Do The Dead Dream?


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Also Featuring:

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Scene Title Do the Dead Dream?
Synopsis Jac enlists the help of a dreamwalker to find her way into Cindy Morrison's mind. But nothing could prepare them for what they find there.
Date May 5, 2021

Thunder rolls over the land and lightning fills the sky.

Somewhere, Jac Childs is asleep in her bed. But that is not here.

Jac wakes up in a cold start, feeling rain blowing stinging against her face. The sky above is darkening, not just from the stormy gray clouds that flood her vision but from the approaching of a deep and dark night as well. The bus stop bench she awakens on is soaked in rainwater and a howling wind blows the rain sideways down a desolate street lined with abandoned cars.

Crouched beside the bench, Delia Ryans looks unphased by the rain, a red-haired Virgil to Jac’s Dante. But this was familiar. They’d both been here before.

At first Jac is forced to grapple with the surroundings she’s in, with the blistering cold air and hurricane force winds. She can see the Brooklyn coast from the bench she’s seated on, sees the crash of churning white surf crashing up against the breakers. An oil tanker sloshes back and forth in the Hudson river, listing aimlessly and caught on powerful waves. There are no lights anywhere, just howling wind and driving rain.

Manhattan, across the river, looks much as it does today. A walled tomb of jagged, broken fingers grasping up at a cloudy sky. But the freezing rain driven by this powerful wind is not something from his memories, which is when clarity and objectivity dawn on her.

This is all a dream.

Jac’s Dreamscape

May 5th

Lightning tears through the sky, brightly illuminating the dark landscape for a few flickering moments. Storm drains overflow, rats scurry past on the street to avoid being swept up by rising tides crashing against concrete breakers. The storm is intense, unrelenting, and threatens to swallow the city.

The day Hurricane Sandy made landfall in the ruins of New York City, flooding the sewers, killing thousands of refugees living in the city’s ruins, and forcing Jac to the surface for the first time since the war began in earnest. It is a moment that will haunt Jac for the rest of her life, one so deeply repressed by trauma that even the mere suggestion of it makes her skin crawl.

But they had to meet here, in order to take a journey elsewhere.

Blue eyes lift to the sky when lightning cracks overhead, just as they had when Sandy first bore down on the city. Jac tucks herself all the more tightly together, chest and belly shielded behind knees bound by arms. It's for safety as much as for warmth.

As the afterimages from the jagged streaks of electricity fade, she drops her eyes from the sky. For a long second, instinct tells her to find shelter and her head swivels to map a path through the flooding streets. She knows in her bones that it's going to get worse.

In the next second, Jac finds the familiar redhead perched nearby and the urge to hunker down somewhere eases. Her fear of the approaching monster remains though, soul deep and colder than death. “It's only a dream.” A vague question lifts the girl’s tone. “I don't like it here.”

Jac's voice causes Delia to turn her head, focusing more on the teen than their surroundings. A slight nod is her answer to the two statements. The dreamer also doesn't like it here, this particular event never hit her top ten favorite memories of New York.

Delia doesn't like rain. It does terrible things to curly hair. "Someday, we're going to have to work on why you keep coming back here," she says grimly. "You're just like Nick, except he dreams of concentration camps."

She unfolds from her position and stands tall, stretching, "But not today."

Like a cobra striking, her hand whips out and clamps hard around the younger redhead's wrist. Taking long strides, she practically forces Jac into a run as they proceed faster and faster down the street. Their surroundings blur and only fleeting glimpses of piles of debris that they snake around come into focus before they too disappear.

Delia's vision is tunneled, all points converging to the end of the broken street, where pavement gives way to white crashing waves. Faster she runs, her bare feet slapping loudly against the soaked pavement smack smack smack. Through this, she sings a rhyme remembered from a movie that terrified her as a youngster.

"There's no earthly way of knowing which direction we are going."

And Delia jumps, Jac in hand, up, up, up into the sky.

There's no knowing where we're rowing

Where the rain falls like sheets.

Or which way the river's flowing

Freezes in mid-air squalls of glittering snow.

Is it raining, is it snowing?

And gives way to the surging winds of the storm.

Is a hurricane a-blowing? - uh!

The darkness.

Not a speck of light is showing

And then—

So the danger must be growing

Seagulls are perched on the gray wood pylons of a long vanished pier, standing crooked out of the water. Across the shore near the pier walks a brown-haired young woman in a sleeveless white dress that flutters in the wind. She turns to face the ocean again, threading dark hair behind one ear. Cindy Morrison looks younger than Jac, but those eyes. They have the same intense blue eyes.

Are the fires of Hell a-glowing?

Cindy pivots, looking back at an older woman walking the beach with her, motioning for her to follow. A gull takes off from one of the pylons, and a dark-skinned woman in a cobalt and orange sarong hastens her pace to follow Cindy, clearly dressed for the beach. Her dark hair is large atop her head, meticulously coiffed. Squeaks has never met Nia Dawson before in her life, but there is still something familiar about her kind eyes and her gentle smile.

Is the grisly reaper mowing?

Nia and Cindy walk out to stand in the shallows together, watching the waves come in. “You feel that?” Nia asks, looking side-long at Cindy. The younger woman looks over at Nia, one brow raised in silent inquiry. “The sun, the sea, the whole world is right here. Even if we can’t see it all at once.”

Yes! The danger must be growing

“The whole world?” Cindy asks, her eyes wide.

For the rowers keep on rowing

Nia nods. “Twenty-four thousand, nine hundred and one miles from here and back.” She says thoughtfully, looking back out to the surf. “But to people like you and me? It might as well be one grain of sand removed.”

And they're certainly not showing

“What do you mean?” Cindy asks, her brows pinched together. She can’t puzzle out the meaning.

Any signs that they are slowing!

“You’re special, Cindy.” Nia says with a smile. “And one day… you’ll do amazing things with the gift you’ve been given.”


