As a boy of eight, Seth finds his life changed by a dark secret … something that he can’t possibly understand.

Years later, old faces, memories, and an envelope, draw Seth back into the web.


28. 28 - Companion

      28  -  Companion


????, 2383


He is naked. He had been for some time. He sometimes found himself trying to remember what it felt like to have fabric on his body. How long had it been?

Seth rolls onto his back, looking up at the dull, orange globes. He found that if he closed his eyes and then opened them, just slightly … they looked like stars. Orange stars in a dark sky.

Soon, it would be light, and time for another game.


????, 2383


Seth wakes to the sound of laughter and voices …

“… some interesting hobbies.”

He opens his eyes a little, looking up at the ceiling. There is white light in the room.

… the merc’s voice …

“Come on, De’Zann. Don’t pretend that you care what we use them for.”

… a voice Seth hasn’t heard before … a low, hiss of a voice …

“Of course not. I’m just happy for your business … and the rent.”

… more laughter … the white light fades …

He closes his eyes. The stimulants made it difficult to sleep, but they also dulled the pain.


????, 2383


Seth leans against the wall, exhausted by the latest game. His good hand shakes as he brings the bowl of water to his lips. The merc had untied his hands some time ago. His hands were free, though his left hand was useless. No chance of escape or retaliation now. His feet are swollen, bruised, and broken.

He closes his eyes, trying desperately to see Jullian, to see her pretty face. He sees only darkness. He was starting to forget. It felt like he’d been living in the darkness and pain for an eternity, and for all he knew, another eternity awaited.

Seth turns his head, looking toward the dark trench. Lately, he’d thought about ending it himself. He could drag himself to the ledge and drop, headfirst. It was only about five feet down, but if he landed on his head, he might break his neck. He had a clone, ready and waiting.

He lets his chin fall to his chest and closes his eyes. He was afraid. As terrifying as the darkness and the games were, he was more frightened of death.


????, 2383


He lies on his back, looking up at the dull, orange stars. He hears a low, shuffling sound, and turns his head. His naked companion sits against the wall, looking at him.

Seth sits up and uses his good hand to drag himself back to the wall. He moves slowly. Although the pain had become routine now, simply part of him, he tries not to agitate his broken feet any more than necessary. He leans back against the wall, only a few inches from his companion.

The man’s eyes haven’t moved. He stares at the floor where Seth had been laying. Seth looks at him, feeling a mix of emotions. This man had saved his life and, at the same time, by firing the tazer, this man was responsible for the merc’s ultimate revenge, the darkness, and the pain.

Seth swallows, finding his voice “Why?”

The man’s head turns. The two dark slits that are his eyes, blink slowly.

Seth takes a breath and raises his voice. “WHY?”

The man’s lips curl up, slowly, into a grotesque smile. A deep cut opens on his lower lip, sending a stream of blood over his swollen chin. His voice is dry. “I was keeping you pure. I had to keep you pure.”

Seth stares at the bloody smile. Pure. A name escapes his lips, even before he remembers another, smiling face. “Carry.”

The man’s eyes widen, revealing two dark orbs, his pupils, dilated by the drugs. He seems to look past Seth, to look through him. “A great, great honor for one. To serve her. To protect someone so important. To keep them pure.”

He stares, quiet for a few moments. His focus returns to Seth and the bloody smile fades. He tilts his head to the side, causing the dark stream flowing over his chin to branch out and change direction. “Where are they? Where are my brothers and sisters?”

He turns from Seth, looking out into the darkness. “She hasn’t come for us, come to save us, come to keep us pure.” A tear falls from one of his dark orbs, crossing his cheek to join the red stream. “Why?”

The man’s head slumps forward. His body shakes as he moans softly. Across the room, a faint, white light grows brighter.

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