"You know, dear, there is an idea that came to my mind," the
Commander leaned towards Simon over the low table and handed him the little box
of the stuff. His own voice was slightly muffled as he was sucking a jelly. The
stuff meant that talk on business matters was over. Simon settled back in the
irresistibly comfortable armchair of the Commander's lounge and put a jelly
into his mouth. Well, one jelly now and then... especially when the Commander
treated - it was okay; Simon could allow himself to do it. With his eyelids
half-mast, he nodded waiting for Duvall to go on.
"Do you know my little slave - Seth? Did I show him to you?" and,
when Simon shook his head. "He's a pretty thing, though stupid. I'm sure
you'll enjoy him."
"Do you offer me to buy him?" the stuff worked fast, making him
find this proposal so amusing that he couldn't hold a giggle. He heard the
Commander laugh, too, his bird-like thin hand patting Simon's wrist in a
gesture that was intended to be affectionate but Simon didn't want to guess how
sincere it was.
"Nope, child. I wouldn't like to part with him forever. What I propose
is to make a little exchange. For a week or for a few days. You can take my guy
to play and I'll take yours."
Simon coughed; a bit of jelly-melted saliva must've gone wrong way. And yet
when he coped with the fit and looked at the Commander again, he realized that
he still needed a bit more time.
"You mean Peter?"
"Don't be daft, honey," the words were rude but the tone softened
them almost to endearment. "Do you have other slaves? Think about it -
diversity can be very entertaining. And you really can do to my boy anything
you want - just return him to me in one piece... Well, let's say comparatively
in one piece."
"Ugh..." he didn't feel completely sober suddenly, it was not
that. But the stuff stopped having its elating effect on him. He coughed again.
"Actually... I dunno."
He saw the Commander lean towards him again. Boyish slender figure in black
old-fashioned uniform and smooth gracefulness of motions. What gave away the
Commander's age - and what one couldn't see on his portraits - that his face
and hands were covered in a frequent net of little wrinkles - smile wrinkles
around his eyes in particular; the Commander loved to smile.
"But why, child?" the cool hand fondling his again. "Aren't
you interested in my boy? Or don't you want me to have... But wait! The rumors
are you are more than eager to share."
Yeah, rumors. The City lived on rumors.
"It's different," Simon muttered. Somehow a part of his mind
wondered why he didn't say 'yes' yet... a week or a few days - there was no
reason to refuse. After all, the Commander was right - he did like to send
Peter to the bar to pick up clients.
Or didn't - but sent Peter all the same.
"Different like what? Like you think he'll enjoy it too much at my
place?" the Commander was laughing, an easy, almost childish laughter that
Simon usually caught; not this time. "I promise you he'll beg you to take
He kept silent. He knew he should've said something easy - like 'okay, deal'
- and the embarrassing moment would be over. Because it was embarrassing, he
could sense it, even though the Commander kept smiling as if noticing nothing.
All of a sudden Simon felt a fit of anger overwhelming him - he didn't even
know whom he was angry with - with Duvall for pushing, with himself for
resisting unexplainably - or with Peter for causing this inconvenient
"Well," a moment more and Simon would probably agree - but the
Commander's hand was gone as he straightened in the armchair; he never settled
back, never sprawled - but somehow every pose seemed comfortable for his frail
but wiry body. "I don't want to make you feel unhappy, child. Forget
"You don't make me feel unhappy."
"Don't think that I don't understand. Slavery is a double-edged weapon.
You own them but after a while you get attached, too."
"I am not attached," now declaring it was easy, wasn't it?
"And that's right, child, that's right. Trust my long, long experience.
When you allow them to mean something for you - they use it to hurt you."
Simon knew it. Losing control - that's how he called it for himself - and he
always tried to watch hard for it not to happen.
"At first you give them an easy time - just because somehow it seems that
you enjoy it the more seeing them contented," the Commander's voice was
soft and thoughtful, his eyes looking somewhere only he seemed to be able to
look to. "You spare them punishments - because you feel that hurting them
hurt you hardly less. And then, when you expect gratitude and affection from
them - you realize that you cherished a snake on your bosom. And when the snake
bites - sometimes it is too late."
Too late? No, not for Simon. For it was not Simon's situation. He had one
reason to remember what Peter was and what he, Simon, had been - the reason
that others didn't have.
