Author’s Note: Just about coming full circle then, almost back to where “Acceptance” started this story.
Strange how that goes.
Also—Curse you, Disney. Since when did I see the matron as the one from Lilo and Stitch, and how do I make that image go away now???
Silence seemed to have worked.
Either that, or he was too far gone to feel the pain anymore. He no longer knew, and he no longer cared. He couldn’t feel anything. He was numb, and a part of him would have questioned if he was dead, but he knew for him death would be a cessation of his thoughts—he was a black hole and could ascribe to no religion or afterlife. He would just be gone.
He was still thinking, so he was still alive.
“Are you sure you haven’t killed it yet?”
“It kept talking. They kept the machine at higher levels than they have in the past. No one knows what to do with this one, Matron. It… It does not make threats. It seems to be… pleading, and we do not know what to make of its deception.”
“Deception seems unlike them.”
“I wasn’t lying.”
“Ah, so you are not dead,” the matron said, looking down at him. “They have informed me that you have called yourself by a name and requested a message be given to someone.”
“They did? All they told me was to be quiet, and then they turned the machine up higher and higher until I was forced to stop speaking,” Tynan told her. “If you are going to do so again, I shall spare myself and return to silence. I have no desire to feel any further pain.”
She frowned. “I did not know that your kind felt pain.”
“I do believe there is a great deal about my kind that you do not understand nor care to understand,” he said, wondering if he could sit up this time. He put his hands on the floor and pushed up with a groan. There. Better. He leaned against the wall and smiled. He could sit. That was a sort of victory.
“Matron, it might try and—”
She held up a hand. “I am here to evaluate this creature and determine our course of action. I must be able to speak to it, and I cannot do that if it is unable to converse.”
“If he is unable to converse,” Tynan corrected. He looked at his hand, front and back and front and back. “I am not human, and I do not know that children of the vortex should have a gender, yet for all the time I have spend among the other species, I have always thought of myself as a ‘he.’ I always have a male appearance, so you may refer to me as ‘he’ and not ‘it’ from now on.”
“You are quite demanding.”
He shook his head. They still did not understand. “No. If I were demanding, I’d make threats. I was pointing out a fact that you were ignorant of, as you are with many concerning me. If you are here to evaluate me, you’d listen, and you’d take those things into account. You will most likely not do so, or so has been my experience in the past, and I am not surprised by it so much as I am frustrated by my helplessness and your blind hatred.”
The matron folded her arms behind her back, watching him. “You think we have no reason to hate your kind?”
He did not know how her life had been touched by the actions of the others, and he could not speak to what pain they might have caused her or those that she had known. He just knew that whatever they had done was not what he had. He was willing to answer for his own crimes, but he refused to be condemned for someone else’s. “The other children of the vortex, perhaps, but I am not like them. Luna says I have never been like them. I don’t know that I can claim that, but she says my determination not to let my hunger win makes me unique.”
He nodded. Even now, despite the distance that separated them and all of the mistakes he’d made, he had to smile when he thought of her. “Yes. Luna. She is a special person, a rare one, a radiant one. She is smart and funny and kind. She is my friend.”
“You are incapable of having friends. Your species—No, you cannot have friends.”
“You say that because you do not know me or Luna.”
“No, I say that because I know you to be what you are. You are of the vortex. You know what that means. You know what you are—and you should know what you are not.”
“I do.” He knew, though, that he would never convince her or anyone else of that.