Rachael felt a curious sense of deja-vu as she sat watching Justin sleep. Then she realised that it wasn’t this she remembered, exactly. Rather, that this must have been how it seemed to Arsha, watching over her on that first day aboard the Triskelion. Without realising it, she had sat herself in the same chair with the same lantern resting on the table between them.
She glanced down at the sketchbook on her lap, the pencil in her hand poised to add the last few details to a portrait of Justin’s sleeping face. She felt a nervous twinge in her stomach, knowing that she would have to hide the picture from him. He seemed so calm, so at ease. So vulnerable. It was nothing like the way he’d seemed when she first met him. Continue reading
They kept moving, following the road down the cliff-face, but staying in the bushes and long grass until at last they could see the glow of the foundries and hear the sound of the train pulling in to the station.
“Come on, we won’t have long before they finish loading,” Justin said, gesturing for her to hurry. They kept moving down the winding road, and soon they were in amongst the buildings, keeping to the narrow back alleys as they made their way towards the station. It was only by the silhouettes of the cranes looming over the skyline that Rachael had any sense of how close they were. In the gloom, she could almost have been in London again. The buildings had the same feeling of faded industry, though up close they were obviously recently built. Even in the night they could hear the sounds of work coming from the warehouses, getting louder as they grew closer. Continue reading
Rachael tossed and turned, unable to get to sleep. It was too warm inside, the air too humid. In the bed across the room from her, she could hear Arsha’s soft breathing as the girl slept on in spite of the heat.
Eventually Rachael slid out of the bed and pulled on a dressing gown. She slipped out of the room and padded down the corridor, hoping to find a glass of water. In the dark, the unfamiliar corridors all seemed alike, and she found that she could not remember the way to the bathroom. Instead she ended up at the end of a narrow hallway, looking up at a small and winding staircase. Curious, she followed it, and found herself in some kind of greenhouse. Arranged around the edge of the room, stone planters overflowed with a brilliant array of flowers. The scent of them filled the air, almost overpowering her. A glass dome gave her a perfect view of the stars. By the planters were three low marble benches, like those she saw sometimes in the older parks in London. Continue reading
As they were brought inside, Micah took Arsha’s hand and lead her away. Rachael was left alone with Dayaram, struggling to match his long strides as he lead her down a corridor flanked by doors on both sides and decorated with elaborate tapestries. She had little time to take in the artistry as they moved past, but Rachael couldn’t help but notice that most of the tapestries seemed to depict strangely fantastical beings; a man with a body made from cogs and gears, a floating cape with the suggestion of a body within, an androgynous figure holding up a needle and thread, and a lithe woman whose body seemed to be carved of jade all caught her eye, though briefly. Continue reading
The man in the red and gold looked her father over with a cool gaze, as if he was studying an apprentice’s craftsmanship.
“I trust your journey was not too trying?”
“We had a little trouble on the way, but nothing we couldn’t handle,” her father replied, smoothly. “Now, this must be… Vaneeta, yes?”
Her father smiled politely in the woman’s direction. She inclined her head ever so slightly, as Rishi and Abasi offered perfect half bows. The smoothness in her father’s voice, and his pleasant smile, reminded her of how he sometimes acted around the men on the university board. Though she’d seen him put on the facade before, it always left her feeling a little unsettled, as if she was watching a different person who had stolen her father’s face. Across from him, Dayaram and Vaneeta’s faces seemed like perfectly arranged masks, pleasant on the outside, but with eyes that seemed all too hollow within. Continue reading