Waking Gods Page 52

—You can sit down Vincent.

—Thank you Rose. Can I still call you Rose?

—Why wouldn’t you?

—I don’t know. You’re in his chair. You’re taping this. Feels weird to have you sitting in front of me and not him.

—Believe me, it feels a lot stranger being on this side of the table.

—Are you sure he’s dead?

—I was there, Vincent.

—I know. I just thought…I thought he’d be able to weasel his way out of this, twist God’s arm, tell him he had nude pictures of him or something.

—He was very human in the end. He really liked you, you know?

—Yeah…I thought so. He…When I woke up in the hospital after Ryan crushed my legs into a wall, he was there sitting by my bed. He must have been sitting there for hours. He could have asked the hospital staff to call him, but he chose to stay. For years, I tried to figure out what he had to gain. Over time, I…I guess I got used to the idea that he might have just cared. Then again, maybe he thought gaining my trust was important for the project. Who knows?

—Probably a bit of both. But he did care. Strange as it may seem, you were the closest thing he had to family.

—He called me Mr. Couture.

—That was a sign of respect.

—Strange man. I wish I knew something about him, who he was.

—…Me too.

—Rose, I—

—What is it?

—I don’t want you to take this the wrong way. I’m so happy, relieved, that you’re here, that you’re safe, but how—

—How did I survive the gas? I’m not sure. Alyssa’s back from London. She’s analyzing my blood now. I assume I have the same genetic anomalies that every other survivor has.

—Does that mean you’re…?

—An alien? Part alien? I don’t know. I guess so. I was having a hard time figuring out who I was before. This is just—

—Could they have altered your DNA when they…brought you back?

—Ten years ago, they said my genetic profile was an exact match to…well, to mine, to hers. They said I was me. It’s possible they missed something back then. I won’t know until Alyssa runs more tests. To be honest, it would be a relief, somehow. If I weren’t really Rose Franklin…I know how this sounds, but—

—You’d have a reason to feel the way you do. You’d know you’re not…crazy. I’m sorry. That’s not what I meant.

—No, no! That’s exactly what I meant. Thank you. On the other hand, if I was one of them, if I had some alien blood to begin with, it would explain why they chose to bring me back from the dead.

—Seems like a lot of trouble to go through to save a distant cousin. I think you guys may be wrong on this whole alien thing.

—Maybe. I wish I had a better explanation. We keep talking about me, but how are you holding up?

—I’m…I don’t know how I feel. I’m still…numb.

—If anyone could cheat death, I thought it would be Kara.

—I know, right? Spit in its face. Kick it in the teeth. It’s my fault she’s dead, you know?

—Vincent, there’s—

—No, no. It’s true. If I’d climbed the ladder a tiny bit faster, if I hadn’t been scared of heights, if I’d reached the hatch on the first try…There are so many things I could have done. I just had to get up there—what?—two, three seconds faster. Kara would still be alive. I’d have a wife. Eva would have…someone to call Mom. But I didn’t, and she fell. She’s dead. She doesn’t exist anymore. She was a person. Now she’s not.

I’m smart enough to know I haven’t quite come to terms with what happened yet. I can say it, I can explain it, you know. Kara’s dead. My wife’s dead. But it’s not real yet. I can’t believe I’m telling you this—I feel like an asshole for thinking it—but what bothers me most, now, is not knowing what she was thinking when she fell. Did she blame me? I don’t want her last thoughts to have been how her husband killed her. Awful, isn’t it? How selfish is that? Moi, moi, moi!

When I killed you ten years ago—

—Vincent, don’t.

—Please, let me finish. I’ve killed you, so some of this feels familiar, but with you, it hit me right away. I felt it. The pain, the guilt. The realization that you’ll never feel any of what you felt with that person ever again. Might be because it’s the end of the world, but it all feels like a movie now. It’s…muffled.

I see her fall over and over again in my head, so I’m sure it’ll sink in at some point. The hatch was closed, but I can see her. I don’t think the image would be any clearer if I’d been watching. She’s falling backwards into the void, her arms spread. She fades into a sea of white smoke. Then she’s gone. Repeat. She’s falling backwards into the void, her arms spread. She fades into a sea of white smoke. Repeat.

—Did you cry?

—Did I cry? I cried when it happened, inside Themis. I cried for a long time. But no, I haven’t cried since. Why do you ask?

—I haven’t cried either. Kara’s really the closest thing I had to a best friend. I could try and explain how much she meant to me, but it doesn’t matter. I know. But I haven’t cried. I watched a man die, right in front of me, thought I was next. How many people died in New York? Two, three million? Kara died. Today I’m here setting up the lab. All in a day’s work. Don’t torture yourself, Vincent. Nothing feels real anymore. Nothing.

What are you smiling about?

—I was thinking about Kara. It’s just…never mind. Stupid memories.

—No, I wanna know.

—Did I ever tell you about our wedding night?

—Tell me. Well, not everything.

—Oh, I can tell you the whole thing. I spent the night with a traveling salesman. Bob. No really, that was his name. There was a reception at the hotel after the ceremony, but as soon as people started leaving, Kara dragged me and some of her childhood friends to this bar where they used to hang out. Shitty place, but we had a good time. I danced with her friends.

—Kara doesn’t dance.

—No she doesn’t. But she beat everyone at the pool table. Kara can…Kara could play. She loved playing pool. Her friends were buying her drinks, lots of drinks. Never the same one. That’s what happens when you take a bunch of grown-up people with jobs and families and you let them pretend they’re twenty years younger for a few hours. They get stupid real fast. Kara threw up on the pool table after a shot of…I don’t remember what it was. Something nasty. We got kicked out, of course. I had to use the conspiracy puker to talk the staff into letting us back in.

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