After a while, Leena got bored of waiting, and
wanted to go find Mike. She couldn't leave Jen,
however, so she settled on standing outside and
surveying the Commons.
Then, she saw a group of men, maybe half a dozen.
They were still far off, making their way around
some shacks. They were walking with purpose, not
just idling about. She couldn't make out who they
were yet, but Leena got the feeling they were headed
for their shack. She got the feeling they were
She rushed to Jen's side and shook her. “Wake up, I
think we should clear out of here.”
Jen moved, and gave a moan, but didn't seem
interested in what Leena was saying.
“Look at me!” Leena held Jen's face, and gave it a
little shake to encourage Jen to open her eyes,
which she did, reluctantly.
“World's kinda spinny right now,” Jen mumbled.
“Well, that's going to make it hard to run. Get up!
Shake it off!” Leena dashed back to the doorway to
peek at the group of men. She could now see that
leading them were Mike and Warren. “Sack of stupid!”
she hissed. Mike waved like an idiot, and Warren was
Warren turned back to his four escorts, and
presumably said something. They backed away, letting
Warren and Mike get a bit of distance ahead. Leena
watched the four men carefully, expecting them to
split up and surround her shack, but no. They just
maintained a distance several metres behind Warren
As they got closer, Leena could see that Mike was
wearing his “sorry” face. When they were a few
metres in front of Leena, she looked back and forth
at them both, suspiciously.
“Warren, if you're here for Jen, don't. Just don't.
Warren smirked. “You could have told me she wasn't
here. You could have played dumb!”
“Yes, I could have, and then what? My shack gets
searched, you find her, and then it's beatings for
Warren smiled wide, and leaped up a little, stamping
on the floor and pointing sharply at Leena. “Yes!
You don't play dumb, do you? You play
smart! It fits, it fits!”
Warren tossed the bag he'd been carrying at Mike.
“Here, food and things for your new little friend,
go inside and play with her, Leena and I have to
“What?” Mike blurted, fumbling with the bag, “I'm
staying by Leena, and-”
Ah! I forget, she's your favourite. And well she
should be!” Warren's disposition was a little
like after he ate some of that white powder. Not as
intense, but similar. “Fine, Mark, I mean Mike.
Stand there and keep an eye on us, we'll go for a
walk, and talk. Just over there. Nowhere near my
men, just out of earshot of everyone.”
Mike shifted his weight awkwardly, glancing at Leena,
Warren, and the four goons.
“No, no, it's good, it's good,” Warren said, “peace
is good. It's that, or I have the boys beat you
while Leena and I have a private chat, frankly, a
nearby beating is just not a good mood setter!”
Leena huffed, and patted Mike's arm. “It's okay. Do
as he says, don't be stupid, and be good. Count
what's in the bag here if you're bored.”
Mike nodded grimly, and watched as Leena and Warren
walked away. Warren had noticeably more spring in
“Where’d you find Mike?” Leena asked.
Warren waved his hand dismissively. “Oh, he was
rummaging Jen and Don's place,”
“Dan,” Leena corrected.
“Whatever. I asked Dan where I could find Jen, so–”
“So you could put her through another quick
gathering?” Leena tried not to throw too much anger
behind her voice, but it was terribly difficult.
Warren seemed to be in too good of a mood to take
offence either way. “No, Leena, I wanted her to lead
me to you.”
Leena came to an immediate halt. Warren turned to
face her, and clued in. “Oh, no no, Leena, I'm not
considering you as special guest at a gathering or
anything. That's absurd!”
Leena was silent, but resumed walking along.
Warren slowly turned on his heel, and held an open
hand towards the apex of the common's dome. “You
know who lives up there, yes?”
“You mean the Actual?”
“Yesss.” Warren maintained his gaze upwards, but
clasped his hands in front of his chest. “We know of
the lesser ones from below, and obviously, Actual is
better than the average Citizen, right?”
Warren's stare snapped back down to look into
Leena's eyes. “But haven't you noticed that some
Citizens are just better than others?”
Leena held her tongue, and let Warren continue.
