Fighting McDonagh's, 1958

Though the writer didn't mention it to her, she heard the boastful Stanley Poole mention visiting the Fighting McDonagh's with him the other night. And the adventurous young lady in Julia Jensen just had to know what kind of place it was. It was in the docks. She'd not been there since the nurse incident. Surely no one would recognize her. She wasn't that memorable, was she? Just a quick visit, maybe a glass of beer and a look around to see what it was like, perhaps a photo or two, then out again. She was all made up, too. For some reason her mind told her the writer might be there, and she wanted to look her prettiest. Like she wanted to impress him. Her hair was prettily let out, her locks wavy. She had red lipstick on, to match the hair. Her rogue was lively, to give her cheeks a round feel to them and the mascara was black, in great contrast to her clear blue eyes and pale complexion. She wore a black dress with a push up bra that made her chest more ample than her genes allowed and a corset with white laces that squeezed a bit too tight, but it made her figure curved and even more feminine, as her waist seemed rounder. With that she wore black pumps. A fine looking young woman in black and red. And with that, she had her camera.

She entered the tavern and immediately understood she would draw attention. Not a one in there looked like she did. And the writer wasn't there, like she knew he wouldn't. Still, part of her was disappointed. The patrons there were crude looking men and the few women there were equally crude. No time to look fancy, just a beer at the tavern. Julia kind of wished she'd brought Sandy Reid along, but when Julia was exploring and adventuring, she set out alone. And Sandy was busy working these days. They hardly saw each other anymore. She was an only child, so she didn't have any siblings to teach her this stuff, and due to her mother's income, combined with that of her father's, they were quite wealthy, so Julia never had the chance to explore life beyond the safety zone until she moved out of her parent's place. It was rather funny how her mother was the one to earn the big bucks. She worked for one of Ryan's engineering research branches that developed new ways for Rapture to function at the basic level, considering it was a city built under water. Julia's father worked, too, of course, but this reversal of gender roles would never have worked on the surface, where women were being continually oppressed, as Julia remembered it.

Now she walked through the door of Fighting McDonagh's, looking pretty as a woman can be, and she instantly drew eyes. To these people, this must be how the most luxurious people in town looked like. At this time Rapture was on a downward spiral, but Ryan was still in control and many businesses were still going strong and there was a general belief that better times were just around the corner. These people in here, they were working men and women, and she'd been lucky enough to not have to worry about that. Though with the way Rapture was turning, she probably would soon. She barely got over to the bar before the first man came up to her. A young man of about her age, face tired from working too many night shifts.
"My, my", he said, slight stutter in his voice, "who are you to visit a place like this?" He eyed her up and down, desire in his stare.
"I'm only looking to whet my whistle a bit, as you say." She gave him a smile.
"How 'bout I whet your whistle?" He said giving her a positively indecent look.
"I think... for now, I'll be just fine with a drink", Julia said and then she winked, trying her best to flirt with him. To toy with him. "But how about a photo of you?"
"F-f-fine", he said and did his best to smile. When she saw the so called smile, she thought maybe she should save the film, but she did take one photo of him before she turned to her drink, and he left her.

In a corner of the bar stood a shady character, watching the redhead. She was a pretty dame, all right, but she was talking to all these other guys, so he decided to leave her to her business. And boy, was she over dressed! And taking all those photos, what the hell for? Was she gathering intelligence on 'em or something? Besides, he had something else that was far more appealing than any woman. A syringe of Incinerate that he'd stolen.

He remembered Incinerate well. It was his buddy Sam's favorite. That is, until he had to kill Sam. Billy and Sam had come to Rapture together, to work on construction of the city. Been there almost since the beginning. Lots of years ago. Then, when the city was built, he had to stay and what work was there when the city was finished. None! Not a one job for people like him. He always had a hard time focusing on stuff for too long. That psychiatrist that gave free evaluations for a while, Sofia Lamb, said he had some kind of learning disorder or whatever. It meant no one wanted to hire him. He took it like a man though. Drank a bit, but he didn't turn to plasmids then. They came later. No, Billy did what he could. He stole, just to survive. Dealt in petty crime. Bunked at Sam's place most of the time. Then Sam tried those plasmids and Billy figured, what the hell! They became addicted together. There was no fooling yourself; Billy knew he was addicted. Didn't matter, all that mattered once you got into it was the next fix. Billy's favorite was Teleport. You could disappear into thin air and go anywhere you wanted. And Sam was really fond of the Incinerate plasmid...

Fuck. He didn't want to remember all of that. He looked up real quick, saw some ugly fisherman trying to woo that redhead. Did he know her from somewhere? Who gives a shit, here goes. He produced the syringe from his coat pocket and looked at it dreamingly. A shot of whiskey and then he thrust the needle into his arm. He could feel the ADAM coming alive in his veins. A moment later that glorious rush began, the storm building quickly within him. It manifested first in his skin. It was all tense and it felt like his spirit was trying to crush its way out. His eyes were wide open and he sucked in air to fill his lungs. He was standing literally on his toes, his entire body becoming rigid and stiff, but feeling numb. His arms began feeling warm, first in the shoulders. Then the fire in his blood rushed down into his hands and his fingers. They were glowing red and orange and yellow. Channeling his entire being into his hands, he aimed at the whiskey bottle on the table in front of him and set the entire world ablaze.

There seemed to be some sort of contest going on among the men. The one to get Julia into bed wins. And they were getting more vulgar, finding it amusing to try and shock her with bad language. Maybe that should shock a girl from the finer parts of Rapture, but her parents were, at core, as much workers as these people and they used the same language. Not as much after moving to Mercury Suites, but still. As for the first guy to talk to her, the guy with the stutter, he stood in a corner, looking grouchy. He hadn't come up to her since his first attempt and it looked like he didn't like it when she talked to the other men. Julia remained the sweet girl in the sexy outfit to see if she could get him to come over again. She gave him glances, the occasional wink and a smile. Acting like she wanted him. In a way, maybe she did. Since her adventure in Siren Alley, she'd felt an even bigger desire to explore the realm of fleshly desire, having even explored it on herself. Actually, who she really wanted was the writer. She couldn't kid herself on that point any longer. But he was a mystery she wanted to explore when she knew how to properly do so. And she also wanted to be a mystery for him to explore. But perhaps, she realized as she gave her first suitor another wink, she should just skip the drama and talk to the writer. She knew he wanted her, too. Just a matter of time, really. Maybe Rapture wouldn't give them all the time in the world. But she liked the play. She liked the chase, now that she was the one being chased. And unlike the men here, the writer - Chris - wanted her for more than a spin in the sheets. And so did she. When that first, stuttering young man finally came up to her again she didn't want him to anymore.
"Finally decided you want some of Duncan, huh?" He said, his stutter even more prominent than before.
"I already told you, no", Julia said, no longer smiling. The game wasn't funny anymore; it had flipped just like that.
"Hey! You can't just... can't just toy with people like that!"
"Listen, I don't want to-"
"You'll do what I tell you to do", the stuttering man said and grabbed her arm.

