I did consider telling her to run. At first glance, it seemed like the right thing to do. It was unfair to offer up someone’s life without at least warning them what they were in for first, wasn’t it? Luring her back to town to spend her last moments possessed by the powers of darkness seemed just a little bit cruel.
On the other hand, if I told her why we needed her in order to fully carry out the re-containment, she would most likely make a run for it. She might have been lacking a little in grey matter but I was quite sure survival instincts would take over in that situation.
Following that sequence of events, we might lose her and have to find more bait in the ever-shrinking amount of time we had left before the Darkness escaped of its own free will and did its own thing. Finding new bait could prove difficult in such a short length of time.
If we couldn’t get a replacement in time then the Darkness would be free to go where it liked. After all, it can only really be fought when it’s in a vessel. Catching an insubstantial shadow (which is what I assumed it was) is decidedly more difficult.
So if I told her… and she ran… and got away… and we had not other options… Then the Darkness would be free and the world would end.
Naturally, I didn’t tell her.
“So,” she said, “The can can’t make you choke now. You can tell me what it is exactly.”
“No I can’t. Not exactly.”
“Well, I’m not sure what it is myself. You can ask my grandfather when we get back into town; he’s the authority on this thing. Taught me everything I know.”
“So you don’t know what it is either. And you’re meant to be in charge of stopping it. Wonderful.”
“I do know what it is!” I protested, “Just not… you know… details…”
“Well what is it then?”
“A force of evil that feeds on human suffering.”
She fell silent for the longest time in the few hours I had known her. Still not as long as I would have liked her to stay quiet for.
“But… How does that even work?”
“It infiltrates people’s minds and forces them to do its bidding and it likes to kill things and generally cause mayhem. Are you keeping up with this?”
She scowled at me. “Quite well, yes. You said I was at risk of being used by it.”
“And you are.”
“Yes you are or it wouldn’t have got hold of you earlier. It should take it at least an hour to crack someone in their late teens. A couple of seconds for you.”
“Maybe I’m just open-minded?”
I laughed at that. “If that’s what you want to believe, you go for it. I’d just love to know what the hell kind of upbringing you had that your mind is so easy for it to influence.”
That made her fall silent long enough to keep me happy.