Scott Westerfeld and Alex Puvilland

November 30, 2016

The Devil in the Details

“They wanted Lexa, like they wanted everyone who escaped that night. For testing.
“Especially the little kids who got out on the school bus.
“You probably heard about them.”

With this bit of backstory, I wanted to make Lexa’s escape part of the larger mythology of the Spill. Whenever tragic events happen, there are always details that stick in our minds—the dog that warned its owners of the earthquake, the passenger who missed the flight that crashed. Any details that don’t quite add up, of course, are the stickiest. Incomplete information turns into mysteries, which lead to conspiracy theories, fake news, and urban legends.

Like Nine-eleven truthers in our reality, Addison’s world is full of people who see the Spill as a coverup rather than an enigma. Who pick apart every particular of the story, glomming onto inconsistencies and perplexities. Who try to expose the devil in the details, because they assume that’s where the truth must lie.

Addison herself is a more practical sort, focused on the day-to-day business of making ends meet. She wants to be left alone to do her art, but her little sister is one of those mysteries within a mystery: the kids on the driverless school bus. That puts Addison’s desire for privacy at odds with the rest of the world’s hunger for information, secrets, even misinformation. Of course, her art has the same inherent contradiction—it pushes her out into the public, when secrecy is essential to her process.

In a way, Addison’s art is just another layer of commerce that surrounds the Spill. Alex has elegantly backgrounded others in this scene: Nano Burgers, the lurid Spill Zone Cafe, geiger counters for sale. And there’s that other, more tragic layer, the ever-present pictures of missing persons taped to store windows. Reminders that the Zone is full of not just unknowns, but unfinished business, uncompleted lives.

With a gentle shove from a well meaning patron, Addison might find these perplexities and oppositions starting to collapse.

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