vf_magnes_icon.gif vf_ruiz_icon.gif

Scene Title Singularities
Synopsis Magnes has a request to make of the Hub's glorified garbage man. And he sees something unexpected that increases his determination.
Date November 8, 2011

The Hub

Finding Ruiz in the underground facility isn’t exactly difficult. When he’s not in the disposal room, or resting in what happens to be his shared quarters, he’s often in the common areas. There’s less than two hundred survivors, so everyone knows who Ruiz is, and pointing his general direction. And it seems his comment about being a glorified janitor also meant he spent much of his time outside the disposal room… cleaning up. He’s wearing a different coverall work outfit this time, and has a pair of headphones on, attached to something in his chest pocket. It seems they still have music, in the not-really-zombies apocalypse.

Moving along with the beat of music, he’s washing down the surface of the tables in the common room with something that smells of cleaning chemicals. Keeping this place clean isn’t easy, and even with little supplies, two hundred people still make a lot of trash, as seen by the trash can nearby.

"Ruiz!" Magnes calls out, holding up a hand. When he's up close, looking around to make sure no one's immediately in ear shot, he starts to speak softly. "I was wondering if I could ask about your ability? You said that nothing's ever come out, but what do you think your ability is?"

There’s no one around at the moment, because it’s much easier to clean up when no one is underfoot. Ruiz spots the young man in the corner of his eye and removes the headphones so they sit across his neck. The sound of Led Zeppelin can be heard briefly before he pulls out an iPod and turns it off. “I’ve had my ability for five years, and like I said, nothing’s ever come back that goes in, and nothing’s ever come out of it, either.”

What does he think his ability is? “I think it’s an emptiness that wants to destroy everything.” There’s something bitter in his voice, as if he hates his ability. But had been willing to use it when Edward Ray told him to.

"When I became a black hole, that's how I felt. I felt as if I wanted to consume everything, like I slowly began to lose myself, and who I am. I just… all that I could feel was this need to just, consume. My ability is normal gravity manipulation, kind of, but I was amplified and I guess mind controlled or something…" Magnes looks Ruiz over, though doesn't enter his personal space. "If you really can open a black hole, and I can figure out how my ability allowed me and Elisabeth to cross it without becoming quantum spaghettified, maybe we can get these people out of here.

In the five years that he’s had his ability, Ruiz never expected to meet someone who had become a literal manifestation of it. That makes him stop scrubbing the tables, tossing the rag into a small bucket. “When you— and her— came through, it felt like something took it over, my ability. El umbral is usually black with some dark lightning around the edges, but it changed colors, turned… purple.”

That alone had been strange. “And it made my nose bleed. In all the years I’ve used my ability, that never happened.” He’d seen it happen to other people with abilities, though. He knows it as a usual effect of strain. “Yours was bleeding too.” And more than that, but he’d cleaned him up.

"Oh… oh, well, shit." Magnes knows what his ability looks like when it physically manifests, it's happened more than once. "Well, I guess I can control black holes." He rubs his chin, considering. "That's pretty cool." But then, clearing his throat, he explains. "That was me. Normally you can't see my ability, but when my gravity's, like, starting to get really heavy, it turns, well, purple. I was controlling your ability, I guess because a black hole is just a singularity of gravity…"

"I don't remember at all." he's quick to point out. "But if there's a chance of getting out of here, of maybe even rescuing these people, this might be a possible answer if we can plan with Edward Ray. And, knowing that I can, uh, control black holes I guess, this also might explain why Elisabeth didn't get spaghettified, and why I didn't die. Maybe it's like when a pyrokinetic doesn't burn themselves…"

“I don’t know why you didn’t die,” Ruiz responds, looking at the young boy for a moment. The chance of another world, one that isn’t sick and dying? His touches his coveralls against the center of his chest, like he’s touching something hanging from his neck underneath. After a moment he nods, as if making a decision. “I’ll try and help you figure it out. You can even watch me do disposal. We’ll have to find a suit that’s your size, but we could practice. The disposal room is big enough my ability doesn’t rip it apart.”