A bright spark of fire flashed in a corner of the bar, the burst making a sound almost like a small explosion. It was that splicer. He'd set fire to a bottle of whiskey and it, in turn, exploded, setting the table on fire. People started shouting and quickly went to extinguish the fire before it made any more damage. The splicer who'd caused the fire just stood there grinning, but when someone tried to get a hold of him he used Teleport and just vanished from the scene, sucking the air with him as he went. Julia took the opportunity of the chaos and quickly rushed out the door. She didn't notice how the angry stuttering man followed her out from the bar.

Sandy Reid's apartment, 1958

The junkie that was Sandy Reid lay half naked and half unconscious on her bed, staring at the boards in the ceiling. The inside of her head was twirling and she felt somewhat dizzy, having just spliced. The empty hypo lay beside her, small residues of glowing ADAM inside. And just before she spliced, her last customer walked out the door. She'd been taking more and more money lately. She was the one who collected all the girls' earnings at the end of each day to hand over to Wales. It was so easy to snatch a few bucks now and then. There could have been hundreds of dollars in her mattress by now, but somehow she'd spent most of it.

The rustic wooden look of the ceiling boards, set in natural patterns and colored brown, was all she had to entertain her when she lay broken and alone. She noticed a small, black dot of a spider hurry along a board, following the veins of the fake tree, to find an opening. And she giggled, remembering that time that Julia had noticed a spider when they were having coffee last time, and had Sandy smash it.

That one time at the Shark Bite Diner. That was the last time she'd seen Julia... Julia judged Sandy, for splicing and for being a whore. Sandy just knew it. It was so easy for Julia, who got all she pointed at. Little miss Pure and Holy. As she got angrier in her head, there was a sudden knock at the door, and immediately thereafter it was flung open. Sandy was torn back into reality as her father, Marcus Reid, barged in.
"I had to see it to believe it", he shouted, "my own daughter, a drug addict and a whore!"
Sandy sat absent mindedly up on the bed and looked at her father with hazy eyes.
"Daddy... what's going on?" She slurred, unable to focus clearly with the high of ADAM and other narcotics flowing through her.
"I don't believe it", her father went on, rummaging through her things. He'd found a stack of empty hypos and syringes. Then he turned to her and shook his head in despair. He was so upset that his mustache trembled and his hands shook with rage.
"A junkie and a whore", he shouted.
"Listen, daddy. Lemme just put on some clothes and we can -"
"Stand up! Stand up and look at yourself!" He grabbed her and pulled her to her feet.
"I know daddy", she said, flinching, but looking into his eyes, "I'm a whore now."
In anger, Marcus Reid raised his hand. It trembled.
"Yes daddy", Sandy pleaded, "hit me daddy." She didn't flinch now. She smiled. "Show me your love, daddy!"
Marcus Reid's eyes welled up with tears and his heavy breath was thick with anger. His hand was shaking and his daughter looked pleading at him. His child. Closing his eyes and searching the bottom of his soul for a way, he lowered his hand and let go his daughter. A lump, she fell back onto the bed. Then he, too, fell to his knees, and cried.
"It's all right, daddy", Sandy Reid said, "I was born this way. Only good for one thing." She laid back and searched her nightstand for a cigarette.
"I want you to move back in with your mother and I", her father said, almost in a whisper, "we can, we can make this go away." He was breathing heavily, trying to gather his thoughts.
"You can't just make it go away, daddy", Sandy said monotonously as she blew smoke towards the spider in the ceiling. She went on, "this is where I'll stay. Somewhere between agony and ecstasy."
Marcus Reid looked up at her. Half naked and smoking, apathetic. She'd given up. He saw how she put out the cigarette by pressing it against her throat, without even flinching. Like nothing could hurt anymore, if she couldn't even make her daddy show his love with the kiss of battery. He got to his feet and with an empty face, looked at her. He stayed for a long time, pleading to her to come home with him, but she wouldn't listen. It was like there was nothing left of Sandy Reid left in her shell. After an hour or so, he left her there to wallow in debauchery in the shadow land of her own existence.

Neptune's Bounty, 1958

Julia hurried away and made some distance from the Fighting McDonagh's. It took a while for her to notice the man pursuing her. But she was not one to do nothing and become a victim. Filled with the strength of the moment, she turned around to face him.
"Why are you following me?" She said. She told herself to act tough. A moment later he came up to her, looking mad. Only now did she notice he had those small bumps on his neck, and some of his hands. You got those from plasmids.
"I'm gonna get what you owe me", he barked. She looked around, hoping there would be someone there, but the wharf was empty. There were some dock workers some distance away, but they couldn't possibly see or hear it if anything happened.
"I don't owe you anything", she sounded less assured.
"Uh huh, you do, with all your winking and..." Suddenly, he reached for her and grabbed her arm. She pulled away.
The stalker with the stutter looked her right in the eyes. He was fully convinced that she owed him something for all her flirting. Some guys just can't take a no. And Julia, though her heart beat fast in her chest, stared right back, unflinching. The man's tone was cold as he spoke.
"Listen. You're going to give me what you owe me." He put his cold hand on her throat, but she immediately pushed it away.
"Get your hand away from me", she demanded, sounding as confident as she felt, "I don't owe you shit."
"I'll damn well put my hand where I want", he answered, raising his hand toward her again. This time, she pushed it away before he touched her. That made him real angry. He grabbed the strap on her camera and tried to take it from her - to at least get away with something - but she resisted, pulling back with her neck, which began to hurt from him tugging on the strap, and on his arm.
"You! Can't just!" He shouted, flustered, as he struggled to take the camera from her, "play with people! Like that!"
"Stop it!" Julia shouted, the strap hurting her neck more and more. Finally, the little piece of plastic that fastened the strap to the camera broke off, making the camera come loose. In the shift in resistance, the stuttering stalker staggered backwards, dropping the camera. It hit the ground and made a sound of crashing glass. While he wasn't fully on his game, Julia threw an angry punch, hitting him right in the cheek. He grunted, and when she threw the next punch, he caught her fist and turned her whole body around, twisting her arm around, and got a grip around her throat.
"Stop!" She yelled.
"Oh, I'm taking what you owe me, bitch", he stuttered.
"Hey!" Someone shouted, "the woman said stop!" Julia's heart took a leap of relief as the man came to her defense, and then another when she saw who it was.
"Hah!" The stuttering man said, "and who are you? Her big brother?"
"No", the timely rescuer said, stepping close, "I'm the goddamn writer."

