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Brothers & Sisters – Chapter Sixteen: The Coin Drop Duel

Note: The point isn’t really for you guys to read a chapter everyday. That would be crazy, these chapters are about 30 pages long. This is just an info-dump situation, collect them all and read at your leisure.

This is basically an un-edited version of this book. There will be typos. There will be your/you’re errors, because I’m dyslexic as hell. Why am I posting it? I’ve more or less come to the conclusion that some major things needed to change, so I’m changing them. However, I like the old version and I already gave you Twins In Death in the old form, so have this one too. It doesn’t matter, the books are being re-written, so enjoy.

Brothers & Sisters
A Tale of The Weirdo
By Brett N. Lashuay

Chapter Sixteen

The Coin Drop Duel

 

 

April 11th, 2003

7:01 a.m.

 

            “So pretty.” The Other said running her hands across the Leviathan’s scales.

 

            It had turned out that the massive serpent wasn’t so much a snake as it was a very long lizard. It had fore and back legs, which were tucked under it at the moment. It was also reveled to the group that The Leviathan was actually a she, not an it. She was also proving to be a very tolerant she, as The Other climbed around her face and ran her fingers over the amazingly soft scales. She had expected them to be hard, but they were soft, smooth and firm.

 

            There was a long mane of hair that stared at the back of the horns and ran most of the way down the back of the pale blue creature. There were silvery flecks in the scales that shimmered in the sun’s light, which made her look like a new stream of water. She stretched along the front lawn, basking in the early sun.

 


            “So what do we do with her?” Kestrel asked.

 

            “Who says we do anything with her?” The Weirdo asked. “She’s probably older than any of us, and thus probably knows where she wants to go.”

 

            “Yes but…” 

 

            “But what?” The Weirdo asked.

 

            “I don’t know.” Kestrel said. “I guess it’s just having a creature of legend on the front lawn, with that little girl climbing around her face.”

 

            “Happens.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “Does it?”

 

            “Every damn time.” He said turning away.

 

           

April 11th, 2003

8:21 a.m.

 

            The Weirdo was sitting on a chair, his feet up on another chair. On his lap he had a laptop computer, which is a marvelous thing. He was going through the files upon files of apocalyptic events, making links to different pages when it seemed appropriate. He was also making a master list of notes, which was arranged around the links he was making. If he had been forced to do this with the binder of paper he’d been given the night before he’d have a book with so many post-it notes that the book would appear to have been written on yellow paper.

 

            As it was he was able to compile his notes with quick and simple ease, making a sort of three-dimensional notebook. Well to be perfectly honest he was engaged in making a simplistic web site where things that were connected linked to each other, it sounded more impressive the other way though. He was drawing a link between aspects of one god and how that might relate to others when Darrian came into the room.

 

            “Did it occur to you that you’ve probably made enemies with ever Hindu deity and the entire cadre of angels?” Michael Darrian asked as The Weirdo looked through the pages he’d already made.

 

            “It did.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “That doesn’t worry you?”

 

            “It does.”

 

            The Weirdo looked up from the screen and directly at the dark haired vampire. He tilted his head in a questioning way, which insisted that more should be coming. As Darrian didn’t say anything more, The Weirdo decided he’d better speak. It was the sort of thing he had to do.

 

            “Was there a further point to that statement?”

 

            “The System’s still out there.” Darrian said. “We didn’t really win a victory at the park, we just gave them a bit of a beating.”

 

            “Well, one they won’t forget though.”

 

            “Yeah, they’re going to remember us. Then they’re going to be regrouping. We just barely got help in time. I mean we could have died out there. I’m just saying that maybe we shouldn’t open up too many more fronts in this little war we’re having.”

 

            “Ah, that.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “Yes.” Darrian agreed. “That.”

 

            “Well, frankly I think we’re fucked anyway, there’s not much we can do about it.”

 

            “I thought you might say that.”

 

            “Why are you here Mike? You didn’t have to come.”

 

            “Oh yes I did.” Darrian said.

 

            “You could have hidden away, you could have joined up with them.”

 

            “No.” Darrian said. “I don’t think I could. I can’t kill in the name of a God that asks to turn the other cheek. I’m still a follower of the risen Christ. I truly believe that the son of a good and loving God walked amongst us and was sacrificed to save humanity. I just think that the God who sent him here wasn’t who they say it is.”

 

            “How do you mean?”

 

            “Some people say that the god of the bible started out as a good and loving god. That this God had two aspects you see, a good side and dark side. They further say that the good side was supplanted by the dark side, and from there on God was evil. Hence why the god of the Old Testament seems to be such a petty and frankly evil thing. You think the idea of leaving two naked people in a garden with a tree their not supposed to eat from and a good god made up then sending a serpent to convince them to eat it?

 

“So the furtherance of this idea is that the fallen god, the cast out god, sent one last chance. The outcast god sent the Christ to save mankind, and the evil god took over the idea. The god of evil took over the idea of the savior and turned all that he stood for to darkness. The crusades, the inquisition, all tools of the dark god to destroy the message of the peaceful savior.”

 

“And they call me cynical.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “Makes sense.” Darrian said. “So I try to follow that God of light, and reject the idea of killing for him. I’m killing because these people are doing the work of evil, and you refuse the help of any gods.”

 

            “I don’t refuse their help. I refuse to worship.”

 

            “Either way, you’re not going into battle claiming to uphold a god’s will while disobeying expressly defined rules. You can’t go around killing people for the Ten Commandments. One of which is thou shalt not kill. So that’s why I had to join you guys, and that’s why I can’t just go home.”

 

            “But you would like me to try not to pick any more fights.”

 

            “I just think maybe one fight at a time.”

 

            “It’s all one fight.” The Weirdo said. “All I’m trying to do is stop the world form ending. The System wants to end the world; I’ll try and stop them. Besides, they keep picking the fight with me.”

 

            “Well that’s true.”

 

            “I’ve got a plan forming.” The Weirdo said. “I think it won’t be as much work as we’ve been thinking it will be. Much of this will take care of itself, just so long as we head enough things off at the pass. Like I think that we won’t have to worry about the Dragon Lord creating a world drowning typhoon.”

 

            “No?”

 

            “Nope.” The Weirdo said. “Unless I’m very mistaken, we saved his girlfriend.”

 

            “The Leviathan?”

 

            “Yup. I think she’s a female dragon.”

 

            “Weirdo.” Jack’s head popped into the room.

 

            “Yeah?”

 

            “Could you come out here for a moment?”

 

            “Certainly.”

 

           

April 11th, 2003

8:33 a.m.

 

            “Now what does that look like to you?” Jack asked pointing to a vague ribbon of red flying through the air. It was a long way off, but the thin shape and movement suggested what it was.

 

            “I would say that it was the sort of creature that westerners call a Chinese Dragon, the Asian name for which escapes me at the moment.”

 

            “That’s what I thought.” Jack said.

 

            “It’s coming this way.” Tommy said.

 

            “Yes.” The Weirdo said looking at the Leviathan. “I suspect he is.”

 

            “He?” Tommy asked.

 

            “Gentlemen, I believe we are seeing the great Dragon Lord, he who rules over the weather.”

 

            “How the hell does he keep in the air?” Kestrel asked as the massive beast came closer.

 

            “He’s a manifestation in this realm.” The Other said. “He only looks like that when he’s viewed in three physical dimensions. If you squeeze your eyes tight you can see what he really looks like.”

            “Can you?” Kestrel asked.

 

            “It helps if you try seeing out of your left ear.” The Other said squinting hard and pointing the side of her head toward the slithering shape.

 

            He was majestic; floating through the air like a fish might swim through water. Clouds swirled around his body, leaving something like a vapor trail in his wake. The head was somewhat shaggy with a massive mane of red hair streaming behind him. His scales were bright red, and The Weirdo couldn’t get an idea out of his head. He owned an image of this dragon; it was made of red resin and was on his desk. Shannon had bought it in Chinatown one day as a present, for whatever reason it was that had seized her. She had been afraid he’d think it was a cheep piece of garbage or that he just wouldn’t like it. She had given it to him anyway and was delighted to find he thought it the coolest thing he’d seen all month.

