Corinthians 3:16


aman_icon.gif faulkner_icon.gif

Scene Title Corinthians 3:16
Synopsis Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
Date June 29, 2021

The city is in chaos.

The evacuation order came at 6:20 pm. Not in the form of a cell phone call as service is knocked out across the Safe Zone, if not further, but in the form of a hammering blow of fists on the townhome door. NYPD were going door to door, warning residents that the Ohio River Fire was closing in on Manhattan and the whole of Roosevelt Island was under an emergency evacuation order. The worst-case scenario had come, and it could spell the end for the Safe Zone, for everything that’s been built here, for everyone in it.

Aman Binepal and Isaac Faulkner had three minutes to pack a couple of bags of their most important possessions and get out of the house. The city is bathed in an orange glow from the west that looks impossibly bright. The wind drives powerfully from east to west with hurricane force gales, supernatural weather trying to stave off the fiery end of the Safe Zone. The rain is stinging, blowing in sheets down the street.

There are bright green city busses parked down the street from Aman’s home to ferry evacuees who don’t have vehicles of their own out of the danger zones to fire shelters. It’s absolute chaos. Families huddle in the driving rain, umbrellas upend and snap apart from the wind, the elderly and the infirm are hurried into the buses by NYPD officers blinded by wind and rain. It feels like the end of the world.

Northern Roosevelt Island
NYC Safe Zone

June 29th
6:26 pm

Isaac Faulkner doesn't take long to pack. He travels light — lives light, come to that. He tosses on his jacket, stuffs his cellphone into a pocket, along with a few other keepsakes that have managed to stick to him this long — a matchbook, an old keyring, a flask of Isa's brew — and then starts working on the bag. A couple of exercise manuals go in there, along with his headache meds, a pair of headphones and a travel kit with some of his saved wages stuffed inside. There's not enough room for his sparring gear, but he can salvage some of his T-shirts, at least.

He pauses for a moment — just a moment — to assess his handiwork.

"Shit. What am I forgetting?" Faulkner murmurs to himself. He's got the necessities, but everyone always forgets something when they're packing in a hurry; it's human nature. He considers for a moment. "Aman! You got everything?" he calls.

"No!" Aman yells from upstairs in frustration, looking over the house. "But—" There was no way to take everything. He's done much the same in throwing together his bag, grabbing clothes, valuables— things that can't be replaced. He wants more than anything right now for the ability to be able to quickly teleport certain momentos home, but they're having to make quick decisions here.

Sentimental larger items, unfortunately, just don't make the cut.

He storms across the upstairs to Isaac's room, then throws a tangle of wires and a charger block down the stairs at him. "Phone charger," Aman calls, then dives into his room for his own. He swings two pairs of shoes connected by tied laces around his neck, swings his bag over his shoulder, and storms down the stairs. His teeth are bared in the high-tension emotions running through him, but they're getting themselves out, which is the most important thing here.

"If you don't need it to get through today and tomorrow, we can replace it later," Aman tells himself as much as Faulkner as he opens the front door and ushers them both outside into the storm. "Let's go."

“Let’s go, Isaac.” A man’s voice calls over Faulkner’s shoulder, echoing as if down a long hallway. But there’s no one there.

"Phone charger!" Isaac exclaims, catching it and deftly tossing it into his bag. Perfect. He moves to the front door, waiting. When Aman ushers him out, he nods. "Right." Strangely, he thinks he's going to miss this place. He hopes it survives.

He takes a step out the door onto the steps —

— then he stops, pausing to look back over his shoulder, brow furrowed.

Aman's gym shoes scuff on the pavement as he hits the sidewalk, looking up the steps back at his roommate and friend. He doesn't reflect on this moment being anything other than one last self-check. "I locked the handle before stepping out. Just pull it closed and let's go," he encourages Isaac, then looks down the block to where the nearest bus is parked.

"If what the mooks at the door were saying is true, we don't have a lot of time."

“We don’t have a lot of time, put your shoes on, Isaac.” He hears the voice again. This time closer, as if it were right next to him. Isaac doesn’t notice it, but he’s just stopped moving for a good five or six seconds, staring vacantly into space before resuming again. Like someone hit pause. Aman, though, Aman saw it.

Isaac blinks and looks down. He's already wearing his shoes. Why is someone telling him to put on his —

"Shit," he murmurs; something's wrong. The last time he'd heard voices it'd been someone speaking German, right before he'd had his 'mini-stroke'.

"Oh shit Aman we gotta go," he says, sounding almost on the verge of panic; if he's gonna pop a gasket he'd rather do it somewhere where burning to death is not listed under potential complications. He starts to walk out into the driving rain, only barely stopping himself from trying to run.

