Projection

They don’t dream on Derse, though sometimes they sleep, or at least close their eyes and block out the world for a time. Derse has been gone for centuries now, as far as he can measure. Here, in the dust of this dead planet, he dreams, or something close to it.

He closes his eyes. Sometimes it’s her, the one he hates, dead and bleeding and satifying. Sometimes it’s a girl he doesn’t know, a girl he wants dead but can’t kill. Sometimes she is dead, too, and it is unsatisfying. This time, though, it is the boy.

He never wanted to help the boy, not really. It had been tactically advantageous. He holds out his hand. It is advantageous now to kill him, though he does not know why he thinks that, in the dream. The boy holds out his hand, too. He doesn’t know he’s going to die. “Jack,” the boy says. It is a name he has not heard for centuries, a name he only hears when his eyes are closed.

This dream always stops here, and Spades opens his eyes. There is a pang, a stirring, something he doesn’t understand. He never wanted to help the boy, he tells himself, not really. He looks at his palm, and the long thin scar, almost faded now. He wonders if he really moves his hand, at that final moment, or if he adds that after he opens his eyes.

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