Everest explained that it was the perfect time to board a train because with all the people it would have been harder to spot us, or for CCTV to easily capture our whereabouts. I wasn't a hugely fond of vast crowds, but didn't mention this either.
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As for the toilets, they were as disgusting as I expected them to be, and it was just the motivation I needed to change as fast as possible.
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Folding the dress as neatly as a dress can be folded, I walked out, keeping it in my arms. I was strongly allured to the idea of dumping it in the cubicle, but figured it would be a dumb decision, that practically screamed "find me!"
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Everest stood there waiting impatiently for my return, and when I did, he started walking off before I'd fully reached him. Charmer.
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Despite, almost being swallowed by quicksand, he didn't bother with a new outfit, as I did. Turned out, he didn't need one, as Mother Nature had been kind enough to provide him with free laundry in the form of rain. Somehow, the universe always seemed to be on his side.
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It was when we were at the ticket area when it dawned onto me that we didn't possess train tickets — neither could we buy any.
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"How are we going to get through?" I hissed.
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He look at me as if I were brain dead – so as he always looked at me. "Walk through with the stranger in front of you."
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At first I presumed it was sarcasm talking, but soon realised he was being serious.
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"But–but... that's illegal!"
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"So is shoplifting, but here we are."
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Okay, he had a point.
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In the end, the whole boarding a train without a ticket thing wasn't really that big of a deal. Due to the rush hour, we were concealed like lions in a meadow, and besides, everyone was so busy getting to work, that no one really seemed to notice each other.
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The train journey itself wasn't much to write home about. The windows; black. The lights; dim. The people; half dead.
My hand clasped a pole above my head, as the occasional jolt of the train swayed my body from side to side. Boarding the train, I found, you'd have more chance winning the lottery than finding a seat in this wretched metal tube.
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Besides that, there was absolutely nothing to do, not a thing! In a place with no service and no scenery to stare out of the windows for, the most that these middle aged passengers could do was bury their heads in the morning newspaper.
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I must admit, I felt quite stupid for not recognising it sooner, but one glance at the front page of my neighbour's paper, sent my heart racing.
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"A world without cancer, it's right at our fingertips."
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That was the headline.
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"202; not just a few numbers, rather the miracle we've waited on for centuries."
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That was the stand-first.
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And under it? A nice big image of me and Director at the launch evening, blanketing the entire page.
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Calmly, I turned away from my neighbour – and half of the passengers on the train – to face Everest, who was standing behind me. The fact that he was able lean against the wall of this jerky train with his arms crossed, and still remain upright, proved what he really was: stone.
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Keeping my head down for the sake of my security, I waited impatiently, as station after station passed by. However, the wait soon grew tedious – so tedious that my grip on the metal pole unconsciously relaxed. Big mistake, I came to realise a moment later, when the sudden acceleration of the blasted train sent me flying.
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I hit something hard; solid, strong. But no, it wasn't a something it was a someone. Now how many people did I know who felt more like an inanimate object that a person? One.
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"Stupid Newton's First Law!" I growled, my weight pressing against Everest's steely body. In my fall, I somehow took him to the floor with me. Alright, I might have over-did the falling part, but I hoped it didn't seem too forced – no pun intended. But, judging by the artic look in his eyes, I realised my charade wasn't appreciated by the ice demon.
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Still, I took my sweet time, climbing off of him. This also wasn't appreciated.
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"There are these things," he spoke, getting up. "They're called poles. They're all over the train. And you hold onto them like this," he took my hand, propelling it onto a pole. "... so you don't do that," he referred to my infamous, and semi-deliberate fall.
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I let out a mocking breath of relief. "Phew! I thought you were going to say something else about the poles."
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He ignored my cocky comment, and turned around. Staring at the back of his dark head, I could just feel his annoyance radiating off of him.
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The pleasure's all mine.
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I tapped his shoulder, desperately needing to inform him about the headlines. He ignored it. So, I tapped again, which was also ignored.
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"Everest!" I called in a hushed whisper.
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"What do you want now?" He asked rather irritatedly.
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"Shh!" I commanded, as though the passengers would have heard him over the ear-blocking screeches of the train. "Loo-a-th-fr-pehes-o-th-noopapes," I mumbled, leaning close.
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He stared. "What?"
