Conflation

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2

In complete darkness Enton heard the sound, *Thak... Thak* and a voice calling out to him, *Enton*. Whose voice was it? He was 7 when he had last heard that voice, his father, someone whom he hadn't even remembered in ages.

*Enton*, Called the voice again, except, it wasn't his father's anymore. However it was still a familiar one.

He was only able to pass out a soft groan and open his eyes momentarily before shuting them tight due to a large piercing sun floating right in front of him.

"Oww!" He felt pain in the back of his, as his senses started to return slowly.

*Thak Thatahk!!* "Argh, stop!!" He shouted on reflex after receiving another hit on the head.

"Enton! Thank god you are awake! I was so worried that I was stranded here with a dead body."

"Cl.... Clara right? Where is this?"

"Its Claire and I don't know either, when I came to, these masked men were dragging me here. I saw you already strapped to a chair here and they secured me in this chair opposite to you."

A thousand things were sparking off all at once inside Enton's mind, did he do something that he wasn't supposed to do? Throughout his 23 years of life, he had managed to steer clear of anything too bizarre, sure he had crossed the system once or twice, well, almost all the times but nothing of such a magnitude that would lead to an abduction.

He paid attention to the girl behind him again who was now going on, lamenting about how this wouldn't have happened to her if she hadn't approached him. "This girl, Caly or something, was she the reason that I was abducted?" He thought.

Prodding deeper into his memory he figured that he had met her only last night. She had pestered him and he had a conversation with her, they had walked a while when they heard a scream from that park. What was that scream? And... And then he had seen, something that everybody believes to be just a harmless rumour, but if it was happening in front of him, it wasn't a rumour right? It had become a reality. His father was right when he had told him abut the phenomenon...

Something stopped him from taking his train of thoughts further in that direction, there was a more pressing matter at hand, did what he see that time at the park, was the reason he was here? Conflation, was it real, it didn't exist before but it does now, but it shouldn't, should it?

"Enton!"

"Huh?"

"Are you listening?"

"Ye- Yeah..."

"What we saw last night, it was a conflation right? It must have been the reason that we were brought here."

Claire had reached the same conclusion as him.

But even if she did, he couldn't possibly involve her in this too, the mysteries of this world, they tend to eat you from the inside and devastrate the ones near you, if you give heed to them. He had witnessed it first hand with his parents. He wasn't going let an innocent and ignorant girl like Cloe be involved in this.

"What are you talking about? Conflation? Do even adults play that stupid game from where you come from, pretending like its real?"

"What... But! But you said, remember..."

"I remember saying that bad things will happen to you if you go roaming around in the night. Now they have caught you and me with you!"

"Who- Who are they?"

"They! You know 'They', and you are the journalist here, god!"

"A- ah, I get who they are, I think, b- but what's going to happen to us?"

"They will probably put you up for 'business', as for me, I'll be dealt with."

"Business? What is that?"

"Drug dealing maybe but I bet with your face, it'll probably be prostitution."

"Pros- PROSTITUTION!!!?"

"I have heard of many such cases taking place. But hey, at least you'd be alive, think about me, I'd be stuffed in a barrel with 20 tonnes of concrete!"

Before anyone could speak further, the door to the chamber opened and with the creaking sound of metal, the silhoutte of a woman appeared in the distance.

"My! You kids, especially you young man, you took so much time to wake up that I finished knitting up a sweater in the meantime, I'll give it to you if are good, okay?" The woman said as she came in closer.

"That voice... Mrs Herst! Why are you here and in a wheelchair?" Claire exclaimed.

"What are you doing here granny?" Asked Enton.

"As you grow older, the joints just give in, this was my husband's. He had tried to hurt me once, so I had him paralyzed for life, he was always dependant on me after that no matter how much he hated me, he couldn't do anything. Oh but I knew, his hate was actually an expression of love and I had loved him too, I had gifted him this wheelchair then. But he was no fun after the accident, he couldn't even get erect, I got bored of him soon, I did the only logical thing, I disposed of him. I swear, the tears I shed at his funeral were real. Now it is the only reminder left of my dear husband."

"You sick fuck..." Enton mumbled.

