Chapter 50: Nikola

Today brings us chapter fifty of the Infinite Limits saga with Nikola’s second point of view chapter in book three, Dividing by Ø. For this chapter we rejoin Nikola and Tillie in Nikola’s hometown to learn more about what the universe is like outside of Outland and if Tillie is willing to help Nikola and her family with their mission.

If you’ve been enjoying the story so far, don’t forget to pick up a full copy of the novel here or subscribe to my email newsletter for news and updates on new releases in the Infinite Limits series and beyond. Until then, enjoy today’s read.

< XLIX. Mr. Walker     [Table of Contents]     LI. Laura >

L. Nikola

Tillie burst through the building’s tent flap doors—apparently no longer afraid of the guards—and ran down the dirt street, making  Nikola sprint to catch up. Tillie was two blocks down the road and around a corner before Nikola finally grabbed her by the arm to stop her.

“W—Wait,” Nikola said, hunched over and breathing heavily. “W—Where’re you going?”

“I don’t know,” Tillie said, shrugging Nikola’s hand off. “Does it matter? I’ve had enough of this place. I just want to go home.”

“You heard my dad, Tillie. You can’t go home. The protectors will—”

My dad wouldn’t let them do anything to me. He has a little more power than a protector, Nikola. I’m a Manager.”

Nikola scoffed despite her every effort to stifle it. She knew that Tillie couldn’t help her ignorance. Tillie was a product of her experiences, just like every other human being in existence, and she had no control over what those experiences were. But it was all Nikola could do not to laugh in the face of such plain naivete.

“So what?” Nikola said. “That doesn’t matter anymore. You’re in the real world now. The real worlds. All of them. Things work a little differently outside of America and you’re just going to have to get used to it.”

“No, but…” Tillie turned to look at Nikola, a tear forming in her eye. “But my dad… Mr. Kitty… How am I supposed to…”

Of course. Nikola palmed her face then rearranged her glasses. Tillie missed her family. Nikola hadn’t thought twice about it because her family was here, but no wonder Tillie wanted to go home.

“I know,” Nikola said, trying to calm Tillie now. “I’m sorry. I wish you could go back to them, too, but there’s no way. The protectors are after you now. They won’t stop until they get you.”

“And who’s fault is that?” Tillie demanded, pushing herself away. “They wouldn’t be after me if I had served my sentence, would they?”

“Well, no. But you probably wouldn’t even be alive if that were the case. Do you know what they would have done to you? You’d still be in that solitary drawer we saved you from—at the very best.”

Probably wouldn’t be alive.” Tillie scoffed. “According to who? You’re dad? He doesn’t care about me. All he cares about is y’alls stupid country here—whatever you call it. I could tell that by the way he spoke to me.”

“No.” Nikola shook her head. “He does care about you. He cares about all the people of all the worlds.”

Tillie scoffed again. “Yeah. Sure. What does he think he is, the Invisible Hand or something? As if.”

“Far from it. As far as you can get. The Invisible Hand doesn’t care about anyone. The Invisible Hand is the enemy we’re fighting against. So, no. He is not, nor will he ever be, the Invisible Hand. My dad’s something far greater than that.”

“Fight against the Invisible Hand?” Tillie said backing away from Nikola and almost tripping over some rubble. “But tha—that’s blasphemous.”

“Of course we’re fighting the Invisible Hand. What do you think Emma was doing? What do you think you’ve been doing this entire time? That’s the whole reason you’re here now. We’ve been fighting the Invisible Hand together.”

“No—I…” Tillie looked like she was fighting back tears. “I wasn’t. We weren’t. Emma never said anything about that to me. We were fighting for the robot workers, not against the… Invisible Hand.” She whispered the last two words as if the Hand had ears and was listening, as if it cared one bit about either one of them.

