The average morning song can be broken down for those who are awake to hear it. The bass beat of the passing five express, the high-hat of the needle rain against the smog-ridden window pane. The ping of the alarm clock, and for the crescendo, the rising sigh of Orson Blake.
This grey tune had been the theme for Orson’s life here in the overpopulated and under-policed Lunar mining hub for the last four years. He, like the other three thousand employees would see out the rest of his days knee-deep in rock, lungs heavy with soot.
He sat up from the stained mattress, his head too heavy from last night’s drinking for his neck alone. He let it flop into his hands. The future had seemed so bright back in communal education; a life of clean air, fruit and sunshine aboard the Eclipse. A world apart from the suffocating Mega Cities back on Earth. He remembered the seminar board with the four different halls. Hall one was mining and agriculture, two and three civic duties, and four law and public order.
How different life would have been if he and his friends had gone into one of the other recruitment seminars. Were any of those who did sat on their beds, wishing they had gone into hall one? He looked out the window at the bleak space framed only by the grey moon surface tattooed with antiquated steel tramlines … ‘unlikely,’ he thought.
It was a Thursday, not that it mattered — there were no weekends, time off, holidays to speak of. One continuing downward spiral to destination nowhere.
“Lights,” he called through the muffle of his hands as he rubbed his face. No response.
“Lights.” He croaked two more times before the dull bulb clinked and flickered to life. It struggled, and turned itself back off. Orson looked up through his fingers at it. The old electrical circuitry was from an antiquated age, left to rot and decay.
“I know how you feel, buddy.” Orson remembered the guy at education’s spin on this ‘adventure of a lifetime’.
“Dreams of being important, being someone? Then join the forefront of the human race, in our push to blah blah blah. History has been forged on the backs of good work and blah blah blah. Be part of history and make your families proud as they tell their friends in the streets how their son or daughter or something blah blah blah, we only ask for three years of your sweat, drive and team effort within our mining program. After which your time will be rewarded through our relocation program to the Jupiter Eclipse, where you will live out the rest of your days in relaxation.”
That part. That part had caught his attention. ‘Relocation’.
The life expectancy for your average Joe on Earth was around thirty years. The opportunity to trade three years on a mining colony for the chance to migrate to the simulated paradise of the Jupiter Eclipse seemed too good to be true, and it was. One year into the scheme, the Lunar Mining Corporation had gone into administration and with it any hope of being shuttled off this rock. Now he worked twelve hours a day for his ration card. Life was cruel to recruitment seminar room one.
The standard-issue boiler suit zipped loosely across his frame, at least two sizes too big for him. It wasn’t down to human resources ordering the wrong kit or even Orson’s summer beach body diet going blindingly well. This uniform was never meant for Orson, as was plain to see by the embossed name badge on the breast pocket.
Worker I.D. one.three.four.eight.eight.two.one/six
Andrew J Phillips
He wasn’t on his own; many of the workers that came in year four inherited the leftover uniforms of the guys who had graduated to the Eclipse from year three of the program. At the time it was a sort of rite of passage. A custom set in place so, when your back was stiff and your arms sore, you could look down and draw strength from your bright future, a future where Andrew J Phillips would welcome you in with a beer and a smile. Now when he looked down it simply read April Fools.
He looked at the clock with a sigh, quarter to six and nearly time to leave for work. He felt an impending cloud wash over him, all be it with a tint of promise. One of the two highlights of his day was Morning Commute. The tram trip to Sector Four Mineral Progress was a treat indeed. The tram master was none other than Estan Harvey, the most beautiful woman on the moon. One of the only women on the moon, in all truth. His heart fluttered just thinking about her. The L.M.C. had hired thirty five new recruits to quell the growing media buzz about their sexist recruitment processes. What the media hadn’t seen was that upon arrival nearly all women had been put in administration, HR and Tram Masters — all of which happened to be higher paid than the graft end of the business, and a lot cleaner to boot. Nothing like a bit of backwards sexism to shut the media up.
Estan Harvey was one such employee. He knew that she was the figment of fantasy for every other straight male on the six a.m. work run but this didn’t bother him. Orson had never actually spoken to her. The pre-journey scripted safety talk over the intercom was always met with wolf whistles and jeers by the miners as her soft tones echoed through the cart, and Orson’s occasional participation couldn’t be classed as conversing.
