The hurtling night continued as we slept; our hands had found their separate ways to the invisible undulations in the other’s back - like mattresses which remember body shape, our bodies remembered those places we had found. That night, which was all too short, held a wonderful deep sleep, where for the first time in forever I slept uninterrupted by my recurring bad dream. In Gregory’s arms I felt protected, safe from any glaring eyes and evil men with knives.
The sun did not wake me; it could not intrude through the black material of the tent. I was allowed to wake of my own accord. My mind, having been refreshed by my slumber, soon filled with questions. How did Gregory survive? Where did he go? Why is he here? Gregory awoke shortly after me, and we both smiled in a mixture of happiness and wonderful disbelief in the fact that the other was still alive.
Soon, we had broken camp and were hiking through the forest together. Filled with a new bravery and buzzing with the desire to end the strange suffering I had seen, I walked, prepared for anything. However, my previous questions remained in my mind. As we walked, I keyed in the appropriate combination and used the voice to say,
“Where did you go? Why did you come here?” Gregory stopped, and took my hand. “What’s wrong, Gregory?” I asked. With hurt in his eyes, he replied,
“I’m just not used to that voice you have. It pains me, the fact that the man took your voice. I’ll never hear the music in your voice again.” A silence ensued, which Gregory broke by continuing, “I’m sorry, I’ll answer your questions.” I nodded, and we continued through the thick mass of trees. “When I awoke, the tunnel was cold with the wind having been sucked through it. I managed, with some effort, to shift my bleeding body, lifting your bloodied body from mine gently. As you lay on the floor of the tunnel, scarlet coating your deathly pale face, I fumbled for your pulse. My fingers were frozen, your wrist was cold, and in my panic, I couldn’t find your pulse. I thought that you had died. In my despair, I couldn’t think straight. Believing that I had lost you, I left the tunnel, unable to see you as you appeared - it caused me physical pain. Warmed by the sun, my senses returned to me and I realised the extent of my pain. I couldn’t face returning to the tunnel; the hurt it would have caused me exceeded my threshold. I lay on the grass and fumbled for anything I could use to heal my injuries - I made a tourniquet out of my shirt, bathed leaves in a nearby lake and used them as bandages. I ate what I could find - plants, fruits, anything that appeared even remotely edible. Having recovered some of my strength, I built a makeshift shelter and slept, trying to forget the world. I was plagued by nightmares. The next day, missing you greatly, I found the courage to return to the tunnel. I decided that I should find you and give you the respectful funeral you deserved. You were gone. I left the tunnel and saw your jacket lying torn on the ground. A wolf slinked out of the bushes, blood around its mouth. I presumed the worst - I shot it, unable to find a trace of your body. I thought it was all I could do for you.” I held Gregory close and brushed his neck with my lips.
“I’m here now.” Gregory smiled weakly, before answering my second question.
“I did not wish to return to the UIE - I wanted no part in the organisation whose mistake had cost you your life. I did some of my own private investigation into various cases - it was an innate part of my life. Besides, it allowed me to think on other things. I heard about the Mercyship disease on TV - I made my way here. When I saw you collapse in the clearing, I wasted no time. I overcame my disbelief and panic, channelled all my energy into helping you.” At this point, we both smiled. His expression and tone of voice changed into something more contemplative. “The sufferers are strange. Their eyes...this illness is no mere pathogen. Someone must be controlling them.” At this, I stood a little straighter and punched the keys on my wrist.
“He is my Lord.”
“One of the sufferers spoke to me. She mentioned someone she referred to as ‘Lord.” Gregory gasped. I reverted to my half-voice. “Gregory? What’s wrong?”