“Yes,” Nikola said, trying to hide the annoyance in her voice. She kept reminding herself that Tillie had gone to American schools, that she couldn’t possibly know any better, that Tillie had been raised in the religion of the Invisible Hand and she might not be willing to throw off its shackles so soon or all at once. “You were fighting for the robots and the assembly line workers against the will of the owners,” Nikola tried to explain. “You were attempting to violate their property by freeing the androids. You were going against the will of the market by fighting for the rights of the assembly line workers who voluntarily chose those jobs. You did all of that, Tillie.”

“I—But, no.” Tillie gave up and plopped down onto a big piece of rubble then buried her face in her hands.

“Don’t worry,” Nikola said, taking a seat next to Tillie to try to comfort her. “It’s not like the Hand struck you down on sight, is it?”

Nikola grinned, nudging Tillie who cracked a smile and chuckled, her head still buried in her hands. “I guess I’m still standing,” she said with a muffled voice.

“Well, you’re sitting in the dirt right now, but I get the point,” Nikola said, standing and brushing her own dirty pants off. “C’mon,” she added, holding out a hand to help Tillie up. “Let’s go for a walk, clear your head. It should be nice after being cooped up in those boxes for so long.”

“You’ve got that right,” Tillie said, smiling as she followed Nikola through the rubbled streets to nowhere in particular. “Though I’m not sure how comfortable I am being around all these soldiers. It’s like being surrounded by protectors.” She shuddered as she said it.

“Oh, no, no,” Nikola said, smiling and trying to sound cheerful. “It’s nothing like that. You have to understand that you’re in an entirely different country now. We’re not capitalists here. Countries like this one are few and far between, and what few there are always seem to be under attack from one front or another. So, you see, this is all necessary. We’re all revolutionaries in the People’s France. There are no two ways about it. In America you separate your classes out, allowing the few to hoard property from the many, and you reserve military power for only a select group of people who are sworn to protect those property owners. That’s why your protectors are so mean. They’ll do anything and everything they have to do in order to preserve that unique monopoly they hold over the use of violence. Here in the People’s France, though, you don’t have to worry about all that. Here we all share the same power so here there’s no unique monopoly to protect. Here we cooperate instead of compete, and as soon as all the worlds start acting the same way, we’ll all be so much better off for it.” Nikola was out of breath from the long winded speech, but she tried to be as reassuring as possible, smiling and nodding at Tillie as they walked.

“I don’t know,” Tillie said, shaking her head. “I still don’t get it. It’s all just so…foreign to me. I mean, how does your economy even work if you don’t follow the Invisible Hand? Is it okay to steal things? What property can there be? What’s stopping me from stealing your glasses right now?”

“Look,” Nikola said, grabbing Tillie’s hand and leading her toward her favorite food cart. “I’ll show you. It’s so much easier to see it in action than it is to try to explain the entire thing. Besides, you’ve got to be getting pretty hungry by now, anyway. I mean, I know I am, and I haven’t been through half of what you have in the meantime.”

“That I am,” Tillie said, hurrying to keep up with Nikola who was getting excited at the prospect of food.

The food cart was only a few blocks away. It sat under a big khaki canopy which was filled with bodies—either waiting in line, or enjoying some meal at one of the numerous full tables in the canopy’s shade. There were so many people they were even using the rubble on the side of the road as picnic tables, ignoring the glaring sun in their faces.

“This is probably not the best time to come here,” Nikola said when they had gotten into the amorphous line behind a group of loudly talking camouflaged people. Before she went on talking the line had already grown longer behind them. “Lunch break is the busiest time for any eatery, and this particular cart is one of the most popular establishments on base. But it’s worth the wait. I promise.

Tillie nodded, looking nervously around at the bustling crowd and the still growing line of people behind them. Her eyes were wide and she was fidgeting with the hem of her shirt.

“Is everything alright?” Nikola asked. Of course it wasn’t with all Tillie had been through, but what else could she say?

“I—uh—yeah.” Tillie nodded, eyes still dancing around the crowd. “I’m fine.”

