Sin, Chapter 25

Eyes found himself sitting in the cold. He was back on the bridge, sitting on the edge this time. He knew where he was, he knew what he had wanted to do.

At first he was confused, but then it made sense. Sin had sent him back to the past, to a time when he hadn’t those bad deeds quite yet. This was his second chance.

A part of him still wanted to jump. But he couldn’t waste this. Second chances were few and precious. He sighed and looked up at the night sky, blazing with stars. They were so beautiful.

He ignored the rushing waters beneath him, knowing that he wouldn’t do it. This night was too beautiful to waste. Nobody would die today.

He remembered everything.

He remembered his parents, his family. He remembered his life, how everything led to this one moment.

But he also remembered Sin and Temptation and … Reed.

As if on cue, he heard a voice shouting in the wind. He turned around and saw a man running towards him, waving his hands.

Eyes knew who it was. He spun around and planted his feet firmly back on the bridge. He began to walk to meet the man.

Reed Williams looked very out of breath and very surprised when he reached Eyes. He clearly hadn’t expected the man on the bridge to do what he did. “Are you okay, mate?” he asked.

Eyes smiled sadly at the man whose life he had destroyed, once. “I’m fine.”

Reed glanced behind Eyes at the bridge’s edge. “What were you doing out there?” His voice was uncertain and suspicious.

“Just admiring the night,” was Eyes’s reply. “I’m fine, don’t worry.”

Reed stared at him for a while. Eyes could see the lack of belief in the man’s eyes. Eyes smiled at him, a bright genuine smile this time. “I’m fine, just needed to clear my head.”

Reed nodded slowly. “What’s your name?”

Eyes almost said “Eyes” when he remembered. “My name’s Elliot,” he said.

“I’m Reed,” returned the man in front of him. “Are you sure you’re alright? Could I get you a cab or something?”

Elliot stood up straight and smiled at the man. He didn’t want anything to do with this man anymore. It would be too painful to.

“I’m fine,” he said for the last time. “And I’m sorry.”

Elliot reached forward and gave the surprised man a hug. And then he began walking away, never looking back to see if Reed believed him.

Elliot knew he had a new life to live now.

And this time he was planning to get it right.
THE END

(21/08/16 – 25/09/16)

Sin, Chapter 24

It felt like time froze.

Eyes felt his heart beating. He heard his breath escaping his lips. He tensed. His mind tried to make sense of it but nothing seemed to work anymore. He couldn’t even… He could not…

He swallowed.

I don’t understand, he said slowly, shaking his head.

He turned towards Sin, who was smiling. Sin spoke softly and kindly — When we began, I told you that this journey would be one of redemption. Do you remember that?

Eyes nodded numbly, glancing back at the couple in the room. He didn’t know what to think anymore. But he remembered.

Sin’s voice broke through again — I told you that you would see yourself and the things you have done. And once you’ve seen all that you needed to, you would be given a choice, a choice to redeem yourself.

Eyes looked away from the couple, turning back to Sin, still desperately wanting to understand.

It felt like Sin knew what he was thinking because Sin didn’t stop speaking. His voice was terribly kind as he said — Reed Williams was never in need of redemption, young Eyes. He never needed to atone for any grievous sins.

Sin paused, his gaze searching Eyes expression before continuing — But Elliot Sims, the man you have been watching this entire time? He was one who needed help. And that’s why you are here, Eyes.

Eyes did not speak. He barely reacted to the fact that Sin had just revealed Elliot’s — his — surname. Eyes’s tongue felt parched and dry. He wasn’t even sure that was possible in this reality.

Sin moved closer and placed an arm around Eyes’s shoulder. Eyes did not protest as Sin began to walk him away from his parents’s ward. Sin did not speak any further.

They were still his parents, he understood that. But that baby in their arms, that baby was him, was Elliot, was him.

It can’t be, Eyes thought. He hated Elliot. He hated him with a fiery passion. He hated Elliot for what he had done to Reed, who was supposed to be the real Eyes, who was no longer the real him.

He had hated himself.

Kill me, Eyes whispered softly as Sin led him through the hospital. I can’t do this anymore. I can’t… I can’t…

Hush now, Eyes. You chose to believe that some part of Elliot was still worth saving. That meant something.

Eyes looked up at Sin. He’d never realised how much taller Sin was.

What does it mean? he asked.

It means that you believe you can still be saved, was Sin’s kind reply.

So what happens now?

Eyes’s voice sounded sad and hollow even to his own ears. He wasn’t a good person. He was never a good person. He didn’t know how to come to terms with that.

Sin spoke warmly, comfortingly — Elliot was a man with many second chances, Eyes. You can be too, if you choose him. All you need to do is to choose him.

Eyes pulled away from from Sin’s embrace. He looked at the dark haired man and asked — What happens if I don’t choose him?

Sin did not respond immediately. But eventually, slowly he said — If you do not choose him, you may join us, Temptation and I. You could become one of us. But it is not an existence I would wish upon you, Eyes. It is terribly lonely.

Eyes shook his head. He didn’t not want that. He had no choice. He steeled himself before he took that last leap and then, hesitantly but surely he said — I claim the name Elliot Sims as my own.

And the world went dark.

Sin, Chapter 23

They left the room and made their way past several nurses and doctors and patients, a number of whom were rushing about. They didn’t bump into anyone, and nobody seemed to be able to see them.

As they walked, Eyes seemed to recognize the hospital more and more. This was where Sin had first brought him when everything had begun.

Sin led him through several corridors until they reached a place Eyes knew he recognized. It was the nursery.

The cartoons were painted as brightly as ever. The two nurses sat behind their counter and the two worried men in the waiting room were still wringing their hands absentmindedly, their thoughts elsewhere.

