"...Luna? You've grown since I last saw you."
I blinked, trying to push down a rising feeling of shock and a wave of dismay. Luna? So Gilles really didn't recognize me. His own sister.
"Gilly, it's me, Camille." I tried to look at him but it was too dark to make much out. I had only been able to tell who he was by the sound of his voice.
"Camille? Please don't try playing any games with me, Lou, the fact that I'm seeing ghosts is enough to freak me out."
He cut me off.
"-You're dead. Wiseacre made sure the sedatives were weak enough that I could watch. I couldn't forget that day no matter how much I wanted to."
This was making no sense.
"I don't know who Luna is," I started, "But I'm definitely alive and....not her."
Gilles took a step toward me, into the light and I stumbled back in shock. His face was gaunt, listless, and scars were abundantly criss-crossing over his skin, and his eyes were surveying my face with the method of a scavenger. The eyes that he shared with me, that used to be endlessly laughing and full of mirth.
This wasn't the same brother I'd grieved for the past few years.
"What...happened to you? What are you doing here?"
"When you died Wiseacre decided to make me one of his guinea pigs. The experiment worked, but when he tried to sell me I gave the buyers so much trouble that they demanded a refund. Instead of wasting his precious money by offing me the Admiral made me a permanent fixture in the night circus. Oh, but he figured mom and dad were useless from the start so he shot them in their sleep."
I breathed in and out slowly, running a hand over my face. The stories I had weaved for myself, to believe that they were alive and well, had been crushed to smithereens.
"But...why were you all even here, in this circus, in the first place? I only came to work here after you went missing, and I haven't seen any of you for as long as I've been here."
Gilles looked at me curiously.
"When exactly did you start to work here?"
"The September of 2010, I think."
"A few months after you...Luna died. I'm afraid, Camille, that you aren't who you think you are."
Stop listening to him. Boltake commanded, I will explain momentarily.
"Stay out of this," I shot back, "This involves me, not you. Turn your back for a second."
"You talking to Gabe? Makes sense he'd be involved in this."
I insist, Miss St. Croix.
"What do you know about him? Tell me."
My voice was verging on hostile, but I was feeling more and more lost by the second.
"He quit the circus to try and make a living better than being a carnie, before what happened to Luna. Don't know if he came back, since I've been living in this lavish car for a while."
"What does that have anything to do with me?" I practically yelled, my hands balling up into fists.
"The only reason Gabriel left was Luna. She'd been poking around Wiseacre's illegal side business in the hopes of getting enough dirt to get him behind bars, but Gabe knew she was signing a death wish. He wanted to earn enough to give her a new identity, a new life."
I sighed impatiently, waiting for Gilles to continue.
"Camille, you aren't my sister. You're an exact copy, with altered, planted memories and a different name. A...clone."
"What?!" I hissed, verging on hysteria. This was ridiculous. "Boltake, is this some kind of joke?"
I'm afraid not. I'm sorry, Miss St. Croix.
My head was spinning. I fell to my knees and buried my head in my hands, breathing heavily.
No, no, no. This...couldn't be real. Couldn't be.
My memories...my life...my family...weren't mine?
Images suddenly surfaced in my swirling mind, of labcoats and doctors and monitors.
My...Luna's parents and Gilles, my memories of them burned me. They felt false, as if they had been recited, spoonfed and I had merely accepted them as my own.
I felt false.
Gilles gestured towards the open vent on the roof.
"You need to get out of here."
My hands were shaking. I couldn't breathe.
"Wiseacre will check in on his 'freaks'. You're not safe here, Camille."
I looked up, my vision lurching.
"I can't leave you here, Gilles. Even if...you're not really my brother."
He gave me a small smile and shook his head.
"Don't worry about me. I wouldn't get far if I left, anyways."
I noticed with a start that the train was slowing down, about to stop in Denver. Shit.
My legs managed to hold me as I stood, and looked up toward the square of sky above my head.
"Give me a boost?" I asked Gilles, quickly being obliged.
As I emerged on top of the train the wind had decreased significantly, and I was able to return to the car that I had escaped from earlier. Thankfully Orzo was nowhere in sight.
When I disembarked the train, a hat pulled over my head and a scarf wrapped around my face, I couldn't help but feel unreal.
My not-dead non-brother had just told me I was a clone. And that my crazy employer had something to do with my original.