The Bitter World

Characters: Billy Nichols

 My tower was grimly builded,
 With many a bolt and bar, 
 "And here," I thought, "I will keep my life
 From the bitter world afar."

 Dark and chill was the stony floor, 
 Where never a sunbeam lay, 
 And the mould crept up on the dreary wall,
 With it's ghost touch, day by day.

Billy leaned on the rail in the Observation Dome, intense stare fixed out, as if he could see clear to Vorlon space. He really ought to know better — they never got good news out from Voice of the Resistance. But this….

He swallowed down bile. The worst of it was watching Reece. His friend – little more than a boy, really. Everything the young man had seen had yet to take away all his innocence, or even most of it. But the war was eroding his already small family. A cousin that had treated him as one of her own, her husband, and small daughter. If Meg were gone too …. Billy shook his head.

He half-heard something from behind him, but ignored it. He didn’t want to see anyone else right now.

A throat cleared. “I said, I have seen you here before, young man, but never with such a long face.”

He jumped a little, startled, then sighed. That voice was too distinctive to not know who it was. “Evenin’.” Billy turned a little to see. “How is it with you, Brother?”

“I was about to ask you the same thing.”

Billy leaned on the rail again. “It’s…. Well, the latest news report, from the Voice.”

“Ah. You have a friend aboard the missing White Star?”

“Um. Yeah.” Meg’s been a friend too many years to not worry. he thought, a little too quick.

“And you’re trying to defy the limits of human sight and find them, I take it?”

He snorted softly. “Yeah, I guess you could say that.” He was silent a few minutes, and the monk didn’t pry into his thoughts.

Deciding, Billy turned away from the view, to face. “Brother Theo, I doubt it’ll do any good, and I know it’s been 25 years since I last went to mass, but could I ask one?” He waved behind him, at the stars. “Safety for them.”

Theo gave the security officer one of his measuring looks. “On the condition that you attend.”

He shrugged. “Yeah, sure, if–”

And confession.”

Copyright (c) 1998 Leslie McBride. All rights reserved.

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