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Twins in Death: Chapter Nine

Chapter Nine

Beginning of Endings

 

August 15th, 1901

4:21 p.m.

 

            “This place is lovely.” The Weirdo said as the old man sat watching the short Tibetan summer already slipping away.

 

            “But nothing ever changes.” The old man said,

 

            “No?” The Weirdo asked.

 

            “Let me ask you something.”

 

            “Okay.”

 

            “In your place, how would you get a loaf bread?”

 

            “When exactly do you mean.” The Weirdo said. “We’ve discussed the time traveling.”

 

            “Whenever you like, tell me step by step how you might go about it.”

 

            “I’d go down to Rusterman’s Bakery and grab a loaf.”

           

            “Before that.” The old man said. “If you had to make it yourself.”

 

            “Well I guess I’d buy a bag of flour and some yeast.” The Weirdo began. “If I was going to make it myself.”

 

            “Before that.” The old man said.

 

            “Before that?”

 

            “How does one get the things to make the bread?”

 

            “Ah.” The Weirdo said. “You want to start at the absolute beginning.”

 

            “Yes.”

 

            “The wheat would be grown, probably in Kansas or something.”

 

            “Not locally grown?” The old man asked.

 

            “No.” The Weirdo said. “Grown in Kansas and then ground.”

 

            “How would you grind the wheat in Kansas?”

 

            “Well I’m not sure you would.” The Weirdo said. “I think you’d take it to a place to be ground. Like if I can talk about corn for a moment. I’m pretty sure they send the corn, cobs and all, to Battle Creek, Michigan. Once there they strip the corn of kernels dry the corn and then grind it there to make those flakes we were talking about.”

 

            “So Mister Kellogg grinds the corn himself?” The old man said,

 

            “No.” The Weirdo said shaking his head. “He’s the boss, he wanders around giving people enemas and then engaging in self flagellation for enjoying it as far as I know.”

 

            “I do not understand some of those words.”

 

            “It’s for the best, trust me.” The Weirdo said with a sigh. “Back to grinding wheat though. I know how they did it in England a while ago. They don’t do it like this any more though. They would get two big flat stones, shaped like wheels. They’d then place on atop the other with the wheat in between and rotate the top stone to grind the wheat up. They’d be powered with either a water wheel or a windmill. You remember me talking about those?”

 

            “I remember everything.” The old man said. “And that is my point. If we wanted flour, someone would take the wheat and crush it by hand. They do not advance any more. They have no reason. Each person is so enclosed in their position by the bureaucracy that they feel no need to try to advance. Why make an effort when you’ll always be stuck in the same place?”

 

            “I suppose.” The Weirdo said, noticing the many holes in that argument.

 

            “We will be forced to run from this place you know.” The old man said. “We came here in the first place because we were running. We will have to run again soon, when the new threat comes.”

 

            “How long will that be?” The Weirdo asked.

 

            “After I have passed to my next body.” The old man said. “It will be sometime. Until then, we will work on your readings. You must improve your focus, you must be able to control the single bird, not the entire flock.”

 

            “Shall we work now then?”

            “Yes.” The old man said.

 

            “Do you want me to do anything particular? Or would simply getting one to break formation be enough?”

 

            “Don’t kill anything.” The Old man said. “I sometimes wonder if those accidents you have aren’t to get to eat the results.”

 

            “No.” The Weirdo said shaking his head. “I just screw up sometimes.”

 

            “I hope so.” The old man said. “I wonder if you don’t kill too easily.”

 

            “I don’t enjoy it.” I said.

 

            “But you don’t mind it.” The aged wonder said.

 

            “No.” He admitted.

 

            “You could be just a sword, a weapon in the hands of a skilled warrior.” The old man said. “You are just educated enough to know what death means and callous enough not to mind. You know the philosophy of life, and that of death. I worry that you could be pushed from the path you are on and onto a worse one.”

 

            “Are you?”

 

            “It would take only a nudge to push you from the light.” The old man said, “You walk a very fine line now, in the shadowy gray area in between.”

           

            “I’ll stay like that for a while.” The Weirdo said. “And we shall see what must be.”

 

 

October 25th, 2002

5:28 p.m.

 

            Consciousness came to him suddenly and caused everything to hurt all at once. The waking hadn’t just been mental. His body had been shocked awake as well, which caused a great deal of pain. He could tell that just a little better than three hours had gone by then when he had fallen asleep. The Weirdo was sure that there were tiny little fairies inside his head at that moment. Not only were there tiny little fairies, but tiny little fairies that carried tiny little sledgehammers. They were apparently trapped within his skull and were trying to use their tiny little hammers to get out. They might have had a tiny little jackhammer in there as well, but he couldn’t be sure. He was certain though that they were wearing tiny little yellow hard hats and tiny little leather gloves. This was a union town after all and the unions didn’t take kindly to workers not having proper safety equipment. He did, however, begin to question if they were in fact union workers, as they never seemed to go to lunch or have a coffee break. The unions were protective about that kind of thing too. Maybe they were trying to get some extra overtime, or maybe they just loved their work too much to stop. That last idea had some prospect to it; everyone who hurt him seemed to like hurting him.

 

            It took him a long time to move, and when he did it was labored and it hurt. His muscles were stiff, sore and seemed to be working against him. They didn’t want to move, not after such a short respite. No matter which way he tried to get anything to move, the muscles seemed to be pulling in the opposite direction.  With great labor and force of will he managed to get out of bed and stand up. He walked to his desk where a bottle of an unnamed sports drink was standing. The sports drink actually had a name you understand, it’s just that we’re not allowed to say it because of endorsement deals. He opened it and looked around for a cup.

 

            He held his temples as he poured the liquid into a cup, a mug actually. Well to be perfectly frank a plastic child’s GI JOE mug that featured Grunt and some badly drawn explosions. He lifted the bottle of Excedrin and poured out a few of the white pills into his hand, looking at them as they sat there. These weren’t coated pills, and thus like swallowing pebbles. He popped them into his mouth and with a drink, swallowed them all. Yes, just like pebbles, only they tasted worse on his tongue than pebbles did. He wanted to go back to sleep at that moment, he wanted it so badly.

 

            He looked at his clock and calculated that he had actually gotten a little more than two hours of sleep. The fact that not one second of it was any good was not discussed, as the tiny amount of it was a more prevalent complaint at the moment. He knew he needed to sleep more, but that wasn’t going to be possible. He could go back to bed but he wouldn’t sleep. He could already feel it himself, he was awake and no arguments accepted there.

 

            He sat down at his desk and switched on the computer terminal at his desk, which comprised of a monitor, keyboard and mouse. He looked at the monitor as it flipped on and scratched the back of his head for a moment. He picked up his mug and wished for a moment that he had put his robe on before sitting down. He would have liked to wrap the thick bathrobe around him and sip at his mug of drink. There were a few e-mails for him, mainly explaining how he could get an enlarged sexual organ and how he could relieve his debt through the power of Jesus. He had doubts about both claims, for various reasons.

 

            He played a game of solitaire on the computer and after a few minuets realized he didn’t care about solitaire. He had lost interest almost upon opening the game, he had only soldiered it out this far to convince himself he wasn’t just wasting his time. He was wasting his time, but he didn’t want to admit it just now. He felt a sudden overwhelming urge to punch the screen as hard as he could. It was such a strong wish to smash the computer, to hurt his hand. He wanted to cut his hand on the bits of plastic, possibly he would get an infection from the liquid crystals that formed the flat screen. He wanted to really hurt himself something terrible, and he wanted it to last.

 

            He wanted to feel physically what he felt inside. He wanted to know that it wasn’t something that he was imagining, that there could be this much pain in the world. It wasn’t even that there was any one thing particularly attacking him, rather it was the maelstrom. The cyclone of guilt and recrimination was spiraling so fast that all he felt was pain, without any single thing hurting him. He felt all the pain and guilt crushing him, without being able to find any one source. He was drowning and could no longer identify the single drops.

 

            He wanted to smash the stupid monitor, to destroy things. He wanted to lift his hand and punch as hard as he could. He would smash the screen, destroy the frame, hurl the whole thing against the floor and jump on it. He wanted to put his fist right through the damn smug machine, to prove that there was certain superiority left to him.

 

            What stopped him was that his hand had other ideas, because it wasn’t going anywhere. No matter how much he wanted to lash out, his body was ignoring the clearly idiotic command. So he didn’t smash the screen, yet he thought somewhere else he did. In some version of the multiverse, some version of him did hit the screen. He could almost feel that person co-existing in the same space but on a different plane of existence. In some alternate world, laid on top of his like badly matted animation, he did hit the screen. There were alternate dimensions and worlds, all layered a top each other. He could just about feel the lack of satisfaction felt by the other him when the screen flew off the desk instead of holding its ground and getting smashed. Just a small cut on the edge of his hand was all the other him got. The flat screen, a sandwich of plastic and liquid, didn’t even break. Whatever it was that kept the crystal in place cracked and spider webbed, but the monitor itself didn’t leak. The monitor was now useless because it was a series of lines and dead patches, but it didn’t break.

