As I walked down the street in front of the Railyards, I felt numb inside. I didn’t cry or rage or really feel any kind of strong emotion. I just felt empty. She hurt me deep. I couldn’t understand why she didn’t come with me. What was Jacob’s hold on her? How did this all happen? What was in the briefcase? What is the endgame?
As I asked these questions, an emotion began to emerge from the abyss. It wasn’t sadness. Sadness was the substance of the abyss. It was anger that began to boil in my gut. He used me. He betrayed me. He’d taken the woman I loved from me. I was furious. I looked back at the illusion barrier and resolved within myself to destroy all of Jacob’s illusions wherever they might be. I would foil all of his plans and bring his empire to ruin.
That fury and resolve burned within me and I prayed that it wouldn’t fade. It burned so hot that I almost felt like going back in there and taking them all on. Fortunately, prudence reigned and I decided it would be more effective to work within my skillset. I would work from the shadows. I would need allies, though. I knew of only one I could trust. I just hoped Alex would talk to me. Either way, I had to try.
I entered the Shadowverse and Travelled to the platform that would get me to Alex’s room. I was in luck because he was still awake. I was nervous about coming to him. I was scared of the conflict that was sure to come, but this was too important. I could feel the weight of a terrible future on my shoulders. A future that had to be stopped and that was more important than a silly feud between friends.
I moved toward the portal into his room and stopped myself. Perhaps that was a little too direct for this particular situation. Instead, I went to his door and knocked. It took about 40 seconds for him to open the door.
“Michael? What are you doing here?”
I paused. I hadn’t really thought about what I was going to say and my mind was blank. There was only one thing to say and it came out of my mouth almost reflexively.
“I came to apologize.”
He scoffed and slammed the door in my face. This was going to be even harder than I had thought. I knocked again.
He spoke without opening the door.
“Please, hear me out. I’m sorry for everything. Please let me in.”
He didn’t respond. This probably wasn’t the right move, but I felt an urgency that compelled me. I retreated to the Shadowverse and entered his room. It was messy as usual. I was surprised at the increase in computer parts all over the place.
“I knew you would invade my room.” He spat. “You haven’t changed at all.”
I couldn’t argue with him.
“You’re probably right. I’m an idiot. I’m sorry that we fought. I’m sorry that I pretty much abandoned you. I was hurting at the time, but that’s no excuse. I abandoned everything and it was a huge mistake. I’ve made many mistakes.”
“I don’t know if we’ll be able to repair our friendship, but I need your help.”
“So you’re only here because you need me. Not because you’re sorry.”
“Can’t it be both?”
“I don’t know.”
“I’ve been sorry ever since we had that stupid argument. I just didn’t have the guts to face you. Now things have changed and I can’t afford to be gutless anymore.”
He looked at me as if he was trying to see through me. To see through any possible lies. I had to convince him of my sincerity. I got down on my knees, lowered my head, and I begged him for his help.
“Please, I need your help. Forgive me or not, I can’t do what has to be done without you.”
I felt very small in that position. I had never before begged for anything. Not like this. It was humbling. The whole day had been humbling. There, on my knees, all my foolishness came rushing back to me. All of my arrogance was laid bare. I needed this. He needed it too. I could see on his face that he was totally taken aback.
“Geez. Get off your knees you idiot. Just tell me what’s going on.”
I stood up with a smile on my face. Alex didn’t exactly return it, but he didn’t throw me out either. I proceeded to lay out everything that had happened to me from helping that woman in the park and subsequently scaring her beyond reason to today’s events. When I was done, he sighed deeply and slid lower in his chair.
“That’s a crazy story. So you find out you’re not alone and now you’ve got a nemesis and you’re all alone again.”
“Not if you’re with me. Will you help me?”
“I don’t know what I can do, but I’ll do what I can.”