“I should probably be upset with you.”
Peter looked around, obviously searching for the owner of the voice, but not seeing anyone.
His question was met with laughter, though it didn’t sound cruel.
“This is not funny!” Being taunted was worse than being isolated, he decided.
“How long have you been here? No, wait. I know the answer to that. When was the last time you had anyone to talk to?”
He had been alone ever since he’d been trapped in this pocket dimension. The woman, the spatial mage, was the last person he had spoken to. This voice sounded deeper, male. Who could have found him here? “Who are you? Show yourself.”
“That’s not an answer. Maybe you don’t want to talk to me. I guess I’ll leave.”
“No! Wait!” Being left alone was horrible. Maybe being taunted wasn’t as bad as he thought. “I’ve been trapped here for years, with no one to talk to.”
“That sounds lonely.”
“It is. Please stay. I’ll talk about whatever you want.” He didn’t try to hide the desperation in his voice.
“You mean you’ll tell me about the mana worm? About who you were working with?”
“I’m not really interested in a bunch of lies.”
“I won’t lie. I’ll tell you anything you want to know.” It never occurred to Peter to wonder if he was hallucinating the voice. “I don’t know what the others wanted, but the mana worm was supposed to kill the spatial mage. That way I could get my sister out.”
“Yes. Rebecca. But something went wrong. The spatial mage survived the attack. I don’t know how.”
“What about your co-conspirators? Who are they?”
“I don’t really know. I spoke with a man who called himself Solomon. But there were two others I never saw clearly. He knew about Rebecca. I knew where a mana worm was imprisoned.”
“So you released the worm?”
“That seems reckless.”
“They said they could control it.”
“And you believed them?” The voice clearly thought he was a fool.
“Well . . . I just needed to get to Rebecca.”
“Now you’re here.”
“Can . . . can you get me out?”
“It’s possible, I suppose.”
It was the first time Peter had felt a glimmer of hope in a very long time. “Really?”
“When? How? I need to get out of here.”
“I said it was possible. I didn’t say I would do it.”
“But I’ve told you everything I know!”
“I doubt that’s true, but even if it were, you did that on your own. I never said I would let you go. Besides, you haven’t really told me anything I didn’t already know.”
“Who are you?!”
“You really don’t know. I guess I’m not surprised; you seem to be very incurious. Who helps people destroy a house without finding out why? But to answer your question, I’m the one who killed, and was killed by, the mana worm you released.”
The color drained out of Peter’s face. “You’re her friend.”
“Yes.” Jason chuckled. “I might be able to convince her to let you go, but I’ve got other things to do. If you’re lucky, I’ll come back to visit you again sometime.” There was a long pause, and Peter had begun to think he was alone again. But then the voice returned. “Please don’t think this is revenge. I don’t actually care that I’m dead. However, you did put others at risk, so I think it’s safer for everyone if you stay here.”
“Don’t leave me alone!” This time, though, the voice really seemed to have departed. Once again, he was alone.