 

            He looked at his monitor, unblemished as it was, and he sighed. He looked again and noticed that one pixel, in the lower right hand side of the screen, was black. It was just one dead pixel in what had to be half a million or so dots on the screen, but he saw it. He looked at the single black, dead pixel for a moment and then leaned back. He shook his head with exhaustion and thought about how the other him wouldn’t notice the single dead pixel now, and even if he did he would discredit it to being part of the damage of him smashing it.

 

 

October 25th, 2002

6:46 p.m.

 

            “You went looking for him and you found her?” The gray man asked.

 

            “That’s right.”

           

            “Why bother with her?”

 

            “I don’t like unfinished business.” Loki said. “She’s unfinished business.”

 

            “Alright, I know where she’s going to be tonight. She’s going to go back to her house.” The Gray man said, trying not to actually touch anything in the apartment. It made him sick to be here.

 

            “Is she?” Loki asked looking out the window at the other tenement building across the street.

 

            “Yes, she is.” He said. “You get there around eight thirty and you’ll find her.”

 

            “How do you know this?” Loki asked, turning back.

 

            He was alone though the Gray man was nowhere to be seen. He got up and looked at the table, where the address had been written on a piece of paper. He picked the paper up and stuffed it into the front pocket of his leather pants. Under the paper was a small metal container that had once held a few mints. It was the very small container that most people only bought because they were cute. He opened the container and found four capsules and two pills. He picked one of the green and blue pills up and placed it on his tongue, swallowing with only his salvia. It would take a little while for the pill to be effective, he knew that, but it would come. He slid the other pills into his pocket, and waited for the gentle opening of his mind to begin.

 

            About twenty minuets later the feeling of being honed began, like the razor across the strap. He could feel his mind drawing up one side of the strap and down the other. He was becoming sharper, and more dangerous. He could feel his senses extend out into the other apartments. He could sense the thoughts of each and every person on the block. He tried to focus in on one mind, finding it very difficult. All those thoughts whizzing round made it very hard to center in on one voice in the fugue. He caught a voice and held on to it. He held it so tight that he actually squeezed too hard and felt something pop.

 

            An elderly man, sitting at a table, suddenly announced “Spoon!” and collapsed into the table he was sitting at. The stroke had been quite bad, paralyzing half his body. It hadn’t killed him, but he had wished it had. He had felt something grab onto his brain, in those last moments, like a hand squeezing it right in his skull. He was unable to tell anyone this, he never did regain his powers of speech, but he had felt it.

 

            Loki stood up, feeling the blood running back into his nose, and looked at his watch. He hadn’t been wearing a watch before, but now he seemed to be. It was time to go, he had to get going. There was unfinished business and he was now a sharp sword looking for flesh to cut into.

 

 

October 25th, 2002

8:29 p.m.

 

            The dagger fell from the talons of the tiny sparrow hawk into a stuffed lawn chair, the bird wearily landed on a black iron railing. She cursed her poor, sore knee, which throbbed deeply. More over, she cursed the son of a bitch who had made it sore.  Her eyes noted a brown car, which was supposed to look like every other car on the street.  This car however had monitoring equipment on the dashboard, and was sitting in such a way that both occupants could see the house. Why did they do that? Why take the effort to be inconspicuous and then screw it up like that. The car also had two men nursing coffee from Styrofoam cups, which was as clear a sign as painting it on the side of the car. She looked at the house and realized they would be watching the whole house. The little bird landed on the dagger she had dropped and picked a piece of dead skin on the left talon with her beak.

 

            Odd that she could do this as a bird, she’d never dream it as a human. There were just certain things a person could do when they were in the form of a small falcon that they couldn’t do when in the form of a small human. The golden eyes looked up and looked at the roof, thinking about the window she had left through.

 

            After resting for a moment, she took off again, flying up to the bathroom window.  The cops had left it open, to her relief, and annoyance. They could have at least had some respect for the fact that it could have rained.  She flew inside and landed next to the still-full tub.  She noted that everything else had been left, right down to her clothes, which were still in a heap on the floor.  The integrity of a crime scene must have really meant something to these guys. Either that or they were too lazy to actually clean up after themselves.

 

            Shifting to human form, Kestrel bent to pick up her faded blue jeans.  She rifled through the pockets, coming up with a couple of wadded up dollars. She looked at them, noticing a Euro in the mix. The sight of those pieces of paper, along with the ten-euro note made her suddenly want to burst into tears. It wasn’t fair that she should have to go through this all again. It just wasn’t fair.

 

            She opened the bathroom door and stepped cautiously into the bedroom. There was a window almost the length of the entire wall behind her bed, and two windows in the front room that extended far enough upward that she could look outside from the loft-like second story. She decided that it was late enough in the evening that the cops outside wouldn’t be able to see anything unless she turned on a light. Besides, she thought ruefully, they’ve got their coffee.

 

            Her purse was on the nightstand next to her bed, and she grabbed it, dumping the contents out on the bed.  She gathered all of the loose change and odd bills and stuffed them in her wallet, leaving the rest with the empty purse. She wasn’t going to need anything from the purse anymore anyway. She would just make her way to the cabin in the woods where the old safe sat. She would go to the safe, collect her extra passports and move along to someplace else. She had been trying out the shifting of her face temporarily, and she could almost make herself look just different enough. The problem was that she couldn’t hold it very long and feathers kept sprouting from her face when she tried it. She couldn’t help but think Customs might have more questions, rather than less if that happened.

 

            She rose slowly keeping away from the window and walked to the closet, closing the door behind her before turning on the light. There were no windows in the closet, and the walls were lined with clothing racks, shelves, and stacks of boxes.  Pulling a duffel bag from a shelf above her head, Kestrel dropped her wallet inside it, as well as a pair of jeans and a couple sweatshirts. Then she grabbed a bra and several pairs of socks and panties. Must plan for the future and when was she going to be near a Laundromat again?  The fleece-lined hiking boots she took camping followed.  Lastly, she went to a corner and unburied from a pile of shoeboxes a similar box. 

 

            Opening it revealed a few pieces of the best jewelry she had ever stolen. What she had thought of as her scrapbook or at least scrap box. The emerald ring she had gotten in Paris, during the day, with guards in place. She had taken it right from under their noses and it took hours for them to notice. There was a blue stone set in a necklace that she had gotten in Nuremberg, and had just liked it. The box was full of things that called to her somehow, either of very good heists or at least she had liked enough to keep. They would most likely have to be sold, to keep body and soul together. She had been burned after all and the police would be after her. Interpol would have the head shot already, though she had given up on Europe after being burned there four years ago.

 

            She placed the box inside the bag, wondering for a moment where the hell her gun was. She then realized it had been left on the coffee table, as she had been convinced of a shoot out to end her life. They would have at least taken the gun, they couldn’t have been that lost in thought. They had managed to miss just about everything else but the openly displayed nine-millimeter would have aroused suspicion in even the greenest recruit, no question.

 

            She didn’t have a spare gun, well that wasn’t exactly true. That had been the spare gun, and now it was gone. There was another gun, but it was miles away in the safe in the cabin, in the woods with the passports. She would easily find someone in the city who would trade an ugly but priceless ring for a half way decent gun. She turned off the light and opened the door, stepping back through the bedroom into the bathroom.  She was wondering how a person would even go about stealing themselves out of a house, as she wanted to. Getting in hadn’t been a problem but a little bird like her couldn’t carry this great big bag. It was no use arguing the airspeed of an unlaiden Kestrel, since she wasn’t one. She was a heavily laiden Kestrel, who was having to abandon everything in the world again.

 

            How many times has she been forced to do this? To leave the house she knew and the things she loved? She sort of knew the answer and didn’t know. That is she could easily tell you the number of times, but the exact details of each exodus were closed books to her. She couldn’t tell exactly why she had left Germany, but a man had been involved, sort of. A man and his wife had been involved, but she couldn’t come up with much more than it was an effort to get the two of them back together that caused her to put Germany on the list of countries she shouldn’t go back to anytime soon.

 

            She thought about the two men and for a moment wondered if there was anyone on the south side of the house. There was probably just these two, and so if she went out the other side, they’d never know. Kestrel tossed the duffel bag out the window to the ground below, wincing at the sound of the bag hitting the ground.  It sounded impossibly loud to her ears, but the police hadn’t moved.  She checked up on them one last time, picked up the old knife and slipped it into her back pocket. She leaned out the window, and lowered herself as far as she could, holding onto the window frame. She looked down at the ground below her and let the frame go.

 

            She landed on the grass and rolled away from the house, spreading herself out on the ground waiting for something to happen. She strained her ears and for all the effort heard a dog a few yards away bark. Had she known the dog was barking because a man in a red coat was approaching, she might have had more interest. She thought it was just the Fuderman’s goddamn cocker spaniel trying to be a guard dog again. That stupid animal would bark at anything.

 

            Satisfied that no one had noticed anything out of the ordinary, Kestrel slung the duffel bag over her shoulder and walked through her backyard to the fence separating her yard from her neighbor’s.  The fence was a simple chain link and she scaled it with little problem, wincing only slightly as her sore knee twanged. She made her way to her neighbor’s house, opened the gate to the driveway, and began to step out.  She jumped back into the shadows at the sight of a familiar black and white car parked by the side of the road.  The officer inside didn’t appear to have seen her, but he would.