"Sometimes you feel that it's *you* who are his slave, not he
yours," the Commander added wistfully. And before Simon could say
anything, shook the melancholic mood off. "Now this stuff sometimes makes
me an old fool. I hope you'll forgive me, child."
A little while later, as Simon rose to leave, the Commander suddenly took a
long narrow box out of the drawer.
"I want to make a little present to you, dear," opening the lid
over the purple velvet bedding. "It's an object d'art - there are just
three of them made - on my special order," a thin black whip with carved
handle there. "Touch it - it's soft like silk... but oh boy, you wouldn't
want to know how it hurts."
I know how it hurts, Simon thought feebly, murmuring his thanks. You didn't
see my back under these soft expensive clothes. Yes, the scars were there -
even if sometimes he forgot about them.
He opened the door to his apartment and stepped into the suite of bright-lit
warm rooms, realizing with surprise that for the first time he'd gotten cold
walking through the City. It was quiet - so quiet that for a moment he thought
he was alone - and then he heard the slight rustle of turning pages from
Peter's room. Yes, of course, Peter didn't know Simon was back.
Sudden sickness overwhelmed him - as if the stuff was playing bad games to
him today. He looked at the box in his hand and wanted to put it away - to throw
it away - and leave, go down to the bar and have a drink of fern vodka. The dim
lights and muted colors of the bar would do him good.
He shook his head at the thought. He could barely believe it came to his
mind. Was he going to drink cheap shit in the bar downstairs when he had his
splendidly furnished apartment for doing anything he wanted?
The question was what he wanted.
He couldn't understand why it was so difficult to work himself into a rage -
maybe, because he hadn't done it for so long - lost the habit, or something? He
entered Peter's room - and saw Peter look up abruptly as he felt Simon's
Isn't he too comfortable, Simon thought with deliberate exasperation; when
the trapped and miserable expression in his eyes was gone? Yes, there still was
wariness - it probably would never go. But it was not enough.
"I am sorry," he watched Peter put away the book and stand up,
A proper answer. But he doesn't mean it, Simon thought, he doesn't respect
me. He kept looking at Peter, opening the box - and saw how the man's eyes
shifted from his face to the whip as Simon took it out.
Scared now? Should be. How much time had passed since Simon punished him
properly last time? Apparently too much. He kept clenching his fist on the whip's
handle, lacing the thong between his fingers. "...soft like
silk..." Yes, it was.
"I am sorry," he heard Peter repeat, a tiny note of panic in his
voice. "I didn't mean any disrespect."
It is not about you, Simon thought a moment before he struck. It is about
He hit with the handle, the blow heavy enough to send Peter to the floor,
covering his split mouth. A familiar sight - blood leaking through his fingers
and his staring eyes... but something new in them this time. Maybe, relief?
You didn't know how to handle it, too, bitch, Simon thought with a sudden
flip of intuition... when I beat you and rape you - you know how to cope. But
not my hands, my words, my presence making you feel warm and contented.
This thought did for him what nothing else could. He lashed across Peter's
face and was amazed how easily it was to use the whip. The result was amazing,
too - the dark red welt swelling over his cheekbone, the little sound of pain
Peter made involuntarily. He struck again, this time half across his hands that
Peter held at his face. He heard Peter gasp, saw a thin trace of blood smeared
over the carpet.
Never mind, there is a maid to clean it up.
He didn't give Peter time to re-group. Nor himself time to look in Peter's
narrowed eyes, black with pain - always became so fathomless when he was
hurt... always made Simon want to hurt him more. He leaned over Peter, clasping
the whip, thinking that he would do something mad now - would push the handle
into Peter's bleeding mouth, would tear it more - break his jaw, tear his
Do you want to kill him?
He wound the loose end of the whip around his palm, lopped it around Peter's
throat and tightened, pulling up. He saw Peter scramble up on his feet hastily
as Simon continued to pull. The son of bitch *wanted* to live, didn't he?
He was reminded how much shorter Peter was - as he raised his hands, tugging
the ends of the whip aside, he felt Peter tiptoe and lose his balance
inevitably - felt his body thrash and press against Simon's, his hands claw in
the whip that cut into his throat. No way. Only when Peter went limp at last,
Simon let go.