And then the writer made a fist which he planted straight in the assailant's face. The man went down like a sack of yesterday's potatoes. He fell hard on the wooden planks of the wharf, his nose broken and bleeding. He was out cold. Julia hurried to put her arms around the writer, sniveling. It was awkward, but he kept thinking he could feel her breasts, pushed up by her provocative yet sexy and beautiful, dressing, pressing against him. Great thing to think about in that situation.
"Are you all right? Did he hurt you?" The writer asked.
"I'm fine. Thank you!"
"You're most welcome, miss Jensen."
She hugged him hard.
"I'm fine. Thanks to you, Mr. Perkins." She looked into his eyes and he could see the fright washing away from her. She smiled and kissed his cheek, leaving a red mark of her lipstick on it. Then she wiped her tears. The mascara that had run across her face was smudged out.
"I'll follow you home", he said.

He thought of holding her hand as they walked, but those thoughts remained thoughts. Until he felt her fingers just slightly touching against his hand. At first it was so little, then she did it again, touching him a little more. At last she gently placed her hand in his. He went with her, neither of them saying anything, on the train all the way to her apartment, to make sure she got home safely. People did look, what with her daring outfit and the fact that she'd been crying, but she didn't seem to mind. In her still quiet way, she seemed happy, even with the smudge of the mascara on her cheeks. She didn't say a word before they reached her door, where she let go of his hand.
"Thank you again, Mr. Perkins. If you hadn't come along... it's good to know you're watching out for me." She smiled and touched his arm. Her big, blue eyes looked into his.
"Always, miss Jensen." He was sure, when he left her, that things would soon change for the better. For tomorrow he had a plan. But first he should find a med clinic. His hand hurt like hell.

The Rapture Tribune, 1958

The writer was nervous. Time he should have spent working on the column instead went on writing down a manuscript for what to say. He scrapped the papers, one by one. None of it was right. The words were too fancy, or they weren't fancy enough. The words were unnatural, or they were to obvious in trying to be natural. He had decided, though, and when the writer decided on something, he was going to get it done. Like a New Year's resolution or something he'd decided that he must talk to Julia Jensen. Ask her out at best, but at the very least, just talk to her. See how she was doing after last night. How was this so hard? He felt it growing inside him; the courage. Adrenaline, but it didn't really kick in. He watched her, sitting over by her typewriter. She was wearing a black blouse, with pink polka dots, and her red hair was put into a pony tail held up by a bow that matched her hair. She didn't seem busy though. Now was the best time to do it. Go!

Walking the ten feet from his desk over to hers that time, he really noticed the office in its entirety. Sucking in the details of the place. On one wall was the panoramic window with its spectacular view of central Rapture with its towering buildings and neon signs. In the distance was Fontaine Futuristics, owned, of course, by Ryan Industries now. Beyond that was Persephone, that was on the absolute edge of Rapture and a deep sea abyss. Closer to the building were neon signs of certain businesses. Eve's Garden, Fleet Hall. On the opposite wall was, in big black letters, the words Rapture Tribune. Below the words, the wall itself was carved to look like the Rapture skyline would look from a distance; the meaning being that the Tribune would look over the city of Rapture, being the city's leading newspaper and source of news and information. On that wall, over by the entrance from the elevators and stairs, was one of those air vents that were all over Rapture. And in between the walls were two rows of desks, where the journalists wrote their articles and pieces. There were ferns here and there, giving the large office complex a green, airy feel, though the walls went mostly in grey. The roof of the office complex was lower than usual, and the lamps gave out a warm yellow light, giving the office a cozy feel on days like this. It felt as if though he walked in slow motion, but before he could collect his thoughts, he was standing in front of Julia Jensen's desk.

"Um, miss- miss Jensen, I, uh..." The writer stood in front of the redhead girl that he had looked at from a distance for some time, and now all the words  that sounded so good in his head came out all different. That is to say, not at all.
"My, oh, my", said Julia Jensen with a slight smile, "such trouble getting the words out. And from a wordsmith such as yourself. I never." There came that adrenaline rush he was hoping for! Maybe he should take one of those plasmids and make these things easier. Oh, for crying out loud! Just talk to her! His brain was all over the place. Right. Talk.
"Miss Jensen, I was hoping you would give me the honor of taking you for a cup of coffee." Julia gave him a big smile, despite his somewhat dramatic way of asking her out. Or maybe because of it.
"Nothing would delight me more", she said getting up from her seat, "and then perhaps a walk through Arcadia, and we can discuss your new book. Mind you, I haven't finished it yet and I do not wish to know the ending prematurely." The writer smiled, too. A rare sight. Well that was easy, he thought.

Somewhere in Rapture, 1958

He was a murmur among whispers. A shadow in the dark, unseen in the night. He was a thought in the back of the mind, drifting as you focus on it. With green and yellow eyes, this creature of the fading twilight stalked through an air duct listening in on the everyday talk of Rapture. The air duct ran by all the apartments in the entire building, and for such an agile creature, navigating the breezy blackness was easy. He walked by a gentleman arguing with his wife about how long the steak should be cooked.
"It's not a real steak Martha! It's genetically engineered!"
"That's what you used to say on the surface too, Horace!"
The creature cared not for earthly disputes. On footsteps silent as snowfall he treaded onward, braving the darkness of the duct. Suddenly, he stopped, senses sharpened. Not a muscle moved he, not a breath exhaled he. But he listened and smelled, and tasted the very air. His superior senses had picked up something. The faintest, tiniest squeak of a mouse.