 

            “Shit.”

 

            “Sucks, don’t it?”

 

            Her head whipped around at the sound of the voice, the eyes were so familiar. The attack took no thought at all. She had to kill. She pulled the dagger from her pocket and swung it at him in one fluid movement. She didn’t have time to think, but even if she had, she wouldn’t remember why she wanted this man dead. The problem was she had struck in a wide curving arc, which was ever so easy to avoid. The red glove appeared and grasped her hand, holding it in a vice like grip.  He swung her around and threw her into the ground.  He laughed and the sound making her flesh crawl.  He was going to kill her, and he was going to enjoy it. 

 

            She tried to rise, her eyes blurry and her head swimming. His red boot caught her under the chin, and she flew into the neighbor’s birdbath, hitting her head on the concrete stem. She could feel something crack, which she was afraid was her skull. She also felt something tear, which she feared was her scalp. Dazed, she found herself thinking irrelevantly about how she had always hated plastic birdbaths.  They were always so tacky, and so many people had them. And why did she have to pick the one real concrete birdbath in the neighborhood to bash into?

 

            The crack on the pillar became a break and then the heavy bowl came down on her midsection.  She was unable to scream as the weight hit her and would have crushed her bones if it had hit any.  She was suddenly awash with blood and water, with the icy feeling robbing heat from her as it splashed her midsection and lapped up to her face.  She pushed the bowl away from her, trying to get to her feet. The grass was slippery, and she fell back to the ground. She tried to get up again. It was no good; she slipped and fell on the wet grass.  The blade flashed through the darkness, it was shiny, new, and well polished. 

 

            She kicked wildly, catching something sharp on her ankle for her troubles. It was a hot spike of pain that went across the ankle, and heat began to pour from it immediately. She felt warmth pooling into her shoes as she scattered herself back, the spreading heat had to be blood. She heard him moved forward toward her. She grabbed at something she thought was a concrete squirrel and swung it forward. The heavy concrete rodent struck something and there was a cracking sound, which was accompanied by a grunt.

 

            Kestrel stood up, pain lancing up her body, and tried to steady herself. She held the broken concrete animal, which had actually turned out to be a rabbit. She couldn’t see her knife; it was dull and unpolished.  She tried to find the gem in the hilt, it might reflect in the darkness of the backyard. Not only that but pigs might take wing and the Detroit Lions might win the Super Bowl this year.

 

            Loki stood slowly, his face covered with blood. It looked black in the dim right, like chocolate syrup had inexplicably been poured across his head. He might have been a bizarre new form of sundae soda, or perhaps part of a kinky group of sex fiends with a food fetish and an exhibitionist streak. It seemed reminiscent though. A memory flashed before her eyes. She had done this before, and run into the woods, and he hadn’t gotten his hands on her. He’d wanted to, but the blood and the pain had stopped him.

 

            He stepped into an invisible field of infrared sensors, which triggered a switch in a small circuit board. Suddenly, her neighbor’s back yard lights lit up. The twin halogen lanterns washed out the back yard in a white world of pain. Kestrel had a sudden thought, which was nothing short of insanity. As she was cold from the water and heated to sweating from the fight, numb from cold and stinging with pain from her wounds, the light glared and wiped everything from her world. As this all happened, the thought came to her, and made no sense. The twins do this, just before they eat the world. No shadow, just light, pain and light. It was a lunatic thought, signifying nothing, yet there it was.

 

             Loki raised his hands to his face and let out a short cry, pain lancing his brain. Her knife was in plain view now so she threw the concrete animal and struck him in the head again. His body flopped back and Kestrel jumped for the blade and took it in her fingers. She stood and gripped the knife tightly in her hand. She walked around the man in the red as he waved his blades around erratically.

 

            “Come on bitch.”  He growled like some sort of animal. 

 

            His hands swung about and struck out. The blade struck her in the chest and cut into the flesh. She looked at the cut about four inches below her neck.  She let her knife strike, hitting him in the stomach, turning the handle and pulled the dagger to the left. The explosion of blood was magnificent, and the smell was really something. He fell to the ground holding his stomach, his guts should have been spilling over his hands, but they weren’t.  He didn’t appear very happy about the situation tough.

 

            “You fucking bitch!”  He yelled.

 

            “Police!”  A voice barked suddenly.  “Freeze!”

 

            Loki turned around and looked at the officer, the young man’s gun drawn and waiting. Loki tossed the razor away and picked up the concrete stand of the fallen birdbath. He hurled it towards the officer, who actually managed to fire two shots wildly before the concrete column felled him. One bullet struck a tree and one flew off to Never Never Land as far as this story is concerned. The column struck him in the face, producing a thudding sound as it connected. Not a very loud sound, which made it all the worse. You can imagine a loud cracking sound, but a soft thud is real. A thud signifies that there wasn’t much for the concrete to do once it hit. The cop fell to the ground, carried a bit by the momentum. He didn’t die right away, not from just that. The resulting brain hemorrhage that came as a result of the injury though, that did kill him.

 

            Kestrel scooped up her bag and ran as fast as she could. She leapt over a fence and darted away into the night. Loki watched them and thought about if he should catch her. In the fatal moment, some sort of trigger snapped a circuit closed. He knew there were police officers around, and he was supposed to approach police officers. He didn’t know where this compulsion came from, but he had to fulfill it. He knew nothing of post hypnotic suggestion or subliminal conditioning, so he didn’t know the commands he had been given. The problem was that the second part about surrendering somehow didn’t make it through his psyche.

 

            Loki threw back his coat and reached for the two guns he had shoved down the back of his pants. They were small automatics, the square barreled Glocks that were all the rage in gun fashion these days. He pulled them from the place where he had them wedged into place, glad that they hadn’t fallen out in the struggle. He turned to where the police cars had parked. There were more police officers approaching, he charged them all.

 

            He leapt onto the hood of the first car and shot the already fallen officer once, leaping in a balletic twisting move to the ground and shooting his partner still in the car. The other officers drove up and ran forth. He shot and shot and jumped and spun and did things that even John Woo wouldn’t have someone do. He was quickly out of bullets but then that didn’t matter much. He got other guns from the fallen and had his fun whipping out all they’d sent.

 

            He thought himself quite the heroic figure, bravely slaying officers who were trying to uphold the laws and tyranny of the land. He was striking back against big brother, and the tyranny of good speak. He was a great man in his own mind, killing the soldiers of the great conspiracy of Zionist Nazis or something like that. He couldn’t keep the conspiracies straight. The point was he was the hero here, not them. He was sticking a blow against the Matrix or some such rot.

 

            As one officer, Amy Zhang, pressed her hand into the gaping hole in her partner’s side and another bullet caught her in the chest, one should consider her daughter. Her fifteen year old daughter, who was at that moment on her way to the homecoming dance with the young boy she intended to give herself to. She would never get the chance because the principal was going to come to her during the slow dance and ruin ‘I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You’ for her forever. She could never listen to that song again without thinking of her mother. Nor could she avoid thinking of the body armor that would have saved her life had the city not been forced to make cutbacks since they received so little funding in order to come up to the Homeland Security requirements.

 

            We might think of the officer that girl’s mother collapsed over after the bullet tore through her chest. Of his own wife, and how she was going to get along now. She had been saving up to buy him a bulletproof vest of his own, and couldn’t bear to even think about that money now. She donated the amount because it made her physically ill to think about what she had been saving for. The insurance wouldn’t help his wife much, not after the bills began to pile up without his income. There was also the psychologist and the pills they gave her to make life even bearable. She would be forced to sell the house and move in with her parents for two years. It was seven years before she could even admit that Steve wasn’t coming home.

 

            Fifteen officers in all were slain, leaving twelve spouses and twenty-three children to morn. There would be a large group funeral where the nine men and six women who lost their lives that night would be memorialized. Unfortunately they were not the last officers of the law who gave their lives in the defense of city against this lunatic, but they would be the best remembered. In the years to come, one of the twenty-three children would write a book about the officers that were slain in those eighty seconds of violence. It would go on to win the Pulitzer prize and gain notoriety after spending forty-three weeks on the New York Times best sellers list. The proceeds of the book went to a fund set up for the families of the Long Island 15, as they were known.

 

            These facts may not lend themselves to the story as it stands, but it’s important to note that these officers were more than some modern version of The Keystone Cops put together for some gory version of a silent comedy. That when they fell on top of each other, slipping on their fallen comrades blood, something other than a laugh should be inspired, that they were more than a group of walking targets, to be shot down by hero or foe. Rather that they were people, that they had families who would miss them forever, and that killing people has consequences.

 

 

October 25th, 2002

9:45 p.m.

 

            Kestrel ran through the backyards with her dagger still in hand, sheer terror propelling her onward through the darkness. The gunshots echoing through the street as she ran, fearing for what she was leaving behind her. She had seen the police, and knew what was going to happen to them. If she hadn’t been able to kill him, she didn’t think they would either. She couldn’t stop running, she knew next time he would not play with her. Next time he would kill her, and he would probably take his time about it.

