Generic language warning. Yay!

Written by Pseudinymous

-+Chapter 6+-

"Oh God... oh God! What the fuck is that?" the flame-haired telepath cried, being dragged along by his police officer. "NO! Don't take me closer!"

He had no choice in the matter. Wordlessly, the officer continued to take him in whatever direction yielded the most discomfort, and in retrospect the telepath realised that he probably shouldn't have announced it. As the racket came nearer and unendurable, he began contemplating whether a whipping would be more bearable; almost unconsciously, he was struggling and trying to free himself like never before, shackles or not. He didn't care how, he just had to get away.

The world blurred, underneath fear and panic and distress. Cognitive thought began to break down, and the telepath was left to scream hysterically, his eyes closed tightly shut. Vaguely, he felt another officer run to secure him. There was some yelling going on in the world around him - which was probably caused by his reaction, no doubt - but he couldn't care less about that.

The only thing he could think of doing was running over the hills and into the sunset.

Rather a lot of screaming and commotion was going on outside, Joyce noticed, as she tried desperately to calm the panicking man down. Upon looking out the window, she knew why; it was the same reaction that Riley had had. To scream and cry and run like the wind. It didn't matter how, but they had to get away...

Unfortunately, the police had used this to very effectively locate their exact position, and it wasn't helping that it seemed now even the police could detect Jackson's anguish.

"We have to get out of here!" she urged. "Come on! Please! They know where we are!"

Momentarily, Jackson managed to get a hold of himself. This was evident not only through a couple of thought processes that appeared to indicate the formation of a plan to run out the back door, but the sudden dampening of the screaming going on outside. Now was the time to run.

"Follow." Jackson said quietly, under his breath. His thoughts were being suppressed once more, although as usual the odd one here and there escaped, usually no more than a few words at a time.

The pair made a break from the house, then climbed over the back fence. By this time, some of the officers had already wrenched open the locked front door, but they nonetheless hoped they were getting away. Jackson didn't care who heard him at the moment. If it was just normal people in their homes then it didn't matter. At least, not proportionally in such a situation.

Officers, on the other hand, were bad news. And they were still within range. They had to lost, somehow, but Jackson could see no alternative; furthermore, all of this desperate searching for a way out was only making him think more, which in any case was additional bad news.

They couldn't run forever...

"I couldn't even see his face properly, when he hurt me..."

Riley was lying in a crumpled heap on the cold, stone floor, his suit reduced to barely wearable tatters. He looked up at the white-haired woman he had seen before, although he refused to move anything other than his neck. Everything else was far too sore.

She was an unusual woman, Riley thought. Well, of course she was; she was a telepath. But her hair was so fair and her complexion so white. Deep red eyes, too... it was actually kind of pretty, in some bizarre way.

"I'm an albino..." she said quietly. Suddenly, Riley remembered that his thoughts weren't exactly private, and tried to focus a little more on talking rather than thinking.

"I was wondering..." he tried to reply conversationally, although it backfired when it dislodged some of the blood residing in his throat, which proceeded to dribble down his chin. 'Actually, perhaps I won't speak.'

'That's okay...' she paused, then paid particular attention to his face. 'You're nose was like that when you came in. Did the police do that to you?'

'I tried to escape. He tackled me and smashed my face into the ground.'

The woman moved out of the corner she'd been huddled into, although not without signs of some severe pain, centred around her ribs. Carefully, she sat down beside Riley and shifted some of his hair from his face - although her hand was unsteady and accidentally poked him in his (thankfully closed) eye. He tried not to make any sort of mental comment on this.

'I'm sorry.' she said quickly, seeming to realise what she had done. 'I can't see very well... I dropped my glasses when they dragged me here, and they wouldn't let me pick them up.'

Riley mentally frowned. Not even for a pair of glasses? Something so simple? But he didn't have anything to add on the subject. Already, the woman's mind had diverted itself to his wrecked body. This was the first time he had not actively been communicating with a telepath, and it was a lot more difficult than he ever imagined. Reading others' thoughts when neither party intended for anything to be disclosed could not be called an ice-breaker, by any stretch of the truth.

As for the torture... Riley remembered none of it. He knew it had occurred - his physical injuries indicated that much - but there wasn't a mental trace of what had actually taken place. He could only make guesses based on the location of the wounds and the woman's fleeting spurts of fear as she recalled some of the horrors she'd been put through. There must have been a whip, perhaps even a hot iron... but he had no burns, so maybe not...

The woman shuddered, and for the first time Riley recognised a long, thin burn mark on her face. He may not have been subjected to that, but she certainly had.

'Do you know why you can't remember?' She asked, in a way that suggested she wanted a topic change very quickly. 'Did he do something to stop you from remembering?'

'I don't know. Maybe my mind tried to protect me by blocking it all out... if that's even possible.'

'... Regardless of possibility, I wish my mind did that...'

The church bells to indicate the end of the shift interrupted their conversation, and after a minute or two the captives were unceremoniously marched in by their respective officers. None of the prisoners were new - all of them had shackles - and it began to sound, at least to Riley, as though there were a large crowd despite that no one was speaking. Everything got mixed up together and thus none of it was easy to decipher.

