Lament

What Happens in Paradise Stays in Paradise

The door swung open halfway through the next day. Another silhouette stood in the doorway, one of the same men from the day before. He walked toward me slowly, but I did not flinch away. I was sitting in the middle of the room, trying to escape the unpleasant warmth of radiation that seemed to come off every inch of the walls, and the light from the doorway fell across me like a judgment call. I could only see his outline, but I could feel the smile on his lips. Whatever was about to happen to me wasn’t going to be pleasant.

“Your grace period’s expired,” the man said, coming to a slowing stop right in front of me. “Mr. Eulogy wants to see you himself.”

I didn’t look up at him, I kept my eyes glued to the door instead. I’d like to say that I would not falter, even in torture, but I wasn’t so sure what would happen. It was the not knowing that frightened me more.

“Get up.”

I stayed sitting. He kicked me in the chest. When you’re unable to breathe from being winded, you can’t feel the pain in other parts of your body. He grasped me by my hair and I found my voice enough to cry out. He had me on my feet, grasped a handful of my hoodie, and slapped me with his free hand. “If you’re gonna be an ass, I’m gonna be fucking ruthless with you. Understood?”

I’d say nothing to these people. He tried to shake an answer out of me and I locked eyes with him. Part of my training was that no matter who you were or what you looked like, eye contact could make even the largest of men submit, if you did it like you were going to really hurt them. I had eyes like the pools of hell. At least, that’s how Amata put it once. I’d let him burn in them.

There was a fault to my reserve, however. I was not a security guard here. He was. And I was a slave.

I nodded once.

“Good. Now come with me.”

He let go of my hoodie, but his hand locked onto my shoulder, and he pulled me along as he brought me outside. The light was brighter than I ever remembered light being, at it hurt more than the sting in my face. My jaw throbbed from when I’d been beaten, but I must have been given a stimpak to clear the damage, for my face felt as if it were already on the mend. The superficial cuts from the shrapnel were also a dull burn now. The only thing that remained more prominent than ever was the tingling sensation over my skin, the knot in my gut, the general unease in every pore, like I didn’t fit in my skin anymore.

My eyes were squeezed shut as I was dragged across the slave pen. Another wave of dry heaving was threatening to make an appearance. I could hear the other slaves that were housed in the pen with me. Just the way they shuffled their feet towards us as we passed sounded like a plea for help.

“Back the fuck off,” the slaver barked. I could feel him shove off a few slavers with his free hand. An assault riffle was cocked, and there was a rush of feet as they scampered away. A gate squealed open and he led me through. Someone slammed it behind us. I opened my eyes by a sliver to try and see my surroundings, but it came out as a blur. As I was adjusting to the light again, I was surrounded by dark once more as we entered another building.

“Mr. Eulogy,” the slaver said in an uncouth attempt at a formal tone, “I brought the girl.”

“Thank you. Show her to her seat, please.” The voice was smooth like velvet, but it was so coy, so deceptive.

My eyes were open wide enough to see the room again. It was expansive. A bed sat in the middle, and I could see two figures draped across it. I assumed they were two women. There was a single lamp hanging from the ceiling that spread light across the middle of the room, but the corners were hard to see.

The slaver shoved me down into a chair roughly, and I didn’t bother exerting restraint. I expected that to be the end of it, but he suddenly threw a rope around my chest, and I was squeezed to the chair as he tied a few secure knots around the back. With my arms held in place, another rope wrapped around my legs and the legs of the chair. I kept my eyes hooded and downcast as this took place, but when I heard the heavy footsteps across the floor, I looked up quickly, before I could even really register the sound and my reaction.

Heavy boots.

It sounded like Charon.

The anticipation intensified while I peered into the dark, waiting for him to approach. How could he be here? Why? The slavers didn’t get a hold of my contract somehow, did they? I felt excitement and dread at once, until I caught sight of the man as he came from the shadows. There was no Charon. I felt a weight on my chest, something akin to relief and disappointment.

The man that walked toward me was tall and dark, and he wore a long red suit jacket and slacks. Not quite business wear. He looked more like an exaggerated character, like he was in a costume, or something of the sorts. His suit wasn’t meant to project a comedic feel, but an authoritative one. He had a black goatee and a shaved head, which gleamed in the light, and his eyes were as dark as mine.

The slaver stood next to me once he finished binding me to the chair, and the man (whom I assumed to be Eulogy) waved a hand to him. “Thank you, Forty, that will be all.”