 

            Her feet pounded loudly on the concrete of a neighbor’s patio as she ran. She hopped the chain link fence into the front yard. Her legs began to burn slightly from the running, her lungs clutching in her chest. More lights flashed on as she passed their motion sensors and half a dozen silent alarms went off. She found a large rock on the ground and hurled into the window of a house as she ran. The glass shattered and landed on the empty floor. A house alarm wailed as she continued to run, scooping up a handful of small stones. The bag was beginning to weigh more than it should. Her hand let another stone fly, another house and then two more house alarms screamed out their warnings.

 

            She ran to a car, parked on the street, quite and alone. It was one of those truck-cars, an El Camino Conquistador. It was most likely the prize possession of a teenager who thought the seventies were just neat. She slammed the butt of her knife into the passenger window, breaking it into a spider web of laminated glass and plastic. She tossed the knife into her other hand and shook her hand out. It looked so easy in the movies, you just gave it a good smack and the window came open. She hadn’t been prepared for the fact that it might hurt to do this. The shock of smacking the window had really hurt. She looked at the cracked window and looked at her bag. There wasn’t anything really breakable in there. She lifted the bag and smacked the window with it. This time there was a sound of glass giving way and she saw a hole just big enough to reach inside and unlock the door. She jumped inside brushing some glass away, climbing over to the driver’s seat.

 

            She looked at the knife and plunged it into the key lock, hoping that it was a strong as she thought it was. The first time someone tried to show her this trick the knife blade had snapped off. She took hold of the hilt, and closed her eyes as she turned the knife, hoping the blade wouldn’t snap. You should really have a screwdriver or pliers for something like this. The knife twisted and the car started with a well-oiled rumble. She drew the knife out and sighed as she looked at the unbroken knife, which had made it through the abuse. The car rumbled as she pressed down on the accelerator. The car had been taken care of at least, and of that she could also be glad. She put the car into gear and drove it away, it would be a while to get to the cabin, which was in Maine, but she thought she could manage.

 

 

October 25th, 2002

11:05 p.m.

 

            The eleven o’clock news was playing on the television; a story about the slaughter of fifteen police officers was the top story. The Weirdo looked at the screen and knew what it was about. He had thought about going to the house to try and find Loki’s one functioning victim and talk to her. He had been trying to figure out a way to broach the subject to her though. It looked like Loki hadn’t had that problem though.

 

            He felt dull at that moment, like a blade that had been purposely dulled or locked into a sheath at least. He was still tired and he felt sleepy, but sleep wasn’t going to come. He watched as the news cameras panned around the badly lit remains of police cars and the blood splattered streets. It was another bit of insanity that he wondered should he even be involved with.

 

            Loki was clearly coming for him, but that didn’t mean he had to go after Loki did it? Probably, had to be proactive these days didn’t he? That’s what heroes were supposed to do and all that. The problem was, he had never wanted to be a hero. He was a gangbuster, and the gangs had been busted. The Syndicate had been smashed and he had explained to the whole of the mafia they could leave his city or they could have him kill them all. They had decided that discretion was the better part of valor and leaving was the wiser of the two options.

 

            He wasn’t one of these masked crime fighters, wasn’t a soldier in the army of truth and justice. He wasn’t one of the people who was going to save the world and make everything okay. He was just a guy who was trying to slow the flow a little till the real solution showed up. He felt like a paramedic, just trying to keep the patient alive until they got to the hospital.

 

            But if all that’s true, the voice in his head asked, why do you want to go and find him so badly? The voice wouldn’t let him just turn away and declare it wasn’t his problem. If he didn’t want to get involved, why was he itching to start something? Wasn’t there something inside that made him want to go out and stop all of this? Within his chest there might very well be the heart of a knight errant.

 

            He looked at the screen and then looked away, his eyes falling on the gray coat and hat resting on the coat rack. He wanted to put the coat on, cover his head with the hat and charge into the night. He felt the wish to go out, in his uniform and do some damage to the monsters under society’s bed. He wanted to go get the big red one, and show him what an army of one really was. He stood up, and reached for the coat.

 

 

October 25th, 2002

10:09 p.m.

           

            Something, Grandma probably, was leading The Weirdo through New York’s lower east side. He was near the place where the five points one stood. The five points had once been where many immigrants first settled when they came to the city. It was a place of deprivation and crime. Over the years many of the streets were removed and the place where the five streets had met vanished as the years went by. There was no longer a five points district, but the deprivation had stayed. The Dead Rabbits were gone but the area was still rife with criminal activity.

 

            That The Weirdo should feel he was being drawn there wasn’t so odd, that he should feel the need for stealth was. He came around a corner with great care, looking at the prey he was going to watch for a while. He saw a figure in red watching the young man, but decided not to do anything about it just yet. He still felt he didn’t really want a part of this, but was being forced to partake anyway. If he was going to be forced though, he was going to resist being part of the game as long as he could.

 

            Billy was a member of the Kaiju Tailors, a gang who had just become incorporated into Loki’s larger group. They had been allowed to keep their gang colors and emblems though. Godzilla eating Tokyo on the back of his jacket hadn’t needed to be replaced. Everything had remained the same, save for the fact that they now reported to Loki and no longer killed other gangs for being on their turf.

 

            He was also a seller of drugs that he could press into tablets or slip into capsules. He was counting some bills that he had stuffed into a baggie earlier in the night. He didn’t have anything on him now; he had sold even his personal stash to a very desperate cokehead that needed something. He finished counting and shoved the money back in. He stood up and was about to get himself something when he felt a cold chill run down his back.

 

            “Hi, Billy.” The voice made the chilling effect of the night air bite into him all the more.

 

            The blood in his body froze; he felt his body chill and his skin break into sweat. He turned slowly and looked at the man who was behind him. Loki hung on a catwalk about ten feet over Billy. He was upside down and clutching the railing with his hands like some demented form of bat. A large red bat, that’s what he looked like.

 

            “Hi Loki.” Billy’s voice was that of someone who had possibly just wet himself.

 

            Billy thought he might be able to run, but felt that the later consequences of running might be worse if Loki caught up with him again. He didn’t think he could run that fast or that long. Besides the Tailors had officially joined the new red army, and he had a swatch of cloth tied onto one of his belt loops. Loki might be insane, but he was apparently a god. It was hard to run from a god, and even if Loki didn’t find him everyone else would.

 

            “I gave you a list one week ago.” the red bat like creature seemed to say. “Yours is the last of my pick ups, and I require what I asked you for.”

 

            “Yeah.” Billy said. “I’ve got it. Just not on me. It’s back at the place.”

 

            “Where?” Loki’s voice was a growl.

 

            “Uh.” Billy said. “At my place, man.”

 

            The already cold air of the alley was made even colder by another presence that came into the alley. Loki’s eyes fixed on The Weirdo, and he froze. He had too much of value to risk damaging it, all his pockets but one were full of the stuff. A fight with The Weirdo at this time would be too risky. He wasn’t ready for that yet. He couldn’t risk the pills and powders in his pockets getting damaged.

 

            “Fuck.” Loki’s voice snapped. “I’ll get back to you on this.”

 

            He moved like a cat and was gone into the shadows too quickly to follow. Billy felt the cold presence of The Weirdo approach him and heard the soft rasp of the man’s voice in his ear. There was a white plume when The Weirdo breathed, reminding Billy that it was indeed cold enough for it. Billy’s own breath produced only a small cloud of vapor while The Weirdo produced a large plume of thick mist.

 

            “What was that about?” The Weirdo asked.  

 

            “Nothing.” Billy was actually taller than The Weirdo, who was only about five foot six, maybe seven. The Weirdo dwarfed Billy though, he stood taller than a person twice his size might did, and he filled the alley.

 

            “Nothing?” The Weirdo crossed his arms.

 

            If this were seen by a camera, or if painted, there would be nothing very impressive about The Weirdo. He was just a short guy trying to look tough, just another punk on the street with no fashion sense. If you were there though, he was a force of nature. He was about twenty feet tall, a creature unlike any other, with no fashion sense. There was something about being in his presence that made you want to flee.

 

            “Yeah. Nothing.” Billy tried to bolt.

 

            He moved with what he thought was swift movement, and then he was on the ground. He had to take a moment to figure out how he got there. A big hint was that fact that The Weirdo was standing over him with a small pistol in his hand, a silencer fixed to the end. The Weirdo pulled the trigger once and let the bullet shatter the brown brick next to Billy’s head.

 

            “I’m having a horrendously bad day, Billy.” The Weirdo said. “I’ve got a terrible headache, I’ve only slept a couple of hours, and I’m really kinda hungry. The means exhaustion and low blood sugar, not a great combination. Plus if we are to believe the current evidence, I’m probably unbalanced as is. Now, I’d be willing to believe that you’ve had a scare and that you’re going to behave from now on.”

 

            “Yeah, no prob man.” Billy said.

 

            “But you gotta tell me what he wanted.”

 

            “He had a list of drugs man. I got the list right here.” He handed the list over.

 

            “Thank you.” The Weirdo said. “See how easy that was.”  

 

            “Yeah, it’s cool man.” The Weirdo released him and Billy was off and running.

