Chapter 44

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"Lacy couldn't have gotten far," pleaded Eva. No one was doing anything but standing around pondering. "The longer we wait, the harder it will be to find her."

After learning of Grant's refusal to return to Community, Isaac directed everyone to unload the supplies from the trailer and then took Eva to the Main House silo. Inside, he pumped the generator and shortly after, the lights flickered to life. They descended the steps and sat in the living room.

"Eva," began Isaac, "what exactly happened at Grant's house?"

Ignoring the question, she said, "You're not going after Lacy?"

"Lacy apparently has decided that she no longer wants to be a part of Community," he replied.

"She was probably just scared," said Eva.

"Of what?"

She shrugged. "I don't know – maybe that you were going to kill Gus."

"Her dog?"

He smoothed the coarse hairs in his beard, which for the first time Eva noticed, appeared to be exceptionally thick...different than hair. His gaze had wondered off, but his eyes suddenly darted back to hers, almost as if he had sensed her studying him.

"You weren't here to witness Gus' duplicate. It was quite something to behold. If you had seen it, I think you'd be concerned about the safety of everyone in Community, as I was – and still am."

He ran his fingers through his silver hair, and Eva saw that it too, possessed the strange quality his facial hair did. She thought that if she were to touch it, it would feel something like a cross between hair and straw.

"You can't possibly appreciate the gravity of the situation. The duplicate's presence suggests some foreign entity has now infiltrated Community."

Eva frowned. "I still don't understand. The dog was exactly the same as Lacy's Gus? It couldn't have been some other dog that looked similar?"

"A precise copy of her dog."

"It doesn't seem possible."

Isaac raised his eyebrows. "After everything you've seen the last few years, do you really think anything is impossible anymore?"

"So, we just leave her with this 'foreign entity'?"

"Yes. We leave her."

Eva rose from her seat. "She might die!"

"Yes."

Pacing, Eva considered the consequences of going after Lacy. She'd never be able to return here – was that something she could live with? Probably. But what if Lacy was now contaminated somehow? What if she really wasn't Lacy anymore? She didn't like it, but she understood the caution being exercised by Isaac. It did seem reasonable.

Eva sighed. "How can you be so cold about it?" she asked.

Isaac leaned forward in his chair, knees on his elbows, hands folded. "Because I have to be. I cannot allow compassion to cloud my judgement. Just like Grant had to be."

Eva looked away, toward the digitally simulated windows on the silo wall, displaying a tree-lined street at night. Occasionally, a car even drove down the street, headlights aglow, continuing from one window to the next. "I get it."

Nodding, Isaac said, "I know you do. Grant was right to see promise in you." Inside of his jacket pocket, he depressed a button on a small walkie talkie. Rising from his chair, he walked over to a shelf on the wall and unlocked a wooden box. Out in the stairwell came the clanking of descending footfalls. Isaac placed the metal tip of a syringe into a vial and withdrew liquid tranquilizer.

"Promise?" asked Eva. "For what?"

His back turned, Isaac replied, "For something more important than preparing meals, doing laundry, guard duty..."

Mitchell quietly stepped into the living room, just behind Eva. Isaac turned and nodded to him and the brute wrapped his thick arms around her.

"What are you doing!" she shouted.

Approaching, Isaac calmly replied, "Just relax, no one's going to hurt you."

"Oh, no? This is assault!" She raised her leg and drove her heel down onto the top of Mitchell's right foot.

"Fuck! You bitch!" With his left hand, he tugged her ponytail, jerking her head back and she grunted. He slid his right arm up around her throat.

"Not going to hurt me, huh?" she snarled through bared teeth.

"You initiated that," replied Isaac.

"It's called self-defense."

Mitchell dug his knee into the back of her legs, forcing her down on her knees. He had complete control of her. "Try not to like it too much," he whispered into her ear, his reeking breath causing her to hold her breath.

Isaac slid her tee shirt sleeve up, exposing her upper arm, then inserted the syringe, emptying the tranquilizer into her muscle. He stepped backward and took a seat in a chair.

Mitchell's face was buried in her blonde hair, obstructing Isaac's view. Eva felt the soft, wet caress of his tongue on her ear. She thrust her head backward, attempting a head butt, but he had too strong a hold on her. He chuckled.

"That'll be all, Mitchell," said Isaac.

The brute let go of her and stood up. "Was it good for you?" he laughed.

"Go," demanded Isaac.

When he'd gone, Isaac sat there, watching and waiting for the drug to take effect. Eva felt a leaden sluggishness creep over her.

"I think you need a replacement," said Isaac, tapping the right side of his head.

She ran her fingers along the tiny bump on her right temple. Oh yeah...that goddamned thing in my head.

Isaac leaned closer, his expression not so pleasant. "Now...why don't you tell me what you and Grant saw at his house?"

Eva's vision felt off, like she was tilting her head left, then right...up, then down and then repeating. Like she had just spun in a circle and was now taking in the swirling scenery. She saw Isaac sitting before her, but then came an image of Alex...Henry and Annabelle...Gray.

Nodding to Isaac, she replied, "Why don't you go to hell."


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