Summary: Blue talks to squirrels. Well, squirrel singular anyway.
NOTE: This is a very rough draft with no editing at all (per National Novel Wiriting Month rules) and is presented for amusement value only. Think of it as a periscope into my writing process rather than a coherent story!
There will most likely be spelling and grammatical errors afoot as well as flat out bad writing, info dumps, plot holes, contradictions/retcons, uneven characterization and pacing. These snippits are also posted out of order, so please refer to the Outline to figure out where it’s supposed to fit.
City of Ghosts
There are whispers following him wherever he goes, but at first Blue doesn’t notice. When Horn is using him as an interface there’s always a little bit of static, things that aren’t quite thoughts and aren’t quite memeories. He’s learned to ignore them, like other poeple ignore the hum of the air conditioning— only apparent when it’s gone.
It’s not until he’s out in the city by himself for a moment that the underlying hum strikes him as odd. Horn is off with Sara, working on some problem that Brian has.
When he realizes what he’s hearing he stops and tries to focus on them. But the whispers don’t seem to be coming from any one direction.
“Hello?” He feels a bit silly saying anything, since he knows full well he’s alone, but the whispers seem like overheard conversation. He can’t make out the words, but theres a feeling that they aren’t directed at him.
There’s not change to the whispers so after a moment he shrugs and wanders off.
[No he doesn’t because that makes the whole scene pointless. So, take two.]
“I can hear you.” He offers, “If I can hear you, you can hear me.” It’s logical and he puts a lot of faith in logical things. He’s fine with things being unexpected, but they have to make sense in context.
The whispers don’t change.
The whispers abruptly stop.
“Thanks I think.”
There’s a faint echo of sound, with that questioning lit to it.
“Yeah, I can hear you. Who are you?”
There was a flurry of whispered conversation that was frustratingly distant. He could almost make it out, but not quite. As if he was dreaming and trying to read from a book where the letters wouldn’t hold still.
There was a soft noise from behind Blue and he spun around, knife at the ready.
A small robot squirrel ememerged slowly from one of the smaller entrances and gave Blue a cusious look.
It was the first moving things beside the tree that he’d seen since he came in. It was obviously mechanilal, with silver that was more matte than shiny that looked roughly like fur and a not really fluffy tail made of filliments that flared out like a peacock’s tail when it sat up to look at him.
“Was that you?” Blue asked.
“No” said the squirrel. “At least not in the way you meant.” It cocked its head then when Blue didn’t attack, scampered along the tree until he as about eye height. “I am part of the group you overheard, but I was not talking when you heard us.”
“I’ve been hearing you since I got here, I think.” Said Blue, relaxing slightly, but keeping his knife in hand. “But I didn’t understand what I was hearing. I’m still not sure I do. You’re squirrels?”
“Hah, no.” Said the squirrel. “This is a mobile unit, it’s not really a squirrel.” It flexed hands that looked much more human that rodent. “This was the nearest unit so I’m piloting this one.”
“So you’re not a squirrel?” Blue was a little confused at the idea of anyone driving a squirrel since all he had to compare it to was horse-drawn wagons. “What are you then?”
“My names is Bell.” Said the squirrel. “I’m part of the city, we all are.” The tail was almost hypnotic waving slowly in a nonexistent breeze.
“So you can send us home?” asked Blue excitedly.
“No.” Said Bell, “Once you leave a home reality, you can’t go back, The Lost Boys have that much right.”
“But why?” Objected Blue, hopes onces again dashed for no apparent reason.
“The doorways are one way.” Said Bell, apologitically, “you can come in, but you can’t go out again.”
“But we can come in and out other doorways.”
“Because you don’t belong there.” Said Bell, “The world will let you in, but you’re and anomaly and it’s happy to kick you out again. For your world you stopped existing when you stepped into the city. The time lines aren’t stable, the time you left isn’t the same time if you went back now. The worlds won’t let you cross your own timeline.”
“But they other worlds don’t mind?” Blue sounded skeptical.
“Because you can’t affect them.” Said Bell, “There’s nothing you can do in the other worlds that will change anything, so there’s no cause and effect to worry about. When you go in you create a small bubble and when you leave the bubble closes. You can never go back to that time again.”
“But I can’t affect it?”
“No, for some reason the worlds prevent that—- any changes you make are corrected for, so that the future you saw before will always come to pass. Once you’ve lived it it’s immutible.”
“So we’re building a timeline they can’t deviate from.” Said Blue, looking back in the direction of the Lost Boys. “Every time they go out they lock that world into something new.”
“Which is why no one is supposed to leave.” Said Bell.
“So why do you let us?”
“There are rules,” said Bell, “We have laws we are bound within, limits to what we can do and can’t do and as long as they have a keycard they can go wherever they want.”
“But I don’t need a keycard.” said Blue.
“No, you don’t.”
“So why did you let me go out?” He asked.
“Because we are the city and we aren’t the city and Atlantis overrules us all sometimes.”
“Atlantis is the city proper, but she’s not like us, she was never human.”
“You are humans?”
“Ghosts,” said Bell, “echoes of people that built her, long long ago.”
“So what is Atlantis?” He looked up into the deep blue of the not-sky. “What was she when she started?”
“An idea,” said Bell.