He left his quarters and made his way down the intricate maze of artificially lit tunnels to the tram station where four-one-eight was berthed. He judged he was a few minutes early as the corridor was sparsely populated. The six shift was usually rammed. It overlapped with the end of the refinery shift over in sector seven. This meant, come six-fifteen, the residential colony would be a hive of activity with workers returning for a wash before heading to The Fissure, the local and only working bar on this side of the habitat, and the other highlight of Orson’s day.
He reached the platform and was promptly greeted with a tap on the shoulder. He spun around to see Hugo. Hugo had a knack for sneaking up on people without so much as a sound. This ability was what got him in the mines in the first place.
Too much bad press and conspiracy surrounded what they had dubbed ‘the workers’ lottery’, at least that’s what the press back home had started slamming it as in the news reels. Questions arose as to why some people were taken before the three years, why some stayed for five. Why the ones who left never returned contacts from the station and why Unity wouldn’t let any of the general public visit. Due to this, it was dubbed the ‘human lottery.’
With Unity having a monopoly over space traffic lanes, trade routes and mass press coverage, they tried to launch a new drive for workers as a fresh year started, but the damage was done. The whispers on the streets had people turning their backs on the program, choosing a shorter, harder life on Earth’s barren body than the word of their government.
So the general agreement was that criminals of a certain severity would be sent to the mines, thus freeing up space within the overpopulated massive corporation run cities back on Earth. A win-win situation for the people in power, the men and women that formed the worldwide government, Unity.
“But not to worry,” the newsletter report had said. “No hardened criminals will be sent; only thieves and other petty criminals. Their hard work will earn them a place back in our society.” Which made it all better for Orson and the others. Why not surround them with scum? After all, they had been stamped down by the left economical boot why not kick them in the teeth with the right one too. If he could jump on the nearest shuttle and get back to his sister and the life he had left behind he would, but this was his life now. The L.M.C. had become a one-way ticket and he was at the front of the bus.
“Lacklustre, how goes?” Lacklustre was Hugo’s nickname for Orson in the mornings.
“Not bad Hugo, you know how it is.” The opening conversation took the path it did every morning. The same tap on the shoulder, the same questions. Hugo went to ask the next part of their twelve-month rehearsed conversation but was cut short by Estan, who strode past cutting a line straight through their empty words. Her hair bounced off her shoulders, the ends dancing across her back as she walked.
“Would you look at that,” Hugo said. Orson nodded. It was rare he arrived before Miss Harvey. Perhaps he would have to leave those few minutes early every day.
“You down the Fissure tonight?” the recital continued.
“It’s the only bar on this rock that isn’t infested with those slab heads off the first shift. I swear they would drink fuel if you put it in a tankard.” Orson laughed to himself, Hugo looked expectant. “Sure, what time?” he surrendered with a sigh. He knew what Hugo would say, just as it was a given that Orson would be there. He felt some days like these little encounters in the morning were nothing more than a test to see if he still knew what the sound of his own voice was like. Once in the mines, speech was useless around the large three core drills. A sort of rudimentary sign language had been developed by the old boys, the ones wearing other people’s hand me down overalls.
“Should be there around the normal. Grab a stool for me, Lacklustre?” he said with a cheeky grin. He darted towards the carts as the green boarding light flickered ‘on’, determined to get a seat with a view — a view of the tram master’s cab.
Orson sat midway down. Catching a glimpse of his reflection in the airtight Perspex window, he groaned. That’s why he was early today; his bird’s nest hair sprouted like wires from his crown, his grisly stubble had gone from stylish to untrimmed. Estan’s was one of the only trams that still had windows clean enough to see your reflection — which today he was not grateful for.
‘No wonder she never batts an eyelid. Even Hugo looks more appealing than me today.’ He thought. The safety transmission began, as did the cheers.
“Welcome to the four-one-eight mainline, my name is Estan Harvey and I will be your tram master for this journey.”
“Wooo, yeah! Be my master, Estan!”
“We will be departing shortly. Can I ask you to refrain from any breach of the L.M.C. employee act, as failure to comply with the regulations will result in disciplinary action.”
The L.M.C. handbook stated that employees were not to participate in any disturbance that may arise in their cart during zero atmospheric travel. This rule used to be not to participate anywhere, but it had been slackened off as the L.M.C. found that taking disciplinary action on every scuffle between workers wasn’t cost effective after the criminals arrived.
