John walks through clumps of rushes in the
blue half-light of evening.
They're high as his waist, high as his head; his boots sink in the mud.
Ahead somewhere, the wind rustles green through the stalks, and below
that voices whisper. He follows that, the thread of unknown language,
until he rounds a bend in the river, and sees.
The boy lies stretched on the river bank: two arms there, a hand and foot here. There are women bending over him to put each limb in place, to smooth the skin together, torso to shoulder, thigh to knee. They look up, dark hair and dark eyes, like sisters; one is the woman he saw when he killed the boy, the woman whose life he wears in a vial around his neck. "He doesn't have a heart," she says. The other, as she rises, says, "We need to take yours." John steps back against the suck of the mud as they approach, knives of green leaf in their hand, eyes blind with Lethe-water. But the boy behind them stirs and moans, and they turn back, one to lay a palm on his brow, the other to add hand to arm, working the join like clay until it fades. They have already forgotten him.
John takes another step back, and the rushes close over the scene. The life in its vial bumps against his chest, reminds him of the debt he owes. When the hunt is over, then he'll pay.
All recognizable characters and elements are the property of their respective creators. I make no claim to ownership of or profit from previously copyrighted materials. Original elements are my own. Obviously, I have been readingfar too much Egyptian mythology recently.