azombiewrites: (Lost in Space)
[personal profile] azombiewrites
Title: Lost in Emotion
Fandom: Lost in Space
Genre: Sci-Fi, Hurt/Comfort, Angst.
Rating: PG
Main Characters: Don West and Judy Robinson.
Secondary Characters: John Robinson, Maureen Robinson, Will Robinson, Penny Robinson, Doctor Smith and the Robot.
Disclaimer: Based on the characters created by Irwin Allen.
Challenge: Written for [livejournal.com profile] 10_hurt_comfort.
Prompt: #1 Emotion
Author's Notes: Set after season 3.
Chapter Word Count: 5,635
Status: Complete

Summary: Dragged down into a deep hole by the black dog of depression, Don West struggles to maintain a facade of his former self, but when Doctor Smith causes more harm and injury, West loses control, his facade crumbling in front of everyone.





Lost in Emotion

Chapter Three


Don and Judy were alone at the drill site, John and Will staying back at the camp, a family meeting required. Don didn’t want to be there, making his excuses, explaining his fears, worried about how Will would react to his . . . affliction. Penny, older than Will, had understood but he wasn’t sure about Will. As mature as Will was, he was still young, sometimes reacting, speaking abruptly before he thought things through.

Glancing around the site, Don sighed. Ahead of him was another exhausting day, his body not ready for the physical labour, his mind not willing to continue the fight for his soul. No longer a need to hide his emotions, Don allowed the darkness more control; his voice silent, his movements lethargic. He was still tired, even after a full night’s sleep, rising too early, Judy waking with him, staying by his side. Even now, she was close, comfortably close.

Don glanced back over his shoulder, his gaze finding hers. She smiled, stepping closer to him, her hand reaching for him, their fingers touching. Contact made, assurances given, he continued with his work. They walked around the drill site, Don mentally cataloguing the destruction left behind by Smith’s carelessness.

After a few minutes, he stopped his movements, standing still, the early morning heat bearing down on him. So much destruction, he wasn’t sure a few spare parts and a second drill could repair the damage. Running his hands through his hair in frustration, Don took a deep breath, letting it out slowly, lungs deliberately taking their time. He could feel the sweat on his forehead, the weight of the heat on his back. This was too much. He wanted to find that dark corner, its location almost within reach, to hide away from responsibility.

“Don,” said Judy, stopping beside him.

“I don’t know if I can fix it.”

“If you can’t, dad will understand.”

He had misjudged John, thinking the man wouldn’t understand his situation, his emotions. John wanted to help, to find a solution that would solve all of Don’s emotional problems. Don knew it wasn’t that simple, the answers beyond John’s reach. Maureen had reacted more like a mother than a friend, her reaction confusing him. Don didn’t consider himself a part of the family, keeping himself separate. A friendship had grown between them, nothing more required . . . until now. Maybe family is what he needed, what he had been missing. Perhaps he had opened himself up to the darkness, sending it an invitation it had welcomed with opened arms, embracing him, choking him beneath a shroud of depression, the emotion becoming stronger with each passing day, with each passing moment, his will to fight weakening beneath the onslaught.

Judy took his hand, pulling him from his thoughts, “Don, talk to me. Please don’t keep it to yourself.”

Don turned toward her, taking her in his arms. He couldn’t tell her. He had made a promise to her, to her father and if they learnt, he was considering breaking that promise . . . they would do what they thought necessary to keep him in a world full of pain. But if he did make the conscious decision to take his own life, nothing they could do or say would stop him.

He told her a different truth, hiding the lie, “I don’t want to do it, Judy. The thought of so much work.”

“You don’t have to do it, Don,” said Judy. “You don’t have to hide anymore. Dad will understand.”

He considered it, so much easier to find a place to hide, a place where he could stay still, silent, Judy his only companion but he shook his head. Guilt, a strong emotion could only make him feel worse, sending him closer to the end of the road his grandfather had taken before him.

“I don’t really have a choice, Judy. There's too much work to do. I can’t just leave it for John and Will.”