"Mr. Jacob, you have been very dishonest, the sun I bought from you, it broke very quickly, I have some questions, please answer them. Who are you working for?" Mrs. Hesrt asked.

"We aren't working for anybody."

"He's right" Claire chimed in.

"Okay then, tell me what were you doing last night at that old abandoned park?" She asked again.

"N- Nothing, we just happened to arrive there, we saw nothing, Carry, tell her, we saw nothing."

"Ye- yeah! My name is Claire by the way."

"Ohh? Really? But I think you should really rethink, wasn't there something unusual you saw? Like a conflation performed on a living?"

"What? No we really saw nothing." Enton said as he started to feel the sweat welling up near his eyes and forehead.

"Well Mr. Jacob, after the sun you gave me malfunctioned, I got one from these guys, and it had many functions beside lighting ofcourse, one oe which is making people remember. Lets try this. Although, its my first time using it, so it might take a while. Lets see... What button was it? Aah! There, this one"

*Beep*

"Aargh!" Enton let out a cry, his whole body felt like it was being squished under a heavy rock, breathing became alot harder as his lungs almost collapsed, his teeth was grinding hard against each other and he started to feel light headed as the blood going up his veins lowered in volume. It was taking all of his strength just to keep his eyelids from shutting down.

"Wh- what's happening? Enton!?" Claire screamed hearing him suffer.

"Oh don't worry dear, he won't die. Ah, you could tell me too, don't be afraid of this man, tell me the actual truth." Mrs Herst turned her wheel chair towards Claire.

Tears were rolling down Claire's cheeks by now. "We- we saw..."

"We... Saw nothing", before Claire could say anything, Enton shouted.

"Such a fine young man, yet such a dishonest heart." Saying that, Mrs Herst lifted the knitting needle off her lap and started to pierce Enton's right index finger from the front.

Enton screamed with all the strength he could muster. He could feel the needle tearing through the flesh beneath his nails, rubbing through the bone and still boring deeper inside. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't lift his finger, let alone getting his hand out of the way.

"Try all you want, it is my sun's projected gravitational field that has tied you down, now answer or I have 9 more needles." Mrs Herst added, the smile never once leaving her face.

Even in all this anguish, Enton did not utter a single word, his eyes always looking right at Mrs. Herst's as if he was laughing at her.

Mrs. Herst grit her teeth and was about to jab the second needle in his next finger but was stopped by Claire. "We were sent by the government! They wanted to look at the strange disappearances of people in the city, that night we were on patrol, undercover."

Immediately Mrs. Herst switched off her sun's field and took out the needle from Enton's finger. "Government you say?"

Mrs Herst laughed and called the guards in through her sun. "Use them as practice targets, these idiots really do know nothing." She said on her sun and then turned towards Claire, with a smile she said, "WE are the government." Her smile widened upon seeing the terror growing in Claire's eyes.

"You have such beautiful eyes, maybe I'll save them from the conflation." She said to Claire before leaving the room.

Enton had lost consciousness again, which was natural after the hell he had been through. Claire couldn't even fathom being in his place, back at her small town she had always lived a pampered life. Her father had never even let a single thorn prick her. Maybe that was the reason, maybe she had been so much sick of being taken care of that she had left the place, maybe she had wished for some sort of hardship that she could do to proudly claim whatever she earns, little did she know at that time that she would get more than she had bargained for, alot more. And although she had decided to leave home, never to go back again, right then, she was hoping that if she would close her eyes and open them back again, she would be back at her bed with her parents beside her.

"What am I thinking? Mrs Herst is a government agent, conflation is real and I'm going to end up like the girl I saw last night and I'm thinking about sleeping on bed? I. Am. Going. Insane." She thought and couldn't help but have a laugh.

But her thoughts and her laugh stopped as she herd several footsteps. Her throat went dry and chest tightened, those people were coming in to take her to that park where she would be used for conflation. The bed that she had thought of was now nowhere in sight, the only bed now was the cold hard earth which will absorb her in no time during conflation. Back in her town she used to tell stories to the neighborhood kids about conflation, about the earth absorbing people to scare them off and prevent them from playing in the mud but now all those stories became real, she would be forced in the mud, she would become the mud!

