Chapter 1: Thoughts Uncounted
Cecile lay across the couch, eyes closed, breathing the smell of expensive leather, as he focused on the echoes of footsteps and voices in the hallway. The sounds filtering through to his dark room reminded him of the stark white walls of a hospital ward, diamond-patterned floor tiles, and the face of a friendly nurse. He was sure that most people would not think of such a place, or associate it with relaxed. After all, this place was a professional suit and tie establishment. Most people didn’t sleep in an empty lounge with their blood stained trench coat lying on the floor, which reminded him… how long had it been?
The voices outside the door quieted as a person in hard sole shoes slowly approached from the direction of the main office and Cecile imagined this person examining papers that they carried back from their visit. A door creaked open, and quick taps spoke of descending the stairs. As he heard the door to the stairs settle back in place, one of the people standing outside his quiet room spoke up.
Light flooded in as the door to the lounge was opened and the men from outside entered. Cecile tiredly covered his stinging eyes with his hand to block out the interruption. Just as quickly the outside light was cut off. Nobody had bothered to turn on the light. That would have cost money.
The voices of the three men now echoed through the room.
“I swear,” Fergus, said a bit louder, “if that new boy, Oliver, humiliates me one more time I’ll kill him myself.”
So this is what all the talk was about. Irritated, Cecile rolled to face the back of the couch where he could keep to himself. Oh, the men knew he was there, but after the boss had failed to interest him in the companies business of assassination, the men had ceased to care.
“What did he do this time?” the second man asked.
“He gave me the wrong house address,” Fergus complained.
“Are you sure he isn’t doing it on purpose?” a third man asked seriously.
“That’s exactly what I asked him. Do you know what he said to me? He said that he’s going to take a complaint to the boss because of my harassment.”
“Ha,” the second said again. “That guy is as good as dead.”
As good as dead. That was something Cecile could understand. Only a few months ago there had not been the option of hiding his face. He had been living at the Centre for Revival and Vitality Enhancement, better known as C.R.A.V.E., as he waited in a hard plastic chair outside the sleep ward to be put down like an ill creature. They had tried to correct humanity’s destructive nature by taking away the things that made it difficult to live. Fears of death and the hunger for food had been replaced by little machines inside them, but the scientists’ collective efforts to make him a perfectly emotionless and invulnerable human had been wasted because of Cecile’s attachment to his remaining feelings.
Doctor Fina Wilkie, who was in charge of his treatment, had told him to forget or to pretend and had reminded him that her position was at risk. Cecile had done neither. An onlooker might say that he had acted selfishly or that he had betrayed her trust, but his emotions had not reached that far. Like a child, Cecile had simply chosen what he wanted. He had not felt like being perfect and he had not felt like dying so he had run away in search of better answers.
Sometimes Cecile thought that it was funny for this experiment to have happened to him, and then for Mr. Odalas to take him in. Mr. Odalas had observed Cecile’s immunity against bullets, or as people called it, immortality. Cecile was here to consider a proposal, but more often he wondered what other people were in such a hurry for. It was difficult to understand.
“Do you want me to do something about that boy Oliver?” the black suit asked.
“Wait,” Fergus said.
A distinct set of footfalls was venturing their way from the direction of the main office.
“We should go,” Fergus said.
The door was opened and the three men cleared out. Cecile turned over as the door shut and through the darkened window he met the curious eyes of Mr. Odalas who had stopped in front of the room. The escape of the three men did not seem to concern him and Cecile thought that the man would finally say something about work, but Mr. Odalas continued past as took the steps downwards. Now there, Cecile thought, was an interesting study.
Dominic Odalas dealt in hate cases. He gave vengeful people what they needed, lent them the money and the guns, then sent his people to tie up the loose ends. There were fewer complaints that way. Sometimes Cecile could admire that ambition, but today that funny feeling was just his stomach lacking food, another sensation his immortal body had never forgotten. Cecile finally got off the couch, stretched, picked up his tattered coat from the floor, and walked out.