“Doctor Smith and the Robot can help.”

Don laughed, surprised by his own reaction, “Smith? No. He’ll just make more work for the rest of us.”

He noticed Judy watching him, staring at him, a smile creeping onto her beautiful features. Confused, he frowned down at her, “What?”

“That’s the first time I’ve heard you laugh in weeks,” said Judy, reaching up, fingers of her right hand brushing across his lips. “Does that mean you’re feeling better?”

He took her hand, pulling it down to his side, keeping it there, “No, if anything, I think I feel worse.”

She nodded, “Remember. Talk to me. Tell me everything.”

He looked away, gaze drifting, finding John Robinson. John, Will and the Robot walked toward the camp, arms full of equipment, spare parts and the second drill. Behind them . . . Penny and Maureen. Penny carried a small picnic basket and her face carried an expression of sadness and understanding.

Don narrowed his eyes, a deep frown appearing on his forehead, his confusion there for everyone to see. And then it hit him, the realisation taking the last of his strength; they were going to cradle him in cotton wool and take care of his every need. He didn’t want this. He didn’t want to be crowded, suffocated by their kindness. Don turned away, pulling himself out of Judy’s embrace. Tilting his head back, he gazed upward. He raised his hands, wiping them across his face in anger and frustration. The darkness squeezed his chest, the ache growing. He couldn’t do this, not with everyone watching his every movement, his every emotion. He felt the sudden urge to go back into hiding, regretting the exposure of his secret. He wanted to yell at them, tell them to go away and leave him the hell alone.

“Don?”

It was Penny. Why were they making it so hard for him . . . he took a deep breath, his body shaking with emotion. Releasing the breath, his chest hurting with the effort, Don turned around. The look on her face . . . he couldn’t refuse her. But he couldn’t speak, afraid his emotions would get the better of him.

“You didn’t eat breakfast,” said Penny. “I thought I’d bring you something, in case you got hungry.”

Looking down at the basket, he took a moment, gathering his strength, “Thank you.”

Penny dropped the basket and wrapped her arms around him, now tall enough for her head to rest against his chest. He could feel her rapid breaths. Hoping she wasn’t going to cry again, he returned her embrace, whispering words that he hoped would reassure her. He found Maureen and John watching him, their expressions telling him they were grateful he hadn’t pushed Penny away, emotionally or physically. Not wanting to but unable to stop himself, he found Will.

Will was unpacking the equipment, his back to Don, his body language the only explanation Don needed. Will hadn’t understood, not like his sister, his parents . . . Judy. Don wasn’t angry, understanding that Will was too young.

Penny let go, stepping back, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean . . . I want to help.”

Don smiled, no real emotion behind the expression, “You understand, Penny. That helps.”

Returning the smile, Penny nodded and walked away, heading back toward the camp. One less person to worry about, Don turned toward Maureen who had stepped forward, taking Penny’s place. Maureen hugged him, the embrace quick but full of emotion.

“If you need anything,” said Maureen. “Please, let me know.”

He nodded as he watched her retrace her steps, catching up with Penny before they disappeared from sight. His gaze hovered before shifting back to Will. The boy still had his back to Don, keeping himself busy, fussing over the spare parts.

Don turned back to Judy, noticing the unshed tears, “I better get started. Before your dad decides I’m in need of another hug.”

Judy laughed, “What about me?”

“I want to hold you and never let go,” said Don, embracing her, holding her close. “But I have to help fix the drill.”

“Tonight?”

It was an offer he couldn’t refuse. Something to get him through the day. A genuine smile appeared, “What would your parents think?”

“I trust my daughter,” said John. “But you . . .”

Don’s body jerked in surprise. Stepping away from Judy, he turned to face her father’s wrath but John was smiling, his eyes bright with amusement. Don relaxed, the tension he felt leaving his body.

“Feeling better?” said John.

“No, but not having to hide how I feel . . . it helps.”

“Have you been hiding long?”

