When last we met, our heroes arrived home after a night at the box and began to experience all manner of even stranger strangeness…
Alia falls back to sleep after her strange nightmare and is awoken by a knock at her door. It is Mia, a fellow working girl, and she looks incredibly rough, as though she’s not been to bed at all and is still intoxicated. Alia lets her in. Mia offers her a cricket (marijuana laced with meth) out of an Altoids tin, which Alia declines as she starts making breakfast. Mia lights up and confesses to Alia that she’s afraid she’s pregnant. After giving her grief for not using protection while working, Alia asks what she can do to help. Mia says she’s got no money, not enough for a legitimate clinic at least, but she’ll give Alia what she’s got if she’ll do something to end the pregnancy. Alia refuses and takes her to a free clinic after helping Mia into clothing other than her tight stained dress.
Drake is asleep in his apartment. He is shocked into wakefulness by the sound of automatic gunfire from outside his apartment, spraying his apartment from the street below. Brick explodes, glass shatters, and holes are peppering his ceiling and floor. Something ricochets and gets him in his left arm. After what feels like an eternity, the gunfire stops and tires squeal away, followed by screams from people outside – this is not the sort of neighbourhood where drive-by shootings happen. Drake rolls out of bed and huddles for a moment until he is sure it is over. When he hears sirens, he scrambles to get dressed and joins the other building residents in evacuating the building. On the street, he sees officers entering the building, one uniformed man poking his head out of Drake’s window to view the street. An ambulance shows up, and Drake eventually gets help for his graze wound while an officer questions him.
A plainclothes officer named Detective Matthews asks permission to look in Drake’s apartment, as he seemed to be the target, and if there is anyone who might have wanted to harm him? Drake gives permission – he’s got nothing to hide and the laptop where he does all of his nefarious book-cooking is heavily protected and encrypted. He makes up some story, not entirely untrue, about calling out Diggles at a bar or club, and that Diggles seemed very upset. The cop buys the story, says Diggles has been linked to another “act of dramatic violence” recently, and that he thinks he received a big break recently – a new source, better business – something that has given him confidence to step up his game and assert himself. Drake senses something off in the detective’s story, but goes along with it, saying that he’s got a safe place to stay with family near Buffalo. He gives Det. Matthews his burner phone number and asks if he can get his laptop. As the apartment is a crime scene, the detective won’t let him do it himself, but radios up to have someone bring it down. It takes a lot longer than Drake feels is necessary, though at a brief glance, it appears to be OK. Drake leaves, getting on a bus and making several changes throughout the borough on his way to Gareth’s loft, shaking the police that were sent after to tail him.
Meanwhile, outside Gareth’s apartment, Wally has just been struck by a taxi. Thankfully, it was going the speed limit in a residential area, so he’s not terribly injured. The cabbie gets out of his vehicle with a cry of, “Oh no, not again!” Goom, still standing just outside of the alley, says that he is a paramedic and that he will attend to Wally. Wally, of course, will have absolutely none of this, although Goom insists and does a cursory examination of Wally, noting that he’s pretty much just bruised. The cabbie offers to take Wally to the hospital, or call paramedics, but Wally again refuses help. He picks up his duffel bag from where it was flung across the street, dismayed to hear his entire Pyrex collection making a cacophony of brokenness. He brings it with him anyway and begins to limp away. At this point, Gareth and Alex have arrived streetside and Gareth tries to go after Wally. Wally ignores Gareth’s requests to just come back inside and continues walking.
Goom, Alex, and Gareth all return to Gareth’s loft where Goom starts to explain his bandaged face (even revealing his empty eye socket for them – Gareth grabs a beer) but says the full explanation should wait for everyone to be together. Goom sits on Gareth’s couch and begins knitting. Alex asks what he’s making, and Goom says it is an eye patch. Gareth is fascinated that Goom knits, and suggests a collaboration for a future art installation.
Wally gets about four blocks away, when he again feels that thrumming in the air, to his right. He stops, partly because he’s got a stitch in his side, and looks downtown to where the skyscrapers rise. He sees one of the buildings (he thinks it’s the Chrysler) vibrating and emanating that violet darkness, with tendrils whipping out from the top floors, reaching skyward. “Motherfucker” he whispers as the pain in his side eases and his violet vision fades. He looks around – no one else seemed to notice – and begins heading to his apartment.
Morgan awakens with no incident, has a cup of tea, and checks her messages, seeing all of the back and forth from earlier in the morning and over night about the butterflies and other strange goings on. She gets dressed and begins to make her way over to Gareth’s. She and Drake end up arriving at the same time. Once inside, Drake tells the tale of his morning misadventure, Goom reveals what happened with his dream and waking nightmare, and Alex tells the full story behind the butterflies at the high school. When he mentions the part about not having a face, something odd happens – everyone in the room sees his facial features disappear. It is only for a brief second, the blink of an eye, but it definitely happens. Goom keeps knitting his eye patch in the green red and yellow colours symbolizing Vietnam, stitching “Death” and “Forgotten” on it.
