Narsus > Gaps


The city is a bustling hive of activity, people rushing along the built-up streets, cars and buses blocking these city-center roads. It’s an average weekday, workers are hurrying about their business and the shops are open to the mass of public.

The windows of a café look out across one of the main streets. Here smart office-workers sit and drink varying blends of coffee as they discuss their promotions and losses. Some of them make notes in PDAs or flick through company documents. Everyone here is busy, the whole world is in a hurry.

No one notices the quiet young man seated in a chair by the window of the café. He cups his hands around the warm mug on the table in front of him, seeming to have nothing better to do than watch the passers by. His expression is unreadable to all but the most discerning observer. There is a wistfulness lurking in the set of his mouth, in conjunction to the sadness in his eyes. Sometimes, when someone curious enough stares at him for too long, he turns his sad gaze upon them and they find themselves quickly looking away, wondering, in the instant that they do, what it is that he has seen to make him look like that. But no one thinks about it for long. The people of the city, of the world, do not have the time to stop and think about such things. About people like him, those who have fallen through the gaps of society, between reality and what ever else there is.

Beyond the windows of the café the world is turning. Reality has no time for those it leaves behind. Outside people are living out their lives, instead of just watching. Perhaps it is human nature to survive, against all odds, to continue on regardless. The young man thinks it might be so but he can’t be sure, he doesn’t think he can be sure of anything. He’s certainly not sure of reality.

He continues to watch the traffic of people moving along the streets. There is less movement inside the café, the occasional office-worker leaves or enters. The young man ignores them, just as he pointedly ignores the discarded newspaper on the table. He hasn’t looked at it and has no intention of doing so. The world is an awful enough place; he already knows that and doesn’t feel the need to reinforce that particular image.

For a moment someone stops outside the café, staring in despite his sunglasses that must surely block all sight of the darkened interior. The man outside stares hard and for a moment looks surprised, almost as if he’s seen someone he recognizes, having seen the proverbial ghost. But then he stands back, shaking his head slightly as if to clear it of a hallucination. The man inside the café watches this strange ‘other’ turn away with a curious look. The man looking in is a stranger to him, just as the man looking out is a stranger to himself.

Looking at the newspaper now, the young man lets his glance fall on the headlines. More deaths, more terrorist attacks, the man ‘Morpheus’ must be stopped. He frowns, closing his eyes briefly only to see the fleeting afterimage of the strange man outside the window again. Should he have recognized that man? For a moment it almost seemed as if the man had recognized him. Why would he have done?

Attention drawn towards the outside again, he sees several figures running, chasing another. The chasers are government agents by the look of them, civil servants in their gray suits. He notices that they wear sunglasses too, just like the man earlier. The thought is disturbing.

One of the Agents stops by the window, peering in despite the sunglasses that must surely block all sight of the interior. Then he steps inside the café, removing his sunglasses to reveal calm, hazel eyes. There is a sadness that hovers about him, that seems to connect them as the Agent makes his approach. Silently he places his hand on the shoulder of the young man.

Memory flashes and the young man closes his eyes to the outside world. In his mind he sees reality as it is, not as people believe. He remembers what he is and what he will be. He remembers hunting a man who calls himself ‘Neo’, a man that he will hunt again, sometime soon.

"Not yet." He says quietly to the Agent.

"Even you can not forget, forever." Comes the reply, a conscious statement, though the hand lifts from his shoulder.

"Ten years, I must have at least another ten years." His tone is vaguely questioning.

"Six years. You have six years, two months, eight days-"

"I know."

The door of the café opens to admit another Agent. He is taller than the first and doesn’t remove his sunglasses as he moves over to the counter. A moment later a fresh café latte is placed on the table in front of the young man, along with a slice of chocolate cake.

The two Agents leave without a backward glance and the young man smiles for the first time in as many years as he can remember.

"Six years, two months, eight days. Of course you’d keep track, Brown." He smiles to himself. It isn’t long but it is all the time he has left, so that he can forget, for a little while. So that he can pretend that he is human, unaware of reality, just another faceless statistic that will fall through the gaps in society, between reality and what ever else there is. Soon enough he will remember, he will become what he was meant to be, again. This name, this face will all be forgotten and he will become...

The young man frowns down at his fresh coffee. He will become what? He doesn’t remember. Was it something important? Only a moment ago he was sure but now... Yet it can’t be that important if he doesn’t remember, can it? He shrugs it off, long years have made him accustomed to these strange flashes of insight that are just as easily forgotten in the next instant. He stabs his fork into the slice of cake. Perhaps he will remember eventually and for some reason he can almost recall a voice giving him a time limit.

"You have six years, two months, eight days..."

End of Transmission

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