Didn't kill him, he knew it - and watched Peter lie curled on his side,
taking his first, impossibly painful breath - then hack agonizingly and roll
his head on the floor feebly. His eyes that opened as Simon squatted in front
of him were not so black as bloodshot... and terrified. Good.
"Did you like it?" he saw Peter not understand, his ability to
read lips and signs not returning yet. "Did... you... like... it?" he
repeated slowly. "Say 'yes, master'. Did I make you hard?"
He reached his hand to check. Peter was not hard but wet - his bladder
That's how you like him, right? Pissed and desperate and so vulnerable. He
heard Peter gasp again and again - until he managed to say, almost
"What happened, Simon?"
And Simon wished he didn't comprehend that. Because it was a wrong thing to
say. What happened? As if he needed a reason to punish his slave.
"Master, you bitch! Master. Stand up!"
He straightened and waited for Peter to get on his feet. The thong of the
whip slid through his fingers and he knew they both knew what was coming now.
He saw panic in Peter's eyes - more than just fear of whipping. How dared he
not to obey immediately, didn't he know how this delay would end up for him?
"Strip, fuck you."
"I can't... I... soiled myself."
Oh fuck... You miserable, silly, filthy little bastard... Why do you do all
this to me?
"Bad luck for you. Strip. And take out the rings."
The whip would tear them out - and Simon didn't want the nuisance of having
to get them stitched up again.
"Put the hands on the back of the bed."
The whip turned out to handle beautifully; making circles around Peter's
body, reaching every place Simon wanted it to reach. Simon broke Peter's
silence on the third blow - and stopped on the twentieth, when Peter slumped
suddenly to the floor in mid-stroke.
Really, the carpet being a mess afterwards.
* * *
The man was a mean bastard. Arms wrapped around his legs, forehead to his
knees was an exhausting position and Peter lost the count of time standing like
this, with the man's cock slamming into him under the most absurd angle. It was
a difficult night, starting pretty early with some fault of his - how did he
dare to change his clothes without Simon permitting him. He knew Simon was just
lashing out - as he lashed out so often recently, without any real reason. When
it happened he tried to switch his mind off of what was going on. Sometimes it
It worked with the first three clients tonight. Nothing hurt too bad, so, he
managed to slip away into thinking about nothing. But now, almost at three in
the morning, Peter was too tired and too sore for mind games. He stared at the
floor and wondered grimly if Simon would feel better after his slave had been
thoroughly used - and knew with a kind of resignation that it probably wouldn't
be so. In some twisted way for Simon these things started as a punishment to
Peter - but by the end they became Peter's fault.
One day he will kill you, he thought tiredly; and no chance to think that
you'll be able to kill him first.
Eventually the man froze, his fingers stuck deeply around Peter's pelvic
bones, and Peter knew the cum was pumped into his ass, adding to those three
loads that already were there.
He was pushed away abruptly, feeling dizzy as he straightened after so much
time in doubled-over position, and saw the man say something. As always. They
either could never get that their efforts were wasted or just liked the sound
of their own voice. He backed away to the corner, knowing well that it was
better to stay as far as possible from the client - for who knows what other
ideas would come to his mind if he found Peter too handy.
He barely made a sigh of relief when the man left - just pulled the robe
over himself and slumped on the bed, wincing at the sharp pain in his bottom -
when the feeling of another's presence in the room made him flinch.
Simon was already here - and another man with him. Peter felt a kind of
panic... couldn't handle that - didn't count on that - and clenched his teeth,
trying to keep on to the edge of sanity. For fuck's sake there is nothing he
//"Another customer for you, slut,"// Simon's eyes were bloodshot
- because of a sleepless night - or did he take a dose? Man, he was torturing
himself for the sake of making life worse for Peter, wasn't he? //"Feel
free to do whatever you want, mister."//
The last words were meant for the customer but Peter practically didn't have
problems any more lip-reading everything Simon said, even if it was not
articulated carefully. He looked over the man's shoulder how the door closed
behind Simon - just a few more moments of rest before standing up and waiting
for the orders.
The man was new; well, Peter was not sure that he had never been in the bar
- and he couldn't say anything at all about the first night when he had been
gang-fucked - but somehow Peter thought he had never seen him. Pale skin,
smooth face of someone about thirty-five - and bright silver hair, cropped
short to the scull. The man's small mouth was like a white dent, pressed hard,
and his eyes, icy blue, looking at Peter who stood there with his robe open,
the indecency that didn't mean anything but was just a part of his ordinary
degradation, had a mixed expression of anxiety and annoyance - but no arousal.
