Strangers In The Night Who: Elias & Cat What: The Primordial Couple meet in private Where: Room 202 When: 9:50 p.m., the night of the blackout Warnings: None
Elias never considered himself a pessimist or an optimist. Dispassionately examining the facts and the possibilities lying beyond them -- his modus operandi -- he rather thought of himself as a realist. In younger years, when Brigetta first slid unexpectedly into his heart, he leaned more heavily toward optimism. It was fruitless, and worse; it was also dangerous. The hardest part of letting her go was abandoning the hope of a future with the person he loved. A realist acknowledged that anything could change, that nothing was certain or permanent. Straying too far from these facts meant coloring one's perspective, and a clear and unhindered perspective was the most intelligent one, in his estimation.
So, as he walked carefully behind a lady he just met, hand clasping hers gently, he acknowledged that his vision may return in time or it may be permanently gone, replaced with the afterimage of a strange and unearthly beast. What he could count on, for now, was that he had a guide to his apartment. "202," he spoke into the double-darkness ahead of him -- he'd never told her exactly where they were going on the second floor, after all. And, upon considering what he recalled of the corridor leading to his apartment, he also imagined she must have been lighting the way in the same manner he had used when he first entered Pax Letale tonight: a cell phone. His mouth turned wry. Technology was wondrous.
By some odd bit of luck, his mail was still tucked under one arm. His keys were still in his free hand. He extended that free hand, palm up, when they stopped walking. His palm was rewarded with emptiness a second later. A click, a sound of metal against metal, and he heard the shifting of air that signaled the door was open.
He didn't see it, but the entry to his living room was uncluttered and tidy -- no sign of the move from two days before. A hip-high pedestal with a concave black stone top by the door invited the keys to be dropped there. He didn't know if she did it or not. Past the entryway, the living room opened up to them. It was a small room with space for a black suede couch with simple lines, its answering black metal and glass coffee table, and a wall-mounted TV. In the corner beside that TV, an entertainment cabinet unobtrusively stored hidden electronics that ran its cords in neat lines into the wall, ostensibly connecting somehow to the TV. Further examination would reveal the speakers strewn in the top corners of the rooms -- again, their cords hidden away in the walls. And from these speakers, on low volume, a gravelly voice layered over quiet piano.
I don't believe in an interventionist god But I know, darling, that you do
He meant to thank her at the door, meant to close it quietly behind her retreating form, but then she took his hand again and led him forward. The door closed and clicked. Three steps in, he turned to the right briefly, set his mail on the kitchen pass through counter top, then opened his mouth to try again to free her from what she must have felt was a human obligation.
Without warning, jagged light erased that negative image burned in his vision. He tensed, then forced himself to relax. Knowing what was probably to come, and not wishing to involve Ms. St. Giles any further, he gently withdrew his hand from hers. "Thank you," he finally managed.
Was there an easy way to get her out of the apartment before this... ailment... rendered him more than useless again? His mind raced through possible words that might hold the key to keeping her from being insulted but also from seeing him laid low again. Nothing sounded right. He settled on the truth, then, quickly, before it was too late.
"It's starting again," he said, hating the weakness those words carried. "You may not want to be here. I don't want to cause you... discomfort."