The mouse, itself a marvel of creation, with its tiny body yet resilient defense and keen wits, sat a mere six or seven feet away, unaware of the lurking danger and impending doom. It had scrounged a piece of stale bread from one of the apartments and had snuck back into the dark to feast. When the beast was nearly upon it, the mouse felt the presence. It cast one horrified glance at the monster's glowing diamond eyes, and then darted into the unknown to save its life, squeaking in horror. The creature lunged after it in full pursuit. Run. That was all there was. The mouse ran headless around each bend, looking for a way out or somewhere to hide, but the vent bars were to thin, even for the smallest of mice - a safeguard on the humans' side, that now did its job all too well - and the mouse kept running, swallowing its fear.

The shadow creature stalked efficiently, getting the mouse exactly where it wanted. The creature had prowled these ducts many times and knew every nook and cranny. As long as the prey didn't move down to the basement, there was only one apartment with a hole in the vent large enough for the mouse to squeeze through. Everything else was his domain. Nothing more than a game.

The mouse was cowering in a corner, but its pursuer seemed to have lost the trail. It dared not move, but took a breath. From where it sat, the duct parted three ways; to the front, where the mouse came from; to the left, and to the right. Each path seemed darker than the one before it. But the monster was nowhere to be seen. But there! To the left, a grey shape was moving slowly. Searching for something. The mouse, moving not a single muscle, watched the predator. Suddenly, it was gone. The mouse's heart raced faster each second. The shape flashed across the forward path, and a few moments later, across the rightmost one. For a moment, their eyes met, and when the mouse stared into the predator's soul it realized: the beast was toying with it.

A split second later, the mouse took off like Hell on wheels, rushing off to the forward path, from where it came. And like the shadow of a lightning, the creature of fading twilight went in pursuit, mind set on only one thing.

Its energy nearly out, the mouse could but hope for salvation in that one broken vent, just a few seconds ahead. As fast as feet can carry a body, the mouse ran. Just a few more feet. It could see the faint light from in there. Behind it, the hunter closed in. Two more feet. The mouse was close to freedom, nearly fainting from terrified exhaustion. One more foot. The light of Heaven met the mouse as it swerved to run unto freedom's embrace. One glimpse. And just as the mouse thought it was free, the beast lunged. The monster jumped, and its razor jaws of death clenched around the mouse's neck and crushed it.

Utterly without pity or the faintest trace of mercy, the hunter devoured its prey to the last bone. Rapture's game is not for the faint of heart, or the weak. Licking its mouth and cleaning its paws after the meal, the victorious hunter was master of the game. It had beaten Babylon's tests and come out the other side stronger and better. Tyger the cat, leviathan to his prey.




The Shark Bite Diner, 1958

The writer took Julia to the Shark Bite Diner. His favorite. It was a quaint little diner that turned into a pub by the evenings, but was a café and restaurant by day. It was just a five minute walk from the Tribune, too. And you could get real blueberry pie. The berries were smuggled in, of course, but blueberry pie none the less. It didn't say surface blueberries on the menu, but at that price it couldn't be anything but. You could taste it, too. At the thought of real berries Julia got really excited and even though it certainly wasn't cheap, the writer got her one piece of blueberry pie. Lord knows when they could have real berries next time. Ryan's goons could burst in any time and shut the place down and have the owner vanish. Though, evidently, Frank Fontaine had invested in the pub and he was dead. Killed by Ryan's goons. So, they might be out of real blueberries. He rushed all those thoughts aside, deciding to live the now, then and there with Julia Jensen. They sat in a booth, across from one another. The waitress who took their order was a cute young woman who tried to act nice, but you could see she wasn't very fond of the job. She was a splicer, using teleport to give customers faster service. So the plasmids weren't just bad. The writer ordered himself a bit of blueberry pie as well. And coffee.

He was, again, shy and mostly unable to find the right words. It was mostly she who led the conversation. But he found that it got easier when it was just the two of them, and when he wasn't caught off guard. Also, he saw in her eyes that she was enjoying herself. Not knowing what to do with his hands he kept thumbing the tablecloth, a white and red checkered plastic cover. Exactly what you would expect. As they were waiting for their pie and coffee, the writer said:
"Are- are you okay? I mean, with what happened the other night."
She looked down on to the table cloth, reluctant to remember the ordeals. Then she nodded, looked up and smiled. "I'm fine. Nothing really happened. You came along at just the right time."
"Are you sure? He didn't hurt you?"
"Don't worry", she stretched back a bit, "I'm a big girl. It's nothing to worry about. As a matter of fact, I feel better now than in a long time."
"Really? That's good to hear." The waitress popped up, out of thin air, having teleported back with their pie. Looked like she was trying to act casual and try to fish for tips. The pie was delicious.

"You know", Julia said, just as she had finished her pie, "that is the best thing I've had since I came to Rapture."
"See, I told you. They know their pies."
"I think it's you, who know yours", she said, giving a glimpse of a smile and a quick look into his eyes. Just the kind of thing that made him unsure what to say. "I've not had real blueberry pie in ages", she went on, "I'm glad you finally decided to ask me out. I'm sure you've been meaning to for some time." Again, that smile and the look. She was trying to discern what he was thinking.
"I have", he said, thumbing the table cloth, "but I wasn't sure you would want to, miss, miss Jensen."
She smiled again, but not just a glimpse this time. "You can call me Julia, if you want."
"Sure, I, uh... sure, Julia."
"And I'm sure, Chrissstian-" she elongated the S "-that I may call you by your first name?"
"Of course. I prefer Chris though."
"You don't like your full name?"
"My father was Christian Perkins. I'm Chris Perkins. You know?"
She smiled again. "So... Chris... your new book... is it autobiographical? Do you long to go back to the surface?"
"Shush, miss Jensen. You can't talk about that. Never know who's listening."
"It's Julia, remember?" She winked.
"Julia. You shouldn't talk about such things."
"I shall contain myself", she said, sounding official, then returning to her normal intonation, she went on: "do you, though?"
It occurred to the writer that she might not really understand what it was to speak sedition (treason!) in Rapture. It wasn't entirely safe. Just look at what happened to Sofia Lamb, vanishing from the public eye. God knows how.
"I, no", he said, "right now, there's nowhere I would rather be." Julia blushed and looked down. Then she looked up again, straight into his eyes.
"Me neither", she said.