He said something, and although it seemed to Peter that he got it:
//"Can you read by the lips?"// he frowned and shook his head.
Irritation flared in the man's eyes, he shrugged, took out a small plate and
a kind of thin plastic stick, scribbled something and showed it to Peter. The
letters melted into nothingness right in front of his eyes.
"Cover yourself. I want to talk."
The squeamishness in the man's expression lanced through him and he found it
weirdly amusing that some things still could get to him. He wanted to say that
he was the last one here who was supposed to enjoy showing off but just pulled
the flaps of his robe together.
He saw the man come up to the bed, pull the edge of the sheet away and sit
on the corner of the mattress. For a few moments his face was concentrated as
he rummaged in his bag for something - and then he pulled a twisted piece of
metal out of it.
Peter caught the soft hissing sound he was about to make - and congratulated
himself on doing so in time. He recognized the thing; anthracite polished
surface, shiny, burnt-off metal on the breaking line - how wouldn't he
recognize it? From the wreck of Kingfisher's shuttle. He looked at the man with
polite, mild interest - meeting the pale iridescent eyes that stuck in him like
"I have no idea," good - practically natural. "I thought you
would tell me."
"Don't play with me, slut. It's not in your interests."
He should've called for Simon; fuck, let him handle the situation - and this
madman with his prematurely grey hair and freezy-cold eyes. He sensed danger
emanating from the man... who was he? An agent of the Commander - another one
who wanted to puzzle out the mystery of hidden bag of the stuff? The shuttle...
He recalled what Seth told him - that the Commander knew they were from outside
- and didn't care shit.
"Don't call for anyone."
He breathed in hard, making his face blank consciously, willing himself into
calmness. What did he risk, anyway? Was there so much he could lose?
"I know you came with that - you and your master. Tell me about this
thing - and we can find something of benefit for both of us."
He is not my master, you fool.
"Let me see," he started slowly, sticking fingernails into palms -
always helped him to think straight. "You offer me something for admitting
that I 'came with it' as you put it. Well, let's imagine that I lied and said
'yes'. What can you give me for that?"
He saw a haughty, cold smirk twist the corner of the man's almost
//"What is it, then?"//
Two can play this game... oh yeah, for eternity.
"If you found this, you could find the rest."
"Who are 'we'?"
He saw a flash of wariness in the man's eyes - and made a wild guess:
Uh oh. It happened too fast. One moment the man sat motionlessly - and then
he was already over Peter, pressing him to the bed, the sharp edge of the wreck
icy-cold under his jaw. The man's white lips, the smooth face were so close
Peter couldn't miss a word:
//"I told you not to play with me, bitch. Do you want to die?"//
"No," he didn't shake his head, aware that his artery and the
sharp metal were separated but by a thin layer of skin. "I don't want to
The man's body pressed hard into his, the violent, alive weight that
suddenly made him think of a huge snake lying on his chest - something he had
never felt, of course - and wonder where the image came from. The jagged edge
of the wreck lingered at his throat for a while more - and then the man let him
go, straightened, rearranged his clothes carefully.
"Let's have a fresh start."
"Okay. Say you know what the thing is - and you know things about me.
Let's say I know things about you. If you want more information from me - I
want something in exchange."
"How do I know if the information you have is worth anything?"
"I thought we talked about having a fresh start."
For a moment it seemed to him the man was going to strike again, his mouth
curved painfully - but then he just wrote: "The spacecraft - can it be
"It's a shuttle," Peter said. He thought about lying, telling that
it could be mended - and he, Peter, was the only one who could mend it.
"No, I don't think it can."
"Then it's worthless."
He felt his breath, blade-sharp, caught in his throat. He had to be careful
now. He had to play his cards very, very cleverly.
"Did you find something else there - a green transparent crystal in a
The man didn't answer - but he didn't need to, his eyes were too expectant.
"The crystal contains more information than you can imagine. It's the
most perfect model of a computer - think how technology developed since the
time you left the Earth. And I'll give it all to you if get me out of
"So, you want to be free?"
"What fuckin' else can I want?"
"I am going to discuss your offer with my comrades."