 

            He took his leather jacket off and looked at the Kaiju Tailor’s emblem on the back, he threw it down. Something like that would only mark him now, and he needed to not be seen. He was going to have to run, and he’d have to get away from everyone he’d ever known. He hadn’t realized he was being watched, or that the small swatch of red cloth was still tied into his belt loop.

 

            He had no idea where he was going, but he had a very strong feeling that maybe now was a good time to visit his sister in San Francisco. Yes, San Fran, beautiful this time of year. Actually he didn’t know if it was or not but it had to be better than the psychos he was finding in New York. He had a hope that he could make it before anyone knew where he was.

 

 

October 25th, 2002

10:17 p.m.

 

            The Weirdo began to walk back to his car, as he did he happened to glance down an alleyway. A man in a bad suit was slapping the hell out of a woman, yelling that she’d better never try and hold out on him. His fist struck her face again and three big-jeweled rings cut her cheek. She screamed, her hands rose to try and protect herself. Blood trickled down her face slowly as she touched the injured spot. Her left eye was already swelling up quite badly and she already couldn’t see out of it very well. The fist raised again, she looked up as nothing happened. This was a dumb thing to do and had already gotten her socked in the eye twice. The pimp flew backwards, the alley was slim and there wasn’t much room for him to fly. Ah, but they always find a way, don’t they?

 

            “You shouldn’t hit.” The Weirdo said, a cool mist gathering around him. “It’s not nice. There’s a difference between a good touch and a bad touch.” 

 

            His foot suddenly swung out and struck the pimp in the chest. Something snapped, or felt like it did. The pimp flew back and fell onto the sidewalk, his ribs burning and a sensations rising up his body. The pain had frozen him more than the cold ground. He looked up as The Weirdo was coming out of the alley. His hands curled into fists, he looked like a predatory animal.

 

            “Now, that was a bad touch,” he said, “but a hug’s a good touch.” 

 

            His arms wrapped around the pimp and he squeezed harshly, the pimp’s trapped arms couldn’t move at all. He could feel his ribs squeeze in on his lungs, and swore that they began to crack under the strain. The Weirdo figured he wasn’t worth it and let him fall to the ground. The pimp let out a short scream as he fell to the ground and struck his backside.

 

            “Get to a hospital. Your ribs are cracked, not broken though.” His hand took the pimp’s cheeks. “Next time, I’ll erase your ass. Am I making myself understood?”

 

            “My fucking side.” The pimp complained

 

            “Why do people always tell me about pieces of them that hurt when I ask if I’m understood?” The Weirdo asked giving him another slap across the head. “Did I make myself clear?”

 

            “Yeah.” The pimp whined.

 

            “Then we have an accord.” The Weirdo said. “And that’s just bully.”

 

            “What?” The pimp asked, clearly confused.

 

            “It means don’t fuck up again.” The Weirdo said as he let the man go.

 

            The pimp’s head hit the pavement when The Weirdo let him drop. The pimp looked up and around him, but he was alone on the street. He wanted to jump up and run, but his ribs wouldn’t let him. He looked at the woman at the other end of the alley, trying to work out what she was watching. She turned and ran from him, the fear clear on her face.

 

 

October 25th, 2002

10:25 p.m.

 

            As the El Camino began to sputter, Kestrel glanced at the fuel gauge.  It had sunk well below E. The valiant vehicle tried to carry her for a few more feet, but the engine died, and the car rolled to a stop. The car was stopped along a back road, which ran though a forest. It was one of the back roads that the landowners used. It was two thin foot wide strips, which had green grass separating them.

 

            She got out of the car, glanced back at it and shrugged. She knew where this road led, so she could walk it in the dark. There wouldn’t or at least shouldn’t be anyone else on the road and she should be able to see them before they saw her. She slung the pack onto her back and began to walk. The road was quiet at this time of year, nearly silent in fact. It was so very dark that it was like walking in a dream, and she didn’t like to dream.

 

            The dreams that came when she was under stress like she was now were always some memory she had forgotten. She sometimes wondered if she would ever want to remember the things she had forgotten about. She had once tried, with a therapist while she was in Oregon for that year. The two of them had pieced together the events of one dream, and then she had found details of the event in the old papers at the library. Once she had learned a bit, she had no desire to learn more. The events that she had managed to put together were bad enough. It wasn’t even that she actually remembered the event, but she remembered the bits of dream and stories she had read.

 

            They had ordered pizza, so when her father opened the door she had thought it was food. The door swung open, and the pain began, and her life ended. The straight razor had cut one of her father’s fingers off, and cut into his stomach. Her father’s stomach had been torn open and his guts spilt out onto the floor. The man had forced her mother on the floor, smashing her face against the carpet, tearing away skin as she cried for her daughter to run. She hadn’t been able to run though. She had just frozen up when the moment came.

 

He had killed both parents, molested their corpses, and then came for her. He had tried to kill her, but he hadn’t tried very hard. He had just slashed at her. The blade caught her arms and hands, causing the long white scars on her arms. She picked up a knife though, and had stabbed him in the stomach. There had been the sudden flush of fear, knowing she had hurt him, and then she ripped the knife through his guts.

 

            He’d screamed, he fell to his knees and she smacked the blade into his forehead, thinking she could cut through his skull somehow. The blood had exploded from that wound and she fled from him. She hid in the bushes, watched him drag himself from the house, and only came out when the police cars showed up.

 

            She had thought she might bleed to death, but the quick work with the remains of her t-shirt saved her life. She managed to tear the shirt into strips and wrapped her damaged limbs up enough not to bleed to death until the paramedics came.

 

            She had to spend several months in the hospital, and come to terms with the fact that she had lost her parents again. They had been adoptive of course, but she had known somehow that she had been an orphan because her parents and a grandmother of sorts had all died. Now she was an orphan again, and trying to learn to walk again. Her leg had been broken, and a lot of damage had been done in the groin area. She had actually become an adult while in the hospital, and the bills had begun to arrive.

 

            The house had been sold, the business sold, all to pay for her bills and the burial of her parents. There had been no one else, so she had to be the adult who made the decisions. Her father had sold jewelry, but that avenue had closed when she had sold everything to pay off her debts. It was an easy step from selling to stealing though, and thus her career in jewel theft had begun.

 

            Of course then there were other patches of missing time in her memories, pieces of time that she had no desire to revisit or to try to open. She figured that she must have forgotten them for a reason, so it was probably best to keep them away. It was the sort of discipline certain children show for not picking at scabs. It was a terrible wound that was in the process of healing itself over, best not to mess with it until it was nothing more than a thin white scar on her memory.

 

 

October 25th, 2002

11:45 p.m.

 

            Kestrel was still lost in the backlog of memories when the sound tore her away from her thoughts. It was a loud cracking sound, a tree falling. She flung herself forward, diving into the leave covered ground. Her body was covered in sweat, and her heart felt like it wanted to break her ribs. She didn’t try to move for the first few seconds, just looked at the dead tree that had fallen behind her. It was relativity small, but it had sounded like the world ending. 

 

            The thoughts were already receding back into the corners of her mind, hiding away so she couldn’t remember it.  She felt the memory she had been playing with slip through her fingers. She placed her hands to her head and sank to the ground, trying to catch a piece of it. She spread her body out as much as she could, lying spread-eagled on the damp earth. The energy was running through her body as it ran through the ground, she could feel it coursing through her, clearing her thoughts and calming her wildly beating heart.

 

            A dry leaf crunched next to her, the sound as loud as a firecracker in her ear.  She spun around, her hand drawing the knife, just in time to watch a rabbit scurry beneath the fallen tree. She laughed shakily, looking at the knife she had drawn out in her reaction. She sat in the front seat of the car, and looked at the tree. She closed her eyes again and tried to relax herself, breathing deeply. She should hear anyone coming from here. She sat in the car and rested for a moment.

 

            It was a long way to Maine yet, and she had no car to finish the trip in. She hadn’t thought about it, rather she had just started walking. She wondered what she should do and decided that perhaps she should just keep moving, and think about it on the way. It would be difficult for them to track her at night, and she could pick up a few rides to get to the cabin. It wouldn’t be too hard to get there, even walking it would only be maybe a week’s worth of hiking. She could manage it she thought, particularly if she started now. After all she had managed two weeks in the countryside of Russia with the whole of the Soviet army after her, or so it seemed. They weren’t actually Soviets any more she thought, but there were a lot of them. Bronski had paid plenty for the stone though, which had made the whole thing more than worth the effort. She began to drift away and she wondered where Bronski was now. Probably dead no doubt, he was too reckless. She began to walk again, towards the cabin and false identification.

 

 

October 26th, 2002

12:01 a.m.

 

            Loki waked into his room, his body still racked with the pleasurable pain. He had cut himself several times and he was enjoying the feeling of the wounds closing up again. Billy had gone back to his apartment, and found Loki waiting for him. He was going to run out on Loki, leave him with nothing. Loki had paid in advance, and this little piece of shit was going to try and leave without giving Loki what was his.

 

            He had beat Billy, raped him, and then vivisected him like the others. He stretched the skin with hooks and wires, so that it looked like the pictures from the old books. He had ripped Billy’s jaw out of joint, which didn’t stop him from screaming but did leave him unable to form real words. It had taken Billy a surprisingly long time to die actually. He must have had quite a spirit, which would no longer do him or anyone else any good.