Aman's already ahead of him in that regard— having recognized the slackened expression and complete lack of response before even Isaac did. "No, no, no, shit— not now," he's whispering to himself, looking up and down the block before back up to Isaac. He's positively relieved when Isaac seems to come back to himself on his own.

"Damn straight, we do. Come on." He's got a hand to Isaac's back as he hits the street, guiding him forward, ready to try and soften his fall if falling is a thing that they need to suddenly worry about. "Jesus Christ, man." Aman's not remotely Christian. His eyes dart away from the buses to glance at Isaac out of the corner of his eye. "This is happening again? How long has this been going on?"

“How long has this been going on, Elia?!” Faulkner hears echoing in his eardrums.

His legs feel weak, but as he turns to look up at Aman and answer there’s a

Somewhere Sunny

Somewhen Else

“How fucking long?”

Carson Faulkner wheels around on his wife, cornering her in the living room. From his perch on the nearby sofa, Isaac is given a front-row seat to the show. He only sees Carson from the back, but his mother—Elia—he can see right into her hazel eyes. She looks at Isaac, makes eye contact with him that shows fragility and worry, and then turns a more smoldering stare at Carson.


“Since forever,” Elia says, shoving Carson back with both hands. He winds up to slap her and she punches him square in the jaw, knocking him over onto the floor. Elia steps over him and scoops up Isaac into her arms, resting his potato sack body over one shoulder.

Come on baby,” Elia whispers to Isaac as she darts back across the room, but not quick enough to avoid Carson rousing from the floor. He grabs her by the angle, fingers curling in the cuff of her jeans. She lets out a yelp of fright. “Let fucking go of me!” She screams, yanking her foot away and then kicking Carson in the head. He slumps back to the floor again.

Elia hurries faster, storming through the kitchen past the dining room table where Isaac’s half-finished bowl of Count Chocula from breakfast still rests. She crosses the kitchen in a few long strides and slams the front door open, stepping out into the blinding sunlight and scorching heat of the desert. A palm tree looms overhead, providing noticeable relief as she briefly crosses its shadow.

Elia!” Carson screams from inside the house as she jogs into the parking lot toward her car. “Elia!” He calls again, and something crashes inside the house. Elia stops at an old Buick LeSabre and fishes in her pockets for her keys, suddenly shifting into a frantic patting down of her pockets when she can’t find them.

“Elia!” Carson screams as he bursts out of the apartment, gun in hand. Elia turns, spotting the gun and exhales a sharp hiss through her teeth. She turns to run and Carson fires, blowing out the window of the LeSabre. Elia screams and little Isaac starts to cry. Tiny glass shards glitter in his mother’s hair.

Elia weaves between two other cars in the lot and Carson fires again, punching through the windshield of one of their neighbor’s cars. She ducks, reflexively, shielding Isaac with her body as she cradles him and tries to run for the street. Carson sprints after her in pursuit, firing blindly at her back and missing all of his shots, instead shooting out the windows of a neighbor’s home.

When Elia gets to the curb she can see a black SUV with tinted windows roaring around the corner. She steps out into the street, waving her free arm and screaming for help. In that moment of stillness, Carson lines up another shot and fires. The bullet enters Elia’s body just under her right arm and exits out the left side of her chest, passing through her heart on the way out. The round misses Isaac’s leg by four centimeters, tearing a hole in the right leg of his denim overalls.

Elia collapses into the street, blood flowing out of her mouth. Isaac drops like the sack of potatoes that he is, crying as he lays in a rapidly growing pool of his mother’s blood. The SUV screeches to a stop in the street, driver’s side door opens and a gorilla of a man with a bald head in a black suit steps out. He rounds the front of the SUV and spots Elia laying dead in the street, drawing his holstered sidearm from inside his jacket as he does.

By the time he turns, he sees Carson is armed. The bald man does not hesitate, he pulls the trigger three times in a clustered grouping of hits at short range. Carson Faulkner is dead before his body even hits the ground.

Jesus Christ,” the passenger in the SUV says as he steps out, squinting against the bright sun. The sun is too bright for baby Isaac to see this man’s face, but he can see that of the bald man as he turns back around and kneels down over little Isaac, lifting him up from the pool of blood in the street.

“You’re ok, buddy.” The huge man says, drawing the crying Isaac to his chest with a broken look in his eyes. “Y-you’re gonna be okay.”


Present Day

When Isaac turns away and opens his eyes again, he's seated in the front row of one of the buses, the seat beside him empty because Aman is standing, apologizing to the driver as much as he is backseat driving while they're barely inching along in traffic across the Roosevelt Island bridge. His hand is pale where he holds onto the pole stationed on the line dividing driver from passengers.

