Razor Mountain is a serial novel, with new parts published every week or two. For more info, visit the Razor Mountain landing page.
“I suppose I can pick up the story from there,” Cain said. “Christopher was eventually deemed to be an accidental arrival, not a significant threat. It was left to the court system to determine what to do with him, with the expectation that he would likely become a permanent resident. He must have made some friends, because his advocate registered an unusual request for relief. It was that report that was flagged in the system. When we were planning Christopher’s extraction, I set up some regular searches across all the systems I have access to, just in case someone caught wind of my plans. Those searches flagged this report by a Specialist Gabrielle Speares, the subject being none other than Christopher Lamarck.
“When I got over the shock, I immediately intervened. I confirmed that he was, in fact, the person I was looking for, and I brought him to the chamber of voices, the heart of the mountain.”
“And here we are,” Christopher said.
“Here we are.”
“All it took to recover your memories was a trip to the chamber?” Cas Bell asked.
“The process has started,” Christopher replied. “As I said, it’s going to take a while. This is not as neat and tidy as the usual ritual, where the host is a well-prepared adult, and the transfer happens under controlled conditions in the chamber itself.”
“Why is it different?” she asked. “There were hosts being groomed back then.”
Christopher blinked. He knew in his bones that it was different, but he wasn’t sure how to respond. The truth was that the chamber didn’t belong to him, not really. It was built by the voices, for their own purposes. Despite all he had built, he was still the interloper, using their tools as best he could.
“The process is difficult, and it’s not easier when making the jump under the stress of a knife in the gut. I overshot the mark, so to speak. After that, I was forced to latch on to whatever host I could find.”
“In this case, a newborn in Minneapolis,” Cain said.
There was a moment of heavy silence around the table. The bald man at the far end was the first to speak.
“I suppose the question we must resolve now is whether we should believe all of this,” he said.
Christopher stared at him.
“I’m sorry, I can’t recall your name.”
The man nodded. “I’m Reed Parricida, Secretary of Labor.”
“For what it’s worth, I can corroborate a fair bit of Cain’s account,” Cas said. “My people were involved in monitoring Christopher, and, of course, in the failed extraction.”
“That doesn’t prove he’s God-Speaker,” General Reese said.
Christopher looked around the table, spending a moment on each face. It was still a mix of familiar and unfamiliar, but he could feel relevant memories rising from the depths. He grabbed an empty piece of paper from the open folder in front of Cain, and a pen from the middle of the table.
“Ask me something you think only God-Speaker would know,” he said. He looked from face to face and began to scribble on the paper, tearing strips off as he went.
“Can you even remember the names of all your secretaries?” Reed asked.
“If you were a fake,” Cas said, “it would be expected that Cain would have coached you.”
“You already offered yours,” Christopher said to Reed. “There’s Cain Dolus, Secretary of Energy; Cassandra Bell, Director of Intelligence Operations; General Simon Reese, Director of Military Operations; you I don’t recall, although I suspect you must be the Secretary of Justice, which means you were the deputy secretary under Moira…”
In the end, he could remember about two-thirds of the people around the table, although some of them seemed more real in his memory than others.
“Surely there must be things I would know that Cain couldn’t have told me,” Christopher said. He had finished writing on his strips of paper, and began folding them in half and passing them to particular secretaries.
“For example,” he continued, “I believe I gave every one of you a code. You were each told that only you had a code, but I have to confess, that was a lie. This was a code specifically to confirm my identity after I moved to a new host. Unfortunately, like everything else, I don’t remember all of the codes yet. But perhaps the ones I do remember will at least convince a few of you.”
The secretaries’ eyes went wide as they opened their slips of paper. General Reese took out his phone and tapped the screen a few times, before holding the paper up to it for comparison.”
“God Damn,” he said at last.
“I have a question,” Reed said. He had not been a recipient of a slip of paper. “Can you tell me what you had asked me to investigate in the days before your death?”
Christopher rubbed his forehead and stared at Reed. He waited for a few seconds, in the vain hope that some memory would present itself, but nothing did. He wanted to dig for it, but that didn’t seem to be how these memories worked. They came to the surface when they were ready, and in no particular order.
“I’m sorry, I don’t.”
“Do you have any idea how long it will take to fully recover your memory?”
“No. It’s been a very long time since this has happened. Thousands of years. It’s a lot of memories to recover.”
“No doubt. Can we assume then, that you’ll let us all know when you remember which of us betrayed you?”
“Of course,” Cain interjected. “And now, everyone knows that it’s only a matter of time. Until then, I will ensure that God-Speaker is safe and monitored, so any further attempts to harm him will be subject to the harshest spotlight possible.”
“Perhaps a foolish question,” Cas said, “but how fair is it to trust you with that?”
“I’ve done more than anyone to bring him back,” Cain said. “If that isn’t enough to exonerate me, I don’t know what is.”
Christopher felt a headache creeping from the nape of his neck toward his forehead. He suddenly felt as though his brain was trying to burst his skull. Too many memories, he supposed. Surely a human brain couldn’t hold thousands of years of memories without ill effects?
“I understand this has been shocking,” he said, massaging his temples. “I promise you, it has been even more shocking for me. I know there will be many more questions and things to resolve, but I think this is about as much of this as I can take, for the moment.”
“What will you do now?” Cas asked.
Christopher suddenly remembered a suite of rooms at the top of the city, filled with cozy firelight. A balcony to look at the stars. A private office full of books…and his sheet music! He had forgotten about his compositions.
“I think I’d like to go to my apartments.”
“I’ll bring a team to set up the surveillance,” Cas said. She turned to the room. “And we’ll make sure all of us have visibility.”
“Great,” Christopher said, the migraine now throbbing between his ears.
“Follow me,” Cain said. “I’ll take you home.”