Not to mention the whole place is made of titanium and concrete. Then he adds his ‘but’. With the only thing that really matters, “But if we figure it out, me and at least one other person are going with you.”

"I'm a 'save everyone' kind of guy. Even if all I could take were you and one other person, I wouldn't forget this world, I wouldn't just leave these people without coming back to save them." Magnes assures, smiling and offering his hand to the man. "I, uh, I need my ability. I need you to talk to Edward Ray. It's one thing to watch you, but I need to be able to feel it, I need to know what's going on, the 'gravity-feel'. I know it's a risk, but… it's so far our only way out. But in the meantime, I'll watch."

“I figured you would,” Ruiz remarks, giving the young man a sideways glance and a grin. “That’s why I’m going to find a suit that fits you.” After all, he had stopped taking the injections for a while so that he could use his ability. “It’s complicated, but there are a few who don’t take the injections to retain their ability. Mostly those who are necessary for the community and our survival.”

He lets his hand drop, relieved that this kid at least sounds like a hero, even if he would never recommend coming back, if he manages to leave. And wouldn’t blame him completely if he didn’t. “It’s a risk that could kill you, but I think Ray would agree that it’s a risk worth taking.” In short, he’ll talk to him.

"I'm really on borrowed time, when you think about it. I might be flying off into the multiverse somewhere that looks nothing like Earth, if you didn't use your ability when you did. So, the way I see it, I owe you a lot. I owe you the risk, and I got Elisabeth into this, so I owe her the risk too." Magnes does consider a few things though, lightly pulling at his bottom lip. "If the virus isn't airborne, and by my luck it probably is, I could just fly when I get my ability back, if I had to go outside or something."

From the way Ruiz shakes his head, it looks like he at least believes that the virus is airborne enough it wouldn’t matter. And also— “Even if you could fly away, there’s nowhere to fly to, everywhere is touched by the virus. And no one goes in or out without permission, and I don’t think I could get permission to allow you to do that.” And if he did get out, odds are he would not be let back in. Their community already lost so many over the last years. So many more people lost than they have now. Hundreds and hundreds.

“It’s going to take some time, so I’d just try to settle in. Meet people. See if you know any of them.” Though he hopes they don’t know him as being long dead. “Do you want me to get anything for you? We don’t have a lot, but the scavs find things every few weeks and bring them back.”

"I'm not exactly anxious to go out into the virus infested world. I'm fine with solving problems in here for now. Though I kind of wonder how the scavengers manage to go out safely, they must be really good." Magnes considers, then holds up a finger. "If there's any comics, graphic novels, things like that, that'd be nice. Elisabeth could probably use something to take her mind off of stuff too, but I don't really know much about her, except that she likes music."

“I’ll see what K-Mart has and we’ll go from there, also will see if our openings left anything worth salvaging.” The openings happen to be those who died in the last few weeks. Not exactly the best thing in the world, but… Ruiz makes mental notes to find what he can, as well as touching his headphones, “Thankfully we still have music. Music never— “

He doesn’t finish, because suddenly there’s a voice behind Magnes. A… oddly familiar voice. “Mister Ruiz… I— I made a mess. I.. tripped.”


The voice comes from a young girl, not even a teenager. Dark skin, dark hair pulled into a ponytail. And a worried look that doesn’t fit her usually happy face. And she’s using a crutch to move around. Mala Patel. One of the Lighthouse Kids he’d read to, many times.

Who died less than a year ago.