Eyes knew where this was headed and a part of him was relieved. He was going to see his parents.

Sure enough, they arrived at the hospital room where his mother still lay on the bed with the baby in her hands and his father hovered dotingly beside her.

Eyes smiled and stood in silence, taking it in. He was content for now.

Sin let him have his silence, bobbing beside Eyes quietly for a good long while. And then Sin suddenly spoke — Look at me.

Eyes turned his head away from his parents, curious.

I wish for you to ask me a question.

Eyes slowly shook his head, not understanding. What do you mean? he asked.

I told you that there has been one secret I have kept from you, my friend. It is time for you to know the truth. It is time for you to understand why you were forced to make the decision you had to make. But before that, you must ask me a question.

Eyes responded with a slow — Okay.

Ask me if those are your real parents, Sin said softly.

A shock of fear ran through Eyes right then. He turned back to look at the loving couple, the husband gently stroking his wife’s cheek as they held the baby. Those two had to be his parents. That was the only joyful memory he had left. They had to be real. They had to be his. He couldn’t bear it if they were another lie.

Eyes’s voice trembled as he spoke — I don’t think I can do that, Sin.

The answer is not what you fear, young Eyes. Look at me and ask, stressed Sin.

Hesitantly, Eyes looked up at Sin’s light and then with a shaky voice, he asked — Is the couple in that hospital room… Are they my parents?

Eyes could almost hear Sin smile as the reply came — Yes, they are your parents. You were their only child and they loved you more than anything in the world.

Eyes almost fell to the floor and wept at the sound of those happy words. And then Sin spoke again.

But that is not the truth I have brought you here to learn, Eyes. Watch them.

Eyes turned just as the lady — his mother — spoke to her husband. “We still haven’t named him.”

“I know exactly what to name him,” was the reply as the man — his father — picked up the baby and cradled him.

After sharing a look of joy with his wife, he touched the baby on the nose and said, “You, my son, will be called …”

The man smiled at his wife. “… Elliot.”

Sin, Chapter 22

Everything went black when he hit the water.

And he woke up in a bed.

He blinked once, twice and his vision cleared. Everything seemed so white. The walls, the bed, the floor. He looked around, noticed the hospital scrubs he was wearing and the IV drip that stood beside him. The drip wasn’t connected to his hand however. It just seemed to be there.

He sat up. He didn’t understand what had happened.

And then a voice — You did well, Eyes.

Eyes looked up. Sin sat in a chair in the corner of the room, his feet up on the coffee table in front of him, his hands behind his head. Sin seemed to have this look of utter content on his face that Eyes did not quite understand. Eyes frowned for a moment, knowing full well the room had been empty just a moment before.

What happened? he asked, feeling at the awkward hospital scrubs he had on.

You made your choice and this is where that answer has led you.

A hospital? Eyes asked, incredulous. He felt perfectly fine. So why was he in a hospital?

He asked Sin — Why here?

Sin just smiled.

Where would I be if I had made the other choice? he asked.

Sin gave a low whistle. You would not want to know.

Eyes shook his head and looked around. Sunlight streamed in through an open window, brightening up the room.

What hospital is this?

Sin just smiled pointedly.

Are you going to tell me anything?

Yes.

Are you going to do it any time soon?

Sin laughed at that — I’m so sorry, my friend. This is just … this is the first time someone’s ever done it.

Done what? Eyes asked.

Sin smiled, not giving anything away.

Eyes rolled his eyes. Come on, why are we here? Why didn’t I save Elliot?

You did save Elliot. You saved him the moment you decided to jump into that river for him, in spite of what he’s done.

Eyes just stared.

Sin sighed. I guess it’s time then.

Time for what?

My final secret, young Eyes. My final secret.

Sin got up and gestured at Eyes to follow him.

Quietly, he did.

Sin, Chapter 21

Eyes shook his head slowly, tired and disbelieving. But he asked anyway — What decision would that be?

We will get to that soon, Sin replied. But to do that, we need you to reclaim your name.

Eyes looked at Sin, uncomprehending. His eyes momentarily flickered over to Temptation who looked oddly giddy with anticipation.

Again? he asked. You want me to do that again?

Yes, was Sin’s flat response.

Eyes looked at Sin dead on. Will it be another unreal place like the last time?

Sin smiled kindly — Yes and no.

Eyes huffed in annoyance and tasted the challenge on his lips — What if I don’t want to do it? What if I refuse to go ahead and make this decision you keep mentioning?

Then we leave you here, Temptation spoke suddenly. We will leave you to be stuck in this reality, Eyes. Suns will rise and suns will set and you will be stuck here as you are, always a ghostly observer, never a part of the world.

Eyes closed his eyes, feeling a hundred emotions inside of him screaming for attention. Then he said — Fine. What do I need to do?

Claim the name Reed Williams as your own and we will show you your decision, said Sin.

Eyes was so tired. He sighed and said — I claim the name Reed Williams to be my own.

The world spun only for a moment and as soon as the dizziness was gone, Eyes realised he was still on the bridge.

What the …? he muttered.

Sin and Temptation appeared on either side of him. They stared straight ahead, neither glancing towards him to indicate what’s supposed to happen next.

Something felt different again. Eyes looked down at his hands and realised with a start that they were Reed’s hands. His own hands, returned to him. He was back in his body.

He looked up from his hands and looked towards where Sin and Temptation were looking. He knew what the were looking at though.

It was Elliot on the bridge, again.

A moment passed and then Sin spoke — Elliot will make his jump within the next minute, Eyes. This is your decision, right here, right now.

Temptation picked up Sin’s words and continued — We all know the man that Reed Williams once was. He was the kind who would save a man, regardless of what may happen to his own life. He jumped into the river to save Elliot despite knowing that that same jump could have cost him his own life.

