One of my goals for the upcoming edit of this book is to work out the directors more. I’ve been skimming over them and even calling them “the suits,” which is unfair because they do have their own personalities and places in the story. For now, I’ll just post this scrap as is, which is not much.
“Are you certain you were overtaken?”
The directors stared at Bryan. They might as well have shone a spotlight in his eyes.
“Yes,” he said. “Due to the…violence I used against the Eternal.” The violence, so far as the directors knew, was that he used his knife to attack. He had been willing to give the whole truth, but Hussein wouldn’t let him. It would keep him out of quarantine – maybe – but doubt gnawed at him.
Still, this wasn’t the time for quarantines. The directors wouldn’t understand that.
Wallman looked down at his notes; he was always taking notes. “Then how did you come back to your senses?”
Bryan swallowed hard. “I don’t know.”
“Surely you have some idea.”
“I…heard people screaming. I think that did it.”
Another lie. It had been the gamma, speaking to him. But he couldn’t tell them the gamma had first called out to him when the Eternal approached and second brought him back when he was overtaken. What would they gather from that?
What was there to gather from that?
“People screaming,” Cantrell said. “That can’t be all. People are always screaming when Possesseds are overtaken.”
Bryan flinched, but none of them seemed to notice. They were chatting among one another.
“If we only knew what the catalyst was, this would be huge.”
“Well it’s not something we can test in the lab.”
“Are we certain he was overtaken?”
“We’re getting off track,” Bey spoke up. She was perhaps the only one in the room that didn’t look frazzled, her eyes regarding Bryan coolly, her back straight in her chair, her hands folded perfectly on the table. Though the rest of the directors had already heard Bryan’s story hours ago, Bey had only heard it for the first time just now, her face a mask the whole way through, even as Bryan added in that there was no physical way to kill the Eternal – which he claimed the gamma told him during the fight, another lie to add to the list. “We’re here to discuss the Eternal. Since that’s what we’re calling it.”
“Was there even an Eternal?” Cantrell asked. “It just sounds outrageous.”
Hussein stiffened. “Are you saying Ivers pounded those cars and that wall on his own and then lied about it?”
“Well this whole gamma business is unstable.”
Bryan grit his teeth to keep silent. They were saying he was unstable.
“I saw the blood on him,” Hussein shouted. “A lobby-full of guards and agents saw the blood on him.”
“I’m saying let’s not ignore all possibilities.”
The other directors looked at each other uneasily, as if they wanted to tell Cantrell to shut up. Because they knew what was coming next.
Hussein leapt to his feet and slammed his palms on the table. “We’re all insane, all of us that saw it? Is that it? Mass psychosis?”
Bey calmly held up a hand as if to call for silence. “Clearly something attacked Ivers and bled all over him. And I think it’s in everyone’s best interests to accept that along with the information Ivers gathered at the time from the gamma.”
“Right, we need to inform the other Possesseds,” Utterklo said.
“Of what?” Wallman spoke up. “That something may attack them and there’s nothing they can do about it?”
The room fell silent. One of them had finally spoken the issue they had been dancing around. What they had been avoiding with accusations and insinuations.
Hussein slowly sat back down. “They deserve to know. They know something happened to Ivers and that it could happen again. Let’s not create panic with silence.”
Oh you’re one to talk, Bryan thought. Let’s talk about all you made me keep silent. But that was unfair. Hussein was just looking out for him.
But what about everyone else?
He jerked his head up. They were all looking at him. They had asked him a question and he hadn’t heard it. His face flushed. “What?”
“I said,” Bey repeated, “is there any advice you could give the others on how to handle an attack from this Eternal?”
He looked back down at the table, away from their eyes, to think. “She tried to contain me. I think how I got her back was I accepted the containment. When I did that I was able to throw her own energy back at her.” He looked up. “But it was terrible to do that. It fed the demon possessing me. Helped it overtake me. Swallowed my own mind. I…don’t think it’s practical.”
They stared at him.
“Noted,” Cantrell said.