THE PARISH – CHAPTER TEN

January 6, 0100

The Parish

Dust spirals through the hazy light.
A single light bulb dangles from the scarred, steel ceiling.
The face of my interrogator is shadowed. Deep eyes, slim mouth and a shallow complexion under the anti-Christ symbol. He has five straight lines inked horizontally across his cheek.

“What’s your name?” He barks, his deep voice echoing in the cavernous space. “Hitha.”
My hair feels heavy and greasy against my neck. Blood creeps down my palms from my wrists, where the handcuffs grated them.
“Full name.” He clarifies. It takes me a moment to remember. “Hitha Annora Saskia.” I say in a weary voice.

“Age?” He inquires.
“Sixteen.”
“Occupation in the Parish. Before you became a criminal, at least.”
“How can you tell?” I implore, leaning gloomily against the steel chair.
“Standard Parish execution uniform.”
I look down at myself, patches of bloody, bruised skin are exposed through splits in the muck spattered fabric.
“And we have your two military buddies in our custody. They sold you out.” He grins, his teeth shimmering.

My fists clench. Enoch and Oscar, here.
“Answer the question.” He commands.
I close my eyes and loll my head against my shoulder. “I’m from slum sector 9, the Congregation. I dropped out of school in lesson 94, 6 lessons from graduation, because my family was starving and it was too expensive.” My voice is low and exhausted. “I was always in and out of low-statues jobs. No one wants an uneducated girl.”

“What was your grade average?” He inquires, leaning forwards in his chair, exposing his face. His dark eyes are persuasive and his smile luring.
“90%. Top of the class. In my last forty lessons I specialized in combative engineering.” I lean forward and slant my head lazily.
“Impressive,” He remarks. “And you couldn’t get a scholarship?” He asks.

“See, this is the worst part; I was a six lessons from my graduation. I had a full scholarship for the top military university after graduation.” I explain, as he scrutinizes me.
“Damn, that must’ve been hard.” He whistles.

“Sometimes we have to make hard decisions.”

He nods.

“What is the point of this?” I demand.
“To get to know you.” He smiles, and there’s something not quite right about it.
I feel stupid for letting him slither past my guard. It makes sense why the Atheists sent him to interrogate me. He made me want to tell him my secrets.
“Why?” I ask, my toes curling nervously.

“Do you want to go back? To your old life in the Parish? Where you were unappreciated? Where your talents would go to waste?” He doesn’t give me time to answer. “Here. Here we can utilize your gifts, you can fight for what’s right.”
I blink, stunned by the sudden outburst.
“The Parish is my home.” I protest in a startled gasp.

“Have you ever heard of the French Revolution?” He asks.
I shake my head.
“France was under the rule of Louis 16th. His wife, Marie Antoinette was one the most hated queens of France. They were married at 14 and crowned King and Queen at 20. They lived in a beautiful palace called Versailles. Marie was gluttonous, while the country was starving. Louis was not made to be king; he was indecisive and the decisions he did make were usually poor.
The country was divided into 3 estates. The King was above the whole affair – he would be considered the Parish Priest. Beneath him was the Clergy – the Curates. The Nobility – the wealthy 2% of the Parish. And then the poor – the rest of the population.
The people revolted. It was inevitable, with a corrupt system like that.
History, my dear, always repeats itself.”

I stare at him. I have nothing else to do.
“The Parish Priest is dead. He was killed by a Skin Eater during your Execution. The Parish is in anarchy; there’s fighting in the streets and the successor to the throne isn’t able to control the people. The people are chanting your name. He died because of you. And now they’re looking to you. They have no one else to look to.”

EMMA IRVINE

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