On seeing that flicker of movement out of the corner of his eye, he turns to look at Isaac, expression tense with worry. For once, he doesn't say anything at all, waiting to see if this is something, or just a blip of activity shaking up what's been the equivalent of human white noise and static making up the last twenty minutes.

Isaac's eyes open. Then widen, then grow wider still, the expression on his face resolving into an expression that can only be categorized as abject horror.

He swallows once, then twice, and only then does he start to look around, eyes still wide and wild; once they settle on Aman, they stay there for a moment before he speaks. "Where are we?" he asks, in a very small, quiet voice.

"Bus," Aman answers without particular affect. "City's fucked. Hospital's—"

"Hey, is he awake?" That's the bus driver, looking back, stressed and wondering if they still need to make a detour or if they can just proceed along the evacuation route.

Frazzled, all Aman can think to do is answer Isaac in the moment. "Hospital's evacuated, moved to Raytech. Isaac, are you good? I need you to be honest— how you feeling over there?" Now the worry's back, creeping into his voice as well as his stare.

Isaac is silent for a moment save for his breathing — in and out, in and out. Raspy, loud, barely controlled. "No," he says quietly, leaning over against the window and pulling his knees up to his chest like he's trying to curl into a ball. "No. I'm. I'm not good," he says. "Seeing…" he trails off, letting his eyes drift out to the glow of fire on the horizon.

His vision's getting blurry. Must be some rainwater dripping into his eyes. Something. "Feeling… dizzy," he adds, which is true but not his most pressing concern.

Only shaking his head to himself, Aman looks forward again and stresses quietly to the driver, "No— like I said, he's a stroke patient with health conditions. I'm sorry, like I said, but I've got to get him in touch with one of the docs from F-B to assess him. If he starts seizing or worse on the way out of town… what would you rather be dealing with here? A detour? Or that?" On the whole he isn't sure that the doctors from the hospital will know just what to do, either, but it was better than handling this without their help.

"Just help us get there, and we'll be out of your hair," he promises the driver. "We'll figure the rest out ourselves."

Isaac blinks, then raises a hand and shakily wipes at his eyes; everything feels eerily distant, and paired with that dizziness it feels like he can't quite manage to ground himself. "Thanks, Aman…" he murmurs.

Traffic starts to move up ahead, and the bus is just a little more than halfway over the Roosevelt Island bridge when things go from bad to immeasurably worse. Aman has a front row seat to witness it happen, but there’s a massive explosion just south of their position on the Safe Zone side of the river. Or, judging from the way the fire blooms, multiple explosions. They’re in Red Hook on the coast, possibly a harbor or pier.

Passengers on the bus crowd to the vehicle’s right side to get a look out the windows at the blasts and concern turns to raised voices and demands that the driver get the bus moving. For Isaac, though, it all starts to bleed together into

so much

background noise.

Somewhere Sunny

Somewhen Else

“Can he hear us?”

Isaac can, but he’s too young to really say much about it. Buckled in to the back seat of a Chevy Tahoe, little Isaac just watches the two men in the front of the vehicle talk to each other. The enormous bald man—Manny—is driving, and the other man, the one with the wolfish smile, is sitting in the passenger seat, smoking.

“He's four. What's he gonna' do, tell Santa?” The man with the wolfish smile replies, taking a drag off of his cigarette.

“Look,” Manny says, glancing into the rear-view mirror to make sure Isaac’s fine. “I just don’t want Mr. Linderman to—”

“Stop being such a fucking baby. Jesus Christ.” The man with the wolfish smile does not seem concerned. He plucks his cigarette from his lips and jabs it in Manny’s direction. “We’re here.”

Manny pulls the Tahoe around, coming up out front of a whitewashed skyrise. He stops the car and gets out while the man with the wolfish smile does the same. But it’s Manny that comes to rescue Isaac from the back seat, unbuckles him and picks him up, lets him ride on his shoulders.

The outside is blinding sunlight. Palm trees and the looming silhouette of a black pyramid across the street with a sphinx out front. That isn’t the casino they’re taking Isaac to, however.

“You really need to get a fucking hat, Manny. You're gonna look like a fucking tomato tomorrow.” The man with the wolfish smile says, adjusting his sunglasses.

“I’m going to be a bronzed god,” Manny replies with a gigantic smile, jostling little Isaac on his shoulders enough so that the boy laughs. “I put on tanning lotion.”