Oh yes, of course... Peter felt so strung-up that he was about to break into
laughter - not good laughter but hysterical one. He would kiss the man's hands,
kneel in front of him, would fuck him silly if he said he would take him
away... right now. But it couldn't be like that - Peter knew it all too well.
"I'll contact you again. But first of all - you have to understand -
if we are going to help you, we'll need a pledge."
A pledge? Sure, whatever.
"Blood pledge," the man wrote. "So that next time
when I come for you, the Commander's security doesn't wait for me."
Peter thought he knew what the man meant - wanted from him. And wasn't it
what he wanted himself desperately? He thought about blood - pools of blood on
the floor of their flashy apartment - and Simon's dead body lying in it, the
gaping wound on his throat like the second mouth.
"I don't have any weapon."
"You'll get it."
"I'll be looking forward to it," he said and smiled. And as the
man continued to look at him - the gaze of blue icy and yet burning intent -
not knowing what to do, Peter added, almost despite himself. "Care for
some sex? No need to waste your money."
For a few moment the man was silent and motionless - and when he moved, it
was not to get what he paid for - but to write again. "We,
revolutionaries, believe that slavery is a crime and a greatest social
injustice. Just like the fact that thousands of people have to work and die on
the factories and fields to feed and satisfy the needs of the rich. We fight
the order and we fight slavery - and we think everybody deserves freedom.
Except those who allow themselves to become slaves - and whores," a
measuring look over Peter, "in their mind."
The man left - and Simon was back again, now alone. While showering, Peter
bit the inside of his lip until his mouth got all salty and wet with blood -
driving himself into tranquility... not to show a sign of anything that
happened, not to give himself away.
He hoped he looked his usual self when he came out to Simon - and was almost
happy as the man just told him go to bed and then entered him, abruptly and
without interest. But as he kept driving his cock into Peter's loosened rectum,
Simon started talking suddenly, not looking at Peter, not caring if he was
understood or not - but with strange vengeance both in his expression and in
the rage he moved with:
//"I am going to marry. Gonna have a family, have children. The
Commander will cancel the birth limit for me. I bet you thought I would never
have children - and if I did, they would become slaves for you. But my children
will be free - and will have everything. I'll be able to build the best life
for them - rich, sheltered, happy life. Because I'm everything now - and you,
slut, you are - nothing."//
* * *
In the stuffy room, in near-darkness, on soft crumpled sheets he was out of
time and space, feeling with his fingers Seth's face, memorizing it by touch
the same much as by sight - the wide soft mouth saying something - smiling -
nipping the tips of his fingers. His cheek lay against the hollow softness of
Seth's belly, arms around the twigs of his ribs under the taut skin.
"I don't want to leave you."
//"What?"// long stick-like fingers flew in front of his face in a
questioning gesture. //"You don't need to leave so far. They always talk
and talk when they come together... the order... the money... the stuff... blah
Silly thing. It was not what Peter meant - wasn't that at all.
Seth's wild-eyed face, the shadow of an evil smile directed at the men
behind the wall - he would like to look at it... forever. At nothing else but
this face. Had he ever wanted to see any other face turned up to him, lips
ready for a kiss? Joanie had been sweet and kind and beautiful - and yet Peter
had never wanted her like this... He had even wondered if he could feel
anything like this at all.
And how crazy it was now that he did feel it - it was about a whorish slave
with birdie brains - who was probably ready to fuck anyone who got to be
around... whom Peter couldn't trust more than for an hour or two they spent in
the same bed...
And whom you are going to ditch this night... You don't want to leave? What
He hadn't known if he would ever hear from the silver-haired man again; he
had told himself he would just have to learn to live with it: with the chance
of freedom never come true. Just as he lived with lots of other things.
He remembered the sudden anger that seized him when Simon had been telling
him about his plans that night - of the safety and well-being he was going to
build for his family... and how he wished desperately for this never to happen.
All his muscles must've shrunk - and Simon whose cock suddenly got squeezed in
the vices of Peter's insides, unresisting till now, stopped talking abruptly
and looked at him with a kind of delighted amazement:
//"Yeah, do it again, it feels good."//
Peter hadn't seen the stranger after that. But this morning - in his bed -
after the maid had cleaned his room - he found a thin blade wrapped into white
cloth - and a scrap of paper with one word on it: "Tonight."
