Artwork by Nici Bueckert 2013
Click here to read the story in order Sinner Series
Sinner’s head felt like someone had stuffed it with wool. Dazed, He looked at the blackened orb in his hand. It looked as though it had been burned from the inside out, tiny fissures spider-webbed across its surface. When he curled his fingers over the orb, it crumbled like dried mud in his hand.
“What are you doing?” Kara asked again. She had apparently recovered from her shock; a deep frown furrowed her face.
Kara’s voice seemed closer this time. Sinner shook the remnants of the orb from his hand. Slowly, the fog cleared from his mind. Why was she so upset? “It’s nothing to worry about. I have it…”
“Under control?” Kara interrupted. “Do you have any idea what you are dealing with? Any idea at all?”
He did have an idea. At least, he did now. Sinner raised his hands in a placating gesture. “I’m sorry. I should have told you that I was having a hard time keeping up. When I discovered what the orbs could do, it seemed to help. I felt good…stronger. At least, at first…”
“At first?” She asked incredulously. “How long have you been using them?”
“Since we left the Oasis,” he said.
She looked worried. “How many times?”
“I don’t know. A few. Maybe four or five.”
“You have to stop, Sinner. I know they seem good at first, but trust me, they are evil. They will destroy you if you keep using them.”
Sinner didn’t like the edge that had suddenly crept into her voice. “How do you know?” he asked, trying to keep the rising irritation from his own voice.
“I…I don’t want to talk about it.”
“What! You nearly tear my head off for using them, tell me how bad they are, and then refuse to tell me how you know so much about them? Please, Kara, make some sense!”
“Sense! You want ME to make sense!” She threw up her hands in exasperation. “If YOU had any sense, you would throw those things away and never use them again!” She looked at him accusingly before continuing. “Where did you get them?”
“If you must know…I found them on your uncle’s body!” Sinner blurted out. The last thing he wanted to do was hurt Kara, but the words just spilled out like water.
By the way Kara’s face paled, he may as well have just plunged a dagger into her heart. Sinner knew he had gone too far. He hated himself, but couldn’t stop. He twisted the dagger. “He was clutching the pouch in his hand when I found him.”
Kara’s bottom lip quivered. Tears spilled onto her cheeks as she turned and fled into the trees.
Sinner, filled with self loathing, sat there for a long time; till he noticed his feet had turned numb from the cold stream. He pulled them from the water, pulling his stockings and boots back on. Dark thoughts tumbled through his mind. Thoughts he would never have considered before the orbs had come into his life. He cursed the day that he had taken them from the dead man’s body.
Disgusted, he untied the bag from his belt and almost tossed it into the stream. Almost. He couldn’t do it. He let out a long sigh. He was tied to the bag of orbs every bit as much as they had been tied to his belt for the past several weeks. The orbs promised relief and help from his troubles, and they did deliver; at least, for a little while. But they also exacted a price. Sinner shuddered when he thought about how he had nearly taken a breath of the water, how frantic he had been to escape the depths to which the orb had taken him.
With each use, the orb had pulled him deeper. In fact, it had required him to dive deeper each time in order to experience the same level of satisfaction. Only this last time had the experience turned disastrous. He was sure, now, that the orbs were designed for evil. They lured you in with promises of good things: pleasure, reprieve, strength. Then, when you were most vulnerable, when what had started out as pleasurable diversion had turned into an all consuming need…then the orbs struck like a serpent seeking to drag another victim to the bottomless pit.
He broke into a sweat as he imagined what could have happened to him had he not resisted the orb’s pull into the abyss. Then again, he had only resisted because of the terror that had gripped him just as he had considered breathing the water. Why had the sudden fear overtaken him? What if the fear had been a mercy of the Light? Perhaps the Light had not yet deserted him to the Shadow. Perhaps there was hope for him yet.
Suddenly, he wanted desperately to throw the orbs away, but the pouch shook in his grasp; he clung so tightly. Why was it so hard? How could something so obviously evil create within him such strong desire… and loathing?
Maybe he could control it, not dive so deep next time.
Oh Light! Next time! He was already using the orbs again in his mind. Dangerous.
He was aware of the danger now, though. Maybe he wouldn’t succumb to the lure of the depths.
Sinner screamed his frustration into the surrounding forest as his mind was ripped back and forth.
After an agonizing struggle that wrung him out like a rag, Sinner slumped forward, spent. He had decided. His damp tunic clung to his flesh. His hands trembled as he loosened the drawstrings of the pouch. Slowly, the first orb rolled out…and plopped into the stream. Sinner upended the pouch and emptied the rest of its contents into the water. Lastly, he dropped the pouch as well. He watched it float away on the current until it was out of sight. Empty. So empty.
To be continued…
©Peter Wiebe 2013