“It’s gonna be okay,” Nikola said. “I know dad seems like he’s got a single track mind, but he’ll do everything he can to help you. We’ll get you back home as soon as we can. I promise.”

“Oh, no.” Tillie shook her head. “It’s not that. Well—of course that doesn’t help—but…”

“It’s alright,” Nikola said. “Tell me.”

“Well,” she said, stepping up in line and looking more and more anxious the closer they got to ordering. “I don’t know. I don’t— How am I supposed to pay for this? How am I supposed to pay for anything? I can’t live here, Nikola, this is crazy.”

Nikola tried not to laugh, patting Tillie’s back. “It’s alright, girl. Don’t worry. You’ll see.”

“Are you sure?” Tillie said, a look of relief washing over her face. “I mean. I’ll pay you back when I can. I just—I wasn’t really expecting to leave the country. I didn’t even know you could.” She managed a half grin.

“Of course I’m sure,” Nikola said, stepping up to the counter. “And you won’t have to pay me anything. Don’t worry. Two of the usual, please,” she added to the server, and within a moment, Nikola had the food in hand, giving one plate to Tillie. “There you are, girl. Now come on. Let’s find a seat.”

They navigated through the shaded maze of tables, in the hopes of catching someone at the end of their meal, with no luck. They ended up having to use some rubble as a picnic table but were lucky enough to find a nice spot in the shade of a building. Nikola set in on her food right away, eating as quickly as she normally did, but Tillie took her time, whether from habit or out of shock Nikola didn’t know.

“So,” Tillie said, taking a nibbling bite. “You get free meals there because of your parents or something? Do y’all own the place?”

Nikola shook her head, still stuffing her face with food. “Nope,” she said through a full mouth.

“But you didn’t pay,” Tillie said. “Did you?”

“Nope.” Nikola shook her head again, smiling with thick, food-filled cheeks.

“Well why didn’t they stop you if you didn’t pay?”

Nikola chuckled. “Well, technically, I do own the place.”

“Well which is it?”

“We all own it,” Nikola said. “Every worker in the People’s France owns it. Any one of us can go up to that food cart and get our food for free, no questions asked. Not just you and me.”

Tillie scoffed. “But how? How does that work? If everyone can just go down to the corner and get free food whenever they want, then why would anyone ever work?”

“Well, back home you could go to your dad’s house any time you wanted to and get free food there, couldn’t you?”

“Well, yeah, but…”

“And you still worked, didn’t you?” Nikola urged her on, nodding.

“Yeah, but—”

“So why’d you do it?”

Uh… I don’t know.” Tillie thought about it for a second. “Well, first of all, my dad won’t be there forever, you know. I won’t always be able to go to his house and use his printer whenever I want—which, by the way, he works for the privilege to own. It’s not really free, you know.”

“It’s free for you though.”

“Not forever.”

“No.” Nikola nodded. “Not forever. But still. Is that the only reason you do anything? To make some money or earn a 3D printer?”

Tillie scoffed. “Well, no.” She chuckled, shaking her head. “Of course not. There’s more to the world than that.”

“Like what?”

“Well…” Tillie hesitated. “I don’t know. Like making something of yourself.”

“Making your father proud?”

“Yeah, sure.” Tillie nodded like she was getting into the conversation now. “That’s a part of it. A big part with my dad, but it’s still not everything.”

“So what else, then?”

“I don’t know.” Tillie brushed her hair out of her face. “Like contributing to society, you know. Making the world a better place. That sort of thing.”

“And that sort of thing is exactly why people still work, even though they can go down to the store and get a free meal any time they want. It’s why we all still work when we get free rooms and clothes and everything. We know that society depends on our work, and we want to do everything we can to contribute, to make something of ourselves, to make our friends and family proud. And it’s a lot more fulfilling than being materially rewarded while your comrades are held in artificial poverty, I’ll tell you that much.”

