"How long have I been out?" Tenenbaum asked as she held a palm to her forehead.
"I have no idea, " Eleanor answered. "I only just got up myself. But I feel like it has to have been a little while."
"Then we have to go!" Tenenbaum said, voice rising with desperation. "If the Sisters already made it back - "
"Then lets go, " Eleanor interrupted. There was no point in letting Tenenbaum finish that sentence. Her head still felt like it weighed an extra thirty pounds, but she was recovering just the same. Already, most of the spinning had stopped.
"Can you do it?" Tenenbaum asked. "Teleport, I mean. Can you concentrate?"
"Enough, " Eleanor said. It wasn't a very reassuring choice of words, but she said it with such a sense of certainty that Tenenbaum found herself trusting the teenagers judgement. Eleanor looked around her for a moment, before spotting her gloves to the side of the vending machine. She slipped the leather contraptions over her hands, then placed one on Tenenbaum's shoulder. "Ready?"
Tenenbaum gave a stiff nod, but made no verbal response. Sighing, Eleanor tried to bring up her mental images of Poseidon's Bounty. But all she could see were the Sisters. Lindsey, Rebecca, Cindy, Alice... I couldn't protect them, she thought. But I will save them! It's what father would have done. He wouldn't have rested until they were all safe. Every single one of them.
She mentally shook her head, banishing those thoughts and concentrating on getting back to the docks. Tenenbaum's boat, she told herself, as cool and calm as she could manage. I need to get to Tenenbaum's boat.
The images started to trickle in, just a little bit at a time. She hadn't seen much, and was only half conscious at the time, so trying to recall them was like trying to remember a dream you'd just woken up from, knowing that it's right there but just beyond your reach. She remembered her bed. The hallway outside. The texture of the ceiling. Slowly she began to piece together a space in her mind, then placed herself and Tenenbaum in that space.
She pushed her Eve into that thought, willing it into existence. She felt the energy leaving her in a slow trickle, as if leaving through a crack in a dam, flowing out of her and into the world. This is taking too much time, she berated herself. Then the dam burst, and the world went black and cold once more.
Alice sniffed the air, following the scent of Adam. It was faint, but definitely there. It mingled with the scent of burned rubber, and Alice knew she had to be following one of the Big Sister's that she'd set on fire. Maybe I'll get to finish what I started, she thought excitedly. Then, why does that make me happy?
The thought was enough to make her pause. Is this really the right thing to be doing? she wondered. Is killing these Big Sisters what Mr. Bubbles would want me to do? It took her less than a second to come up with an answer. Daddy would take them out without a second thought if I was in trouble. He'd fight and fight until I was safe, or he breathed his last breath.
Swallowing the lump forming in her throat, she correct herself. No, he did fight. Until the end. She felt her eyes start to tear up, and she wiped them roughly on the back of her sleeve. I'll make you proud, daddy. I swear I will.
The scent was growing weaker by the moment, disappearing into the very air around her with every second that she stood idle. She took off running, trying to make up the time she'd wasted, gasping for breath. But even as her lungs began to burn, she pushed on. The idea of stopping never crossed her mind as her lugs pumped beneath her, pushing her forward as far as they could each stride.
Fatigue didn't take long to set in, but she tried her best to ignore it. She'd used to walk these streets day in and day out; had the Adam slug really had that much effect on her endurance? It doesn't matter, she thought. I have to keep going. There are no other options. I have to.
The room came into focus slowly, rather than the usual snap that she'd come to expect. She wondered briefly if it had something to do with the clarity of the mental imagery she had, but decided she could think about this later under more relaxed circumstances. "We haven't any time to waste!" Tenenbaum called, already passing through the door, running down the corridor.
Eleanor was quick to follow, running down the hallways barely wide enough for a single person. But in their mad dash, Eleanor saw something that caught her eye behind a door that had been left cracked open. She hadn't gotten a good look at it, but something about it made her want to stop and examine it further.
She cast one more glance at Tenenbaum, still running through the snaking hall, and decided that she could catch up in a minute. She pushed the door open, and immediately the first thing she saw was pink. Pink sheets on multiple pink beds, pink stuffed animals, pink dressers; it was without a doubt a little girls bedroom. It must have belonged to one of the Sisters, Eleanor thought, a smile slowly spreading across her features without her notice. She looked around, letting out a small sigh, then grabbed the doorknob to pull it closed.
As she went to shut the door and follow after Tenenbaum, however, she saw what it was that had grabbed her attention. A large black sphere, various frills and laces tied onto it in different places sat in the middle of the room. My helmet! she realized. She rushed forward to pick it up, grabbing hold of it. But it wasn't until she was about to put it on that she noticed the smell. Sitting somewhere between hot tar and burning plastic, it was almost enough to make her gag.
She looked down at the object in her hands, wondering what in the world the Sisters could have done to it. That's when she noticed the cracked glass porthole, and the singed rubber seals. Her heart seemed to stop for an hour as the few facts she had lined themselves up before her.
This isn't my helmet, she realized. And, that means... She clutched the helmet closer to her chest as her eyes started to tear up. They've been here too. We took too long. We failed.