Isolated

Rebecca spent much of her energy to keep from screaming. If she gave in, the Elder was certain to find her. In a corner of what used to be her mind, she had hidden away important parts of herself. The Elder had already assimilated the rest. He had nearly complete control over her, and every moment was a new violation.

Throughout the conversation with Sarah, she expected her friend to notice something off. Every time Sarah tried to coax her to say she didn’t want to be here, Rebecca strained to give her some sort of sign, but to no avail. The Elder had no trouble shrugging off her efforts. After he seemed to have convinced Sarah that everything was fine, Sarah left, and she once again retreated from conscious awareness.

If she stayed quiet, the Elder largely left her alone. He had most of her, and she couldn’t hold out forever. At the beginning, she fought all the time. After a week, the futility of it left her with a growing sense of despair, and being aware of her body doing things she hadn’t willed it to was horrifying. Retreat allowed her to conserve some strength and to ignore the loss of control.

Sometime after Sarah left – she didn’t know how long – she felt the Elder looking for her again.

“Rebecca, quit hiding. We have a problem, and I would like your help in solving it.”

It felt like a ruse, so she stayed silent.

“We found someone in the compound. Your memories are still a little spotty for me, but I believe his name is David.”

She almost jumped, but stopped herself. He had access to many of her memories. Mentioning David was an obvious ploy.

“You can see for yourself. He was sneaking around and got caught in that explosion earlier. We need to decide what to do with him.”

Rebecca didn’t know anything about an explosion. It must have happened when she was secluded. However, when she looked through her eyes, she could see David laying on a cot inside one of the cells. What had he been doing?

“Satisfied? Let’s go back to our office.”

He said it as though she had a choice in the matter. Maybe he thought he was being polite, but it felt like he was rubbing her nose in her own helplessness.

“So how should we get rid of him?”

“What?”

“I am sorry, Rebecca, I truly am. But we can’t let people just wander in here without some sort of consequence. We have to dispose of him. He’s your friend, so I wanted to consult you, to determine the most human way.”

He sounded genuine, but what he was saying was so barbaric.

“We can’t!”

“I’m sorry, but we have to. To protect our family.”

“But . . .” Rebecca was becoming frantic. There had to be some way to stop this. “Wait. You let Sarah go.”

“She didn’t break in and start snooping around.”

“You want her to leave us alone, right?”

He was quiet for a few moments. “Yes?”

“Let David go. That will help convince her everything is okay. If she knows he’s here, and he doesn’t come back, she’ll get more suspicious. But if we let him go, she’s more likely to believe that we have nothing to hide, that you’re me.” Rebecca knew she was throwing away another chance, but once more she couldn’t sacrifice a friend just to save herself.

“Will that work?”

“You know what I know.”

“Hmm . . . Fine. I hope you’re right.”

That was a threat; it was vague and formless, but unmistakably a threat. The Elder left her alone again, yet she refused to retreat until David was safely away. Seeing him, hearing him, and not being able to respond nearly caused her to break down. She kept herself in check, however, until she was safely alone again, where the Elder had not yet found her.

Catching Up

Sarah was sitting in the living area sipping on a glass of wine when a door appeared in the middle of the room. Julia stepped through, took a glass off the table, and sat down in another chair.

“So where did you go?”

“We found Rebecca.”

“Really? Did you bring her back?”

“No. She says she wants to be there.”

“Are you serious? After all that effort to find her? Are you sure she’s not being held against her will?”

“I’m not. But they did catch David sneaking around and let him go, which suggests they aren’t trying to antagonize us. She also spoke with each of us alone. I suppose someone might have been observing us, but she seemed to be free to do as she pleased.”

“So that’s it?”

“Maybe. For now. What about Bailey?”

“I tracked them down and brought them back. They came willingly, but we’re going to need some help. They are under some sort of charm or compulsion. That’s why I don’t trust the situation with Rebecca.”

“She did say there was some sort of misunderstanding with Bailey. We should get to the bottom of that.”

“You know anyone who can break a charm?”

“I might.”

“I’ll leave that to you, then. Go easy on Bailey, though. Something tells me this has been an ordeal for them.”

“I will, but I’m a little surprised to hear you plead on their behalf.”

Julia shrugged. “I have a compassionate side. Sometimes.”

“Julia . . .”

“Yeah?”

“Thank you for your help. I want you to know that this is your home. As long as you want it to be.”

“Thanks, Sarah. Jason wanted me to find a place. I am trying.”

“I know.”

“Okay. Let me know when you’re going to deal with Bailey. I think I should be there.”

“I will.”

Julia finished her glass and left. Sarah continued to nurse hers while she mulled over the events of the last few days.

Prisoner

The first thing he was aware of was pain, specifically soreness permeating throughout his body.  Eventually opening his eyes, David found himself in a small room; the cot he was laying on was the only item present. He couldn’t tell where he was or how he got here.

A small panel towards the top of the door slid open, and a pair of eyes peered in at him. The opening shut again, and he heard a voice outside. “Get the Mistress. He’s awake.”

“Hello?” David called, but no one responded.

The trauma his body had been through had left him little energy, and he fell unconscious once more.

When he woke next, a familiar face sat beside him.

“Rebecca?”

She smiled. “Yes. Don’t exert yourself too much. You’ve been through quite a bit.”

“Where are we?”

“My family’s compound. You were found half buried in a pile of rubble. I can guess what happened.”

“Are you okay? Are they holding you prisoner?”

She laughed. It was genuine but sounded a bit cold. “No. Nothing like that. I assume you were looking for me thinking that, though. Yes?”

He nodded. Still disoriented from being knocked out, he was finding it difficult to understand what was going on.

“I explained this to Sarah, but this is my home. I am here because I want to be.”

“So . . .” This was a lot to take in.

“So you needn’t have gone to all of this effort.”

“What happens to me now?”

“How do you mean?”

“Well, I’m in this cell . . .”

Rebecca chuckled again. “This? Obviously my people wanted to secure an intruder. They didn’t know who you were or why you were here. Since I hope to have cleared up any misunderstanding, you can be on your way. I just ask that the next time you visit, you announce yourself.”

“That’s it?”

“That’s it. I’m touched you were worried about me so much, but I’m fine. Do you need a ride somewhere? Were you and Sarah supposed to meet up?”

“I . . . uh . . . yeah.”

“Okay. I’ll make sure someone gets you there. I would take you myself, but I have other pressing matters to attend to. Please forgive me.”

David nodded as she stood to leave.

“It was good seeing you, David. Please take care of yourself.” As she finished speaking, she turned and walked out of the room, leaving the door open.