Looking away, Don’s mind wandered, reaching back to the moment he realised something wasn’t right. He had felt fine, no different but over a matter of seconds, his mood had shifted, falling far enough for him to take notice. Since that day, he’d fallen even further, stumbling and fighting all the way, finding himself in hole so dark, so deep . . .

“Don?”

Not able to answer, Don nodded.

“How’s Will,” said Judy.

“He didn’t take it well.”

“What?” said Don, gaze returning to John.

“He’s worried, scared and upset.”

“Why?”

“He’s worried that you’re going to hurt yourself,” said John. “He’s scared that you’re going to hurt yourself and he’s upset because he thinks you’re going to hurt yourself.”

“Don’t hold back,” said Don. “Tell me what he really thinks.”

John laughed and shook his head, “If I didn’t know any better, I would think you were feeling better.”

Looking back over his shoulder, Don could see that Will was still keeping himself busy, but now he knew why. He didn’t want to face Don, no doubt afraid of his own emotions. He didn’t want to but he couldn’t let the kid keep thinking . . . he had to talk to Will, assure him that he wasn’t going to hurt himself. It would be a lie, Don’s only thought . . . he wanted to rid his body of the pain, the darkness and he could think of only one way to do that . . .

“I should go and talk to him.”

“He understands, Don,” said John. “He’s scared of what you might do. We all are.”

Without looking back, his response kept to himself, Don walked away, toward Will, stopping when he reached the boy’s side. He watched as Will became tense, Will now aware that Don was standing so close to him. Will stood up and turned his head, damp eyes finding Don’s gaze. Will rubbed his eyes, refusing to let the tears fall.

“I’m not crying,” said Will. “That’s a girl thing.”

Don put a hand on Will’s shoulder, squeezing it gently, “It’s okay, Will. I did a lot of it last night. Crying is nothing to be ashamed of.”

“You cried?”

“Like a baby,” said Don. “And in your mother’s arms.”

“Why are you so sad?”

Don shook his head, “I have no idea.”

“Dad said a joke wouldn’t help.”

Letting his hand fall to his side, Don said, “No, it wouldn’t. Doesn’t mean you can’t try.”

He regretted the words. If Will took it upon himself to try to heal Don with jokes . . . he wouldn’t cope, eventually snapping at the boy, telling him to stop.

“No, that’s okay,” said Will, his face freezing in shock. “I didn’t mean I didn’t want to help. It’s just that if you say it won’t work, I’m not going to try. Somehow, I think it would only make things worse.”

Why had he thought this kid wouldn’t understand? Mature beyond his years, Will understood something that many adults couldn’t. Don looked somewhere else, his own eyes glistening with moisture. Gaze travelling the area, he found the robot but no Doctor Smith.

“Where’s Smith?”

Will smiled, “Mom told him that he wasn’t looking too well and suggested he stayed back at camp.”

“Your mother is a smart woman,” said Don, ruffling the boy’s red hair. “She did remember to hide the food . . . didn’t she?”

“Yeah,” said Will, becoming serious once more. “Don? Are you going to hurt yourself?”

He couldn’t lie to Will, the boy’s face full of concern and curiosity.

“I don’t know, Will. I really don’t know.”

Will nodded, accepting the truth. “Dad said you made a promise to tell Judy if you did decide to do something.”

Don closed his eyes, his mind drifting. Was he willing to try to keep his promise? Could he suffer through the continuing darkness, through a pain so deep, so strong just to keep the others happy? He opened his eyes and turned his head, looking over his shoulder. Judy stood beside her father, watching Don, an expression of hope on her features. Did he want to suffer just to make her happy? Was the effort of fighting the inevitable worth it?

Thought of the pain ending gave him hope, a sense of healing. At the moment, feeling nothing would better than feeling something.

“Don?”

“I’ll do everything I can to keep that promise.”

“If you can’t?”

“Your sister knows me well enough to know if I’m going to do something stupid. She’ll stop me.”

“It wouldn’t be stupid, Don.”

No, thought Don, just selfish.

“Why don’t we get back to work,” said Don, turning away before he shed more tears. “Otherwise your dad is going to start referring to me as Doctor Smith.”