 

            He took everything of value from Billy’s home, which turned out to be the drugs he’d been promised as well as a few others. One might find a pathetic statement in the fact that Billy really had nothing of value besides a few drugs, but Loki ignored it. He brought them all home, along with Billy’s left kidney. He’d no intention of eating it, but it was fun to make them wonder why he might take it away with him. He had called the rest of the Kaiju Tailors and instructed them to go to see Billy for a lesson about trying to run out on him.

 

            Loki stripped off his clothes and placed his hands to his temples, as if he were trying to force his finger through his head. He tensed his face muscles as well as most of the others he could, his entire body becoming tense and hard. He stretched his mind out, concentrating on the bag. The bag’s zipper pulled itself open and one of the plastic freezer bags lifted from the nylon duffel bag. It floated over to him as he closed his eyes tightly and concentrated. He began to reach his hand out as the bag began to falter.

 

            He caught the bag before it fell, his fingers wrapping around it as gravity reasserted itself. The capsules in the bag were far too valuable to let fall. He took one of the capsules out and looked at it, and then swallowed it quickly. He watched as several of the pills lifted from the bag. He closed his eyes and thought about them. He placed his hands at his temples and the capsules flew into his mouth. He swallowed as they slid down his throat, the coating coming off them as they rolled down and delivering their payload into his stomach. 

 

            They would make his powers increase by tenfold, that’s what he had read. His psychic powers would be stronger than The Weirdo’s after he processed the pills in his system. He was the perfected copy after all, that was what he had come to learn. He felt the pills begin to take effect, and could see everything more clearly. The pills had been laced with LSD as he had instructed them to when they were making up the capsules. He could hear the colors around him, he had to remember to work through the false hallucinations and find the truth. He could hear goblins laughing as he fell back into the chair as the sounds out of the radio tickled him. The walls began to melt and his perception began to process so much information that it was working through things that didn’t exist.

 

 

October 26th, 2002

12:22 a.m.

 

            The Weirdo’s bed was left in its terribly unmade state. He had tried to sleep, but had failed again.  He wanted to go to sleep; he desperately wanted to go to sleep. He felt as if he couldn’t remember what sleep felt like. His mind was still showing him reruns of his day, which he longed to escape from. A slow motion view of a small child’s head exploding from a high-powered bullet. The way the body pulled the same way as her head, even though the head was suddenly gone. The way the mother seemed to think she was just wanting to show her something the way she screamed when she saw her. How the blood kept pumping, spraying onto the mother’s face.

 

            She had been thinking about Nemo, and then there was nothing but silence. When the minds of all people are like radio transmitters, you get used to the constant buzz of sound. The little girl’s thoughts had been exuberant and hard to ignore though, which made the suddenness of the silence from her all the more obscene. It wasn’t even that there had been a fast wind down of thought or an explosion of a single word. There had been the thought that she would like an aquarium to keep a clown fish in, and then silence.

 

            Then of course there was the whale. For some reason, he kept seeing an image of a blue whale, swallowing a massive cloud of krill. He had seen the image about two years ago on a documentary about the great whales. It was the rarest of the rare, a blue whale, feeding no less. He had tried to calculate in his head how many krill must have died in one mouthful when they said that the whale could take in nearly a ton of the animals in a single great gulp. It seemed to him that it must be millions of animals, all being taken at once.

 

            He wondered if the whale was some sort of god to the krill. Where they big enough to have religion? He supposed they must be. He couldn’t tell if being eaten up by god was a good thing or bad thing to the krill. They might think it a good thing because they would be warm and protected. Besides it must be nice, no one ever comes back to complain.

 

            There were giants out there in the oceans, huge leviathans that were the product a billion plus years of evolution that had formed the biggest thing on earth. They silently or nearly silently, drifted through the ocean going about whatever business they went about. There were huge mammals slipping through the water, drifting past canons and ice flows that existed before mankind had even evolved far enough as to walk. There were squid that could possibly be longer than the whales, with beaks big enough to bite a submarine in half. There were giants out there, beyond the depths, and he knew about them.

 

            He looked at the bottle of whiskey, which sat at the other end of the room. He watched as the bottle’s cap unscrewed from its place. He didn’t close his eyes; he didn’t hold his hands to his temple, he didn’t have to. He watched as a bubble of the golden liquid raised from the bottle and floated towards him.  He watched as the cue ball sized bubble flew through the air. The bubble came to rest in a crystal glass next to him. He grabbed the glass slowly, running his fingers over the carved crystal.

 

            He looked up and his eyes happened upon Shannon’s picture. The glass stopped in mid raise, he didn’t want to drink the whiskey. Yet, he raised it to his face and kissed the lip of the crystal. He let the whiskey roll around his mouth before swallowing. It was old, and it was good, and he didn’t want it.

 

            The image of that child still haunted him, the thought of a clown fish and then nothing. He tapped his fingers against the dark oak table, which sat next to him. He stood and walked to the window. He closed his eyes as the wind blew into his room, taking the warmth from his body in small handfuls. It felt as if the wind itself were trying to embrace him. He could feel the arms of the wind wrap around him. He felt the wind’s kiss and remembered the kiss of flesh. The way that Shannon’s lips felt against his, how her body felt against his. He wanted to weep, he wanted to scream and cry at that moment. He wanted to tear at his hair and scream out against the world, he didn’t though and he wouldn’t, because he refused to be broken by the wind or a memory.  He thought about the child again and thought about another small child, a child that had changed everything.

 

            “Please Mister Weirdo, please save my mommy.”

 

            The small child who had come to his door, and simply asked him to do a simple thing. She had stood, and asked him to save her mother. She had simply stood there, tears in her eyes and made a simple statement. She had reminded him, what he was supposed to be here for. That tiny child with her simple words had broken his selfishness.

 

            “That’s what heroes do.” She had told him. “They save mommies and daddies and people who can’t help themselves.”

 

            It was what heroes do. There had been no question in her mind that heroes saved the day. It can’t even be said to be a belief, it was more like an unquestionable fact. The sun rises in the east, water freezes at thirty-two degrees Fahrenheit, and heroes save mommies and daddies. He hadn’t been able to fight that truth, and had allowed her version of reality to overtake him.

 

            He tried to steer his mind away from these jagged rocks of thought and found he couldn’t do it. His mind might have been a powerful instrument, but it wasn’t exactly under control. The constant boiling and churning meant that things kept coming to the surface whether he liked it or not. He thought that maybe he needed to occupy himself with something for a while.

 

            He walked out of his bedroom and walked down the stairs.  He entered the front room and found Max reading a book. He sat down across from him and Max looked at him from over his book. Max hadn’t been terribly enthused by the book really. The author wasn’t as good as forming a story as he had been at forming an interesting idea. It was a problem for Max if he didn’t care about the heroes of the book.

 

            “What’s up?”  Max said.

 

            “I was going to go down and work out.”  The Weirdo said looking distracted.  “You wanna come?”

 

            “Sure.”  Max said.

 

 

October 26th, 2002

1:28 p.m.

 

            The Weirdo was thrown to the padded floor once again, Max standing over him. He lay on the padding and looked up at the cold fluorescent lights that shone down on them. He hated fluorescents, never mind if they’re more efficient, he didn’t like the way they looked. They always made his eyes hurt when he was around them.  Max had beaten him six times now and it was becoming a tad monotonous. The Weirdo stood up again and looked at the young man.  He wasn’t really a boy anymore. In fact he was nearly twenty years old now. He wasn’t the skinny seventeen-year-old they had taken in three years ago. He had become a man in such time.

 

            “You’re doing pretty badly there, old man.”  Max said.

 

            The Weirdo could almost see the concern in Max’s voice, there was that much of it. The Weirdo wasn’t using all the strength he could, but he had taught Max about how to augment his speed. The priest of the temples had a lot of tricks, and he had learned them. He had taught them to Max and knew that one day Max would probably pass him in speed. He may not surpass his strength, but defiantly his speed.  He looked at him and shook his head.

 

            “I’m fine.”  The Weirdo said.  “I need the practice. It’s obvious.”

 

            “I think you need sleep.”  Max said. “You look worn out.”

 

            “I’m fine.”  The Weirdo said.  “Got to be better than him, that’s all.”

 

            “You’re going to exhaust yourself.”  Max said, walking to a table where a folded towel sat, “Go to bed or I’ll shoot you.”

 

            Max leveled an air pistol at The Weirdo, and his face went stony. It was loaded with a tranquilizer dart, meant for taking down angry circus animals. Max was still sure though that it would have enough power to knock The Weirdo out though. It was always hard to tell what might or might not have an effect on The Weirdo. Concentration was a big part of his power, and it depended on how much of his attention he was giving something. If he paid attention, Max thought, he could probably hold the sun in his hand without getting scorched. Max waved the gun towards the door, hoping that would be enough to convince him.

 

            “You’re not really going to…” This sentence has always been a silly thing to say to people. 