“I thought that’s what we were doing, “ Tillie said, breaking eye contact. “Me and you, and Emma…and even Rod. I thought we were contributing to society.”

“We were contributing to society,” Nikola said, getting heated again by trying to calm herself. “We were doing the best we could under the circumstances we were given. I still am doing the best I can. The only question is if you want to continue doing your best with me given your new circumstances or if you want to give up on everything you’ve been working so hard for this entire time.”

“No,” Tillie said, shaking her head and still not making eye contact. “But you said…” She mumbled something Nikola couldn’t hear.

“What? I said we were doing good.”

“You said we were fighting against the Invisible Hand!” Tillie held her mouth after she yelled it. “I’m sorry,” she said more softly. “I—”

“No,” Nikola said, shaking her head. “It’s alright.” She should have known better. She was attacking Tillie’s religion, the root of her being, and she was being much too careless about how she was going about it. Still, there was no way left to go but forward. Retreating now would only make it worse for Tillie in the long run. “I understand,” Nikola said. “You were raised by the Invisible Hand. It’s all you know. Being told this about the Hand is just as jarring as finding out about the assembly line workers, sentient androids, and other countries, I’m sure, but I can’t even really imagine what it’s like to be you right now. That’s a real shitstorm to deal with all at once after having been told so many lies for your entire life.”

Tillie chuckled. “You can say that again.”

“That again,” Nikola said, chuckling herself.

Tillie smacked Nikola on the arm. “You know what I mean,” she said, laughing.

“Sure I do,” Nikola said. “But as hard as it is to accept, you have to understand that the Invisible Hand isn’t a real thing. It doesn’t care about you or anyone else. It doesn’t care about anything. It doesn’t have the capacity to care. It has no body, no heart, nothing. It’s all just a fairy tale meant to keep you in line.”

“No, but…” Tillie shook her head. “That’s impossible. The Invisible Hand guides the markets toward our benefit. That’s how the world works.”

“That’s how they tell you your world works, Tillie. That’s how most of the worlds out there pretend to work. But it’s not how this world works. That’s not how the People’s France works. You’ve seen it yourself. You’re eating the products of it right now. There are no markets here—not in any sense of the word you would recognize, at least—and yet somehow we continue to manage.”

“I don’t know,” Tillie said, shaking her head. “It doesn’t seem sustainable. And you don’t really have much, do you? I mean, your streets are all rubble and your buildings are half tents.”

“Our buildings are rubble because your country and others like it make them that way. Do you think we blew them up ourselves? That we’re too stupid to know how to repair buildings? Do you think we enjoy living like this?”

“I— No—” Tillie shook her head. “But—”

“No! Of course not. But we have to. Your country claims ownership over too many of the worlds’ resources, so for as long as it and the others like it exist, cooperative countries like ours have to be as efficient as possible in using what little resources we have left to us after the imperialist countries suck the World dry. And that’s World with a capital W, which stands for Earth, the one we all share no matter how high you build your walls or how impenetrable you try to make them. And sure it doesn’t look like much from the outside, but every one of us gets enough, none of us goes wanting, and we’ll only be getting more as we continue to reappropriate what’s rightfully ours.”

Tillie turned away, blushing. Her shoulders heaved slightly as if she were crying, or laughing, or trying not to do both. Nikola scooted closer, knocking her empty plate and Tillie’s nearly full one to the ground, and patted Tillie’s back.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I didn’t mean to get so heated. It’s not your fault and I didn’t mean to imply that it is. It’s like I said earlier, we—you included—were doing the best we could do to fight it from the inside. I know it’s hard for you to see the Invisible Hand as anything but a source of good because that’s all you’ve ever been taught about it, but you have to understand that the Hand is at fault. It is the reason your country claims the resources it claims. And for any of that to change, workers everywhere are going to have to see the true face of the Invisible Hand and realize how bad it is for the vast majority of people.”

Tillie turned back to Nikola, wiping tears from her eyes. “I still don’t get it,” she said, shaking her head.

