Fighting McDonagh's, 1957

Immediately after accepting, the writer regretted the decision to have a beer with Stanley Poole. But it was too late, and so he was at the Fighting McDonagh's waiting for Poole to show up. Of course he was late. How did the writer not see that coming? The writer sat down with his greenish looking Old Harbinger - quite tasty, actually - and had a look around. The tavern was owned by Bill McDonagh, Andrew Ryan's right hand. But he didn't seem to be there. There were dock workers there, though. Plenty of them. The writer must really stick out. At last Poole showed up.
"So what's the matter, Poole?" The writer said as Poole joined him.
"The matter?"
"You seemed pretty adamant on me coming here."
"Nothing's the matter, pal. Can't a man wanna go for a drink with a friend, without him thinking I wanna make wild whoopee or something?" He chuckled nervously.
"Sure. I guess." The writer kept thinking there was an angle, but he didn't mention it again. He told himself to make the best of it and try to enjoy Poole's company. Then he told himself to remember to leave early.

They chatted a bit and Poole was chummy, for about an hour, when Poole overheard something and said:
"Hey, sch... listen." He pointed to a group of three dock workers around a table close to them.
"-so I try to tell him, he needs me, okay? He tells me, yeah, he does, but with the economy this way he just can't afford to pay me anymore. Next thing I know, he's hired one o' those splicers to fill in for me", one of the workers said.
"Sounds like bullshit", one of his friends said, snorting.
"Sure does", the first one remarked, "told him as much, too. But he just says splicers will work for less. They do a half assed job, I say. Someone oughta do something. Can't just go fire people left and right, when they got a family o' four to feed. Gotta be rules, just gotta -"
"You know that ain't allowed in Rapture", the third man said, "besides, don't you know what's goin' on up in Pauper's Drop?"
"You mean this Atlas fella?"
"Some say it'll be a workers revolution."
"Yeah, right, and I- hey!" They noticed Poole and the writer listening. "You two eavesdropping?" They weren't happy about that eventuality.
"Uh, no. No", Poole said, looking nervous, "just, just happened to overhear a bit. Heard ya lost your job. How 'bout a round of drinks, on us?" That heightened the men's spirits, though they still didn't seem happy that someone had heard them. What were they doing anyway, talking about that in a bar owned by one of Ryan's closest people? The writer felt he had to excuse himself before things got heated, so he got up and told Poole something about his publisher wanting to see him first thing in the morning.
"Wait up, pal", Poole said and hurried with him.

They made some distance from the tavern before Poole said anything. Then he looked around to see no one was near before even saying a word.
"Can you believe those people, talking unions and what not. Ryan ain't gonna be happy to hear it", he said, his eyebrow twitching slightly. Out of exhilaration or some other reason, maybe just tics.
"What do you mean? Why would Ryan, uh, you know", the writer asked.
"Uh, nothing. Never mind." Poole realized he'd said too much and switched the subject. "So, uh, you hear about this place Dionysus Park?"
"Sure. What about it?"
"It's this artist's retreat I've been going to. I'm, uh, trying for novelist, too. Like you. You should come by sometime."
The writer remembered all too well his meeting with Lamb. Dionysus Park was her artist's retreat. He couldn't decide if Poole was trying to recruit him for it, or if he was trying to be a nice guy and just wanted a friend. What's more, he couldn't decide if Poole was on Ryan's pay roll or on Lamb's. But sure enough, he promised to come by sometime. He immediately regretted the decision

Julia Jensen's apartment, 1957

Julia had recently moved out of her parent's apartment at Mercury Suites. She'd gotten herself a small two roomer near Artemis Suites. Work at the tribune and a modest contribution from her parents had made her somewhat independent. Now, her mother was there to visit, getting the grand tour. Julia knew what the topic would be as they sat down for tea. And of course, she was right. It was something that had been welling up in the last weeks, living with her parents.

"Julia, really. Your father and I both agree that you're old enough to -" Barbara Jensen began, sounding somewhat official. But Julia cut her off.
"Mother..." She said, with a slight groan.
"I'm just saying, you should really find yourself a nice husband. I know. I know, it was difficult to leave Robert behind, but it's been several years now. You're a grown woman now, and as such you need to think about the future. You'll need a family, Julia."
"Why? Why do I need a family?" Julia was offended, and her voice was near bursting, but she kept it under control. "Coming to Rapture meant putting so much of my life away, and the moment we're here you just expect me to forget all those years I lost. I had to start over, you know. You can't just continue where you left off."
"You were fine about moving here Julia. I don't seem to remember you complaining about it once, before we left."
"Because you never listened!"
"It was supposed to be a new start, Julia. Well, you've started, but how far have you gotten?"
Julia shook with barely controlled anger.
"I was not..." She began, voice shaking, "I was not fine, mother. I lost several years of my life, just like that! I had a nice life back then, and you! You cut off. Can you even remember me crying on the boat over here? You forced me to abandon all my friends and now you expect me to pretend I'm fine? Like nothing ever happened? Like moving to this pustule of a city was a good thing? I am not fine!"
"Julia... you've felt like this for all these years? Why didn't you ever say... I... I had no idea", her mother said, the first time that she ever seemed to actually take in what Julia said. There came a sort of sadness into her face, but it manifested as anger.
"Of course you didn't, mother. You. Never. Cared." Julia said.

Mrs. Jensen shook with anger, and regret. But she couldn't bear to utter another word. Julia merely stirred her tea, looking down into the rings that the spoon made in its surface. With a sigh, Barbara got up from her seat, leaving her cup of tea untouched, and put on her coat. The anger turned into an ice cold defiance. As she opened the door, Julia said:
"Mother... there might... might be someone." But Barbara Jensen had already went out the door and shut it behind her, leaving Julia alone with two cups of tea. She sighed and got up, picking up her photo album from its place in the bookshelf. She turned to the first page, where she'd put the photos from Vermont that once seemed to mean so much. Usually when she felt like this, she was homesick, but now as she looked at the photo of her and Robert she felt the opposite. The opposite of missing him, and rather, though she didn't acknowledge the feeling at first, missing someone else. Looking at Robert in this state of mind made her wonder what she ever saw in him; the man child who at 19 still liked to ring doorbells and run away. Then she put the photo album aside, and sat back down, thinking. The thought had bubbled in her mind for some time, but she'd pushed it aside. She'd passed it off as a crush, but now she wondered when, when did she fall for the writer? Later that day, she was supposed to see Sandy for coffee, but right now she didn't feel at all like seeing anybody.

