In a dystopian reality where music is everything, the world is ruled by a Council of corrupt dictators. The greatest punishment possible, reserved for only the worst of criminals, is called Silencing. But one Silent proves that, even if he is a outcast, shunned from society, he still has a voice.


10. Chapter 9: Shade

            When the hand touched him, Shade was ready. Revived and rested, he rolled over, pulling the person with him. When he came up on his knees and looked down, he was almost startled to find that same girl looking up at him from under his arm. He had expected Inglorius. Or an executioner.

            The girl’s face was going purple as Shade’s arm kept air from her lungs. He seriously debated killing her and making a run for it, but discarded the idea almost immediately. But he would leave his arm there until she fainted – which should be any second now – and then go. Maybe he’d take the blankets with him.

            Shade heard the door bang open again, but didn’t look. He couldn’t handle two at once, no matter that one was a girl. If she dropped out now, he could hopefully get out. Shade didn’t hear footsteps, and here, hidden behind a stack of boxes, no one could possibly know what he was doing. At least, not without coming further into the room.

            Strong, bony hands seized him from behind and hauled him back, off the girl. She gasped and lay there, panting, as he swung wildly, trying to dislodge his captor. Shade felt his fist connect with something, but the man – for no woman could be that strong – made no sound. This is it, then.

            The girl smiled, and that drove Shade over the edge. With all the dignity he could muster, he stopped fighting and went limp. Immediately, the arms encircling him released. “I knew… you’d… change your… mind,” she gasped. Already Shade could see a slight bruise forming across her throat.

            “Well, here we are then, so get on with it. Thought it would be more public, but I guess you can’t have everything. A month ago, I would have been a martyr, but no one remembers that now.” Shade pulled himself into a kneeling position, his hands behind his head. He was ready to die.

            Nothing happened. Shade turned back around, prepared to encourage the man, but then stopped short. Hands falling limply to his sides, breathing fast and shallow, heart pounding, Shade just stared.

            With a sob he threw himself at Ghost. It was Ghost, he was sure. Older, harder, thinner, yes, but he was still the same. Shade would have recognized those eyes anywhere. He clung to the cloth of his brother’s shirtfront, crying like a child, and felt strong arms come up and encircle him. “You were dead. They said you were dead. I thought you were-” Shade drew away slowly. Still kneeling there, tears streaming down his face, trembling like a leaf in high wind, he brushed his hair out of his face with his hands.

            Shade took a deep breath. Two. Closing his eyes, he let his heart slow. Calm. Calm. When he was reasonably certain he wasn’t shaking, he opened them again. Ghost was still there, as was the girl. Shade addressed himself to her. “Is there nothing sacred to you!” No, he had been wrong. He wasn’t done crying. The tears just wouldn’t stop. “You can’t just kill me, can you! I’m not going to break, I won’t! Do what you want, take what you want. But this at least – my brother you cannot touch. You already killed him, he’s dead, so you cannot use him against me.” Shade clutched at the back of his head with his hands, burying his face in his elbows.

            The girl and the apparition were crying too, Shade saw, but he didn’t care. They couldn’t have this. He wouldn’t let them see how much pain this newest dagger caused. “Shade. Shade please, just listen to me!”

            “No.” He drew a breath through his teeth. “Get out. Get out, or I swear, I will kill you. Now!” The girl rose sadly and waited as the apparition climbed to his feet. As they retreated, Shade tried to forget about them, to burry himself in his bitterness and pain. “Murderer.” He whispered, just before the door closed behind them.

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