Half Lost (The Half Bad Trilogy #3) - Sally Green
One and the same human being is, at various ages, under various circumstances, a totally different human being. At times he is close to being a devil, at times to sainthood. But his name doesn’t change, and to that name we ascribe the whole lot, good and evil.
The Gulag Archipelago, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Translated by Thomas P. Whitney
Wounded, Not Lost
“We should agree on some passwords.”
“Because one day you’re going to go off on one of your trips and get killed, and then one of the Hunters with the Gift of disguise will pretend to be you, come back here to camp and kill me.”
“More likely they’d find the camp, kill you, and wait for me to come innocently whistling home.”
“That is also a possibility, though I can’t imagine the whistling element.”
“So, what’s the password?”
“Not just one word but a phrase. I say a certain thing and you answer in the right way.”
“Oh, right. So I say ‘I’m whistling because I’ve killed ten Hunters’ and you reply ‘But I’d rather be climbing the Eiger.’”
“I was thinking of a question I might really ask.”
“You’ve been away a long time. Were you lost?”
“And what’s my answer?”
“I was wounded, not lost.”
“I don’t think I’d ever say that.”
“Still . . . You want to practice? Make sure you get it right?”
In the year that my father turned twenty-eight he killed thirty-two people. Celia used to make me learn facts about Marcus. That’s one of them. It was the most he killed in any one year before the war between Soul’s Council and the Alliance of Free Witches. I used to think that thirty-two was a lot.
In the year Marcus turned seventeen, the year of his Giving, he killed just four people. I’m still only seventeen. Before the Battle of Bialowieza—the day my father died, the day almost half of the Alliance died, the day now referred to as “BB” by anyone who dares refer to it at all—anyway, before that day I’d killed twenty-three people.
BB was months ago and now I’ve passed fifty kills.
I’ve killed fifty-two people to be precise.
It’s important to be precise about these things. I don’t include Pilot—she was dying anyway—and Sameen isn’t in the count. What I did for her was a mercy. The Hunters killed Sameen. Shot her in the back as we fled from the battle. And Marcus? I definitely don’t include him in the fifty-two. I didn’t kill him. She killed him.
Her name makes me want to spew. Everything about her makes me want to spew: her blonde hair, her blue eyes, her golden skin. Everything about her is disgusting, false. She said she loved me. And I said I loved her but I meant it. I did love her. What a stupid idiot! Falling for her, an O’Brien. She said I was her hero, her prince and, like the dumb, thick mug that I am, I wanted to believe her. I did believe her.
And now all I want is to kill her. To cut her open and rip screams out of her. But even that isn’t enough; that won’t come close to it. I’d have to make her know how hard it is to do what I did. I’d have to make her cut off her own hand and eat it, or cut out her own eyes and eat them, and still that’d be easier than what I did.
I’ve killed fifty-two people. But really all I want is to get my hands on her. I’d be happy with fifty-three. Just one more and I’ll be satisfied.
But I’ve scoured every inch of the battlefield and the old camp. I’ve killed all the Hunters I’ve come across—some who were clearing up the mess after the battle, some who I’ve tracked since. But I’ve not seen her. Not a sign! Days and weeks following every track, every trail, every hint of a footprint and nothing leads me to her.
I look up at the sound and listen. It’s silent.
The noise was me, I think, talking to myself again.
Annalise! She does this to me.
“Well, fuck her.” I lift my head to look around me and shout at the treetops. “Fuck her!”
And then quietly to the stones I say, “I just want her dead. Obliterated. I want her soul to stop existing. I want her gone from this world. Forever. That’s all. Then I’ll stop.”
I pick up a little stone and tell it, “Or maybe not. Maybe not.”
Marcus wanted me to kill them all. Maybe I can do that. I think he knew