Sandy Reid's apartment, 1957

Sitting alone in her apartment - a shabby hole in the wall that consisted of no more than a bed, a few chairs, a table, a corner for cooking and a toilet - was Sandy Reid. Ever since that time, every now and then she felt like she had that man's hands over her throat. Even woke up screaming in the middle of the night sometimes. She was smoking a cigarette and applying makeup using a small, hand held mirror. Her hand was shaking, and a tear welling up in her eye made a black streak of mascara as it rolled down her cheek. Other than that, she stood out. The room was bleak, the walls painted a dull beige and the furniture old and beaten. But despite that, she made herself pretty. In half an hour she was having coffee with Julia at the Shark Bite Diner, and then she was going to apply for a job as a waitress there. Anything's gotta be better than Siren Alley. The horror of that time... feeling death just crawl into her veins... last night that had become too much and she wanted - needed - change. First, she'd cried. Then she'd bought a plasmid. Then she'd thought of blowing her brains out. Then she'd fallen asleep, and when she woke she was determined to give applying for a job a shot.

The plasmid, which they said could make you shoot lightning, lay on her dresser, on a pile of worn clothes. Now and then she cast a glance at it. If she spliced up, became like the people in the ads, then no one would dare to... to attack her again. She froze in place for a moment, remembering that fateful first time that uncle Pete touched her. She was just a kid. Never told anyone either. When her daddy told her they were moving away - forever - she liked that idea. Moving somewhere where no one knew you, and you knew no one. That meant no one knew how broken you were on the inside. And it worked at first. Even made a best friend in Julia Jensen. But as time passed, Sandy realized that she was good for only one thing. And today she'd decided to try and be good at something else. She would not be beaten.

And to be her best, she needed to make sure no one could do what the man did to her  that night, and every night since then in her memories. Never again. Moving as if in a dream, she picked up the plasmid and pulled up her sleeve. Seeing the pale skin on her arm, she hesitated. She liked the way they looked; not a bruise or a scar on them. Then she pulled down the neck of the shirt to look at her neck in the little mirror. She'd put on a shirt with a high collar to hide the bruises. Of course, they'd faded, but she could still see them clear as day. With a careful hand, she put the needle of the EVE hypo against a vein in the neck, and spliced without further hesitation. Ten minutes later, she left, both stronger and weaker, to see her best friend for coffee.

Atlantic Express depot, 1968

Technically, they were lost. Debris was blocking Mr. Bubbles' way to the elevators, so they'd have to take the long way around. A nuisance when one moves as slow as possible, encased in metal and heavy armors. Mr. Bubbles moved slowly, hunched over, in a small alcove. The Little Sister led the way, gladly hurrying ahead of him. Her blonde ponytail dangled as she skipped.
"Hurry, Mr. Bubbles", she sang dreamily. To her it was easy, but Mr. Bubbles was a Big Daddy. Not the fastest of Rapture's inhabitants. They were nearing the end of the tunnel like alcove. Indeed, the Little Sister peaked out into the room beyond, from where light was coming. Then she looked back at Mr. Bubbles, smiling, and waved at him to hurry. She went around the corner and out of his line of sight. He hurried as best he could but it went no faster. Then at last, he too reached the end, and black gave way to blue. Darkness gave way to beauty.

It was a big hall, lit up by the ocean through large skylights. The roof of the hall was dome shaped and the light made it seem airy, and spacey. Almost like the stars would peek back if you looked up. At the center of the room was a large pile of debris, upon which a large leak from the ceiling spewed seawater which then poured down and back out to sea through the drainage system. It was lit in blues and greens by the shimmering sea. Everything glistened. Mr. Bubbles had seen such beauty before, he recalled. But he couldn't place it. The Little Sister stood in front of him. She was getting impatient with his sightseeing.
"Enough dilly-dallying, come on!" She said. Slowly, Mr. Bubbles became aware of silhouettes watching from the shadows. The Little Sister saw them too.
"Mr. Bubbles?" She whispered. Splicers. They approached slowly, reaching for the light. But they didn't move like splicers. Clearly human, but simpler motions; smoother. Not as direct as splicers. Not as blunt and hard. As they reached the light, they stopped. All but one. As the man approached closer, the Little Sister scampered around Mr. Bubbles and hid around his leg, peeking out at the man with her big eyes.

The man who approached was sleek and thinly built. He wore soldier type boots on his feet and a round hat on his head. His face was covered by a mask that looked a bit like a gas mask and connected to a canister on his back. He carried a pump action shotgun in one hand. On one of his arms there was a symbol of a chain, broken in two. He stopped a few feet in front of Mr. Bubbles and looked straight at the portholes, into his eyes.
"Greetings", the man said, his voice nasal and wheezing under his mask, "you do not seem like the average protector. You can see me, can you not?" He looked Mr. Bubbles up and down. Then he continued, "no... the average protector would not let me get this close... I daresay, you are aware."
His tone was condescending. Like he was better than Mr. Bubbles. Not the smartest way to address someone dressed in armor and wielding a colossal mining drill which was already musty with the iron smell of blood.
"Be careful", this was Tenenbaum, whispering to him, "you cannot trust anyone."
"We are survivors", said the slender man and gestured at his shadow friends, "we are the ones who rejected both Andrew Ryan and Sofia Lamb and their visions, and have stayed sane enough not to fall into ruin. Mostly."
"Watch out", said Tenenbaum, "he looks like he's up to something." Mr. Bubbles agreed. The man was up to something and indeed, the man bent down to take a look at the Little Sister.
"Well hello there, little girl", he said.
"Mr. Bubbles... I'm scared", said the girl. Mr. Bubbles started his drill, ready to fight to the death to defend his Little Sister. The man instantly stood up straight and pointed his shotgun at Mr. Bubbles. Several of the shadow silhouettes came closer. They, too, seemed to be carrying weaponry of different kinds.
"Now just give us the girl so we can get to the ADAM, and you can be on your way", the man said, threateningly. He held the shotgun without shaking. The drill was spinning.
"Do not let them take her!" Tenenbaum called in his ear. Out of the two of them, he was inclined to trust her. And the quick reflexes within him acted. Mr. Bubbles stretched out his hand, knocking the shotgun away, and grabbed the man by his throat. He lifted him into the air. The man started kicking the air and yelling:
"Kill it! Take the girl!" At that, all the survivors around came out of the shadows and into the light. Mr. Bubbles threw the leader of the survivors through the air. His bones was shattered when he hit the wall. Then he grabbed the girl and had her climb onto his back.