“Even ignoring the over-sniffers who do nothing,
there's a lot of useless people here. I don't think
“Not... real? Hallucinations?”
“No, I mean they're real, they exist, but they're
not as real as others, Leena. Not like us!”
Leena cocked back her head and raised an eyebrow.
“Leena, I had a feeling when I first saw you. When
you saved most of my new powder jar, I knew,
and the way you didn't lie about where Jen was to
me, so smart, I knew, it was confirmed!
You're like me! We're real, we're Actuals!”
It was insane ramblings, but Leena had little choice
to play along somewhat. She gestured to the rest of
the Commons. “Everyone else is fake?”
Warren's face turned serious, and he nodded tiny,
sharp nods. “Probably not all of them. There could
be some Actuals I haven't met yet, or noticed. But
most of them? Yeah, no better than lofus. Want to
know my theory?”
“Citizenry. Is where Actuals come from. We were all
born from who? Other Citizens? But we know that now
and then a lofu comes to live here. What if we are
all children of children of children of lofus?! And
from us, sometimes one of us becomes an Actual.
That's what Citizenry is! From up there,” Warren
pointed to the top of the Grand Elevator shaft,
“Actual can see us! Judge us! See who has become
“Fine, Fine, and then what?”
Warren became sombre once again. He held his jittery
hands close to his chest, he faced the Grand
Elevator's loading centre. His voice became as soft
as a parent wishing a drowsy child a good sleep.
“And then, those of us worthy need to wait, I
suppose. Wait for our deaths in the Citizenry, so we
can be taken by the Messenger to go up.”
Leena gave Warren a moment, in case more insanity
was about to dribble out, but he seemed to be
waiting for a reaction. “So, Warren, do you think
maybe the Actual up there now, may have been a
Citizen at some time in the past?”
Warren bounced away a little, backwards, and
outstretched his arms. “Who's to say? Maybe our
Actual has been eternal, and new Actuals are sent
off to other places to do Actual things. Maybe they
all become new parts of Actual's being, like all in
one and stuff. Maybe they sit around getting wasted
on some unimaginable dizzy water and screw
all day! I don't know!”
Leena didn't ever think Warren could be this
entertaining. And friendly. Maybe the key to making
a friendlier, safer Citizenry was keeping Warren on
just the right amount of the white powder. Enough to
make him happy, not so much as to make him a manic,
spontaneous rapist and murderer. As stupid and
overly optimistic the idea was, it was worth
“Warren, you're on that white powder right now,
His expression changed again, chin high, eyes wide.
“See! Oh you're clever, you're an Actual for sure!”
“That wasn't too hard to guess. You're not as crazy
as last time.”
“Yes, yes, that turned unpleasant when it wore off.
I've taken to smaller doses.”
Unpleasant when it wore off? For him maybe,
but Jen and Darling seemed to dislike it a lot
when it was at its peak. Leena's sense of pity for
the women that Warren has abused and even killed
over the years bubbled into a quiet anger, reminding
her that the jovial fool in front of her was the
same man that made abuse part of his regular
“If you're so eager to go be an Actual with Actual,
why not just kill yourself now? We all get sent up!”
Warren nodded, and paced. “Yes, yes, I've considered
this, but it sounds unpleasant. I've given this
thought. But just so you know, I've been thinking
about this whole thing for a long time, long before
the white powder. It might be giving me a little bit
clearer realizations… and more motivation,
“Motivation to kill yourself? If it's a problem,
Sledge could help, I'm sure.”
“And then I'm dead, and I go up, and it's all good
for me, but the Citizens learn nothing of the truth
of it all! At least not with proof.”
“I didn't think you cared so much about the
education of the masses, Warren. So how will you
teach us all?”
He held out his arms as if ready to embrace the
entire Commons, or at least the ceiling of it. “I
will not wait to die to go. I will go up without
death because I am an Actual, and the Citizens will
know. I'll be a legend!”
Leena suppressed a snort. “So if I'm an Actual too,
am I invited?”
Warren raised an eyebrow, but his expression didn't
say much. “Oh, oh, for now, go back to your man Mark
“Whatever. Go home. I might be in touch.”