Peter and Michelle, having heard the breaking of the glass on the front door to the restaurant, shuffled over to the back door leading out to an alley. They heard the shuffling of feet entering the restaurant; the footsteps grew louder as they, presumably carriers, were approaching the back.
“They’re gonna find us in here soon enough,” Peter whispered, then listened at the door. “I hear nothing out there. Let’s sneak out before they turn on the light in here.” They went out the door.
In the alley, they hid between stacks of crates and garbage bags to the right of that door. They heard it open, a pause, then closing the door.
“What do we do now?” Michelle asked.
“We don’t wanna go in the direction of that door,” he whispered in her ear. “Any of them could be out there waiting for us. We should go in the opposite direction.”
“One of us should go first,” she whispered in his ear. “Then, if the coast is clear, we’ll go out together.”
“OK, I’ll go.”
“Stop being so gallant. I’m smaller than you, so I should go. I can hide more easily than you.”
“OK, but don’t take long. I don’t like you going out there alone.”
“I’ll be super-fast. Don’t worry.” She kissed him on the lips, then went.
Shaking with worry, he peeked past the crates and garbage bags to see what was out there, but it was mostly darkness.
Thirty seconds of agonizing waiting passed.
I thought you were going to be super-fast, Michelle, he thought.
Finally, she came back.
He got up from his crouching position to see her better. “So?” he whispered. “Can we go? Is it OK?”
“Yes, it’s OK,” she said with a wide grin on her face. “Everything is just fine.”
“C’mon, Michelle. Don’t joke around. We don’t have to–“
“Join us, Peter.” She was still grinning. “It’s for the best.”
“Oh, no!” His heart sank with his lower jaw. “Please, God, no! Not you, too, Michelle.” He was choking up.
“Peter, just accept the new way. The Bolshivarians’ work is almost done. Just a few more months, and all the vestiges of our old, sick world will be annihilated.”
“With our souls,” He began weeping.
“No, Peter! As soon as the Bolshivarians are finished, they’ll free us and leave the Earth. I promise you.”
He just kept crying. “I love you.” He held the can of bug spray in his hands, but couldn’t bear to use it on her, for fear of even hurting her with it.
“I love you, too. And everything will be OK. Trust us. The souls of our parents are telling me, right now in my head, that all will be well.”
He looked at her and frowned. “Didn’t you tell me during our meal in there, that when I sprayed the lights coming from Sid’s hands, that our parents’ souls were destroyed, never to come back?”
“That was a white lie they told me, I must confess.”
“You Bolshivarians are all liars, like the ruling class here on Earth. You’re no better than they are.”
“The ruling class here is almost all obliterated. We had to lie about your parents. It was a desperate attempt to stop you from killing more Bolshivarians.” The lights were coming out of her fingers and were hovering before him.
“I remember when we lost our fear of these things.”
“I don’t fear them now, Peter.”
“They’ve taken your will, Michelle; but I know, deep down, you’re still in there, and I don’t wanna lose you.”
“You won’t lose me, Peter. They’ve reaffirmed my faith in them. Don’t be afraid.”
Peter, let them in, the voice of his father said in his head.
We’ll all be together again, his mother’s voice said.
As Don and I are with Michelle, Siobhan’s voice said.
“I can’t bear to lose you,” Peter said in sobs.
“You haven’t, and you won’t,” Michelle said, still with that grin that told him those words weren’t her own.
“Well, being a Bolshivarian slave with you is better than not having you at all.” He stretched out his arms to receive the lights in his body. “I guess this is my suicide.”
“Oh, nonsense,” she said with a laugh as the lights went inside him.