The Eighth Sin

From the Story Arc: The Fading Flame: Meanwhile

Previous Story in the Arc: One Is The Loneliest Number by Victoria Victrix (Friday, May 11, 2007)

Next Story in the Arc: Necessary Measures by Petrograd (Thursday, May 31, 2007)

(posted Wednesday, May 23, 2007)

Wearily Belladonna Aura took off the helmet of her Berkut suit and stared at her reflection in the mirror. Sunken, haunted eyes stared back at her. She hadn’t been sleeping at all well. The emptiness of the Murdock apartment echoed in her mind; the warm presences that should have been there and weren’t—she clutched the sink and hung her head.

Despair. John had fallen into it, given up, and not friendship, not the love his friends had for him, not duty and not responsibility could bring him out. Bella remembered something she had heard once, from one of the few preachers she had ever respected, that despair was the eighth deadly sin, the one that kept you in hell, kept you from finding redemption and hope, made you give up on everything good.

Hell is the place of ultimate despair. Despair is the chief weapon of the Fallen. The more hearts they can darken with despair, they closer they bring the moment when they can bring another world under their shadow.

Had Sera said that? She couldn’t remember….

She bowed her head, and slow, fat tears dripped into the sink, like raindrops, the plink…plink… echoing in the tiny tiled room.

She was not surprised that no one seemed to miss Sera and the kids anymore. She remembered how it had been when Zach…a few days, weeks, and then it was as if the collective memory of those she knew had erased him. It was hard to blame them. All living things instinctively winced away from pain, tried to wall it off.

"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

She wanted to howl with grief, to smash the helmet into the mirror, to fall to the floor, sobbing. She did none of these things. She was a Commissar. She jammed on the helmet and went back to work.