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?”
“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.
“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.