While she was riding this new train of thought, she felt a hand creeping on her shoulder from behind her back. She screamed, she screamed in the loudest and shrillest voice she could make which was akin to being pierced by a needle.

"Help.... Stop it.... I don't wanna die....please". Were some of the more intelligible words that she managed to let out during her screaming.

Amidst her screaming she felt a jolt which caused her head to fall to the left. A second later the feeling of the impact came to her, her right cheek began to burn and ahe could feel that her jaw was almost unhinged. Another thing that she noticed was that she had stopped screaming.

A voice came, "Shut up! We are not taking you for conflation right now so stop making my ears bleed."

Claire looked up to find a woman clad in armoured military uniform. She undid Claire's bonds and made her stand up. Claire found that there was another guard there, undoing Enton's bonds.

The guards then walked Claire into a cell while they dragged Enton there.

*********

"Argh" Enton groaned. He had a headache and pretty much his whole body was aching.

"Enton! You're awake!"

This time he recognised Cynthia's voice right away.

"Cynthia?"

"What?"

"Where are we?" He asked ignoring her last question.

"We are in a cell, Mrs. Hesrt is gone but are going to be taken for conflation and..." Claire retold him everything that happened.

Enton was too distraught right then to give a proper response to everything. He looked around the room, a standard prison cell, then the place might actually be some kind of a correctional facility.

"Who's that?" He asked Claire pointing to the person sitting on the mattress across them.

"Don't know, he was here when they brought us here, I've tried many times to talk to him but he has not said a single word. I think he might be mute or something."

"You're alive." The Man said to Enton.

"You have just been ignoring me this whole time!?" Claire said to the man with wide eyes.

The man gave her a glance and then turned towards Enton again and continued, "It means that have no Idea of who you are."

"Who... am I?" Enton asked in confusion.

"At this point of time, no one can tell who you are and no one can know."

"What?" Claire asked.

"However you do seem to be in a tight spot right now, but its a a good thing that you are awake." The man said ignoring Claire again.

Both of them were about to say something but before they could, the door opened, two guards entered and ordered them to come out with them. Claire couldn't tell if they were the same ones as before because of the helmets hiding their faces.

They were walking through a long passage, one guard at the front, one at the back and the three of them in the middle. On either side of the passage, Enton saw many doors like the one he had just come out of and wondered of the amount of people that might have been held captive there.

"When I say GO, you run out of here as fast as you can." A whisper reached Enton's ears. But when he looked up, nothing was out of the ordinary, Claire was walking silently with her head glued to the floor. The man was walking ahead of them, he seemed like a giant door with the brown robe and his huge stature. Enton was confused, he was somewhat sure that it was that man's voice, he hadn't heard him enough to discern definitely.

"Walk!" The guard at the back said to him and prodded at his back with the butt of his rifle. Enton then put the whole thing away as just his imagination and kept walking.

The passage opened to the outside. It had been night time already. Mrs Herst along with a few of the guards were waiting in front of a car that was ready to take the three of them to the site of conflation. Enton looked around, the facility was inconspicuous from the outside, most of the rooms had been underground.

While he was busy looking around, Mrs Herst came towards them and stopped near Claire.

"Okay dear listen, I need you to take good care of those eyes for me. I have told Roder to save your eyes but that man often forgets, so, you remind him of it okay? I want to at least pre....."

Claire was stunned as warm red blood splattered all over her face and the smell of burning carbon filled all around her. Mrs Herst, or rather her body fell to the ground, her head had vapourised.

"GO!!" Came a voice, it wasn't his imagination, but there was no time to waste either. With his left hand Enton grabbed stunned Claire's arm and sprinted towards and out of the door, almost dragging her at first.

While running Enton turned his head around to see that the robe was lying on the floor and the Man was blasting projectiles from his mechanised hand, he was one of the cybernetically enhanced humans.

*****

After running through alleys for what could have been a couple of hours straight, Enton and Claire stopped in an old abandoned building far away from the facility to catch breath.

"Are we... Safe here?" Claire Asked.

In response Enton could just nod. It had been a couple of minutes and they weren't chased on their way here so he knew that they were safe there for the time being at least.

"What just happened?...Hesrt... And Who was that... Man?" Claire asked again, heaving.

"I have no fucking Idea." Enton said before dropping flat to the floor.

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