The act of observation changes the narrative
Я тут по некоторым причинам, которые не хочу пока разглашать, перелопачиваю свои незаконченные тексты на английском и переводы. Похвастаться особо нечем, в основном именно потому что оно незаконченное, и мало что из этого будет жаль.

Но в некоторые вещи сколько-то труда всё-таки было вложено, а шансов, что они ещё на что-то сгодятся, нет, потому что они больше не актуальны. Например, мини по "Танису" - его и в канон теперь уже никак не впишешь, и желания особого вписывать нет. Особенно если учесть, что я и сам-то аудиосериал давным-давно перестала слушать, ибо слишком длинно и совершенно нет ощущения, что автор знает, к чему это всё должно придти.

Так что ноу вэй, чтобы я этот текст закончила, но мне будет жаль, если он пропадёт совсем. Он был одной из моих первых попыток писать художественное на английском, и даже спустя год я считаю её недурной. Здесь есть некоторые весьма атмосферные описания, которые я считаю годными до сих пор.

Пусть лежит здесь под катом.

Вкратце: АУ, что-то вроде постапокалиптики - практически все люди на Земле погрузились в сон. ГГ находит убежище в research facility, с которым в своё время был связан (в качестве объекта изучения, а не в качестве исследователя). Кроме него, в том же research facility находится ещё один человек, не впавший в сон (по той же причине, что и ГГ - побывал в аналоге того самого "костяного дома" из мифов и сказок; хотя, в отличие от ГГ, не завершил инициацию), но общаться они друг с другом не могут, потому что при приближении ГГ у второго обитателя начисто вышибает психику, и он становится опасен и для него, и для самого себя. Во всё же прочее время он находится во вполне здравом рассудке - и это не делает ситуацию лучше.

Не особо вычитано, ибо не вижу смысла. :0

There was silence at all radiofrequencies. It had been months since Nic heard anything resembling human speech on the air; everything intelligible had been reduced to white noise long ago, except for one station. However, it did not truly count, for it was not human. It was just a number station, a synthesized voice reciting encrypted bits of information interspersed with chimes. One out of many once, those days it was the last monument for the things stuck in not-quite existence. How ironic it was that the last sign of living appeared to be something that had never been truly alive in the first place! The numbers were being shaped into sound by a machine, one after another, “three twenty-two fourteen *jingle* five fifty-six ten *jingle* two sixty-nine eleven” – no longer relevant, possibly no longer heard by anyone but Nic.

What the Unsound had done to the humankind was irrevocable.

And there, in the half-darkness of what had been left of a control room in the TeslaNova research facility, he was sitting in a chair, numb to its comfiness, looking at nothing in particular, listening to nothing in particular. That day, the static was on the air, like it had been for many other days, devoid of rhythm and meaning; and, at that, Nic was not sure the sound of his own breathing and his heartbeat had rhythm or meaning anymore too.

There were times when he was only moderately scared of loneliness; so much had changed since then.

So much had changed.

…It all started with cough. Nothing alarming, just plain old cough, though highly contagious. Everyone in PNWS developed it within days, except for Nic. Alex was the first to fall its victim, Terry and Paul followed with wheezing fits and dizziness. But not Nic. Neither after Alex, nor after them; never.

At the beginning, they joked about it. Then, it ceased to be a joking matter.

It scaled up to a full-blown epidemic within weeks and then proceeded to grow into pandemic. There were thousands of possible sources, most of them clustered in the USA and Canada, less in the other English-speaking countries, a lot less – in the other parts of the world. Nic did not remember when the Unsound was associated with the disease for the first time, as well as he did not remember who was the first to do it. He hardly remembered those weeks at all; those horrible weeks when people were falling asleep, one by precious one, and everything was falling apart, inch by excruciating inch. Those who fell asleep, they did not die. They never woke up either. Alex looked so peaceful, lying motionless, lying still; at the time, there still were spare beds in hospitals and there still was hope.

Not anymore.

Alex got her rest she had been denied for so long, but the worth of any rest and all its substance lie in its finiteness; there is no sense in accumulating the energy if you are not going to spend it. She was pale, so pale that almost melted into white sheets, all but blended with fluorescent light cast on her by hospital lamps, and the only shadows that existed in that impossibly, painfully, searingly bright world were the shadows under her closed eyes. Everything was too bright and too violent, too violating for Nic back then. His every sense and his every thought screamed at him incessantly, until he was deaf, and blind, and numb, and reduced to utter incoherence. He also was sleep-deprived to the near-lethal point, but it was only fair. The world, full of sleeping, could use some sleep deprivation at the end of the day.

