Sundered Snippet

Snippet toward the end of the Sundered.  I am almost through – then comes the synopsis, then submissions. Yay process!

This is the quietest ship in the world by day seven. Nobody talks. People practically tip-toe. And I can see something in the distance.

“I’m afraid.” That isn’t what I meant to say.It’s dark. Like a thick black thumb-smudge at the bottom of a painting. I can’t tell anything beyond that yet in this freaky urine-ash sky. “Aakesh.” It’s whispered. I can’t even hear myself over the breeze and the creak of wood and rope.

But he’s there, right beside me. Probably didn’t even need to hear it to know I wanted him. “Yes, my lord?”

“I’m afraid.” That isn’t what I meant to say.

He looks at me.

I can feel how pale I am, my eyes shot with red. Staring at that black thumb-smudge on the horizon. “I want to set you free – ” He inhales. ” – but first, I have to ask you a question. Don’t lie to me. Don’t answer in any way other than straight speech, like I’d use myself. Understood?”

Still tense, half a nod.

Here we go. “If I set you free, you’ll leave right away, won’t you?”

He twitches, muscles dancing under skin, like he’s surprised. Like maybe he’d lie if he were allowed. “Yes.”

I knew he’d say that. Knew. That cinches it. I can’t. My eyes sting in this weird, acrid air. “You know I can’t let you go until we’ve seen the Hope. You know that, don’t you?” Like I thought he’d stay. He’s no Gorish –

He leans in until his lips almost brush my ear. “And if you decide to end it all, Harry?” he murmurs sweetly, as if I’m talking about killing myself instead of all of them, as if it would be a beautiful and perfect and peaceful thing.

I grip the bulwark, clench my jaw, keep looking forward. Mind-games. He does this when cornered. “I won’t. And I can’t let you go until I’m safe.”

“Logic would agree,” he agrees, and walks away.

Mercy leads to darkness, right Aakesh?

I don’t care anymore if he hears me thinking.

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