.
APOLLO: Black loved sparring with Rhea, Rebekah, finds it all a little annoying.
REBEKAH: We will be arriving at the Winnipeg checkpoint tomorrow.
EROS: Will there be medical staff on hand the study our vitals? Whats the copping schedule?
REBEKAH: Eros, I'm going to need you to let me worry about all of that. I encourage all of you to take some time to yourselves. Relax. Read. Nap.
APOLLO: She turns to Rhea, smiles.
APOLLO: I try and cross to Eros before he speeds out of the compartment. I hold up my bag-
But even though I know he sees me, he doesn't slow down. Runs out.
TALC: Trouble with your ward?
APOLLO: My shoulders tense immediately at the sound of that grating, Southern drawl.
I sigh, Talc a few feet from me.
TALC: I feel ya on that. I'm sure Clark ran off to look for Persephone.
APOLLO: Huh. That's weird.
I say reflexively. As much as I don't want to get stuck in a conversation with him I really am curious as to where THAT came from.
TALC: Yeah, couple of peas in a pod. Picked him up from hers' late last night.
APOLLO: What were they doing?
TALC: Hell if I know. I'm a gentleman.
APOLLO: He smirks. This guy, always always smirking. And his tone... Like he WANTED to dangle gossip over me. From day one- yesterday- I've had ONE day with him and I can already say I'm good.
TALC: Would think you'd have a better idea, being that you and Pers spend so much time together. Hoping to chat with her later today.
TALC: Why not?
APOLLO: Because you can't just... she's important. She and I work together on officeal state business because we-
TALC: Well then, you'll have to tell me how to get her to warm up to me. I heard you're real good at getting close to the girls.
APOLLO: My jaw drops. The FUCK was that? I look around the car- we're alone. Talc must not know. He raises an eyebrow, confident he's still safe.
TALC: Hey, I'm not here to judge anything. Like I said, I'm a gentleman.
APOLLO: I take a step towards him. Grimace, swallow my anger. Deny. Deny. Deny. I pat him roughly on the shoulder.
No idea what you're talking about, buddy. This may be hard for someone who hasn't spent any time as viable, but my relationship with Rhea and Persephone is professional.
Surely he can read between those lines. What is he gonna-
TALC: What was Iris like?
APOLLO: My stomach lurches at the mention of her name. Not angry. Not sad. An unexpected nausea. Deny. Deny. Deny everything about her.
HERA: She was beautiful, smart. Everything you've heard. We all miss her terribley.
APOLLO: Hera says quietly. And I take a step back from Talc as I wonder how long she's been standing there. And why she's looking at me like I did something wrong. She pushes past me and into the next compartment. I follow- but before I go- I grab Talc. Whisper in his ear-
If you bring her up again, I'll throw you off this train.
In the next car. I'm closing the gap between us. Reaching out- grazing her shoulder when-
Hera PUNCHES me in the stomach. Shoves me. I fall. SMACK my head on the door behind me. It all happens so fast I barely register the look on Hera's face. She's as surprised as I am.
HERA: I'm- I'm...
APOLLO: I let myself sit there on the floor in a heap for awhile. Let her see what she's done. Think about how fucking easy it is for ANYONE to lose their temper
HERA: Apollo are you okay?
I wonder if she wants a real answer.
You hit me.
I say instead.
Are you going to apologize?
I pull myself to my feet. One hand gripping the bag. The other, palm pressed to the glass. I don't look at her.
Guess I deserved that.
I don't think you'd survive what you deserve.
All talk. The fact that she stopped to see if I was okay might as well be an apology. I study her, dark eyes on level with mine. Her short, dark hair- which of course I would have advised against. It makes her look... angry. Maybe I should appeal to something that has nothing to do with me... Something like...
Wanna solve a little mystery?
I say hoisting the bag a little higher in the air. She raises an eyebrow. She looks most like Rhea when she's feeling sceptical.
Someone left me a note. Someone wanted me to find this.
You have exactly as long as it takes me to treat your face wounds.
Should we do your room then or mine?
She says, heading in the direction of the dining car.
