All the thirst and hunger and pain and desperation crash down on him at once. His eyes are open but unfocused, unable to perceive anything but the color of the floor, and all he hears is a strange grinding, croaking noise coming out of his own throat. His body goes rigid, the world fades to white, and he is dimly aware that his head is repeatedly striking a brick wall.
A different sound filters into his awareness—muffled, but agitated. Someone yelling, perhaps? The white-on-white vision darkens momentarily, then he can feel something pressing against his head, keeping it from striking the wall. The sound returns, less agitated, more soothing. It means nothing to him, but it is calming, and a part of him, the part that is trying to return to rationality, focuses on it. Eventually the seizure passes. Eventually his body calms down. And, eventually, the sounds he’s hearing start to make sense.
Peter Travers peers through dirty curtains at the crime scene beyond. It’s now swarming with NYPD police and emergency rescue personnel, and he can see the beginnings of what will eventually be swarms of Federal agents beginning to arrive. Special Agent Phillip Henry is in the middle of it all, giving everyone something to do, and—more important—keeping everyone away from the basement where Travers and Special Agent Alan Grant are hiding.
Their basement is in an alley adjacent to the crime scene, and Travers can see enough from their street-level window to get a general sense of what’s going on. He sees Agent Hu sitting in the back of an ambulance, still wrapped in Grant’s trench coat but now also wrapped in a large, heavy blanket. A police officer is asking her questions. That was Agent Henry’s idea, Travers is certain, and it’s smart: her statement will become part of the police report, and it’ll be harder for whoever directed the DHS agents against them to suppress it.
Artemis LaFleur stares at the young man standing before him and realizes he’s staring at a ghost.
He’s certain he’s talking to David Bernard, but he’s not sure that the man is actually here. Artigenian should have sensed him—the physical presence of an unknown should have set off all manner of wards laid across the stone, and even in this fragment of time they would function. So Bernard’s presence is not what it appears.
“You’re not really here,” Artemis says. “How are you doing this?”
David shrugs. “I don’t know how to answer that. I really am asleep right now, if that helps.”
“It doesn’t,” Artemis says. “I’m not even sure how to put that in context.”
“That’s not encouraging,” David says. “I was kind of hoping you’d be able to explain it to me. Can you stand?”