 

            Now this magnificent beast was landing on his lawn, next to the bluish leviathan. The red dragon was much more masculine, his face was a bit wider where hers was sharper. She had only the two long whiskers, which he also had, but he also seemed to have a mustache under his nose. They nuzzled for a moment and there was some conversation between them. Then The great dragon lord turned towards The Weirdo.

 

            “I thought I would come here and find her slain.” The dragon said.

 

            “I know.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “I was prepared to switch the positions of the sky and the sea, and now I don’t have to.”

 

            “That’s a relief.”

 

            “She says that you put yourself in great peril to distract her would be killers.”

 

            “I don’t know about great peril.” The Weirdo said. “Pretty good peril maybe.”

 

            “You did us a great service.” The dragon said. “I await the birth of a child. Until that time, if you need help I shall provide.”

 

            “Thank you.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “But now we must away.”

 

            “I understand.”

 

            “I thought you might.”

 

            The two dragons had no wings, and yet they flew. They sailed up into the sky, flying close, running their bodies across each other’s as they flew into the air. They spiraled around each other, looking for all the world like two dragons in love. The Weirdo watched as they flew overhead and then dove into the water. So great was their control, they had no a ripple of the water after they vanished below its surface.

 

            “A red dragon awaits the birth of a child.” Tommy said.

 

            “Yeah, I caught that.”

 

            “You sure you don’t want to convert or anything?”

 

            “No thank you.”

           

 

April 11th, 2003

10:00 a.m.

 

            The clock began to make noise before the chimes rang, a small flick of a switch and the whir of a moving weight preceded it. The clock began to toll out the hour a moment after the sounds began. Chronos always thought of it as a warm up, a sigh and the setting down of a newspaper before one gets going. He looked at his pocket watch and then up at the clock. He had thought that the watch was a fraction of a moment fast, and after a few seconds of watching the two he confirmed this. He didn’t adjust the watch though he wanted it just a bit fast.

 

            “So you’ll start the new clock?” Zeus said.

 

            “This old clock has no problems.” Chronos said.

 

            “You know it’s going to achieve a state of non-functionality.” Zeus said.

 

            “Your new speak isn’t going to sway me.” Chronos said.

 

            “The old times are falling away Chronos.” Zeus said. “We’ve got to advance and adapt to the new way of doing this. This clock is more powerful, it will last longer with less maintenance.”

 

            “I like the maintenance.” Chronos said. “It gives me something to do.”

 

            “It also makes interference impossible. The cover is shatterproof, and there’s no moving parts inside that anyone could fiddle with to hurt the flow.”

 

            That stung Chronos’s heart. He knew that Zeus knew about his stopping of the great clock, but hadn’t expected him to do anything about it. He looked at the old clock it’s second hand spinning in the tiny circles since it had been broken. He looked down at the scars on his hands where the second hand had cut him. He’d held the seconds back, to give The Weirdo a little more time, and now Zeus was trying to make sure that would never happen again.

 

            “We have to advance with the times.” The son said putting an arm around his father’s shoulder. “Those who can’t advance with the times will be left behind, dying in obscurity.”

 

            That much would have been enough, but Zeus always had to beat the horse long after it had achieved a state of non-existence. He decided to beat the horse a little harder, just to make sure that Chronos had understood the implicit threat. You see Zeus was an idiot. Like many a moron, he thought himself sly and subtle, but he was just an idiot.

 

            “I mean it would be terrible if no one ever even asked what ever happened to the old man, wouldn’t it?”

 

            “Yes it would.” Chronos said.

 

            “Good.” Zeus said. “Then it’s settled.”

 

            “Yes.” Chronos said. “It certainly is.”

 

            “Glad to hear it.”

 

           

April 11th, 2003

10:01 a.m.

 

            The Other’s eyes were moving quickly across the letters on the page. The pages were in a large book, one that she had nearly finished in less than an hour. She wasn’t so much learning as unlocking something she already knew. This wasn’t learning this was refreshing. She was refreshing herself about so much, and she was going to keep refreshing until she could figure out how to make happen what Grandpa Chronos had told her would happen.

 

 

April 11th, 2003

10:02 a.m.

 

            Chronos sat at his workbench, looking across the table at Nike who had come to see him. He slid a cog into place and gently turned it with his finger, making sure that the piece would operate properly. This cog was about a foot across, but it moved with just the movement of one finger. It would have to work perfectly, and it looked so far like it would. He had cast these pieces in secret of course, and now he was being forced to assemble them. His eyes glanced up at the god and then down at the cogs. He slid them back and forth, trying to think of what to say to this younger God. She was beautiful, but she looked terribly hurt, as she had for so long.

 

            “Do you ever wonder about how much they get wrong about us?” Chronos asked.

 

            “I’m not sure what you mean.” She said.

 

            “They say such things about our families, they even sometimes peg me as two different people. I cannot be, so they say, the lord of time and the father of Zeus. They claim that these are two different spellings that sound similar. They claimed that you’d never see Athena with out you.”

 

            “That used to be true.” Nike said. “Once upon a time, we were…”

 

            She trailed off and a tear tickled down her check, she wiped at it quickly. A wing swooped down to shield her face, and she ran her fingers along the feathers. She wanted to tell him so much, but she didn’t know if she should. There had been so much said but it hadn’t been said by her.

 

            “You once were inseparable.” Chronos said, looking at another cogwheel, filing a bit of flash from the cast wheel. “I thought you were destined to be together forever.”

 

            “She didn’t…” Nike said, trying to figure out how best to say it. “Has she mentioned me?”

 

            “She asked after you when she was here last.”

 

            “She did?”

 

            “She did.”

 

            “But she’s, she’s with D’var.”

 

            “She’s going to have a child with D’var.” He said looking at the cogwheel side long, checking it’s trueness.

 

            “She is?” Nike looked as though she would burst out into tears at the news.

 

            It was as if she had been holding out a hope that was now diminished. She wiped at her eyes again, and looked around the workshop. Her lip quivered and she bit down on it to hold it in. The tears still spilled out, and down her cheek. Chronos set the wheel down and walked around the table, placing his arms around her. He made shushing noises, and rocked her gently.

 

            “Don’t cry, don’t cry.” He said.

 

            “Why couldn’t I just have been normal?” She asked.

 

            “What do you mean normal?”

 

            “I mean why couldn’t I just have fallen in love with Tyr or Arya or even Ares? Why did I have to fall in love with her, why couldn’t I just have been like everyone else? Why did I have to be this kind of freak?”

 

            “Now wait a minuet.” Chronos said. “Wait just a damned minuet.”

 

            “What?” She asked.

 

            “You are not a freak, and I will not have anyone, including you saying you are. You fell in love with the person you fell in love with, you can’t choose that any more than you can choose the color of your skin or the shape of your wrist. There is nothing wrong with what you are, you are a goddess, and no Goddess should ever be ashamed.”

 

            “But Athena…”

 

            “Has been manipulated by her aunt for long enough I think. It’s time my sister and I had a chat, and it’s time for you to face up to your struggle. You’ve pined away long enough.”

 

            “What?”

 

            “Do you remember what I told you?”

 

            “That if I loved her I should let her go and if she came back she loved me?”

 

            “That was stupid of me, I apologize. I think if you love her, you should go claim her.”

 

            “But Cassimano.”

 

            “Mister Cassimano has dealt with enough angry husbands, now he can deal with an angry wife. I think you’ll find he’s not as enamored as Athena thinks he is. He’s a clearer thinker.”

 

            “What are you going to do?” Nike asked.

 

            “I’m going to go talk with my sister.”

 

           

April 11th, 2003

11:03 a.m.

 

            “Gray?” Eoster asked entering the bedroom.

 

            The gray man was spread out on the bed, his head resting peacefully in a silk pillow. One of his gray eyes opened as she came into the room. She was beautiful, glowing in fact. He wanted to take her now. A look at her face showed a tinge of worry though, and this stopped him from any rash behavior.

