Riverwash smelled like joy.
It was the first thing Samuel noticed as the train doors opened and he stepped out onto the platform. The air smelled clean; stripped of the ash and smoke by the breeze that followed the river. And more, there were subtle notes of herbs and other plants.
Samuel wondered if this smell was a memory of how the world was, before the Gloam.
"I'd pick this over High Central," Angela mused beside him. She tapped him on the shoulder, and Samuel saw she was smiling. "Give me a commissioner position nearby, and I'd be happier than a coal in a bonfire."
"Agreed," Samuel said.
"Inspectors," Bertram said as he followed them across the platform. "What is our objective here? We're interviewing Amanda because of her connection with Silas Miller. We're not here to pry into Research's secrets."
"Unfortunately," Samuel explained, "that isn't quite the case. Silas believes there's a conspiracy that's hurting his friends, and now wants to kill him. And the trouble for us is he's not entirely wrong. So to find him, we need to know more about Amanda Destir and what's making her sick."
"There isn't a conspiracy to kill him," Bertram rebutted.
"There is a conspiracy, and the City's authorities are trying to kill him. In his eyes, the two are linked."
"That is burning absurd," Bertram said.
"Of course it is," Angela agreed. "But that's how he's thinking, and we need to respect that in order to help find him. So we're going to find out what we can about Amanda's withdrawal from her social life, and how long she's been getting sick."
"I..." Bertram hesitated, clearly foundering for a rebuttal. A moment later, he gave up and shrugged. "I can live with that."
"Good," Samuel said. "Because if it weren't for this conspiracy, Silas could have gone into hiding with absurd ease. Parents like his could have set Silas up with a new life anywhere in the City. So this conspiracy is our only angle for getting a sense of where he'll go next."
Bertram only nodded, and followed in silence as they walked along one of the low levee walls. The rails were lined with green ivy, speckled with trees, and littered with small birds as they returned from picking at the shores below.
The homes they passed as they followed the walkway were small, only a few stories high, and likely only contained a dozen residences each. Each of them, to Samuel's profound surprise, were allotted a small garden plot in front of each building.
"Civil Maintenance work can get you a place here?" Samuel asked. "I'm in the wrong career."
"It's considered a less desirable place to live because of the history of flooding. It was called Riverwash for a reason." Bertram explained.
"When was the last flood?" Angela asked.
"Shorty after the Fourth. About a century ago," Bertram said.
"Good for them," Samuel said, as he read the numbers on the sides of the building. "Here we are."
Samuel stepped up to the door, forcing himself to refrain from stopping at the small garden plot and smelling the unusual collection of flowers growing along the sides of the walkway. Instead, he raised his hand to the knocker and cracked it on the door.
There was a pause, lasting for several seconds, before the door was opened by a lean, grizzled man with a suspicious glare. His face had a single, odd looking burn around his left eye, a burn that looked remarkably like safety fencing.
YOU ARE READING
Bitter Cold Truth: A Tale of the Everburning CityFantasy
There is no night in the Everburning City. There can never be. Fourteen people lie dead on the platform of Billows Station, killed by fire and rage. And as the perpetrator hides within the millions of people who inhabit the City, the task of findi...