Magnes' eyes widen. He remembers, he'd never forget, especially not when he found out…

He turns around, stares down at her, eyes wide in, just, shock. "Mala." he says, not shouting, or even a particularly emotional tone, it's simply stated, as if his brain couldn't properly even register what emotion he should be feeling right now. "Oh man…" He turns around, facing Ruiz, away from Mala, covering his eyes. Tears are starting to flow, he can't even control himself. "Man…"

As the young man calls out the girl’s name, both Ruiz and Mala are surprised by it. Mala, on the one hand, seems to smile, as she doesn’t recognize the man, which means he’s one of the new people. But with Ruiz, he’s raising an eyebrow that lowers when he sees the tears. Tears the gravity manipulator obviously wants to hide. And for good reason.

Everyone in this world that he knows is probably dead. But at least one little girl with big brown eyes has survived. A hand presses to Magnes’ upper arm. A quiet way of saying ‘I got this’, as Ruiz moves past him and toward the young girl. “As long as you’re okay, no mess is too big to clean up,” he teases the youngster, pressing his hand against the top of her tiny head.

“Is that one of the newcomers?” she asks, eyes brightening.

“It is. But he’s a little overwhelmed right now. Meeting all these new people.”

“Can I help?” she asks, smiling and looking far more like the little girl he remembered— just with a crutch. Ruiz glances back toward Magnes, as if waiting to see if he composes himself and wants to talk to her.

Magnes starts to take a few deep breaths, wiping his eyes. Then he turns around and smiles, crouching down to hold out his hand. "I'm Magnes." he introduces, then tilts his head. "I hear you're pretty strong, even though you're so small and adorable!"

“Oh yes! Well, I used to be,” Mala responds, flexing her free arm with a grin. “I’m not as strong anymore, but people aren’t really happy so I probably wouldn’t be anyway…” she trails off, looking up at the, well janitor is probably not the right term. The guy who cleans up after everyone. Most the time.

“So where’s this mess?” he asks, deciding that Magnes has it under control for the most part.

Mala looks up at him and winces again, but he gives her another mollifying gesture and she looks better about it, “Corridor B, near our room. Denisa’s trying to clean it up, but…”

Denisa. Another Lighthouse Kid. One who’d died during the Blizzard. An event that never happened in this timeline.

"Denisa." Magnes stands up straight again, he couldn't hold it back. He looks to Ruiz, figuring that the children will simply assume that they were already talking about them. "Are all the Lighthouse kids here?" he asks, because he has to know. "They're all healthy? They have the vaccine?"

What’s a Lighthouse Kid?

From the look in Ruiz’ eyes, that’s what he’s thinking, but instead of asking that question out loud, he says, “There are a handful of kids here, yeah. There is no vaccine, or if there is, we don’t have it. They’re all taking the injections, though. It’s the only way we know to stop the it from taking hold.”

The young girl doesn’t quite understand what he means, but she does say, “I can introduce you to all the kids! We have our own dorm. Most of us. The ones who have a parent still stay with them.” Death is, sadly, a way of life here.

"But you're both okay? You're healthy?" Magnes smiles, crouching down to face the two of them. There are some tears again, but he explains them away. "Sorry, where I'm from, I knew some kids just like you. You remind me of them, so it's nice to see you. They're happy tears, you know?"

"Where I'm from, there was a lighthouse. All the orphan children lived there, and there were lots of people who took care of them and loved them like any parent would." He reaches out to lightly ruffle Mala's hair. "There was a girl just like you, I'd play that Beatles song, Across the Universe for her. And I'd read comic books to all of them."

“It’s okay to cry sometimes,” Mala says with a smile, reaching up her hand to touch his face where the tears are, almost as if she’s wanting to wipe them away. Her own eyes want to fill with tears, because, just like his Mala, she’s been through so much. More. The world isn’t a good one.

But it still has kids. “We like music. Mister Ruiz plays for us every so often! K-Mart found him a guitar. Maybe you can borrow it!” And actually play that song for them. Just like he did before.

“As long as he’s careful with it. We can’t exactly get replacements easy,” the older man offers. “I’ll go get that cleaned up. Don’t need Denisa doing my job.” It’s a joke, he’d be happy to let just about anyone do his job. “You going to be good on your own, Magnes?”

