Friday, July 14, 2017

24: Blind guides

“Where ya think you’re going?”  The guard sounded big but not particularly bright.

“Meal time for the prisoner,” Ch’Byartha said. 

“Where’s the runt they usually send?”  Meaning Ch’Byartha’s child friend who got a job in the mess tent with him.

“Sick day, apparently after children, the disabled are the most menial members of the community.  I suppose if the blind guy were sick too, the elderly gentleman cleaning the officers’s toilets would be next in line.” 

“Check him.”  Another guard patted Ch’Byartha down, presumably looking for weapons or tools the prisoner could use to escape, they needn’t have bothered.  They poked around in the bowl of dry, crunchy bits he had personally chosen for her, knowing her fondness for soft foods.  “One coming down,” he called down the mausoleum steps.  Ch’Byartha felt the air cool as he descended.  Reaching the bottom, he stopped to listen and get his bearings.  A chain clinked and rattled.

“It is…most pleasant for One to see One’s Guide again,” a hauntingly familiar voice echoed.

“Eh miss?  Must have me confused with someone else.  I’m Ch’Byartha, at’cher service.”

“One could smell the scent of the Guide on the child.  One was surprised.  Possibly happy.”

“Well now, that’s a fine thing in unhappy circumstances, it tis.  And I’m glad I can cheer ya up even by being mistaken for someone else.  Reckon there’s not much more’n i could do for ya but to bring yer grub and letcha dream o’ some other fella.  Where ya want it?” 

“Put it on the table,” said the guard behind him.

“And where would that be?”

“Two steps forward, Guide,” the guard said.  Oh, Ch’Byartha thought, that isn't good.  He should have let his little ragamuffin keep bringing the dish.  Damn his pride!  He just had to know for himself!  He craved to hear her with his own ears and know she was suffering for what she had turned out to be.  His revenge demanded she see his blindness.  Let her see it!  Let her know where her madness had led!  What it had done to those who followed her.  Those who…  Cruel joke it would be if it only made him a person of interest to the Legion!  ‘A fool and his folly,’ Ch’Voga scolded in his head.  Did everyone’s conscience take on the voice of someone they knew? 

“Ha!  A fine guide you would make, peepers!”  Ch’Byartha let out the breath he had been holding.  Thank Yah!  The guard laughed and obviously thought it ridiculous that he could be anyone’s guide. 

“Yes,” he said, “the blind leading the blind.  They shall both fall into a pit I believe.  Well, there ya are lady, don’t choke.”  He turned to go, retracing his steps. 

“One is … sorry.”  He stopped.  He didn’t want to stop.  He needed to get out of here now.  He knew he did.  His rage needed to not hear this.  But he stopped.  “One does not have words.  Pain.  Compelling pain to rival the Need.”  Her voice, was it breaking?  Had he ever heard her string this many sentences together?  “One failed.  One failed all.  One needed purpose.  One sought to fill this new Need.  One sought to recover .. one’s close kin.  There is a word, one cannot think of it now.  One made sacrifices one should not have made.  One made all-who-followed-and-trusted-one sacrifice everything.  If one could have saved one’s kins perhaps… perhaps it… may have been less hurtful.  One suspects not.  One would rather the Guide had eyes or the Lord Counselor had life.  One is filled now, one’s crop is full of gall.”

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