Breed Book 3, Part 55

“Fessuns,” Garrity said, wrapping his belt around his wrist and tightening it with his teeth to control the bleeding. “Always figured it would be one of you that finally punched my ticket. Though I’d have loved to be wrong.”

“Shut up,” Anita said, holding her head, “I don’t care.”

“Are you okay?” he asked. “Aside from the obvious instability that would lead you to break in here and maim me.”

She pointed her blade into his stomach, enough that he could feel the edge through his shirt but not quite enough to break the skin. “I’m trying to decide whether to stab you to death.”

“I’d much prefer a gun, if you’re asking for input.”

“I wasn’t. And if I were, I’d probably be looking for what you want the least.” She closed her eyes, clearly struggling. “I wasn’t prepared, to see you again. Even seeing your picture- it put me back there. I practically ran through your facility; I couldn’t begin to tell you if I killed anyone on the way. No- I did, but I couldn’t tell you if that happened in this draft or another one. But I can’t remember the last time I had a clearer purpose; I wanted you dead so badly it was primal, animal.”

“Then why am I slowly bleeding out, or is that the answer? Because this,” he grimaced as he raised his partially severed limb, “hurts, certainly, but we both know you could do so much worse. If you wanted. But that’s always been your problem, Fessuns- you didn’t. Even when you were trying for a Section 8, not that we can folks just for being crazy up here- we’re too civilized for that. But your heart’s never been in it, not even when your life was on the line. So if you’re trying to make me piss in my pampers you should have let Mai do the dirty work. She at least knows when to let her inmates run her asylum.”

“You’re trying to goad me,” Anita said. “Which is frustrating primarily because it exposes how easily manipulated you believe me to be. If I hadn’t already taken your hand- I told you not to go for that gun- I’d have to cut something else off to prove the point. But to answer the question at the heart of your manipulation, you’re alive because I am both seeing too many alternate realities and not enough depth. Killing you will either cause a genocide or prevent one- and as much as I deeply want you dead, that’s a hell of a margin for error.”

“Ah, so it isn’t poser Hannibal Lecter Anita, it’s indecisive Anita. Probably my least favorite, if I can be candid.”

“Maybe- and I’m just spitballing here because it feels like an erupting Mount Saint Helens is crowning through my forehead as we speak- but perhaps rather than set your dial to maximal dick, you could try telling me why I shouldn’t risk a genocide to murder you- because even with genocide as a possible unintended consequence it is delicious watching that blade slide in and out of your flesh. Almost pornographic, flipping between the drafts, where tiny variations in timing make the stabbing a few seconds sooner or later, it looks like it’s sliding in and out of you repeatedly.”

“I’m not going to beg,” he said proudly. “We did what we thought we had to. For all we knew the Russian experiments on weaponizing Breed were going to bear fruit, and people like you were the next nuclear bomb. I wished that weren’t true; every day I asked whatever god was listening to take that burden away from us. He wasn’t listening; I imagine you’re familiar enough with that. But we all of us did what duty and country demanded. Except some of us stuck it out. Worked the program- reformed from within. Not that I was always the reforming type; took me a while to understand the error of my ways. But this ain’t the facility you knew; here we deal with troubled kids, and trying to get them on a path to a normal life. I’m not so much in charge of the place as entombed here; I know where the bodies are buried, and have the right kind of background and clearances to keep a lid on what happened.”

“I don’t believe you…”

“Why would you? I was the program, as far as you and the other agents were concerned. I was your tormentor. But things change. People, too. Who was it, you thought let you slip the chain in Argentina? Did you think we couldn’t track you down? Or your friend out there, when she went missing in Afghanistan. You think we couldn’t have tracked either of you to the ends of the Earth? Hell, you think we didn’t? But with the both of you getting loose so close together, and the body counts you left in your wake- it helped me convince everybody else we’d been playing with old dynamite, gave me the leverage I needed to shutter the program.” He exhaled, and kicked out his foot, before piercing her with his eyes.

“I don’t blame you, understand? I’ve seen more war than any man ought to; done things that even I, at my most detached, was horrified by. I don’t think you get to live a life as bloody as mine, and die intact of old age.”

“Nothing to worry about there,” Anita said, anger still roiling in her voice, “since you’re no longer intact.”

He held up his stub. “I’m flipping you off, you just can’t tell.” “I might be the only one who could,” she said. “It wasn’t a clean slice in all of the drafts; in some of them the hand’s still hanging on by a tendon or two.”

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