I breathe a sigh of relief when I see the car is empty. I was worried if we caught sight of anyone Hera might ditch me. The looks on their faces encouraging her worst feelings for me.
She drops behind the bar at the front of the car. Pops back up with a first aid kit, saying nothing.
How did you know that was there?
She rifles through it for gauze and rubbing alcohol as matter of factly as she speaks.
There's another, more extensive first aid kit in the kitchen. One fire extinguisher in each car in the rear right corner. The third left window pane in each compartment is breakway glass in case of emergency. And there's a flare gun kit in the caboose. Of course I wasn't able to do a sweep of Rebekah's car- weird but worth noting that door locks on both sides.
Thourough as always.
My stomach turns as I realize she would most certainly have found the bag if I didn't beat her there.
Well, someone has to keep an eye out.
She says while SNAPPING a gell cold pack. She presses it to her cheek to make sure it's started cooling, then tosses it to me,
You're going to want to put that on your head.
I chirp as I put the cold pack to roughly the spot where my head hit the door.
Efficeantly, she breaks the seal on the alcohol, wets a piece of guaze. She looks up at me, tips her head. Beckons me. I approach slowly, unsure of how close to get.
Tell me about the bag.
Uhm, there was a note on my ceiling.
Your ceiling? In your room?
Her eyes are huge. She's so nakedly curious- I better make this good.
It was a riddle. Kind of a complex combination of literay and mathmatical references.
Can I see it?
Uh, no. No. I threw it out.
In what garbage?
Out a window. That's what it said to do. ANYWAY the riddle led me to the oven in the kitchen car. Where I found this bag. With a note.
Did you incinerate that one?
She says, wry, as I hand her the mysterious note.
"You know how powerful information is- she can't have it all. The only thing you need to open this is yourself. Keep this bag safe. You owe it to me. - PB."
Trying to figure out who PB is...
Well, the she is obvious.
The most suspicious person, powerhungry person on the train; Rebekah.
Glad to know you find someone more suspect than me.
You have confirmed all of my suspcions.
Walked into that one.
She holds the gauze up in answer. I carefully come around to her side of the bar. She touches the soft cotton to my face. The alcohol stings and smells terrible, but I wouldn't pull away for anything.
I can't think of anyone who has a "P" name...
Who do you owe?
The end of the note is kind of threatening. No? You owe them?
I mean, I have a lot of help. We all do.
Yeah but, the first part... "information"- sounds like someone has a secret of yours'.
She takes a step away from me and my body cools as if the sun itself has receeded.
Why would I keep anything from you now? I literally have nothing left lose.
Really? Your freedom? Not to mention all the admiration and fame? Kind of at your best.
Hera, I would rather be us again on our worst day... Then myself now.
And then- unexpectantly, she laughs a little. She barely waits a beat before leaning in again, as casually as if I'd jst told her the weather and saying-
I swear, I can't tell if you know you're not a hero or think you're the only one.
And then, I do the only thing I can. My mind is so used to seeing her like this- just a breath away from my face. At this distance I can count every eyelash, smell her shampoo, taste her breath... It's all so heady and familiar. What she's saying and the way she's saying it is just... I can't reconcile it with what every other sense is telling me. So I reach for her, sure that when I touch her; it will all make more sense. She is the person I have loved for my whole life. More solid and real than words or time or mistakes- Without needing to look I feel my hand come within three inches of her's. Then two. Then one. Then a half an inch. Then the width of a hair when-
Don't mind me.
Persephone SLAMS the door and Hera recoils. I don't move. Crushed.
Pers, I was just-
Hera stammers, but Persephone holds up a finger to silence her.
No, no need to explain. But I must say-
She smiles, then twists her small clown face into a pout-
I am extremely disapointed in you.
And she's gone. I am by no means saying I would ever, ever kill someone again. But if I had too...
Don't. Fucking don't.
She isn't even looking at me.
And don't touch me either. Clean your own fucking scratch-
She throws the gauze at me.
I've been bleeding for hours!
And do us all a favor and don't chat with Talc about Iris.
You think I brought her up? You think I'm proud of what I did to you?
She charges at me. I flinch.
The fact that you could ever think this has something to do with my... what? Vanity?
