Chapter Thirty Eight

Chapter Thirty Eight

The message that changed everything for the second time showed up at Jacques’ door at approximately two in the morning. Or, in other words, exactly the time Jacques wasn’t expecting it. He was dragged out of sleep by someone pounding on his name sign. He assumed it was Sheen. “Whaaaaaat?” he moaned.

Jacques? Is that you?” Definitely not Sheen.

Yeah? Whoo are youuuuu?” He couldn’t help whining. He was too busy trying to sit up.


Who’s that?” He managed to sit up and put his head in his hands. It was too dark outside.

I’m Cragg’s sister.”


Pause. “Can I come in?”

Uh, sure.” This had ceased to make any kind of sense. He lit a lamp as she came in, squinting at the light. Once he could see her, she did look familiar. She sat awkwardly facing him. “So, you’re Cragg’s little sister?” he asked.

Twin, actually. I have a message.”

And why couldn’t you come during, you know, daytime?”

Rouk. Rules. Duh.”

Of course. His head was slowly clearing. “What’s it about?”

It’s from Cragg. He was afraid he’d be missed too much if he was gone for a day.”

And you won’t be?”

He’ll say I’m sick.” She was getting a little impatient. “Can I just give Nora the message and then, like, sleep?”

Jacques felt like he’d just had a bucket of cold water thrown in his face. “Nora?”

Yes. Where is she?”

Does it have to be Nora?”

Well, ideally. This is Cragg we’re talking about.”

He shook his head. “Can’t happen. Nora’s not here.”

Nora’s not here? Are you kidding me?”

Nope. C’mon, let’s go see Sheen. Here.” He handed her the lamp and she followed him out of the tent.


How did you find my house anyway?” He asked as they walked. It was wicked cold out. Kesle had about five rugs tied crudely around her. He just a coat.

Nora and Cragg took walks through your area a few times. She pointed it out to him.”

Why would they want to walk through the Slope? It’s a dump.”

There are plenty of other weirdos,” she explained.

Oh. Speaking of which, aren’t you breaking plenty of gender barriers and stuff?”

We aren’t that bad.” He looked at her. “Ok, maybe in some ways. But the men can’t do anything either. We have rules against chairs. And anyway, I don’t give a shit and Cragg’s too pissed to even care.”

Ah. I see. Does it have to do with Rouk?”

How do you even know who he is?”

I came to ‘negotiate,’” he put air quotes around the words, “a few weeks ago.”

They didn’t tell us about that!”


Atkin the exalted Leader and Rouk the puppet master. It’s pretty disgusting.”

They arrived at Sheen’s home. Jacques now realized what, exactly, he was about to do. “I’ve never heard so much sarcasm from someone wearing rugs before,” he said to stall.


He did. Five times before Sheen yelled at him. “Who the fuck is it?!”

Jacques and Kesle.”


Cragg’s sister. Can we come in?”

Just a minute.” He waited. They could hear her moving around for a while. Then the flap opened and a bucket of cold water was actually thrown in Jacques’ face.

What the HELL was that for?” Jacques demanded, rubbing water out of his eyes.

Sheen was laughing. “You can go away now,” she said.

Um, no. What’s wrong with you exactly?”

It’s good trick, Jacques, but I won. Go back to bed.” She was still giggling.

This isn’t a trick! Look!” Jacques stepped aside and pointed.

Hi,” Kesle said, “I’ve got a message for Nora.”

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