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"Just say it!"
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I mentally groaned. "Look at the front pages of the newspapers!"
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Again, he stared at me for a moment. But this time, it was blank stare. A stare of nothingness. The kind of stare that makes you think you said something stupid. The ones that he had given me one too many times already. "202, we've been on this train for just over twenty minutes, and almost every person in this train is holding a newspaper. You think I didn't notice that your face is plastered across every single one of them?"
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Okay, that did make me feel stupid. And frustrated. "You saw them and didn't tell me?"
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"You didn't see them up till now?"
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That made me feel stupider.
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"Psht... no." I lifted my chin up. "I was just making sure you knew."
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"Stop saying that!"
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"No one can hear us!"
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Fair point. "Continue."
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"Although they can't hear you, I'm almost certain the same doesn't apply for sight. So if I were you, I'd keep my head down."
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That, I followed.
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The rest of the train journey wasn't anything interesting enough to go into the details of, especially when all I did most of the time was keep my head down. I knew I should have gotten sunglasses!
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A quick twitch of trains landed us on the c2c train to London, and it wasn't long at all when we finally reached the notorious city itself. The short journey filled with numerous staircases and escalators, brought us out of the underground tube and onto the fancy streets of London, where breathing also proved to be easier.
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Most roads curved like a baby's hand over a thumb. Others stretched as far as architecturally possible until another elegantly constructed street intersected it. One thing was for sure though, wherever the pavements went, masses of luxurious white buildings followed. Wherever there was concrete, raven coloured lampposts decorated the scene, like ornaments on a Christmas tree. Another unmissable black object that roamed the city in packs, were the famous cabs of London; these could be found with pretty much every blink. The last factor that made this place scream English from every possible angle was the soaking weather. The thing you needed to understand about England was that it rains. A lot. The rain never made an exception for the seasons. Ever. Spring? Rain. Summer? Rain. Autumn? Rain. And, that was why, even in the midst of December, instead of snowing, it was – drumroll, please – raining!
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I brushed my wet hair out of my even wetter face. "Good–" I spat some rainwater out of my mouth. "–weather, huh?" I conversed with Everest, as we hurriedly made our way to 87 Marshall Avenue, Carnaby Street... London.
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He wisely ignored my sarcasm, although, ignoring Emerald seemed to come as a reflex for him on normal occasions, anyway.
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We found ourselves standing before the Reynolds' building, after several minutes of rapid footsteps and wiping rainwater out of our faces – well, actually, Everest didn't bother with the second part, instead allowing gravity maintain its job of ushering the water down his fine features.
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Aside the gold framed glass door, a single gold button was embedded into the stone wall. Above it, was a tiny black hole.
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"So is there a plan? Or are we just going to storm in there?" I asked.
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"We will improvise. Press the button."
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"So, there isn't a plan?"
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"Press the button."
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"Press the button." I mimicked, pressing the button.
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There was a small ringing sound, and then nothing more.
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"Hello?" I peered into the hole. "Is anyone— goddamn!" A group of laser beams shot out of the hole, startling me half to death. It was a face scanner.
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I turned to Everest. "Should I be worried?"
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Just as I said it, the door bolted shut. In fact, there were several bolts, that latched themselves automatically onto the door, out of nowhere. Advanced security seal. Impressive.
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It was then followed by the wiring of gun machines that seemed to come from above. Looking up, that was exactly what I saw. From every angle. Ah, the anti-202 squad in action. Still impressive. But not good.
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"Relax guys, I'm not going to attack! I wouldn't have wasted time pressing the buzzer if I were going to now, would I?" I chuckled, hoping it would cease the tension. "So, like, put those away now, come on."
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The guns remained exactly were they were.
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"You don't think it would have been a wiser decision, if I had pressed the buzzer instead of you, do you?" I heard Everest say.
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"I'm sorry, weren't you the one saying 'press the button'?" I retaliated.
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"And I should have known that they were going scan your face?"
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"What did you think the hole was for?"
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"Yes, I certainly knew it was going to shoot lasers, because as part of being the architect of this building, I saw it on the blue print." Sarcasm.
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"Then you shouldn't have told me to press the button!"
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"Did you know what the hole was for?" He cornered me.
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"Well—" I started.
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"Exactly. So, don't pin this on me."