It could be a trap - Peter understood it very well. They could wait for him
to do what he was supposed to - and then leave him alone - that is, to never
come for him - and he knew what awaited a slave who killed his master. But
somehow Peter knew he would do it just the same.
Now, having a weapon and an opportunity - he *had to* kill Simon.
He pressed his lips to the warm angular place where Seth's ribs were joining
the sternum. He could catch the tiny shifts of muscles and bones like that,
could lick and taste the salty blend of Seth's skin. He licked - and slid down
with his mouth to the pierced navel, kissed it and around it, his hands under
Seth, stroking the smooth curves of the narrow ass.
Yes, I am leaving you, little brother. This way or that.
"How did you become a slave?"
"Was a stupid slut... Slept over with a wrong guy and then was dumb
enough to try to leave him. He was the Commander's friend... they arranged some
scam and my family got broke within one month, all in debts. It was either
joining the collective farmers or giving me out - and since it was all my
fault... since I was their black ship all the same..."
"But why the Commander?"
"Dunno... There was the auction and then - oops - the bastard owns
me... allowing a farewell night to my former lover, though," the
painted fingernails ran along the jagged traces of burnt flesh on his side.
He wanted to ask if Seth ever thought about escaping. If there was any
way... No, Peter couldn't. He would never endanger *his* chance of freedom by
talking to someone.
Even to someone you...care for?
But was it about caring about Seth? Or was it about being free... at least
in his mind, at least in fucking - wanting to fuck - someone... who was not his
master? And now, with *real* freedom in front of Peter - his little psycho
lover just didn't have a chance.
//"Hey, wait, what are you doing..."// Seth writhed under the
touch of Peter's lips, laughed, flipping him over - rose over him - and then
sank his head down suddenly, enveloping Peter's cock in his mouth.
"What are *you* doing?" he laughed, too - and felt dizzy and happy
- and thought that for a little while - for a few minutes - he could forget
about the blade and the closing night.
* * *
Now do everything like a smart boy, Peter, and don't you dare to fail on
He looked at the lights going out and tried not to let the sickness
overwhelm him. There was nothing to be uncertain about, right? Not only he
would do what he had to do - but he *wanted* to do it. Nothing changed since
that time when he had tried to stick the pincers into Simon's eye.
At least you have to prove that nothing changed - that you still are a
Yes, father, I know I have another chance.
And if he ruined this chance... Well, there would be little time to remind
himself what a failure he was. If everything went wrong - he'd better finish it
before he got to the Block, right?
He saw the light switch on in the bathroom and knew that Simon went to take
his evening shower. As usual. And there was one more of Simon's habits that
He walked to Simon's room and saw the cooling glass of herbal tea mixed with
a good dose of fern vodka - a specialty of the Sphere. A nice relaxing thing -
and totally harmless... a much better way to relax than using the stuff. But
this time Simon was going to have both; not that he would know about it.
Yes, it was not going to be a fair fight. But Peter couldn't afford to
He took out Simon's box of the stuff and pinched a few jellies out of it.
How much would be enough to send him to sleep... or to immobilize him? Well,
this much will do, he thought. For a few moments the jellies lay on the bottom
of the glass, translucent blue in greenish liquid - and then melted softly into
nothing. He stirred it with the spoon, wondering if the consistence changed
significantly; then took a swallow.
Slightly bitter; but Simon might think it was vodka. Peter put the glass
back and suddenly felt a fit of terror, imagining that Simon came out of the
bathroom and stood behind his back - and he couldn't turn around and look if it
was true - he just couldn't.
There was no Simon; he understood it when time passed and nothing happened -
and he put away the box, hoping that it wouldn't come to Simon's mind to take a
dose today. God knows, he already has enough, Peter thought with ill-sounding
He was in his room, over the chessboard, when Simon must've come out of the
bathroom. Peter knew he walked around the apartment - and thought desperately
how inconvenient it was that he couldn't hear; a clicking sound of the spoon in
the glass - that much could tell him his plan was working.
He felt hazy. Oh my, he just made one mouthful of the potion - and there
were lights dancing in front of his eyes. The colors of the board were not
black and white any more - but jolly blue, yellow and red. He looked at them
intently - until the door opened - and Simon came in, the glass of tea in his
hand. And even though Peter told himself it was silly, he had time to feel
choking panic at the thought that Simon somehow puzzled out his secret and was
going to make him pay.