Cindy Morrison’s Dreamscape

Delia and Jac emerge from a maintenance closet in a dimly lit corridor in what looks like some sort of medical or government building. The walls are concrete, lights in the ceiling are covered by small metal cages and every other light is turned off. Before they even have a chance to orient themselves, they can hear voices.

“I don’t know,” a young woman’s voice echoes down the hall. Not Cindy’s. Flashlights sweep into view, a pair of them. Down one end of the hall, a trio of people come around the corner. At the front of the group is Cindy Morrison in the same white dress she was wearing at the beach. Then, gradually, the impression of the dress changes into a slouchy brick red sweater and jeans. As if Jac’s recollection of Cindy from somewhen else is blending with the truth of the actual moment.

Behind Cindy are two less familiar faces: a soft-cheeked young man with tousled dark hair and richly tanned skin carrying a flashlight in one hand and a camcorder in the other. He walks beside a punkish woman in a leather jacket with shimmery green hair.

“They need us, Miguel.” Cindy says to the young man over her shoulder. They’re headed to a pair of doors not far from where Jac and Delia emerged.

“Okay, chamaca, don’t lay that guilt on me. This isn’t what we were sold on.” The young man, Miguel, replies. “Helping people, save the world, whatever? Radar dish nightmare radio? No. Nope.”

For a full second, Jac stands frozen, wondering if she should scuttle back into the closet to remain unnoticed, or push her way forward and demand answers to all the questions she’s ever wanted to ask. Neither impulse wins. The second is interrupted by the leaning of a broom handle into her shoulder. A vaguely accusatory look is cast up at Delia, as if it were the older redhead who'd nudged her to make a decision.

The teen’s eyes return to the group in the hall, lingering longest on Cindy. “Radar dish nightmare radio?” That tickles at a memory, a radio machine that opened a way between super strings. “We should follow them, I think,” Jac whispers while shrugging away from the broom handle. She slinks forward on sneaking feet, but looks back at Delia. “Can they see us? Or talk to us?”

"Hard to say," Delia answers, tucking her hands in the pockets(!) of her sundress. "Usually not but…"

She shudders so hard, Jac can almost feel the chill coursing down her spine.

"We're probably safe, as long as this guy Adam has nothing to do with it." She presses her lips together so tightly the skin around them turns white as ice. The silence that isn't filled with the voices of the two they're watching, is so deafening, she can almost hear the fear building inside. "Don't touch anything."

They could be in a lab, with the dreamer's luck they are in a lab. Lab is where experiments happen. She does not relish the thought of being a part of anything like that ever ever again.

"And if he does have something to do with this? We're totally unpacking that later. Over hot chocolate."

Mention of Adam sends a chill down Jac’s spine. It causes a quaver in the dreamscape and Delia can feel it as a psychic impulse so deep inside of Jac’s subconscious that it nearly shakes them out of this dream like a rider from a horse. Delia is able to keep them anchored in this subconscious plane and after the world stops undulating, they’re able to follow the others ahead.

There’s something about Miguel that itches in the back of Jac’s mind. There’s also something about this place that itches in the back of Jac’s mind. Something real, something recent, and it keeps nagging at her until Cindy turns around and looks at Miguel.

“Why are you filming?” Cindy asks in a hissing whisper.

“Because it keeps me from freaking out!” Miguel says with a note of defensiveness in his tone. “And if we get eaten by El Diablo I want there to be an official record that I disagreed with this. They told us to leave.”

Cindy arrives at the double doors at the end of the hall, and there is a loud and electric humming coming from beyond. There’s a vibrating throb of a static pulse, In synchronization with the pulse, the camera crackles with static. Cindy lays both hands on the door and closes her eyes. Miguel and the green-haired woman creep up behind her, quiet as a mouse, and wait for something.

“They’re powering up the device,” Cindy says as if she can see through the closed door at what’s happening. “They… have a baby?”

In that moment, Delia and Jac are presented with Cindy’s perspective. The wall and door ahead become transparent like frosted glass. At first everything beyond is fuzzy, indistinct, and then gradually it crystalizes into focus. They see a lab of some kind, an enormous amount of machinery on a far wall, old computers, and a recessed alcove with a circular metal plate on it. It looks like a transporter from Star Trek.

On the circular platform is a baby, maybe a year old, swaddled in a small white blanket. Beside her stands an older man with thinning hair and thick glasses. His tan suit jacket has leather patches on the elbows. Men in lab coats flip toggle switches and power on whatever machine this is.

The middle-aged man in the glasses reaches out and tenderly runs a hand over the baby’s wispy blonde hair, looking at her with guilt and regret.

“I know him,” Jac half whispers, as abrupt as the shift in perspective. “I know here.” Maybe the change in view rattled loose all the memories, scratched the itches she couldn’t quite reach a minute ago. But before she can explain, the foggy unfocused scene beyond the door becomes clear.

Blue eyes bounce from object to face to thing, trying to see everything all at once. This room, she remembers, was in the part of Fort Hero she got to by a vent. This is the room that was sealed off, and the realization makes her heart pound against her chest.

“What are they doing?” Still trying to whisper, but failing, Jac can’t look away from the scene to read Delia’s reaction. “Why is there a baby? Is that… what kind of machine…” Huffing a breath, the teen slinks forward, or tries to, closer to Cindy and for a better look at what’s happening.

Delia stares straight ahead: First at the scene, then the machine, and finally the baby.

The older redhead will never not be surprised at people and the lengths they will go to piss in the corners of history. To leave their marks. It's why she turned away from a career in medicine, glory in the war, and decided on a forgettable life. She doesn't care to be remembered, not anymore. Even the best people have stains, she's learned, and she doesn't want any part of it.

"I don't know," Delia murmurs to Jac. If this is a memory, it's already happened. There's nothing they can do to change it now. If it's just a dream, then nothing is really hurt by letting events unfold as they would without them here.