Now the ruling only counted for the trip from the hub across the moon’s surface to the mines. The way around this was to give absolute corrective power to the shift manager. This had, in fact, become far more of a deterrent than before. As the shift managers had the nickname ‘The Whip’ — a name that was truly earned from their reputations of being like the slave drivers from history. Fights had been reduced thirty percent in the last two months; the admin staff were satisfied that this new measure was responsible. Orson knew like many others that the true deterrent was the four years of strife ahead. What’s worth fighting for when you have nothing left? He mused on what life Estan had left, what her story was, as she sat in the booth, eyes down on the navigation box. He would never know, Orson Blake … just another beard.
The tram rattled and bumped its way out of the habitat ring and into the desolate wastes of the moon. It looked beautiful the first thousand times he saw it. He sighed. The graffiti etched into the armrest of his seat seemed more enthralling. The zero-g travel was only five minutes of deep engine hum as the gravity stabilizers clamped to the tracks and before he knew it the soft hum was replaced with the ever-increasing volume of drilling and welding. The tram came to a gradual stop.
“I hope you enjoyed your journey and well wishes for your day’s endeavours,” Miss Harvey sounded. No whistles this time, only a few groans as the occupants readied themselves for another gruelling shift. Orson stood up to leave; passing the tram masters booth he muttered his usual, “Bye Estan.”
“Bye, have a good day,” she said with a smile. His heart jumped into his throat. ‘She heard me?. She never had before.’ He didn’t know what to do: ‘say something else? Leave it there?’ He noticed he was hovering in the doorway slack-jawed. She looked back up from her work with a pleasant smile as she waited for whatever he had to say. ‘God she’s beautiful,’ he thought. Her eyes adopted an awkward glint. She had noticed his hovering. What felt like a lifetime passed before Orson gave in to the fact that he had nothing witty in him, nothing on the tip of his tongue. He smiled back and walked away.
‘Idiot,’ he thought. Something was on the end of his tongue now, a great many things had come to mind as he self-analysed his pathetic behaviour around Miss Estan Harvey. But all things aside she did say hello … that’d never happened before. Perhaps today was going to be Orson’s lucky day. Perhaps he would get a telegram from the L.M.C.
Dear Mr Orson Blake,
We hope we find you in good health and high spirits. This telegram has been sent as per special request by Andrew J Phillips, who would like his overalls returned to him as soon as humanly possible. We would hope it would not be a great inconvenience for you to deliver them by hand to Mr Phillips on Jupiter Eclipse.
Kind regards L.M.C. relocation office.
‘Probably not,’ he mused.
He swapped his punched in shift card for thick leather gloves and the clunky drill. Dust mask up, goggles down, he entered the main cavern with the rest of the work detail. Straight away he was called over.
“Hey Orson, The Whip wants you on the west wall crew. He wants pilot holes punching through these main structure points for when the big cone opens it up tomorrow,” the worker’s voice was barely audible over the hum of the drill in the next cavern. He passed Orson the blueprints, pointing out the two tunnels that converged. The sector one tunnel merge was the biggest operation they had undertaken in the last few months. It was of vital importance that a route be opened for colony growth to continue at the rate that was being pushed on them by the powers that be. The dense minerals found at this depth were invaluable for the people back on Earth now the planet had no natural resources left, bled dry by her children. The minerals and ores powered everything from the air purifiers down to the power stations that turned on the streetlights. This alone made the L.M.C. Unity’s utmost priority.
Orson nodded to the worker, stuffing the blueprints inside his belt as he scanned the area. He raised his drill to rest high on his shoulder as he made his way over to his post. He was one of only a handful of workers on the west wall today — Hugo and the others were gathered on the east side with The Whip looking at how to approach the mammoth task of starting to mine that side of the void. A few weeks and it would be ready for the tunnel to continue on through to the next sector, just like the west wall.
He began to drill. The thud of the diamond-pointed jackhammer punched deep into the tissue around his shoulder. Its recoil felt like a horse’s kick, something he never got used to. It was always the same for the first couple of hours until it went numb. Then it was a walk in the park, or at least that’s what he told himself as he ground his teeth together. The drill bouncing off the hard rock faces while it searched for a scar to embed itself into.