Luckily, most of the survivors carried melee weapons, but they were still at least eight people, gathering around him. He singled out one, wielding a Tommy gun and rushed him, smacking him dead in an instant. Immediately, the one next to him started hitting him with a brass pipe, but he got his comeuppance straight in the face by Mr. Bubbles' spinning drill. Just as a third survivor began pistol-whipping him, another fired his Tommy gun. A few bullets missed, and the pistol-whipping one went down. Mr. Bubbles, too, was hit, but was protected by his metal armor. They were gaining on him. Another started firing. He was hurting, but he had to protect the girl. He shot a bolt of electricity at the one wielding a Tommy gun, and then rushed the other who fired, drilling straight through him. Then he, too, got a taste of plasmid power, being set aflame. His suit of armor was protection, but it still hurt and burned like hell. He retaliated by shooting lightning and then striking the fire caster down. It was getting heavy to move. He was weak. But he charged at the Tommy gun wielding survivor, as the man reloaded. He struck him down and drilled through his intestines. The two that were left seemed younger. One had a gun and the other a crowbar. They hesitated; seeing an angry Big Daddy make short work of six men so quickly was a sight to behold. The one with the gun was shaking with fear, and when he noticed Mr. Bubbles heading for him, put his gun down and ran.
"Coward!" The other shouted, instantly gaining extra courage. He raised his crowbar into the air, ready to strike. Instead, he met his demise through an industrial drill, and became a blood stain on the floor.

Exhausted, Mr. Bubbles climbed the debris in the middle of the room. He felt revitalized by the water pouring all over him, like it was the fountain of youth. And he looked up at the sky of water. Large buildings towered around and sea plants danced with the currents. But where were the stars? There were no stars in the sky.
"Come on, Mr. Bubbles", the little sister said, peeking over his shoulder, "let's see if we can find more angels."
He groaned. Looking at her made the lack of stars seem worth it. In her sweet face, the stars were there. She took his giant hand and he guided her down the debris and down to the corpse littered floor. Then she went, almost as if she smelled something, directly to the opposite wall from where they'd come.
"Please", Tenenbaum said, "find the elevator und come to find me."

It took another walk through a cramped tunnel, since the survivors had blocked the doors to their dying hall, but then Mr. Bubbles and the Little Sister was back at a waiting area, where there were working elevators. The Little Sister wanted to go the other way, but she was smaller than him, and he carried her, taking her with him into the elevator.

Siren Alley, 1957

A trip to Siren Alley was a trip far out of the writer's comfort zone. Still, he went there as a detour on his way home from the Fighting McDonagh's. This place gave him bad vibes; putting people for sale, male or female, didn't really tingle him right. But it was also a place he realized he could see another part of the human spectrum, and how could he be a good writer if he didn't explore other ways of life? That's what he asked himself as he walked, hands in his pockets along the promenade of the district. Or maybe it was the human sex drive that made him come here. Or maybe it was just curiosity. As he looked through the streets, a few stores were closed and some still managed to get by. It was hard to believe that Siren Alley used to be one of the finest places in Rapture. As of late, it had fallen since the city's economy began turning bad. And that's when people began selling themselves and their bodies, the walls and storefronts of the district aptly painted red.

Among the people walking around - some having places to go, and others just walking aimlessly, kind of like him - he noticed one face that he knew. At first, he had to place the face, but when he did he tried to look away. Problem was, she saw him, too. Sandy Reid; his boss's daughter. It was one of the most awkward moments of his life; he realized from her clothing that she was one of the working girls. But he thought it best to at least say hello. After all, he couldn't bring himself to judge her for something she chose of her own free will. At least, he tried not judge her. Within a few steps, he stood just a few feet away from her. She was scantily clad, showing off feminine curves. He made a point of looking her in the eyes. His cheeks probably matched the walls.
"G-good day, miss Reid", he said, "didn't quite notice you there at first."
Sandy took a puff of her cigarette, "It's Chris, right?" She asked, "Julia's writer? You looking for her, she's not into this sorta stuff. Not yet, anyway."
"No", the writer mumbled, embarrassed beyond words, "I was just-"
"Trying to get some experience, I get it. Girl like beautiful little miss Jensen probably has some standards, huh?" Sandy sounded irritated, but the writer got the feeling that it was not at him.
"E-excuse me?" He said.
"Listen, kid", Sandy said. She was younger than him. Years older in experience. She took a puff on the cigarette and blew smoke into the air, away from him. "I get it. Everybody gets it. You're sweet for Julia, just like everyone. No one looks at the cow beside her until they wanna know how to work her. Then it's cow to the rescue!"
"Cow?" He avoided her eyes now. What did the woman want from him?
"All right, Mr. Perkins. It was Mr. Perkins, right?" - He nodded - "You want experience or not, 'cause I can't just stand around all day talkin' and lose money."
"Miss Reid, I'm not her for, uh, experience. I was just visiting for... research. For a column." She probably didn't believe him.
"Sure", she said, rolling her eyes.
"It's true. And frankly, you've given me lots to write about. How about an interview?"
"Shit, are you insane? No!" She suddenly turned nervous, "listen, don't mention me, all right? Daddy doesn't know I'm working here." Sandy looked pleading at him. He just nodded.