Forty moved away from me towards the front door, and I averted my eyes from Eulogy to the floor. There was silence for a moment, save for Forty’s steps as he walked away. “Look at me,” Eulogy said quietly, even politely. Being difficult at this point was not going to benefit me whatsoever, so I looked up to him. He appraised me like I was a gun he was considering buying. “My, you really are something. Very unusual, but pretty.” One of the women snickered behind him on the bed, and I looked over to her. She had a slave collar around her neck too.

“What’s your name?”

I didn’t reply. I waited for him to beat it out of me, if it was that important to him. “You know, I read this old pre-war book once,” he continued instead. “It was on ocean life. I’ve often wondered if any of the fish survived the bombs, what they’d look like now. Especially one of those things they called a mako shark. Those were terrifying motherfuckers. If it wasn’t their jaws you feared, it was their pitch-black eyes. That’s what you remind me of: a shark. Sharkeyes.

“But giving you nicknames isn’t why I brought you here.” Eulogy walked away from me towards the bed. The girls shifted out of the way slightly, and I noticed guns in belts on their hips. Eulogy sat on the bed, about ten feet away from me, then continued: “I understand you were traveling with some interesting people.”

I did not blink. I did not balk. I was blank. No, please, no.

“A lonely merc brought you in here, but he struck up a conversation with my old friend Grouse. Turns out this merc had a bounty on two ghouls. Also turns out that he and his partner found you walking along with them.”

I don’t know why he paused, maybe he was expecting me to say “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” or perhaps he was letting things sink in, giving me time to realize there was no fighting it, because he already knew. “This wouldn’t be anything interesting, but he described the two ghouls he was after, and the short synopsis that went along with it. Turns out that those ghouls are old…acquaintances of mine, you could say.

“So, here’s the deal, Sharkeyes,” Eulogy said, clasping his hands in front of him. “You’re going to tell me where one of our friends is, both parts of him, and I’ll spare you a whole world of pain.”

“That’s your only threat?”

“Well, someone like yourself might say that, but someone like yourself probably hasn’t been through a whole lot of pain, either. It’s easier to dismiss something unfamiliar, like agony, than to accept it.”

I stayed quiet.

“I’m a very impatient person. I want that contract now, and if you don’t give it to me, I’m going to rip your fucking Pip-Boy off by your arm.”

Well, I thought, at least it would still be hidden under the Pip-Boy.

I couldn’t fathom where I stood with Charon, but I knew how I felt about him. He didn’t really do anything, but he helped me realize what I’d been missing in myself for the past two months. I thought it would be helping Carol that would make me feel human again, but it was him.

Eulogy was furious at my mocking silence. “I’m gonna say it one more time,” Eulogy demanded firmly. “Give me that contract, or I’ll end you.”

“Mr. Eulogy!” Forty came calling, his voice akin to something of urgency and excitement. “Mr. Eulogy, someone’s here you oughta see!”

Annoyance was the first look on Eulogy’s face. Forty lumbered into the room and Eulogy got up off the bed, snarling. “What part of ‘private meeting’ did you not understand earlier, Forty?”

“But, Mr. Eulogy,” Forty said, his eyes snapping between his boss and I, “it’s that guy from the Jersey band,” his voice wavered as he lowered it to a whisper, “it’s the last one.”

My face fell and my heart started to race. I didn’t have to know what he was talking about to know Charon was involved. It meant that he was alive, that the blast hadn’t killed him, but it also meant he had walked willingly into the beast’s maw. He wasn’t trying to save me, was he? Barging in the front door of a slaver town was not the method I would have expected of him.

Then it dawned on me that he did not come for me but for his contract. I remembered him saying how important it was to him; he must have been losing his mind not knowing where it was. But how did he find me? How was he even sure I still had it?

I saw Eulogy look at me with such an expression that I felt he had looked inside me and saw what I was thinking exactly. It looked like surprise, but most of all, it looked like mockery. He could tell this was my downfall, that I had lost the fight before it had begun. “Sounds like our mutual friend, doesn’t it, Sharkeyes?”

I didn’t even bother countering with my own defence; he already saw my distress. Eulogy walked forward towards me, and he brushed a lock of my hair away from my face. I did not look away. “Forty, take her ropes off. We’re going for a little rendezvous with our friend.”


“Charon, what the hell are you doing?”

I didn’t answer him. I kept marching up to the front gate of Paradise Falls, feeling more and more anxious as we got closer. Would my contract be there? Fuck, I hoped so. Most of all, I hoped she still had it and that she’d order me to blow these fuckers to the afterlife.