The sound of the drilling in the next sector seemed really loud today. He could feel it forcing pressure onto his eardrums. The drill caught in the rock, snagging to the side, the diamond bit whining as the metal bent and contorted under the mechanical pressure. He loosed it as it span through his grip. The bit snapped clean off with a ping that was noticeable over the cone drill thrum.
“Ah crap,” he cursed under his breath as he quickly regained his grip on the drill. Bracing it with one foot against the rock he prized it from the wall and dropped it to the floor. Looking over at The Whip, he saw that he hadn’t noticed. The last thing Orson needed was a drill bit coming out of his ration book. He took the broken bit and skimmed it along the floor into the spoil pile. His eyes darted over to the east as he fitted the spare. Hugo caught his gaze; he waved.
“Stop bloody waving at me you idiot!” he spat as he quickened the change. The Whip turned to see what Hugo was so concerned with. Orson could lip read a few words from his mouth.
“What … hell … you little Fu … now!” He could use his imagination to fill in the blanks as The Whip beckoned him over. Orson put the drill down. He should have been gutted about the fact that he would probably be living off mineral soup for the next few weeks but he couldn’t get the drill noise out of his head. His thoughts jumbled and confused. The sound had become so deafening it began to shake his insides.
The work detail on the east side seemed equally aware of the noise. The men held their ear defenders, stumbling against one another. The tremors came from behind the east wall. The Whip turned to look at the wall behind him.
Orson stopped in his tracks. The automated drill was approaching from the wrong side, it wasn’t supposed to be there for another day.
A feeling of dread pulled his insides down into his boots as he looked at the work detail on the east side. He jumped, waving his arms, his screams drowned out by the thunderous noise. A couple of the men stumbled back from the trembling wall breaking into a run as realization set in, a realization that came far too late.
The three cones penetrated the stone followed by the rest of the metal behemoth, the cones tearing, ripping at the wall before belching forth countless shards of thick solid stone. The workers closest to the wall were pulled up into the spiralling teeth, others hit by the rock face. Orson fell to his back, pulling his knees up tight as the shower rained down and around him. The drill pushed forward into the tunnel. Clipping the Propane gas tanks, it ignited what was left of the east wall in a blazing glow.
Orson scrambled to his feet, charging to the main control panel. He leapt over his charred workmates, groaning as they rolled through the embers around him. He wiped the soot from his goggles as he cancelled the Atmosphere Vacuum Protocol that was imminent.
“Atmosphere Vacuum Protocol terminated,” the computer flashed. The drill continued on through the west wall, where he had been working only moments before.
He made his way back over to the fire, extinguisher in hand. As he reached the edge of the inferno a flashing light caught his eye: the notice board above the control panel.
“Atmosphere Vacuum Protocol activated.”
“What the hell?” Orson had no time to think now; the room was going to be dumped of all oxygen in seconds. He grabbed the nearest worker by the scruff of his overalls, dragging him back from the fire towards the safety doors. They were jammed from the other side, no, locked. He looked down. It was Hugo in his hands … at least he thought it was. The man’s face was a charred mess. He looked back into the room and helplessly watched as the fire was snuffed out, taking any lingering survivors along with it. Orson dropped to his knees.
“It’s ok, Hugo. Help’s on its way, just hang in there, mate.” The vacuum sucked the words from his lips.
It was no use. Hugo was dead.
Orson sat back. The ringing in his ears became louder, but not from the drill. He knew this noise far too well for his liking: he was passing out. He looked down at his hands covered in blood — Hugo’s blood? No … his own. He slumped to the floor next to his friend. The sounds around him became muffled, like he was underwater. He blinked through his drunken rolling eyelids, making out the mirage of people, flashes of lights, people, standing over him. ‘Why weren’t they helping?’ He tried to speak. The whisper left his lips in the same breath as his consciousness.
The white light forced a squint. Orson scrunched his face up as he came to. Getting his bearings he pushed forwards from his bed. His body respectfully requested he lay back down, and with a groan he complied. He took a minute as he blinked away the daze.
“Ah Mr Blake, you’re awake,” a voice sounded from somewhere at the foot of his bed. “And how are we feeling?” the rough older voice asked.
Orson pulled the oxygen mask away and took a breath to answer, the air far too clean compared to what his soot-filled lungs were accustomed to. A hoarse growl sounded from deep in his throat. His body flinched behind the power of a cough, followed by another groan as he lay as still as humanly possible.