Somewhere along the road he lost his connection with MK. It was before Geoff fell asleep, or slightly after. The track of things was unclear; governments were crumbling; only TeslaNova still existed as entity and had some semblance of functioning. Cameron Ellis was, probably, the sole person who was able to keep cool in the face of inevitable; not the hastily thrown together cool that reminded the real thing only from afar and to the people unfamiliar with a baseline, no. The honest, legitimate, down-to-core cool that even succeeded in making Nic believe everything could be fine once more, may be not right away, but at least eventually. Cameron invited Nic to stay in the facility and even made arrangements to move the people Nic wanted to be safe to the TeslaNova grounds. Not out of kindness, Nic suspected, but to keep him there, to bind to that place, to make sure he was not going to disappear on the scientists and to bereave them of precious opportunity to study him and to make something of him, both literally and metaphorically. He was too tired to seek for pitfalls and hidden agendas, but not too tired to feel grateful. He would stay there and allow them to perform any experiment on him anyway, if there was even one miniscule chance to contribute in finding the cure. It might be that chance was real and present among other dozens of possibilities that encompassed failure and nothing but failure. It might very well be, but they did not take it.

Cameron was among the last ones whose consciousness faded away, giving place to ad nauseam familiar stillness.

Nic stayed there ever since. He did not want to leave them, Alex, and Terry, and Geoff, and others, to leave them lying and breathing all too quietly in the darkness of wards and in mirthless solitude. The hallways and chambers were his sanctuary, dedicated to still living; he was afraid it would become a crypt, if he left that place, even for the vanishingly small possibility to find other vigilant ones. He doubted he was able to. Sam Reynolds, Veronika Pilman, Morgan Miller – where were they? The only one worth seeking for was Tara Reynolds, but Nic was not sure in what mental and physical state he would find her anyway; he was not even sure she had made it alive to that point. The other person he knew might have not, if it were not for Nic.

The other person.

Thinking of the other person, Nic turned the radio off and let himself be enveloped by a different kind of silence; not the white-noiseating, number-riddled radio kind, but the one consisting of the constant pressure of blood on eardrums, of the pauses between breaths and steps, of poignant anticipation for something to happen. He picked up his flashlight; there had been a power generator at TeslaNova’s disposal and then it was at his, but it was running out of fuel, so he knew he had to save energy, and he probably was even able to find his way to lower levels of the building with his eyes closed and his hands tied. However, the darkness would have been too much, the absence of sense input too overwhelming and making him too prone to hallucinations to make such an attempt. The end of the world as Nic knew it made him assign value to the things he deemed uncountable or too superfluous to count. The bits of energy saved often came with the cost of sacrificing the bits of his own sanity, so it was not a tough choice to make. Nic had never been truly emotionally stable, even before Tanis and even before everything the Unsound did to him and to the people he held dear, and he was aware of it, as he ever had been, bitterly well.

Vibrating with awe in the face of a mystery, mesmerized with its prospected complexity, mystified and enigmazed – he could live with it, with that inner instability and out-of-placeness, with the feeling of being not quite there and not quite aligned with his own emotions and mind.

Not so much anymore. He knew he was all over the place, his feelings and his thoughts in pieces, his mind not congruent with his own self (what even was his self, who was the person it belonged, was it the same person it had belonged once before? Nic was not sure, he was not sure at all), and the darkness and the silence were seeping through gaps and cracks and filling him, until he was brimming with them, and then they dissipated a bit, and he was close to himself once again, to his not-ever-truly-comfortable-with-himself self, and he might have lost too much of his sanity after all, and who knew how much there was left to lose; he didn’t know. He did not know.

The hallways were quiet, and Nic was quiet too, breathing softly and threading carefully, like his way was a rope of an aerialist, driving his body dozens or hundreds feet above a lethally solid surface. Being low-key was the key to continuation of being; when you are voiceless or noiseless, or something-else-less, you seem to be less than yourself to the point of becoming less than a person. Still, it is much better than non-existence, which Nic felt could be the punishment for sacrilege.

The building felt as a sanctuary, and Nic was not sure of his right to contaminate it with his presence, even if Cameron Ellis had allowed it.


It was better than a crypt.

At the entrance to the glass corridor, he put the flashlight down on the desk, the one where an observer would be stationed, if TeslaNova kept functioning. Nic’s face had to be covered for the task he was going to get done. It did not help much, but it helped nonetheless.