Sandy dropped the cigarette and put it out with her shoe, then she looked down in silence for a moment.
"Listen", she said, "I gotta go. And when I do, I have to push you away. They don't like it when people waste our time, 'kay?"
"Okay?" He didn't quite understand. A moment later, Sandy shoved him, hard, and he almost fell backward, but managed to keep on his feet.
"Get away, creep!" She yelled as he regained his balance. People looked over. Sandy had a fake disgusted look on her face. The writer felt like sinking through the earth. But in Rapture, if you're not paid to care, you probably won't care, and within a moment or two, everyone around went on with their own business. The writer nodded discreetly at Sandy and turned around.
"Wait", she said, not coming closer and talking quietly, "I didn't mean... I've never sent anyone to Julia. I think she kind of likes you, too." The writer nodded. She finished, "Please, don't tell daddy. I don't want him to... to know I'm like this."
"I promise", he said, giving his vow, and then he left.

Sandy Reid looked quickly back at him as she walked away. He was so naive. He and Julia both were. They hadn't seen the shadow side of life, like she had. She'd entered the shadows that first time that her uncle touched her, and she hadn't left since. The thought of it made her want to eat a bullet, but lately, she'd gotten into the habit of splicing instead. Had been doing it regularly since the time that rich bastard almost killed her. Last time she saw Julia, it felt as if she knew. Knew everything. Christ, Sandy just wanted to leave Rapture. Sighing, and holding the tears back, she went into one of the alleyways where it was dark.

It wasn't just to splice that she sought out the dark. In the dark, no one can see you crying. In the dark the bad men that made her life into Hell couldn't find her, and the monsters in the dark were nothing compared to them. When she reached the safety of the dark, she couldn't hold the tears back, but began to cry. And not a single soul cared. She envied Julia - to whom she had not spoken in over a week - who had the love of the writer. To Sandy Reid, there was no salvation from the shadows. The waitressing job had lasted a whole two days before she was fired and had to return to the shadows. From her purse she produced and EVE hypo, which she, without even thinking, stuck into her own neck and injected the living cells.




The writer's apartment, 1957

In his typewriter was a half written page and beside it a half written book. His previous book - a story of a group of people who leave Earth behind and start a new life building their own colony on the moon - had sold well and his publisher wanted a follow up. He realized the story was obviously his fictionalized version of building Rapture, glorifying it. It had now been several months since its release and he was working hard on the new one.

He was taking a few minutes to gaze out the window. A school of colorful fish swam back and forth outside and he wondered what they were up to. But it didn't really matter. His attention shifted to the water itself. Rapture always had the same weather, no matter when you looked out the window. He kind of missed that about the surface. The rain, the sun. And especially thunderstorms. And the stars...

The autumn rain passed at nightfall and the sky became clear. It was mid October, the day the writer's father was buried. The whole day had been grey and dark but come night the clouds cleared and the sky opened. He put on his old jacket and his shoes and went for a walk. It was cold outside. Almost freezing. As he walked the pebbled ground crackled under his shoes. White steam rose from his nose at every breath. In his pocket was the letter of recruitment. A lady walked by him, but he hardly noticed her. His eyes were glazed and empty.

It was a moonless night and the further he walked the darker it was, as he went further from the streetlights. Finally he reached the little park in the neighborhood. Sighing to himself he took the letter from his pocket and looked at it. He couldn't read it, of course, in the darkness. He sat down on the cold, hard ground and looked at the paper again, still not able to make the words out. But he knew them by now. Then he looked up.

And saw the stars.

The multitudes, the infinity. The galaxy, the nothingness and the beauty. Around him black shapes of trees towered to the deep blue Heavens, framing them. This amazing new enterprise will require emigration. What if he could migrate to the stars. What opportunity lay there waiting for him, in the multitudes, the infinity. What lay there, that wasn't already inside him. The color red streaked across his mind and he watched the stars. He grew colder and he watched the galaxy. He shut his eyes and decided to reach for the horizon...

Obviously, these thoughts came from the writing of the new book. The lunar colonists, the few men and women, had grown tired of their precious paradise and longed for their loved ones and their home world. Quite dramatic and very different from the optimistic outlook from the first book. He had finished the first half and had the second half left. The return to Earth. In a sense he did long to go back, too. Not because Rapture was a bad place - there seemed to be an awful lot of splicers around lately, though - or because he missed the surface overmuch. No, it was simply a longing for familiarity. There were some people there that he missed. Though none of the ones he left behind had probably even given a thought to the fact that he was missing.

He had meant for Rapture to be a new start, but... he was feeling more lonely as the days passed. Stars... As he stood and looked out the window, his eyes drew upward. To the surface. He couldn't see that far, of course. He couldn't see the stars from here. All he saw was the wavy shimmering of the blue green ocean as it danced and twirled along the surface scrapers. There were no sky scrapers in Rapture. Because there was no sky. The neon signs glimmered as far as the eye could see. All these businesses competing, without regulation. Could they all really take society such as this forward? His father would have thought so. The writer wasn't so sure though, what with all the plasmid businesses making products that were clearly unstable available to the public. And what about the poor people in Pauper's Drop? And all the working men who got fired just out of the blue? Someone had to be their voice. Atlas. Who was he? A pretender for the throne, or someone who genuinely believed in what he said. Though, the writer must agree, that some of what Atlas said was probably right.

He let go of the thought with a sigh, and returned to work. As he sat down his thoughts turned to miss Julia Jensen. It was not too late yet to make this new life work. And suddenly he knew how to finish the book. And he wrote all night to make a happy ending for his lunar colonists, and dead set on making one for himself as well. There is no pain in the Garden of Eden.

