It had been a quick walk to Nicholas' room, one where glances were cast by passers-by. Nobody questioned it. My mind ticked over each door, tracing a map in my mind if the chance came to escape. I doubt I would get one. Son had been left in the room, looking straight at me as I was shepherded through the door. And the last thing I had said to him 'some boys choose their father's son.' But this time I wasn't saying it as his name, and somehow, I felt he knew. I didn't get the chance to finish what I was saying, but I knew not what it would have been.

So now I stood here, with Nicholas before me, no other people in the room. How easy it would be to overcome this man. But we both knew I wouldn't.

He began with a sigh. "What is your real name?"


Another sigh. "We both know that is a lie."

"What does it matter?"

"Some things matter more than you think."

I thought to my name, the one that had been given over time, not at birth. The name had been deigned by the people who called themselves my parents. It had never been a secret that they weren't, always known that for some reason I had been passed over to them for the start. And for that, they had never felt it right to name me, so they called me the one thing that worked. "Son."

He was sighing again. "Don't play games with me."

"I'm not." And I wasn't.

"Son's not a name."

"He liked it." We both knew who I was referring to.

"Tell me your name."

"I already have." I had never wondered why I hadn't grown up with my parents, never cared to question why it was so.

Nicholas was pacing the room, as if considering. "Your names not important, not anymore."

I let my eyes stray, and saw the doors that Son had pointed out before. One. Three. Two. Each door signifying a part of his life.

"What will happen to Son?" I couldn't call him Nicholas, to me it was not his name.

"The boy? Oh." He said it in an offhand manner, as if it didn't matter. "He'll be returned to Backland, back to his mother. She can deal with him."

Here or there Son could not win. "And me?" But I don't know if I wanted to hear.

He chuckled, "ask before listening, an uncommon trait."

"I was never the same."

"Unfortunate truly. You'll be returned to Backland too. They have a way over there, to make people submit."

The unthinkable. The truth.

"Anyway, it's where we're all headed."

I lunged forward a step. "You can't do that." He was behind the desk. Even if I had caught him I don't know what I would've done.

"There's no one to stop us."

My voice didn't matter. I didn't notice the blow to my head.