Will smiled, picked up a piece of equipment and moved toward the drill and his father.

Don watched him go; at least he’d been able to make everyone else feel better.

.
.
.

The day wore on, the hours slow, the work hard. The heat was unforgiving, draining strength, irritating emotions. Voices lacking, words not required, they moved slowly around the site, their movements lethargic. Progress was eventually made, the drill coming together, almost ready for testing.

Don struggled to keep going, body exhausted, his chest aching, the darkness heavy, weighing him down. He fought to keep control, his mind wanting nothing but solitude, the closeness of the others sending him too close to breaking. Concentrating on what he was doing, Don tried to separate himself from his emotions, the Robinsons . . . their kindness. He couldn’t do it, the dark thoughts intruding.

Too tired to fight the inevitable, he wanted to be alone, without Judy. He wanted to give himself the opportunity to feel, give himself time to think, to come to a final decision. He couldn’t fight it anymore. He didn’t want to fight it. Don began to think of his grandfather’s death, how the man had taken his own life. He didn’t know all the details, only that it had involved a gunshot to the head. Not having a gun, and unsure of how a laser gun would do the trick, he would have to think of something else. Don knew of other ways, most of them involving a lot of alcohol to induce courage, to numb the pain.

The hardest part . . . escaping Judy’s custody. He knew she would be angry, a possibility of hatred but . . . would she feel guilty, thinking that she hadn’t done enough. Judy would understand, he was sure of it, if not she had her family to help her through her emotions. She would move on, live a life without him. She would be better off without him.

He sighed, breath quickly released from his lungs. Stopping what he was doing, Don took a moment to wipe the sweat from his forehead. He looked to his left, finding John staring at him, watching him. Don was sure the man was waiting for something inside Don to snap. Knowing it wouldn’t be a long wait, Don sure that he was going to snap at any moment.

“Need a break?” said John.

“No,” said Don, returning to his work, swearing when the tool slipped from sweaty fingers into the drill hole. He turned away from the drill, growling in frustration and anger. Walking toward the toolbox, Don leant over and picked up a clean rag. He wiped the sweat from his face, the dirt from his hands . . .

Don felt it moments before it happened, his mind finally reaching breaking point. He snapped, the emotions too much, the constant surveillance of the others grinding his nerves down to a sharp raw edge, pushing him over the threshold and into a cavity full of anger.

Throwing the rag at the toolbox, Don struck out with his right foot, kicking the box of tools. Heavy with contents, the box refused to respond, holding its position, staying passive. It wasn’t enough. Alone in his own world of emotions, ignoring those around him, Don kicked the toolbox a second time, and then a third, taking his anger and frustration out on the object in front of him, only stopping when he ran out of strength. Adrenaline draining from his limbs, he stood with his hands on his hips and his head hung low, his chest heaving with physical exertion, dragging air back into struggling lungs. He could feel the sweat on his skin, the tension in the air. In his peripheral, he could see Judy moving toward him, tears in her eyes.

He couldn’t face her. Not now.

Raising his hand, Don said, “Don’t.”

Judy hesitated, taking a small step toward him, and then another, pushing against the boundary that separated them.

“Don’t,” said Don, angry that he had to repeat himself.

Don walked away, the dark corner in his mind was within his sight but he didn’t move toward it, knowing that the Robinsons would follow him into it and an attempt would be made to drag him back out. He searched for a temporary place of solace. Walking toward a rock huddled in the shade of an outcropping he sat down, drawing his legs toward his chest. Elbows on his knees, Don covered his face and his emotions with his hands. His heart pounded against his ribs, the pain pulling him inward. His chest ached with the depression that had taken its final step in making its claim on his mind and soul. He couldn’t do it now, not with the others watching. Tonight, when Judy was asleep, he would leave and find somewhere secluded where he could end the pain, where he could finally stop feeling.

The air shifted beside him. Don could feel someone was close, too close. He hoped with all his heart that it wasn’t Judy. If he looked into those blue eyes . . . he was going to betray her and Judy, who knew him better than he knew himself, would see his intention . . . she would see his decision. No, he couldn’t look at her, not now . . . never again.

