011Mature

"What are you doing here?" we both yelled in unison.

"And what on Earth happened to your hair?" I added, looking at it distastefully.

It was what had made me mistake her for a man, and one of the terrorists.

Her once long light-brown locks had become a fire-engine red, and were shaved down on one side of her head in some horrific ancient punk styling.

"I can't believe you're here," she exclaimed, taking a drag from her cigarette, "I'd lost faith in you a long time ago...I guess I was wrong."

Lost faith? 

"What do you mean?" I demanded, almost afraid to know the answer.

"I was sure you'd keep living in that little hovel for the rest of your life without finding out what the world was really like, and what bastards The Government really are. Have you been inked yet?"

She pulled her sleeve down to reveal the same swirling pattern on her arm as Sher had first shown me before she abducted me. 

Maidie was one of the Verisat. 

The only reason I knew her (considering I'd spent my entire life in my house) was the fact that her parents had business dealings with mine.

They would often come over to share a meal with our family, bringing Maidie along for the sake of it. 

Of course, my parents demanded I eat with them too, as a gesture of politeness. Maidie's family was rather odd in that respect; they insisted on ancient, unneeded modes of communication and 'friendliness'.

Mother always complained before they visited. They had the strangest conversation, things like history and art and old books.

In other words, they were impressively boring.

Only eccentrics even read books anymore - they had gone defunct a long time ago, and only really existed in some dusty archives in Washington. 

Who wasted time on books when there were exciting experiences to be had in the virtual reality? Their extinction was based purely on demand, whether or not some crazy extremists wanted to assert that The Government had banned them.

I suppose it made sense that Maidie had joined the terrorists. She had such undesirable upbringing, after all. 

"Preston?" Maidie asked, amused, "Are you going to answer me or stare off into space?"

"No..." I started bitterly, "I...haven't been 'inked'."

"I could do it for you!" she said excitedly, grabbing my right hand and rolling my sleeve up.

And then she saw the cuff and laughed.

Maidie laughed, and then burst out guffawing, the multiple piercings on her ears tinkling in laughter with her.

"What's so damn funny?" I hissed, bothered.

"I was right." she managed, "I knew all along that you were incapable of thinking about anyone but yourself."

"What-"

"-You're blind to any evil that doesn't touch you, Preston. And now you're a prisoner, here. I think it's pretty funny."

"The only evil here is the Verisat." I said, smoldering.

"Oh, right." she laughed, "About that."

She pushed a door open behind her and gestured for me to enter.

When I went in and my eyes adjusted to the darker interior, I felt myself stiffen.

Cribs lined one wall and a large mat lay in the middle of the floor, where multiple children were laughing and screaming and throwing around ramshackle toys.

They looked up at me, their eyes holding a wary hostility.

"Are these children kidnapped?" I asked, horrified.

"No," Maidie said, weaving around me to hand another toy to a little girl, "They're all orphans."

"So you killed their parents?"

Maidie shook her head.

"Their parents were killed by The Government, Preston."

The children were looking at me with a definitive hatred now. They knew who I was, somehow.

"Bullshit." 

I turned and left the building, finding the hut I had built earlier that day and unrolling the bamboo mat some kind soul had left inside it.

I sat down, crossing my legs, and stared at the mud wall.

The End

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