Danielle was certainly unconscious now. A blow to the head like that kick would be enough to floor Tobias, and so it would surely only take another punch to the head to knock out a grown woman like Danielle.
The Dark man dragged Tobias to his feet, then pushed him backwards, slamming his back into the wall, at which point his elbows violently connected with the wall, causing agonising pain.
You can’t kill people.
Through streams of tears, Tobias tried to reason with the Dark man.
‘You can’t make me do anything I don’t want to.’
You can’t kill people.
‘You can and you will.’
You won’t kill people.
‘I won’t kill people. You can’t make me kill anybody,’ Tobias desperately tried to argue, but he knew that the Dark man would not be dissuaded. He intended to use Tobias as his accomplice, and whether or not he had to force his ideas upon him, it was likely to happen.
‘Don’t you understand,’ the Dark man began, with a hint of genuine concern in his voice, ‘you need to help me. You’re the only one that the Voices haven’t already contaminated. You’re young enough to resist, providing you start now. I can help you do that. I’m fighting for my life and the lives of the Gifted every single day, and I need your help!’
‘You don’t help people! You murder them because of their Gift!’
‘It’s not a fucking gift!’ The Dark man lost his temper now, throwing Tobias to the floor by the scruff of his shirt, where he banged his head against the floor. Trying to stop the pain that quickly travelled through his body, Tobias rubbed the sore spot urgently, and looked up to see the Dark man slam his fist against the wall in anger.
‘I don’t want to murder people…’ Tobias managed to force out the words, despite the pain surging through his skull.
‘You’re not murdering people. I’m not murdering them. They want this! They just don’t know they want it!’
Tobias now realised how truly insane his captor was. To think that killing somebody was not murder, that they wanted it… He was seriously crazy. The Voices had messed with his mind enough, and he was now irreparably damaged.
But maybe the Voices were dangerous. If they were able to tip this man over the edge, turn whoever this man had been into an insane killer with no morals, no conscience except for the Voices who had done this to him.
‘This isn’t you!’
‘You don’t know me, little brat! You don’t know who I am…’ Tobias sensed a little nostalgic pain in the Dark man’s tone. Maybe he knew what he was doing was wrong. Maybe deep down it was the Voices that spoke. Not only in the mind of the Dark man, but on the outside. Maybe the person stood in front of Tobias was not the man he had once been – not in any way except physically. Mentally, he had obviously been changed, but maybe he had been more changed than either Tobias or he himself was willing to accept.
The Voices were poison, perhaps. Maybe Tobias did really need to fight them, to survive. To stop them from taking over his mind.
‘You see?’ The Dark man seemed to read his captive’s mind. ‘You need to fight them, because they take you over. They seem harmless at first, maybe even helpful. Like a conscience…’ Just like Danielle had said. ‘But they get into your mind. They take you over… I don’t expect you to understand, but I do expect you to use your logic… Look what they’ve done to me!’
‘I’m sorry… I’m so, so sorry…’ Tobias didn’t know what else to do but apologise. He genuinely sympathised for the Dark man and the horrible situation he was in. He genuinely was trapped in his own mind. By his own mind and the Voices that had been inhabiting it for so long. Tobias didn’t want to end up like him, and that’s partly the reason he was sorry. He didn’t want to have to become like him, but surely by joining with him and accepting his role as a student of the Dark man, surely that would taint him even more. Tobias couldn’t kill people.
You can’t kill people.
‘I can’t kill people. I don’t want to become you.’ Tobias felt a sudden surge of heroism get sent jolting through his body. It gave him a new feeling of bravery, of energy, and using it, harnessing it, he brought himself to his feet.
‘You need to control them. You need to ignore them. That’s what I failed to do, and that’s why I’m like this now!’
‘No. They changed because of what you are. You always had the choice to kill people, and the Voices tapped into it, changing you completely. I can’t kill people. I can’t and I won’t kill anybody. Not the Gifted, not you, or anybody else.’
Tobias was now fully stood up, and was looking confidently into the eyes of the Dark man, whose expression was that of mild surprise, but overcome by sheer anger.
‘You will help me, whether or not…’
‘No,’ Tobias interrupted. ‘I won’t do anything I don’t want to. I’m not going to murder anybody, and I’m going to keep listening to the Voices, because they’re changing. They’re changing for me…’
‘They’re changing you. Not changing for you. They are changing you!’
‘No! No they’re not! They changed you, but they won’t change me, because I’m not a murderer!’
Tobias was thrown back by a mighty force connecting with his face. He hit his head against the wall as he fell back, and everything went blurry. He suddenly felt very dizzy, and if he hadn’t already been on the floor, he was sure he would have fallen over.
Through the cloudy haze that covered his vision, Tobias could make out the figure slumped down next to him – Danielle. Her chest was only just visibly moving, and Tobias had a split second to feel a little relief that she was still alive after everything she had suffered over the short period they had known one another.
Tobias’ line of sight drifted slowly but surely up to where the Dark man had been standing, but now he was on the move, as far as Tobias could tell. Everything was growing darker, and it was hard to tell what was moving and what was still, due to the dizzying state he found himself in, but as Tobias saw the Dark man bend down to pick something up – what he assumed to be the small red box that he had brought in with him – Tobias knew that he must be moving. As the room grew dark, Tobias was unsure of whether it was due to the door being closed and letting all light fall out of the room, or whether it was because he was slowly falling unconscious.