A hand on his shoulder as someone sat down next to him, against him; a physical touch Don didn’t want, an emotional presence he didn’t need but he couldn’t move away . . . he knew who was sitting with him; the frame small, the limbs thin . . . Will.

“It’s okay, Don,” said Will, wrapping his arms around Don. “It’s okay.”

It wasn’t okay.

“Don?”

He could hear her fear, her tears. Shaking his head, he withdrew even further into himself, pulling his knees closer, pressing his fingers against skin, the tips digging into his flesh. Time continued on, each minute more difficult than the last, each moment reminding him that he wasn’t alone. Will held on tight, his breath hot against Don’s skin. As much as he wanted to, Don didn’t have the strength to pull away from the kid. His heartbeat slowed, less painful, but the ache was still there, still strong. Tears filled his eyes, the salt water escaping from closed lids.

If he was honest, with himself, with Will . . . it was hard to show such a vulnerable emotion in front of them, especially Will and Penny. He had to be strong for both of them; if they saw the worst in him . . . any hope they had taken from them, leaving them with their own emotional wounds. He almost laughed . . . Will had just seen the worst in Don: the anger, the hurt, the solitude, the depression. And Will’s response; comfort the man who couldn’t comfort himself.

Don took a shuddering breath, forcing the tears to stop.

He knew he couldn’t stay like this. He had to continue the charade, keep going until he found an opportunity to leave . . . to take himself away and never come back. Taking another deep breath, Don lowered his hands, revealing his emotions to those around him. He stood up, pulling himself out from Will’s embrace, the boy’s arms falling away.

Judy and John stood close by, watching him . . . waiting for him.

Walking past them, Don felt an apology form on his lips but he quickly shut it down. In no mood to talk, he stepped up to the drill and switched it on, his gaze searching for faults in its construction. Everything seemed fine . . . everything in working order.

Don turned back toward John and said, “It’s working fine.”

John nodded and moved in close to Don, his eyes narrowed, his expression suspicious, “Are you okay?”

Don didn’t respond, hoping that John would leave it alone, leave him alone but the man was stubborn, willing to wait and wait he did. Standing still, his arms folded across his chest, John waited with the patience of a Saint.

Don glanced at John, snapping his gaze away. He had to say something, “I lost it. I’m okay now. It won’t happen again.”

“Don . . . “

He turned toward John, gaze catching Judy’s form and Will who was now standing beside his sister, his eyes wide. Gaze shifting, mind concentrating on the man before him, Don said, “I’m sorry, John. I don’t know what happened. I just snapped.”

John reached out, resting a hand on Don’s shoulder, allowing his hand to fall when Don pulled away, “I understand, Don--”

Don laughed, “You understand. Yeah, I’m sure you know exactly how I’m feeling, Professor.”

“You’re right. I’m sorry. I can’t begin to understand how you feel, but I can see what it’s doing to you, what it’s doing to us seeing you like this.”

Shaking his head, Don said, “I’m done.”

John nodded and walked away. Don watched him go but his body tensed up with fear when John stopped next to Judy, John’s voice so low, Don couldn’t hear the words spoken but he had an idea. Judy nodded before returning her gaze toward Don. She moved forward, her steps hesitant.

Don turned away from her.

He had to shut her out. If he didn’t . . . he had to shut her out.

He had to shut them all out.

Judy continued to move forward, stopping when she reached Don’s side. She reached for his hand, gripping it gently. Tears filled her eyes when he pulled away, moving to the other side of the drill, standing with his back to her, shutting her out. She looked back over her shoulder, her father nodding to her, indicating that she should continue. Judy stepped around the drill, careful of the working components.

“Don? Talk to me, please.”

Shaking his head, Don walked away, from the drill site, from Judy, her family and headed back to the camp, toward the solitude of his tent. He no longer cared if he hurt Judy, her family . . . it didn’t matter anymore. He’d made his decision and nothing they could say or do would stop him. He was going to rid himself of the pain, it was only a matter of time now, the right moment would come and he would take himself away from everything.

