Brian felt sick. An explosion of nervous energy mushroomed in an instant from his solar plexus to his groin, bitter mucus churning up in his throat until he almost gagged. He forced himself to take a deep breath, straightened and tensed, his conscious mind asserting itself.
“No,” he said, a lifetime of questions and fears and resentments resonating in that solitary word.
“It is true,” Bata said. “You are the Chosen. Your destiny was cast before you were born; before your earliest progenitor was born.”
“No,” Brian repeated.
Bata stood with his arms crossed. “The locust does not request to be born a locust. The crocodile does not have a say in whether or not it is a crocodile. Humanity was not consulted before the first man dropped from the trees to walk as a man. Neither do you have a choice. You are what you are.”
“Is that right?!” Brian spat. “Well, I’m not playing your goddamn game! Whatever it is you expect me to do, you can forget it!”
“In that you do have a choice,” Bata said. “You were created with a free will. You may decide the course your life will pursue.”
Brian calmed somewhat. “Okay,” he said. “Okay. If that’s true, then I choose to go back. Will you send me back?”
“If that is your wish.”
“That’s my wish,” Brian said. “And from now on, I wish for you to leave me alone. I don’t ever want to see you again, not as long as I live.”
“As long as you live,” Bata said. “That will not be very long.”