Unpublished column found among Mr. Perkins' belongings. Status: not publishable. Subject: Atlas & unions. Word count: 203

Regarding Atlas, who fights for the working man. I do agree that workers need work security, and I do agree (with Mr. Andrew Ryan) that a market free of, at least most, regulation is the way of the future. I do not believe it to be anybody's business how one company handles its finances. If a man is not willing to take a job at the offered wage, he is free to apply to other jobs, elsewhere. On the other hand, I too have worked the factory, before coming to Rapture.

I worked full time, meaning I would not have had time for another job could I get one. And I did so at minimum wage, meaning that I would have been paid less, were the company not under union pressure. Thus I would not have survived were it not for the union. It is the same situation that many workers in Rapture face. I am not saying that unions are the answer, but surely there must be a middle ground. And until Andrew Ryan and the council finds that middle ground, the working men of Rapture will instead turn to the man who calls himself Atlas, thereby making the situation even worse.

Ryan Amusements, 1957

The writer had come here to take his mind off some things. Mainly how he couldn't get up the nerve to talk to Julia Jensen. And also, it might make for something fun to write about in this week's column. He wanted some new ideas for those, especially now that his book was finished and finally released, a mere couple of days ago. In fact, he had some plans for the day. First, Ryan Amusements and then he'd go see Grace Holloway. He'd heard about James' disappearance. It unsettled him, and he wanted to make sure she was fine. But first, he'd go on Journey to the Surface. He'd heard some things about Journey to the Surface that could make Andrew Ryan explode with rage.

Those living Ryan robots - living mannequins - were real creepers. He'd heard a lot of Ryan Amusements, knowing full well what to expect, but still not expecting any of it. As he approached the replica of Andrew Ryan's office with the somewhat stiff, waxen Ryan sitting behind its desk, standing behind a few kids who were there all alone. They were giggling and talking and snickering among themselves, but fell eerily silent when the puppet came alive.
"Why, hello there, my name is Andrew Ryan", it began, speaking in Ryan's own canned voice, brimming with fatherly authority and welled up pride over his own well chose words. The children looked at the mannequin with big eyes as it went on: "I built the city of Rapture for children just like you, because the world above had become unfit for us. But here, beneath the ocean, it is natural to wonder if the danger has passed, if those we left behind will ever come to their senses. So, let us imagine, you and I, what might befall us... on the surface."
"Oh, brother", the writer mumbled to himself.
"Is it alive?" He heard one of the kids whisper, a heavy set boy with a striped shirt and a little, funny looking cap.
"No, stupid", another replied with fake toughness, "it's just an automatron, my dad told me."
The kids hurried onward, down a set of stairs and to a row of ride cars, designed to look like bathyspheres, just like the one the writer first came to Rapture in. The writer took care to make notes in his notebook, just so it didn't seem like he was there for anything else than to write a column. He'd paid for a ticket everything - half price for children under three.

He got into a bathysphere a while after the kids had gone off and set off himself, along the journey to the surface to see what might befall him should he dare the audacity to grow gills and swim out of the city. The bathysphere lurched up and into the attraction. The first stop was at a farm hold, where an honest man was working his land until giant hands reached out from above, both scaring the bejesus out of the writer and reaching into the farmer's home, because, as Ryan explained:
"The parasites say 'NO!', what is yours is ours! We are the state, we are God, we demand our share!"
Fitting that those giant hands taking the farmer's livelihood wore a bureaucrat's costume. The writer had never seen a photo or news reel of Andrew Ryan wearing anything else. An amusement ride to scare children into obedience. Half price for children under three.

But Journey to the Surface was actually amusing. Especially the street names. Curfew Alley and War Road, though some truth to them, he still smiled. From the courthouse, another giant hand came stretching out, reaching for the bathysphere, making the writer jump in his seat and hope there were no cameras around, capturing that moment. The bathysphere moved onward, shoving Ryan's skewed views on the children, declaring at last, in the final display of his own office:
"Unable to provide for itself, the need of the Parasite grows until war is made to justify it. Your parents brought you to Rapture, where you need never fear the Parasites again. So you see, there is no place for you on the surface, but you may bring the world to you! If you know someone who belongs in Rapture, write a letter to the Ryan Industries mailroom. And you never know! The next new face... might be familiar."
The writer shook his head, in disbelief almost, of an amusement park like this being seen as educational, as the bathysphere finished its journey to the surface by reaching the very last display. The Sander Cohen penned opera 'Rise, Rapture, Rise!' played on the speakers and a fake, starlit sky glowed over a fake ocean and a replica of the lighthouse, signifying the children's eventual descent - or ascent as it were - into Rapture, where they'd be free of the parasites.

As it turned out, Ryan Amusements was nothing but one man's glorification of himself. Though the writer had long ago learned to think for himself and decide for himself what he thought right, he realized many people would just accept Ryan's version of the story, when in fact no other versions were allowed. A marketplace of ideas, sure, but how come this Sofia Lamb had disappeared after those public debates a couple years ago? Maybe she felt defeated, or maybe Ryan just didn't want her to peddle her Bolshevik fever dreams to his people.

Then again, a man should be entitled to the sweat of his own brow. The writer himself had worked many night shifts at the factory back home, busting his back for minimum wage and finding that a lot of the money he worked for went to taxation. But not all taxation was of evil, was it? Without it the educatory system might just turn out like Ryan Amusements, teaching propaganda as fact in exchange for profit. Then again, many fine schools and universities topside worked like businesses. But those were exclusively for wealthy people. Shouldn't the working man's children be able to have that same good education, paid for by the working man's own taxes? That sort of thing made the writers' head hurt. He didn't care for politics. All he knew was, it wasn't black or white. Mostly grey or some other color in between. Or all of them, shifting shape and form.

