Chapter 8

Even daring to imagine the possibility of Gregory’s recent presence brought with it a number of questions. How did he survive? Where did he go? Why did he not try to find me?

Finding this internal interrogation painful and too heavy to comprehend, I tried to concentrate on my mission once more. Yet I found that I was distracted - each time I tried to think of what evidence I had found, the broken wristband appeared in my mind, tempting me, bringing my personal quests into the spotlight of my thinking. As I walked through Mercyship, searching with clouded eyes and thinking with a blurred mind, I stumbled across a discarded handgun and a pair of sunglasses lying in the dust. With my gloved hands, I examined the weapon, deciding it could become of personal use, before turning my attention to the sunglasses. Feeling the warped carbon between my protected fingers, I deemed them safe and put them on. A glowing interface appeared before me, bringing up lists of numbers detailing oxygen density and humidity. A strange haze clouded the interface, one that was deep blue and evanescent, insubstantial in form and strange in its appearance. I removed the sunglasses and slipped them into a pocket, confused. There must be a defect in the plasma - too much dust, I presume.

Feeling uneasy, I continued to walk, stopping once I had reached a large, fast-flowing river. I knelt to examine it. I noticed my reflection staring back; I marked the pale face, the unruly dark hair, the greenstone eyes. Feeling thirsty, I leant forward, cupping my hands, to drink some of the water, and gasped in realisation of what I saw. That dark blue tint had begun to appear in my eyes, besieging the rim of my iris. Whatever the disease was, it had begun to tighten its hold on me. Suddenly fearing the water, with a theory as to how the illness had spread, I leapt back, afraid that the pathogen had worked its way into the water supply. I worked my way along the river bank until I reached a bridge, and crossed it carefully; the last thing I wanted to do was fall into the river and be claimed by the illness. Having crossed the river, I became aware of the fact that I had reached the untamed part of the island. Thick masses of trees clung to the side of the mountains, a strange, green acne, while the dirt of the forest turned to snow at the mountains’ peaks and turned to sand at the foot of the island, where sand met sea. I questioned the safety of this side of Mercyship, yet an invisible force spurred me on. I entered the thick mass of trees, hoping not only to locate the pathogen, but also to collect evidence of my husband’s life, that perhaps had continued, was still continuing, beyond my believed time of its close.

The forest grew darker as the trees forced their leaves to grow closer together, building a barrier between me and the sun. I began to run, not wanting to linger in the darkness for too long. As I ran, the darkness became overpowering - I tripped several times, but kept on moving, suddenly aware of another being’s presence behind me. Still running, I continued through the dense forest, soon reaching a slope that I knew would become the mountainous peaks I had seen previously. Not wanting to risk a hike of that distance without enough motivation or evidence of its worth, I rounded the slope, in the hope that something would come to light that would help me. That was when the scream reached my ears. I followed the piercing sound through the darkness, aware only that it was broken and probably bloodied. I reached the screamer and my suspicions were confirmed. A young woman, who I guessed was around twenty-five years old, lay on the ground, blood streaked through her blonde hair and smeared across her otherwise flawless face. She gazed at me with those dark blue eyes, the same shade I had seen in the biker’s eyes and the one that was beginning to manifest itself in mine. She stood up and I saw the reason for her bloodied state. Another body, also female, lay on the ground, bleeding profusely. There was no life in her eyes, the same abominable blue irises staring into an imperceptible abyss. I turned to the blonde woman in my confusion. A voice, that sounded like it had passed through millennia to reach my ears, came in reply.

 “It was my prize. She tried to take it, but it’s mine, and no one else can have it. I won’t share.” Greed’s voice continued as I drew closer. “If you take my prize, you will die.” I took my watch and punched in a code. A voice that was not my own asked,

"What prize?"

“Riches. Wealth beyond your dreaming. He will give it to me. He will give me my prize.”

Who is he?” I used the voice again, too frightened to use my half-voice.

“He is rich, powerful...” she replied, and then, in a voice that seemed to have metal edges, said, “I worship him - he is my Lord.” Fearing the woman before me, the metallic voice I used said,

I promise not to take your prize.”

The woman smiled, and I turned to leave - she had frightened me enough. Suddenly, her voice came out of the darkness again.

“Wait! You lied! You want it, don’t you? That’s why you have that thing in your hand!”

I gasped as I saw the gun in my hand. I put it back in its holster, but the damage had been done. “You lied. Liars are bad people. Bad people must be dealt with.” I heard the dagger scrape its sheath as it left it. I drew my gun, turned to face her, and shot the woman in the forehead. She fell back to join the other dead body in the earth. I watched her eyes close.

I knelt by her and whispered, in my half-voice,

“It’s better this way. This strange disease can’t hurt you anymore. Rest in peace.” I rose with one thought filling my head.

I need to find Him. I need to find her Lord.

The End

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