Arcadia, 1958

"So tell me, how does one become a writer?" Julia asked, as they walked along the beautiful garden of Arcadia. The place in Rapture where green grass and lush trees existed. The lack of sunlight meant nothing could grow naturally, but Julie Langford did a great job still, keeping the place going. There were bees here and there in Rapture, most of them in Arcadia. He'd also noted another insect was the butterflies that had sprung out as of late, the blue morpho that grew armor on the inside. There were no birds though. The writer had to think back to remember the sound of birds. He and Julia walked quite close, almost huddled together. The writer took that as a good sign, though it'd be hard to find bad signs between them anymore.
"I don't... it's not really something you become. There's something inside you all the time. A burning creation. To make stories. Anyone can write stories down, but a writer will always have a spark of creation in him. That's what being a writer is about to me, anyhow. Take this place, Rapture. All these workers built the city. They wrote the story down-" she looked puzzled a moment, and then realized he was using a metaphor "-but Andrew Ryan was the writer. They just don't call him a writer."

Julia stopped and stood in front of him. "You know", she said, "I, too, am a writer."
"You are?" He was amused. She blushed. Just a little. And she nodded slightly.
"Uh huh", she said, "I've made up a story too."
"What's it about?" He saw something in glimmering in her eyes just before she spoke. And she spoke almost in a whisper.
"You, me, and behind that bush over there", she said stepping closer to him.
"Miss Jensen!" She smiled and he saw the glimmer of innocence and femininity in her eyes again. She stepped even closer and he felt his shyness wash over him. But she didn't. A bee flew by between them, buzzing away on its business. She followed it with her eyes and then looked back into his. And again her eyes glimmered. That spark. Her eyes, blue as the depths, told the story.
"Kiss me", she said, but it was she who was leaning in closer. She closed her eyes. He felt her hands against his sides. And he put his hands on her waist and leaned in closer as well.

A throat was cleared, but not by him, or her. Her advances interrupted, they looked to the side. There stood two burly men, both wielding Thompson machine guns.
"Sorry to interrupt", one of them said with a thick Russian accent. The writer recognized him from some photos. A goon of Ryan's, name of Karlosky. He went on, turned to the writer: "you will have to come with us."
"What's going on?" The writer said, skeptic voice.
"Mr. Ryan wants word with you."
"What about?" The writer could feel Julia's hand wanting to hold his and cast a quick glance at her. She looked frightened, unsure what was going on.
"Don't know. You come or I carry you?"
"No, I'll come. I, uh..." The writer turned to Julia.
"Not to worry", Karlosky said, "will make sure young lady gets home safe." Karlosky sounded genuine and even nice when he said it, and the writer found that he trusted him to make sure Julia was safe. Karlosky went with him and the other man with Julia. Karlosky led him away. He hoped this made him seem important, but in the back of his head he remembered the rumors about what happened to people who disappeared. The rumors about Sofia Lamb and James Holloway. They better not be true.

The Shark Bite Diner, 1958

Billy, the teleporting splicer, hadn't had a taste of ADAM in days. All the EVE had run out of his system, and he had no use of his powers. In his hand he held the knife that took Sam's life. He'd licked the coagulated blood on it, but he felt no ADAM in it. He'd also tried to hack one of those vending machines to make it spit out a free prize, but it was fucking impossible. Kept getting shortcut and giving him a shock.

Now he was shaking. Couldn't think clearly. His head was aching from the ADAM withdrawal. He saw faces. Faces from when he was who he wanted to be, and from the times they weren't memories. They asked of him to come and join the other side... He sat in the corner booth of the Shark Bite Diner, up in central Rapture, looking at the checkered table cloth while carving the underside of the table with his knife. He'd noticed that redhead chick, he'd seen her sometime before. She'd left with some regular Tom when he came in. Billy was screaming on the inside. Just fucking typical of the waitress to come up to him.
"Look. You can't stay here if you don't order anything", she said, trying her best to keep a strong face even though all she wanted was to go home herself and have a plasmid. She was a saver. Had several tonics at home she had yet to try.
Billy looked up and saw her. She was mocking him! He got up and drew his knife, hand shaking and eyes wide open. His pupils were dilated making every light a thousand times brighter. And in his brain all he saw were the people mocking him. He put the knife against the waitresses throat, poking her skin with the point. The other guests in the diner were shocked, and they too started laughing and mocking him!
"Stop your stupid laughing! It makes you look like a whore!" He was shouting. "Someone just give me a fffucking EVE hypo or this bitch gets it! I swear it! I'll cut off her tits!" He screamed uncontrollably. Billy the splicer didn't at all notice that the waitress was crying and begging for her life, standing petrified out of shock. If she hadn't been in shock, she could have teleported away from the maniac.
"Stop laughing and give me a fffucking hypo!" No one around moved. They just kept laughing and mocking him. "Fuck! Fuck! Fffuck!"
He stuck the knife into the waitresses chest, instantly feeling the warmth of the blood squirting over him. He reveled in her death, screaming as he killed her. That's what he did to people who mocked him! He snuffed her fucking life out. Not once, not twice. He kept stabbing her until she became a bloody pulp, the blood spurting all over him.

He couldn't stand all the mocking! When there was nothing left of the bitch but blood and guts and the red remains of a human being he started going through her pockets for tip money. His hands were all slippery from her blood. Two fucking bucks? That's it? He took the rest from the cash register and hurried out and to the vending machine just outside. He could hear them still mocking him in there.
"Hurry up you stupid piece of shit!" Even the waitress mocked him. Stupid bitch. He showed her, though. "Fucking finally!" In no time he put the needle against his skin, thrust it in and the ADAM in his blood was activated. Suddenly everything was clear, the events of the last few minutes erased from his deranged mind, and with a smile he vanished in a cloud of entropic energy, into thin air.

Without ADAM, Billy was a plain old lunatic. Grade A crazy. With ADAM... he was a calculating psychopath. And this fucking city was his for the taking.

Daniel Wales' Office, 1958

The Pearl was yet one of the finest places to live in Rapture, even with Siren Alley's descent into the red light. Now even Daniel Wales, one of Rapture's own architects, was running girls. One of them was a young woman who'd lost her job and even though she had rich folks, she turned to whoring. But he'd gotten tips from some of the other girls that young miss Reid kept too large a percentage of the earnings for herself, so to speak. Now he had to show her who's boss. And all of that was tiresome. All the whores were fucking whiny. Gave him a headache on a regular basis. He stood in his office on the top floor of the Pearl, pouring himself a glass of whisky with which to murder the pain in his head. It was a small office, part of his own private apartment. The best one in the Pearl, of course. It had a lounge with a high end piano and a nice view of Rapture's architectural beauty - which he designed along with his brother, Simon.