The voice laughed. “That good eh princess?”
The blurry man came slowly into focus. Tall in stature, the bald old man’s white doctor’s coat hung loosely over his slight frame, clinging onto whatever angles his joints offered. He flicked one of his two pack up to his mouth. With practised ease the long cig hung from the stickiness of his lips like a fly to grease paper. He seemed unbothered by the free-flowing oxygen tanks next to his patient. The white of the stick offset the illusion of the doctor’s white coat, showing its fading stains. Blood only comes out in the wash so many times. The old man flicked his zippo open with a clink.
“You’re lucky. Your friends on the other hand…” He ignited the lighter, the glow hugging his grey skin with a warmth that looked like it hadn’t touched his face for years.
“Your friends … not so much.” He took a long draw in. The cigarette sizzled and cracked as it burnt back. Orson swallowed hard as he looked away.
The room was nearly empty. Four cubicles, including his. Only the one at the end had the curtain drawn.
“Don’t really get much work here these days,” the old man said. “You have an accident out here, you’re more likely to be heading somewhere you can get more of a tan.” He pointed to the room at the end of the corridor the other side of the waist-high windows. The sign above read ‘Incineration Unit’. “But seems you’ve got enough colour in your cheeks to last you all summer,” he said with a chuckle through the veil of smoke that surrounded him.
“Should you really be smoking, doctor?” Orson croaked.
The old man took a moment to weigh up his new guest. “Perhaps you’re right, I would hate it if I lost my youthful glow.” He took another drag, the smoke licking past his features before escaping through the ventilation grills.
“Did anyone else get out?” Orson asked.
“If I had someone else in here to talk to, do you think I would still be participating in this colourful parlay?” He snorted.
“You’ve got some visitors on their way down to you soon. A couple of suits want to ask for your autograph,” he said as he glanced at the clipboard at the foot of Orson’s bed, scribbling something on it before he walked away. Probably summing up his feelings towards his patient with four letters.
Orson took a deep breath. The pounding of his head felt louder than the three cones had. ‘One drill scheduling error, five-plus workers dead. Something had gone terribly wrong. Someone was going to pay severely for this,’ he thought. If there was one thing that the L.M.C. could do without it was more publicity back on Earth. Orson would bet the other workers wouldn’t even know about this. One thing the mining corps did enjoy about the Moon colony was the complete information control they commanded on the surface.
It made Orson wonder of what else he was blissfully unaware. ‘Had this happened in other sectors? Was there an issue with the drills? There may have been.’ The cone drills were reconditioned gear from the Mars project — some even dated back to the terraforming age. These relics should never have been put back into commission. Not a surprise, the L.M.C. was a heartless Financial beast, knowingly using unsafe equipment didn’t seem too farfetched. Everything on the Moon was hand-me-downs.
Orson looked to the other end of the room. The doc had pulled the curtain back on the end bed. A body lay there. He looked for a minute or two, waiting for movement, a sign of life before he spoke.
“Hey, you down there.”
“I’m Orson. Were you in the blast?” The person tilted their mask of bandages away from him.
“Sorry to bother you,” he called one last time.
Time seemed to move so slowly. He had counted the foam ceiling tiles five plus times. His head tilted forwards. Carefully taking the itchy cotton blanket in his hands he lifted it up, looking for the damage that was responsible for his bedridden state. A large suture pad sat just above his hip, a dark brown stain showing through its centre. ‘One of those rocks must have clipped me real good,’ he thought as he lay the blanket back down.
A creak sounded from the door handle at the far end of the room where the doctor had exited. The rusty copper ball of a handle turned and led the way for the cumbersome door to open. The light from the hallway beyond was blocked by the mass of two men. The door clicked shut behind them. Orson took their measure as they approached his bed. The first man was adorned in a stylish black suit and a white tie. The second was a good foot taller than the first. He was dressed in a copy of the first’s suit, the only evidence he wasn’t the first’s shadow was his bright red tie. The men stopped at the foot of the bed, their faces now in focus.
“Good afternoon, Mr Blake. My name is Mr White,” the shorter man said with a thin smile, not bothering to introduce his companion. Orson looked at the ties then back up to Mr White.
“And is this Mr Red? Saves any confusion on wash day, no need for iron on names … good idea,” he joked. Orson chuckled uncomfortably, he could not deny he was intimidated. The larger man quiet, serious, Mr White’s deathly gaze broke into a pleasant face creased with a smile.
