Rating: PG-13

Disclaimer: Squaresoft owns Final Fantasy VIII and all its characters.

A/N: Shorter than what I usually write, but the idea's been camping in my mind for quite a while.  Good to get it out. 


"And so I step up, into the darkness within; or else the light." - Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid's Tale)

Cold…so cold…

It was a biting cold, a touch of frost; metal chafing against already bruised skin.  The chains slid against each other, a drawn out death rattle, prolonged further with every step.                    

She bound me to her…my fate to hers... 

Into the distance, a clear path stretched out, well trodden.  Ghostly footsteps echoed in time with his.  Imagination made them belong to anyone but his escort.  Reality told a different story.     

Others have walked down this road.  More will do so.

White floodlights formed a guard of honour, silent commiserators, and yet, so noticeably lacking in warmth.  A commercial runway for lost souls, inviting them to take flight.             

Bid farewell to your childhood. 

Nothing left but a broken husk of a man, shuffling, shackled, weighed down by more than just mere iron.  Innocence long lost, replaced by something tragic.   

I am not a boy. 

Here, the walls are whitewashed, clinical, sterile…pure.  There was always only one end in sight, a door at the very end of the corridor – a choice, but not yet.  First, he has to traverse the remainder of the distance, and with each step try to contain the mounting dread.  With no deviations to turn into, no secret passages to discover, he can only keep to the designated path.  The helplessness will soon set in.               

Such a confused little boy.

Denial and insanity collude to ensnare what's left of his mind, easing him back to a golden age of control, and whispering echoes of past promises – all deceitful lies.  Power and glory had since exacted their price.  Still, the death knell continues to toll, a silent keening.    

You want help, don't you?  You want to be saved from this predicament.

All too soon, the door was before him, painted crimson, a bloody smear on a clean white sheet.  Poetic justice.  Hesitation filled the moment.  The choice was academic, not really his to make, but still, everyone loves to think that they can control their fate.                 

The boy in you is telling you to come.  The adult in you is telling you to back off.  You can't make up your mind.  You don't know the right answer.  Are you going to step forward?  Retreat?  You have to decide.   

Hands, which had never trembled in fear before, shook now.  The possibilities of what lay behind the door frightened him immensely.  Freedom was there, but in what form, and which did he prefer: slow atonement or quick release?  Would there ever be complete absolution?  Would he ever allow himself that?                 

Stay away from me!

A broken man was poison.  Some wounds had been neglected for too long.  Festering, simmering, the fire had roared unchecked within, consuming him from inside out.  Was there anything left now to save?   

I ain't no monster.      

And yet, the door beckoned, and the choice remained.  Questing fingers tentatively reached for the doorknob, but ended up hovering uncertainly halfway.  A second try…this time brushing against it, but still not able to fully grasp the smooth metal.  After the third attempt, there was nothing left to do but open the door.     

Come with me to a place of no return.

Stay back!

Come with me to…

Shut up!

Come with me…

I am not a boy!


I ain't no monster.

Cold…so cold…