“Charon, they’re gonna know who we are! We can’t go in there!”

What the fuck else was I gonna do? I couldn’t be without knowing where my contract was. I couldn’t leave Gob behind either; it made me more comfortable to have him in my sights than stashed away in some nook. If it meant we’d get enslaved just so I could watch him, it was fine by me. I mean, yeah, I’d like to say I could do more to help her, but there really was no other choice for me. Besides, I couldn’t sit around forever hoping my contract would fall into my lap. I’d have to improvise until then.

“Shut the fuck up,” I threw over my shoulder at Gob. “Don’t say my name. Just play it cool.”

“Yeah, but—”

“Don’t make me say it again.”

I’d finally found the opening in the fence when I growled this, and I could see the sentry walk around his little fort, an assault rifle in his hands. He had ammo wrapped around him like a rope, more ridiculous than intimidating. He stood between us and the path that led to the front gates like he was a titan and we were tiny people, which would have been fucking hilarious any other time. Trying to be a fucking alpha dog, eh? Shithead had another thing comin’.

“What the hell do you want?” The guard barked, inclining his head toward me.

“I had some merchandise stolen from me.” I folded my arms in front of me and stopped five feet away from him.

He shook his head. “A ghoul with merchandise? I don’t buy it.”

Well, the boss wasn’t my merchandise, but my contract was, so I wasn’t totally lying. “Blonde girl,” I stated, “black eyes, stands up to my shoulder. Lost her sometime yesterday to a Talon merc.”

“Get the fuck out of here,” he said, waving a hand, “I don’t do business with zombies.”

“So she’s here,” I grunted, glaring the guy down. “I want her back.”

“Look, pal, even if that bitch was your property, she ain’t now. Besides, there’s no fucking way a girl like that’d belong to two piece-of-shit ghouls.”

It was then that I caught the guy staring at us from over the sentry’s shoulder. He was walking toward the front, probably to relieve this jackass, when he paused in his tracks. He had really stupid looking hair with a bushy dirty blond beard, and he wore just as equally stupid armour as his stupid coworker. But the way he was staring at me was what I caught first—that look could mean a whole shitload of trouble for me and Gob.

The guy in front of me stopped talking, but I didn’t notice. I’d lost myself to a few seconds of thought on what that expression on that guy’s face could mean. “You listening, pal? I said get lost.”

“Grouse!” the bushy guy yelled. “Escort these guys in, will ya?”

“Fuck off, Forty!”

“I’m serious, Grouse, or I’ll have you deloused with the other slaves.”

Grouse made this real ugly face, shaking his head toward the ground. “Fuck you, pal.”

“Wait for me out front.”

“Whatever.”

So, the bushy guy (apparently named Forty) turned on his heel and jogged into town, but he kept his eyes on me. I watched him, too. I knew I was screwed at that point. Gob was right, I was recognizable. I didn’t think it’d be likely, though. If I’d been gone for fifteen years, how would someone still be around to recognize my ugly mug?

“Come on, you lousy bastards,” Grouse grumbled, waving his gun through toward the front gate. I knew now wasn’t the time to give some cheek, so I followed the guy through the path quietly, and Gob followed. The moment I stepped past the wall, I got this weird feeling of déjà vu. I couldn’t place it, but I felt different, like I’d stepped out of my own skin for a couple of seconds. I shook it off, following Grouse down the path toward the front gate.

Grouse was mumbling under his breath, but I didn’t pay much attention. Probably bitching about how he’d been undermined by that bushy numb-nut Forty.

“I hope you know what you’re doing,” Gob grumbled from close behind me as I followed Grouse down the path.

“Stuff it.”

I felt him tense up behind me. “We’re screwed.”

When we got to the front gate, Grouse kicked it, then turned around to face us. I could picture Gob darting his eyes around, trying to avoid the guy’s glare, but I burned holes into the guy. He tilted his chin up a bit again, and his nostrils flared as he worked his jaw. “You a rep for some sort of regular here?”

“No.”

“Forty doesn’t act like that around anyone. You must be some sort of celebrity then,” Grouse finalized.

“I don’t know yet.”

“You don’t—tck, fuuuck, man.” Grouse let out a lame laugh and shook his head, turning away from us. The gate started to pull upwards, and we stood waiting for it to be drawn all the way up. When it was a little bit higher than his waist, Grouse bent over and ducked through. Gob and I followed, though I had to wait until the gate was a bit higher before I could bend down to cross over. The moment I stood up again, I saw Paradise Falls for the first time in fifteen years.