Sin spoke again — But in this reality, there is no Reed Williams to save Elliot. There is just the one we call Eyes. Here is your choice, young Eyes. Save the man who would ruin you or kill him by just watching as he plummets to his death.

Let us see what kind of man you are, said Temptation drily.

But none of this is real, Eyes said suddenly, his head whirling from one entity beside him to the other. What does it matter?

This choice will determine that man’s fate, said Sin, pointing at Elliot. His life now falls in your hands. Leave him to drown and we lead him to an existence so oblique and empty that he will lose all sense of time and all sense of self. He will be stripped of all the traits that make him him. No memories, no emotions, no notion of self. He will be a false shadow of the man he once was, Eyes. But should you choose to save him, he will be spared and given a second chance.

He is a man with many second chances, Eyes murmured softly, echoing Sin’s words from long ago.

His eternity is in your hands, Temptation said, never taking his eyes off of Elliot. Damnation or salvation. Is he worth saving? Is he truly irredeemable? The judgment is yours, Eyes.

Eyes breathed heavily, blood pounding in his head. He didn’t want this. He didn’t want this at all. He wanted to kill Elliot terribly, but to throw a man into an existence worse than the one Eyes was in? He couldn’t do that. Not for an eternity.

He couldn’t.

And so, when Elliot jumped, Eyes found, to his surprise, that he was running towards the edge of the bridge where Elliot had jumped. He threw off the jacket he was wearing — when did he get that? — and clambered onto the iron railings. It was freezing and he wasn’t even sure if he could swim. But he saw Elliot drifting further and further away.

The man was growing to become nothing more than a small speck.

If Eyes didn’t make a move soon, it would be the end of Elliot. It would mean going to that void where everything inside just dies.

And so, Eyes jumped into that rough beast of a river, looking to save the man who would destroy his life.

Sin, Chapter 20

It was cold and it was dark. Hollow metal sounds were heard when the wind blew in the air.

Eyes found himself back at the bridge, the sound of the river beneath roaring like the beast it was.

He turned and saw Temptation and Sin standing on either side of him, both wearing grim looks on their faces. They were not looking at him. They were looking ahead.

They were looking at Elliot, who was alone on the edge.

Eyes took a deep breath — Why did you bring me back here?

Sin replied — You never did find out how Elliot survived his death here, tonight. Now, you will.

Even as Sin spoke, Eyes thought he heard someone shouting in the distance. But he didn’t peel his eyes away from Elliot. Eyes needed this. Even though Elliot survives, he wanted to watch the man jump.

He wanted that bastard to drown.

And then, as if on cue, Elliot jumped into the cold freezing waters below.

Eyes smiled to himself with little satisfaction. He heard someone shouting again from behind him, accompanied by heavy footsteps that sounded like they were running.

He turned and his breath caught in his throat. It was him. It was the real him, Reed.

Reed came running past where Eyes stood with Sin and Temptation, and he raced to the edge of the bridge. He took a moment to take off the heavy jacket he wore and then, without a moment’s hesitation, he leaped over the railing and into the freezing waters below.

Eyes ran to the edge, afraid and eager to see if he had survived.

When he looked down, he saw a small figure who was very much alive cut across the currents with a steady determination, heading towards the one who was limp and being carelessly pulled by the current.

After a few minutes, Reed reached Elliot and Eyes watched as he pulled the other man to the river bank. The current was strong but after a while, the two small figures made it to back to solid ground. After a few moments, the smaller figure began to move again beside his saviour.

Eyes stood, parts of him trembling. He didn’t know what to say.

I believe you have just witnessed Reed and Elliot’s first meeting, said Sin.

Sin and Temptation were beside him again, by the edge of the bridge.

Eyes still stood quietly. Why did I need to see this? he hissed at them.

Temptation spoke — Because now it is time for your decision.

Sin, Chapter 19

Or at least, he tried to.

Time stopped. The blade stopped mid-air just before it could break the skin of Elliot’s neck. Elliot’s face was frozen, stuck in the midst of beginning a scream.

I can’t say I’m surprised, said a voice.

Eyes turned around, his hand letting go of the knife, which seemed to be floating on its own.

A man dressed in white with blond hair stood there. But even as he stood, something didn’t seem quite right about him. And there was something familiar about his voice…

Like the look? the man winked at him. It’s been ages since I’ve worn this body. But you know, these are exciting times.

Eyes realized with a start that it was Temptation.

What are you doing here? Eyes demanded. What is this?

It was a test, said a second voice behind Eyes. One which you failed.

Eyes turned and saw Sin back in human form, standing beside the frozen Elliot, Sin’s pale face a stark contrast to Elliot’s tan.

Sin smile apologetically and said — This place isn’t real, Eyes. This is not your reality. I think a part of you knew that when you arrived.

Eyes didn’t want to believe it but deep down, it was true. A part of him had felt something wasn’t right. He nodded slowly, a slow anger burning in him at being cheated like this. Elliot had to die, one way or another.

He had to be patient.

Come now, Sin said. There are still a couple of stops before the journey is done.

What about him? asked Eyes, jerking his thumb at Temptation.

He heard a laugh and then Temptation said — I’m done playing in the shadows, young Eyes. I am here to observe.

A portal appeared and then grudgingly, Eyes stepped through.

Sin, Chapter 18

He found himself in a kitchen.

It was a small kitchen with small wooden cabinets stuck on walls, tiled flooring and small wooden counter piled with various tins and plates of half eaten food. Everything was unclean and cramped and just like that, while staring at the mess, somehow the first memory came to him.

This was his kitchen.

He could hear the sounds of a television set coming through a small doorway and he knew that he was in his own apartment.