He pulled the hood of his fleece up and drew it over his eyes to shade them; then he opened the desk drawer to get the scarf, a piece of tartan cloth, washed up on his figurative shore from heaven knows where, its red, green and white getting bleak when mixed with darkness. Nic wondered sometimes whom it used to belong to, though such thoughts bore no fruit; he had no means to identify, which person of those lying in soporous sleeps several floors above him might have been fond of that thing. Apparently, they were not fond enough to take it with them, and it was all that mattered; the scarf came in handy, and Nic was grateful to the previous owner for their indifference. Or forgetfulness, if that was the case.

What he tried to not wonder about was the reason, why borrowed fabric felt more tangible to him than the fabric of his own clothes. Far more substantial, it felt. The piece of reality Nic sometimes thought he had never truly been.

With his face covered and the flashlight in his hand, Nic immersed himself further into the glass corridor; out of the corner of his eye, he saw movement: his ghostly reflections were accompanying him on both sides. They were translucent and alien, and disturbing to look at, so he tried to not to, keeping his gaze fixed directly ahead. It was always an ordeal, simply to be there.

It was always an ordeal, to face what came next.

…The place had a nerve-rending quality to it; the person Nic was about to see induced the feeling of bone-deep unsettlement in him. The irony of the situation: the person who would benefit from the state of ultimate calm the most – being so very much awake and unhinged. Some time far deep in the past, Marcus was in the Breach too. He had been unwell since then; and even when everyone started to be unwell too, he was unwell in discriminantly different way, and he proceeded to be like that onwards and onwards in time. They were each other's curse, he and Nic. The one, whose fracturing ego-death episodes were triggered by the presence of the other; the other, who was responsible for the both of them, with no other-other one left to be responsible.

Of course, Nic could not set Marcus free and let him fend for himself and walk around, while people were lying motionless and defenceless in their sleep, more fragile than ever, so easy and so welcoming to harm. Marcus had to stay in confinement, never leaving, always there — for the sake of all.

And for his sake as well, and there was the worst part of the situation:

Marcus was lucid most of the time. Definitely much less, when Nic was around; but on his own? He was in control of his senses and in the right mind; at least, as far as one could be, coping with major psychological and physical traumas, being incarcerated and informationally deprived.

Nic was not present for much of that lucidity, for obvious reasons. However, he was aware of it, he knew. It was not only food (usually the least electricity-consuming type: ready-to-eat long-storage food, canned or dry, tin-, mould- or cardboard-flavoured) and water, and small recharged battery lamp that he usually brought to Marcus. There were books and pencils, and sheets of paper, and armloads of bandages and packets of antibiotic ointment to relieve the damage of exposure.

He got letters in return. And wrote back.

A circle of responses after another circle, and then another.

It is not usually that odd for people, to know each other while not meeting in person. To communicate through words they select carefully, sitting in the isolation of their rooms and suchwise inhabiting the special place in the world that is reserved to the loneliness of a body, but not to the loneliness of a soul. Imbuing nominal signs with personal meanings, for them to deliver comprehension and immixture, when they land safely on the nest of an accepting mind. Reaching through space for human contact, any physical touch denied by the distance between them, but the same distance giving special quality to the intercourse of their minds.

Nic was familiar with the feelings brought by such kind of connection; he had several pen pals back in his teens and then he had those who might be called keyboard pals — the change that marked the transition from the Paper Age to the Digital one. There also was ham radio; Nic remembered his inevitably succinct transmissions, imported through dots and dashes to seemingly nowhere, and the bubbly anticipation that came next, the anticipation of receiving, of decoding, of unfolding the meaning, of being enraptured by it. He had always been more comfortable with the ways of communication that did not require being face to face with a partner in conversation, or responding right away, unable to gather his thoughts and manage his emotions, and to deduce the right answer from what he knew of social interactions and what he felt was right about his own mind.

However, the connection between him and Marcus was different.

The reason was that the distance between them was different.

It was measured not in space units, but in their inability to deal with each other for the reasons that had nothing to do with their willingness to face each other. It was measured in time between the sound of Nic’s steps upon his approach and the necessity to hide, actualized by Marcus, desperate to retain his own self, to not be reduced to incoherent, not-quite-human mess of frayed nerves and tattered psyche, infused with urge to draw blood and to become less in order to become more. The silent agreement between them was imperative; getting closer, Nic knocked at the glass wall, loud and clear, announcing his impending appearance, evoking sonant echoes along the corridor.

He waited for a couple of dozens heartbeats, and then he waited some more.

@темы: фанфик, плоды своего творчества, audiodrama, TANIS