I couldn’t remember why, but I could feel the uneasy feeling growing in my stomach. It was like the opposite of nostalgia; the moment I walked in there, I wanted out. I could hear Gob shuffling his feet again. Suddenly, I wasn’t so mad at the guy for it.

“You must be more popular than you think,” Grouse said, his voice thick with annoyance and surprise. “You got the big cheese out to see ya.”

Beyond all the junked cars and pre-war crap, a clown in a red silk suit was making his way toward us with a little posse hot on his heels. I could see two women in pink dresses walking at his side, guns held tightly in their grasp. Obviously, I took to this with a rather humorous attitude; the three of them looked like a dancer troupe. I could barely make out Forty behind them, but as they rounded the bend, I could see him dragging along the boss.

I must’ve done something that might’ve given us away, because I felt Gob kick my foot, and if Gob had ever tried to kick my foot under any other circumstances I would have made him wear his ass as a hat for the rest of his days. I tried best I could to hide the anger that was bubbling under my skin, to fight off the urge to whip out my shotgun and shoot them all down. After all, the boss’s safety was in jeopardy, along with my sanity. I didn’t know which of these fucks had my contract, or if they knew what that would mean just yet. For now, it was just about her.

“I never thought I’d meet you in person,” the guy in the red suit said, his voice projecting over the yard as he came closer. “I also never thought you’d show your face around here again.”

I didn’t say anything. I was too preoccupied with watching how that dirty bush bastard tugged the boss around. There was a collar on her neck. Default was to shoot everyone in sight until she was clear, but that was a risk to her life too. If I wasn’t careful here, we were gonna have a shit ending.

“You look a little different from the pictures, though,” the guy said, stopping in front of me. “The name’s Eulogy Jones, after my late daddy. May his soul rest in peace.”

They all came to a stop, and the boss straightened up as much as she could, but Forty held her arms down. I saw her look up at me, but there wasn’t any panic in her face. Our eyes connected for what might’ve been too long, when I saw her shake her head the slightest bit. I looked away from her, trying to figure out what it meant. So, I said the only thing I could say to fill the gap.

“That kid’s mine. Stolen by some mercs. I want her back.”

“Oh—ho, that’s rich,” Jones said, chuckling a bit more, “because I’m pretty sure you belong to her.”

Fuck.

“Oh, and you,” Jones said, motioning behind me towards Gob, “I remember you; I was just a tyke back then, but you’re still oh-so-familiar, Gob. Christ, it just might be my lucky day!”

I looked to the boss again. She wasn’t looking at anyone anymore. I knew defeat when I saw it.

“I understand ghouls call themselves by new names once they’ve turned,” Jones said to me with a shit-eating grin. “What do they call you now?”

“Charon.”

“Ah. So you kept your slave name. I suppose in your case, you took on a new name when you stopped being your own person. Before that you had another name. I don’t remember what it is. But it’s not really relevant, now, is it?”

Gob shuffled a bit behind me.

“Well, now that I have one half of you,” Jones continued, turning to the boss, “I’ll give you one last chance to tell me where the other half is.”

She didn’t move or look up. Shit, that kid had a reserve too strong for her own good.

“All right,” he said, then nodded his head toward us. Two shotguns were held up to Gob’s head.

My first reaction was to start fighting. No fucking way were they going to hurt him, not while my orders still stood. Of course, that would have been a stupid ass move. A part of how my contract worked was leaving me indifferent to life or death. I would still give a shit if some asshole threw me into some fucked up situation knowing that I’d die, but my life didn’t matter as long as I had the comfort of knowing who held my contract and what they told me to do.

Before I got my own gun up, I heard her say it, but just barely.

“Stand down.”

It was instantaneous. As soon as I’d raised my shotgun I lowered it. Until I received further instruction I faced her.

“Hah!” Jones laughed out loud, the kind of laugh that someone would give if they won something out of blind luck, and the shotguns were pulled away from him. “I didn’t think it’d be that easy! Looks like Sharkeyes is a little sentimental about her rotten men, isn’t she?”

She was staring at Gob, who was looking ready to shit himself, and I saw that same look spread on her face from when the mercs attacked us. Her eyes went between the shotguns and his head, and she was slipping. Fuck, she was about to break, and there was nothing we could do.

“I’ve got it in my Pip-Boy.”

Jones looked at some of his men accusingly. Someone fucked up royally, then. Forty let go of her arms when Eulogy motioned to him. She didn’t so much as look at me when she reached in between her Pip-Boy and her arm to draw out the contract.