Being here felt not so different from all the times he had visited this reality but he knew he was still adjusting. Temptation did say there would be some kind of … something.

He heard a soft coughing coming from the living room and then, like a flood, more memories came to him. Martha left him six months ago. This tiny cramped apartment was the only place he could afford after he was fired and the authorities seized all his assets. He was turned away from all IT firms he had gone for a job interview. Now he worked as a janitor and general technician at the local bowling joint.

He remembered everything now.

He heard the coughing again and knew it was Elliot in the other room. Why was he here?

He remembered the many times Elliot had scorned him at work, even before the ARC project. He remembered Elliot being a jerk-ass boss for the last three years they had worked together. He remembered… he remembered…

He had invited Elliot here tonight for an important reason…

That’s when he felt the weight in one of his palms. He slowly looked down and saw the knife in his hand.

Yes, he remembered now.

He didn’t even have to think about it. All the anger came flooding back into him and then he slowly stepped out of the kitchen into a very dismal little living room, sparsely furnished with worn out secondhand furniture.

And there, dressed in a suit and leaning against a high table, was Elliot with a small shot glass in his hand, looking cool and relaxed.

“So was there a real reason for you to drag me all the way to this lousy dump? ‘Cause you’re really wasting my time here, mate.”

He gripped the knife tight and smiled at Elliot as he moved closer. “Yes, there was a reason.”

And then he stabbed him in the neck.

Sin, Chapter 17

What is it, then? Eyes asked, a little too quickly. He cringed at how eager he sounded, but still he looked around in the darkness, hoping to glimpse Temptation. He saw nothing.

Temptation paused before answering — Names are powerful. If I were to give you a name and if you decide to claim it for your own, there will be repercussions. Memories belonging to the name, whatever it may be, will flood into you. It can be very unpleasant. Are you sure you are up for that?

Eyes didn’t want any more riddles. He was frustrated and he was angry. So angry. He screamed into the void — Just give me a name! Let me go home.

A name is asked and a name is given. Reed Williams, Temptation said flatly. Immediately images of the man Eyes knew to be the real him flashed through into his mind like a stab of lightning lighting up every dark corner and crevice. The stab of images of this man, almost a stranger, really, was unlike anything he had ever felt before and Eyes knew this was his name.

Eyes stood there, in the dark, unsure what he felt. There was his name, and it felt so … plain. A part of him almost didn’t want it. But it was his and he would own it and he would use it to get back at Elliot.

What now? Eyes asked Temptation.

If this is what you want, then claim the name for your own, came the reply.

Very well, Eyes said slowly. I claim Reed Williams to be my name.

The world spun and everything faded.

Sin, Chapter 16

Eyes felt like he couldn’t breathe.

This was … this was too much. But he couldn’t tear his eyes away from the man in bed with his wife.

He felt a fire burning in him and he remembered what Temptation had told him. He turned on Sin and stared straight at the light.

Sin, he growled. Is this real? Tell me the truth. Is that — he pointed at the couple in bed — real? And don’t you dare lie to me.

Eyes could feel Sin pausing. Then Sin said, You met Temptation, have you?

Yes, Eyes spat. He told me everything. I know you’ve been lying to me so tell me the truth now. Did this really happen? Did they sleep together?

I doubt he told you everything, Sin replied.

Answer the question, damnit!

Yes, Sin replied quietly. This is the truth.

What else don’t I know yet? Eyes demanded, glaring at Sin’s light, his jaw trembling.

Three years from this version of now, Sin said slowly, Elliot is promoted again by advancing your work on the ARC and he has you discharged from your office under false allegations. No IT company is willing to hire you again. You lose everything.

Eyes felt his breath come in quicker rasps as he struggled for air. Elliot ruined him. He’s ruined his entire future. Eyes dropped to his knees, his head in his hands as he began to cry.

Why? he cried. Why did Elliot do this?

I’m afraid that is one question I do not know the answer to, Sin replied. If you make it through this journey, then I doubt either of us will ever know.

Eyes looked up, momentarily finding himself at a loss for words.

This journey, he finally echoed. He began to shake his head before saying to Sin — I don’t think I want any part of this any more. I don’t want to see this through if there is more.

I’m afraid that’s not an option, Eyes.

Eyes wiped away his tears as he stood up again, his eyes momentarily flashing furiously at Elliot, who was still in the bed.

No, he said. I’m going to finish this here and now.

He screamed a cruel loud cry and ran at Elliot, his hands outstretched. He didn’t know if he could strangle people while he was stuck in this state of half-life but god help him, he wanted to try.

As he ran however, a pinpoint of light appeared and grew rapidly in a circle in front of him and before he could slow down, he found himself running back in the black black void in which he had first begun.

Hello, Eyes.

It was Temptation.

Bring me back, Eyes screamed at the void. I’m going to kill that backstabbing sonofa-

Hush hush, young Eyes, said Temptation teasingly. We both know you can’t kill him. Not while you are like this anyway. You will need your body back.

How can I can get my body back, then? Eyes asked quickly, suddenly very interested. Tell me.

You will need to use your name.

Eyes gave a hoarse laugh. How do I know this isn’t another lie?

You’ll have to trust me.

But even then, I still don’t know my name, Eyes replied tiredly.

You don’t, laughed Temptation. But I do.

Sin, Chapter 15

It was dark this time.

Eyes couldn’t see but he could tell he was indoors. As he waited for his eyes to adjust to the gloom, a ghostly light suddenly appeared to his left.

Hello Sin, Eyes greeted warily.

Hello, Eyes.

You left me alone back there. Back in that office.

I know, Sin replied, moving to hover just behind Eyes’s shoulder so he wouldn’t be able to stare directly at Sin. Then Sin continued — I left you there because I knew you would be able to handle it.

