"I can't live here anymore."
Wimble raised a single scornful eye while the other continued to scan the document held in his single gray hand. "Where will you live?" he questioned after a tense delay.
Wimble's one watching eye narrowed. His blistered, red lips moved. "What has influenced this rash decision?"
"You have driven me to this decision."
A tongue darted across the lips and the second eye was lifted. With two eyes fixed like a double-barreled rifle, he stood up, the document falling to idleness upon a clean metal desk.
"What is the meaning of such a claim?" he asked.
"I disagree with your line of work."
His eyes held still, but his hand rose to scratch his scruffy chin. In this motion, his dry mouth slowly tilted open. "And what, besides running away, are you going to do about that disagreement?"
"I cannot say."
Wimble blinked once, his features abruptly animating into an expression of anger. "You cannot say? Or you cannot tell?" he asked.
"I will not tell you what I intend to do."
"You will do it behind my back, play the role of a rebel, fight your battle without a concern for the grounds you fight upon." Wimble moved silently out from behind his desk, the folds of stiff gray fabric in his trousers wisping like the wrap of a mummy. He said no more.
"Words will not change you. So I will act."
Wimble treaded across the threadbare carpet to the bookshelf, his brown leather slippers moving with reluctance. "Let me read you a passage," he growled.
"I must be on my way."
"Is your terrible deed that pressing?" demanded Wimble, not turning around.
"I must pack my possessions."
Wimble sniffed in disapproval, pulling a heavy book from the shelf. "Stay a moment."--Simplicity muted any protests.
"Here we are," Wimble sighed, letting the book fall open over his hairy arm.
"Action cannot be undone. Thoughts can," he read. Then he looked up with a false twinkle in his eyes.
"I spit upon your words."
Wimble's face turned dark with shock, and his eyes narrowed. "Who are you?" he asked in sudden disgust.
"The words from your books are meant to be used for good. You bend and break them as if they were the slaves of your greed. Do you have any pre-gathered quotes to explain the holocaust you have commited?"
Wimble's eyes widened, and he took a step back. "Who are you?" he asked again. Doubt and fear had come to him, causing his sinister appearance to be lifted like a veil, revealing the withered soul beneath. "I thought I knew you..." he continued.
"Why are you fighting me? Why are you disregarding what I have said. You have committed a holocaust. What do you have to say for yourself?"
"Get out of my house," Wimble spat.
"Still you push the offense. Is it not clear that you must stop your violence? Is it not clear that you must now turn to defense?"
"I will call my security!" Wimble cried.
"Your security has been dealt with better than you have ever treated them. They will not assist you. It is you and your crime. What have you got to say to your crime?"
"What action do you intend to do?" Wimble cried. "You are going to kill me, aren't you?"
"You do not deserve to die. You have committed too many crimes to be let off so easily."
"You will torture me!" Wimble staggered back, dropping the book upon the cold carpet.
"What good would prevail from such a heartless and thoughtless action? Do you still wonder who I am? Do you still see me as an enemy? Do you still see my words as an attack?"
"Get it over with!" Wimble cried.
"Life is not something I care to 'get over with'. And this is life. Life is all around you. You collect its image but leave its essence. But let me ask you once more. What do you have to say to your crimes?"
Wimble's forehead creased with wrinkles, and his cheeks went flush. "What crimes do you know about?" he asked.
"This is not about me. This is about your own admittance. In your defense, you must heal your wounds. To heal your wounds, you must reveal them."
Wimble leaned against the desk, his breathing coming heavy and his face perspiring. "You had an action. Do it," he said.
"The action depends upon you. Say what you must to your crimes. Feel no obligation to answer me. Speak to the crimes."
Wimble stared down at the harsh surface of his desk. "Is it not enough for you to take revenge? Can you not claim justice and be on your way? Why are you questioning me? You are looking for more answers, aren't you?"
"You are bleeding from five wounds, your head is full of dirt, your voice is full of poison, your hands are covered in scars, your bones are shattered and reassembled, and here you still make the offense. Do not concern yourself with me. Look inward. Heal yourself. You will need all the strength you can gather."
Wimble looked confused. "You are an Agent of Cleary, aren't you? I will tell you nothing!"
"I am a Free Soul. And you are sick and wounded. Heal yourself."
But Wimble was consumed by anger and violence. "Why leave me in this state? You have destroyed my security and cornered me in my own home. Do what you will and stop talking."
"Action cannot be undone. Thoughts can. Now think."
Wimble let a cackle shatter from his mouth, and his jaw went tight. "You son of a bitch," he said. "What do you want with me?"
"Do not demand things of me. Demand them of yourself, for you are in need of many virtues. My wants are not of importance to you."
Wimble slammed his fist upon the desk. "I understand!" he cried. "You know about the women I murdered, about the inplant, about the Biological Experiments, about the missiles, and about the concentration camp. You know about it all, and yet you stand here and complain! Where are your guts, you slow, dimwitted imbecile! I have done all these crimes and more! What are you going to do about it?"
"No. The question is: what are you going to do about them? They are your crimes."
Wimble rubbed an arm across his face, his glare momentarily sinking away into eyes that now filled with tears. "Do you mean to say that I must pay for my crimes in some way?"
"Yes. You must redeem yourself."
"And that is why you do not kill me?" Wimble asked. "You want me alive...what if I were to commit suicide?"
"I will not let you. And after your first ordeal, you will reconsider everything. After your first ordeal, your actions will show you as a new man. After your first ordeal, you will not wish to escape to the oblivion of death. After your first ordeal, you will go crawling into your next life."
Wimble was staring with wild eyes. "My first ordeal?" he asked in dread, sweat pouring down his face and his expression wrinkled like that of a man who's endured a thousand years of pain.
"Yes," replied the Free Soul.