The day and the excursion wasn't a total bust. He did chat with a few of the workers, most of them plasmid users by the look of it, but not as far gone as some others, and they were friendly. At least for now. Partly as training, as he wanted to learn how to talk to people, but also because it was easier to talk to people he wouldn't meet again. Strangers. He wanted to hear if they had any interesting wrinkles for the column. Turned out no one wanted to talk about the park - no one wanted to risk saying anything they shouldn't to the press and lose their job - but one young man named Devin LeMaster did have something else on his mind. He was a kind of funny looking, colored fella, sporting a pair of round glasses. He spoke in a bit of a nasal voice.
"I've got a little dating tip for you, it'll get you out of that lonely hearts club for good. This scheme works one hundred percent of the time, guaranteed. First, find some Betty and take her to Ryan Amusements. Then, ya go to the gift shop, buy her a teddy bear. This is key, I ain't kiddin' around. Then... ya buy her a ticked on Journey to the Surface. Soon as you hit that first scare: Bingo! Tunnel. Of. Love."
It might have sounded stupid, but before he left, the writer made sure to go to the gift shop, and even though he had no one to give it to, he bought a teddy bear, thinking to himself that maybe he would have the chance to give it, some day

Julia Jensen's parent's apartment, 1957

Julia's parents were of the sort that agreed with Andrew Ryan wholeheartedly. The only exception being that they were Christian. They even had a contraband bible hidden away, sold to them by means of smuggling. A weekly tradition for the Jensens was to have their only daughter for dinner, every Sunday, ever since she moved out after getting her job at the Rapture Tribune. Julia's mother was a bit disappointed that she decided against studying to become a doctor or an engineer, but she was proud, albeit silently. Besides, you needed journalists in a free society, to expose those who worked against the powers that be, to expose the parasites and stop them before their ideas could take root. Even ideas can be contraband. You needed journalists, and Julia was good at it. She'd taken some courses before, and then in the evenings even after she'd started working at the Tribune.

But that was not the topic of discussion as they sat by the dinner table in Julia's parent's fancy Mercury Suites apartment.
"What is it really that goes on down there in Pauper's Drop with all that rabble? I've heard talks of unions! Unions, in Rapture." It was Julia's mother.
"Perish the thought", said her father, not really caring. He was eating.
"And who is this Atlas I keep hearing about on the public address system and in the newspaper? He seems to be some sort of communist organizer. Is it really true?"
"Now, now, Barbara. No need to get all riled up."
"They're calling it a workers revolution, mother", Julia said.
Barbara Jensen chuckled. "Really? It's cute, isn't it. I made my way by working hard and earning my place. Not by taking it. And I'm a woman!"
"It's not a gender issue mother. They just want-"
"Parasites, that's what they are. And you're taking their side", Barbara was angry now. It was like having dinner with Andrew Ryan.
"I, of course not, mother. You know I-"
"Calm down you two", Julia's father said. He agreed with his wife, but he liked quieter topics at the dinner table. He liked eating in peace. "Julia can form her own opinions. Ryan will deal with Atlas in due time. Meanwhile, I'm sure there are other subjects to discuss that aren't quite as... heated. This soup is delicious. Is it calamari?"
"Thank you daddy." Julia winked at her father, who winked back as Barbara fell silent. For a little while. It was always the same with Barbara.

She had indeed worked her way to where she was, but when she came to Rapture with her husband and their daughter, and finally started making good money she'd become high strung, looking down on the poor. The poor, where she'd actually started out and thought she'd always remain. She'd been going to Dr. Steinman several times as of late, too, and his treatments were beginning to become a bit of an addiction.
"So, Julia", she finally said with forced cheer, repressing the urge to regurgitate Ryan's speeches, "your father and I have been dying to hear about this boy that Sandy Reid mentioned."
"She did, did she?" Julia blushed.
"First, he's not a boy. He's a man. A writer in fact."
"So tell me. What's his name?"
"Barbara, please. I'm trying to eat, will you leave the poor girl alone?"
"Thanks daddy." They winked at each other again.
"Oh, for crying out loud", Barbara said, sighing. A few moments later she was again talking and asking questions. No eating in peace for Peder Jensen, the Danish man who'd married a pretty young thing who wanted to make her way in a man's world.

He admired her for that. Always would. But he did not like what she'd become since moving to Rapture. It wasn't just that she looked down on people who had it tough, it was all these plastic surgeries she'd being doing. Sure, sure, he was a fan of the increase in bosom size, but her face wasn't... the one he married. And next Sunday it'd be the same thing all over again. He felt more and more like taking that Sports Boost he had in the back of the freezer, but he had to wait until Barbara went to sleep. She didn't like him using that stuff. What's the worst that could happen, he figured. He only took the occasional tonic to improve himself. Sports Boost, that was his thing. He'd being going out with the guys a couple times lately, and sure enough, nine out of ten women prefers the athletic man. The tenth being his wife. He kept thinking, though, that maybe he should try one of those plasmids. They had all kinds of effects that made a man able to do anything. Maybe that Decoy thing could be something. Another him, to listen to Barbara's nagging, and the real him could eat in peace and take Sports Boost. No, he was being careful, it's not like he was addicted or anything. A man got to know his limits. Then expand them with Sports Boost.

Unpublished column found among Mr. Perkins' belongings. Status: not publishable. Subject: Ryan Amusements & propaganda. Word count: 204

It has become clear to me that Andrew Ryan's establishments - and I speak first and foremost of Ryan Amusements - are part of one great propaganda machine. I found Ryan amusements, and especially Journey to the Surface, befitting of the name 'amusements', in a comical kind of way. But perhaps it is only I who have this twisted sense of humor. Still, Ryan Amusements is a park made for children, and it is of my opinion that no child should be subject to propaganda. He should instead be allowed to form his own opinions based on his own experiences and values.

This is not possible when propaganda spewing establishments such as Ryan Amusements take the place of actual, unbiased education. Of course, my good friend and colleague, the handsome devil Stanley Poole wouldn't agree. He worships the very ground Andrew Ryan walks upon. Or is paid to. When I think of Ryan Amusements, I am reminded of the three things that the parasite hates; free markets, free will and free men. It is the second one, free will, that Ryan seeks to eradicate within your children, using Ryan Amusements as the tool. Indoctrinate them young. In Rapture, Ryan is the tyrant, the parasite.