 

            There was a sound like someone popping a seal on a pressure cooker.  The Weirdo looked down at his arm where a small blue dart was stuck. He looked up at Max and pinched the dart between his fingers, pulling it out. He looked at the blue bits of duparoh fabric, which made the fletching. Max cocked the pistol and slid another dart in quickly, and shot him again. A second blue fletched dart struck The Weirdo’s chest, vibrating in place.

 

            “Did I need a second one?” The Weirdo asked, pulling that one out. “Couldn’t you wait for this stuff to take effect??”

 

            “No.” Max said raising his eyes brows.

 

            “You little shiii…” The Weirdo’s eyes rolled up and he collapsed to the padded floor.

 

            The darkness greeted him like a new lover in the night.  Like Shannon would greet him at the end of those long nights.  Before she died, before the darkness, and before Shannon there was his mother. A most beautiful woman, she had the nicest smile, but she was gone now, they were all gone. He was only six when it happened, when they were all taken. How long ago that now seemed.  How horrible.

 

            Max looked at the fallen man, whose breathing was already coming in long measured gusts. He hated himself for using the tranquilizers, but he had to make a decision about this. Either The Weirdo was going to kill himself through lack of sleep, or he was going to be knocked out. Max tossed the gun on the table and picked up the communicator.

 

            “Jack?”  Max said lifting a small pen like device to his lips.

 

            “Yes, Max?”  Jack’s voice said through the device.

 

            “I had to shoot him with the dart gun.”

 

            There was a pause, which might have lasted roughly ten thousand years. Max could see Jack, licking his lips and opening his mouth, looking for the right thing to say.  What could you say when you heard that someone who defiantly needed to be knocked out, had just been knocked out?  Not too much if it’s a normal person; but if it’s someone who’s going to shoot you as soon as he gets up, you might want to start getting some of your things together and take off.

 

            Sleep aids and The Weirdo had a habit of not getting on well together, and he had habit of being cranky later. The Weirdo, in fact, might be famous for his bad moods when wakening if he had done nothing else. He might not achieve worldwide fame for this, but he would be something of a local legend told on dark nights.

 

            “I’ll be down in a minute.” He said finally.

 

 

October 26th, 2002

1:55 a.m.

 

            “He wouldn’t go to bed willingly?”  Jack asked.

 

            “Nope.”  Max said.

 

            “No, he wouldn’t. Can’t do anything the easy way.”  He lifted The Weirdo up and carried him to his bedroom.

 

            It was a long task, carrying him up to the house, and up the stairs. The Weirdo was drugged enough that he didn’t thrash around, which was a mercy, but it was still three flights. Jack and Max would have never been able to get him up the stairs if he had been sleeping like he normally did. Jack had watched him a few times, when he had come to wake him. He had seen how The Weirdo would sometimes thrash around in the bed. There were times when he would half sit up and bring a fist down into the pillow before planting his head into it again. Shannon had said many times that it was only the fact that she could get to the edge of the large king sized bed that kept her from waking up bruised. They did finally get him to his room, and Jack set him down on the bed and pulled the blanket over him.

 

            “You think he’ll be pissed?”  Max asked.

 

            “I don’t think so.”  Jack said.

 

            “Really?” Max asked.

 

            “He’ll be bloody furious is what he’ll be.” Jack said. “I mean I do hope you’ve written a will and all that.”

 

            “You’re a constant source of comfort and wisdom to me Jack, you know that?”

 

            “That’s what I’m here for.” Jack said.

 

           

October 26th, 2002

3:00 a.m.

 

            There had been a dream, in which there had been dragons, and a man in a red cloak, a friend instead of an enemy. He held a great sword that was covered in an aura of flames, which surrounded and protected the man. He was a great swordsman, and a great friend to all that were his friends. He was the lover of a woman he didn’t quite recognize, even though he knew her very well in the dream. He had his hood up so that The Weirdo couldn’t see his face, but he had a familiar voice.

 

            The thunder woke The Weirdo from his sleep, and he felt his skin and was surprised at how cold it was. His skin felt not unlike the cold skin of a corpse, cold and dry. His entire body shook, as if from the cold. He knew the reason was because of the drugs Max had hit him with. They were still going to be rattling around inside him weather he slept or not. He then looked at the clock and thought maybe the fact that he felt shaky was because he had hardly slept at all.

 

            His sheets had been thrown to the floor in his sleep. He looked at the bare bed that had been stripped even of its bedspread. He had even lost his shirt and now was only in his pants. He looked at the clock again, noticing that it was three in the morning according to this clock.  A light dabbling of sweat had built over his body in the ten seconds that he had been up. His body suddenly feeling hot as an iron plucked from the fire. It was like a fever that had suddenly started and he wondered if this was from the drugs.

 

            His head felt like it was full of wool, his brain wrapped up in a big fluffy blanket, and his mouth seemed to be stuff with cotton as well. He couldn’t manage to think about much of anything except how he couldn’t manage to think. The dryness in his throat seemed to choke him slightly. He could manage thinking about not managing to think, but couldn’t manage anything else. He rubbed his eyes and thought it had helped a little.

 

            He picked up a bottle of water next to his bed and drank the entire thing in one long series of gulps. That helped the feeling in his mouth a little, but he wanted to have more to drink. He walked to the bathroom and refilled the bottle at the sink, emptying it again. He couldn’t really say he felt better as a result, but he had washed some of the cotton feeling out of his mouth.

 

            He walked from the bathroom across the floor to the window and looked out at the city through the curtains. The clouds were forming heavily over the city, he could smell the water in the air, that was how he knew it was going to rain. His hands rested on the iron bars, which made the guardrail for the balcony.  He had been in bed a moment ago, so how he had gotten here he didn’t know.

 

            He thought he must have walked but couldn’t remember anything about the trip. He looked behind him and rested his hands on the ladder, which ran from his balcony to the observation deck. There was a stairway, but a previous owner who had wanted a direct route from deck to room had put this ladder in place. He began to climb slowly up the rungs to the roof of the mansion. He could feel the cool wind brush against his bareback. The hairs on his back moved slightly to one side with the breeze. They didn’t move much, they weren’t very long and there weren’t many of them. They moved just enough to tell him his back was feeling a breeze and that a shirt would have been wise before his climbing expedition.

 

            He continued to climb until he had reached the top.  His eyes looked down on the far drop he’d have if his hand let go. It didn’t bother him though and it never had, in all his years. His hands took the black rungs and hoisted himself to the roof.  He gripped the bars and pulled himself up. This was not a service ladder though. This ladder was for those who were going to the observation deck just above his room.

 

            He felt like he was being drawn up to the iron railed circle with the copper dome for a roof. It had been built as a spot to put a telescope and view the stars, or possibly as a high spot to look out for attacks. Whatever reason it was first built it was the highest point on the house, which explained the stone path to nowhere being so close to it.

 

            There was a stone tongue, like a plank jutting out from the observation deck. He stood on the observation deck for a while and looked at the stone plank. He walked down along the long stone plank.  It was about a foot and a half wide plank made of granite and didn’t seem to have any particular purpose, unless you knew the family history. He walked all the way to the edge of the plank, looking down at the ground below him. From there he’d have a straight drop, like that one relative they had told him about. He had built this part of the house for that purpose. He had run down the granite plank and went for distance. That had been the whole idea of this place, which is why it wasn’t initially obvious why a long plank of granite should be jutting out from the highest part of the house.

 

            The Weirdo sat down and crossed his legs and began to slowly clear his mind, as he had been taught. He concentrated and managed to calm the voices and slow the constant churning. He could feel the world begin to drop away as he did, the sounds and sensations fading away. The world began to slip into nothingness, and there was only him. He concentrated on nothing but the sound of his own heart beating in his chest.

 

            He could feel each blood cell stop and then move with the movement of the organic pump. His lungs took in and let out each breath with an inhuman silence. He in fact quit breathing all together. The air began to simply defuse through his skin, like the yogis had taught him so long ago. His heart stopped moving and the blood began to course through his veins faster like they had taught. He began to reach out and attempt to touch his enemy. He could feel every living thing in the city, and in his head there was a little name over each of their heads like an online video game. Most census polls would say there’s about eight million people living in New York. The Weirdo’s own probes would have to add a full two million more, yet they say eight million souls in New York.  The Weirdo had to deal with the fact that pretty much each living thing has some sort of soul. Even if the average American doesn’t do the sort of work that causes a soul to come into existence and develop, they do enough. His own numbers range higher than the trillions of souls in his city.

 

            As his mind sought out that one he was touched by each different aspect of each life he was near. He could feel the presence of each single soul in the area of his city, and filtered them through his mind.  He narrowed down the one he wanted, the worst killer in the city. He was alone, that much was good, but it caused him pain to come close to him. Blood began to pour from both nostrils, and his head pounded with stress.  He could feel Loki trying to get into his head, as he was trying to get into Loki’s.  The Weirdo was the more powerful of the two though, he had to be, or he was going to lose. His mind pushed, and pulled and twisted like a cyclone.

 

            He was coming to the conclusion though that Loki might actually be the stronger of the two of them. Loki’s mind tore through like a man wielding a fifty pound piece of teak, which was powerful but had no control.  The one thing that The Weirdo had over his adversary was he knew how to do this, he had learned and had practiced. Being strong is one thing, knowing how is another. He could bend things better, twist and escape.  There are times when nothing can beat practiced skill. The battle was really something that if it had been played out on the physical world, the city would have fallen down.