He watched Simon who stood in the doorway, his long soft-cloth robe opened
on his smooth chest. No, fuckin' don't do that... don't gasp, don't stare at
him with cow eyes. A small figurine of the bishop was in his hand and he
clasped his fist, letting the spike of it enter in his skin. Remember how your
father made you clasp the pushpins in your hand? Was it more difficult?
"Whites, in four moves. I still didn't find the way."
He saw Simon bring the glass to his mouth and make a few gulps. He didn't
come in and didn't go. Well, he could do what he felt like, right? Even hanging
around in the doorway.
//"Chess is one of a few things that is the same - on the Sphere... and
in the League,"// he said wistfully - making Peter look at him in
surprise. Was it looking like a conversation, huh? After weeks of orders and
curses. //"Do you miss things from the League? Books and holos and
"I don't think much about it," he suddenly understood it was true.
"I don't think about the League any more."
He saw Simon drink again and thought that he was ready to say anything to
him, that he loved the Sphere, that he was happy there - just to make him empty
"And I don't think they think about me, too."
//"How many months passed? Did they write you off? Consider you dead -
just as your father is dead."//
The bastard may be dead but he's pretty much alive in my mind.
"You know my uncle killed my father," he said and was amazed how easily
it came out. He had never said it to anyone, had forbidden himself to think
about it for years. He probably needed a good dose of the stuff to face it.
"He killed my father over me."
It was never found out. Nobody had told him... nobody had to; he just knew.
//"And now when you are gone your uncle has no one."//
Oh yes... The glass was empty. Now it was just a matter of time... and
didn't he see Simon sway? Just please, please, don't let him guess... let him
just fall asleep.
//"He must've loved you, your uncle."//
It *was* the stuff talking.
"He did. I think he was the only one who ever did."
He saw a delirious smile on Simon's face - and then the man swayed so hard
that almost fell.
//"That's why it was so important for you? That you didn't need to
deserve his love, he took you as you were?"//
"My father took me as I was," looking right in Simon's eyes, Peter
thought that he was telling the truth about it - for the first time in his life
recognized it for the truth. "My uncle... for him I tried to be better
than I was. But it was worth it."
He watched Simon raise his hand - the glass slip out of it and roll on the
//"What the fuck is it? I feel fuzzy... Should lay down... Come
Now he would understand... Peter made himself stand up and come up and Simon
leant against him as they walked to Simon's bedroom. There Simon fell on the
bed, face up, turning his head slightly but not looking any more.
//"No... stay with me..."// and as Peter knelt at the bed,
//"you stupid... just sit with me..."//
It'll be over soon, Peter. He'll be asleep and you'll waste him. He'll
pay for everything he did to you.
It looked like the silver-haired man was not the only one who wanted a blood
The sleep came - Simon's face smoothed, eyelids not shifted any more - and
then Peter got up and walked back to his room. The blade was under the mattress
- shining dully as the cloth fell off of it.
Wasn't it something he waited for... for so long?
He came back and raised the blade over the solid tower of Simon's neck, the
pit between his collarbones deep and fluttering slightly with peaceful beating
of his pulse. This time there was nothing that could hinder Peter to do it.
Come on, finish it. Clean your name with his blood!
Fuck you, father, don't tell me what to do... Peter moved the blade
suddenly, setting it between Simon's lips - in the thin slit between his
unclenched teeth, moving them apart. The man's jaw dropped open so easily as
Peter turned the blade, showing the insides of Simon's mouth - so pink, so
The man gave a snore, shaking his head slightly, as the air caught in his
throat; Peter waited. But the stuff was too powerful - Simon never woke up. Not
when Peter pushed fingers into his mouth and took the warm moist snake of his
tongue, pulling it out. Not even when the blade started slicing through in - in
smooth sawing motions - with blood first welling around it, then pouring in two
streams from both sides of Simon's mouth.
Yes, it was blood that got into his windpipe, choking him, that made Simon's
eyes snap open - right at the moment when Peter severed the last layer of flesh
- and took his hand with the bloody lump away.
Blood gurgled in Simon's throat as if he tried to say something, his huge
fiery eyes staring without recognition - but he didn't try to move, didn't try
to get up or grab. And Peter reached and turned his face on the side - feeling
for one moment the warmth of Simon's skin - so that blood might leak
out of his mouth, not into his throat, not choke him.