Fucking Simon, he thought. The sap had been getting in with that bitch Sofia Lamb a couple years back, when the brothers started getting trouble finding contracts and started a worshipping service in Pumping Station 5, converting people into that crackpot religion of Lamb's. Shaking his head, Daniel picked up an Audio Diary from his desk and hit record. Earlier in the day he'd received a present from Simon...
"Tonight, I had a pain in me head... so naturally I came up to me office to murder it with a drink. And there on me liquor rack... was a bottle of sacramental wine from me dear brother Simon." He looked over at the wine bottle. Fine wine. Not the watered down piss you could get from Worley Winery. Probably it was smuggle goods. He shook his head, "of course, the vintage date on the label is the code to enter his territory. Nineteen - nineteen. I should pass his bleedin' wine through me system and send it back warm."
He stopped recording and took a deep breath, trying not to think about where he was at. He was running girls, and Simon thought he was saving souls. Could you believe Daniel had ever shared a womb with such a sap?

Behind him, there was a knock on the door. He sighed, sweeping the whisky, and bade whoever it was on the other side enter.
"You wanteda see me, Mr. Wales?" A woman said, trying to pretty up her voice so as not to appear suspect. He turned around. It was Sandy Reid, sure enough. She was a tall woman, too tall for Wales' taste and she wore an ugly dress that pushed up her womanly delights, making them nice, big and plump. The low cut dress showed off her slender thighs. With it, a faceful of makeup, curled up bangs of dark brown hair and black pumps. All in all, thought Wales, not a pleasant looking woman. Then again, Siren Alley was the place to go to scratch an itch you were ashamed of, even in a town with no laws.
"Ah, miss Reid, innit?" He said with his thick Irish accent. "Sit down." He sat down himself, behind his desk, leaning his head back, almost knocking it against the hard safe in the wall behind it. He should really put up a painting there. He waited for her to sit her delicate ass down, too, then went on:
"Now, miss Reid-"
"I know what this is about, Mr. Wales", Sandy Reid interrupted him, looking at him with big puppy dog eyes, "and I ain't stealing nothing." Wales poured himself another whisky, seemed like he'd get proper drunk and highly likely introspective if he kept it up.
"Now now, I'm not throwing accusations. But I heard a rumor-"
"Well it ain't true."
Daniel Wales swept his whisky. "Listen here young miss..." his voice was threatening yet calm. "I'm the feckin' boss here and you do best in shutting the hell up when I talk to ya. If I find out you're stealing me money I won't be a forgiving man. Understand?" The vein in his forehead threatened to pop his entire skull.
"Yes, Mr. Wales." Sandy Reid did shut up. She looked down in defeat.
"Now, answer me truthfully. Are you stealing me feckin' money?" The tension was palpable as he stared hard and cold into the whore's eyes. She shook her head, but didn't say a word. Good for her, he hated the whining of the whores.
"Good. Now get the fuck outta me office."
Sandy Reid hurried out of the room and left Daniel Wales with an even bigger headache. He sighed to himself.
"Feck it", he muttered.

Then he took his pump shotgun from under the desk, got up from his ass and went out of his office, walking calmly past the hall and the lounge and out the door. Miss Reid was standing just outside, lighting a cigarette, her hands trembling, still nervous from the meeting, and correcting the wrinkles in her fuck ugly black dress.
"Hey, miss Reid", the Irishman said crookedly. She turned and looked at him with a surprised look on her face. She raised her eyebrows when she noticed the weapon in his hands.
"Pucker up ya daft bastard", he crowed. He pointed the shotgun at her belly, and fired. The woman was split in two. Muttering to himself, Wales went back into his office and poured another whisky. He swept it and poured one more. On the desk was the bottle of wine he'd received earlier with the code on it.
"Feckin' Simon. And feckin' whores." Now he had to have someone clean up outside, too. Murder that pain in the head with a drink.

Atlantic Express depot, 1968

Making its way up the elevator was a gloomy Mr. Bubbles. A rare thing to behold, the awakened soul of a Big Daddy. But this one was. And it was not a dream. With heavy heart the flesh inside tried to remember, 'who am I?' And still, the bond to the Little Sister at its feet was strong. Something made Mr. Bubbles wish nothing more than her safety. This Tenenbaum promised to help with both those goals, and so Mr. Bubbles played along. But... the drill was ready.
"Mr. Bubbles, can't it go any faster?" The Little Sister said, impatiently. And at that, the elevator came to a sudden stop between two floors.
"Mr. Bubbles?" The girl said, frightened, as the elevator started on its way back down. It creaked and hissed. They were trapped like rats, and the elevator slowly made its way back down. The glass doors made the surroundings visible. Each floor was empty and devoid of people, with the exception of a rotting corpse on one. There were broken train parts scattered, and over all, it was an evacuated, dark place. In the surrounding darkness, something was hunting them. Watching them.

"Herr Bubbles, you must hurry", Tenenbaum whispered, "there is something after the little one." She realized they were stuck, Mr. Bubbles hoped. The elevator ground slowly downward until it finally reached the ground floor, from which they'd come.
"Hurry", Tenenbaum called, "to the other elevator across the room." As the elevator doors opened, Mr. Bubbles picked the Little Sister up to let her ride on his shoulder and set across the darkened waiting area. He had to go around some debris to get to the next elevator. As he did, he noticed the shadows moving along the walls of the circular switching station they were in. Someone, or something, was creeping fast as the eye. All Mr. Bubbles could catch a glimpse of was the glimmer of armor and the shadow that the creature was. It was hiding in the darkness, but clearly showing itself; I'm here and I'm watching you. He hurried as fast as he could, and finally reached the other elevator. They started upward again.

Up, past the several levels of deserted train station. Darkness seemed all knowing, eternal. Memories flashed of a bustling city, filled with life. Now, all around, emptiness reigned. The girl waited impatiently, until at last the elevator stopped and the doors opened. They were in a small maintenance section. There were crates from Sinclair Solutions lying about.
"Just over at the ticket booth", Tenenbaum said. The lights worked, but buzzed and crackled. The next room was a waiting area, drenched in darkness. Only a vending machine gave some light, flickering in blue, the clown on the face of it smiling in the dark.
"I will turn on the lights", Tenenbaum said. "There."

