…The stupid bitch was fucking every other asshole on the street and uh, I had to do something about it, see? Uh, but – that’s not why I did it. I’m not that fucked up. But, uh – The thing is uh, she comes to me all weepy like – and she’s like – I’m pregnant. I didn’t even ask her who the bastard was. I had to take care of it, see? I can’t let the whore have some other fuck’s baby….”
“…I’m not lonely anymore. I have Ronald now. He likes to stay under my bed. He’s been there for the last three months now. He’s like a little baby – I need to bathe him, and look after him. But sometimes he does something bad, and I have to punish him. They don’t understand – none of them – they don’t know what good friends Ronald and I are…”
“…I needed the money see, and I really didn’t want it to turn out that way – but that stupid fuck was getting cocky…”
“…She was soft… so soft. It is never the same with…”
“…I didn’t think the blood…”
Conscience woke up with a start. He hit his head on the roof on the train and sank back with a soft groan. He was stretched out on the top berth of the train, somewhere in the great Indian countryside, his clothes drenched with sweat. He listened in the silence, as he rubbed his forehead – he heard nothing but the sound of the steady breathing of his fellow passengers, and the whirring of the fans near him. Good. That meant he hadn’t screamed this time. He waited – letting his body loosen with the rocking movement of the train. He took a couple of deep breaths and then silently slipped down the metal rungs onto the floor.
He padded down the corridor towards the end of the coach, his bare feet hardly making any sound.
Conscience painstakingly undid bolts on the door, and paused before swinging it open. He fished out an old cigarette from the back pocket of his jeans and lit it. The flickering light of the match briefly lit up his face – tired and aged. His eyes were like black curtains, catching the light and glittering, but effectively hiding everything going on behind it.
The cold wind hit him full in the face – he breathed it in deeply. It reminded him that he was awake.
“I see someone is here before me.”
Conscience turned around sharply. He should have been able to sense the stranger’s presence sooner.
“Think before you speak” said the woman, as she stepped out of the shadows. Only it did not seem that she had moved out of them at all – they had moved forward with her. “The question you ask may be your last.”
“What business do you have with me?” Conscience asked, warily.
The voice laughed. A hand shot out from the depths of the moving shadows and grabbed Conscience’s shoulder. He could feel the nails digging into his skin… something warm and wet was flowing down his arm and dripping softly from his fingers. The cigarette butt dropped to the floor, abandoned. Slowly the hand dragged him forward towards the shadows.
“What business do you have with me?” Conscience repeated.
“I am looking for a man,” she said. The nails buried in deeper, this time he did not flinch.
Conscience did not answer. He waited – his silence would translate to compliance her mind. He could feel the clamor gathering in his mind – a slow accumulation until he was ready to release the dam. Her hand was still in his shoulder. Good. That would simplify things.
“A client of mine is interested in him. We have reason to believe you have some information on his whereabouts.”
He had met her kind before – mercenaries hired to trace down an old foe for revenge. The wise ones never demand – they negotiate. And any over ambitious bitch that tried to threaten him, would think a long time before trying it again. And on a night like this – just after he had woken up… this woman was going to take a special tour of hell.
The truth was, he never knew where his confessors came from – as a boy he used to think that they were just voices in his head, nightmares that were more vivid that they ought to be. It was only after he started reading the newspapers that he realized that the voices in his head were not fake. They were real people, confessing to him in their dreams. Why him, and where they came from, he never knew. Knowledge of his own origins and the origin of him name, was also something that evaded him. He just had an old crumbling birth certificate, and an ink smudge where a signature should have been – the only relic he had of family, his past, and his childhood.
“What is his name?” he said at length.
“That is not necessary.” The lady said smoothly, “he killed…” the rest of the words did not register in Conscience’s mind. He was only vaguely aware that she was talking to him. His head was throbbing – the voices were echoing inside his skull – demanding to be let out. It was almost time.
He slowly raised his eyes to meet hers – they glinted like those of an ancient demon – and then he unleashed it. Memories, emotions, confessions, the taste of blood… thousands of voices passed through his mind, his skin, into her fingers and into her mind. The human mind is not equipped to handle that much of sensory overload, let alone sensory overload of the kind he was subjecting her mind to. She stood frozen in horror – her eyes blank – devoid of any consciousness or thought. Conscience pried her hand away from his shoulder, wincing as the nails came free of his flesh.
The train slowed into a small station. It never stopped at small towns like this one, only slowed enough for lone passengers to hop on. Conscience stepped out of the door and onto the empty platform.
He sensed a pair of eyes of him. The dog dropped its head back, and floated back away into its delightful dream. One watchful ear alone remained up, swiveling around like a satellite.
Conscience smiled. He walked into the darkness – glad that he would not have to sleep again that night.