If I ever knew what love was, it was how it felt to see that paper again. It still existed. It was safe. Everything was right. But as she held it up with trembling fingers, the flood of relief vanished. I wouldn’t be able to help her once that paper was out of her hands. I’d be gone again.

Jones took it from her fingers so gently, it was mocking. Everything I’d known with her went away, like washing away some dirt off your hands. It was still there, but I could do nothing about it. I would not. Jones waved the paper like a fan, smiling at me deviously. I stared at him blankly, my mind waiting for instruction.

He smacked the paper against his open palm. “Scavo,” he said with triumph. “That was your family name.”

I put that one down in the books. Another reason to draw out this sorry fucker’s death later.

Jones just smiled at me, then turned to Forty. “Put a collar on my old buddy Gob there.”

“Certainly, Mr. Eulogy,” Forty said with a greasy tone that made even me cringe, then grabbed a collar from his belt, moving past me toward Gob.

Those collars weren’t just symbols. They were explosives. I’d heard this from passing ghouls in the Ninth Circle. Any slave tried to leave Paradise Falls still wearing his collar, he’d be leaving without a head.

Gob didn’t so much as shuffle when Forty slapped that thing on him roughly. It was like a hunter knocking its prey to the ground, and the animal gave up trying to fight for its life, just lying there while the predator had its fill on flesh.

“Charon?”

“Yes, Eulogy.”

He shoved the boss so she was a few feet away. “Kill your former employer.”

Oh, no. Fucking no.

I was howling on the inside but fucking stone cold on the outside. I drew my shotgun and stalked her down. Even the bravest people who face death piss themselves, and even those who claim to be resolute and tough-as-nails start squealing and begging for mercy. I’d killed a lot bigger men than her that started crying when I came for them. She had that same look in her face when we were jumped by the mercs at the sewer. Maybe she was on the verge of pleading, but she didn’t. Didn’t cry, neither. I really didn’t want to kill her. It hurt, somewhere deep down. Gob called out for me uselessly. Her and I held eye contact the entire time, and she never backed down, didn’t look away. Her eyes were a pair of nightmares. I raised the shotgun, pointing it in her face, and I could see my own reflection in them—

“Wait. I’ve changed my mind.”

I lowered the shotgun. She was shaking, breath held. Eulogy laughed.

“Slap her.”

I had to.

I hit her fucking hard. Dirt was kicked up when she spun and crashed. Like a pack of jackals, slavers started cackling and jeering.

“She’s still a valuable asset to us yet. Escort her back to the slave pen, Charon. Return to my office when you’re done.”

I always thought about having a different master than Ahzrukhal like a man might think of fucking another woman besides his wife, but now I was pretty sure I hated my new boss more, and I’d been in his employ less than two minutes.

She was still slumped on the ground. I grasped her by the arm (my hand still burning from where I’d slapped her) and hauled her to her feet, dragging her towards the pen. I heard Jones tell Forty to take Gob too, and I was cursing him a mile a minute in my head. My hand kept on itching as I dragged her to the holding pen, and the entire time I was pleading with her in the back of my mind, hoping somehow she’d hear me and look up. But she never did.


After Gob and the boss were in the pen, I went in search of Eulogy’s office. It was a rotting house nearby the slave pen, and every corner was covered in some slime or filth. I stood inside the doorway to his bedroom (I assumed it was a bedroom because it had a bed in the middle) waiting for any sort of instruction.

He walked to the middle of the room—I wasn’t too sure what he was doing, but something else caught my eye. There was this picture hanging on the wall next to me, and before I knew what I was doing, I looked the thing over. It felt familiar to look at, but I couldn’t recall anything about it. There were about thirty or so people standing around in power armour, all shouldering assault rifles and laser guns. I scanned their faces, that odd feeling turning around in my stomach again, until I came across the last guy on the end. He was taller than the others, and he had this squarish face and short brown hair.

It took a while to sink in.

“I barely remember you, I was a kid at the time,” Jones said, waving away his two girls in pink to the next room, “but I heard lots of stories about you and your kind. Orphans brainwashed into adulthood from somewhere called Jersey. I never found out where that was, but it wasn’t important. You have no fucking clue what you’re worth, do you?”

I reluctantly tore my eyes away from the picture. “No.”