“Get what?”

“How the world could work without the Invisible Hand guiding it. It could only result in anarchy.”

Nikola chuckled. “This is anarchy,” she said with a big smirk. “Or on the way to it, at least.”

“Well, okay then,” Tillie said. “Why would you want that? There’s nothing stopping anyone from doing anything. That’s just chaos.”

“Anarchy is not chaos. You’ve got that wrong. Did you see chaos when we got our free food?”

Tillie kicked some rubble. “It was kind of hectic in there,” she said under her breath.

“But not chaotic. The line was orderly. Everyone knew who was up next. We chose seats based on availability and need. That’s anarchy. No hierarchies. No chaos. Just cooperation.”

“Yeah, okay,” Tillie said, grasping at straws now. “Well, if there’s no hierarchy, then no one tells anyone what to do, right?”

“Essentially.” Nikola nodded.

“And there’s no reason to do a shitty job, then, right? Like toilet scrubber or janitor or something. Especially if you get a room and food anyway. Right?”

“Well, I would—”

“So who does that crap work? Who cleans the toilets?”

“Who cleans your toilet at home?”

“I do, of course, but—”

“And no one pays you to do that, do they? No one tells you to do it. You do it because otherwise your house would stink and your toilet would get to be too disgusting to use. Well our house here is a little bigger. We own any toilet we use and take care of each of them accordingly. Not because we were told to do it by some superior. And not because we were paid to do it. There are no superiors. There is no money. We do it because it’s our country, our house, our toilet, and we don’t want any of the above to stink.”

Tillie sighed. She stared at her feet for some time, and at the food on the ground which had been discovered by a troop of ants that was carrying it away on their backs, bit by tiny bit. Nikola let Tillie gather her thoughts and after a few silent minutes Tillie said, “I don’t know why I’m arguing with you. You’ve probably been here your entire life, experiencing everything that I’m denying can even exist. Shit, I’m here living it myself. I’m harder to convince than Shelley.”

Nikola chuckled. “It’s alright, you know,” she said. “I have a pretty good idea of what you’re going through.”

Tillie scoffed. “Yeah. Right. I’m sure. How could you have any idea?”

“Because I went through it myself. I had been living in America for some time before I met you and Emma, you know, but not forever. I was born here, in the People’s France. I was raised here. And when I moved to America, I went through the same shock you’re going through now, only mine was in reverse. I found myself faced with social relations which seemed too cruel to be anything more real than a horror story, and even though I was living inside of that all too real nightmare, I kept telling myself that it didn’t exist, it was impossible, just too unfair, even if I was experiencing it with all my being.”

Tillie smiled. Her eyes were red, and some moisture was welling up behind them, but she made no motion to wipe her tears away or hide them. “You do know what I’m going through,” she said. “And I know what you went through. Well, we do and we don’t.”

Exactly,” Nikola said with a smile. “But I do know one thing for sure. You’ll get through this alright, with or without the Hand by your side.”

“I don’t know,” Tillie said, shrugging. “I sure hope so.”

“I know so,” Nikola said, standing and taking Tillie’s hand to pull her up. “You’ve only just gotten here. The more time you take to experience it the less you’ll have to argue with your senses about whether or not it’s possible. Now help me clean this mess up and follow me. I’ve got something else I want you to see.”

Oooh,” Tillie said, kneeling to pick up her plate but leaving a good bit of food for the ants. “Tell me it’s another brother. With more guys like that, I could easily get used to living here.”

Nikola scoffed. “You better not even joke about that,” she said. “Now come on. You’ve got to see this.”

She ran out ahead, leaving Tillie to catch up as they jogged through winding rubbled streets. Slowly, the lay of the land grew from flat to steeper and the crumbled buildings grew more dilapidated and sparser. They had slowed to a walk by the time the buildings all gave way to grass, trees, and the hill towering over them, but still neither said a word. They took in their surroundings in silence, Tillie paying extra attention to every detail of the beautiful wildlife scene, despite her heavy breathing, and Nikola paying extra attention to Tillie’s every reaction. They were almost to the top of the hill, just at the point before they could see over it, when Nikola spoke again.