Your... your feelings.
Is that what's keeping you up Apollo? My feelings? Or the fact that you killed a girl?
Now, I take a step towards her. I swell with anger and expect her to back off, but she doesn't move causing me to seethe at the tip of her nose. I open my mouth to speak- but nothing comes out. I don't... know...
It was an accident.
I hear myself say. Exasperated.
Yeah? Is this how close she was?
She takes another step, so close to me, she can whisper in my ear.
Or was it like this?
She wraps her arms around my neck, exposes hers' as she rolls her head to the side.
Was it this easy for you to do it?
I keep my arms pinned to my side. Nothing about this is like before, I don't breathe in for fear of losing it. I want to push her off me. Shake her. Ask her how she can do this, how she can reject everything about our partnership for a 5 second mistake. But instead, I swallow hard and say- flat and measured-
I lost my temper for a moment. I think we both saw before how easily an accident in anger can happen.
Now she turns her head to me, he dark soft hair brushing my cheek as she does so. She parts her lips, flashes her blindingly brilliant smile and says with the same passion and percsion I have always loved about her-
When I kill you, it won't be an accident.
And she leaves me standing there, wondering if I'm going to need to borrow one of Rebekah's president guards. President. The thought is runs through my head just as I retreive my bag from the counter and see the note again. President. I only know two of those and only one with a "B". President Black. As the idea HITS me I clutch the bag to my chest as if someone might rip it away. I want to run back to my room but- something tells me Hera needs.... space. I head forwards into the next car. I immediately hear the unmistakably smug voice of Persephone. No time for that. I look around quickly and spot a sliding door- open it to reveal a set of stairs. The top- where the ceiling should be is... a giant window. Silently- I slide the door behind me. But before I ascend- I hear another voice...
I'm going to need you to drop your pants.
I freeze- not sure I want to walk in on whatever this is.
There has been no testing on humans, just rats, so there's no way to know how quickly it will take effect.
As always Rebekah speaks slowly, deliberately. Excersising her power, knowing that who ever she's talking to can't rush her. Which begs the qiuestion, who is she talking to?
Once we make the first injection, there's no going back. And you must take the second one. Otherwise...
And she trails off. I try and creep up the stairs, but the metal squeaks under my shoes. I don't even know what the room above looks like. If she isn't up here with Persephone or Hera... It could theoretically be Clark, Eros, Rhea, or-
Char grumbles. What the hell is Char doing alone with her?
Well I can't be sure, but the rat died.
But before she answers his question, Char WINCES. There's a tense moment of silence. What is going on? Is this... a steroid? Why would Rebekah be helping him dope up?
You better have that second shot on you.
Oh I do.
Her voice is light. Easy.
But I'll be the one administering it tomorrow.
Generous of you.
Just name it after me.
Rebekah tells him, smugly.
Only because "Bitch" is a lovely name for a boy or a girl.
I wouldn't have been able to hold in a laugh if I wasn't so surprised. Rebekah is conducting off hours experiments? Copping is one thing- it's natural. Iris was taking hormone therapies that have existed for decades... but I've never heard or injecting a man with anything. Nervously, I shift the bag to my right hand.
What was that?
Char says, alarmed. I look around franctically and realize it came from me. Or rather- the bag. The little red light on it's lock has turned green. Wha- why? My ID bracelet. I've been carrying this in my left hand all day! All I needed was-
Rebekah barks. And I hear footsteps approaching. Shit. Then- darkness. Total blackness.
What the f-
It's just a tunnel.
I hear Rebekah spit as I run back down the stairs, throw open the door and emerge back onto the first floor of the car. Can't go forwards- that's Rebekah's private car. Backwards then!
Mind still reeling from what I just overheard, I push into the lounge. Persephone has her arms wrapped around Clark at center stage. It's not sexual, but sort of sweet. Being relatively small, they look like two preteens dacing at a gala. Chaste. If, yanno, you forget the fact that Persephone has fucked everyone she's ever made eye contact with.
She hurls at me, stepping quickly away form Clark.
You can't tell me what to do
I say, stupidly. I DO have more authority than her. Why do I let her get under my skin?
I don't have time for you. We're busy.
