Turbines power up, dullpulse rumble beneath the floorboards. Wall bulges, retreats, repeats, heartbeat. Airpulled under door, deep inhale.
Kindred toes woolfake hallway carpet, ridged like the inside of a throat. The Watcher stonestill as Buddha in the doorway of 266, on guard.
Sprinting Kindred glimpses hot white eyeballs as he passes, pupils contracted to pinpoints, redrimmed black keyholes, unblinking thinking.
Smacking glassdoors in fishbowl lobby, sidewalking in bare feet, cigarettes glow in ambulance windscreen, fireflies immobile, pinstuck dead.
Kindred slaps driverwindow palmhard, glass crinkles, a push and it falls away in soft round pebbles. But the ambulance is empty, idling low.
Fireflies were reflections of flashlights, cops yellowtaping exterior balcony, dead cleaning woman legs akimbo over the railing, mannequin.
Play acting? Not real corpse. Kindred processing visual input, notes Dick Overtone appears to be supervising police strike force, so rigid.
Overtone drops plastic cleaning woman into dumpster, cops disperse, mumbling. Crewcut mesomorph hands Kindred a driver's license, tattered.
Signed by Johnson Dack, Watcher killed at the Trinity blast, 1945. But the picture is Kindred's father. Kindred uncertain, squints, what?
Conspiracy? Attempted cover up? Red herring? His father co-opting Dack's ID so the G-Men would assume he was dead? Or am I hallucinating?
Kindred the Elder, whitefaced in goggle glasses peering at the nuclear sunburst, windwashing burnt skin with sandblasted savagery, primal.
If my father died standing outside the shelter, then who rode with me across New Mexico? Who was pulled from the car by government agents?
If he died, head of the program, maker of the pompombomb, IQ 210, no wonder he became the iconic leader of the 12 disciples. If he died. If.
Was I so brainscarred I did not could not would not recognize the man in the car as the road rolled away in dry snakeskin patterns after us?
Yubbadubba brainpan burn. Valveleak on brainstream download Life of Kindred, 1940s, Inject 3.2. Subject misfiring, needs corrective action.
Maintenance Report 2009.1.27.1b Technician unable to override burn on Subject: Kindred. Note Inject 3.2 corrosive mismix. Issue pain recall.
Observation matrix indicates Subject: Kindred behaving v. erratically. Should be considered Dangerous Level 5. Uncontrollable, unstoppable.
Ambulance drivers unable to execute exit pickup. Forced to abandon immediate area when facing imminent confrontation with Subject: Kindred.
Send two armed technicians to pullback ambulance when Subject: Kindred is sleeping. Warning: Two burning cigarettes on floormat. Extinguish.
Recommendation (needs signature of commissioner): Disavow responsibility for any actions committed by Subject: Kindred due to brainstream.
Kindred squatting on the carpet in the doorway of 266, face to face with the Watcher stony chairbound monitoring hallway activity. Eyelock.
No noticeable chest movement, no respiration, eyeglazed, grayskinned. The Watcher a statue, rockharddead. Kindred thumbclosing his eyelids.
Kindred shedding ownskin pinkly, steaming nozzle showerscalding. Highwhine turbines. Stepping out, toes splayed, rebirthed, a brandnew man.