The Many Portraits Of Jack Bright
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Carl Glasko did not expect to find himself at the doorstep of Director Bright's home. When he made that quip in the bathroom about Jack liking mirrors, he thought he was just being friendly. But that quip led to the topic of self portraits, which led to an invitation. And when the Director of Site-19 asks if you want to see his self-portrait collection, it's difficult to say no.

"Ah, Carl! You showed up," Jack said as he opened the door.

"Well, you did invite me after all. Who am I to say no to dinner?"

Jack laughed a little, "You'd be surprised how many people turn me down. One of the curses of being Foundation-famous is that everyone is 'afraid of intruding'."

Jack led Carl into the house. It was a two-story building, nothing too fancy, yet something about it felt empty. The footsteps seemed to echo a little too much. The walls were a little too bare.

But Carl didn't really pay it all much attention. He and Jack ate at a dinner table for six people. They both sat on one end, and left the other half completely empty. Conversation danced from topic to topic, eventually landing on the heavier, philosophical areas that work their way into any good discussion. They talked about the pleasures and pains of company. They talked about identity. They talked about faces.

"I've got an 18-year-old Redbreast I need an excuse to open," Jack eventually said, as he got up from the table. Carl nodded. He could go for a good whiskey.

After a few drinks, Jack felt relaxed enough to show Carl to the basement. It was behind a small door that Carl assumed was a closet, or just extra storage space. The stairwell was dimly lit. A few faint lightbulbs here and there. Jack blamed it on something like "atmosphere", but in reality he just hadn't changed them in decades.

After he lead Carl to the bottom floor, Jack flipped a switch. A few light bulbs flickered to life, illuminating a wall covered in self-portraits. Except, they were all self-portraits of different faces.

"I guess your face changes more often than the rest of ours," Carl said. Jack laughed a little, and then walked to a table in the center of the room. On that table was a mirror, a sketchpad, and a vast array of pencils. On the sketchpad was an in-progress portrait that resembled the Jack that Carl just dined with. Jack took a seat, and looked wistfully at the pictures around him. After a few moments, Carl broke the silence.

"Do they ever talk to you?"

Jack turned to Carl, that same smile plastered on his face, with something heavy behind his gaze.

"You want to hear a few stories?"

Carl nodded, and took a seat across from him at the table.

Jack finished his stories, and then both entered a heavy silence. Jack took a sip from his whiskey, since he brought it down with him. Carl finished his drink about an hour ago, so instead he looked at the man getting lost in the portraits hanging from the walls.

"Do you still miss your old body?" Carl asked. It's a silly question. Carl knew the answer. He just wanted to hear Jack say it.

"Yeah, I do."

"Do you remember what it looks like?"

Jack laughed a little at the remark, before responding, "It's funny, really. Most of the hosts are so distraught by seeing someone else in their bodies, they never realize how strange they must look in mine."

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