She pivots her head just a smidge to give the youngest of the watchers a curious side eye. "How do you know this place? And him? Have you been here before?" It's at this point where she flits her gaze back to the scene in front of them and gives that baby a hard stare. She doesn't dare ask but she wants to.

Are you the baby in the machine?

Come again?” Miguel asks as he walks up beside Cindy, briefly glancing over his shoulder at the green haired woman to make sure she’s still there. “Why are they—what are they doing with the baby?” Now his attention moves to the closed doors.

What Miguel can’t see is that on the other side, arcs of electricity have started to leap off of the baby as if she were a Tesla coil. It causes the lights overhead to flicker. Cindy reacts with a furrow of her brows, lips parted in confusion.

Cindy starts to reply “They’re holding her inside some sort of—” But then the power goes out with a crackling pop. Both Miguel and Cindy scream, and next comes a straining metal sound and a scream.

“Cindy!” Miguel shouts as they both back away from the door, “Cindy run!” Miguel lowers his camcorder and turns, but notices a lambent jade light in the dark. The green-haired woman they were with has her hands out, waves of auroral light dancing around her fingers.

The double doors begin to buckle, flex, and bend. Miguel skids to a stop and Cindy backs away from the door in confusion, then looks back to the green-haired woman.

V!” Cindy shouts at her. “V stop!

V does not respond, save for pulling her hands apart to tear both doors off the hinges. They smash against the wall and then clatter to the floor. Tears are welled up in her eyes, chest rising and falling, face flushed red with anger in the pale green glow of her ability.

Chica,” Miguel whispers, reaching out for V to stop her. “Stop.

On the other side of the doors, the balding man in the glasses has turned to the now rent-open doors, putting himself between V and the baby. The scientists in the room have scattered to the periphery in fear.

“This is Fort Hero and he’s… I've seen him. The older him.” Jac answers with an air of distraction and a lack of explanation, like maybe those details aren't as fully important as witnessing… whatever it is they're seeing. Or, more likely, she hasn't fitted the pieces together yet.

The electrical pop makes her jump slightly, once again less accustomed to the sound since losing her abilities. But it also has her taking a step forward, instead of a step back. She would probably even go forward more, drawn by wonderings and a need to see more — Miguel and Cindy’s faces, the green-haired woman, the notes the scientists are saying — but the screams and sudden movement from V tugs the teen’s attention to them.

Blue eyes whip back to the doors as they protest and crash against the wall. Jac slowly wraps her arms around her middle, wondering if she and Delia should follow Miguel’s advice to Cindy. At the same time she can't make herself turn away. Curiosity has a grasp that's impossible to escape; and her feet betray her in earnest, carrying her to a point where she can watch nearer to Cindy and Miguel’s position.

Miguel's advice is not heeded.

The moment the doors wrench open, Delia glides through them. She wants a closer look at that generator baby. Her hands, safely in their pockets, are kept well out of touching range of anything. She then moves around the lab, curiously investigating everything, like a cat in new surroundings.

She doesn't get between the man and the baby, instead she peeks at it from another angle. "Who do you think this is?" the question is half asked to herself and half to Jac, "and how long ago?" The second is definitely for the other one invading this dream. She doesn't know many people with electrical abilities, Nicole springs to mind immediately but as far as she knew, Nicole needed a source. This baby looks like it might be the source.

"Elle?" She glances over at Jac, eyebrows raised.

Valerie,” the man in the glasses shouts, holding his arms out as if to shield the nearby baby, “Valerie—what’re you doing?”

“Is—is that my baby?” Valerie asks in a choking sob. “Is—what’re you doing to Eve!?”

The man in the glasses looks at her in abject confusion, then turns to the baby, then back to Valerie. He sees Miguel and Cindy behind her, lingering in the liminal space between bravery and fear. He also sees the tears now rolling down V’s cheeks.

“Valerie.” He says with a gentle gesture to her. “Your daughter is five years old now.” He says with a sense of heartache. V blinks, rapidly trying to shake away the tears. Her hands still glow with that auroral energy, and when one of the scientists looks to turn to escape, the man in the glasses waves at them to stay put.

He approaches V, even as Miguel and Cindy slowly begin to from the other direction. “Valerie, you’re having another episode. That baby is my daughter, Elle.”

Delia was right. That’s Elle Bishop, which makes this man Bob Bishop, one of the 12 founders of the Company.

Miguel finally speaks up. “V? Chica? Estás bien?” He glances back at Cindy to make sure she’s there. All Cindy can do is stand with her arms wrapped around herself, almost as if in mirror of the way Jac is standing.

V exhales a ragged sob, cupping a hand to her mouth. The auroral lights flicker and fade and the relief on Bob’s face is palpable. The baby—Elle—continues to cry.

“It’s going to be alright,” Bob says, waving some of the scientists over to the platform Elle is swaddled on. But he keeps V in his peripheral vision. “Your friends are here. It’s going to be ok.”

V sobs, crumpling into Miguel’s arms when he steps over to her. He looks surprised, then gently folds her into a protective embrace while firing an accusing look at Bob, then a concerned one over to little Elle. He doesn’t say it, but his eyes scream: what the fuck?

“Before me,” Jac guesses, shoulders shrugging in answer to Delia’s question. She doesn't know who Elle is, doesn't immediately recognize V or the man with the baby.

Her face draws into confusion, blue eyes darting between V and Bob as they debate and discuss the baby. V — Valerie — has a baby — a five-year-old — named Eve? And she seems just as cracked as the only Eve that Jac knows. A quick look away finds Delia, sending an unspoken question in the dreamer’s direction.

“I don't know what any of this is,” Jac admits while scuttling away from the sobbing mess that Miguel has to deal with. “This is… we found research here about rats and… this area…” She turns slowly, while making a wiggly path toward Delia. “This part was sealed off from where we started. I found it, found there was space here, with my ability. But it was rats, not babies, they made them able to teleport with electricity.”

