After helping the others get to the hospital, Natalie, as a key witness, spent the next several hours talking to Gennedy, filling him in on her version of events. After that, she went straight to her dorms and went to bed. For the first noght in a very, very long time, she got a good night-s sleep. She never once woke up screaming in a cold sweat, with her knuckles bleeding. She woke up at 10am, and she felt calm. Better than she had felt in a long time. And she knew why. She'd been pushed over the event horizon. So long of being scared of herself and paranoid and anxious until she could take anymore, and then...pop. It was all gone. Even when she thought about what she'd done. The people she killed. Not in self defense. She vividly remembered hunting down the gunmen, just like she hunted down the scientists of Project Lion. And now, in neither cases did she feel guilt, or shame, or fear of herself. She knew she was a monster, but now she'd let go of her fears and was....happy that she'd killed those people. This is what Project Lion made her when they broke her mind with two years of torture. She didn't need to be afraid of who she was. Didn't need to be afraid of losing control. Was she always in control now? Or never in control? It didn't matter. She now had mental consistency and didn't think she'd be flipping from one to the other extreme again.
Everything was going well until the broadcasts. They included footage of her callously hunting down and killing the gunmen in what clearly wasn't self-defense. It looked more like vengeance. And Natalie felt nothing watching it. And that worried her. She should watch this and feel sick. Just a little bit. But she didn't. And that wasn't normal.
And that's when she started to notice.
For the rest of the day, she was given a wide berth. Staff members watched her carefully. Other kids her age tried not to be within fifteen feet of her if they could help it. Everyone who saw the broadcast knew that there were people still in the Promise's prisons who weren't crazy or murderous enough to be able to do what Natalie did, the way she had done it. Natalie wondered if they all thought she should be in the prison too. Maybe she should be.
By the second day, the distance and the stares, and the mutterings were starting to grind on her. She started to get increasingly irritable and at several points snapped at people demanding that if they had something to say, say it. They would always flee. She sighed. Later that day her therapist had a guard standing behind her and explained that he was a nullified. Natalie didn't listen to another word, and walked out of the room.
The next days followed a similar pattern. By the fourth day Natalie was starting to get used to it. She still went out every day, went shopping, started putting more care into her appearance, dressing better. Screw trying to fit in. She was free of fear for the first time she could remember. She was determined to have fun to spite this atmosphere.
Then, Natalie got a text out of the blue one day;
Archie Anderson: Hey, Lynn and I need everyone to meet up. Where Keaton said they should spill flour on the floor. Ask Keaton if you don't know where that is and don't see any of us on the way.
She grinned. Finally, her friends were meeting up! She was looking forward to having a social life again. To take advantage of her newfound mental peace to truly enjoy other's company. And she did want to see Archie again, but she wouldn't know how to broach the subject of how badly she'd fucked up their relationship before it started. Meeting in a group was preferable to her right now. But what did this Keaton clue mean? Natalie then texted Keaton.
Natalie: Hey, so I just read Archie's text. Any idea where he's talking about?