Entry Thirteen.

"- We're not going to play, said Simon.

- Oh, but you are ! answered "John Doe". It is not like you have a choice.

- Really, snapped Sharon ? And why the fuck wouldn't we jsut walk out of here ? Or, for that matter, repeatedly smash your face on that stupid machine of yours until it is reduced to a bloody pulp ?

- Well, you couldn't do either if you wished to with all your might. You couldn't walk out of here, because "here" is the only way out of this level. And you certainly couldn't hurt me in the slightest, my dear. Allow me to demonstrate ?"

While he spoke these last words, he put his hands behind his back and gently leaned towards Sharon, head slightly lolling on one side, as if to incite her to punch him in the jaw.

By now you're beginning to know Sharon, as was I : clutches or not, she just couldn't resist such a nice offer. So she leaned on her left clutch and took a swing at him with the right one.

Before she ever had a chance to connect, the clutch was thrown away as he took hold of her hand in his fist ; only, claws were beginning to appear on his extended and hairy fingers, as his face transformed into a hideous caricature of his previously unremarkable, if somewhat handsome, features. And as he squeezed, claws and sheer pressure drawing blood, we could hear Sharon's finger bones snap, and the pain seemed so intense that her whole body was convulsing. But she wasn't the one to scream "STOP !!" at the top of her lungs.

I was.

For a small while, the demonic croupier seemed puzzled, as if his human mind was coming back to the surface and trying to overcome the beast that inhabited his body.

"Oh, I beg your pardon," he said when he had regained some composure, his features getting back to normal, and his - now nearly normal - fingers busy with putting his bow tie back in place (Sharon fell to the floor with a "thump". "I do sometimes tend to lose my temper, and then I can get quite ugly...

- Yeah, we noticed, I said, not thinking of it as a metaphor. Now leave her alone."

I bowed to Sharon, who was moaning on the floor, on the verge of fainting. I turned around to take a look at Simon. I had never seen him like this. He stared blankly at the void before him, as if in shock. He didn't make the slightest gesture to help me take care of Sharon or anything. SO I did what I could for her, and went to him, temporarily leaving our host, apparently quite uninterested, if slightly amused, by whatever I could do.

I took Simon by the shoulders and shook him gently.

"- Sim, come out, snap out of it !"

At first, he didn't seem to react, and then it was my turn to be overcome by sheer speed and strength : suddenly he was on me, we were wrestling on the ground and I didn't stand a chance. He was holding me face to the ground, his knee in my spine, my right arm in my back and nearly ready to snap, while a small breeze of a noise brought him back to his senses. When I was released, and after the red pain had flowed away from my mind, I realized that it had been Sharon whispering his name. No matter how I could shout, nothing I could have said could ever have produced on him the effect of his named being breathed out of this girl's mouth. That's when I begun to understand the true nature of the link between them.

Simon went towards Sharon, kneeled at her side, helped her get back on her feet and on her remaining crutch (the other one was in pieces on the floor somewhere) and then, thinking back on what he had just done, came to me.

"I'm so sorry, Adam ! I don't know what came over me. I's just... I hate this place, I can't stand being here, I would just like it all to vanish like a sordid dream, I..."

Next thing he would tell me how much he missed his mommy.

"- It's all right, Simon, get a grip on yourself. I don't know what goes on here, but we'll have to stick together now.

- No, they both said in the tiniest whispers they could manage.

- What ?! What do you mean : no ?

- I mean, said Simon, that we are way out of our head here. I... I cannot explain, Adam, but I am helpless here, and all I could do would be hamper your progression. I am in no position to ue either my mind or my body to help you in any way.

- And you, Sharon ?

As the words fled my lips, I immediately regretted it, and would have gulped them back in if that had been possible.

- As you can see, she said in a small, if very attractive, voice, I am barely able to walk as it is. But you know I would follow you to the deepest pits if you asked me to. You're right : we're in this together.

- No, I said. You're right, Simon. Even if I don't understand exactly how or why, I can feel it deep in my guts : O know it's my turn now. You guys just stay right behind me, and follow my every moves, right ? I won't let you down.

- We know you won't, Simon said. We count on you, Adam.

- We do, approved the scarred, feeble, bloody thing that had been Sharon before the babies, this monster and who knows what else.

- Well, thanks guys. Okay, said I, turning towards the guy in the tuxedo, now, how do we play you bloody game ?

He had a smile that only Roger Waters could describe, while under the conjugated effect of psychedelic drugs and a serious psychological breakdown, and turned towards the Soul Game, saying :

Here, let me show you..."

to be followed...


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