While this echo of me remained, sustained by Gregory’s presence, Gregory controlled the growling metal demon as I clutched at his jacket with all I had left of myself. As we powered through the jungle, surrounded by an ever-changing kaleidoscope of colour, the fragment of me began to feel more at ease. I buried my face into Gregory’s jacket, the material reminding me of the fragment, keeping me sane. This moment of bliss was shattered by the realisation that we were not alone. A swarm of lustrous motorbikes appeared from behind the trees, flanking ours. My hand went to my holster, uncertain. This uncertainty was destroyed by the ensuing volley of deadly messengers. Gregory and I both held one hand steady, his on the handle and mine on him, while we shot in opposing directions. The riders fell from their vacuous steeds and onto the earth, where they lay in a pool of blue liquid until they were freed from their affliction. As the last rider was covered in the darkness of death, we put away our weapons. As we drove, I felt the blue part of me begin to take over.
“We are close to the Lord.” I said, using that voice that was mine, yet not my own. Gregory brought the bike to a halt and dismounted, leaving it overturned in the dirt, and gently loosening my grasp. That grasp, intended to be loving and supportive, could become deadly at the Lord’s command, and that was not a risk we wished to take. We walked beneath the canopy, Gregory following me while I followed the blue force. After some time, we came to a stop. “We have found his dwelling-place.”
We both stared at the strange metal construction, recoiling at the dirt and blood which coated its walls and marveled at its large size. I approached the doors, surprised that there was no guard securing the keep. I heard Gregory’s voice.
“Myra, you take the door - I’ll find another way.”
“Gregory, when you are with me, I can be myself - I can hold onto the last piece of me.” Gregory approached me, ignoring what would happen if I let go that piece, and kissed my forehead.
“Myra, you are strong enough. I know it.” He kissed me again, on the lips this time. “There,” he whispered, “keep that in mind - I am with you, Myra. Hold onto that kiss.”
“I will.” As Gregory disappeared behind the building, I took a deep breath and walked up to the door. I opened it and stepped inside, my hand hovering over my holster. As I passed beneath a white arch which glowed blue, I heard a voice.
“Hello, Myra Asthore.” I saw the speaker and gasped. A huge crystal, sapphire blue and sparkling like freshwater appeared before me. I was struck by my awe into silence, before feeling my awe submit me into a bow. I knelt before the crystal.
“My Lord, I am here.”
“Yes, Myra, poor Myra. You are a weak human. Of course you think of me as your Lord. Well, in a sense, I am. I am L.O.R.D - a Limiter Of Relaxed Determination.” I wrinkled my brow in confusion, then gasped.
Limiter Of Relaxed Determination...of course...it restricts free will...this blue crystal has been put in place to confuse and control. It all makes sense.“I am impressive, am I not?”
“You seem impressive. But I need more proof. What can you offer me?”
“I can give you back your old voice. The voice you used to take for granted. This prototype I have given you is only a shadow of what it can be.”
I said nothing, overwhelmed by this possibility. The crystal, trying to convince me more, continued, “I can give you riches, Myra. Riches beyond that of human recognition. Are you satisfied?”
“Yes, I am.
“Touch me, and seal the agreement.” I walked towards the crystal slowly, watching myself in the mirror-like casing of the crystal; my hand was outstretched before me and my eyes bluer than they ever were. I breathed heavily, shaking with excitement and fear. My hand was about to touch the crystal when out of the corner of my eye, cloaked in shadow, I saw a face.
My lips quivered, remembering what had touched them. I leapt back from the crystal. “Don’t be afraid, Myra.”
“I am not afraid.” I said, “I am ready.” Looking into the shadows once more, the blue began to drain away from my eyes.
“Do it.” I left the prospect of owning my old voice lying in proverbial dust.
“I will.” In one swift action, I removed the gun from its holster, released the safety catch and fired into the deep blue heart of the crystal. It shattered like glass. I gasped at how quickly the crystal had crumbled, looking to the furtive face, realising the owner of the gun had also fired. As the crystal lay in a thousand pieces on the floor, I opened my mouth to speak.
I was prevented by an acidic burning, eroding away the organ I had been given by the L.O.R.D. I writhed upon the floor in pain as a blue liquid poured out, along with the cobalt organ. The old stump returned, and I was myself again, the pain gone. Gregory emerged from the shadows, taking my hand.
“You remembered. I knew that you would.” I smiled, before we turned together to face the destruction. From behind the ultramarine mess, a figure appeared. Gregory and I gasped in unison.
It was the man who haunted my nightmares - the man with the machete.