"Yeah, way before you," Delia agrees. "Elle is a few years older than Lu and I… I only ever saw her a few times. She was kind of 'too cool' at company picnics and Christmas parties. I heard more about her from the collection of memories that Kaylee was keeping before the war."

Then there was Howard.

She frowns at V, apparently Eve's mother, and an expression of pity washes over her features. "This is Mister Bishop," she says pointing to the man with the glasses, "He was my dad's boss back in the old days. I remember he used to wear a suit that made him look like a potato." It was brown… Bob was balding. Make your own assumptions.

She moves toward some of the other scientists. Looking around for any notes or clues as to what they're doing to (or with) the baby.

Delia is able to get a good look at the machine Elle is seated on. It looks like some kind of conductor plate with insulated cables extending from the bottom that track of voltage regulators on the walls. Given what she knows of Elle’s ability, it feels like the Company was trying to harness her power for something, to generate power.

As Miguel cradles V in his arms, Cindy takes a tentative step into the room and locks eyes with one of the figures in lab coats. It was hard to tell at first, but this scientist is a teenager. Tall, lanky, with a mop of copper-colored hair.


Niel,” Cindy hisses as she approaches him. And everything


A rush of cold air blasts across Delia and Jac, the walls fall away revealing a bright slate-gray sky. Thick and heavy snowflakes fall with a languid pace from the wide open sky and the high span of the Queensboro Bridge from decades past rises up to meet it. The skyline of New York city serves as a muted backdrop in wintry fog.

Laughter fills the air, a woman’s laughter—Cindy’s. She is walking down the pedestrian sidewalk on the bridge, smiling broadly and laughing with delight. Delia and Jac are only a few paces behind her on the slush-covered sidewalk.

"If you're lost you can look and you will find me, time after time!" Cindy is singing, arms unfurled, scarf pulled up to her red nose and mitten-covered hands flapping. As she pivots around on one booted heel, her long sandy-brown hair fans out behind her like a shawl. The icy wind whipping across the footpath on the Queensboro bridge is enough to steal her breath, and yet, she's still singing. "If you're lost you can look and you will find me! Time after time!"

Hands tucked into the pockets of his puffy green jacket, Daniel Trafford shuffles along just a few paces behind the twirling young woman who stops mid-spin to watch Niel's careful, shuffling steps with pursed lips and gleaming-eyed amusement.

"You don't have to walk in the snow much where you're from, do you?" Cindy asks with a twinkle of amusement in her eyes.

Niel cocks a brow at her and hunches his shoulders forward, trying to hide his face deeper into his rainbow-striped wool scarf. "No," he says with a roll of his eyes, "if we get so much as a bloody dusting in Manchester people lose their bloody minds. Grannies frozen in their flats, cars spinning off the road, lorries pitching into the river." He wrinkles his nose. "This is practically apocalyptic cold."

"It's twenty-three," Cindy says with a roll of her eyes, stepping over to smoosh her mittened hands against Niel's red cheeks. "Just wait until February when it gets down below zero!" That remark has Niel's brows scrunching up and the gloved hands at his cheeks have his eyes flicking to the side and away from her blue ones.

"That's— uh— what, in Celcius?" Niel says frustratedly. "Whatever. What's that song?"

Cindy steps closer, pivoting Niel so she's blocking the wind coming up the river with her back. It makes her hair blow over her shoulders, brush across Niel's, he can smell her perfume at this distance mixed with the smell of fresh pastries from the bakery. "It's Cyndi Lauper, she's cool. Haven't you heard of her?"

"M'more've a Buzzcocks guy," Niel says with a purse of his lips, cheeks somehow redder now in spite of her gloved hands trying to keep them warm. She doesn't recognize the name, but she smiles nevertheless and looks away, toward the noise of a honking car in the distance, and then back to Niel.

"We could trade tapes," Cindy suggests with a smile.

Drawing close to Delia, Jac starts to lean in to examine those things the older redhead has found interesting. Confusion about everything happening makes it hard to stay focused, and the hissing tone from Cindy draws an inherently suspicious look.

Just as she turns to confront that change, everything else changes. The teen pulls in a shocked breath as the dream place becomes somewhere else and the cold hits her. She raises her eyes to the skyline that she only remembers from pictures, then follows the arcing steel structure of the bridge. Another relic that she’s unfamiliar with. A huff escapes half a second later, breath curling in the cold air, and Jac finally pins her attention on Cindy and Niel.

“I’ve heard that song,” she observes quietly. She flicks a glance up at Delia, but stays at the woman’s side. “Why is she asking about trading tapes? That’s a weird thing to offer, since… I mean he could just look it up on Spotify, right?” Jac folds her arms around her middle, as she squints at Cindy and Niel. “How did… Did she move us here?”

"Man, kid," Delia jokes, nudging Jac playfully with her elbow. The change of scenery lightened her mood, mostly because it meant that danger of being experimented on has probably passed. "With all the time you spent in the underground you of all people should remember a world where Spotify didn't exist. Tapes came before CD's, but after 8-tracks and records."

Delia had seen them all. Precious collections from her mother and father, though they weren't Cyndi Lauper fans. The older of the redheads does recognize the Buzzcocks, thanks to her partner. Like her partner, this man is from Britain and if she's not mistaken, a resident at Lynette's place. Though, she doesn't remember drifting through his dreams on her unsolicited rounds of Benchmark.

"We're in a dream, we go with the flow. Once her train switches tracks, we follow along like a caboose." She moves closer to Cindy and Niel, "She switched on him… from a nightmare to a good dream. She associates him with good things."

Giggling, Cindy turns and starts to walk backwards. "Come on, come on, sing the chorus with me! It's a good song!" The cold air has flushed her cheeks pink, and she can't help but afford Daniel with a toothy smile. One mitten-covered hand tries to thread an errant lock of hair behind one ear, but she can't quite muster it. Daniel cracks a smile, stepping over and helping her. His fingertips brush her temple, his smile grows.

