Leaving the Darkness
Part VII: Insomnia
The stones crunching vibrated through my trainers. Further down the beach turned to smaller rocks and then smooth sand. Above me seagull calls joined with the water waves in creating a peaceful acoustic. I could almost pretend I wasn’t stuck in a strange place, abandoned by my family. I remembered the last time I was near the coast. The pier in Portsmouth always bustled with activity. But at night, just like here, all you could hear was nature.
I sighed, pushing hair from my field of vision and on top of my head.
I turned around and headed back, using my echo to avoid the walking sentries as I snuck back into Ravenhold. A nightmare had shaken me awake but I didn’t want to go downstairs. How was I supposed to interact with these people? If I were still with Heppenheim then they would be hunting me just like any other bad guy. I was near the house when I noticed lights on in the van I’d been told was Sanjay’s. I wondered if he was similar to me and liked avoiding new people. I should probably help out by letting him avoid me too. I let out a breath, ready to pass by.
“Screw it.” I muttered, I was not mentally prepared to face sleep and possible nightmares again yet. I hit the doorbell and tried not to feel self-conscious as I saw the glint is a small camera above me light up.
“Can I help you?” Sanjay’s voice came out clear and crisp through the nearby speaker.
“Not really,” I said, not about to discuss anything as personal as my insomnia issues. “I just got curious. The others told me you came here to hide.”
“This is my lab, I come here to work on stuff,” he replied.
“Oh,” I replied, I was disturbing him while he was working. I should probably just go… I fought a shudder at earlier. “Can I come in? It’s kind of awkward standing out here.” I heard hesitation on the other side of the speaking and suddenly the door before me opened. Sanjay rolled away on his chair as I walked inside, the door shutting softly behind me. I blinked at the various gadgets around me, none of this looked like the stuff Heppenheim used. I looked at what Sanjay was currently tinkering with. It was a helmet that I thought I’d seen somewhere before.
“What are you working on?” I asked, leaning forward on the part of the worktop that was empty to study it closer.
“I need to redo the armor’s helmet,” he explained, nodding at a suit at the other end of the van. Wait, was that…
“The initial idea was to rely on external sensors which would act as a sensory shield and relay the information to the internal HUD but that was less of a good idea than I thought it would be,” he explained.
“So what are you doing to it?” I asked, understanding the gists of what he was saying, I think.
“Just standard visor that can alternate between transparent and opaque from the inside so that if sensors fail human vision can take over,” he clarified.
“That’s pretty cool,” I murmured. Sanjay wasn’t parahuman? Impressive job getting into here. Although if his suit was from the news then maybe that was why. Might also explain no one ever hearing from him. Sanjay didn’t strike me as the fame and glory seeking type.
“You’d be amazed by what the new smart materials can do. A lot of it is thanks to Itharii; idiots can complain they haven’t given us anything but almost everything you see in this lab is thanks to them; self-repairing technology, complex three-dimensional assembler, microfusion cells are all based on itharii tech.” I blinked, most definitely not understanding half of that. I couldn’t help laughing though.
“What’s so funny?” he asked, frowning.
“Nothing, It’s just that I was wondering if you could speak full sentences,” I teased. I was tempted to make a suggestive comment to test out just how shy he was, but I thought it might be too soon in our ‘friendship’ to go there. I wasn’t sure how much belief I could put into any of the relationships I might form with the others here, including my roommate.
“Don’t take it personally,” he shrugged, “I just don’t interact with people often.”
“You don’t?” I asked.
“I finished high school at ten, got a doctorate in engineering at fifteen and I’ve been working professionally for the last two years.”
“Hä,” I mumbled, one hand going to my forehead as I spoke. I realised he sent a slightly confused look but a new idea had popped into my head that was more important than explaining german gestures and phrases. “Wait, does that mean you could help me with school stuff?”
“What do you think?” he asked.
“Doctorate sounds like something important, does it mean you’re good at maths? ‘Cause I suck at them,” I replied. He blinked at me and I wondered if I had just said something stupid.
“Yes, I can help you with maths,” he sighed.
“Awesome,” I grinned. I glanced at his suit again.
“Is there anything else?” he asked, obviously wanting to get back to work on his suit.
“You’re the person who saved those people in club 618, aren’t you?” I asked. The mention of the club took him by surprise.
“Yes,” he admitted. “I didn’t know Germany got those kind of reports from England.”
“I lived in Portsmouth before er,” I couldn’t exactly say I’d been in Mingulay.
“Did you get headhunted as well?” Sanjay asked.
“In a sense I guess,” I shrugged.
“That explains why your English is so good,” he said.
“I’m good at speaking it. I’m not so good with writing or reading it,” I admitted.
“I’m picking French,” he answered. “I don’t know any German.”
“Heh, I’ll have a lot of fun with that,” I replied, smirking. Sanjay just looked at me blankly. “I should probably go, “ I murmured, suddenly aware it was getting late and I’d probably overstayed my welcome.
“Oh, okay, sleep well,” he said as I left.
I’ll try, I thought grimly. Although talking to him had helped ease some of my nerves about this place.