Chapter 59

It was Friday.

Stephen Anderson skipped up the last few steps of the 14th Street Rail station and lit a cigarette. It was unusually cool for late summer, and a moderate breeze blew her curly hair around her face. She pushed it back with one hand and exhaled a lungful of smoke, looking into the sky and watching the cloud dissipate.

Pazi Elwynn sat on the side of her bed and watched as the door to her dorm room closed. Her tear-filled eyes swept from the door to the table near her bed, where an exquisitely-designed velvet-plastic rose lay. She shook her head and let out a long sigh. After a few moments, she smiled a little bit.

Zap Bradshaw stood in a dormitory elevator. His eyes were somewhat tired and red from crying, but his face showed an unparalleled sense of relief. He wiped his face with his sleeve and smiled.

Matthew Del Fye held a camera up to his face, looking through the viewfinder at various objects. He mimicked pushing the shutter button, making shutter noises with his mouth as he did so. He let the camera rest against his chest, held by the strap, and shook his head. “Damn, man,” he said. “Damn.” He retrieved his handshell and made a call.

Michelle-Bear Urza made a face at her available wardrobe. “Gotta do laundry,” she murmured to herself. She waffled between her two choices: a top that her mother had bought her (whose pattern was a crime against humanity) or her expensive Dura-Kev sundress, which Michelle-Bear liked the look of but was honestly too heavy to wear to work. After a minute of deliberation, Michelle-Bear sighed and pulled the armored dress off of its hanger. “Suffering for fashion,” she remarked.

Alan Morganstern sat atop the divider between aisles next to To’mas Bonvent, reading the news. His expression darkened as he read and he shook his head. “I don’t like it,” he murmured. “I don’t like it at all.”

Click o’th’Granfalloon clapped Raimi And The Soft Winds Blow on the back and nodded to her. Raimi looked back and returned the nod, then walked away, a theatre mask in one hand.

Ro Z’kerr tightened the strap to his massive sword, then readjusted his facemask. He regarded himself in the mirror briefly, and then retrieved his wide-brimmed hat from the nightstand. Today would be the day. Even if he had to kill innocents.

Curtis Mayfield leaned back in his comfortable desk chair and smiled broadly. Everything was laid out, marking the easiest and most significant gain in Mayfield Limited’s history. He reached out one hand and tapped the intercom panel on his desk. “Maria,” he said, “give General Fawkes the go-ahead. Today’s the day.”