"If you fall I will catch you…" Cindy starts to sing, waiting for him to join in, "I will be waiting." She raises a mitten-clad hand up to hold his at her temple, her eyes locked on his. "Time after time." Niel starts to open his mouth, but he looks uncertain, can't remember the lyrics. So she repeats them.

"If you fall I will catch you," she squeezes his hand in hers, "I will be waiting…" Niel might not be able to remember the lyrics easily, but he can remember the artist's name. It was her name, after all.

“Time after time!” Niel croons with a crooked smile. Cindy breaks out into a fit of laughter and presses her mitten-clad hands to either side of his face, rises up onto her toes and kisses him. Niel looks startled, jostling back just a touch with wide eyes. His cheeks too are red, and not from the cold anymore.

Cindy wrinkles her nose and furrows her brows. “Sorry, was—sorry I thought—”

“No.” Niel says with a frog in his throat. “No it’s—it’s fine. It’s fine. You’re— I mean you’re—” Fine? No, he refuses to make that much of an ass of himself. Clearing his throat, Niel steps back over to Cindy and takes in a deep breath. “I just didn’t—expect.”

Cindy’s smile returns and she reaches out to take Niel’s hand in hers. “You want to go to the bakery?” She says with a motion of her head toward Manhattan on one end of the bridge. We can take the tram back if you’re too cold!”

“I’m not too cold.” Niel says with an awkward, macho defensiveness. “And—and the bakery sounds good.” He attempts to assert some level of control to a situation he feels is wildly spiraling out of his control and into Cindy’s, much as things tend to with her.

“Then it’s a date.” Cindy says, tugging on Niel’s hand.

How should be the question that follows Delia’s explanation. But when Cindy kisses Niel, Jac’s face becomes a clash of confusion and objection. She isn’t sure why she’d object, she barely knows Cindy and doesn’t know Niel at all, but there’s something about kissing that’s way weirder than hugging ever will be.

“I don’t know.” Huffing, Jac angles a glance up at Delia. “Avoiding bad dreams I get but…” Looking again to the pair ahead of them. “So.” The younger redhead holds up a finger. “She’s friends with Miguel and that V lady.” There’s a hint of maybe included with Valarie. A second finger is held up. “And she dated Niel.” A quick assumption made just as impulsively as every other time she’s observed someone dating.

“But why did she get sent to Rikers? And how did she get involved in…” The rest of Jac’s fingers join the first two and she stiffly waves her hand at herself.

"Well… maybe not dated but she sure wanted to," Delia smirks and passing a glance to Jac, she shrugs. "Maybe he did too. One thing is for sure, you know a lot more about her than I do."

Then she tiptoes through the snow, following the couple toward the promise of baked goods and maybe even some hot chocolate. Her bare feet leave no prints in the slush to give any clue that she was there at all. She hums the tune that Cindy sings, though her attempt is more like her bloodhound's yodel than anything human.

The dreamer hops over a few icy puddles and just as they reach the door to the bakery she whispers into the wind.

Rikers…. tell us about Rikers…

The request feels like Delia pushed her hand into soft, warm clay and squeezed. Cindy’s will flows between her fingers, oozes down her wrist, and drips onto the floor with loud plops. It is the most malleable subconscious she has experienced in some time, there’s almost nothing there preventing her from directing it wherever and however she wishes.

And just that quickly, the dreamscape bends around her. What was once a warmly intimate moment in a snowy New York that no longer exists warps into a bleaker texture. Walls close in from all sides, wet concrete streaked with rust. Delia knows the texture of a nightmare when she feels one.

There’s rain hammering outside the windowless concrete, voices penetrating the stone from another adjacent memory.

“Charles just went upstairs,” a man with a thick Jersey accent says.

““Then we’ve plenty of time,” replies a man with a sandpapery British voice.

“You want me to take her to Arthur?”

“No. Take her out to Rikers, put her in the guest suite.” The Brit replies, and then as an aside asks, “Alphonse, is Caspar ready?”

Around Delia and Jac, the walls are continuing to close in. No windows, no doors, no escape.

“This is a great deal of work for one girl. There’s easier ways to make sure someone stays quiet.” Replies a third man, his voice less distinct.

“This isn’t about silence, this is about preparedness. This was just a setback, we must simply be patient.” The Brit responds.

“You’re sure you don’t want to take her to Arthur?” The man with the Jersey accent asks. “He’s gonna ask questions. We could hide her under his—”

“Arthur can’t ask questions about what he doesn’t remember. Let me handle him.” The Brit instructs, firmly. “And, word to the wise, don’t go too deep into her mind if you intend to keep your own.

Jac’s heard this before. The voice—she knows that voice. She’d heard it in a vision projected into her mind by Cindy when she visited her at the Clocktower Building. That man with the thick New Jersey accent. That’s Maury Parkman. The others she isn’t sure of, but she knows she saw this moment.

Reminded, now, of the context it becomes clearer. They sent her to Rikers to keep her out of sight. But the why of it is a harder question to answer.

A tremor of reflexive anger from Jac’s subconscious halts the advance of the walls, leaving she and Delia confined to a single ten-by-ten cell. Cindy is here, all around them, trapped in this cell in Rikers for decades. Delia can feel the trauma, the agony, the dread of this memory of this place represented as a windowless and doorless prison.

Jac’s head swivels left and right, looking past Delia first and then over her shoulder. Confinement isn't unfamiliar to her, how much of her life did she spend alone, locked away in one room or another, almost as much a prisoner as Cindy. Except her trauma is so deeply buried she doesn't even remember it exists. It doesn't keep her trapped like this.

