“Kate! I thought I’d lost you forever.”
“No. I’m here.” But her voice was weak, far away. She waves half-heartedly. She didn’t appear to be herself to Tessa.
“I *saw* you, though. On the beach.” Tessa thought back to Kate face down in the sand at Elven Mist. And the perpetual atomic blast out over the water in the distance. Kate didn’t have on a mask. There was no way she could make it, which, given the ones who did and their actions, maybe was a good thing. Tessa realizes this wasn’t really Kate. Kate was dead. She turned to the other figure acting as a greeter in this X-City church, new in the last year and a half.
“And what is *your* name, sir?”
“Mann. Just call me A Mann.”
“A. Mann? A. stands for something?”
“No. Just A Mann.”
All 3 stood there for a bit, with awkward gestures from the 2 what Tessa now considered simulacra; forgeries of real people most likely; stand-ins.
Music was coming from the front of the church. Perhaps Bach but maybe Handel — Tessa couldn’t quite get a handle on it. She moved forward down the aisle to investigate more, leaving the two figures who she deemed useless for meaningful interaction behind. “Goodbye Kate,” she whispered to herself, not looking back.
But then in front of her appeared the figure of Kate, playing the organ and the classical tune she couldn’t figure out the composer of. Maybe not even baroque. But Kate again! Perhaps this was the real one this time.
The tune of baroque or baroque-ish design went on and on as Kate didn’t respond to the outside world, engrossed in her playing, it appeared. And those mute singers with their blue choral books seemed so familiar. What was going on here? Ahh, Tessa realized. A dream!
(to be continued)