The wolfish man snorts and laughs loudly. It turns into a cackle as they turn away from the pyramid and the sphinx, across the street, toward that blindingly white building with towering columns. Red letters arch near the roof, neon glow drowned out by the blinding sun.


“Hey,” Manny says as they approach the doors.

“What?” The wolfish man replies.

“Put the fuckin’ cigarette out, Silas. We’ve got a kid here.”


Present Day

The din of the bus is an unsettled one now. Aman's seated this time, elbows on knees, the sides of his hands pressed to his mouth as he has them clasped in either thought or prayer. His heel is bouncing, expression grave— haunted.

He's been murmuring against his hands for who knows how long, barely heard over the sounds of the others on the crowded bus.

"ਜਹਾਂ ਜਹਾਂ ਖਾਲਸਾ ਜੀ ਸਾਹਿਬ, ਤਹਾਂ ਤਹਾਂ ਰਛਿਆ ਰਿਆਇਤ1," he murmurs in a sort of melody, eyes closed in the act of it. All around them the sky itself seems like it's on fire, red and orange save for belches of black, terrible smoke. The slowness of the bus seems suffocating, even if in here they're spared from being directly in that air. "ਦੇਗ ਤੇਗ ਫ਼ਤਹ, ਬਿਰਦ ਕੀ ਪੈਜ, ਪੰਥ ਕੀ ਜੀਤ, ਸ੍ਰੀ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਜੀ ਸਹਾਇ. ਖਾਲਸੇ ਜੀ, ਬੋਲੋ ਜੀ2…"

Aman opens his eyes to consider their inching progress in the streets of refurbished Jackson Heights. All the growth which may now amount to naught. He whispers the last word of the broken prayer fearfully. "ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ3."

They should have come for them sooner. They should have evacuated sooner. But who thought the efforts they'd made would fail? It's been raining for days and yet the fire continued to encroach, relentless, uncaring. "They need to get out of here," he whispers as he lifts his head. His eyes shift away from the traffic ahead to Isaac at his side. Was he fully here this time?

"We're almost to Raytech. We should get off now, let the bus keep going. Can you walk with me?" He pulls his phone to check the time— check if there's signal. A single bar flickers in and out, mostly out, before he shoves it back in his jacket and zips the pocket. "Just one block, Isaac."

Isaac… isn't. Isn't there, not really; he's nominally aware of the hellscape his eyes are staring at, but only in a distant, detached manner consistent with a shock victim. He hears Aman's murmured prayers distantly; though he does not understand the words, the tiny part of him that is cognizant of them takes a small measure of comfort in them.

Aman's question at first seems to draw little reaction, but after a moment Isaac stirs. "I'll try…" he murmurs, his voice weak and distant…

…and as he hears how weak his own voice sounds, a dull ember of something sparks to life in him. He can't control the fire, he can't control whatever is malfunctioning in his brain… but he isn't so far gone yet that he can't sound a little less pathetic than that. He's not dead yet. His eyes narrow, lips twisting into a grimace — he feels eerily disconnected even now, but that ember of resolve gives him something to try to cling to. "Gonna have to," he manages, straightening up a bit; even if it's hollow bravado, it sounds at least a little less pathetic.

"Good man," Aman encourages him as he levers to his feet, head stooped to not hit the bus ceiling. He leaves behind the extra shoes he'd taken from the house, kicking them under the seat. Slinging his backpack over his shoulder again, he leans across the painted line on the floor to murmur the request to disembark here as well as thanks for getting them this far before the bus door pops open with a quiet screech and Aman heads down first. The bus driver only looks at them out of his periphery as they go past, moving his chin so barely it hardly counts as a nod of acknowledgement. This situation is stressful for them all.

"Here we go," Aman says to himself once his feet hit the pavement, looking back up for Isaac to follow. "Almost there, can see it from here."

He tries to direct Isaac's attention ahead to the walls of the Raytech campus rather than behind, where the signs of the river on fire loom oppressively, threatening to crawl ashore and choke them out. Aman pulls up the gaiter he's been wearing outside this last week before offering an arm out to support Isaac if he needs it.

Isaac grabs his bag and levers himself up smoothly enough, but he moves with a degree of care that is atypical for him; he follows Aman's lead, pulling up his gaiter and stepping off the bus and into the wind and rain outside. "Thanks," he calls over the roar of the elements, holding on to keep his balance.

Aman frowns to himself as they press on, aware of how unsteady Isaac is. "Just a bit further and we're there," he encourages. He can see the busy, packed parking lot from here. Uncertainty grows that they'll be able to find help in the chaos, but he's determined to try.

He lifts his head to try and get a better idea of where they should go as they come up on the gate, looking for an area more busy than the others— where triage and determination is likely happening for anyone newly brought in rather than just being transferred.