 

            Oddly, when it came right down to it, all Loki had was strength. There was no savagery in his attack to match The Weirdo’s, no skill, no drive. All he had was raw power, but no idea how to use it, or even what it was good for. He was simply trying to throw everything he had at The Weirdo, which while problematic, was easy to get around one he knew what Loki was doing.

 

            He was able to get a good deal of hits in, but dodging was more difficult as he came closer. He was more at risk as he moved in to deliver the blows, and he was getting tired of the dodging. He decided to try and make a break for it. As he disengaged, he gave one last hit, powerful enough, he hoped, to break Loki’s neck. He spun away and did the equivalent of throwing a firebomb down behind him so that Loki couldn’t peruse him. He had to escape, because while skill can take someone far, it isn’t everything.

 

 

 

October 26th, 2002

3:26 a.m.

 

            In a dark apartment, Loki sat in near convulsions.  He shook forward and back, his mouth spitting up volumes of blood. He was trying to keep hold of the grasp he got on The Weirdo’s mind. Blood was dripping down the side of his neck from his ears.  Pouring over his lips and chin from his nose and mouth. He could even feel a warm wetness in his pants. He opened his eyes to let go a stream of blood from his tear ducks, and fell to the floor. He sucked in a desperate gulp of air, and fell into epileptic seizures.  He watched the blood trickle on the floor, and then his eyes began to turn upwards as the last strands of his consciousness fell away from him.

 

 

October 26th, 2002

3:33 a.m.

 

            The Weirdo stood up slowly, and still the rush of blood to his head was intense.  He told himself not to look down but did anyway, which is foolish. The ground looked very close from here, he might make it in one or maybe two steps. He watched as the world began to spin. Suddenly the stars were in front of him, and then all the air went out of his lungs. He stopped breathing for a moment and then his lungs recompressed. He took a deep breath as his head turned.

 

            He was suddenly very glad for the fact that he fell backwards and not forwards.  He could have made it though, he was sure of that. It was just as well he didn’t have to though. His tongue reached out and touched the small trickle of blood that ran next to his lips. He began to sit up, and shook his head back and forth. He looked around and stood up again. He walked to the edge again and stepped off, concentrating his power.  He fell down at a slower than normal pace, and touched gently down on the ground. He looked around. Nobody was about, that meant he could pull tricks like this. With a bright electrical burst he was gone.

 

            He reappeared in his bedroom, and looked at his bed.  It was quite the comfy bed, he was sure it would be. He fell into it just to be sure, and the gentle hand of sleep took him suddenly. Eventually sleep took over him and he was able to leave the conscious world for a while. He felt like the hand of some ancient and loving god had swept him away from the worries of the world, if only for a short moment.

 

            If he had looked up he would have noticed what could possibly have been the most beautiful woman anyone has ever laid eyes on watching over him. She must have been a Goddess, for beauty like that is rarely seen on earth. Also humans wear more clothing in October. She watched over him as another Goddess came through the window.

 

            “Aphrodite.” Eoster said as she entered The Weirdo’s room.

 

            “I come to watch over him from time to time.” Aphrodite said. “I am greatly concerned about his welfare.”

 

            “I try to comfort him, but he rejects me.” Eoster said.

 

            “I know.” The passion Goddess said. “I’ve seen him.”

 

            Aphrodite walked towards The Weirdo and wiped the blood from his face with her finger. The beautifying touch meant that she needed no cloth, simply to touch. His face was clear of blood and dirt. She stroked his hair and ran a finger along his cheek.

 

            “I got quite used to watching them together you know.” Aphrodite said. “They were so happy. I had blessed their union, and their child was to be mine. The child of this union was to be the one who would fulfill my plan.”

 

            “I know.” Eoster said. “I’m sorry.”

 

            “You and I agreed to the child.” Aphrodite said. “I know why you’re trying to comfort him in the way you are.”

           

            “Oh?”

 

            “You’re thinking that my child could still be conceived.”

 

            “Maybe.”

 

            “Oh the child can still be conceived.” Aphrodite said. “I will have my child. The only question that we need answered is who struck out against me?”

 

            “I don’t know.” Eoster said.

 

            “I know you don’t.” Aphrodite said kindly. “I do intend to find out though.”

 

            The Goddess lay down next to The Weirdo and stroked his coal black hair. Eoster turned slowly and left through the open balcony door. Aphrodite stroked The Weirdo’s hair and watched over him, soothing his mind and calming his dreams. She worried about her plan, the plan that had been laid out so carefully. She wasn’t about to let it be screwed up now. Not when things were so near the goal, not now that things were almost done.

 

 

October 26th, 2002

5:28 p.m.

 

            The room was dark, so very, very dark. The shades had been drawn; the curtains on his bed had also been closed. The sheets were covering the dark head as his lips took in and ejected air from the body. At that moment he wished that he’d never wake up. He could feel Shannon’s soft skin on his check. Her breast pressed up against his hand, their lips touching.  He had that bliss yanked from him as the real world came back. He could feel her hands on his heart and then it was torn from his chest. He watched as they dragged her away, his beating heart dripping blood, still clutched in her fingers. She screamed for him, his hand reached out.  He couldn’t move. He was helpless.

 

            The Weirdo woke up suddenly, pain smacking him once again.  His head still spinning, he wished idly for death. You must remember to jump. He knew that he had upset death in some way and that death wouldn’t take him. You’ll have to jump when she comes. He had cheated her once too often, and now she wouldn’t take him. Jump. He looked at the drawn curtains and stretched.  He fell back into the bed, wondering what was meant by jump.  His eyes closed and his mind began to let go again.

 

            “I need you to go get someone.” The voice came and he opened his eyes again.

 

            “What?” He asked sitting up.

 

The Gray man stood in the middle of the room, looking more comfortable than he did in Loki’s room. He didn’t look ill at ease here, like he was trying to minimize contact with anything in the room. He just looked like a man trying to get someone to do something for him.

 

“I need you to go pick someone up.” The Gray man said again. “I’ll tell you right where she is, you’ve just got to go get her.”

 

 

October 26th, 2002

5:30 p.m.   

 

            Loki woke slowly, and he knew something had gone wrong.  His head was spinning, and it hurt a lot.  He looked down at his legs, at the dried blood that had encrusted his crotch. He noted that his face felt the same way, like his skin had gone hard and solid. He pulled at a piece of the blood and watched as it flaked to the floor. He began to pull the pants off, which caused sudden pain. He stopped when he discovered the blood had bonded his pubic hairs and his penis to the pants.  He stopped and stood as carefully as he could and began to walk towards the bathroom.

 

            His bloody hand touched the handle of the shower, leaving it streaked with the browning sludge.  He watched as the warm water began to pour out of the showerhead, like a shower from the heavens.  It began to strike him and work away the dried blood from his face. He sat down in the tub and let the water soak into him.

 

            His blood was supposed to reenter his body, what had happened? Something had gone terribly wrong, no matter how you sliced it. He had clearly won the fight, but The Weirdo had managed to hit him harder than Loki knew you could be hit. Or had he won the fight? He had proved which of them was stronger, so why was he covered in blood? Something had gone haywire, and he had to find out what.

 

            The Weirdo had done this to him, and he had done everything to him.  He had learned some of The Weirdo’s tricks, but not enough of them.  He had been forced to learn quick and harsh, always go for blood.  He wanted to kill The Weirdo, had to kill him.  That was his only purpose in life was to kill this man.  He wanted only The Weirdo’s death. He almost couldn’t remember why though, or rather the reasons didn’t seem to make any logical sense sometimes.

 

            He looked at the reddish water as it spun counterclockwise down the drain.  He would kill The Weirdo, but that wouldn’t be enough would it?  Of course not, he would have to destroy him as well. He’d have to tear his heart out. He would have to make him pay for this pain. Oh yes, he would have to make him scream.

 

 

December 17th, 800

11:04 a.m.

 

            “Should I start with the goose or the lamb do you think?” the old king asked.

 

            “Well Charles.” The Weirdo said. “I would start with the lamb.”

 

            “Very well.” The king said. “Cut me a joint then please.”

 

            “Certainly.” He said and cut the king the joint. “Are you going to be at the Christmas celebration?”

 

            “You know that I’m not much for that.” The Weirdo said apologetically

 

            “Oh I know that.” The old man smiled. “You should come though, I think you will find it interesting.”

 

            “You know something I don’t know?”

 

            “The Pope himself will be there.”

 

            “Does this have anything to do with that crown the priests are talking about?” The Weirdo asked.

 

            “I am personally shocked and surprised by the whole thing.” Charles said quietly so that only the two of them might hear. “Had I known his holiness was planning to do such a thing I would have never entered the church.”

 

            “I see.” The Weirdo said

 

            “Do make sure you remember that.” Charles said. “Modesty is very important at a time like this.”

 

            “Certainly.” The Weirdo said smiling. “I can clearly see that.”

 

© 2013 Autumn Knight Productions

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July 22, 2013 - Posted by | Fiction | ,

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