“Every man is the builder of a temple, called his body, to the god he worships, after a style purely his own, nor can he get off by hammering marble instead. We are all sculptors and painters, and our material is our own flesh and blood and bones.” - Henry David Thoreau
Lucy Morrow reaches for her coffee and indelicately slurps it, casually using her other hand to scroll down post after post of meaningless drivel. Her eyes scan the page with speed, taking in everything the Secrets of the Stars Message Board has to offer – every day it and countless other conspiracy sites have her undivided attention for the 8 hour night shift, searching for information that may help or hinder their division. It's both research and it's watching out for any need of damage control.
Half the time she can't believe the government pays her to sit and read the paranoid fantasies of daydreamers with more time than they know what to do with – and this blatantly this indicates the government has more money than it knows what to do with. The other half of the time she tries to calmly take it all in and ignore the reality that makes her job necessary; of being part of Threshold, of holding back the end of civilization as we all know it.
It's 3.43am Pacific Standard Time and in amongst the clattering of keys and mice being operated there is a great fracture as the cup abruptly shatters against the tiles, shaking the dreary ho-hum atmosphere.
Fifteen minutes later Molly Caffrey is awake, dressed and downing a disastrous cup of instant coffee. She's just about ready to rally her forces against the latest threat to secrecy. Who needs sleep when according to your enemy the world's all but ending, anyway?
Thirty minutes later the board room is quiet as the team contemplates the report handed to Molly as she had stepped in the door. A report given over to her from the shaking hands of a woman she has never met before, whose eyes spoke of a dreadful fear matched only by the crack of her voice as she told Molly she'd be in the isolation lab if they needed her for any more questions.
The footage of ten more incursion instances is on YouTube and a dozen other media sites, embedded in hundreds of blogs and forums by now. Only half of the sources are in United States. There's no way they can stop it now - no one will pull it off the Russian or Chinese servers. It's too late to do anything except warn people not to view it, making it merely another forbidden fruit that can't be passed up and a meme to pass on.
At 5.01am Pacific Standard Time the Threshold plan fails.
The head honchos criticize their lack of planning, as if you could plan for a quarter of the world's population potentially being infected in one night. Washington panics but Molly sits and thinks, wondering what can be done to strengthen their fallback plan, their new endeavor, Foothold. Threshold is gone but that's okay, because it's simply another stage, a buffer to the real deal they all knew they would face.
Officially, the project dies six weeks later. Everyone in Foothold is bound to secrecy, even after it all disperses but that promise is hard to keep when the world is falling apart around you. The world is confused – the infection has spread far beyond projections and the death count is atrociously high, both from botched transformations and those who can't handle their new strength responsibly as they face a nightmarish second puberty of growing into unfamiliar bodies. These days she yearns for the quiet satisfaction of Allenville where the people were content to be “improved” and keep to themselves for the most part
She watches the streets burn and chaos rule them from a safe vantage point of the roof. People run away at the slightest look of another person, afraid the other is not human after all. Nigel stands further back, like he's hesitant to see the gruesome spectacle any longer. Last time he came up they saw a man beat another man to death - to a bloody pulp, to be precise - probably for looking at him funny.
The government still persists, with riot blocks, uninfected special forces to guard them and underground bunkers to protect them further. The government stands deep within the earth, trembling, and she realizes Sean was right to abandon them when he did two weeks ago – he defied orders, going AWOL and becoming a fugitive. Maybe there are people down there who pretend to care about law and order but they can't enforce it any longer, they can't control people – fear reigns on both sides.
All that is left to break is what bound her to this place – it's time for a new plan. There are no weapons that worked well enough to prevent this; all she has left to give is knowledge. It's a secret no longer worth keeping when all she can arm people with is the truth and the choice they must make. Just like she makes every day, awaking from her otherworldly dreams and the potential that calls to her (and crawls in the back of her mind) to face an increasingly desperate reality.
Today Molly chooses humanity - that's why she turns away from the scene high above and why she steps truly outside to face it properly, to take action. Her career was about planning, planning and more planning, expecting the worst and now she feels weak standing in a street with no clue where to go, where to start.
“You're insane, you know that, right?”
She looks behind to see Ramsey in the doorway, crossed arms, squinting at her like he's not seen daylight for months – which could be possible.
“I thought the captain was supposed to go down with the ship,” he says right before he takes a long swig from his hip flask.
“Can't you think of a more appropriate analogy? You're the specialist.”
“What can I say? A few weeks with no chat rooms and only you lot for company - I'm a bit rusty.”
“Feel like some practice? We could take that road trip you've always wanted. No government code of honor to say no drinking on the job.” She nods her head towards the expanse of empty space that seems unreal after being cooped up, cocooned in their protective, impenetrable building.
“Like the government ever stopped me doing what I wanted to. However, more importantly, I did mention you were insane for even contemplating leaving.”
“Yes,” she says firmly and sadly, “that you did. Mind's made up though.”
“But if you do insist on jumping ship you could at least wait for the rest of us. Lucas says they've got a tank down in the lot,” Ramsey thumbs backwards and shifts his weight against the wall in a manner that might be nervous for him, some tell he's unaware of. “Once in a lifetime opportunity, that.”
She smiles. “What isn't these days.”