And now you’re back, Eyes noted drily.

Yes.

Sin fell silent after that, providing no further explanation for the time being, and Eyes noticed that the room he was in was still dark. Sin’s light did not cast warm glows on the real world. The light seemed to be apart from the world, like an apparition. Eyes didn’t question it. Instead —

Where are we?

We are in your home, replied Sin. There is another thing you must see.

The light moved away from Eyes. Eyes knew Sin told him not to stare but he couldn’t help it. He needed to know. And so he stared.

Nothing happened.

Sin’s light was unusually hard to stare directly at but Eyes found that it could be done. And he stared as the light turned a corner into a room. By now, his eyes had adjusted to the darkness of the place he was in. Staring at Sin’s light did not affect his night vision, it would seem.

They were in a bedroom. Eyes could hear grunts coming from the main bed in the centre of the room. It was rocking rather vigorously and two bodies were clearly moving about in the sheets. He couldn’t help it. He snickered, especially when he heard Martha’s moans from the beneath the covers.

Is this the night where we conceive my first child? he asked.

Sin only greeted him with silence.

Then Eyes heard him. His voice, his grunts and his moans. And Eyes froze.

The blankets began to shift about and he saw someone’s foot nudging the blanket off the bed.

“… so hot in here.” Martha’s voice, soft and sultry with pleasure.

A grunt greeted her and the blanket fell off the bed, revealing Eyes’s suspicions to be true. His head was nuzzled into her neck but Eyes knew it was him.

It was Elliot.

Sin, Chapter 14

What do you mean? demanded Eyes immediately.

A low rumbling laugh followed his question. And then Temptation answered — I say what I mean and I mean what I say, young Eyes.

What has Sin lied to me about?

Everything and nothing, replied Temptation.

That makes no sense, Eyes said skeptically. How do I know you’re not the one lying?

It will make perfect sense when Sin’s veil of lies are lifted, young Eyes. You will know that there is both truth and untruth in what Sin shows and tells you.

Temptation paused and then — As for me, let me say that while I do not tell half as many untruths as Sin. And that Sin’s lies are nothing compared to mine. But there is a secret — both of us are not able to tell untruths when you stare directly at us when we are in our most basic form. Sin’s, as you know, is that of light. And mine, is that of the shadows. That is the truth.

Eyes didn’t quite believe him. How can you prove that you are telling the truth to me right now?

Temptation laughed again. His reply — I will not try to prove anything to you. We are in the dark here, young Eyes. You’ll just have to trust me for now. Stare directly at Sin and ask a direct question. He cannot lie when he answers. You will gain your proof then.

Eyes was tired of games. And he didn’t want to hear anymore.

Fine, he growled. What now?

Now, replied Temptation, you will return to your liar.

His laughed echoed into the distance as another portal appeared.

Sin, Chapter 13

He knew something was wrong the moment he was through the open portal. He found himself back in the darkness, back in that horrible silent void.

He look around him, and saw nothing but the dark swallowing him whole. He shuddered at the thought. But that was not what told him something was wrong.

No, it was the fact that there was no light here. No sign of Sin anywhere. Just that all consuming black that surrounded him.

He called out for Sin but no reply came.

And then a voice — Hello, Eyes.

Temptation, Eyes muttered the name angrily under his breath, already not in the mood for this. Why have you brought me here?

What makes you think it was me that sent you back here? Temptation sounded mildly amused.

It’s the only thing that makes sense, he hissed, annoyed. There’s a lot of other crap happening right now, I don’t need this. There’s nothing here for me.

Ah, Temptation said sweetly. Dear dear Sin. He and I are brothers, do you know?

What does it matter? Eyes shot back.

Oh, it doesn’t, really, Temptation answered. But I do know Sin better than you do, my little friend. And there is one little secret you do not know.

Really? Eyes asked, unamused. And what might that be?

Sin, said Temptation, is a liar.

Sin, Chapter 12

The standing ovation that greeted him as he walked through the portal was a thunderous mix of catcalls and congratulations and clapping.

Eyes found himself at the back of a room full of office cubicles and at least a couple hundred men and women clapping for someone far in the front. Eyes couldn’t quite make out who.

He realised with a start that he was standing next to the real Eyes who stood stiff with his arms folded, his lips upturned in an unhappy scowl. He wore a blue suit and tie and seemed to be the only one in the room who was not clapping.

Eyes glanced around, noting that Sin was nowhere to be seen.

The crowd shifted as someone made their way through the crowd to the back of the room. The sea of people parted and — Eyes wasn’t even surprised — it was Elliot who stood there, being clapped on the back by several coworkers.

The real Eyes did not say anything to Elliot, only glaring at him with a ferocity that burned from within. Elliot did not glance his way, even though it was impossible for him to not notice the real Eyes, they were so close.

Something had clearly happened between the two of them. Elliot did not want to meet the real Eyes’s eyes, choosing instead to walk past him and away down a corridor.

Eyes and the real Eyes followed.

Elliot quickly slipped into a room and tried to shut the door but the real Eyes wedged a foot in the crack and forced it open, making his way in. When Eyes entered, he was surprised at how angry the real him looked. The real him was right in Elliot’s face, glaring and backing Elliot into a wall.

Elliot seemed to stare calmly at him.

Then … SLAM! A hand hits the wall to Elliot’s left.

“How could you!” the real Eyes hissed at him.

Elliot did not betray any emotion as he replied, “How could I what?”

“You know that promotion was supposed to mine! That ARC technology you sold off to the boss as yours, that was mine, damnit!”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about, …” Elliot replied flatly, his sentence muted at the end when he said Eyes’s name.

“You know darn well what I’m talking about, Elliot,” the real Eyes seethed, shaking his head in disbelief. “The ARC was my work, not yours. It was never yours.”

