Harkoff was being pushed into a petrol-car. He remembered being vaguely upright, hitting his head on the window divider on the backseat door. He saw - he could smell - black figures milling around a table just under the tent, each of them cradling some golden pen one at a time.
Awake again. Dull lock on his chest, same searing pain in his throat, all of his limbs very, very heavy. Suddenly the room moved again, and Harkoff’s head hit the door again.
“He’s awake,” Betrina turned around after hearing a groan. “Are you alright Plel?”
“I don’t know,” slurred Harkoff, sliding down the back seat, unconscious.
Bathed in white fluorescence, Harkoff ebbed back from his empty, dreamless sleep over what felt like a matter of hours. Far from how he felt in the desert, far from feeling any better, he felt the fibres of the bedclothes moving against his skin, he no longer felt oily.
Across from the white bed, over the white tiles and underneath the fluorescent white ceiling waited Betrina. Cradled in her hands was Harkoff’s last mission report - the author totally anonymous. She had spent the last hour learning of the horror the man slowly turning in the bed before her released on a single man, and on a race of people. The scale of the report had totally shocked Betrina, the distances Harkoff had moved unprotected over the scalding desert, the photographs of the mauled man’s body, delimbed, skinned, the enormous pool of baked blood on the sand, none of it made any sense.
Bertina fell into a deep, horrific dream whilst waiting for Harkoff to properly awaken. Her head leant against the spotless white wall, the file fell on the floor, open, scattering the machine-typed papers and photographs. She was being chased by Plel, his bloodied hands reached miles and miles over the desert for her, his thumbs entered her eyesockets, his feet found their way into her stomach. Blood rained from her corpse, high in the sky now, staining the dark evening clouds. A deep laugh rang over the globe she had been murdered on, and Betrina jolted out of her steel chair, screaming.
Harkoff practically caterpoulted upwards the same very instant.
“You!” Bertrina stood rigidly, pressing herself into the wall.
“Bertrina! What’re you doing here? Are you alright?”
Bertrina panted, carefully taking in Harkoff’s face. “What are you?”
“Bertrina? You screamed, what’s the matter?”
“What are you, killing that man like that? Running forty miles over the dead, dry desert?”
Harkoff blinked once before entering Bertrina’s conversation. “Remember when I reached into my pocket at the party before I left?”