 

            “Hmm?” He asked.

 

            “What does Chronos look like?”

 

            “Chronos?”

 

            “Yeah.” She said.

 

            Had he been more awake, he might have noticed her looking over her shoulder at the door. Her head moved quickly, and her hair fanned out, catching the light. It was like watching a golden scarf flutter in the wind, and he was again enraptured by her. He wanted to run away with her as she looked back at him. The movement of the muscles in her neck were enough to astound him.

 

            “You know what Leonardo DaVinci looked like in his last days? He looks like that; like that self-portrait DaVinci made of himself at age seventy or whatever it was. Wears an old set of clothes, a lot of which look like he owned them when the universe began the first time. Why do you ask?”

 

            “He’s sitting in the living room.”

 

            There was a moment before the words struck him. It might be that physics in the room had changed and that the speed of sound had slowed considerably, or it took him a second to fully grasp what she’d said.

 

            “What?” He stood up suddenly and ran to the door.

 

            “Hello.” Chronos said sitting on the couch.

 

            “Hey.” The gray man said. “How are you?”

 

            “I’m looking for your other paramour.” He said, looking far more serious than the Gray man had ever seen him. He’d always thought of Chronos as a fairly happy fellow, but he was angry now.

 

            “Aph’s not here, she’s doing some business or something.”

 

            “Yes, I know.” Chronos said. “But she’ll be back soon, and I need to speak with her.

 

            “Oh?”

 

            “She’s been interfering where she shouldn’t be I’m afraid.”

 

            “Oh?” The gray man asked. “This about The Weirdo?”

            “She’s interfering with Athena.” Chronos said cutting him off. “This is about our family. It has nothing to do with your child.”

 

            “Ah.” The Gray man said. “My child? You mean The Other?”

 

            “I mean the child that Eoster is carrying.” Chronos said.

 

            The Gray man looked into the room at Eoster, and thought about that glowing skin. Had he been thinking that she looked more beautiful? Had he thought how much he wanted to take her away from all of this? She looked down at her feet, her hand clasped in front of her. She looked up at him and smiled a little, and he felt something pop in his chest.

 

            “Pregnant?” He mouthed but didn’t say anything.

 

            “Sorry.” She mouthed back.

 

            The front door swung open and Aphrodite walked in, she didn’t get ten whole steps before she saw Chronos. He stood up slowly, his hands clenching and unclenching from fist. She set her purse down and took her coat off, hanging it up on the hook next to the door. She didn’t turn her back to him, at any moment, keeping him in her sight.

 

            “Gray? Why don’t you and Eoster go out for a while?”

 

            “Okay.” Gray said, walking from the bedroom. “I’ve got to put some clothes on.”

 

            “Okay.” Aphrodite said.

 

            “You didn’t tell me.” He said.

 

            “I wasn’t sure.” She said. “I thought maybe, but I didn’t know.”

 

            “How long?”

 

            “A day, maybe two. Everything’s been going so fast I don’t know any more.”

 

            He pulled his pants on and sat down on the bed, pulling fresh socks on. He looked at his shoes, and picked up one of them and looked at it. He looked up at her from the shoe and then slid it on his right foot. He picked up the other shoe and slid it on his left foot. He stood up and took hold of his suit coat, sliding his arms through the sleeves.

 

            They walked out of the room, looking at the two Greeks, at opposite sides of the room. Chronos was standing up next to the couch, and Aphrodite was near the patio window. They walked though the room and they both felt the hairs on the back of their necks rise up as they passed between the two of them. For a moment the gray man worried about leaving Aph with Chronos, and then worried about leaving Chronos with Aph. One of them was likely to end up with a black eye, or possibly no eyes at all.

 

            They closed the door behind them and both of them sat for a long moment, waiting to hear the smashing furniture. There wasn’t any, even after they waited for quite a while. They looked at each other and began to walk down the hallway.

 

 

April 11th, 2003

11:09 a.m.

 

            “They’re leaving the building now.” Aphrodite said looking out the window at the street. She was wearing a thin shirt, and a long skirt that was made to look like a wrap. It had a long slit up the side, which opened much more than the style was supposed to allow.

 

            “I’ve always regarded you as a sister to me Aph.” Chronos began.

 

            “Meaning you never thought I really was your sister.” She said.

 

            “You were formed from sea foam after I cut dad’s nuts off. You’re only just a sister to me, but I never treated you any different.”

 

            “No,” Aphrodite admitted, “No you didn’t.”

 

            “I’ve always defended you, always stuck up for your plans and projects. I even helped when you wanted to get that divorce.”

 

            “So what’s the favor?” She said sitting in a chair and crossing her long legs.

 

            “I’m not asking a favor.” He said. “I’m not even making a demand, I’m telling you the facts.”

 

            “Oh?” she asked. “And what facts are those?”

 

            “You’re going to leave Athena alone. I allowed you to twist her mind and think that her relationship with Nike was somehow wrong. How an old twat licking, cum sucking slut like your self managed to convince her it was wrong for her but okay for you is beyond me. You wanted Athena to have a child and now she’s going to.”

 

            “There’s more to it than that.” Aphrodite began.

 

            “Second, you’re going to help make reparations between Nike and Athena.”

 

            “Now you just wait a second.”

 

            “No.” Chronos said sternly. “You’re going to tell Athena what you’ve done and why.”

 

            “And what if I don’t?”

 

            “Do you really want to cross me?” Chronos asked. “I have never raised a hand to anyone, besides our father. You might do well to recall that.”

 

            He didn’t wait for her to say anything, simply let the threat hang in the air between them. She watched as he walked slowly towards the door, his frame seeming strong, if tired. He opened the door, and without looking at her, walked out. She looked at the door for a long time, thinking about what he’d said. Of course she could make repairs between Nike and Athena that would be easy. Admitting what she’d done though, that she thought might be too much. She was going to have to do it though she couldn’t bear the idea of crossing Chronos.

 

            It wasn’t that Chronos would do anything to her, he’d do nothing, and that was the problem. So many things she had done over the years she had been able to mange with his support. The idea of loosing him, above all others, frightened her. She would have to do what he’d told her, and leave Athena alone for a while. Still though, he hadn’t said anything about not manipulating things. She just had to let Athena and Nike be what they were. It might be difficult, but it wasn’t impossible.

 

           

April 11th, 2003

11:12 a.m.

 

            “So when?” The gray man asked.

 

            “Thursday I think.” Eoster said. “When it was just you and me, on Thursday. Unless it was, that night I spent with The Weirdo, but I don’t think so.”

 

            “When did you know?”

 

            “I think I sort of knew on Thursday, right when it happened. I didn’t actually know, as in positive until Chronos said.”

 

            “A child.” He said.

 

            “Yeah.” She said.

 

            “Our child.” His voice sounded far away.

 

            “Yeah.” She echoed.

 

            “Are we old and mature enough for a child?”

 

            “I’m a friend to all children.” She said. “Don’t you know about the Ostara festival?”

 

            “I know you’re a friend to children.” He said. “But have you ever had any of your own?”

 

            They stopped, standing near a lamppost. It was black and shiny, without any advertisements taped to it. It had been painted black, and it appeared to be a recent job. If he had been thinking about things besides his impending fatherhood, the gray man might have noticed that.

 

            “No.” she said. “I had a rabbit that hid colored eggs.”

 

            “Not exactly parenthood then.” He said.

 

            “No.”

 

            “You weren’t going to tell me, were you?”

 

            “No.” She said looking down at her feet. “But only because I didn’t want you to worry about me.”

 

            He looked at her, in her yellow sundress. The material was a bright yellow, vibrant and bold with small red flowers printed on it. There were also flowers strung about her waist, in a chain of life. She looked up at him, and her bright eyes shinned. Her face was flushed with shame and joy. She had wanted to tell him what was obvious. She had wanted to tell him but hadn’t wanted him to worry.

 

            “Well I’d say lets have a drink but I’d worry.” He said.

