The old man had returned. He had a name: Smithson or Roberts or something generic like that, but nobody bothered learning names anymore. Everyone was Sir or Miss. If you were talking about them: "the old man," or "the red beard." In attendance lineups it was a number or a fingerprint. Whatever was most convenient. Names weren't convenient. The old man was unspectacular. Amber saw him occasionally in the halls of the facility. He seemed more bitter than the others. He walked a little slower and frowned a little deeper, but that was probably just the illusion of age. The wrinkles did something, right? Made things look exaggerated and saggy. Mostly, Amber read about him, Subject no.2, in the flimpsy newsprint reports documenting Dr. Ku's Project. The first round had gone well. It wasn't particularly dangerous. Subject no.1 had returned in peak condition. There was nearly no muscle atrophy, all organs continued to function perfectly, and her mind - the highest concern - was as sharp as it had been when she left. That was to say, the experience hadn't made her insane and she still retained the required mental dexterity of all the facility's employees. Of course the details of what she had actually discovered were kept shut. And then the week after she'd jumped from her eleventh floor balcony, but it had been quickly decided that the circumstances had had nothing to do with The Project. Whatever. She was always drunk. Nobody liked her. It was all old news. Amber wanted fresh news. Which was why she was here now, standing in a clean but drab apartment hallway, staring at a door like she had for the past four minutes. This was ridiculous. She was a professional employee of the I.W.A. science foundation, and she was taking a stupid dare. Not that she didn't want to talk to the old man - she did - but she didn't want to knock. Nobody did that anymore, except officials for official things. People that knocked to chat were weirdos, and she was about to become one. Because she wanted to talk to the old man, and someone had dared her to do it with a knock on the door. Eventually curiosity and indignance forced her knuckles to the hollow wood. There was lethargic shuffling, and then the old man opened the door wearily. "What is it?" he mumbled. "Stories," Amber blurted out. "Tell me the stories. Please."