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"Still, it's a little late now to be critiquing who pressed the button and how they pressed the button, and oh, how their face looks like, don't you think?"
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"Find a way to get us in," he commanded.
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"What do you think I'm doing?"
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"Speaking to inanimate objects."
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"Oh– you— just shut up!" I hissed, turning back to the hole in the wall. "Hey! Let us in! It's raining out here!"
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"Oh good, because they're going pity you based on the terrible weather conditions," Everest commented.
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"So you're just going to stand there making sardonic comments, huh? Yeah, that's really productive." I literally applauded.
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"I would help, but it seems you have it all under control."
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Yeah right. But as if I'm going to ask you for help!
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I ignored him. "Hello? Open the door, I just want to talk!" I clasped the golden handle of the door. It wasn't an ominous act, I simply touched the handle as any normal person would in an attempt to open a door, but as I did this, the guns wired closer to my face.
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This is ridiculous!
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"This is ridiculous!" These people thought I was bomb or something!
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"Have it your way," I muttered, before concentrating on the weapons above. In a swift motion, I flicked my hand. With an audible sound of metal bending, they limply faced the ground, lifeless. Electromagnetic power. Came in handy at times like these – no pun intended. It was the exact same technique I used to break into Director's office.
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And look where that landed you.
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"I think you just gave them a better reason to leave us out in the rain."
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Another thing I had, had enough of were Everest Stone Faces's stupid comments. Too bad I couldn't shut him off too.
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"What do you want me to do? I asked them nicely, and that didn't work!"
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"And telepathically disarming their weapons, was supposed to make them welcome you with open arms?"
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"No, it was supposed to keep your brains from blowing pieces."
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"And the locks are still on the door. So what's your next move?"
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"You know what, if you so badly want to get in, why don't you do something? And while you're at it, I'll see if I can fix the guns, so that they're right back at you, seeing as you seem to miss them, oh so much. And then, maybe they can knock some humanity into you!"
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He stared me, expressionless, for a few seconds. Then: "Well, get on with it then."
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"That's it. I'm done! I'm done talking to you!" I vigorously sat myself, stubbornly facing my back to him. "I'm gonna sit here, on this wet staircase and you can do something useful for the first time since we've been here, and find us a way to get in. Because, you're so smart—"
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"I thought you were done talking to me."
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I clenched my teeth. "Good luck!" My shouted back.
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This should be good. As if they were going to let in the granite faced stranger who came in with the infamous 202.
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I turned around, a little while later to watch the show. He prod his finger into the buzzer, wasting no time. The same automatic lasers struck his face. He didn't flinch. After that, nothing more happened.
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An amused smile crept up my face. There was nothing he could have done that would make them open the door, that I hadn't already tried.
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Then, a sound. Several sounds. It was the same sounds that came out when the bolts were locked in place, but this time, in reverse. The double-glass doors opened.
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My face slackened, as he turned around.
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"Are you coming?" His face gave nothing away as usual, but I could just feel the smugness radiating off of him. "You'll get a cold, sitting out there."
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If I ever get a cold, it will be from you, you narcissistic bastard!
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He was waiting; which was saying something, because the last thing Mr Everest Whatever-His-Last-Name-Was liked to do was wait. He was probably waiting for me to have a complete breakdown over something he did so easily that I couldn't do despite all my efforts. Which was exactly what I was doing. Internally. However, externally, I kept a straight face, and walked through the doors, ignoring the water that ceaselessly dripped from my hair and clothes even when I was inside.
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The interior was just as vast and grand as the exterior, just with a lot more gold. Gold coating the frames of numerous paintings; golden strips lined at regular intervals on the polished flooring; gold doors for lifts; everything gold like the home of an Egyptian emperor.
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I was beginning to contemplate how one didn't go blind from all the gold in this place, when a figure made its way towards us.
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Wiping away the water from my eyelashes in order to achieve greater resolution, I made it out to be a woman. When I focused closer, the familiarity of her face, made me stop dead in my tracks.
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Now we're in New York, concrete jungle– wait, wrong city.
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So who understood the force pun? Newton's First Law... force... anyone?
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Stay tuned for the next chapter and please like, comment, and like, and comment, and like, and share, and comment and comment and comment and–
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Thank you for reading!