A Name

“Are you alone?” the voice said. The words came out of an impenetrable darkness, an emptiness that hinted at an echo where there was none. After a brief pause, it repeated the question, this time sternly, and clipped, its patience clearly diminishing, “Are you alone?”
“Of course I came alone”, followed a hesitant reply, “what other choice did I have?”
“Indeed. Well then, the name.”
“I need assurances.”
“You’re in no position to bargain.”
“I’ve taken risks, I need assurances.”
“Of what exactly? My ability to ruin your life? To destroy your career, your family? To forever taint that which you hold dear? All those things will happen unless you give me the name.”
Another pause followed. Then, with a single word, a fate was sealed.

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