Her brows knit at the dark walls and disembodied voices. Maury Parkman, of course she remembers him being involved, even before this place. The others… they're less clear. Jac can’t quite match faces to voices no matter how hard she thinks about it. The British guy, was that really old guy, or…

“Wait.” Jac twists half way around and reaches for Delia without looking at her. “Wait. You can bring her here.” It isn't as much of a question as it is a statement, and the younger redhead presses on without waiting for confirmation. “Like with Emily that one time. Cindy!”

Twisting again, turning in place, the teen raises her hands to her mouth as she literally shouts for the woman. “Cindy! We’re here to help you! It's a dream but you can talk to us! We can help you!”

"Quiet," Delia hisses at Jac, quickly clapping a hand over the young woman's mouth and wrestling her backward, close to her own body. "You're like a bloody elephant stomping around. Be gentle or you'll scare her even more." Slowly, she lets go of Jac, turning her just enough to look her in the eye. It's a lesson many people have tried to impart on the dreamer over the years.

What concerns her the most is the warning…. Delia is rather attached to her mind. Knitting her eyebrows together, she passes another look to Jac and takes a deep breath.

“Cindy, come down to us, let’s leave here.”

"Thirty-four point nine four six zero two zero by One hundred and thirty-six point three eight seven three six seven." A woman’s voice echoes in the cell. Nothing else changes.

“Thirty-one poinr zero three four four one five by forty-six point two four nine three six three.” Then again.

“Forty-six point one seven nine eight four one by One hundred and three point one one five six two nine.” And again.

“Sixty-one point five two zero six five four by minus One hundred and forty-one point one zero one three six nine.” Again, numbers. The voice sounds remotely like the young Cindy they’d heard before, but older, weary.

“Thirty point zero zero five five seven eight by One hundred and nineteen point one nine zero one nine one.” It’s just numbers, over and over again.

“Ci— ” The rest comes out as muffled nonsense, with Delia’s hand pressed firmly over her mouth. Jac huffs as only she can, nostrils flaring and blue eyes showing just a spark of daring to challenge the dreamer. She won't push it, she's as new to this realm as a hatchling in the real world. But she’ll bristle and puff up to flex her spirit in the matter.

Once released, she huffs again, quieter this time, and lifts her head to look all around. Her head tilts at the voice, like a puppy hearing an interesting sound. She listens hard and even repeats some of the sequences.

“Sounds like map coordinates,” Jac says. A glance slides over to Delia while the teen sidles a couple of steps apart from her. “Cindy.” She's less a bull in a China shop calling out, but there's still a tremor of urgency in her voice.”Cindy, I pinky swear it's safe. I’m Jac, and I'm trying to help you.”

"Thaaaat's nowhere near here," Delia says with a bit of a puzzled frown. These were the sorts of messages she delivered during the war, coordinates for where and when attacks would come or where and when their side would strike. "New York is forty by negative seventy three. If these are coordinates, it's clear on the other side of the world."

Her frown deepens as she looks around their cell, "It's also not where Cindy is… there's no way I could reach that without getting lost again." She touches the wall, attempting to create a window to the New York they just came from, a window to Cindy's happy place.

"We should visit Niel."




A distorted man’s voice echoes across a dimly lit park at dusk. A city skyline of black buildings silhouetted against a lavender sky glitters with the lights in their windows. Daniel Trafford is thirteen years old, a scruffy redhead with grass stains on his knees and a smile spread from ear to ear.

He rises up on his toes and waves in the direction of a man approaching from beneath a lamp post. As Delia and Squeaks are drawn into this dream of Niel’s, they see the man approaching from the edge of the park has no face, just a swirling mass of shapes and mist.

“N̷̨͑i̴̘̇e̶͉̔l̴͍͐,̵͓̅ ̸̖̿i̴̟̎t̷̀ͅ'̵̹̒s̸̨̏ ̷͙̍t̸̫̄i̴̪͂ṁ̸̝e̷͕͊ ̵͓͋t̴̹͘o̷̱̚ ̶̧̅g̸͖̃ö̵͚́ ̶̾͜ḥ̴̾o̸͎͆m̴̢̃ë̸͕́.̸̬̿ ̶̜́Ȉ̴͖t̴̹́'̶̮̍ŝ̵̮ ̵̟̋ģ̵̆ḛ̷̈t̵̼́ť̴̳ǐ̷̞n̸͎̆g̴̘̀ ̸̞̀d̴̙́a̸̙͊r̸̚ͅk̶̮͊.̶͓͆” The faceless man says, and young Niel laughs and shakes his head, walking toward the faceless man.

“Can we stay a bit longer? Rose says there’s gonna be fireworks after the concert in Central Park!” Niel comes up to the faceless man looking up at him with red brows furrowed together. “Please! We’ve got t’go home in two days, can we see the fireworks once?” Niel’s voice has a more pronounced British accent in it here than in some of the other visions of him, where he is a year or two older.

The faceless man sighs, looking around. “W̵̠̒h̵̲̽e̴̟͛r̷͎͑ẻ̶͖'̷̹́s̸̹̔ ̸͇̌y̷̧͝o̴̡̎u̸͖̔r̴̯͆ ̶̯̌s̵̞̾i̶͈̎s̵͈͋t̷̞̒ē̸̗ŗ̴̍?̸̗͌”

Niel looks over his shoulder, to where the park is darkest. He starts to point, and then stops. “I…” Niel’s eyes track from side to side. “I’m not…” Her looks back to the faceless man. “She’s not far. Can we stay?”

An argument forms behind the teen’s teeth, but manifests as a huffed breath as the dream shifts to somewhere else. She can't land on a reason why Cindy’s boyfriend would be useful — besides getting her and Delia out of that cell — and it forms a critical look that springs off the dreamer and lands on the boy.

“Listening to those numbers again would be good,” she opines quietly. Getting Cindy to join them would have been better, of course. But still, she'd also like to know where those possibly coordinates went to.

