GENRE: Speculative Fiction
The worst part was hearing Varali's cries. He'd never been able to stand them. Loud, obnoxious -- just like her. They ripped through his spine like nails down a chalkboard.
And that was probably the closest to empathy he'd ever gotten, that scratching feeling down the spine when Varali cried.
She'd cried the night they'd been brought here, waking half the asylum, and again when the mentalists had decided to move her into a cell down the hall from his.
Now she cried as they marched her brother past her cell for the last time.
"Lykus!" she bawled, her bony fingers grappling at him through the bars. She caught the backs of his rags and he felt them rip as his guards tried to push him onward.
He resisted their pushes, looking over his shoulder at her. Kid was ugly as hell, with those strings of raven hair licked to the sides of her face, a face grimy except where tears cut an ivory path down each cheek. But there was beauty in that dirty, emaciated, swollen-eyed ugliness. It was love.
Or so he'd heard. Love was just another abstract concept like altruism. He would never find out what it meant. People had tried describing it, but they'd vainly used other ambiguous terms. Feelings. Caring. Lykus felt pain when the guards beat him. He cared to make Varali shut up for the sake of his pounding eardrums.