 

            “They say one drink wouldn’t hurt.” She said.

 

            “I didn’t say it would hurt.” He said. “I said I’d worry.”

 

            “Oh.” She said nodding. “Maybe we could have a bottle of Schweppes or something, get some ginger ale and pretend its champagne?”

 

            “We could.” He said.

 

            “Are we going to tell Aph?”

 

            “We’ll have to.” He said.

 

            “Will she be mad do you think?”

 

            “I doubt it.” He said. “I think she’d only be mad if I then announced we were leaving to buy a cottage in Ireland without her.”

 

            “I don’t want to leave her.” Eoster said.

 

            “We won’t.” He said. “But I think she’s got something she and Chronos are going to have to work out for a while. Let got get some Canadian club and pretend its Krug.”

 

            “Sounds good.” She said, smiling again.

 

           

April 11th, 2003

1:21 p.m.

 

            Chronos walked back into his workshop, and found Nike still sitting on the stool he had left her on. He walked to her and found that her hands were wet with tears. She had been crying the entire time that he’d been away. He lifted her chin in his hand and looked into the red-rimmed eyes. She sniffed and let out a heavy sigh as their eyes met.

 

            “I think you should go to her.” He said.

 

            “Should I?”

 

            “Most defiantly.” He said. “It’s what I would do if I were as much in love as you are. If she rejects you, then you’ll at least know.”

           

 

April 11th, 2003

2:41 p.m.

 

            The Other tossed another physics book aside, picking up one on philosophy. She didn’t know why exactly it was important that she read all these books, but she had to. If anyone saw her, they wouldn’t have though she was reading. They would have seen her turn a page, and apparently glance at both of the pages of writing before moving onto the next page. There was hardly enough time for her to focus on either page before she moved on. She had gone through a huge number of books this way already. No one had been watching her very closely for the last two days or so, and she had read every book she could get her hands on thus far. The library was piled high with vertical stacks of books, with empty plates that had once held food. Each plate had been eaten, and then liked clean by Bagheera who followed The Other around and demanded a bit of each meal like tithing.

 

            She flipped through the book on morality, which claimed that moral behavior was anything that increased the level or happiness in the world and immorality reduced the levels of happiness. She had to re-read that line, since it seemed to be in direct contrast to what she had observed. She had understood that being moral wasn’t fun, that immoral behavior was a lot more fun that anything moral. This book though, claimed that happiness was moral. She closed the book and walked away from the spot on the floor where she had been sitting. She looked behind her at the piles and piles of books, she had read so much and yet she didn’t think she had the answers she was looking for yet. That line that moral was just making happiness though, that meant something.

 

            She walked down the hall, thinking about morality, wondering if there were any absolutes. Einstein had said that all things were relative, if that was true than there might not be any absolutes. There was no such thing as good or evil, just a point of view. It made her for a moment feel that there must not be any ground that she was just floating through the universe. If there were no rules, then where did one draw the lines to form a framework?

 

            She then realized that this was asking the wrong question, that maybe she didn’t need a framework. If you could reject the framework, ignore the rules that others had tried to set, then you could do anything. She then thought about Odin again, and that made things clearer for her. No one had ever told Odin ‘you can’t do that’. If they did, he’d probably call them a pussy fag and kick them in the head. Odin didn’t have any rules, and he could do whatever he liked. She noticed a few flaws in this idea, like cracks in a wall. They were easily plastered over though, and then painted over. She thought about Athena, and the child she was carrying inside her. She knew Athena was carrying a child of course, she knew where all the babies were.

 

            Athena had been worried about rules though some sort of rules had plagued her and not let her be as happy as she’d wanted to be.

 

 

April 11th, 2003

3:21 p.m.

 

“Why do you always wear that mask and eye patch thing?” Athena asked as she lay next to D’var Cassimano.

 

“I lost the eye a long time ago.” He said. “When I was burned in the fire.”

 

“Can I see?” She asked

 

“Why would you want to?”

 

“You’re so beautiful.” She said, touching the half mask “I want to see your whole face.”

 

“It’s hideous.” He said, placing his hand over hers.

 

“I want to see if.” She said pulling the mask away.

 

He hadn’t been lying, the left ear was completely gone, and the face was a trace work of scar tissue. The eye socket was covered over by skin that had been grafted over it. There was no eyebrow, just a smooth bump and then a dip where the eye should have been. It was a frightening sight really, and she gasped for a moment. A look of terror came over her face as she looked at it. The face had been so beautiful on the one side and so hideous on the other.

 

“I did say.” He said sitting up, turning the burned side away from her. “I’ve got it easy though. They say most people as pretty as me are hideous freaks on the inside. I’ve got a reminder of the two faced duality on the outside. I can look at this any time I like.”

 

She turned the head around, towards her. She ran a finger over it and tears began to leave her eyes. He began to slide the mask back into place but she pulled it away from him. She stood up, stark naked and opened the French window, hurling the mask out and away.

 

“No.” She said. “You’ll never wear it again.”

 

“Athena.” He said, standing up.

 

“You’ll never have to.” She said, and the room filled with light.

 

 

April 11th, 2003

3:22 p.m.

 

            The Weirdo was looking at a disassembled pistol when the light flashed. He didn’t see the flash. Working on the pistol was taking up his attention. This sort of mechanical work was so tedious that it actually was something he enjoyed. He liked tasks like this, where he had to concentrate with both hand and mind. He wasn’t much of an artist, but he liked fixing his guns. It was difficult, and it caused the few strands of his attention he could gather up to all work on the one problem. He found his mind didn’t wander when he was cleaning and modifying his firearms. He could just put the gun together and make it a better thing.

 

            He looked at the bullets that he had spent the afternoon making. That was another tedious task that he enjoyed. He liked filling the shells with caps and powder. The measuring out the individual rounds, setting the head into each shell, he enjoyed it.

 

 

April 11th, 2003

3:23 p.m.

 

            “My eye.” D’var said. “You gave me my eye back.”

 

            “And you’re ear.” She said, slipping her bra on.

 

            “That’s why everything sounds so fucked up.”

 

He stumbled over his own feet and fell over. He put his hands out and stopped himself from hitting the ground, by grabbing a bedpost. He looked at the post, as if he’d never seen anything like it before. He closed one eye, and then the other, and walked around the room, slowly turning his head.

 

“What are you doing?” Athena asked as she slid into her pants

           

“You have no idea what you’ve done.” He said, walking towards his clothes and putting his jockey shorts on.

 

            “What do you mean?” She laughed as she slipped a tank top over her head.

 

            “I haven’t had depth perception for five thousand years.” He said. “I’ve had one eye for so long I might as well never had two. Worse though I knew what depth perception felt like. I’ve always had just the one eye, but knowing what two felt like.”

 

            “Well now you have two.” She said. “And you’re beautiful without that mask.”

 

            He looked in the mirror, and there was his face. He was whole, and perfect, he was beautiful again

 

            “He’s lovely.” A voice came from the door.

 

            The Other walked in and looked up at Cassimano who looked down at her. She didn’t seem even in the slightest bit surprised by his sudden turn of fate. She had apparently not even noticed the fact that the eye patch and mask were now missing. She had simply glossed over that piece in her mind. Either that or she had a more important task to perform.

 

            “Hello D’var.” She said. “Can I talk to her for a second?”

 

            “You want me to leave so you can talk?” He asked.

 

            “Yup.” The Other said.

 

            “Should I?” He asked Athena.

 

            “Why not?” Athena said, smiling brightly at her handy-work.

 

            “Okay.” He said, and walked out of the room.

 

            “What’s up Other?” Athena asked as The Other climbed up on the bed.

 

            This was quite a process that required The Other to jump up, and grab the comforter and then pull her self up a bit so she could hook one leg onto the edge of the bed and then pull herself the rest of the way up.

 

            “You want help?”

 

            “I got it.” The Other said the tip of her tongue pressing against her upper lip

 

            She pulled her self up and sat down next to the Goddess and leaned against her. Athena put an arm around the tiny cleric and played with her soft corn silk hair. The Other laid her head on Athena’s breast and listened to her breath for a moment.