“You’re the last one,” Jones said, sitting on the bed in the middle of the room and throwing his hands up into the air. “Laaast one. All the others were sold off to rich and stupid Wastelanders who didn’t use them properly. You were the lucky guy that stayed behind here in Paradise Falls and lived. I guess the locals didn’t take to you changing into a ghoul, because they beat the living shit out of you. I mean, beat you. You weren’t supposed to survive, but they threw you in the slave pen near the radiation growth, and you healed up in a couple of weeks. You just didn’t remember anything when you came to, or so I’m told.”

I felt that pull again. It was there, somewhere in my mind, but I couldn’t remember it. It was blocked by a giant brick wall, and there was no way around it.

“You spent a couple of weeks in the slave pen, and a couple of the slavers decided to see if they could sell you off. Didn’t want no ghoul in their service, after all. Eventually, this guy Schafer came in and claimed your contract, after a hefty bag of caps, of course.

“I’ll say it again, I was too young to remember any of this shit, but my daddy kept a journal about all the purchases and sales made in Paradise Falls. You wanna know what it said about Schafer?”

“No.” I really didn’t. I felt I’d been led too far into the water, and I was going to be taken out by a tidal wave soon if I wasn’t careful.

“Go to that computer terminal,” Jones said, pointing behind him, “and read the note ’July 16th, 2262’.”

It was in the far corner away from light, the monitor glowing green. I’d never used a terminal, but I’d watched Ahzrukhal fiddle around with his enough times to get the gist of how it worked. I sat down at the chair, then scrolled through the notes, selecting the date Eulogy mentioned. I wasn’t really looking forward to reading the note, but I did it, feeding off that comfort of sanity it gave me.

July 16, 2262:

That brainwashing bastard Schafer scrambles up out of a hole somewhere out in the Wastes, his pockets filled with enough caps to put me out of business. Instead, he forks them all over to buy back what he’d made in the first place. I think the poor bastard went soft. Probably felt guilty for what he’d done in the past, and wanted to make things better again. I don’t know what he plans on doing with that brainwashed ghoul, but I suppose it’s none of my business, not now that I’m thousands of caps richer. If I were to bet my caps, though, I’d think he’s taking the chance to redeem himself or some shit, maybe see if he can fix what he broke. Fucking hypocrite. First he plucks them out of the Wastes, brutalizes them into blindly following a piece of paper, then tries to erase it all. I never want to know what they do down in Jersey for fun.

Confucius Jones

That brick wall in my head got knocked over like a toothpick in a storm after I read that note. It was a lot of information in a rush, like a waterfall trying to squeeze everything between two pebbles. I could remember Schafer from the beginning, back when I was a kid, back when I’d been tortured, conditioned. I could remember the others, how they were auctioned off so quickly, but most of all, I remembered me. My indifference, my lack of personality. I was a plain tool, I wasn’t human. I hadn’t been in a long, long time. I was Scavo.

I wanted to read the note again, but it wasn’t in my orders to do so. I kind of sat at the chair, dumbstruck, not knowing what to do next. Back when my skin started to flake off and my voice started to get raspy, they beat me, but they weren’t intending to kill me. They would’ve just shot me in the head. I could remember everything…fuck. I felt like I’d been thrown against a wall and splattered against another version of myself, and now there were two lives, two sets of memories. Everything I’d done, my apathy—I didn’t even have the slightest reluctance when I’d been ordered to brutalize that family. I simply clung on to how comfortable it was to follow orders—

“Are you doing reading, Charon?”

“Yes.”

“It’s a damn shame the locals didn’t keep you around. They should’ve known better than to judge a book by its cover. You’re something else, partner, you know that?”

I was something else. Who am I? I felt so confused, so torn—this wasn’t me, but it was—what the fuck do I do?

“I thought I should share that with you, put us on the same page,” Jones said. I could hear triumph in his voice. “You can stand down for now, Charon. Go relax at the bar or something. I’ll let you know when I need you.”

“Yes, Eulogy.”

I got up off the chair and walked from the room. Once I got out of that musty house, I didn’t go to the bar. I went to the slave pen instead. I didn’t have the keys, but it wasn’t my intention to go inside, anyway. I stood in front of the chain link fence, looking in. Gob and the boss were sitting together, but neither of them saw me. No one was paying attention to me. I watched them for a while, trying to keep a hold on who I was, what I’d done. I gave a crap about those two, didn’t I? Fuck, boss, why did this have to happen?

After a few minutes, I had to turn away. I could remember the weight of the collars, Schafer’s so called “buddy-buddy” relationship with me, her eyes on mine. They were black, but there was a lot in them. I was scared then, because I was sure this was it for her. Three days and she had already become…

Boss, what I wanted to say…

What did I want to say?


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