.
.
.

Unable to explain why, Maureen moved to the edge of the campsite, her concern for their pilot growing beyond a simple case of anxiety. Her fear was now out of control, her limbs trembling with the emotion, her sixth sense telling her something had gone horribly wrong. Hands clenched in front of her, Maureen waited for answers, her gaze searching.

Stomach tight with fear, she watched as Don appeared in the distance, his quick steps bringing him closer. Her family followed close behind, expressions of concern on their features. The Robot moved silently with them, arms by its side, voice of warning silent. Releasing her breath, the knot of anxiety in her stomach unravelling, Maureen stepped forward.

She frowned, the worry growing once more. Don’s face was dark with an expression she couldn’t read, his limbs tense as he moved toward her. When she realised he was going to walk straight past her, she stepped into his path, blocking his way. As he moved to step around her, Maureen quickly positioned herself in front of him. He stopped, head down, gaze hidden.

“Don?” said Maureen, reaching up with her left hand, cupping the side of his face, an attempt to illustrate her concern. “What’s happened?”

His gaze lifted; his eyes empty of emotion as he returned her stare. She could do nothing when he pulled her hand from his face, his grip tight around her wrist, almost painful, letting go before he walked away. Turning, Maureen watched as Don moved toward his tent, his shoulders tight with purpose. Her stomach dropped, the sudden nausea shifting her balance. She knew it in her heart and soul, Don West had past the point of no return.

Feeling a hand at her elbow, Maureen turned to face her husband, “What happened?”

Shaking his head, his shoulders slumped, John said, “I think we’ve lost him.”

Maureen looked at Judy, saw the tears in her daughter’s eyes, “No, we’re not giving up on him.”

“I didn’t say that we had, Maureen,” said John. “I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to change his mind. I don’t know what to say to him.”

“We’ll keep him close. Watch him always.”

Judy stepped forward, her voice a harsh whisper, her cheeks damp with tears shed, “He won’t talk to me, mother. I’m sure he’s not going to keep his promise.”

Maureen nodded, “He’s made his decision. I know it in my heart. We have to keep him with us.”

“We’ll do everything we can,” said John. “We can stop him physically, stop him with force if necessary but it’s his emotional state . . . I don’t know how to help him.”

“We’ll think of something,” said Maureen, glancing back toward Don’s tent. “We can’t lose him. He means too much . . . he’s family, John.”

John turned toward his daughter, “Go to him, Judy. Stay with him. I’ll keep watch out here. If he tries anything . . . we’ll stop him.”

Judy smiled, the expression weakened by fear and walked away. Pushing aside the tent opening, she hesitated before disappearing inside, closing the tent behind her.

“John . . .”

John shook his head, a subtle movement before turning toward his son, “Will, go find your sister.”

Will refused to move, stance confident, eyes heavy with assurance, “Don won’t do it. He wouldn’t do that to us. I know he wouldn’t.”

“Will,” said John, kneeling down, body language telling his youngest to move closer. He placed his hands on his son’s shoulders, looking him in the eye, trusting his son to understand something that was beyond his years. “I’m not so sure about that anymore, son, but we’ll do everything we can to help him.”

Will nodded, his confidence slipping away, “Can I talk to him? Maybe I can help.”

“He doesn’t want to talk right now,” said John, standing up, pushing Will toward the other side of the camp. “Go and find Penny. She needs to know what’s happened.”

“She’s going to cry again,” said Will, walking away.

“John,” said Maureen, her own eyes filling with tears.

John turned around, pulling his wife into a comforting embrace, “We’ll do everything we can to stop him.”

“And if we can’t?”

“Then we’ll deal with Don’s actions as a family.”

Maureen closed her eyes, unsatisfied with her husband’s answer. If they lost Don . . . losing him in the line of duty was one thing, but if he took his own life . . . she was sure his death would create a hurt so deep, leaving her family vulnerable to feelings of guilt, anger . . . hatred. Would they mourn his death? Would they miss his personality, his humour or would they learn to hate him for what he had done to them? Swallowing the need to cry, Maureen looked deep into her heart, searching for understanding.

