*Taking a little break from The Witch’s Memory, so here is the next chapter to The Orphaned. Enjoy!*
Three years ago…
With a cigarette dangling from his mouth his voice came out gravelly, words trailing behind a puff of grey mist. “It’s not like you have many options. Working for us means security, a new life, a roof over your head, practically anything you could ask or hope for. We have access to the best technology, the best doctors…yeah, that one should interest you.”
There was no hiding the cruelty and intent in the man’s speech. The man knew he held all the power like a spider encroaching on a struggling fly in its web. He liked watching his prey struggle, wanted to watch for that moment when surrender settles in. the man sat in a leather chair, wearing a suit of immaculate black silks. He wore sunglasses, silver cufflinks of coiled snakes devouring each other, and there was a pale scar starting just under his chin trailing down his throat.
The dark wood of the desk played against the harsh paleness of his flesh. If you peered close enough you could see his plump blue veins running up to the side of his bald head, beating and throbbing hard enough to raise the skin. On the desk was a small gold placard that simply read “Jones” with no other name or title to be seen. A glass of water sat next to an open laptop as the only objects on the desk. Jones took another deep drag off the cigarette.
“Well,” said Jones blowing out another stream of smoke in his interviewee’s face. “What do you say?”
The interviewee couldn’t meet Jones’ gaze while the man wore those sunglasses, so instead he decided to focus on the floor. The floor was clean white marble which made the light reflecting off of it appear brighter. Something about it just screamed…money, and a lot of it. With his lack interior decorating prowess he was certain it was imported, Spain perhaps. He was a soldier after all, lifetimes away from understanding what pulled a room together. But what he did know was no one who spent the money like this was used to hearing no. his training told him never to trust this type of person; however that training had failed him. And that would be why he was here, a former and disgraced man of war.
The glare off the floor was slightly comforting. The brilliant light veiled any reflection of him. He had not seen his true self in years, something he avoided. But here in this room it was hard too. He saw his reflection in Jones’ mirrored sunglasses. He saw it on the polished desk. Mirrors lined the walls. This was a cruel joke. A joke he knew was composed specifically for him. It was designed to make him look down at the floor. To make him look like a beaten dog, crawling to its master.
‘Maybe I am a joke,’ he thought. ‘He wants to break me. To show me how dominant he is. He wants to make me feel that I have no options without him. Show no fear. Show no fear.’
“Well Harmon? Say yes and let’s just move on.” said Jones with cockiness draping each syllable.
Harmon. That was his name wasn’t it? Jacob Harmon. A should’ve been hero, but things in life never run that smoothly. He hadn’t been Harmon in quite some time. More often than not he was scumbag, vagrant, bum, trash or get a job loser. The worst was Mommy, is that a monster. Each stung him, but the last…oh that last one…
“Harmon!” Jones’ voice boomed snapping Harmon from his daymare. “It’s quite a simple choice. A yes.”
“Sir I’m not sure if I’m the man for this job.” Harmon’s voice was smooth and calm. His training taught him how to do so. “It’s a great opportunity surely but—“
“Cut the formalities. You have nothing. The people you worked for cut you loose and threw you under the bus for their screw ups. They took everything from you.” Harmon couldn’t find a single word to defend himself. “What we are offering is a second chance for practically the cost of you being a glorified nanny.”
“What about your son?”
The air was snatched from Harmon’s lungs at the thought of his son. He looked up from the floor only to be greeted by a cruel smirk on the man’s face. His despising of the man turned to loathing. If he had a gun on him he wouldn’t have hesitated to press it against the man’s head and squeeze until there were no bullets left. Then he would find more ammo and repeat the process until there was nothing left to ever smile again.
Instead he sat there, staring in disbelief. His arms trembling from the strain it took to contain himself. His emotions gnawing away at his being.
“You never even got a chance to see him, did you?” Jones continued in a knowing tone. “You don’t even know his name do you?”
“It’s Tyler. Tyler LaDunn. Seems after your whole ordeal the mother was unwilling to give him your last name.”
“Tyler? His name is Tyler.” The words came out as a sacred whisper barely meeting his own ears.
“He has your eyes.”
The words struck him like a semi speeding down the freeway. How many nights had he been kept awake wondering about that very thought, the idea of what his son looked like? Now to hear it from this man, in this room, under these circumstances…it was all too much. Before he knew it the eyes he shared with his son began to well up. Those eyes that he never wanted his son to have. Those eyes his own father said were meant for a violent, military man. Gun metal green. The action hurt him, setting his nerves aflame. The pain crept from his eyelids and burrowed deep into his brain. And yet he couldn’t stop himself from letting the tears fall.
Jones continued on as if he didn’t see the shattered man sitting across from him or hear his anguished cry. “He’s in a good kindergarten in Colorado. Already his future seems bright. You can see his athleticism, his intelligence. Just like his daddy. If you said no …he’d make a good candidate to be one of our children.”
For the second time Jones’ words stole Harmon’s breath. The man was a bare knuckle brawler with his words, each syllable a brutal blow. This man, if he could he even be called that, was relentless with his assault. There was no letting up. The man smelled blood and he was ready to devour his kill.
Harmon wanted nothing more than to leap over the desk and strangle Jones until he could see his ghost exit his body through pale, lifeless eyes. He’d keep choking him until heard the satisfying crack of the man’s neck. The death rattle beating against his eardrum. This was the type of man he loathed. A military man who was unable to see when the war was over. Someone who didn’t see foe or friend. Everyone was a foe, collateral damage in a battle they didn’t know they were a part of.
People like this were monsters.
And monsters needed to be slayed.
Still the man’s words stuck, lodged in his ears. Harmon thought about his son. His son’s gunmetal eyes. He thought of how this was not the life he wanted for him, even if he never saw him. No one should be destined to kill.
Harmon slumped in the chair. “I’ll do it.”
Jones smiled with that wicked Cheshire grin. “Then welcome to the Academy.”
Until next time, have a writeous day!