The lights came on one by one, and as they did, Mr. Bubbles caught another glimpse of their stalker. It was in the room with them, having made it there long before they could. He caught only a glimpse of the shadow exiting the room on the other side. Other than that, all there was in the room was a few benches. Carrying the quiet little sister, Mr. Bubbles went through the Securis door on the other side of the room. No sign of life or anything that moved. The shadow was gone. Barred gates separated them from the train platform and a train that seemed to be functioning still. But the ticket booth and Tenenbaum was on their side of the gates. Mr. Bubbles walked up to the booth and pressed the button for service. The window shutters swung up and the room on the other side became visible through a pane of glass.

Tenenbaum was in there, standing right in front of the window, looking back at Mr. Bubbles with sad eyes.
"Here you are", she said, looking tired. In fact, she looked as if she hadn't slept in a week. Her eyes were dark, her hair dirty and quickly put out the way in a ponytail. Her clothes were torn and uneven. She was a complete mess.
"Can I trust you?" She went on, "will you help me?" The lumbering form didn't answer, its round glowing porthole sensors remaining a neutral yellow.
"Yes. I will trust you. For the little ones." Mr. Bubbles looked around the room. There were several Little Sisters there, but whereas the one on his shoulders had a sickly pale pallor and eyes that glowed yellow, these ones seemed lively and their eyes normal. Normal girls. They were cured. Tenenbaum in turn looked anxiously at his Little Sister. Then she looked back at Mr. Bubbles with pain in her eyes.
"I must ask one thing of you. You must go to Adonis Luxury Resort und drain the lower levels. The little ones, they tell me someone is... waiting, there. Do this, und I will ask this man Sinclair to help me find out who you are." She sighed. "I am sorry to ask so much of you, but I have no other options. I would go, but Sofia Lamb might find me, und the little ones, they won't be safe." She sighed, the weariness in her voice almost cracking. But she was strong

She left the window, only to appear behind the barred gate a few moments later. She stretched her arm through the bars and touched Mr. Bubbles' metal skin, looking straight into his eyes, pleading to him.
"Leave the little one here, und I will cure her", she pleaded. And Mr. Bubbles saw the honesty, and the agony and the pain in her eyes. He put the Little Sister down in front of her, trusting her to give the girl back her humanity. To take her to safety. The girl started to scream when Tenenbaum grabbed her:
"No! No!" But right there, in front of Mr. Bubbles, Tenenbaum gave the girl something that returned color to her cheeks and turned her eyes to normal. She simply closed her glowing yellow eyes, and when she opened them, a pair of big brown eyes looked out. The girl calmed down, sighing in relief.

She was cured.

"This thing", Tenenbaum said, "it disintegrates the slug inside of her und cures her." The cured sister slid through the bars and followed Tenenbaum into the little room.
"You know what you must do", Tenenbaum said when in she was back in safety once more, "I will find out who you are. I promise you, Herr Bubbles." Mr. Bubbles let out a long murmured sigh and set off back from where he'd come. He looked around, but didn't see the shadow.

Andrew Ryan's office, 1958

The writer sat outside the office, waiting. He heard some arguing from the inside, but he couldn't make out the words. The secretary had stepped out and Karlosky was silent as a wall. Big as a wall, too, that Russian body guard of Ryan's. Frightening guy. The waiting made him nervous. After a good ten minutes the door to Andrew Ryan's office opened and a man came out. The writer recognized him immediately. Bill McDonagh. Andrew Ryan's right hand.
"Bill!" Karlosky said happily, "I'm thinking-" But McDonagh stopped him, looking stressed.
"Not now Ivan. I've got a million things to do. Elaine is home sick with Sophie and there's that leak in pumping station number five, I... who's this?" McDonagh turned to the writer. He stood up, but before he could introduce himself McDonagh went on: "Oh I know you. You're that writer. Missus really liked your book, the one 'bout the moon." Bill McDonagh took him by the hand and managed a smile through the stress.
"Right", the writer said, also smiling courteously.
"Best be off, mate. Leak ain't gonna fix itself. And you better not keep Mr. Ryan waiting." And with that Karlosky led the writer into the office.

"Ah, Mr. Perkins, is it?" Andrew Ryan sat behind his desk, emanating personality. A great man in many aspects. The founder, the creator - the writer - of Rapture. The writer came in and Karlosky behind him.
"Karlosky", Ryan said, "would you wait outside. This will not take long." The body guard left and Ryan turned to the writer. His hard lines and masculine visage, stern face and powerful eyes, threatening to the writer, many years Ryan's junior. The writer seemed almost to shrink in the presence of the great man.
"Mr. Perkins, please, have a seat", Ryan said. The writer sat down on a chair in front of Ryan's desk, without saying anything. First, he wanted to know why Ryan had taken him here. "Mr. Perkins, I have read your latest... book. And I... I'm having a hard time understanding how a man such as yourself could write something that is so clearly against all that Rapture stands for. The message is clear." Ryan looked down and shook his head, then looked up again and almost whispered, "leaving Rapture is not an option."
"Mr. Ryan, sir. I have to tell you, you're mistaken", the writer said. Ryan frowned. "It's not a message at all, Mr. Ryan. It's just a book. Pure fiction." Ryan seemed to try to read the writer's mind. Time seemed to be endless. Almost as if the writer was waiting for his verdict. His hands trembled, but his eyes looked into Ryan's. He was speaking the truth.
"I am not an unforgiving man. I'm willing to believe you, Mr. Perkins. This once. If you tell me it is only fiction and not a message of glorification of the surface... I will believe you. It is true, after all, that I built Rapture to be a city of free speech, but I will not tolerate this kind of propaganda again. I've read your previous book as well, and while your style of authoring is not to my taste I rather liked how you portrayed building Rapture. That is why I'm going to let you keep writing. One more chance, Mr. Perkins. One. Meanwhile, I will make sure this book, Returning to the Source, is no longer sold. You will understand."
The writer did understand. Clearly. Within him the seed was sprouting, Ryan feeding it exactly what it needed.
"Thank you, Mr. Ryan. I assure you, I never meant any such things. I hope you believe me, because I do not wish to back to the surface. I've taken a shine to Rapture and some of the people in it."
"Good", Ryan said, leaning back in his chair, the matter resolved. "Because you cannot leave Rapture." The writer nodded, glad Ryan saw sense. Then Ryan went on: "let me tell you why you are here, Mr. Perkins, in Rapture. Several years ago, I read your dissertation, Industrial Competition and the Way to the Future, and found in the author a man like myself. One who saw the evils of the socialist societies. And when I built this city I wanted people like that author. And I remembered you. I am glad that you did come, but you are much younger than I expected..." He noticed the troubled look on the writer's face.
"Sir, I... didn't write that dissertation. My father did." Maybe he shouldn't have said that. Ryan didn't answer immediately. He just contemplated his options. After a long silence he finally spoke:
"You are not Christian Perkins?"
"Yes, sir. Chris Perkins junior."
"Hm... this calls things into question. Let me ask you... do you share your father's views?"
The writer thought about his answer carefully. Ultimately, he figured honesty would be best, though he still left out all about what he'd come to feel about the working people and the poor - the people.
"Not fully, Mr Ryan. But for the most part I do."
Andrew Ryan frowned. "Go on", he said.
"I'm not a socialist, sir. But neither can I agree with everything that my father wrote." Ryan's frown persisted. The writer went on: "I hope you appreciate my honesty, even though it's not what you want to hear. My father taught me that much. Be honest. And I..." Disappearing people came into his mind again and he fell silent. He regretted not kissing Julia Jensen.