“The ARC,” replied Elliot, “was the result of three years of dedicating my life to this company.”

The real Eyes backed away and laughed mirthlessly. “Right. That’s what you’ve been telling everyone.”

“It is the truth,” said Elliot.

But even Eyes, who was just an observer could tell that Elliot was lying to the real him. He saw it in the way Elliot stood, with faux confidence. He heard heard it in Elliot’s voice, the slight tremor every time he spoke. Elliot was lying.

The real Eyes scoffed and made an obscene gesture. “That’s what you’re worth to me, Elliot, you worthless piece of –” He stopped midsentence. “You know what, this isn’t worth the effort.”

The real Eyes moved to the door and pulled it open. “I am done with you, Elliot.” He left and slammed the door shut behind him.

Eyes still stood in the room with Elliot, unsure what to make of this but knowing that he was right — Elliot was here to wreck his life.

Elliot, alone now, composed himself, ran a hand through his unruly hair and left the room. Eyes decided then and there that he hated this man, dead or otherwise.

It was quiet now in the little room and Eyes didn’t know what he was meant to do.

But he didn’t have to wait long. Another portal appeared and once more, Eyes took that step into the unknown.

Sin, Chapter 11

This time, Eyes found himself somewhere altogether unexpected — he was in a church.

It wasn’t a very large church. It was small, quaint and its four walls painted a soft beige. There were small windows along walls to the sides. He was standing in the centre aisle, with rows of pews to the left and right of him. These were filled with people, all talking in soft excited whispers.

To the front was an altar where a priest and three men stood. Eyes blanched. It was the real him standing at the front, dressed in an impeccable suit and tie. Beside him stood two men, both people Eyes had never seen before.

To one side of the altar sat an middle aged woman hunched over the keys of an enormous organ. She was playing softly to sooth the atmosphere which seemed to brim with excitement.

Eyes looked around and saw Sin standing to one side of the pews, beside — surprise, surprise — Elliot. Eyes approached Sin carefully, keeping an eye on the eery dark haired dead man sitting beside him.

I invited him to my wedding, Eyes asked Sin, incredulous.

Yes, replied Sin. I have told you, he is a friend of yours.

Eyes began shooting questions at Sin — A friend? How do I know him? Where did we meet? And what’s so special about him? What does it have anything to do with me?

You will have a decision to make soon, said Sin. Elliot is to play a part in that decision. As for the rest, your questions will be answered in time. Patience, Eyes. Patience.

And then the front doors to the little church opened wide and there stood the bride. Eyes was slightly pleased to note that it was Martha. An organ version of the Wedding March began to play throughout the church.

Sin looked at him, Pay attention to this moment.

Eyes nodded and watched as Martha made her way up the aisle. The people in the crowds turned to look at her. Many ooh-ed and aah-ed as she walked alone up the aisle. Eyes saw a few wipe at their eyes with long handkerchiefs.

Martha walked gracefully, smiling and glowing like the bride she was. As she walked past Elliot, something happened. Eyes saw something.

There was a look that passed between Elliot and Martha. It was a meaningful look and Eyes wasn’t sure he liked it. It was fleeting, a quick stolen glance between the two that spoke words that Eyes didn’t want to hear.

The moment passed and Martha reached her soon to be husband, the real Eyes, who was smiling wide and didn’t seem to think anything was amiss.

The rest of the wedding passed in a blur. Eyes didn’t even hear the “I do”.

His mind kept traveling back to that look that Elliot shared with Martha. It was so quick that Eyes hoped it was just his imagination.

Then Sin spoke to him — We have only a few stops left, Eyes. Are you ready?

Eyes nodded slowly, not quite able to look at Sin.

Just like that, another portal appeared and they left.

Sin, Chapter 10

Eyes turned to Sin, his blood running cold — What the hell is this?

Sin gave his odd smile again, dark and knowing. It was a smile that Eyes did not like.

I told you that you would see him again, Sin said. As I said before, Elliot is a man with many second chances.

Eyes looked at the dead man.

The dead man that was clearly alive and well, and sitting beside the real him. This was too strange. No way it was the same person.

He scrunched his eyebrows in thought and then to Sin, he said — He’s one of you, isn’t he?

Sin smiled in response.

He’s a stronger version of you that can interact with real people, Eyes accused.

Stronger? echoed Sin. I’m interacting with you, am I not?

Wait, no. Eyes shook his head in disbelief. You are him, he said slowly. You are Elliot.

Eyes pointed an accusing finger at the presence. And you were in my life! You were probably there to wreck everything and when you finished… When you finished you brought me here to torment me for some reason!

Eyes’s voice rose as he spoke.

Sin shook his head gently. Your conclusions, while admirable, are untrue. Elliot is human. But you are wasting time. Look, they are speaking.

Eyes turned to the table where the real Eyes sat with Martha and Elliot. The real him spoke with a voice that seemed familiar. At least it felt like it was. Eyes couldn’t tell or remember. His voice whenever he spoke to Sin just seem flat and neutral, with no signature cadence or lilt.

But the real Eyes’s voice was strong and friendly as he spoke to Elliot. “…fantastic job handling that root kit the other day, Elliot. I checked the records and damn it if I can, but that was a hard nut to get around.”

Elliot seemed to smile humbly.

“I spoke with my boss, Elliot, and I had promise a few favors” he laughed raising both hands in defeat, “but he said he’d be thrilled to set up an interview with you.”

“You really shouldn’t have, …“ said Elliot, ending his sentence with that hollow silence where Eyes’s name should have been.

Martha gently interjected then. “No, Elliot. You really deserve this one lucky break,” she said, reaching across and touching Elliot’s hands on the table.

Elliot blushed.