"Yeah," Isaac says haggardly. Just a little further. Sure. He holds onto Aman's arm for dear life, trying to keep himself anchored in the midst of this hellscape as he doggedly drags himself onward.

But as they approach the brightly lit front office of the Raytech building, there is a distant sound that cuts through the night. One that is too close to be coming from anywhere but the compound.


It starts as a few pops of handgun fire, then screams. Isaac t

Somewhere Sunny

Somewhen Else

urns his head, looking around the brightly lit and noisy casino floor. Slot machines spread out like a sea of lights and even in the middle of the day there are people playing them, sitting on stools with their plastic buckets of tokens.

The Corinthian is themed after a Greek pantheon on the inside, with towering columns and faux ivy creeping up them. Plaster-posing-as-marble statues line the front lobby and the rich red carpet is detailed with a gold diamond pattern.

Manny and Silas take little Isaac through the casino floor to a roped off elevator. The black-suited security guard watching the door recognizes them by appearance, but balks at the toddler they have.

“We’re gonna turn him in for chips,” Silas says with a wry smile, giving a too-long stare to the guard on their way into the elevator.

Under his breath, Manny reassures Isaac with a tap on his leg: “We’re not gonna turn you in for chips, unc’a Silas is just like that.”

Silas casts an askance look at Manny, then reaches for his pack of cigarettes in his coat. He can feel Manny’s eyes on him and reluctantly slides the cigarettes back inside and exhales a sigh through his nose. “If we get stuck with this fuckin’ runt…” He says, jamming the button for the penthouse.

Language.” Manny chides as the elevator starts to rise.

“Oh no, the kid’s gonna grow up with a potty mouth. Oh fuck, oh no, oh shit.” Silas rolls his eyes and laughs, then slaps Manny on the back. “C’mon, Calavera, lighten the fuck up some, alright? I’m just kiddin’. I’m just havin’ some fun.

Manny side-eyes Silas. “Hey, I’ve been meaning to ask, how’s Lyndsay and Annie doing?”

The question elicits a twitch at one corner of Silas’s mouth. He looks down at his feet, sniffs loudly, and looks like he’s working up the nerve to answer right when the elevator stops and the doors slide open.

“Fine.” Silas says dismissively instead, stepping out of the elevator into the actually marble-floored penthouse suite of the Corinthian. The two men walk through the penthouse with an open familiarity, cutting through the foyer and up a short series of steps into an office lined with bookcases and an antique, floor-mounted globe.

Silas puts a hand on Manny’s chest and stops him from further approaching as they hear a voice coming out of the office. Silas furrows his brows, concentrating on something, then creeps up to the doorway.

“…no, he’s alive. Fortunately for all of us, yes. I can’t shake the suspicion that this may have somehow been targeted.” Says the rough-voiced old man with a difficult-to-place accent.

Silas glances at Manny, then looks back into the office as they eavesdrop.

“I’m not being paranoid. Paranoid people make mistakes. I’m merely being cautiously proactive.” The man in the office says. “You know how many enemies I have.”

Less interested in what he’s overhearing, Manny reaches up and tussles little Isaac’s hair and makes a just remarkably stupid face. Isaac bursts out with a giggle and slaps his palms down on Manny’s head, earning a slit-eyed stare and a grimace from Silas.

“I’ll have to call you back,” the man in the office says, “something has come up.” He says before hanging up the phone.

“Mr. Mackenzie, Mr. Calavera, you can come in.

Silas makes another sharp face at Manny and then turns, gliding into the office as if he weren’t just eavesdropping and ending his concentration on whatever it was he’d been thinking about. “Hey boss, sorry about the wait. We got the kid, right as rain. But uh, I was hoping since we laid low with him for a couple days maybe we could, you know, hand him off?”

Slowly, the man behind the desk swivels his chair around and sets a cord phone onto the receiver. He is significantly older than Silas and Manny, white-haired and balding with deep wrinkles cut into his brow. He looks past Silas, ignoring him, and squares a look on Isaac as Manny finally takes the kid off of his shoulders.

“Ain’t a hair on his head out of place.” Manny says, setting Isaac down on his feet with another ruffle of his hair. “‘Cept that one. I guess.”

Daniel Linderman slowly rises from his desk, looking at Isaac with the reproachful gaze of someone who isn’t sure what to make of what he sees. And yet, there is a slowly growing warmth behind his eyes. A softening of his hardened features.

“I would hope not more than a hair or two were amiss,” Linderman says with a narrowing of his eyes.

“That’s my son you’re talking about.”

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