Jac, arms folding across her torso, lifts her eyes from the red headed boy to the faceless man. Her shoulders shift uncomfortably, brows knitting with confusion. “Why is he…” Words trail off in a way that implies she maybe knows the answer. Maybe Niel doesn't remember or doesn't want to remember whoever that is.

The mystery only draws Jac closer to the pair, cautious as a cat. “Who is he?” And Rose, is that Niel’s sister?

Delia just shrugs.

“I don’t know,” she utters quietly to the question asked out loud. "Someone that he doesn't want to remember? Or can't?" Either way, it's terribly disconcerting. She glides closer to the faceless man, until her nose is barely an inch from his face. She squints, trying to see past the mist. "His father maybe?"

It's someone he feels comfortable with, at least in this memory, if not elsewhere.

"It's weird how they're both so damaged, right? Like someone's been playing with their mind for a very long time." It's moments like these that she wishes Kaylee was here. The telepath was always much better at unwinding more complex problems, and masking them further.

To the wind the dreamer whispers, “Cindy.”

Cindy. Delia’s voice echoes, through the trees, into the night.

“Ȧ̶̳ ̷͙̯̕l̸͚̓̌i̷͕̣̿t̴̨̿t̶̍̏͜l̸̢͇̊͠e̶̗̚ ̵͍̄̀l̸̻̒ȍ̷̞n̶͇̽͑ģ̴̭͌̀ę̵̓r̷̛̯͙̽.̷̲̾” The faceless man replies over Delia’s whisper. Niel’s expression brightens up and he takes a step forward, followed by the sound of footsteps thumping on the park grass in the dark.

Sparklers shine in the night, a pair of them windmilling around in golden circles held in the hands of a tiny Japanese girl no older than three, wearing a bright red sundress. Behind her follows a red-haired young woman in a leather jacket covered with buttons and patches. They both close in on Niel and the faceless man. Niel turns, smiling up at the redhead who must be in her early twenties.

“Rose!” Niel exclaims, and Rose approaches swiftly on booted feet. The little japanese girl laughs and matches Rose’s movements, then holds out a sparkler for Niel. He smiles toothily and takes it from her, then turns to look at the faceless man who approaches them all.

“Ş̷͗͗o̶͙̓,̴̤̌ ̸̖͙̂̄y̶̳͈̕o̶̡͉͛u̴̝̅'̸̱̇̈́v̷͚̿̇ě̶̼ ̷̡͈̇b̴̈́͘ͅr̵̜̾i̸̧̭̓͝b̴̘̈́̕e̵̻͆̽͜d̵̻̔ ̶͈̠́t̴̡͝ḣ̵͕̈e̵̟̔͐ ̶̭̾P̶̩̿r̷̡̼̿i̸̻̩̊̏n̵̪͊̓c̶̝̐e̸̱̍s̴̢̑s̸̻̯̋͘ ̷͚̒w̸͈͆̓ȋ̵̦̽t̷̼̓ḫ̴͐̎ ̸̦̗̈́̕f̵͈̄i̶̜̞̅r̵̥̝̈́͘ẹ̷͙̿̈́w̶͈͐̓o̸͎̒̄r̷͚̬̎͝ḳ̷͂͠s̸̫̗̎̔.̴̖͝ ̷̳̈̓I̶̥̺̐̅s̴̩͌̚ ̷̛̳t̶͖̽̎h̸̢̫́a̵̰͕͘t̶͖̉ ̴̟̀̇ḧ̵̨́o̴͇̐͠w̷̼̆͜ ̸̰̠̓͝ĩ̸̯̭t̷̜͆̇ ̸̞̒ͅw̴̖̍ö̵͉r̷̡̽́k̶̖̺͋s̵̛̞̈́?̷̧͆̚” The faceless man says with a laugh. Rose turns to him and laughs as he takes a knee and ruffles the dark hair of the little Japanese girl. She brandishes her remaining sparkler in his face, though he doesn’t so much as flinch.

“We’re not going t’be here for the Fourth, so this is the next best thing. Mr. Nakamura said t’show her a good time, didn’t he?” Rose playfully accuses. Her accent is a touch more Irish than Niel’s northern English one. Rose walks over to the faceless man and hooks an arm around his shoulders. “Don’t be such a stick in the mud, da’.”

The faceless man laughs again and throws his hands into the air in surrender. “F̷͖̎i̷͍͛ͅn̶̰̗̚ȩ̸̲̏̅,̵̠̫̊ ̷̩̦̀ḟ̸̩̚i̴͚̓͘n̶͍̼̽e̸͉̽͂.̷̫̩͂͝ ̶̣̃̔B̵͍̅̕u̷͚̓t̷͇̒̽ ̷̯͇̿I̶̟͍͗͝'̸̪̓̉ṁ̸̖̘ ̶͖̩̀̈g̴͓͊̎ơ̸̯̞͐i̶̯̜̍͋n̷͓̉̀g̸͚͊ͅ ̴͓͋t̴̢͉̐̚o̸̬̊ ̶͇͎͛ẅ̷́ͅͅȃ̵̞̼n̷̠̆͛t̵̞͉́̾ ̸̤̏́ọ̸̀̂n̸̈́̎ͅe̸͈͠ ̵̤͒o̷̹̪͋f̸̫̅͊—” The sudden flash of brilliant light in the night sky causes the faceless man to turn his attention upward from his children. He waits. The little girl, Rose, and Niel wait.

There’s no sound. No bang, no crackle.

“Are fireworks supposed t’be silent?” Niel asks, looking at Rose, who stares up at the sky and slowly shakes her head.

“No…” Rose murmurs, and in her eyes a lambent green spiral is reflected. In the air over the park, a multi-armed spiral of green light stretches out from one end of the horizon to the other, rippling with blues and pinks at the bottom of its wavering curtain. An aurora. In New York. In the summer.

