|Ricky knew he should have come here alone.|
|Wendell’s unnerving limp has slowed down their pace, and aggravated Ricky to the point of wanting to go ahead by himself. Wendell apologizes profusely and does his best to keep the pace with a skip/hop/jog motion. Unfortunately, it not only looks ridiculous, but is attracting attention from the locals. The most frustrating bit about this whole thing, is that he actually needs Wendell. He knows Amber better than anybody, her parents included.|
|Having reached his limit, Ricky decides that something has to change. They sit down together to eat at a nondescript deli. Pointing to an item on a menu he cannot read, Ricky hopes he didn’t just order something gross. Then he impatiently turns to Wendel and asks about his limp, suggesting they find a local doctor take a look at it. Wendell shrugs and shares that he’s had a bum-foot for a long time. Ricky is wholly dissatisfied with the answer. Not being the sort that gives up so easily, he presses Wendell for more detail in hopes of finding a way to speed up their search.|
|Wendell hesitates. The injury happened a long time ago. Most of the time doesn’t even realize he’s limping. There isn’t any real medical reason for him to do so. It has just always emerged when he gets stressed out. Although he has always been honest about being accidentally shot during a military live-fire training exercise, he has never shared the fact that he had actually shot himself after getting nervous and fumbling the rifle. Wendell thinks of Amber. If she is still alive, she will need him to “man up” and focus.|
|Wendell ignores the texture and taste of the aromatic cabbage stew Ricky ordered, and eats it silently. When they finish, he finally speaks, telling Ricky to move at his own pace. He will find a way to keep up without the limp. And so, after resuming the search at a much improved pace, they cover good ground and finally manage to make a discovery. The address Amber had written down is neither a house nor a shop. Rather, it is the veritable fortress that sits atop the hillside, casting its shadow over the port town. A sense of urgency grips both Ricky and Wendell, raising their suspicion that Amber is somewhere inside. And worse, that she is quickly running out of time.|
|Still paralyzed from Brand’s poison, Amber has dug down deep and refused to give him the satisfaction of enjoying her agony. Countless hours of meditation have helped her to detach from her physical state and focus on her mental state. There may be no denying that the pain is unbearable, but she refuses to show it. Thankfully, her persistence has afforded her more breaths of life than she would have had otherwise. But it has made Brand furious. That is, if there is any Brand at all.|
|He does nothing but stand and fume for hours without moving. He does not eat, sleep, or relieve himself. He just stands, with the stink of evil swimming around him. When she did woo-hoo with Brand the other night, it was pure, primal, wanton lust. It was unspeakably gratifying, and supernaturally erotic. It occurs to her that Brand is not a sim at all, but something else; something terribly wicked.|
|Thinking back to her childhood, it now seems that Brand has always known exactly how to tempt her. Information and intrigue had become the drug she so desperately craves, and he has slowly increased her dependency until she could no longer resist him . Her attraction to Billy was no different. She knew what kind of sim he was. So many lives around her were being ruined, and she did nothing to stop it. In fact, she willingly embraced it. And now she is paying the price.|
|She thinks of Wendell and begins to cry. She does love him. She fell in love the moment she first saw him at the restaurant. Physical pain, she can endure. But the pain she feels now is more than she is able to suffer. Having finally broken, she cries out loud. And as she cries, she begs forgiveness. All those times she shut down her feelings to focus on pride and arrogance… it wasn’t emotion she was shutting down. It was her conscience.|
|Brand leaps from his unmoving pose and screeches his outrage. How dare she pray? He has allowed this to go on far too long. He wanted so badly to watch her writhe in pain. He gave her more pleasure in one night than most sims experience in a lifetime; and now she denies him this one, simple favor? How delightfully selfish of her. In the grand scheme, Amber is of little consequence. He is truly driven by the anticipation of finally killing off something that has been hunted for a very long time; or more specifically, by the reward for its bounty. Those who have tried before him: Corwin, Reid, Ali, Khaliq, and even General Buford, and countless others; they all failed. He laughs a sickening laugh, thinking of how he will live eternally in decadent pleasure after the deed is done.|
|He grabs silken pillows and covers her head so that her prayers are reduced to muffled cries. He debates with himself on how to conduct the act. Simply smothering her would deprive him of the proper climax. A hanging would be so much more satisfying. Brand nearly salivates with anticipation of the act, as he ties silk sheets together into a makeshift noose.|
|Gunshots from downstairs startle him and cause him to panic. It cannot be possible! He is too close to fail now! Brand growls a low guttural sound and tosses the knotted sheets over the rafters on the high vaulted ceiling. Then he pushes aside the pillows covering Amber’s head. He realizes all too late that she had stopped praying once the gunshots had gone off. Her piercing scream startles him again, and he drops her onto the floor before he can get the noose around her neck.|
|All the pain and agony over the past hours has built up and projected itself into that focused, deafening scream.|
|He is here. She doesn’t know how she knows it, or how he found her. But she knows he is here. Brand roars defiantly with rage. Now, he will have no time to hang her. But he is clearly not out of options. She hears the sound of a gun’s hammer being pulled back. Her heart races, as though trying to fit in as many beats as it can before the end. But he hesitates. Then he screeches wildly at her for falling too close to his favorite rug. It would be such a terrible shame to ruin it.|
|He angrily covers her head with pillows again, hoping they will contain the gory mess. Then he warns her through gritted teeth that she had better not bleed on his rug. Brand has clearly lost any semblance of sanity. Amber sobs, but not for herself. Wendell’s love has been steadfast throughout. She wondered why he never dated. She understands now it was because of her. He loves her. But she has been too self-absorbed to see it. Amber mumbles what might be her final prayer; begging forgiveness, and making a petition comfort for her family.|
|Then, a split-second before the sound of gunshots fill the room, she squeezes her eyes shut and contemplates what a fool she has been.|
6 thoughts on “Chapter 7.22 – Petition”
Like Like Double Like! Brand is definitely the Devil… I mean, he looks exactly the same when Amber was as kid. And the whole spiel of him tempting her, and his outrage that she prays in her time of need… yup that’s the enemy of our souls alright! Great great stuff!
Two likes and a double-like! Jackpot!!
You’re absolutely on the right track. When it all boils down, this is a tale of good vs evil… with a sci-fi take on beings mentioned throughout the Bible.
This is so good! That picture of Amber looking up at Brand towering over her, is great, and the shot of the fortress, the world seems to fit in so much with the story!
This is written so well, I liked Brand’s insanity about the rug, and not being able to kill Amber the way he wanted. Wendell has to save her, Brand can’t kill her!
Thank you so much! I appreciate your encouragement!
I have to admit, that the “Brand’s favorite rug” bit is a nod to my favorite author. Bonus points if you can figure out where it came from! 😉
I should know that, but I don’t 😦
Awesome chapter. I’m hoping the gunshots were from Ricky’s gun.