No. They weren’t going to lose the man who had become a welcomed member of their family. She would do everything in her power to protect Don, to protect her family from his intentions.

.
.
.

Hours passed, Judy his only companion. Sleep refused to arrive, waiting on the sideline, kept at bay by a single thought. He had revealed too much, his emotions leading the others to a conclusion. They were aware of his intentions, he was sure of it. He had to be careful, find a way to change their minds. If they stayed too close . . . he had to reassure them that he wasn’t going to do anything, create enough distance to allow him to escape.

Don could feel Judy watching him, her body close. He could feel the tension in the air. He could feel her fear. He rolled over, coming to a rest on his left side, facing her. She smiled, her eyes questioning him, searching for answers. He was going to pull her in close, tell her everything was okay. It would be his biggest lie and later, when it was over, when Judy would have time to think about this moment, she would realise that he had lied to her, his promise broken.

“Are you okay,” said Don, reaching out, taking Judy’s hand, entwining their fingers.

Her eyes widened with surprise, with gratitude, “Me? Don, how I feel isn’t important right now. It’s how you feel that matters.”

It was time . . . he took a deep breath and began the lie that he was sure would lead to his own destruction.

“I’m sorry about earlier, shutting you out the way I did.”

“It’s okay,” said Judy, shifting her body closer to him.

“I was angry. I was scared I would say something to hurt you.”

“Don, nothing you could say would hurt me. But shutting me out like that, it hurt more than you could imagine.”

Not wanting her to see his guilt, Don closed his eyes. He felt her touch, her fingers soft against his cheek. He waited a moment, unsure of himself until he felt the darkness in his chest, in his soul, the pain an ache so heavy, he had collapsed beneath it. He continued the lie, speaking words to make her feel better.

Opening his eyes, Don said, “It won’t happen again.”

“Don, I know this is hard for you. Harder than anything, you’ve ever faced but you don’t have to do this alone. We’re all here for you. We want to help you. All I ask of you is that you talk to us. To me.”

His words lost, Don could only nod.

Judy smiled, “Do you want something to help you sleep?”

Without knowing it, Judy had just given him the opportunity he needed.

He nodded in confirmation.

Judy stood up, making her way out of the tent.

“Judy . . .”

She stopped and turned to face him.

“Thanks.”

“I’ll be back in a minute.”

Giving her time to move away from the tent, Don waited, asking himself if this was what he wanted. Thinking it couldn’t get any worse, the ache in his chest grew stronger, bringing tears to his eyes. He shut the emotion down, the thought of his death bringing him comfort. Pushing himself up onto unsteady limbs, Don began to move. He stepped out of the tent, gaze searching for Judy. He couldn’t see her. Grateful, Don turned, walking away from his tent.

“Don?”

John.

He hadn’t expected this, making the incorrect assumption that Judy would be his only guard. She hadn’t left him alone because she had believed him; she left him alone because she knew someone else would be there to watch him, to stop him. He had underestimated her.

Don couldn’t wait any longer. Closing his eyes, taking a deep breath, Don made a conscious decision. He turned around, facing John.

“You okay?” said John.

“Judy’s getting me another sleeping pill,” said Don, moving away, stepping closer to a workbench that had been set up when they first arrived.

“Still not sleeping?”

“I could say the same about you.”

Keeping his back to John, Don searched the table, finding something heavy, something adequate. He could hear John behind him, the distance between them becoming short. In his peripheral, Don could see Judy as she came to a stop, watching him. It was now or never. Don picked up the heavy wrench. Heard but not seen, the Robot began to shout a warning. Turning, raising his arm, Don swung his makeshift weapon, striking John behind the left ear.

He didn’t wait, not seeing John collapse, instead running away from everything he had known and loved, the depression driving him on, controlling his actions, his future. He could hear Judy’s voice calling his name.






Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four


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