The real Eyes laughed and clapped Elliot on the shoulder. “Come now, enough business. Let’s celebrate. This meal’s on me.”

As the real him raised his hand to call the waiter, Sin placed a cold hand on Eyes’s shoulder and said — You have seen all that you need to here. Come now. We have other matters to attend to.

Eyes shook Sin’s hand off his shoulder, gazing at the real Eyes’s face as he smiled and spoke to the waiter.

Just a moment more, he asked, not taking his eyes off the man. Please.

No, Eyes. It is time.

Eyes saw out of the corner of his eye a new portal appearing in the middle of the street. Reluctantly he took a step away from the real himself and towards the light.

He stepped through again.

Sin, Chapter 9

This time, when he went through the portal, Eyes found himself bathed in sunlight and warm air.

He blinked once, twice, adjusting his vision and found himself in the middle of a t-junction on a wide brown cobbled street, two story stucco buildings with small flowered balconies peering out surrounding him.

He was surrounded by tanned pedestrians walking up and down the street, all talking and laughing in loud voices. Several wore dull sun hats and colourful shirts. He looked around confused and lost before he heard Sin’s voice calling out to him — This way, Eyes.

He found the pale man standing on the street corner upon which stood a tall sign that said La Cafe de Belatruse. Sin was in the shade of a colourful yet quaint bistro with small tables outside which were shaded with big umbrellas. He stood between two such tables, with a smile on his face.

Eyes didn’t like the smile. But still he walked up to him. Where are we? he asked Sin, vaguely amused in spite of himself.

Somewhere north of Italy, Sin replied. We are here to meet the real you.

Where am I? I mean, he? Eyes asked immediately, looking around.

Sin tilted his head towards the table to his right. Eyes spun around and saw two people seated there, across from each other, drinks on the table, talking.

The person facing him was a young woman with brown hair and flirting eyes. She had a seductive smile playing on her lips. Eyes took a liking to her immediately, feeling momentarily amused by what it might mean if this was the real Eyes’s girlfriend or wife.

Across from her … Eyes moved to get a good look at the real him, noting with approval the man’s smooth blond hair as he did so. The first thing that struck Eyes was how attractive he was. High cheek bones, curving lips, strong hard eyes. This was a man who belonged in women’s magazines. This was him? Incredible.

Eyes reached up to his own face, feeling smooth skin but not being able to quite define his own face with his fingers. Eyes did not think much of it. So much about Sin’s world was so odd that he had given up trying to figure things out. But it pleased him to know that he was attractive.

Who’s the lady? was Eyes’s first question, his eyes flitting back and forth between the couple.

Her name is Martha, replied Sin. She is your fiance in this moment of time.

Ah, replied Eyes, pleased. Why didn’t you start with this? he asked Sin, spreading his arms at the couple. Why Elliot’s suicide?

Because Elliot played a very important part of your life, Eyes, said Sin. You needed to understand where he came from.

I don’t see the connection, he replied flatly.

You will. Here he comes now.

Sin looked up at the crowd, and Eyes’s confused eyes followed his, watching as a thin, dark haired man pushed his way to the table.

“Elliot!” the real Eyes from the table exclaimed suddenly, rising. “Glad you could make it!”

The man known as Elliot gave a shaky smile as he reached out for the real Eyes’s outstretched hand. “I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

Sin, Chapter 8

Eyes swore he screamed when he saw the man jump.

And then, just like that, the world swirled around him and he found himself back in the dark and silent void, in that empty horrible darkness again.

He spun around and saw out of the corner of his eye, a light hanging just above him — it was Sin.

He quickly averted his gaze, still not daring to look directly into that light. He grit his teeth in anger and confusion. Then he asked quietly — Why did you show me that?

I show you what you need to see, replied Sin. But do not worry for Elliot. You will see him again. He is a man with many second chances, not unlike yourself.

Eyes turned away from Sin, his back to the light and looked up, breathing in the air in the darkness.

Fine, he said finally, huffing out a tired breath. What now?

Sin was silent for a moment and then — I sense your dissatisfaction. But do not concern yourself with understanding everything. This is only the beginning.

I know, he replied. He gritted his teeth and asked with as much patience as he could muster — But what now?

Now it is time to meet Elliot’s friend, replied Sin. And I believe this time, he will be of some interest to you.

Who is he? Another bridge-jumper? Eyes asked sarcastically.

No, Sin answered. He is the one whose name I cannot reveal. He is you.

Eyes looked sharply at Sin out of the corner of his eye, his breath quickening. Even as he looked, a second source of light appeared next to Sin, swirling and growing larger with each second — the portal.

Come when you are ready, Sin said. Then Sin disappeared into the light, leaving Eyes all alone.

He turned around then, pausing to look at the portal, unsure.

You would be wise to go, said a voice suddenly.

Eyes jumped. It was the second voice, the one he had heard when he had first woken up. The one who was Not Sin. The loud voice seemed to echo from everywhere.

Who are you? he shouted into the void.

Who are youuu? the voice whispered liltingly.

I am no one. I am only … Eyes, he said, ashamed. That is the only name I have.

Eyes heard the voice give a short laugh before it said — A false name. But a fitting one, I suppose. Very well. Since you have given me your name, I will give you mine.

There was a small pause before the voice said — I am Temptation. Some think they know me as Reality and others still think to know me as Truth. But I am who I am. And I am Temptation.

Eyes did not feel fear upon hearing the names. He thought he would have felt something — fear being the likeliest candidate. But no, he did not.

Thank you, he said before turning around towards the portal. Temptation had nothing he could want. All he wanted was to go home and Sin was the only way.

He thought he heard a rumbling laughter full of delight in the dark background before he entered the portal.

But that was all he heard.