“I like to come here sometimes to get away from everything,” she said.

“It’s beautiful,” Tillie said, not taking her eyes off the scenery.

“Isn’t it? Just wait until we get to the top. You’ll see what beauty can be.”

“I can’t imagine how it could get any better,” Tillie said. “It’s already so—” But she couldn’t finish her sentence. Her jaw dropped and she stood in awe, looking at the entire base now revealed below them. They had gotten to the top of the hill, and from there, they could see this entire sector of the People’s France, every last tent and brick of rubble.

“This is my home,” Nikola said after some time of silence. “The People’s France.”

“It’s— I…” A tear came to Tillie’s eye.

They stared at the view for some time in silence, then Nikola started pointing things out. “I know it’s not much,” she said. “You can see pretty much all of it, too. You see that big green canopy down there, with all the tiny people around it?”

Tillie nodded. “They look like ants.”

“That’s where we got lunch. And we ate just over there.” She pointed again. “And if you look a few blocks over and into the center a bit, you can see my parents’ offices.”

“The patched up building?” Tillie asked.

“Yep, that’s the one. And the big tall one there in the middle of everything is where I came to rescue you from.”

“Where they had me tied up.”

Nikola shook her head, embarrassed. “I didn’t think they would—”

“No,” Tillie cut her off. “It’s alright. It’s not your fault. You did your best, right?”

Nikola nodded, not sure if she had actually done her best. She could have gone to get Tillie out sooner. But how was she supposed to know they would keep her locked up like that? After some time of silence, thinking too much about it, Nikola pointed way off into the distance, out past the buildings and tents, to say, “You see that hill way over there on the other side of the base?”

Tillie shielded her eyes with her hand and gazed off in the direction Nikola was pointing. “Yeah.” She nodded.

“That’s the hill we’re standing on right now. If we stood at the very peak of it with a pair of binoculars, we’d be able to see the back of our own heads, looking the other way off in the distance.” Nikola paused to let Tillie understand what she had just heard. “That’s how small this base is,” she went on. “And this is the largest base in all of the People’s France. Besides us there are maybe two or three bases that are half this size and countless micro cells. That’s our entire country, and we’re standing against giants. America, The European Union, East Asia, more countries than you could imagine, and they all claim ownership over more of our World and its resources than they could ever use in any of their lifetimes.

“I’ve been living in America for a while, you know. And it’s great for the most part, sure. There are a lot of fun parties all the time, and it’s liberating to be as wasteful as you want without worrying about the consequences because you always know you’ll have more than you’ll need, but that’s not enough for me. It’s too empty. Heartless. And if you spend some time here with us, I think you’ll start to understand what I mean.”

Tillie shook her head, still looking off into the distance, trying to see herself on the hill across the city. “And that’s why you came to LSU,” she said. “That’s why you joined Emma’s general assemblies or whatever. You were doing all this to turn America into the People’s France?”

“No. I was doing it to help free the androids in your country. I was doing it to free the assembly line workers everywhere. Because I believe exploitation is wrong. Because it was the right thing to do. There are countless reasons why I was doing it, can’t you see any of them?”

“So no one here uses robot workers then?”

Nikola shook her head. “Not like America does.”

“And no one works on assembly lines?”

“We all work on assembly lines. We all work on farms. We all join the military. Everything is so simplified, nothing requires specialization or training. We can all share in the burden of labor for the greater good.”

Tillie scoffed. “So you’ve worked on an assembly line, then.”

“I have. It’s not like it’s hard. It’s just boring and mind numbing. But you get used to it. You can get used to anything. You’ll see.”

“And you would rather do that than live in America and never have to work on an assembly line?”