"Well, I'm a bass and piano player, but I'm sure I can figure something out." Magnes reaches up to gently wrap Mala's hand in his own for a moment, then releases it and carefully stands up straight. "I'll be fine. Just, let me know if you find any comics, okay? Since we have the kids, I bet they'd love to get read to. Oh, and I used to work in a pizza shop, so if there's ingredients, I could probably make pizza."

With the confirmation, Ruiz nods, “Finding a bass won’t be easy, but I can always play and you can sing, too. As for pizza, we’re not exactly swimming in food supplies, but if K-Mart happens to find pizza dough, I’ll let you know. Same with the comics.” That is an aside offer, before the older man leaves, to get cleaning supplies and make sure the young kid isn’t stuck cleaning up all by herself.

That leaves Magnes alone with a smiling kid, who, despite everything, is still a kid, who remembers pizza. “I used to like pizza. There was a place we used to go to, before the Bomb.” And before the Virus, too. “It had games. And a big mouse.”

"Chuck E Cheese! I liked that place too. One day maybe you can see something like that again." Magnes crouches down again, offering a hand out to each of them. "No matter what anyone says, no matter how bad it seems, you shouldn't ever lose hope. I won't stop fighting and trying and doing my best. It won't always be bad. No matter how long it takes, one day you'll see amazing things in the world."

While most the adults have been focused on survival it seems that at least this little girl has been thinking about other things. And hearing a word as rare as hope makes here yes brighten. Mala takes his hands in hers and smiles at him, down on her own level. “We haven’t had new people in so long that maybe you can bring us hope, Mister Magnes.” That there’s other survivors, that people can live, even with everything that’s happening.

Magnes nods, definitely having that hopeful look in his eyes. "Just like that Lighthouse Kid that you remind me of, I'll move the entire universe if it means you can play outside again one day." He just plain sits, crossing his legs. "Sorry, I'm getting a little tired. Being negated is exhausting."

Move the entire universe. Mala hears that and she laughs joyously, moving to hug him as he sits down. From the way she stands, she has a rough time with the negation, but he recalls that the same happened to her when around negative emotions. Without her ability, which drew on the more happy emotions, she tended to be physically weak. “It is hard, but they insist it’s the safest. That we need to take them.” She rubs her neck, where the injection scar is. So many injections.

“But I believe you. You sound like a superhero. Super Magnes!” she laughs as if she just made up something really funny. After all, it kind of sounds like…

Super Man.

"You definitely need them, but we're all gonna work really hard. You might not need them one day, there's always hope, no matter how bad things get, no matter how much time passes. I've seen a lot of things, I've been to a lot of places." Magnes playfully flexes when she calls him Super Magnes. "If anyone ever tries to hurt you, if you ever need help, you can come to me, okay?"

“I will, I promise,” the young girl says, while giving him a hug. Mala knows she should also inform those in charge of security, but at least she now thinks she has someone to talk to. Someone who’s a friend. Someone who once knew of a lighthouse. Which sounds like a beautiful place.

“I should go check on my mess. And you should get some rest! Everyone always tells me to rest when I’m tired.” And he said he was tired. So— obviously he should rest.

"I'll get some rest soon. And I'll try my best to find something to read for you all." Magnes gives her one gentle squeeze, returning the hug, then he starts to stand. "Go clean up your mess, and try to be careful, you don't wanna hurt yourself!"

“I’m careful. Just— sometimes people leave things in the halls and I can’t maneuver very well.” Mala pats the crutch she carries with her. It helps keep her steady when she moves, but it does make avoiding things people leave in the hallways difficult. She could have blamed someone else for her mess, but no, she blames herself. “I’ll see you soon, Super Magnes.”

She flashes her childlike smile, one she somehow hasn’t lost after all this— and moves back through the metal doorframe, toward the corridor she calls home.

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