Chapter 60

“Ig and Ook?” The two suited figures continued down the hall, each one resting a hand on Mary’s closest shoulder. The hallway was sparse, nothing but stone on every surface, only interrupted by the occasional door. With each one Mary would tense in anticipation, expecting them to hurl her inside and complete her incarceration. So far they had merely kept walking, the final door of her journey not yet having appeared before them.

“Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum?” No reaction. Mary was amusing herself by trying to guess the names of her guards. She realized it was possible they were new creations cobbled together just for this purpose, beings who had no real names, but then again it wasn’t like she had anything else to do. She’d already tried reading their minds and moving things with her telekinesis. So far Nick’s words had held true; as long as she was in his mind, her powers didn’t exist. Except they did, in that they were what allowed her to be here in the first place. It was a bit confusing and had begun to give Mary a headache, hence why so moved onto the simpler game of name guessing.

“Watson and Holmes? Kit and Kat? Cloak and Dagger? Come on, guys, and least tell me if I’m hot or cold.” Her attendants remained silent, but as Mary glanced up at them, she noticed a large hand wrap around each of their skulls. With one swift movement and a sharp cracking sound, the two craniums had been struck together and the escorts were collapsed in a heap. Mary turned slowly around, trying to figure out just who there was to help her in a place like this. Whatever she’d expected, what she found was quite different.

“I believe they’re called Tick and Tock,” said Mary’s rescuer. He was tall and lean, with a bald head, a sharp nose, and otherwise unremarkable features except for his eyes. His eyes seemed to sparkle with kindness; they made him seem like the kind of person to be instantly and completely trusted. Given whose mind Mary was currently trespassing in, it was a quality that had the effect of leaving her exceptionally suspicious. “Their names change with Nick’s moods. Mine is more stable; you may call me Gerry.”

“Thanks for the help, Gerry,” Mary said skeptically. “But I’m a little confused. Nick wants me sealed up, and everything in here is a part of Nick’s brain, so why did you knock out the guards?”

Gerry gave her a reassuring smile. “A person is made of more than singular desires. Often they have conflicting impulses, powerful inclinations for things that are opposite in nature. Tick and Tock are part of Nick’s extensive defensive army, the part of him that keeps distance between his heart and the rest of the world.”

“So what are you?”

“I’m the part of Nick that wants to connect to other people. The real Gerry is the one who is largely responsible for my existence, hence why I look this way. He’s quite likely the only person in the world Nick truly trusts, let alone loves. His influence left a crack in your friend’s otherwise impenetrable outer shell.”

“I see. Is that why you saved me?” Mary still wasn’t sure she believed this new mental figment; however, she had to admit he was more pleasant than the last ones.

“Partially. It’s mostly because Nick is trying to find a place in here he shouldn’t go. I need you to stop him.”

“Why can’t you do it?”

“I’m a piece of him; my input was registered in the subconscious already. It was ignored, as usual, unfortunately. So I’ve decided to pursue more drastic measures.”

“Like using a trespasser to interfere for you. Nice catch of a loophole. You really are a part of Nick.”

“Guilty as charged.”

“I have to ask: what reason do I have to trust you? I’m not certain going deeper into Nick’s mind is the safest recreational activity.”

“Mary, right now we are already under the surface layer of his subconscious, that’s why I was able to come help you. Down here I’m an independent component. If you want to wander around without me that’s your choice, but keep in mind that there are far more components to Nick than just myself and the twins. Very few of them are as pleasant as we, and some of them can be downright horrifying. They do have one thing in common you should be aware of: in this place they’re all quite real.”

“You make a compelling case. Lead the way,” Mary said quickly. For the first time she was beginning to understand just how vulnerable she was without her powers. Gerry might be lying out of his ass; however, he at least seemed to have a purpose for saving her. It was the kind of self-serving logic she could believe when dealing with Nick, so she was willing to acknowledge it would make sense for a chunk of his mind to work along the same lines.

At this point, all she could do was follow along and hope Rich woke them up soon.