The thoughts raced in Andrew Ryan's head. This young man was in Rapture by mistake, and he was a capable writer who had already written what people might take as anti-Rapture propaganda. But he was also an honest man and Andrew Ryan admired that. Admired that in spite of what might happen, this young man said exactly what he thought. Besides, he had a far bigger problem in Atlas.
"I do appreciate your honesty, Mr. Perkins", he finally said, "I will be true to my word. You will have your second chance. I hope, for your sake, that you use it to show your loyalty to Rapture and to me. I did not build this city only to hand it over to parasites! But rest assured... I will watch, and I will not tolerate any more propaganda against my city."
"I... thank you, Mr. Ryan. I promise you won't regret it."
"We will see, Mr. Perkins." Ryan went on for a moment about how he'd rejected the answers of church and government, reiterating what the writer already knew and had already heard several times before, and how he would not accept dissension.
"Like what was once the American dream, the Rapture dream is something that we cannot take for granted. It is not for everyone; parasites will claw at society, as they have done on the surface. The Rapture dream will not allow it."
"Rapture was your dream, Mr. Ryan", the writer said gloomily, but back straight, "belonging was mine."
The great man chuckled.
"And who are you?" Andrew Ryan said, "small men dream small." He had a smirk on his face, like he felt he was better than the writer.
"That may be", the writer replied, "but big dreams crash harder when they fall."
"Is that a threat, Mr. Perkins?" Ryan's smirk disappeared in an instant and was replaced with ice cold scorn.
"How could a small man threaten a big dream?" The writer said; it sounded almost like he meant 'yes, yes it is'. Ryan frowned, and leaned back in his chair.
"Perhaps", he said, looking the writer deep in the eye, "you are not a small man at all. Perhaps you are a big man, who happens to dream small. There is something more powerful than each of us, Mr. Perkins. A combination of our efforts, a Great Chain of industry that unites us. But it is only when we struggle in our own interest that the chain pulls society in the right direction. That is why I built Rapture here, where the great will not be constrained by the small."
"It's the small dreams and the small deeds that make life."
"A man needs ambition, Mr. Perkins", Ryan began, his tone serious and his face stern, yet he sounded like he was about to give a lecture, "without ambition, he lives only on the ambitions of others, and makes nothing of his own life. He does not build, he does not create, but rather stands upon other men's buildings and creations."
The writer shook his head, and said:
"People do not dream big. People dream small, Mr. Ryan. A better job or a nicer house or kids." Ryan discarded that with a wave of the hand.
"History does not remember job hunters and child makers", he said.
"Maybe it should. Maybe history should remember the men who died in the rain and honor their lives, instead of men who drew lines on maps. These men are the great men of history, it seems, and not those who actually did the deed."
Ryan was silent for a while, saying nothing, but looking the writer in the eyes, like he was trying to read his mind. Or worse, maybe he was deciding his fate. Then he said:
"Rapture was my making, Mr. Perkins, my creation. It is my city; it exists because I made it so. And I do not take lightly, threats against it, its security or its secrecy. What dreams you have is up to you, that is the whole meaning of Rapture, so long as they do not threaten my city. I believe in second chances. This... propaganda that you have written, I can overlook it, so long as you give me your solemn word that you will not repeat it, and go against my city. Do not think that I could not have you... silenced for this. As it happens, there are larger schemes going on, as we are both aware. I do not think you are an agent of Atlas or a Communist organizer, and that is why I'm giving you one more chance to show your loyalty to Rapture."In his controlled authority, Ryan let his Russian ancestry slip in the 'could'.
The writer swallowed and nodded understandingly.
"I am loyal to Rapture, Mr. Ryan", he said, voice weak from Ryan's threats and the realization of how close he came to actually being executed. Ryan finished:
"Karlosky will show you out."
Ryan gave the writer a stern look, and then turned around his chair, turning blankly away. No further words needed to be spoken. The writer got up and went out the door.

Leaving Ryan Industries that night was a writer still in shock. However calm he'd tried to seem to Ryan, he was anything but. The way the great man had been talking confirmed to the writer that the rumors must be true. At least some. And if he didn't watch out he might find the rumors irrefutably true, only he wouldn't be able to tell anyone. It was getting all too clear to writer that there were no actual liberties in Rapture, and that no contender for the throne was in the right. He finally made up his mind. The seed was sprouted. But most devastating was what had come up last. He shouldn't even have been allowed to come to Rapture. The invite he'd received was meant for his father, who passed away just shortly before the letter of recruitment came. The writer was named after his father. He was Christian Perkins, Jr.

Did the invite say Jr.? He wasn't sure. And he didn't have it anymore. Well, he'd be home soon, where a couple of Old Harbinger were waiting for him. Feeling down, he soon remembered Julia. She would probably not want to see him again. He thought about going over to her place to see if she was okay, but decided she didn't want him to. Maybe he should buy a bottle of Lacan Scotch on the way home.