At the free clinic, Mia is refused service, as she is too inebriated to give consent, and there is a good chance that she would lose a lot of blood as a result of said inebriation. Alia tries to convince them otherwise, but they are steadfast. She is given the third degree about how serious this procedure is, how critical it is that her friend be sober for this, and what complications may and will arise after the procedure if Mia has sex, continues to use drugs and alcohol, and so forth. Alia hears and understands, but gives flippant responses and eventually the health worker gives up – bring her in once she’s sober, and they’ll see what they can do. Alia leaves with Mia, returning to their apartment building in the projects, all the while explaining again and again that Mia has to be sober, and no, she can’t have any drink or drugs until the whole thing is over. She is finally able to convince Mia to do it by offering to cover her wages while Mia is out of commission after the procedure.
Back in the loft, Gareth has started into his and Wally’s strange encounter from the night before – the “TOUCHED” note, the footprint on the windowsill, the unsettling feeling that they’d missed something. Goom says he might be able to figure something out, and Gareth gives his permission for Goom to investigate. While this is happening, Drake examines his laptop and sees fine scratch marks around a USB portal – someone had tried in a hurry to plug in a flash drive, and he knows it had to have been the cops. Nothing seems removed or damaged, though, and he asks Gareth for a hot glue gun, to fill in the open ports on his computer to prevent future tampering. He then begins to look up what his doppelgänger has been doing, noting his odd purchases of stock in concrete and steel. He wonders what his Other is up to – building something?
Meanwhile, Goom has started sniffing around Gareth’s apartment. Literally – nose to the ground, at the windowsill, going all over the space, tracking almost like a hound. He goes from the window, across the apartment to the bathroom door (though not in), over to the couch, and back to the window. He says that is the path the intruder followed, noting that the person stopped in the bathroom door, and paused for a while at the couch where Wally slept, presumably to leave the note, before exiting the way they entered. He says the person smelled of sweat and stale beer, he smells metal, like a bunch of body piercings, and blood. This description doesn’t seem familiar to Gareth or anyone else.
Wally finally makes it back to his apartment, but doesn’t go in. Parked about a block down is a sleek black limo, definitely out of place for this area, and the back door and window are thrumming violet black. It starts rolling towards him, and he walks quickly away, turning down a side street. It changes course and follows. Wally runs down an alley. The back door of the limo opens and someone shouts, “Mr. Kim!” He keeps running. He dashes into another alley and disposes of his Pyrex shards, keeping anything that managed to make it through the accident. He circles back around to his apartment.
Back at Gareth’s, Morgan notices something in her pocket that hadn’t been there before. It is a golf ball sized sphere, dark and shiny, like a large black pearl, and it is cool to the touch. She hands it to Goom to sniff. It has no smell. Not just that, it is the absence of smell. She recalls from her red door dream that she had put a bottle in her pocket, although it hadn’t been there when she came back to The Box. This is the same pocket. Goom picks up a scrap of something from Gareth’s work bench, and has Morgan put it in her pocket; Goom’s theory is that it is a magic pocket. He adds that it may be best for them to find a new meeting place, if they’re all already being watched, and he offers up his lair as a meeting place, provided no one is opposed to entering a sewer to get there.
Sneaking back to his building, Wally again sees the limo. This time it is parked directly in front of his building. Again he turns tail, calling 911, reporting that “There are people threatening me outside my apartment, they’ve been threatening me all day” and provides the address and hangs up, avoiding the area for part of the afternoon. The limo is, of course, still there when he returns. Giving up, he approaches it with his arms out. A man wearing a cross between a chauffeur’s outfit and a Nazi SS uniform steps out of the driver door. His head is shaved and his face is covered in piercings. “Mr. Kim?” he asks, and Wally nods. The man pulls out a small box topped with a blue bow and a black butterfly, offering it to Wally, who tells him to put it on the ground. The man confers with his passenger and then places the box on the street. He gets back in the limo and drives away, past Wally. Wally makes sure they’re good and gone before picking up the box. The butterfly atop it is fake, made mostly of wire. He brings it up to his apartment where he finds the hole in his wall has been patched and poorly painted. He shoves as much of his book collection as he can fit into his duffel bag, and then opens the box.
On top is nice parchment with Japanese writing. (Wally is Korean, but knows some Japanese). Beneath the parchment are envelopes, each with the name of a person in the abductees group, along with one addressed to “The Woman In White”. Getting a rough translation, Wally reads the parchment as “Any nice dreams lately?” He ponders it for a bit before opening his envelope which, like the others, is sealed with a butterfly stamp. It contains an invitation card with an address, date and time, and instructions to be dressed in “business casual” attire. He looks up the address. It is the Chrysler building, and the suite number on the card corresponds to the 75th floor of 77. According to the information he finds online, floors 75 – 77 are owned by an unpublished occupant. The meeting time is at 1:30pm the following Friday – Black Friday.