“Very funny, Mr Orson. They say laughter is the best medicine.” Orson Blake wasn’t laughing. White took a step away from the end of his bed and towards Orson. Fixated on him, he gestured for him to shuffle his legs over as he sat, half-perched on the bed. Orson gripped the blanket … intimidation was at the forefront of his thoughts.
“We — that is Mr Red and I — have had the task of resolving your incident.” He waited for a reply. Orson sat quietly.
As if on cue, Mr Red spoke. “We are eager to get your sequence of events down on file.”
“Well I don’t remember much that will be of help, guys.”
Mr White leant forward. “We’ll let you know if it’s of help or not,” he said with a smile.
Orson let out a sigh mixed with a groan. “I was drilling on the far wall. I heard the three cone coming through and the next thing you know there was fire, smoke … you know the rest.”
“No need to rush. You aren’t going anywhere, are you? Start right at the beginning.”
“The beginning? Like what?” Orson asked.
“So you woke up…” White coaxed. His previous intimidation state was rapidly transforming into restless fatigue.
“I woke up, I took a shit and brushed my teeth,” he said sarcastically, hoping to convey his annoyance to White, but the suit simply smiled.
“In that order?” he asked as he made notes. ‘This guy is unreal,’ Orson thought, as he relived his morning step by step. When he was finished White stood back up and brushed out the creases from his jacket and trousers.
“That will do. Your story checks out with what we have seen on the CCTV footage of that workstation,” said Mr Red as he picked up the doctor’s clipboard from the end of the bed.
“What? If you recovered the CCTV, why did you need my statement?” Orson asked in frustration.
“Oh, one more thing: did you have much to do with a Miss Estan Harvey or anyone else on the six a.m. shift? Anyone you wouldn’t normally expect to speak to?” he pried.
Orson looked confused. “What?” he stuttered.
Mr White waved a dismissive hand. “Don’t you worry yourself,” the suit assured him weakly. “We all have hoops we have to jump through.”
Orson could have smacked that thin smile from his gaunt face if he had the strength in him. “I lost a lot of good friends yesterday you…”
He was cut off by the copper ball creaking again. This time the door flew open and the doctor entered, his bloodstained eggshell coat whipping up behind him, as he came to save the day. Orson’s stubbly chinned, likes whisky, a little too much Super Hero. He flopped his head back on the pillow, the pounding pressure in his head beating like a war drum.
“What’s going on here?” he growled.
Mr White beckoned to Mr Red who produced a folded sheet of paper. “I think you’ll find our clearance to interview Mr Blake is all in order. You should have been informed of our visit.”
The doctor pushed the papers back towards the officials. “I was told you’d be coming to discuss his situation with me, and check on his condition, not grill the kid. You can cross your T’s and dot your I’s if it makes you happy; you can question him all you like when he walks out those doors, but until then.?” He snatched the clipboard from Red. “Until then, you can stick that piece of paper in the place that only I’ll find when you come for your ‘midlife’ exam.” The doctor looked over at Red.” Or he might find it first … never can tell with you … ties.”
Puckering his lips, Orson let out a grin as the agents walked away, glaring the old doctor down. The old man turned to light another cig as he winked at Orson.
“Get some rest, kid. Worry about them when you have to,” he said. Blake didn’t know whether to take comfort in that advice or heed its warnings. Men like White and Red didn’t just disappear. If there was blame to be placed they would place it, fairly or not.
“Who’s at the end?” he rasped gesturing to the bandaged mummy by the door.
The doc looked down to his other patient. “That would be a Mr…” he looked at the notes… “Mr Hugo Jennings.”
Orson’s eyes widened. “Hugo’s alive? I thought you said no one made it?”
“No kid. I said you were the lucky one … Hugo, not so much.”
“Will he be ok?”
“How the hell should I know?” he spat back, the smoke tickling his yellowed eyes. Orson didn’t bother replying with the obvious. “Right, the nurse will be along shortly with your … ‘gourmet meal’,” he said with a chuckle, and left without waiting for a reply.
Orson was so relieved Hugo had made it. He had become fond of the thief over his time on the L.M.C. — or was it relief that he wasn’t the one and only living witness to the tragedy? He didn’t know what he felt. All he knew was for the first time since he had woken up he could breathe.