“We want you to do the same work you did for your former masters. You are stuck on this planet,” he tells me, “and you have nowhere to go. I am trying to save your life.”
“I will not work with you.”
“Then I am sorry.” He does sound genuinely sorry. “I don’t know what my government will do next.”
It was a pure white light, almost too bright for the small space. Kita closed her eyes against the sudden glow, still seeing the bright shape of the bulb even in the dark. It was like a shining diamond, illuminating everything…
Her heart contracted as she spotted a sign hanging over a doorway, now broken and charred; in her memory it was lit by sunlight, surrounded by flowers, haunted by a snatch of someone singing. Further on was a doorway where she had once had a conversation with a beautiful man whose dog had the silkiest fur she’d ever touched. She passed a bar where Aleric’s scum and low-life hung out, a good source for gossip, information and bargains. Now it was a centre for boxes and packages, handing out daily food to the people in the surrounding houses.
Nothing was quite gone, but it had all changed.
We stay overnight in the empty house. I can feel the loneliness in it; without needing to ask, I know that the husband’s left, the children are grown, and the wizard who lived here is now growing older and older, seeing everyone else die or leave. She doesn’t want to be here because of the memories that have permeated the walls.
I curl up under the blanket in the bed and try to sleep. The wallpaper’s blue-flowered, chosen by a little girl, and the books on the shelf have been read and re-read, trying to smother the arguments and empty silences…
Bella finds me in the morning, asleep on the sofa with the TV still on. I feel her hand shake my shoulder. “Couldn’t sleep?”
“Too many memories,” I mumble before I can stop myself. “This house is…” And then I wake enough to shut my mouth. “Just dreams.”
“Leave,” Jan said, in a flat tone that made the agent swallow desperately. “This is my property, and I have the right to defend it. If your master does not have the money to buy something in auction, I will not sell it privately.”