He took the keys and for the first time unlocked the door of the apartment.
It was quiet and cold on the stairs - and thoughtfully, without much hurry,
Peter started walking down, stairwell after stairwell. It didn't come to his
mind to take the elevator for some reason - and indeed, he thought, why was not
to enjoy the last walk in his life, as it was? He didn't notice at once how
blood dripped from his hands, into the dust on the stairs. Not neat... But who
And then, on the floor whose number he didn't know, the door opened - and
the man with bright blue eyes on pale face caught him and pulled him inside.
//"So, you did it?"// it was dim in the empty, disordered room -
and the man's face was like a flash of white, his lips moving clearly. Peter
saw his expression change abruptly as he looked at his hand that had touched
Peter and saw the thin film of red on it. //"Oh Christ..."//
"You said 'blood pledge'," he smiled and handed him the dripping
bit of flesh.
He saw a play of momentary fascination and revulsion on the man's face - and
then he hit on Peter's hand from underneath, making the tongue fall to the
//"Let's fuckin' go, do you think we have the whole night?"// for
once he didn't look in Peter's eyes.
They came up to the elevator - and the man used some instruments that he had
on his belt - pushed the doors apart and there was no cabin, just a cable. He
caught the cable, fixed a clamp on it.
//"Hold on to me,"// now he was all business, no place for
squeamishness or wonder or anything else. Peter grasped his belt - and they
started sliding down into the seemingly bottomless well under them.
* * *
There was something wet - liquid heat spreading around him, not deep enough
to lull him away - but still warm, still comforting. The smell hovered
somewhere - sharp, coppery, so familiar - but it seemed to have nothing to do
with enveloping warmth of the liquid around him - the same as the pain - huge
and clawing that started somewhere in the back of his throat and grew, bigger
than his whole body - seemed to have nothing to do with him.
He didn't want to hurt. It interfered with the warmth - with comfort.
He was a small boy; a little more than a baby - and the liquid around him
was the water, clear and warm, on the bottom of an enamel bowl - and his small
feet splashed it - out, out! - in brilliant warm sparkles - on the small patch
of withered grass in front of the house.
And a woman with a tower of dark hair - a tall, slim woman with long arms of
fluid bronze - reached to him and raised him, laughing, pecking his face
slightly with her lips - carried him high until passed him in the hands of
another giant - a man of white teeth and shaven scull, eyes flashing with
He was too small to talk - a plump soft kid of no thoughts at all - and no
wonder that the word he tried to say came out so strange - muffled and
He had never said this word before: had been too little when she was gone.
Too little to be left at his own devices. Too smart to die without fighting -
too strong not to win, whatever price he had to pay for the victory.
His life a never-ending battle - and he never gave up, waited out the
downfalls - and rose again. He thought it was right, it was what he was
supposed to do. But now, looking at the tall woman that waited for him in the
misty place that he knew was somewhere inside his mind - he thought for the
first time that it could be a mistake.
Look where it brought you... drowning in your blood on the cold bed in the
place that will not ever be your home.
He didn't want it; never wanted it to go on. He just didn't know it.
Twenty-eight years of clawing into life... his first knife he needed to defend
his food... the cold, alienated world of the Academy... his ship encompassed in
flame... and later, all twelve years of mere survival...
And even when he thought that he got the life he had always dreamed about -
the life of pleasures and expensive suits, influential friends and slave-owning
- how could he not know that in reality he was just going away from this tall
woman of the floral dress and arms of eternal kindness who waited for him on
the other end.
"I am coming to you, mom..."
He opened his eyes and saw strange, alien faces above him - fretful,
unpleasant, lips moving, swift looks exchanged. His head was turned -
bothersome, painful - and he said to them:
"Don't touch me," but they didn't understand and, maybe, he didn't
manage to say it correctly for some reason.
He wanted to go back to the woman - he saw her again, her arms open for him
- and he smiled - with his bleeding mouth. He knew nothing mattered - any right
or wrong things he did in his life, anything he strove for, anything he gained
or lost. Because she accepted him like that - naked and faulty and ruined.
He caught her embrace and slid into its warmth - and felt nothing except its
softness - no matter how cold and rough and uncaring the hands were that raised
him from the bed and carried him somewhere.
The End of Part 6
Go to Part 7