Fluorescent lights inside the bus don’t flicker as they should, fixed in the moment they last existed. He sighs ever so slightly and stuffs his hands into his pockets. The traffic outside should be moving, drivers pressing on their horns and leaning out to shout, but there is no noise here anymore. A small flicker towards the back of the bus and then…
You could have chosen a place where Time still remains, at least.
I thought you liked the quiet.
I like the peace in silence but there’s no peace here. This is a dead place.
We can go somewhere else?
We’re here now. What do you want?
To see you.
You could have come to my Instance to do that, why call me here?
You’re busy, these days. You’ve surrounded yourself with Mortalkind.
What of it?
I’m jealous, I suppose. I used to hold your attention so easily.
You’re bored, is that it? I have better things to do –
A small scratch of a sound as he moves away from the window and steps into the centre of the aisle, hands still in his pockets with no intention of looking back where his companion sits until…
Please. Stop. I will not hold you here long.
You could never hold me anyway. But fine, say your piece.
We didn’t always disagree as we do, we were brothers once.
Once but no more you saw to that and I have no interest in a trip down memory lane. So if you only put out the call to reminisce, then might I suggest your old Raider buddies?
They are friends I admit but none much for conversation.
Because this makes for a fascinating one.
It may yet…
There are some things about you, old friend, I simply never miss.
There’s almost a smile shared between two old soldiers, a look mirrored as their past selves stand together on a darkened road like the one outside. One lights a cigarette, takes a drag and offers it over. The other shakes his head and then…
Your hair always smelt of ash and old smoke. I never liked that.
You never complained, well not at the time anyway.
I was younger then, I thought it roguish. Exciting.
I quit some time ago.
I want to ask you why you favour the lower planes so much.
So why don’t you?
You’d lie. You moved from above to below but somehow find yourself with a loftier purpose.
A hushed sound, light as the memories of air that still linger here but growing louder as one steps back and the other rises from his seat. The noise begins to echo, like the sound of a copper kettle just boiled. One starts to move forward and the other back, hands now out of his pockets because…
Speaking of lying…
Not all a lie. I did want to see you and I do miss the attention.
But it’s not why you called me into an Instance without Time.
No. It isn’t, but I mean what I say when I tell you I won’t hold you here long.
You can not hold me.
Not me, myself but yes, I can. I can hold you.
Not without a fight, you can’t.
There is pressure now, one’s hands resonate with it, a growing force meant to strike out and crush and shatter. But the other’s hold something else, appearing as the noise reaches a crescendo and then dissipates. It is small and weighted and the metal glows red and green under the lights above. It is nothing much but…
It is just for a moment, my dear. No more than a blink and you’ll be set loose.
You keep back from me, you stay as you are.
Please don’t fight this, and don’t look at me so. It was not I who chose to move among the lesser.
You wear a leash now, old friend. Who hold its end?
Hush, just wait. I want but a moment, nothing more. Just one moment lost here and all will reset.
And what will you do with my one moment? What piece of my life matters enough to set this trap?
Not a piece, but a choice. One not yet made and that is all I know. Now please come here.
There is a whisper in the palm of one’s hand, the metal vial clasped tight but it stirs and shakes and wishes to fill. The other releases the pressure in his because it is not in his nature to harm a friend even if they’re under an enemy command. And what loss one moment, after all?
What loss a single moment?
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Great! Thanks for writing this story.
Thank you for taking the time to read it!