 

            “I know you’re sad.” The Other said.

 

            “Am I?”

 

            “Yeah.”

 

            “How do you know I’m sad?” Athena inquired.

 

            “I just know you’re not happy. You’re glad that you are pregnant with the twins, but it hasn’t made you happy yet.”

 

            “Twins?”

 

“Yeah,” The Other said. “You’re going to have twins, but don’t tell anyone. It’s supposed to be a surprise to everyone.”

 

“Oh.” Athena said, looking down at the small head of the tiny child.

 

“I don’t know why your not happy, but I was just reading something about being happy. It was a really neat idea.”

 

“Really?”

 

Something about The Other’s voice was almost hypnotic. It made you feel more and more at ease the more she talked. You could feel the stress drain away by being around her. Athena felt more at ease with the little child the more she spoke, and thus more receptive.

 

            “Yeah.” She said. “The book said that morality was something that brought happiness into the world and immorality was something that brought unhappiness into the world. There fore if something were really immoral, it would make you unhappy. If it makes you happy, then it must be a moral act. Aphrodite said that morality was what she said was moral, but that always sounded wrong to me. I think everyone has to decide for themselves what happiness is and go find it.”

 

            “Is that what you think?”

 

            “Aph also said that she had to make sure you got knocked up soon, or your son would never take Zeus down. She said timing was of the utmost and that if you had turned out dyke she would have never gotten you to breed.”

            “She said that?”

 

            “There is pain everywhere.” The Other said the tone of her voice changing suddenly. “So much pain, there’s no need to make more of it. If a second of joy presents itself and won’t later add to two seconds of pain, you could go for it.”

 

            “I’ll think about that then, shall I?”

 

            “Okay,” The Other said, her tine suddenly that of as child again. “I’ll see you later.”

 

            She jumped down from the bed and danced out of the room. It might have been the Charleston, but Athena wasn’t really up on the new and hip dances. To be perfectly honest, it was the turkey trot. This information isn’t necessary to the story, but it gives pleasure to some people to know these things. Under The Other’s advice we have ruled that the joy one person might get in knowing that she was dancing the turkey trot would not significantly be out weighed by the annoyance some might feel at having to know every damn detail of these people’s lives. There for we decided to report it, and in the stroke of explaining why, take up more time than just saying what she was doing.

 

           

April 11th, 2003

3:25 p.m.

 

            “Excuse me.” A female voice asked.

 

            “Huh?” The Weirdo said looking up, and then he stood and looked around for a weapon.

 

The problem with going for a gun was that the only one in the room was in pieces on the black cloth. It wasn’t often that The Weirdo was actually caught out without some sort of weapon at hand and he found that he didn’t like it. It felt like he was naked, particularly with a woman with large wings sprouting out of her back.

 

            “Are you alright?”

 

            “Okay so I killed him, you wanna take me for that?” He asked, pointing one finger at her.

 

            “I’m sorry?” She asked her wings bending in a little as she cocked her head in confusion.

 

            “Are you an angel?” He asked, thinking suddenly that this was a silly thing to ask. Her hair was too short and she wasn’t as pretty as she should be.

 

            “No.” She said. “I’m Nike, and yes like the shoe.”

 

            He looked down at his hands, which were in the loose half fists that were required for the sort of fighting he did. He felt suddenly silly about them and dropped them to his side. He looked again at the young woman, just a girl really. There was a lot of smoothing and finishing that was still to take place on that body. There were curves that had yet to appear, and swells that age would hopefully fill out more. She was pretty, but in an imperfect sort of way. Her nose was a little too long, and her cheeks weren’t high enough for them. Her strait yellow hair was cut to her jaw line, which just failed to go with the cheeks and nose. A bit of growing, a few tip on grooming, and a few well-applied dabs of makeup would provide a lot of help. Right now though, she looked like an awkward sixteen year old. An athlete no doubt, she had the right build, but one who was still growing.

 

“So not an angel?” He asked, beginning to relax.

 

            “No.” She said.

 

            “Okay.” He said. “Only I killed the Arch Angel Gabriel this morning. You might see why I’d be a bit jumpy.”

 

            She looked at the wings sprouting from her back and suddenly understood. The Christians had long ago decided that angels would look like her. Many of the angels, vain creatures they were, had taken to the image. She gave a laugh that was like the laugh of a shy teenage girl who has just heard a joke. It was odd how young she looked. He had always thought her to be a bit older, in appearance at least. She looked to be about sixteen though, a few years younger than Athena.

 

            “I was looking for a Goddess.” She said.

 

            “Athena?”

 

            “Yes,” She said.

 

            “Up the stairs, second floor, fourth room on the left.

            “Thank you.” She said walking towards the door.

 

            “Yeah.” He said, letting the chair loose. “No problem.”

 

            He sat back down and looked at the gun again, and began to slide the pieces back together. She had startled him, that’s what he told himself. It wasn’t because he’d been caught out with out the black gun and found an avenger in the room with him. It wasn’t because he’d killed something on a much higher plane of importance than he was. No, she just startled him. Of course one might have to ask why he was so jumpy in the first place, but that’s not going to get us anywhere.

 

           

April 11th, 2003

3:27 p.m.

 

            Tommy’s eye opened at the door of his room opened and a woman in loose fitting athletic clothes entered. He took his arm off Sheila and placed it gently on the pistol on the bed stand. Judy hated the fact that he kept it so close, but he wasn’t going to go without it at a time like this. Judy’s head rolled off his chest as he began to slowly sit up.

 

            “Oh.” Nike whispered as she noticed the pistol being aimed at her. “Is Athena here?”

 

            “Next room.” He whispered, lowering the gun.

 

            “Sorry.” She said, walking back to the door.

 

            “No problem.” He muttered, placing the gun back on the nightstand. He then looked at Judy and opened the drawer and set it gently within. She didn’t like it being out, so he’d put it away, but kept it close.

 

           

April 11th, 2003

3:28 p.m.

 

            “This one.” The Other said, taking Nike’s hand and pulling her towards the room. “You’ll be happy now.”

 

            “Will I?” Nike asked,

 

            “Yes,” The Other said. “She wants to make up, but she doesn’t know how to begin.”

 

            Athena was still sitting on the bed, thinking about what the girl had said. That Aphrodite had said that morality was what she said it was. It had been Aphrodite who had told her that a woman and a woman could not be together. That she would still conceive of a child, that she would conceive a girl that way. Athena hadn’t known enough to know that this wasn’t true until Nike had left. She learned all about sex long after Nike had left, after everything had gone wrong. She wanted to see Nike, wanted to at least explain. She didn’t know if Nike would ever forgive her for believing Aphrodite, but she thought that she would never have the chance.

 

            There was a tapping noise near the door, but she ignored it. Her newly self-imposed exile in this room wouldn’t have allowed her to look. The tapping came again, but still she ignored it. The wound of some one walking up and down the hall came, but her despair was too great to head it

 

            Nike was gone forever, and they would never be together again. Nike would never come back to her. She had driven the poor thing off. She had loved Nike, and then driven the poor creature off because of her aunt. She wasn’t sure if she could forgive Aphrodite for what she had done, but it was clear why it had all been done for now. The problem was that Athena wasn’t sure it was worth all the pain that Aph had caused.

 

            “Athena?” The Other’s voice said.

 

            “Yeah sweetie?” Athena asked, without turning her head to look at the tiny girl.

 

            “What’s it take to make you turn around?” Athena’s head rose up at the sound of the voice.

 

            She stood and turned and looked at the vision of beauty that stood in the doorway. The Other placed her hand on the back of Nike’s legs and gave her a shove, which is something most unrequited lovers could use. Nike moved a bit, and halted, so The Other pushed her again. Only thing was that this time the hands were that of a grown woman and they pressed against her shoulder blades, right next to each wing. She knew that there was only The Other, but she felt the shove at her back anyway.

 

            “Nike?” Athena asked.

 

            “Hi.” Nike said.