Who said I was looking for-
I change course-
I can see that.
Ugh, wish I could ever translate into words how annoying and immature and-
I can just go. Find out where my chap has got to.
Clark finally manages to croak through his embaressment.
Yeah, maybe watch what you say around Salt.
Whatever. For someone so desperate to be treated like he "gets" us all, you don't act like part of the team.
I don't know what you're talking about.
I sigh. This kid with his constant deer-in-the-headlights eyes. He's always pretending he has no idea how to interact with people. The guy was raised in England not a well.
He implied he knew.
You've never been cute. Don't start now.
She blinks her nine foot long lashes, a little wounded. Good.
I didn't say anything to him. He doesn't really let other people talk.
Did he mention knowing?
He didn't. He had a lot to say about... Hera. maybe mentioned he didn't understand you.
What is that supposed to mean?
How do blind people know Hera is hot?
Persephone pipes in.
Well maybe he's aware of her personality.
I scold her.
Is that what you were getting closer to this afternoon?
I blink- if I wanted to correct her, I could. But... why?
I shrug, cool.
Are you holding her purse for her?
All I've wanted all day is for someone to ask me about this fucking bag and now... this- THIS is who does?
Maybe I am. Maybe I'm going to tell Rhea about whatever this is.
It's not sexual.
Clark squaks- turning an unnatural shade of red. Persephone sucks her teeth.
Tell her. We don't give a shit.
I mean- don't.
Clark can't see Persephone's eyes- but I can. A flicker of hurt.
I mouthe to her.
Unlike you, I can control myself.
We'd both do anything for the attention. The only difference between you and me is that when you fucked around it paid off.
I wasn't just fucking around.
I stoop down to her level.
Fine then, tell me you loved him.
And at that- she freezes in a way that promises she's asked herself this a thousand times.
I shrug, supressing the urge to shut her gaping mouth.
I think you should go.
Fine. She's your problem now. At least, until she needs somone to play parent with.
I'd rather choke.
That can be arranged.
And I leave her there on her ass, fresh off falling from her high horse.
I dead bolt my door. There's so much I want to tell someone, anyone. Char and Rebekah's secret, my win over Persephone... whatever is going on between she and Clark. But I can't. Luckily, I have a something to distract me. The bag. I throw it on the bed, look over my shoulder to make sure the lock is in place. Then take a deep breath. Alright Black, let's see what ya got.
I wave my hand over the lock. It turns green. Beeps. And softly clicks.
I slowly open the bag and find- files. Just uh... a few folders stuffed with papers. I shuffle them around- check for hidden drives. Discs. Recorders. Anything rmeotely interesting. But no. Just these- marked, shocker; Charon. Eros. Triton. Rhea. Persephone. Iris. Great. Got a weird feleing Iris won't be much help in rebuilding the world... I open her folder and the large full color picture of her is like a punch to the gut. Her fine hair, red lips, blue eyes... She's wearing this really elegant somehow perfectly sexy/beautful gown... Oh yeah this is Black's 60th birthday party. I made a speech- Iris thought it was hilarious. Ugh. I toss her folder frisbee style accross the room. Why did Black want me to have this? There are a million copies back- but then I see it, on the back of the photo... Hand written notes. It's all... medical mumbo jumbo, but it's what hormone regimine Iris was on before she died. What was working. But... but this handwriting isn't Black's. I'd know her's anywhere. This is someone else's... something scratchy.
I turn to the next folder- Persephone's. Her eyes are large and dark, her hair big enough to compensate for her small size. I turn the photo over. Yep. More notes. Stats, info about Dion.
I push to Rhea's. She smiling wide, swaying to something, arm around Eros' clearly cropped out shoulder. This is clearly a paparazzi shot- but honestly, a good one. On the back though, are not notes, but instructions to which documents to turn to. Like a table of contents. Ugh, I didn't know this mystery would involve so much... homework. But really, what else do I have to do? I hunker down and read until the sun disapeers.
By 8 pm I've learned a lot about Rhea's body I didn't need to know. I'm looking at about the last ultrasound picture I can take when I turn the page to the last note from our table of contents. It reads CONFIDENTIAL. Yeah, killing that game.
