5: Do I have a conscience?

“What did you do that for?” I demanded, through tears and sniffled. I had my hands up to my chin and felt stupid for it, but I couldn’t help it. I was still crying. I didn’t want to be here. Plus, I was afraid he’d come after me.

“He is a thing of evil. He exists on lifeforce and takes it from unwilling donors. Like me,” Reverend Tommy put a lot of emphasis on that last word. He didn’t need to.

“He was taking me somewhere,” I said.

“He was taking you to another place of evil.”

“What do you think this whole entire place is?” I shrieked. I didn’t care anymore if someone or something heard us. Then I remembered where I was – where this entire place was, and I did care, very much, and I looked around to see if anything had heard the echoes of my shriek off the rocks and gravel that made up this portion of Hell.

“I heard enough to know that he was taking you to meet others of your kind and I cannot allow that.”

“Well,” I said, “You’re not exactly in charge here and so I don’t have to listen to you.” But I didn’t know what else to do. He was still standing over Bob’s body and holding the big rock. I looked at Bob for a second, and wondered if he was breathing. Then I wondered if he was supposed to be breathing. I didn’t know. I just didn’t know.

But I didn’t move, and he didn’t move. We stood there. For a long time. Until I finally said “Let me help Bob.” He looked confused. “What,” I asked. “You heard everything we said but his name?”

He looked down, then at Bob and said “I won’t let you help him.”

“I have to. It’s wrong to just let him die. Or re-die. Or whatever.”

“You have no conscience. Don’t try that on me.”

I do have a conscience, I thought, but then I wasn’t so sure. He seemed to know an awful lot about me. And do people who have a conscience have to ask themselves if they have a conscience? Maybe he’s right, I thought, but then I thought, maybe it’s the other way around. Maybe only people with a conscience question whether they actually have a conscience.

He was still standing there, rock in hand. I wanted to help Bob but I also didn’t want to end up needing help.

Finally, I hit on an idea. “Fine,” I said. “Then just stay here.”

He looked at me.

“What does that mean?” He asked.

“It means I’m leaving. You won’t let me help him, so there’s nothing else for me to do here.” I looked around, trying to remember which direction Bob and I had been headed before this all started, and picked the direction that seemed the most likely. My eyes felt bleary and dried out from crying and my voice felt hoarse. My hands were still shaking a little. But I tried to not let him see that and I started walking in that direction. When I was about 20 feet further, far enough that I figured he couldn’t quickly catch up to me, I turned around.

“Without me, you’ll never get out of here,” I said.

He looked at me. “I will be able to leave.”

“How? Your stupid prayers don’t work here. I brought you here and only I can bring you back.” I was bluffing. I didn’t know how much he knew. I knew he knew more than me. But if he knew how to leave, he wouldn’t have looked so bluffed. He would have just laughed at me or called me evil or something. So I persisted. “You need me to get out. I don’t need you at all. But I need Bob.” I pointed at my friend. “So let me help him or I’ll just leave you here.”

He paused, rock in hand, then looked from Bob, to me. He shook his head and then smashed the rock down repeatedly, over and over. I heard bones crunching and grinding. I heard sloppy sounds. I heard him grunting. I stood there, in shock.

He finished and looked up at me. I expected him to be covered in blood but he wasn’t. Revenants don’t have blood, I expect. He stared at me for a second and then threw the rock down – I heard one more gross smushing sound – and then he ran towards me.

I took off running. I spun around and ran in the direction I thought Bob and I had been headed and scrambled up over rocks and around them. The part of Hell we were in had moved from a gravely plain with rocks to sort of a rocky plain with gravel, and there were big boulders and larger boulders all set on rocky gravel-strewn hills and it was rough going. I could hear him running and scraping after me. I didn’t know what he was going to do but I figured it wasn’t going to be good.

What kind of holy man was he? I wondered as I ran. But I knew: the kind that doesn’t hesitate to battle evil and the kind that is not afraid of evil, either. I didn’t know how to tell him that Bob wasn’t evil. I didn’t know how to convince him that I wasn’t evil, either, that all I wanted to do was figure out who I was and why I was all these different parts and why I couldn’t remember anything and why I went to Hell everytime I fell asleep. All I wanted to do was convince him that I wasn’t out to get anybody, that if I could just spend my time lazing around with Brigitte and figuring out, a little, why I was so different, that I’d be fine and I wouldn’t take over the world or kidnap anyone or anything like that.

But I couldn’t tell him that because I was running and climbing and running some more and I didn’t stop until I couldn’t hear him. I stopped, by a big boulder, and listened, gasping for breath. I didn’t hear him. I peered around and didn’t see Reverend Tommy. I climbed up onto a rock and laid there on my stomach, the rock hot against my bare boobs and stomach. I didn’t see him and I finally chanced raising my head more. I couldn’t see him at all.

I’d lost him. I had gotten separated from him, and I’d lost him. I hoped that Bob was wrong. I hoped that Bob was wrong and Reverend Tommy wouldn’t get caught and that if he was caught, I hoped he wouldn’t give me up and say I was here. But Bob had never been wrong in my whole life.

I started to get back down, and then I froze because I heard a sound. I heard a sort of crackling, snapping, fizzing sound. The air seemed to fizzle and then it stopped. I smelt something, something like… fresh air. No, not fresh air, either. I smelled air, though, and not the foul air of Hell. It smelled like a city. It smelled like dirigibles and electricity and metal and people.

I sniffed the air more and tried to figure out where it was coming from. Then I heard the sound of a footstep.

It wasn’t a footstep with shoes on, like Reverend Tommy’s. It wasn’t him. It was a bare footstep, the sound of skin slapping on rock. Just the one, and then it stopped.

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