“W̷̜̋̒e̷̦͋̒ ̵̗̈ṅ̸͓̥e̴̬͍̅e̴͕̐̊d̶̛̹͖͠ ̸̖̲̀t̶͙͋͌ͅǒ̴̬͍͝ ̶̜̪́͝g̴̖̈́ö̶̲́̇.̸̧͝” The faceless man says, reaching for Rose and Niel. They don’t respond. He turns to them, “Ẃ̶̦͌e̴̪͝ ̷͔̻̊̚n̵̪̂̈́é̶̼̑ę̷̺̾̋d̷̡́̔ ̴̧̿t̴̫̭̍͛ŏ̸̹̘ ̷̱̳͑͘ǵ̴͉̭̄ȯ̴̟̍ ̵͖̌̃n̸̰̘͑ỏ̸̮͒w̷̺̱̐͘.̶̳̹̆͘”

But when he looks, there’s no one there. Just shimmering wisps of rainbow-colored light where they once stood. The dream becomes hazy, indistinct, and dislocates as Delia’s whispered request echoes on them again.


Jac and Delia are alone in the dark of a dreamless mind, a consciousness between thoughts, a liminal space where the subconscious is as deep as it is dark. It feels like falling and being underwater all at once, even though neither of them are moving. It is here, in this emptiness, they hear Delia’s whisper rebounding like a boomerang through the black.


Something is coming.

The sparklers ignite a small child's wonder in Jac as she watches the family. Her eyes widen, curiosity, and even the whole purpose for going into the dreams, is forgotten in that instant. Fireworks are so awesome and, if it were the real world, she'd probably insert herself into the cluster to chatter on about the sky-filling flashes and find out where she can get those glittering glimmer sticks.

On cue with Niel and the girls and the faceless man, Jac looks up when lights flare and slash in the sky. She's fully expecting fireworks, not the sinuous swirl of colors she finds instead.

"Oh no." She's seen that before.

"Oh no." Twice before. And both times it was some kind of harbinger…

A cold, hard knot forms in her gut, made up of fear and something else. Something more fighty. The group they'd been watching probably have the right idea about leaving, but Jac squares her shoulders defiantly. Unaware of the dream changing around them, the teen moves to place herself between Delia and the aurora. Hopefully it's just a bad memory. If not…

Hopefully Jac can buy the dreamer time to get them someplace else.

"What do you mean oh no?" Delia asks as she looks up at the aurora. Being from New York (and barely anywhere else) she's only seen these in National Geographic magazines and dreams. To the dreamer, they pose no threat.

She does feel her whisper coming back, like a ghost to haunt her or a bad penny.

What exactly…

Delia looks down at Jac and shakes her head, this isn't the teen's place. This is her place. So she flits to the side and appears in front of the young woman, like an image on television that warps and then solidifies in a new spot. She walks forward a few steps and braces herself, ready to meet this thing head on.

As the faceless man reaches for his son’s hand, he passes through it. His son lets out a frightened scream that then stutters as if he were speaking into a running box fan. At the same time, the red haired young woman—Rose—and the little Japanese girl are both turning into shifting patterns of rainbow-hued light as well before they—



Delia’s Apartment
6:12 am

When Delia Ryans’ consciousness returns to her body she feels the fatigue of a night of no sleep, no rest, no recuperation weigh down on her like stones. Dawn light is spilling through her bedroom window, her blankets are mostly on the floor and her head throbs. Niel’s subconsciousness was a tangled mess, but Cindy’s was a nightmare within which she is a prisoner. Numbers, the ones whispered into the dark, rattle around in Delia’s mind. She struggles to remember the order of them.

Sitting up in her bed, Delia asserts herself in the space of her room. Fine details in sequential order, personal belonging on shelves, posters, the position of the sun through the blinds. Then she looks back at them in reverse order. Nothing out of place. She’s awake.

The headache she has is real.

Childs’ Residence
6:12 am

Jac Childs jolts upright in her bed, sweat clinging to her brow and chest rising and falling sharply. Her hands are trembling, skin prickling as if she were briefly electrocuted. But there is no pain, no danger, no interdimensional peril expressed through the surreality of dream. There is just the lingering memory, one of panic and confusion, of spiral-armed auroras twisting into the night sky. Of a faceless man who—


Jac’s heart seizes like a vice in her chest when she thinks back about what he said. She couldn’t recognize it in the moment. But now, here, awake?

She knows who the faceless man is.


Trafford Residence
Bay Ridge
6:12 am

The muffled sound of a television is the first thing Daniel Trafford wakes up to. The sofa at his daughter’s house is more comfortable than a bed, as far as he is concerned. Though the house has been quiet while Delilah is…

Dead is the first thing that comes to mind as he looks at his own hands. But dead isn’t right. He hears a noise in the kitchen, and Daniel looks toward where the light spills out onto the floor. The brunette who pokes her head out of the doorway offers Niel a lopsided smile.

“You’re up early. I’ll put on some more coffee.” Agent Hall says with a chipper smile. She was here for her morning check-in, and to make sure Niel hadn’t told anyone the truth about what happened to his daughter.

“Thanks, luv,” Niel mumbles, scrubbing a hand over his mouth. He’s distracted. A name behind a nightmare, reverberating in the back of his mind. He swallows tightly. His heart races.


The Clocktower
Red Hook
6:12 am

The dim light of dawn spills through windows with widely parted curtains. The living room of suite 312 is immaculately tended, much is the rest of the living space. The soft beep of a heart-rate monitor chirps in the adjoining bedroom, where a hospital bed is made up with cozy comforters, thick pillows, and set within a room of warm decor designed to be welcoming for someone who, in truth, can’t appreciate it.

Cindy Morrison lays in the bed, eyes shut and faded auburn hair spread out like a halo around her head. On any other day she would lay here until her caretaker arrives, then exist in a fugue state in a different room, watching a television she cannot perceive.

But the twitch of her right finger says today will be different. The way her lips form a soft “O”, and her eyelids flutter open on their own. Then, with a hoarse whisper:


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