 

            The door swung closed behind Nike, slamming shut. No doubt it was a draft that had closed the door, the windows were open all over the house. She looked at the door and then at the object of all her desires. Tears began to cloud her vision and drip down her face. As Athena slowly moved towards her, she saw tears on her face too.

 

            “You came back.”

 

“I missed you.” Nike said.

 

            “They said if I loved you, I was supposed to let you go.” Athena said, sobs catching her words. “And if you loved me, you’d come back.”

 

            “They told me the same thing.” Nike said. “But I thought maybe if I left you’d come looking for me.”

 

            “Aren’t we just a pair of stupid little girls?” Athena asked, the words catching I her throat.

 

            “Maybe.” Nike said, her jaw quivering with the words.

 

            “I listened to some people I shouldn’t have.” Athena said. “I’m sorry I drove you away.”

 

            “I’m sorry I left.” Nike said.

 

            “I love you.”

 

            “I love you too.”

 

            They embraced, they kissed, they cried. There’s more, but it’s none of your business.

 

           

April 11th, 2003

4:01 p.m.

 

            The Weirdo was beginning to feel tired, which was odd because he couldn’t at this moment ever remember having slept in his life. He knew he must have slept, but he couldn’t actually remember a specific instance in which he had ever slept. He couldn’t recall the last time he’d done it, couldn’t remember a time when he’d actually been asleep.

 

            He did feel sleepy though, having been up for the better part of the weekend. He looked at the pistol he had put together, and picked up the clip he had loaded up. The clip slid smoothly into the weapon. He looked at the gun, and placed he hand on the slide, prepared to draw it back. Something stopped him though, and just made him keep the weapon in the state it was in. He wasn’t sure why, but he knew that Grandma wanted him not to prime a round. He set the gun down on the table, and wiped it off with cloth, and slid the safety catch into place.

 

            He thought for a moment about that small piece of metal. How there was a catch on the handgun that would stop it from firing. It was another of those things that was a part of the long-standing tradition of trying to make safer guns. He had always been mystified by the idea. Where as it was true that the safety catch prevented misfiring for some people, the idea of a safe handgun eluded him. Every year there seemed to be more and more devices that would stop guns from firing. There were devices to prevent a police officers gun from being taken from him and used. The Weirdo had pointed out, when told of this technological marvel, that the lanyard managed that quite well when it was used. A simple piece of cord could stop some one from taking an officer’s gun away from him, without the technology.

 

            He had made a perfectly safe handgun once, just to prove a point. He took a pistol, and poured epoxy down the barrel and then poured more into the receiver and magazine and placed it in wet concrete. The weapon was quite safe after that, and couldn’t be fired ever again.

 

            “Jorgaes is coming.” The Gray man said behind him.

 

            The Weirdo looked up from the pistol and at the gray man. He leaned back, noticing that the gray man wasn’t standing in the same place as Nike had. For some reason he had expected to look up and find him in the exact same spot. The gray man was sitting in a chair near the window, his arm on the workbench. He was looking out the window, at the group that was making it’s way to the gates.

 

            “Is he?”

 

            “I think he’s been captured.”

 

            “What makes you say that?” The Weirdo asked as his phone began to ring. He walked to his coat, which had been slung over a chair, and drew out the phone. “Yes?”

 

            “Weirdo.” Jorgaes’s voice came over. “I wonder if you could come to your front gate? I’ve been captured I’m afraid.”

 

            “You’re at the front gate?”

 

            “Yes, with a few of my new friends.”

 

            “Would they be wearing blue or purple robes?”

 

            “Do you know they are at that?”

 

            “I’ll be at the front directly.”

 

            The Weirdo pressed the end button and looked at the phone before setting it down on the table. He picked the coat up and slid into it, feeling like it weighted about a thousand pounds. He was so tired, he felt all the fatigue slide over him as he pulled the coat on. He looked at the pistol on the table and picked it up, sliding it next to his heart.

 

            “Would you go get Tommy and Jack up? They both seem to think that just because neither of them has slept for a while they should get to rest.”

 

            “Sure.” The gray man said standing.

 

           

April 11th, 2003

4:02 p.m.

 

            “I’m not exactly sure how I should feel about this.” Cassimano said leaning against the doorframe.

 

            “I don’t either.” Athena said, trying to look serious.

 

            The two goddesses were sitting on the bed, Athena’s right hand resting in Nike’s left. They both looked so happy, as if they were about to burst out into laughter. Neither of them could hide their smiles, nor the fleeting glances at each other. Cassimano thought that he might as well not even be there. He did know how to feel though, he felt unneeded. The odd thing was how he felt so much more natural this way. He was surprised how little jealousy he felt at the idea of being supplanted. He wondered how much of his newfound beauty he could exploit, and could he get into the bed with the both of them. It was something worth trying, and he thought that even if uninterested in him, Nike might be open to at least having him around.

 

            Unfortunately for Cassimano, but fortunately for those who think there are enough alternative relationships in this story, it was then that the gray man tapped him on the shoulder. Cassimano turned and the gray man spoke just loud enough for the two goddesses to hear.

 

            “We’ve got a problem, go wake Jack and Max up.”

 

            “Shit.” Cassimano said as gray walked into Tommy’s room.

 

            “We can help.” Nike said standing.

 

            “Go wake Max up then.” He said.

 

             Nike swept past him and as he turned away, Athena took his hand. He turned back to look at her, and worried for a moment. There was a slight cloud over her face, and he knew what was coming.

 

            “This really wasn’t as I planned it.” She said.

 

            “Athena.” He said placing both his hands over hers. Years of this sort of thing had lead him to say just the right thing “We haven’t had enough time to make a real pledge to each other. Maybe we moved into everything too fast, and maybe you were unsure of your feelings. Am I hurt, maybe a little, but it’s more important that you be happy.”

 

            “Really?” She asked.

 

            “Really.” He said.

 

            “But what if I still want to be with you sometimes?”

 

            “We’ll work on that when it comes up.” He said. “But right now, we’ve got stuff goin’ on.”

 

            “Okay.” She said, and the shadow passed from her face.

 

           

April 11th, 2003

4:04 p.m.

 

            “Where the hell is everyone?” The Weirdo asked as he and Kestrel walked to the front gates.

 

            “Cydrill, Piedmont and Tanteroy are back at that gate way again, still trying to get it open.” She said. “Jack, Tommy and Max were all sleeping last I saw. Angel and Kaala are in the kitchen having a snack with Michael. Did I forget anyone?”

 

            “I can’t even remember who’s with us any more.” He said. “Lucifer take off again?”

 

            “Yeah.” She said. “But I never know where he is unless I see him right in front of me.”

 

            “Yeah.”

 

            “And Jorgaes is at the gate.” She said.

 

            “Hello Jorgaes.” The Weirdo said as they approached the open gates.

 

            “Hello Weirdo, Kestrel.” Jorgaes drew out his black enameled cigarette case.

 

As he drew it he purposely titled his hand so that the silver male symbol caught the sun twice. The Weirdo saw the two flashes of the case and stopped short of coming within reach of the group. He very purposely stayed on his side of the line separating public form private land. Jorgaes lit the cigarette and blew a plume of smoke behind him as he stepped over the threshold. He turned back to look at Lilith and Peach and then looked back at The Weirdo.

 

            “Would you believe I was dumb enough to go to my office?”

 

            “The real question is would I believe they were dumb enough to check your office?” The Weirdo asked. “I wouldn’t have thought you’d actually stick around Jorgaes.

 

            “Oh I couldn’t abandon my post just like that.” He said smiling.

 

            “Not exactly what I was referring to.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “Oh, you mean I wasn’t taken when the earth opened and swallowed everyone else up?” He laughed a little knowing laugh. “Well you know I’m actually more important than you ever gave me credit for. I’ve got political connections you’ve not dreamed of.”

 

            “Ah.” The Weirdo said. “Well, we’ll certainly have to discuss them sometime.”

 

            “Yes, we shall.”

 

            “What about these guys? Your new friends came to play?”

