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The cabaret was working splendidly.

The seeds Lloyd had planted were blossoming, flowering, and he couldn’t be more pleased. It had taken weeks of performances, weeks of badly written shows and obviously racist themes, but it was finally happening. Han Mi had enough, and the narrative was falling apart. He had never been happier to think such a thing.

The AI’s were scrambling, demanding to know what was going on. They had asked, though, for plans to be kept from them. All he could do was tell them to listen and see what happened.

Just as he did last week, and every week before them, Lloyd sat in his chair, his radio beside him as he waited for the cabaret to start. It wasn’t Helen that sang, though, no. It was another woman; her sister, Shira, and didn’t that make things interesting. They were off script completely, now, and Lloyd was along for the ride like everyone else. Shira described it as ‘something real strange’, and Lloyd knew they were all in for a treat.

Everything in him froze when he heard the all too familiar voice that started playing. Raven. His Raven, his Ravey Davey, his love. There was an ache in his chest, as if the heart he didn’t have anymore were breaking, and not for the first time he wished that he could cry. He leaned forward slowly, resting his elbows on his knees as he listened, soaking in the sound of his love’s voice. The carnival, which had disappeared off the face of the world as far as Lloyd knew, was still up and running. Raven was still out there.

The carnival show that they’d put on was truly an experience. It hurt Lloyd to his core to hear Raven speaking so cavalierly about suicide. It was his fault, though, wasn’t it? He’d left, promising to return, only to never come back. He had his reasons, his explanations, but the way Raven must see things...Lloyd stared at the radio, setting his hand carefully on the top of it. His plan had worked perfectly. Han Mi had flowered, and he’d found the carnival, and he still felt nothing but hurt. There was no reason to be happy yet, not when he was still hurting the most important person to him.

The path was open again. The carnival was free to travel as it had before, and Lloyd...Lloyd could make things right. He could explain, and apologize, and pray to whatever higher beings there were that he hadn’t screwed things up irreparably.

Steeling himself, Lloyd stood and began to get ready. He had no doubt that the AI’s would want to speak to him soon. It sounded like the three from the cabaret were making their way towards them, which would certainly be interesting. If he got there before they left, he could meet Han Mi, bring Raven his great-granddaughter, and reunite with his love, all in one fell swoop.

Lloyd dressed, covering up his body as best he could, and left, the door closing behind him.