Sunlight, ch. 08: Simon Martin

Monitoring: Simon Martin
Vienna, Virginia, USA

3:40 p.m. Eastern Standard Time
Friday, October 24th, 2014
19:50 Coordinated Universal Time
Friday, October 24th, 2014

Soon there will be shouting and clamor and confusion. There will be accusations, demands, and threats. Simon will not be present, then, but he is here now, leaving Peter Newsome behind him as he enters Akvo’s cell.

The cell is full of the stink of copper and decayed organic matter. It grows thicker every week, as if there’s some small trace of Akvo’s bloody paintings that can’t be washed away, no matter how hard the man in green scrubs at the walls, and it builds up a little bit more every time that he makes another painting.

Or maybe it’s just Simon’s imagination, his nerves getting to him. There’s so much that he doesn’t understand about Akvo and Viejo, so much that doesn’t make sense. They could have been his Obi-Wan or just supervillains, but he’s been taught only a little and so far as anyone can tell, Akvo doesn’t have any superpowers. They made it possible for him to know about the end of the world in advance, long enough that there might be a chance to stop it, but they’ve killed countless scores of people, but Akvo has given genuinely useful information, but he’s clearly and happily fucked in the head…

Not for the first time, Simon wonders what it is that has made Akvo the way he is, and whether he is an outlier among his peers or typical of their number.

What did you do, to make it that I exist?

There’s little doubt in Simon’s mind that Akvo and the others are responsible, somehow. He just doesn’t know how, or why they did whatever it was that made all this happen, or how it was possible in the first place. If this could have happened at all, if it was ever possible for superpowers to exist, then why not earlier?

Without saying anything, Simon takes a seat on the ground near the door, and Akvo, brush in hand, sweeps his legs beneath him as he follows suit. Simon thinks that he spies interest in Akvo’s eyes, but not impatience.

“Give me one reason why I should trust you,” Simon begins.

“Because I helped you. Or at least, a version of me, in a timeline that never happened but which you witnessed a piece of, helped you.”

Simon wonders if Akvo knows why he is here, if Akvo knows what he has seen. Akvo must have some clue; the man in green sent him a message about it once, in a vision from not too long ago.

“Then why did you help us? Why are you…being so difficult to figure out?”

“I don’t know what you were told when you witnessed my death, but either you or your alternate self must have misunderstood. If by ‘us’ you are referring to PALATINATE, then your very premises are wrong. I helped you, Simon. I helped Hannah, and Austin, and any others that PALATINATE might have recruited. I helped the Children, and not their masters.” Akvo brushes a hand against the back of his head. “Why the questions, Simon?”

“I need to know if I can trust you.”

Akvo smirks, just slightly, just the hint of an upward turn at the edges of his mouth. It might just be a trick of the light, but Simon interprets it as a smile anyway, and wonders if Akvo noticed that Simon had said “I,” and not “we.”

Finally, he gives a reply. “I’ll be honest with you, because you deserve honesty and I think that you’re smart enough to keep things in perspective. I’ve killed people. It takes the edge off. You have no idea what it is like.” Akvo scratches just above his left eye. “Those people that I killed don’t mean anything to me. They’re only relevant insofar as they might turn out to be unexpectedly dangerous. But I care very much about you, Simon, you and the ninety-nine others like you, and you are the reason that I am doing all of this.”

Simon looks away. “Did you make us?”

“You asked me that before. The answer’s still the same: I don’t know. But probably not.”

Simon has heard that before, it’s true. He remembers that conversation. He just isn’t sure that he believes it–and yet he also can’t say whether he thinks that Akvo is lying.

There’s a kernel of an idea germinating in his mind, a question as to where Akvo could have come from, but there’s no definite answer yet. Possibilities, but mostly just more questions.

“What is the Green about?” Simon asks, and Akvo leans back, his shoulders slumping in relaxation.

“Curiosity,” he says. “Benevolence. An axe chopping a piece of cordwood in two with a single, intentful swing. I believe that there is anger, and I believe that there is generosity, and that is the Green. Fiŝo pli granda malgrandan englutas: Men are like fish; the great ones devour the small.”

“And are you one of the great ones?”

Akvo shakes his head. “I’m not even a fish. No, think of me as coral, or as an anemone.”

“What does that mean?”

“Ask me in another time,” he says, and Simon catches the extra word. He considers what Akvo has said. He thinks about the murders, and about the message that another Akvo sent to him through Dr. Denham’s future death, and wonders how he can possibly be expected to choose wisely here. He’s just a kid. He isn’t even fifteen years old yet. But he can’t talk to an adult, can he? And at the end of the day, Hannah and Austin, the only ones that he can possibly trust, are just as young as he is.

Wordlessly, Simon picks himself up from the ground and departs. Peter Newsome gives him a quizzical look, but says nothing. Simon isn’t sure what he would say if he had been asked anything.

Simon is going to need to have another conversation with Akvo. Not now, though. Not in this timeline, he thinks, and the idea of what he is going to have to do makes him sick to his stomach.

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