 

            “We’ve come for the betterment of the world Weirdo.” Lilith said.

 

            “Oh yes?”

 

            “It’s time to settle the matter of the knight and the destroyer.”

 

            “Is it?”

 

            “It is.” She said, her blue eyes flickering into red. “The Destroyer is here.”

 

            He was tall, and his dark hair was slicked back. He had the dusky complexion of an Arab, but his features were Germanic. He wore a bright red pair of pants and a sports coat of the same color and material. His shirt was a t-shit advertising a pizza establishment in Newark. He smiled as The Weirdo looked into his yellow eyes. They were like those of a snake, bright opaque yellow with a black slit for a pupil. He extended his hand in greeting, but The Weirdo didn’t accept.

 

            “I am the Destroyer.” The young man said.

 

            “Get those contacts at Hot Topic?” The Weirdo asked. “Not a bad job.”

 

            “These are not some sort of effictation.” He said.

 

            “Effictation?” Kestrel asked. “Is that a word?”

 

            “You know I don’t think it is.” The Weirdo said, still looking the young man in the eyes. He then looked at Lilith. “Tell me, is the knight or the destroyer meant to win this little fight?”

 

            “Depends on who you ask.” She said. “Some say the knight will beat the destroyer and then save the world. Some say the destroyer will defect the knight, and the end will come.”

 

            “What do you say?”

 

            “That if the destroyer wins, we’re all doomed. If the knight wins, we will all be saved.”

 

            “What if he’s not really the destroyer?” The Weirdo asked.

 

            “You doubt me?”

 

            “Yep.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “I challenge you!” He shouted, stepping over the thresh hold.

 

            “That’s quite rude.” The Weirdo said looking at the spot. “Stepping onto another man’s land without permission. That’s an invasion that is.”

 

            “Do you accept or are you a coward?” The Destroyer waved his arms and thrust his foot out behind him to strike a kung fu pose.

 

            The Weirdo took a deep breath through his nose and held it. He looked at the young man in his red suit, and let the breath out. He looked at Kestrel and Jorgaes, and watched as Jack and Tommy began to walk down the path just behind Max. He turned back to Lilith, ignoring the young man.

 

            “Do you really want me to fight this person? I mean why are you bringing me the bad guys if you’re the good guys?”

 

            “I want you to full fill your destiny.” She said.

 

            “Destiny.” He said. “I don’t have a destiny. I reject predertiminism for the most part.”

 

            “Don’t ignore me.” The young man said, charging forward.

 

            He stabbed his hands around, swinging them in a series of moves he must have learned by watching too many movies. The Weirdo let one punch go and struck him across the left cheek with his fist. The young man leapt, actually leapt, back and touched his face. He then swung the fists to strike his pose again, and then did the silliest thing in the world. He turned his hand palm up and made a come hither motion with his fingers.

 

            “Oh no you didn’t.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “Boy watched The Matrix once too often.” Max said.

 

            “Should just shoot him.” Tommy said, drawing out his pistol.

 

            “Coward!” The young man cried out.

 

            “Maybe we should.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “No.” Kestrel said. “I think I’d like to see something else.”

 

            “Oh?” The Weirdo asked. “What say you Maximilian? Should I lay the smack down on this bizizach?”

 

            “Do you even know what you’re talking about?” Max asked.

 

            “I have no idea,” The Weirdo said. “I heard some of the hep cats using that sort of word a few days ago. I’d hate to think my mojo was running slow jo.”

 

            “What?” Max asked.

 

            “Bastard.” The young man screamed running towards The Weirdo again.

 

            The Weirdo’s foot snapped out, striking the young man in the solar plexus. The young man fell to the ground, and began to get up. The Weirdo walked towards him quickly and brought his fist down on his face. There was a rather disgusting sound when The Weirdo’s fist hit the young man’s jaw. It was a sound like tearing meat and chipping bone. The young man stood up and his mouth was hanging open, slunk to one side. He touched the jaw and tried to put slide it back into place, but it wouldn’t be replaced so easily.

 

            As he was getting over this, The Weirdo took hold of his left arm and spun him around, bringing his fist down on the arm to make the elbow bend backwards. The young man actually screamed when this happened, falling to the ground. He kicked out at The Weirdo and slunk away towards a tree to regain his composure. The Weirdo looked back at Lilith, and noticed how flushed she had become watching this.

 

            It occurred to him, with a bit of horror, that she was enjoying this. Her face had an expression of sexual excitement, and he looked at the young man. He wasn’t going to stretch this out for her entertainment. He reached into his coat and produced the pistol, looking at the young man and trying to decide where to shoot him.

 

            The young man stood with his two unbroken legs, and struck The Weirdo in a tackle. The Weirdo dropped the pistol when the shoulder hit him. He felt something snap, and thought it was either his ribs or the young man’s left collarbone.

 

            The young man looked down at the gun and with his right hand picked it up. The Weirdo snatched the gun form him and brought the butt down against his face. There was a fresh cracking sound and the young man fell to the ground. The Weirdo stepped on his calf and placed the gun on his kneecap. He looked at the young man and was gratified to find that the right eye was a plain brown eye. The contact had fallen out somewhere along the line, and now he had just a normal brown eye.

 

            “You wanna fuck with me?” The Weirdo asked. “You think God’s gonna step in? You think the baby Jesus is gonna save you?”

 

            “Ung.” Was all the young man could manage.

 

            “You look over there at them, Lilith is getting wet just watching you get beaten. No one there is going to intervene on your behalf. I can make all this pain end, I’ve got a good little healer. Or I can blow you’re knee off and leave you to bleed to death.”

 

            There was a whining sound and the young man shook his head. The Weirdo stood up and slid the gun into his coat. He nodded and turned around, walking towards the house.

 

            “Don’t touch him.” The Weirdo said as he passed.

 

            “Should we help him?” Kestrel asked.

 

            “He’s going to get helped.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “He’s defeated.” Peach said to Lilith.

 

            “We’ll see.” Lilith said, her lips now a bright glowing red. Her eyes were bright and her face was a glowing pink.

 

            “The knight is supposed to win.” Peach said.

 

            “Some say.” Lilith said.

 

            “The destroyer has lost.” Another of them said.

 

            “Not yet.” Kestrel said.

 

            “How do we know this is the destroyer?” Max asked.

 

            “We have it on good authority.” Peach said.

 

            “Oh, good.” Max said.

 

            “What’s he planning?” Lilith asked.

 

            “Something evil no doubt.” Tommy said.

 

            “Oh yes he is.” Jack said.

 

            The Weirdo was crossing the lawn with The Other in his arms. He carried the little girl to the broken man, and let her do her thing. She touched the young man and in a few moments she was skipping away.

 

            “Thank you sweetie.” The Weirdo said as she passed him.

 

            “Yep.” She said skipping to Kestrel’s side.

 

            “You didn’t kill me.” The young man said standing up.

 

            “Nope.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “Then I challenge you.” He said striking his kung fu pose again.

 

            The Weirdo stood still for a long moment, and didn’t say or do anything. He didn’t react, or even show that he was still alive. He might as well have become a statue, and just continued to wear clothes. After about eight or maybe ten seconds, his lips began to purse and he made a snapping sound. He opened his mouth to say something and just let a sigh escape.

 

            “Still?” The Weirdo asked.

 

            “I am going to take my place.” He said.

 

            “I tell you what.” The Weirdo said. “Lets us level the playing field a little shall we?”

 

            “Level?” The young man asked.

 

            “Yes.” The Weirdo said. “You can’t compete with me physically, but maybe you’ve got speed.”

 

 

April 11th, 2003

4:15 p.m.

 

            They had to all gather on the back, which annoyed Mrs. Pendleton. There were two dozen people suddenly around, and who had to serve drinks? She expressed her annoyance later to The Weirdo of course, but for now she just went around serving drinks with Max’s help. The Weirdo was being no help to anyone as he was trying to get himself killed. She was annoyed, again, to find that he hadn’t just shot the young fool. He should have just shot him, but this foolishness of having him in for a contest, what was that?