The prisoners were unshackled and thrown into the two large but quickly overcrowding cells. Riley couldn't move without pain, but at least the others understood this and tried not to fall on top of him when they were tossed inside.

When the cell doors were locked behind them, the fit wasn't tight but it certainly wasn't comfortable. Riley was probably taking up more space than he deserved to by lying on the floor, but the other prisoners seemed to recognise these sorts of injuries and said not a thing about it. Every so often, he would detect a thought of sympathy, hopelessly muddled by all the other thoughts around him. In his own house, where it was only he and the maids, he could differentiate with ease. But here, there were far too many people and they were all far too close together.

"I want to go to the world outside this state." the albino said, atop the mental noise. "The one the papers describe... that beautiful place, where people aren't tortured and nobody lives in fear."

"I... don't trust that view." Riley rasped. His throat was hoarse; if he'd been screaming, then he'd sure done a lot of it. "The newspapers lie; everyone knows that. And yet everyone believes them when they say there's some distant utopia over the horizon... I think the world is wrecked. I think there is nothing out there, nothing to stop this, it's just something to keep the hope alive and the fear nice and thick."

"But what purpose does that have?"

"I think he likes to play with people, and watch as the hope is dashed away before their eyes."

The woman frowned. "Yes, I guess he does..."

One of the other prisoners, having been apparently listening to the conversation, corrected her: "Yes, of course he does."

The crunch was horrendously loud, or, so it seemed to Joyce, whose ankle the crunch belonged to.

Jackson knew what had happened - they'd caught her. But did he stop? No, of course not. Her capture had only reaffirmed his terror, and the adrenaline commanded him to continue running. No, there was going to be no stopping here! If she'd gotten herself caught, well, that was her problem. They'd do worse things to him than they would to her...

... He hypothesised, anyway.

Leaving her behind was an awful thing to do, he realised, even though she was yelling behind him to continue sprinting. There were still officers after him, and the vague hope that he could still get away was well alive; even if muddled with the sea of despair in his stomach.

Up ahead, he could see a mansion. Perhaps he could get into the grounds behind the house, and confuse them by jumping over one of the fences before they could see? If he could just get far enough away then surely they wouldn't be able to hear his thoughts anymore, surely. Under this much stress he could no longer silence them, so there were no easier options.

"Aren't you... going to come back... and help your friend?" the officer chasing him yelled, between gasping for breath. "Coward...!"

'At least I'm not as cowardly as you!' Jackson snarled back, or the mental equivalent. Something in the back of his mind told him that insulting the officers was going to be the least of his worries if he was caught, so he continued. 'Serving that tyrant for protection! It's pathetic! You'd be jailed like the rest of the people caught if you didn't have that stupid hat!'

"You know nothing! ...NOTHING!"

Jackson ignored it. The gate was coming up and he estimated his aching muscles would be able to take the jump relatively smoothly. Relative being the operative, as he rolled his ankle on the way down.

As much as he hated the saying 'no pain, no gain', now was the time to put it into practice. Every step for the next fifty meters made him gasp and want to stop, but as always, instinct was stronger.

Jackson slipped around the side of the house and into the back courtyard, before picking his fence of choice and making the desperate struggle to climb over it with a crappy ankle. In the mean time, he forced himself to think 'I should be safe in this huge house.' over and over again, in some vague hope that it might distract those following him.

He was rather surprised that, after a few more fence jumps, there was no one following him. He jumped a few more, just to be safe, but indeed, there was no one around. He'd escaped!

He spent the rest of his day in the park close to the area, avoiding the few people that went through. Jackson refused to emerge until it as well into the night, even after the church bells had rung again and the police were beckoned back to the church. He knew he'd probably be safe, but the paranoia that the officers were still around was still consuming, and he didn't want to take chances.

A horrible thought passed his mind, however, during his period of hiding; that mansion had to be one of the largest buildings in the district, and he knew it employed quite a number of maids. Had this been the building that that maid woman worked at? Had the officers gone in there...?

He would have to go back and check. Well, he didn't have to, but now that the danger had passed, the fear was beginning to wane and it was, all in all, the right thing to do.

Upon arrival, he wished he hadn't checked. Laid out on the front lawn was one of the maids who worked in the house, having bled to death of a large knife wound through one of the major arteries in her neck. No one else was around. Jackson stood and stared at the woman, dumbstruck and horrified that this was probably partly his own fault.

He also thought the dead policeman lying next to her, eyes still wide open with an expression of the classic "deer in the headlights" persuasion, was probably his fault too. But that one was ultimately for the best.

Author's Note:
Don't you just love it when FictionPress's document system joins together every word written in Italics when you upload the story? Especially when part of the dialogue is written in thought? Yaaay.

Anyhow, lateness, yes. Will get around to answering everything soon - as usual, I've been terribly busy. Don't expect the next chapter until the end of this month, or even early next month, unfortunately. :( On the other hand, around the middle of November things should start to ease up again, which will be nice. :) Thanks for reading!