I brace and start reading. My heart stops. "If the unit does not have a success in the next six months, she will be effectively used as a carrier for Persephone. Highly sedated and monitored to assure no complications." What... the fuck? I reread.... If Rhea's situation hasn't improved by the time Pers gives birth... they're going to use her as a famr for viable embryos. Persephone's. Sedated and monitored? What does that even mean? I picture Rhea, strapped to a bed, comatose... What would that do to Hera?
How is progress with Eros really? His moping better be getting him somewhere. I grab his file. Barely notice his grinning, probably stoned, portrait (featuring deceased curls). Whereas the girls' pictures were crammed with notes- words nearly toppling off the edge of the paper... Eros only has one thing written. It's a curt few phrases. And they include my name. "Apollo, unpopular internally and externally. May stage DNA exam to label Eros "father." A = no longer relevant."
No... longer... relevant? What the fuck does it matter who's relevant? It's all a lie anyway! You think Eros could pull off happy and excited the way I can? And what does unpopular even mean? I'm popular! People fucking love me. Worship me. Plus I... I... don't have... anything else. Everything I've done has been for them. The copping and the medications and the endless hours in the lab and the- the lying to Hera about our baby. Which, REALLY is what drove me to Iris in the first place. That was BLACK's secret. I kept it for her. For all of them. And this is how they repay me? Fuck that. I STUFF the files on my bed back into the bag.
I get to my feet, throw the dead bolt off the door and charge out into the hallway. I rap once on her door, no answer. Then I THROW it open. She's not in there. She must be in Rhea's room. Right next to mine. I heave. She may never forgive me for this. But on the other hand, she might.
What are you doing?
Eros hisses. I spin to see him at the end of the hall. It's totally dark outside the train now, the sun sets earlier up here. There's no sound for a long time except the train rattling on.
Just leave them alone.
What makes everyone think they can order me around?
I'm going to tell her.
His eyes go wide, instantly knowing what I'm talking about.
She needs to know.
Now he moves swiftly towards me, pushes me back into my room. For the millionth time today, I'm being manhandled. A few months ago, I wouldn't have been scared of Eros. I'm a little taller than him, and broader. But now... he's got this lean muscle. Like a lightweight boxer.
I agree she needs to know. But not tonight. And not from you.
But I'm the one ready to tell her. You can't push me aside.
I say, angrier than I reaized.
Fine. Tell her with Rhea. Tomorrow. I'll talk to her.
I open my mouth to respond but snap it shut when Rhea and Hera walk by my still open door.
If I don't eat soon, I'm going to start snacking on shoes and they're all gonna be yours', Her.
I hear Rhea chirp. They barely pay any attention to us as they walk by. Just a chaperone and his ward...
Eros' eyes dart to the bag. I don't react. He can't see anything in it. But then... his eyes glide to the desk. Where Iris' file still sits. He snatches it.
I was just studying her medical history.
I say confidently.
The... lack of doctors staffed has me worried.
I worry for a moment he'll turn the photo over. Notice the notes. But he doesn't do anything. Just stands there. See? He has no control over his emotions.
I need you to tell me something about that night.
His voice trembles with his hands.
No, I did not have sex with her.
I say, bored.
I don't.... no. No, I need to know if... when she was scared... Did she say my name?
And now he rips his sad eyes from the picture of a girl he barely knew. Compared to me. Eros, who I have treated like a brother. Offering advice to and caring for... He stands there, judging me. Thinking his uncontrolable emotions give him some kind of moral highground. If he had the same issue with anger that he does with greif who knows? Maybe HE would have snapped and not me. Maybe that's why I say what I'm about to say what I'm about to say... Or maybe it's just good ole fashioned jealousy.
I expect him to yell. Hit me. But no. He just nods. Crosses to the door.
That's all I needed to know.
He says, handing me Iris as he goes. I should feel better. Like I did after sparring with Persephone. But I don't. I sit down on the bed, look down at the picture. This girl. She would have been nothing but pretty if she'd been born 100 years ago.
SOUND: paper tearing
There's no need to dwell on her anymore. Tomorrow is another day.