He did not want to hear anything else.

Sin, Chapter 7

Sin stared back at Eyes, not in the least concerned.

Come, said Sin. It is time to leave.

Sin turned around and headed back the way they had come, not looking to see if Eyes was following.

Eyes glared at Sin’s retreating back. And why should I follow you anymore! he yelled at Sin.

Sin did not reply as he floated away. He merely raised a hand and immediately Eyes felt something grip his body and pull him after Sin. He yelped in shock and frantically turned his eyes back towards the hospital bedroom for one last glimpse of his parents.

His eyes were not quick enough and the room disappeared behind him as Sin pulled him back to the waiting place where they had first arrived. Eyes noticed the young boy was no longer there.

He gritted his teeth as he came face to face with Sin again. The pale man smiled sadly and said — I truly am sorry, Eyes. But we have much to do. — Sin paused momentarily before — It is time for you to meet a friend.

Eyes huffed at Sin, still stuck in Sin’s grip, vaguely wondering if Sin was talking about that other presence. The second voice he had heard in the darkness when Sin had left him alone. The one who who is not Sin.

But Eyes said nothing about that. He almost didn’t care any more. And even though he knew he had no choice, he still dared a — And why should I follow you?

Sin answered with that same stupid word again — Redemption.

Eyes rolled his eyes and shook his head. I still don’t understand, he murmured to himself.

But Sin seemed to hear him — You will.

Then a small ghostly light appeared in front of them both, swirling and distorting the reality around it as it grew larger and larger. None of the couple dozen or so people in the waiting room noticed it. They carried on with their lives.

But Eyes knew what it meant.

Sin floated through the portal and pulled Eyes through with him. Eyes almost screamed as the portal swallowed him but he felt no pain, no sensation as he went through. It felt exactly the same as the first time he had used it.

They walked out into a cold night. Sin was no longer holding him. As Eyes slowly adjusted to his new surroundings, he immediately realised it was a bridge.

It was huge metal bridge that rose high above him and spread out to his left and right like a metal serpent of a beast. Its girders and beams groaned in the night. And as Eyes looked around, he noticed that it was mostly empty. He saw no cars or people crossing the road, only plastic bags and empty cans that littered the street, flying in the wind.

Why am I here? he asked Sin suddenly.

He could barely hear himself speak. The sound of the river beneath them roared like a beast even greater than that of the bridge.

Sin said nothing, only turning to focus his gaze to one side of the bridge. Eyes turned to look where Sin looked and his breath caught in his throat. There was a man standing on the edge, his back towards them.

His name is Elliot, said Sin.

Eyes was too shocked to reply. They watched as Elliot braced himself against a pole and bent his knees, tensing.

Eyes began to run towards the man, to try and stop what he was about to do. Somewhere in the back of his mind, a rational voice whispered that he would never reach Elliot before he dived into the furious waters.

The voice was right.

Elliot jumped.

Sin, Chapter 6

Eyes followed Sin as it — he? — floated through a pair of big hospital doors and into a brightly lit space filled with colorful cartoon paintings on the walls and another semi-circle counter in the corner, where another two nurses sat. The chairs around the room were mostly empty — only two men sat in them, both with worried faces.

Sin ignored them and went straight through to another corridor with many rooms lining the length of it. These were decorated with colorful cartoons and many posters about baby health.

Here, Sin said, stopping just outside one of the rooms.

Even from outside, Eyes could hear the sounds of a baby laughing and the sounds of its parents’ gentle cooing.

Who’s in there? he asked.

You are, replied Sin, his expression unchanging.

Hesitant now, Eyes slowly moved towards the door and looked inside to see precisely what he had expected to see.

The room had blue walls and one bed. The hospital curtain around the bed was pushed aside, revealing a blond woman in hospital scrubs who held the laughing child in swaddling cloths. Her husband sat beside her.

“Who’s a cute little baby?” cooed the dark-haired and mustachioed man who leaned over his wife, staring at the baby in her arms. “You are, yes yes, you are.”

The woman giggled and smiled at her husband. They shared a joyful look and a kiss before turning their eyes back to the baby. The baby bounced in the lady’s arms.

Eyes couldn’t help himself. He smiled wanly. He turned to Sin, his expression becoming angry and coolly asked — Are those my parents?

Yes, Sin replied.

I don’t remember them, said Eyes, his voice cold. I don’t remember anything about them. You did that.

He spun around and jabbed a finger in Sin’s chest. Surprisingly, his finger hit something solid.

He glared at the pale man.

You did this to me, Sin. YOU.

Sin said nothing, only choosing to turn his empty gaze from Eyes back to the couple in the room.

“We still haven’t named him,” said the lady suddenly.

Eyes turned around then.

His name.

The man looked at the baby and smiled. “I know exactly what to name him.” He picked up the laughing child and stood up, cradling the baby in his muscular arms. He glanced back at his wife who smiled back at him.

“You, my son,” the man touched the baby’s nose, “will be called …”

Eyes did not hear the name. When the name was spoken, there was only a silence that hung in the air like a ghost, blotting out the whole world.

He stood there, confused.

The solid silence melted away a few seconds later when the lady said, “I really like that name.” She reached out with loving arms for her child. When it was back in her arms, she said, “My beautiful baby …”

That same heavy silence when the name was spoken again, like all the sound in the world had been drowned in the deepest depths of the sea, where there was no light, no escape.

The silence was broken when the baby gurgled its laughter again.

Eyes turned back on Sin. What was that? he demanded. Why couldn’t I hear what they said? Why couldn’t I hear my name?

Sin was expressionless as he replied — I’ve told you this before. There is much power in a name. Yours especially. You cannot have it yet.

And all Eyes could do was stare in disbelief at the creature that had taken everything from him.