Grace Holloway's apartment, 1957

Grace Holloway, who came to Rapture on the same boat as the writer, lived in the fanciest apartment in the Sinclair Deluxe. Though, that didn't say much. The whole neighborhood of Pauper's Drop was run down, filled with Rapture's least fortunate. The writer sat across from Grace, sharing a cup of coffee that he brought himself. In her room, Eleanor - a girl of four or five years that Grace was looking after - played with an audio diary, speaking gibberish about barbarism and eating dogs into it.
"I'm sorry I don't have anything to offer, making you bring coffee and all", Grace Holloway said, averting her eyes.
"Don't worry about it. I have more money than I need right now, anyway. Kind of funny how I call myself lucky that my father died... but I did inherit some of his money. Strange thing to say in Rapture, 'I have more money than I need'."
Saying it, he felt bad. He wasn't a rich man, but he lived sparingly. Meanwhile, Grace lived in Pauper's Drop, in a hotel originally meant to be temporary housing for the men building the Atlantic Express railway. Grace's apartment was scantily furnished, the most luxurious item being her rather ornate vanity. In one of the corners she had a little stage of her own; a spotlight directed into the corner, where a few loudspeakers and a microphone stood, now silent.
Grace smiled, but without being happy about the situation:
"Isn't it time you found someone else to share all that money with, then?"
From what the writer knew, Grace's life wasn't a dance on roses, but when she looked at Eleanor, she smiled. She smiled with all the happiness in the world shining. Her husband, James, was gone, but the writer didn't want to touch the subject. She did seem fine.
"What about you?" The writer said, "I hear you're no longer performing at the Limbo Room."
"That's right", Grace said, her voice lowered, "I got blacklisted. Seems Andrew Ryan don't like me telling the people here the truth..."
She fell silent and started thumbing a brooch on her blouse. She refused to say anything more about it. The writer meant to ask her about the brooch. It was a blue butterfly, and he tried to place it in his mind. He'd seen it before but right now it slipped his mind. Like that Simon Wales. He'd seen photos of him wearing that same brooch, hadn't he?

But he didn't get the chance to ask, because little Eleanor rose to her feet and came up to them from her room, stepping up to Grace, but avoiding to look at the writer. Somehow it seemed uncharacteristic of her, to be shy of him. He didn't know why.
"Aunt Gracie", she said, "can I go out and play? I promise I won't go far."
"Not now, child", Grace said, "it's getting late and we have company. Wouldn't be nice to leave then, would it? We'll go out for a walk tomorrow and you can play." Little Eleanor turned to the writer. He smiled at her. "He's Chris Perkins", Grace said.
"Hello, Mr. Perkins", Eleanor said, stretching out her hand but avoiding his eyes. The writer shook her little hand.
"Hello, Eleanor", he said, "I've heard a little about you-"
"I'm a dog eater", she said, interrupting him and suddenly turning to stare intently into his eyes. Looking back into hers he saw something. Power and greatness, marked by her innocence and growing in her.
"You were born to change the world, weren't you?" He said. She nodded and Grace told her to go play in her room when they talked about grown up stuff. Eleanor seemed a bit grouchy at that, but did as she was told. The writer noticed her eavesdropping on them.
"Gorgeous, clever little child", Grace told the writer.
"What's her story?" The writer asked. Grace looked a little nervous at that and thumbed the broche again.
"Her mama's not around, so she asked me to take care of little Eleanor. Sofia remembered that I... that I was barren and... I'm looking after Eleanor for her till she comes back."
The writer nodded sympathetically and thought he wouldn't ask anymore about it. Grace looked over at little Eleanor Lamb again, and smiled.
"Nobody's supposed to live down here, city pissing on us. Never dry", Grace went on, a shudder of anger and a tear of desperation in her voice, she didn't want to have Eleanor live in this dump, "Ryan doesn't care and Fontaine's a damn crook, but Doctor Lamb cares. She's offering free mental counseling on Sundays. When I go, I get the feeling she's got a plan for Rapture, and for me." She sighed, her cup trembling in her hand. She felt so strongly about this. The writer didn't quite know what to say. Might be, a man could be taken away for saying what Grace was saying. She noticed his silence and went on:
"You're a grown man, you can make your own decisions, choose for yourself. I'm not trying to recruit you or anything, only a slave does as he's told and don't ask why, but Doctor Lamb showed us that down under the skin, down under the money, down under our very name we are family. I want you to think of that. Thanks to Doctor Lamb, we can all be family. One people, one cause. We're still people to her. "
"Sofia Lamb?"
"Yes..." Grace cast a glance at Eleanor.
"Is she...?"
Grace nodded. It bothered the writer that Grace was so close to Lamb. That woman gave him bad vibes. And Grace clearly wasn't in a stable state of mind. She fingered the butterfly brooch again. He remembered it now; Lamb had given him one, too, but he'd thrown it away.

Looking into Eleanor's room, the writer saw a bit of a mess. Children's books - some seemingly directed at children a bit older than Eleanor was - and he saw a deck of those Zener cards with a bunch of symbols on one side; the telepathic test where one person is supposed to sense - or not sense - what symbol is on the side of a card that he can't see. The writer was open minded, but that stuff seemed like hogwash to him. But what caught his eye the most in the little alcove was a pink banner. Eleanor had designed it herself, it said 'ELEANOR'S ROOM', and was adorned with flowers and a sun. He didn't make the connection at first, but then he realized - Eleanor Lamb had no idea what sunshine felt like.
"I guess it is getting kind of late", the writer said. He didn't want to walk through Pauper's Drop too late, but he didn't say that.
"Yes, it is. Thank you for coming by. And thanks for the coffee. Say good bye to Mr. Perkins, Eleanor." Eleanor got up from her audio diary to say good bye. Again she looked into the writer's eyes, her big eyes looking intently into his.
"You know", she said, "I think you were born to change world, too. Not all worlds are the entire world."

