No masters or kings when the ritual begins
There is no sweeter innocence than our gentle sin
In the madness and soil of that sad earthly scene
Only then I am human
Only then I am clean
-Take Me to Church, Hozier
Ripper punched the wall of the jail cell, hissing when the flesh over his knuckles tore apart. The guard outside the bars gave him a half-hearted glare and grunt from the desk he was sitting at. Ripper threw himself onto the bench, hanging his head.
“Erm, excuse me?”
He looked up. Across the cell was a mousy-looking man, nervously rubbing his hands on his jeans.
“Do you know how long they’re going to keep us in here?” the man asked.
Rupert sighed. He had nothing better to do, so he supposed he might as well talk to his cellmate.
“I guess that depends on what they booked you for.”
“Oh,” the man said quietly. “Shoplifting. I tried to steal some flowers, and a vase, you know? For my mum. It’s her birthday.”
Rupert struggled not to laugh. As jailworthy offenses went, that was a new one.
“I’m sure you’ll be released by morning. Do you have someone coming for you?”
The young man looked at his feet. “No. My mum is probably wondering why I haven’t called.”
This endeared him to Rupert, who was distantly wondering when he’d last spoken to either of his own parents.
“What’s your name?”
The stranger looked up, brightening. “Philip. What’s yours?”
Something twinged in Rupert’s gut. He thought about Phillip at the Watcher Academy, remembered seeing the light leave his eyes as the Lorophage fed on him, Rupert helpless to stop it. Other feelings followed, guilt and anger and a desire to forget everything that place did to him.
“Call me Ripper.”
“Cool!” Philip said without a hint of irony. “Do you have someone coming to pick you up?”
Just then, they both jerked, looking through the bars of the cell as a series of crashes echoed down the hallway. The guard on duty, seemingly grumpy at the interruption of his crossword puzzle, got up to investigate. Without a look at the occupants of the cell, he shuffled through the room’s door, closing it behind him.
Rupert smiled. “I just might.”