From The Journal of Agent X:
As I sit in my hotel room, listening to the sounds of the city outside, I have to admit I’m feeling a bit displaced. I’ve heard this story from other Malum recruits after their first mission. We are all raised at the Citadel, we don’t see outside those tall walls for decades, and then we are released into the world with all the knowledge and skills to win a war single handedly, but no way to prepare for so much new external stimuli rushing in all at once. I never thought I would feel homesick for a place I viewed as my prison, but at least I knew the noises of the Citadel. There really were no noises, if I’m being honest. After lights out we all knew better than to make even the smallest sound, and the dorms were more silent than the grave each and every night. I long for that silence now. Inside my room I can hear the muffled sounds of car engines, sirens, people talking and laughing as they walk by, the occasional cry of a baby. It’s maddening. Do people in the city ever sleep? Do they ever rest?
I can’t sleep, in this soft hotel bed surrounded by crips sheets, stark white feathered comforters, cozy blankets and pillows as big and as fluffy as clouds. I close my eyes and see my room at the Citadel, in shades of pewter and brown, my cement bed with a thin mattress I would roll over it every night, and one threadbare blanket that I would smooth over my bare legs. It wasn’t luxurious, but I was used to it.
As always, when I’m feeling anxious and out of sorts I have ways to bring myself back to center. It soothes me to slowly and methodically sharpen my knives. Last night hotel security knocked on my door after other guests complained about thumping sounds coming from my room. I told the security guards that I couldn’t sleep and I was exercising, doing jumping jacks. What I was really doing was pretending the towers of pillows on my bed were enemy targets, and I had to drop down from the ceiling and break their necks with my thighs. The thumping was most likely from the wall giving me a high five every time a target was successfully neutralized.
What do people in Corver City do when they are bored, or restless, or anxious? I see everyone always looking down at the screens in their hands. Whether they are sitting or walking or in bed, they are always looking at those screens and I see why. Earlier I picked up my own screen, which they call a cellular phone, and I started scrolling through. These screens have little activities on them. In one activity I was a yellow blob eating other blobs, I started playing and before I knew it an hour had passed. Yet I wasn’t any more relaxed or at peace, I almost felt worse! I put the screen away, I’m convinced these screens are some nefarious experiment to keep human beings docile and distracted.
So now I lay here, in my bed of cotton candy and clouds, staring at the eternal lights of the city outside, dotting every tall building like monstrous Christmas trees. I wasn’t happy at The Citadel, but I’m not happy here. It has me curious though. If there are so many places in the world there has to be a place that’s quiet and peaceful, with no big buildings or cement stretching for miles. A place that isn’t completely silent, but where you can hear birds singing and gentle breezes caressing fields of tall grass. A place where I might feel happy, where I might be able to finally sleep.