The writer had to leave them there. A child shouldn't have to live in Pauper's Drop. But he also saw that Grace was happy. Maybe Eleanor really was born to change world. Maybe, just maybe, she was going to set the whole world aright. And he thought of the state of Pauper's Drop and started to write a column in his head. A column that wouldn't be publishable in Rapture. And those dock workers at the Fighting McDonagh's. They really didn't have anywhere to turn, except Atlas. Maybe he could go to the tavern again and try to listen in on some more talk. All this, it watered the seed within him. It was not alone in him. His was a soul in turmoil, hoping for ease. For something to bring calm, but his alone was fate. A fate for each and every man to shape. He had to make a choice, as Grace had put it.

Siren Alley, 1957

She'd seen this ugly bastard before, but she couldn't place him. Not one of her regulars. He was a splicer, no doubt, but not too far gone - he still looked mostly human, and she'd had worse. One of those that could climb the wall, even. This guy... looked far more insane, but mostly human, nevertheless. Damnit. She knew she was too far gone, when being whored out to a spider splicer seemed normal. She'd begun sneaking money lately, too. Get herself enough to make something better of herself, then ditch Siren Alley and Daniel Wales.
"What's your name, sport?" She asked of the man, turning slightly to show her figure. She was a bit tall, not very skinny and had large breasts - the opposite of what many came to Siren Alley for - but she wasn't bad looking. And many guys would still screw anything that moved.
"B-b... fucking Billy", he stuttered, licking his lips. So far, she was hooking him, and beginning to reel him in.
"Well, Billy. What do you say? Twenty bucks, and I'm yours the entire evening."
"Show me them tits and I'll pay anything", he blurted out. Inside she sighed, but on the outside she smiled seductively at him.
"Come with me", she said, leading him into one of the apartments Wales had arranged for the girls work... and housing. This one was empty, hadn't been cleaned in a week and smelled thereof. She'd learned to block all that out for the most part, and it didn't seem to bother her companion.
"Twenty bucks and I get all of you, right?" He asked, drool dripping from the corner of his mouth.
"That's right Billy", Sandy said, squeezing her breasts together. She had him now. Unfortunately for her, after that, a whore without any semblance of self respect quickly loses control of the events.

The spliced up fellow looked at Sandy with flickering eyes and his hands trembled. She saw that they were dirty as he stretched them out toward her. As they neared her breasts she slapped them away.
"Hey buster", she snapped, "pay up first. Then I'll be all yours. Twen- thirty bucks or you gotta go. Rules are rules."
"F-f-fine!" The guy snarled back. He reached into his pocket and grabbed his mostly empty wallet. Then he produced three ten dollar bills and handed them over, hands still trembling. Sandy grabbed them quickly, and stuffed them away.
"Now how about them fucking tits?" The spliced demanded. Sandy sighed, and in a fell swoop, drew the breast cups aside to reveal her bosom. She refused to look at him whilst he ogled her body and her breasts. Without delay, he began touching her with his dirty hands.
"Those thirty bucks, they pay for the whole deal, y'hear?" He said, slapping on her breasts, "and that includes your firm fuckin' ass."
He laughed and took Sandy by the waist. This far into the game she just followed, even though this far into the game, it was no longer actually a game. And it certainly wasn't funny anymore. With harsh, demanding hands he bent her over and, breathing heavily, tore her skirt off. Sandy Reid closed her eyes and prayed while Billy the splicer had his way with her.

Atlantic Express depot, 1968

He waded through knee deep water, emptiness reigning with the ocean raining. He'd somehow made it into a maintenance run off pump, and was looking for a way out.
"Mr. Bubbles! There are no angels down here! I'm bored."
That, and they were blocked by the giant pumping propeller, behind which was a way up and to Tenenbaum. Grunting, he turned to go back through the darkness and the debris. But then he spotted something, lying there in the filth. An audio diary. How in the world did it get there? He bent down and picked it up with his big hand. As he pressed Play a young girl's voice spoke:
"Hello Mr. Diary. Want to play?" She then distorted her voice, portraying the diary:
"Actually, I'm quite busy right now, miss Eleanor. Maybe later."
"Well alright. But do you mind if I take you apart while I wait? I promise I'll put you back together!" Said miss Eleanor.
"Wait! You can't do thaaaat..." the sound was distorted as miss Eleanor must surely have begun taking the audio diary apart, "nooo... waaaaiiiit, wait, Eleeeaaanooor -"
There, the recording abruptly ended with a crash, as the diary was smashed.

Mr. Bubbles recognized the voice, but he could not for the life of him put a face to miss Eleanor. There were just sparks of innocence and power. He played the recording again, still not being able to place the memory. As he began to walk away, the little sister stopped him:
"No! You must leave it here, Mr. Bubbles, for daddy to find."
Then when he looked into her eyes, it was as if that power and innocence was in there, too. Like the Little Sister had spoken the audio diary. But she couldn't have. Mr. Bubbles saw in the Little Sister's eyes a girl who was born to change the world, and he remembered little Eleanor Lamb. He left the audio diary where he found it, and together the two went back the other way.

As they treaded the darkness of the run off pump, he got the distinct feeling that he was being watched. And not from the rotting surroundings or the salty smelling shadows; from within. Soon, his suspicions were confirmed. From inside his helmet he heard a voice.
"I see. You are awake." A woman spoke. Her voice was ice cold, as the dark and empty Atlantic. "I know who you are", she went on, speaking in a British accent, "but whose word do you follow? Sinclair? No... you... are Tenenbaum's puppet."
The voice was familiar. In his gut, Mr. Bubbles knew not to trust it.
"What has Tenenbaum promised you? A way out? Wouldn't you rather be reunited with the family, and serve a true purpose?"
Family. A familiar word, but a distant and strange feeling. He knew of it, but couldn't relate.
"You are not aware", the woman said, "of who you are. Are you?"
He didn't answer.
"You are part of the Rapture Family."
What good was that? He groaned.
"Won't you join me in Persephone, and we will have your little... 'problem' taken care of, and you can return to serving your family." Her tone was condescending and she was very well aware of it. He ignored her, and finding his way back out of the pumping tube, set off again to find Tenenbaum.