Seryn ran with the others. Inside the compound, the dirt was packed solid, but their heels played it like a drum. Each time she set a foot down, it jarred her all the way to the knee, but with the thunder of the others behind her, she thought the next step might shake the earth, or break it open.
Then their footsteps drifted apart, each runner behind her in a different pace that settled out into a weak thrum. Seryn took a deep breath, focusing on her own feet, her own circles that she was weaving between the wooden walls, always one stride ahead of the others.
And a few minutes later, the thudding of their feet fell together again, hammer strikes against the anvil of the earth, every muscle of their bodies wound together into this force that hit, and hit, and hit.
Do not trust Zeno. He claims we cannot even take enough steps to cross a room. Ridiculous.
But standing at the base of a mountain, staring up at a peak that’s grown hazy in front of the rising sun, we not only trust Zeno, we become him. We mark out that far-off halfway point, and then that halfway point between it and us, and the halfway point of the halfway, and the halfway point of that halfway and on and on, until we’ve made the mountain into infinite segments, until we’ve made the infinity that is impossible for our finite selves to cross.
We cannot reach the top, and we’re not sure whether we know that or feel it.
But he shrugs, and starts the first step. He falters, and she passes him on the second, with a flippant smile, like she’s not even sure it matters whether they have thoughts and feelings, or if it’s all about the feet and legs.
Vardan shut his eyes when he heard the key in the lock. After years in the dark, he’d earned the kind of vision that turned the shifting black of a windowless room into clear shades of gray, and he wasn’t willing to give it up for a few moments of the torchlight in the hall. Coins clinked a steady rhythm. Someone stepped into the room. The door shut behind him. The man shuffled forward, searching for the opposite wall maybe.
“Vardan?” he asked.
Slowly, Vardan opened his eyes. He didn’t bother moving, seated on the floor, the corner supporting his shoulders. Everard stood like a blind man, one hand to the wall, staring ahead.
“Still here,” Vardan said.
Devlin was being followed. For the first few yards he only caught it out of the corner of his eye. It made his skin crawl. He pulled the collar of his leather coat up around his neck for comfort, and tried to ignore the feeling. It didn’t work.
After a few steps, he stopped and turned around. The kid stopped too, head tilted back to look him in the face.
Devlin looked him over from head to toe. His clothes were made well, and no more dirty than a solid day’s play would make them. His hair had been brushed smooth that morning, but the front was mussed now, and there was a piece at the back of his head that stuck straight up. Somebody was taking the care of the kid, though Devlin didn’t see anyone looking after him now.