"The other side? Of what? Indiana?"
Silver laughs. Not because he finds his partner funny, but because he feels sorry for him. Silver stands in close to East, reaching up to put a hand on East's shoulder. "The other side, dude. There's another world out there. I know it, buddy. I've seen it... felt it."
East won't look into his face. "You were assaulted, Gary. You felt an attack." He can't bring himself to use the word. It seems totally inconsistent.
Suddenly, Silver angers, pushing East to the floor. "No, you asshole. I felt awesome. Then you came in and fucked it all up."
Brushing himself down, East stands back up. He needs to change the subject again. "They in the bedroom?"
The anger gone, Silver returns to the re-reflector. "Nobody's in the bedroom."
East keeps his eyes on Silver, who gradually feels the gaze.
"Seriously," Silver points to the room with a spanwrench. "Go look."
"Put the wrench down." East doesn't move.
"Oh, for fuck's sake. I've got a gun, Steve. Go look."
Mentally shrugging - crazy as he is, Silver has a point - East enters the bedroom and turns on the light. Pristine. Nothing touched, nothing moved. Bed hasn't even been sat on. The door to the bathroom is wide open. Nobody inside.
"SWAT dogs say they saw two people."
"I'm putting up mirrors. They saw me. And me."
East has no response. He simply watches Silver work and listens to the whirl-whine of the velocicopters passing by outside. East doesn't know what to do. There's no protocol for this. No field manual depicting a similar situation. He's got to figure out a way to get Silver off-balance.
"You're crazy," East starts, hoping not to arouse more anger. "All this existential religious hocus-focus is junk."
No anger, but another pitying laugh. "Oh, it's not junk. It's real."
Silver pulls out his short-round. Less to threaten East and more to remove the discomfort. One of the reasons Silver - well, sane Silver - never wears one in his trousers. That and everyone's heard an "accidental discharge" story. Even with the new body heat and hand print safeties, those things can be ridiculous.
East lets out a hidden sigh of relief when Silver places the weapon on an improvised work table, which is just a stack of instruction manuals that came with the tools, lenses, and mirrors Silver acquired to build his doohicky with. Still, East starts sliding slowly toward it. A few centimeters at a time. Subtle, smooth. Nothing too fast to garner Silver's attention.
"You'll see, my friend. You'll see."
"What is this?" East is exasperated. Exacerbated, even. "You find God or something?"
Silver laughs yet again. But this laugh is unlike any East has ever heard from his partner. "Or something."
East suddenly wishes he'd kept his own sidearm. Or, at least, accepted the surveillance radio.
"What happened here? Before." If progress can't be made, back up and reevaluate.
Silver shifts locations, temporarily placing himself between East and the weapon. "I had a moment of purity."
"I saw everything. I felt everything. I understand it now. So will you."
Silver gestures his arms around the room. "What this is all about, man. Emily wasn't raped. She was elevated. I would have been, too, if you hadn't have interrupted."
East can't help it. His tone crescendos in abject surprise. "What?"
"Think about it, East. A virgin? By all rights, so was her cousin."
"You're not a virgin. And we don't know squat about her cousin."
Silver nods. "I do."
"You're still not a virgin."
A smirk. "Technicality."
Sensing defeat and sorrow at the realization of what's going to happen to his friend, East waves his hand at Silver. "I'm gonna go. You're crazy."
Silver frowns, steps to the firearm and reaches for it. East notices the expression just as he starts to turn for the door, then changes direction and rushes his partner, knocking Silver to the ground. Silver, always the one in better fighting shape, uses East's momentum against him and throws East to the wall. The vibration knocks a few mirrors loose. Silver stands, firearm in hand, and glares at the shattered glass. East has never seen his partner so angry.
Silver has the short-round in his right hand, jammed into East's kidney.
East elbows his partner and knocks him off center, and they struggle with the gun, finally coming to a standstill against the wall. In the corner where it all began. They are close enough to give the wrong impression, but the gun tells the truth.
"It's real, Steve. I'll show you."
"Moments of purity fuel the universe, my friend." A small but distinguished pop ends the sentence, and Steven East shrugs to the floor, his life sloughing away in a drab room, with wide, wild eyes.
A louder discharge permeates the room, this one accompanied by a blast and a flying door. The door and reverb concussion shatters what's left of the re-reflector, sending Silver into a frenzy. Screaming in horror, he starts shooting at the invading SWAT dogs. He hits a few, but their EmflectionTM armor is more than enough to protect them from the small caliber ammunition. Silver never did acquire the larger gun.
Marquitez is in the room; drops to a knee and fires more than a dozen ballistic shockers into Silver's torso. Silver seizures and convulses violently before flopping to the ground in a sizzling slump.
The team Tac-Nurse rushes to East and checks his pulse. "He's gone."
Marquitez' head turns. "No," quietly escapes his lips.
The alpha SWAT dog shakes his head. East was a good cop. Then again, so was Silver. "Get Scene Control in here." He motions to Silver's body. "Put this asshole in a lock-jacket."
Detective-Captain Amanda Normandy arrives on-site just in time to see an unconscious Silver tossed into a Vault Wagon. He's been lock-jacketed and cuffed. The SWAT dogs don't even waste time strapping Silver into a mobile bed. They just sling him into the back of the truck and lock the door.
"Belay that truck," she screams as she rushes to the command and control vehicle. "What the Hell happened?" she asks Jimmy-Jim.
He doesn't have time for this. It's been a fucked up enough day already. "Your dick killed your other dick."
She holds back the urge to break down. Forces another pertinent question. "And the hostages?"
"There was nobody else up there. Just that gadget Silver was building. Your man Marquitez is cataloging it now."
Silver fades in and out of consciousness in the penitentiary's loony barn. He's lost in a dream world that might not be a dream. He expects a visitor. And a journey.
Finally, she comes to him. She's smiling.
"Hi, Emily." He thinks the words, at least. No one is sure he actually spoke them.
Her smile never leaves her face, but her tone is upset. "Hello, Gary."
"You here to take me? I'm ready to go."
She shakes her head. "No, you're not coming. You're headed elsewhere."
The meaning is clear. Even though nothing is explained.
"What did I do wrong?" asks Silver.
"You figured it out."
The meaning is unclear. And everything is explained. In a rush, sanity returns to Silver's mind.
"I... I'm a detective. I'm supposed to figure it out."
"Not this. This was none of your concern."
FADE TO BLACK
The Complete Gods Playing Poker