The stairs in and out of Tartarus were wide, built of heavy cement. Dingy and covered with dirt and grime, they resembled everything else in the underground city. And they seemed to go on for miles and miles, steep steps that were built directly into the earth, from the earth. Thinking about it too hard made Eden feel a bit queasy. This one set of stairs was the only way in and out for so many thousands of people living below ground. Yet, most would never be allowed to take these steps while they lived.
Eden wouldn’t think about it. Like so many things, it was but one aspect of Axel Tovar’s rule that made him sick. But given his position, he was powerless to change anything about it.
As Eden climbed the stairs, he slipped his hand inside the pocket of his jacket to fiddle unwittingly with the brushed copper pocket watch he always brought with him. It had been his father’s, and now to him, it felt like a memento, a sort of good luck charm. His fingers traced the initials “BAV.”
Bartholomew Arthur Voss.
He pictured his father often, though he had never known him. What would his father think of him? As an officer of the Elysian Police, high ranking and well-established, Eden had made a name for himself of his own accord. But still, there was a darkness within him, a sin, a perversion, as Tovar would have the world believe. Yet, Eden had never felt alive before this night. What would his father have thought about that?
He imagined his father would have wanted him to be happy. And that thought brought him some sense of peace and comfort as stars became visible overhead, twinkling in the night sky like fireflies. It was a crystalline, clear night without a cloud in the sky, and it greeted him like an old friend as he passed over the threshold and stepped foot on the surface one again. He gasped as the wind brushed the back of his neck, flirting with his eyelashes, kissing the tip of his nose. He was bathed in cool moonlight, sighing and making haste back to the barracks.
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