Hector didn’t think he could argue with any of that. But he did feel gutsy enough to ask the question on his mind. “...Is that how you died? Originally, I mean.”
“Yes, that was indeed the voice of experience you were hearing just now.” His voice had grown softer. “Though I’m surprised you noticed. Everyone seems to think that we of Abolish are simply callous, unfeeling monsters, that we don’t understand suffering and loss and sadness and remorse. But they could not be more wrong. We understand all of these things even better than they do.” Ivan paused for a beat. “Well, most of us, anyway.”
Hector couldn’t resist the obvious point of contradiction. “If that’s true... then why do you hurt so many people?”
Ivan gave him that empty-eyed stare again. “That is a very innocent-minded question from such a shameless liar.”
“I’d... just like to understand why you do what you do. I always thought it was just... for fun.”
“Ha. Fun is the effect, not the cause.”
“Then... please explain. I’m listening.”
Ivan let his gaze linger on him another time. “Mm... nah. It’d be best if you figured it out for yourself. Take a good, long look at the world and try to see things for how they really are. Then, maybe you’ll understand. And if not, well, perhaps I’ll explain it to you the next time we meet.”
Hector didn’t like that last notion very much. He wanted to say something to contest it, but the words weren’t coming now.
“I’ll give you one year,” said Ivan.
And Hector blinked. In spite of himself, he said, “Why a whole year?”
“Because I like the cut of your jib.”
Hector raised a dubious eyebrow. “...Now who’s lying?”