“I’d still be getting everything I need to live from assembly line workers, though, even if I didn’t have to work on one personally. There’s no choice in our World’s economy. With that fact in mind, I’d rather do my own assembly line work than force some poor soul to do it for me. Wouldn’t you?”

“I’m not forcing anyone,” Tillie said, crossing her arms and getting defensive again. “It’s voluntary. They choose to take those jobs.”

“Voluntary?” Nikola scoffed. She was trying her hardest not to attack Tillie again when she was obviously vulnerable—fresh out of prison and in a foreign country she didn’t even know existed only a few hours before—but Nikola couldn’t hold back her passion for the argument. “Do you think they want to work on an assembly line any more than you do? Do you think they would be working on one if they had any better options?”

“Well, no, but—”

“Of course not. And the only difference between you and them is that you happened to be born in Outland Two while they were born in Outland Five. How does that make you any better than them?”

“It doesn’t. I—”

“No. It doesn’t. But that’s how the world works when you live by the religion of the Invisible Hand. That’s how the market works. There are only finite resources, and they all require labor to be made consumable. If one person takes more resources or does less labor—or, as is so often the case in your America, both—then someone else will receive less resources and do more labor to make up for it. It’s like a law of physics, but instead of mass and energy it’s called the Law of the Conservation of Resources and Effort.”

Tillie sat down on the grass with her arms on her knees, looking out over the base. She shook her head. “You know, I never thought of it like that.”

Nikola took a seat next to her, unconsciously mimicking Tillie’s posture.

“I guess I haven’t really had the time to think about it at all.” Tillie chuckled. “I only learned about the assembly line workers on Christmas break and life’s been a bit hectic since then.”

Nikola chuckled. “You can say that again.”

The Hand—” Tillie said. “Or—erfuck. Whatever. I don’t know.” She shook her head. “What am I supposed to say now?”

“I think it makes a better expletive when you know the truth.” Nikola chuckled. “You might as well keep using it.”

“I can’t believe I’ve been a part of that for so long,” Tillie said. “I can’t believe I’ve been forcing those people to do everything for me.”

“You didn’t know,” Nikola said, patting Tillie’s back. “And you had no choice, anyway. You were stuck in that system the same as everyone is.”

“I guess.” Tillie shrugged. “That doesn’t make me feel any less guilty, though. Actually, it kind of makes me feel more guilty. Like I should have known, you know. Or maybe I could have known but I chose not to, chose to ignore it. It might even be worse that way.”

“But how could you have known any different?” Nikola asked. “No one ever taught you. You’ve never met anyone who has even known the truth themselves unless they were in on keeping the secret. You’re being too hard on yourself, expecting too much too soon. You’re only human after all.”

“I met you,” Tillie said, shaking her head. “I met Emma. I lived with my dad, a high level manager, my entire life. The information has been right under my nose all this time, and I’ve only just now gotten to it.”

“And as soon as you did, you did your best to change things,” Nikola reassured her. “You joined Emma, and you protested, and you went so far as to get arrested for what you thought was right, and now you’re here, with me, still fighting the injustice of it all.” She smiled, standing up and brushing herself off.

Tillie scoffed, still seated. “I’m not doing anything.”

“Oh, there’s plenty to be done around here. New hands are always welcome.” Nikola chuckled.

“I don’t know.” Tillie shook her head. “What can I do?”

“As much as anyone else,” Nikola said, pulling Tillie up. “Let’s go ask my parents what they need. I’m sure they can find something for you. They’re always finding work for me to do.”

Hmmm, well I guess. But I still want to go home.”

“And my parents can get you there. So let’s go.”

 

#     #     #

< XLIX. Mr. Walker     [Table of Contents]     LI. Laura >

And there it is, dear readers, chapter fifty in the Infinite Limits saga. Don’t forget to leave an honest review for each book you’ve finished in the series if you have the time because I’d really appreciate it. Until next time. Have a great weekend. We do nothing alone.

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