By Yannick Hill

An epic novel about identity in the internet age

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Inside Versailles #5: Room 61

The cache. A room full of drugs and guns. It is set out like a post-raid police exhibit, the guns lined up lovingly on folding tables like show and tell, the drugs piled high in their compact, bulbous bundles of shiny brown tape. Floor to ceiling. These are real drugs, real guns, from bona fide seizures around the world. There are even a couple of grenades. All this. Street value: $100 million. And while Casey has fired many guns in his life, he has never taken drugs. He’s frightened: the delayed effect, the lack of control. But something about being in this room, in amongst all this shit, all this danger ­– there’s no identifiable scent in this room, just this feeling that you’re completely out of your depth in the cold water. Darkness over ocean.

Casey feels alive in this room, but he takes no pleasure. The knowledge he would go to prison for the rest of his life should they discover his cache, have everything taken away from him, his family, his house, his company, everything – it leaves him in a state of extreme anxiety, no question. He doesn’t want to go to prison, of course not. He wants to survive. But more than wanting to live he wants to feel alive. Money can’t buy you love, but it can buy you fear, and fear is all Casey has left.

Room 61 is an altered state. Casey doesn’t need to touch anything to get there. These are real drugs, real guns, dark materials acquired by nefarious means. He won’t touch but he breathes deep, drinks in every detail, pupils fully dilated and yet Casey has never taken a drug in his life…Alright, one time. But it was long ago, when he was still in college. And it was her idea.

First summer at school and Synthea was visiting. A bunch of them went out to the beach on her last night and built a fire. All his friends, all theirs. His friends loved Synthea. At some point, early in the evening, she chose a moment when no one else was looking and stuck out her tongue for Casey. A small, cyan pill. You want one? Casey looked into her sparkling eyes and she looked back into his. He trusted her, by now he was in love with this girl. Sure, he said, but he wasn’t. What is it? he asked. She shook her head and barely shrugged her shoulders, like, does it matter? And at the time it didn’t. He loved this girl and it was their first summer at college. Casey put the pill in his mouth and they kissed long enough that people started watching.

And it was beautiful. A real experience. He remembers them swimming together in the dark ocean, swimming under the moon and turning to look back at the fire on the beach. Too far, they were too far out but this danger, he was sharing it with Synthea, this beautiful girl who wanted him and only him.

This room, all the danger in this room, all the suffering and bloodshed, all the history. Product. Bulbous, shiny packages, a fraction of whose contents is enough to destroy a life. All this. Street value: $100 million. One hundred million dollars but it is never enough. This cache. It grows a little every year. A garden of death. Too far, too far, but Casey likes to keep the danger close. Room 61. No light in the gap.

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