 

            A card table was brought from inside the house and two folding chairs were brought as well. The Weirdo didn’t let it be known what the game, as he called it, would be until all was in readiness. He looked at the two groups, arranged on opposite sides.

 

            It was funny in a way, there were so many people and yet they were using this small two by two foot table as a dividing line. They were standing patiently waiting for what ever The Weirdo had planned. He wasn’t saying and no one seemed to have too much of any idea. He was shuffling a deck of cards he happened to find around the house and some thought that the cards might have something to do with it. When Tommy and Kestrel finished with the table, the young man sat down.

 

            “You wanna tell me what this is about?” Kestrel asked.

 

            “Nope.” The Weirdo said pressing a five dollar gold piece into her hand. “Come to the table.”

 

            He handed the cards to Tommy, who looked down at them. The Joker card was the card on the bottom and top of the deck, which struck Tommy as odd. He looked at The Weirdo who was walking towards the folding chair and sitting down. It was clear The Weirdo had a plan, but he had no idea what it was. He walked towards the table and just shrugged when Angel caught his eye.

 

            “What’s he planning?” Michael asked.

 

            “No idea.” Tommy whispered.

 

            The Weirdo sat down at the table and ran his fingers across it, looking up at the young man as if he had just noticed he was there. He wet his upper lip with his tongue and smiled brightly. The young man, with only the one yellow eye, only scowled. This made The Weirdo smile all the brighter.

 

            “Smile.” The Weirdo said. “Things can only get worse.”

 

            “What?”

 

            “Look at us here. What a lovely day it is, a nice cool day, plenty of sun. We’re in the shade of a mighty oak tree, which makes everything all the more pastoral. What a delightful day, and you’re going to make me spoil it.”

 

            “You said there would be a contest.”

 

            The Weirdo sighed, his smile fading a little. He nodded and pulled his pocketknife out. It was a Laguiole pocketknife, with a three-inch blade. This particular knife had scales made from something he remembered being called snake wood. Its metal furnishings were made of brushed steel and the bottom of the knife was shaped like a boot. This was supposed, when the blade was open, to give the impression of a woman’s leg. The Weirdo didn’t see it, but he liked the knife. He squeezed the blade between his middle finger and thumb and pushing with his ring finger and pinky opened the knife half way, pressing it against his left sleeve to pop it the rest of the way open. He then set the knife down in front of him, perpendicular to his arm. The tip of the blade was pointing to his left, the end of the boot pointing to his right. He then reached into the coat and drew out the forty-five. He slid the clip from the weapon, to show that there were bullets in it and slid it back in.

 

            He set the gun down on the table, next to the knife. The way the gun was set, he could have pushed the knife to his left and it would have slid up into the barrel of the pistol. The butt of the gun faced The Weirdo, but he would have to reach across the table to get it. If some one where watching carefully, they would see that The Weirdo was making it quite easy for the young man to pick up the pistol. The Weirdo, done making his arrangements, leaned back.

 

            “Now.” The Weirdo said. “Here is how we play this game.”

 

            “This is a game?”

 

            “Oh yes.” The Weirdo said, and then affected a dramatic voice. “A game of Death!”

 

            Had it been written on a board, that would have either been done in large yellow stroked letters, or in bloody letters perhaps.

 

            “You must be joking.” Judy said.

 

            “Nope.” The Weirdo said. “I’ve handed her a coin.”

 

            He pointed towards Kestrel and then placed his hands on the table, as if he were getting ready to strike his hands out.

 

            “This?” Kestrel said holding up the gold coin. The Weirdo nodded.

 

            “Now, the girl is going to flip the coin.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “The girl?” She asked,

 

            “Yeah.”

 

            “I am not the girl.” Kestrel said.

 

            “No?”

 

            “No.” she said.

 

            “Very well. The chick’s going to flip the coin.”

 

            Kestrel looked at The Weirdo but he turned his head and gave her than cute little smile he had. She wanted to hit him, but she knew he was psyching the guy out, so she had to do her part and play along. She would make him suffer later, oh yes, there would be ice cubes in his bed.

 

            “Now,” The Weirdo continued, “When the coin lands, we each go for a weapon, and we try to kill each other. Understand.”

 

            “That’s it?” The young man said.

 

            “That’s it.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “Fine.” He said.

 

            “Okay.” The Weirdo said, “When you’re ready Kestrel.”

 

            She looked at him, and noticed that it would be so easy for the young man to pick up the pistol, and fairly difficult for The Weirdo to do it. She looked at the coin and at The Weirdo. She closed her eyes and let her thumb flick past her finger, sending the coin spiraling through the air. All eyes, but The Weirdo’s watched the golden coin as it spun, inevitably towards the ground. It came in contact with the stone path and made a golden ching sound as it struck and flipped into the air before finally landing and loosing all momentum.

 

            The world must have slowed down, that was the only answer Kestrel could come up with later. She watched as The Weirdo remained motionless but the young man leapt for the gun. She wondered why The Weirdo was unmoving as the young man leveled and aimed the pistol. She had time to notice how The Weirdo still sat, his thumbs on the edge of the table, his fingers flat on the tabletop. His eyes stared directly into the young man’s as he took the pistol in his hand.

 

The young man began to smile as his hand wrapped around the gun and raised it up. The smile was demonic, and unfortunately very human. As everything went in slow motion, she was able to notice the exact color of the young man’s one exposed eye and one yellow eye. The Weirdo still didn’t move, as the young man’s finger tightened around the trigger. She felt something in her gut, like being struck, as the finger tightened.

 

            Nothing happened though, and his demonic smile faded. He slapped the side of the gun and tried to pull the trigger again, and still nothing happened. The Weirdo still did nothing, remained unmoving. The young man looked at the gun, and flipped the safety catch. He then drew back the hammer with his thumb and pulled the trigger. The hammer snapped down and time suddenly seemed to go from far to slow to far too fast. It either went to fast or she had never known of fast The Weirdo could move.

 

            His hand caught up the knife with his right hand and caught the young man’s hand. He pushed the arm down on the table and pinned it to the table with the knife. He then plucked the gun from the hand and worked the slide once, priming a round into the chamber. He put the gun against the young man’s head, a smirk flickering up on the right corner of his mouth. He squeezed the trigger, and time slowed down again.

 

            Kestrel swore, to her last days, that she had watched the bullet very slowly leave the barrel of the gun, a blaze of fire accompanying the small black slug as it sailed. The bullet struck the head, and she could actually see how the force pushed the skull out of shape. She saw the small fiery bits of powder burn into the young man’s skin as they flew from behind the bullet. The shell ejected from the back of the gun, and the pistol worked another round into the chamber. The bullet caused the back of the head to explode, with blood, and bits of brain. There was a lot of blood, so much blood.

 

            And then it was all over, the normal flow of time reasserted it self and the young man’s body slumped forward and then tumbled onto the ground, tipping the table over. His arm was still attached so it hung against the table when it lay dead on the blue grass, it’s arm attached to the table. The Weirdo spun the gun around his trigger finger like an old west gun fighter and slid it back under his coat. He then walked around and pulled the knife from the table and closed it with both hands. He slid the knife into his pocket and looked at the dead body and up at Lilith, who was covered in a splattering of blood, and brain fragments. 

 

            “Not very pretty is it?” He asked. “All that wasted effort for that.”

 

            “You son of a bitch.” Lilith said, furious. “You tricked him.”

 

            “He tricked himself.” The Weirdo said. “I gave him ample opportunity to either walk away or to kill me. I sat around and waited for him to prime the gun and take the safety off. Is it my fault he didn’t know anything about guns?”

 

            “Bastard.” She said,

 

            “Probably.” He agreed. “But this was no destroyer.”

 

            “This isn’t the end of this.” She said.

 

            “I have no doubt.” He said.

 

            “You’re going to have to face up to your destiny sooner or later.”

 

            “It’s gonna have to be later then isn’t it?”

 

            “I think maybe you should go now.” Jorgaes interjected. “He’s being amazingly lenient with you as it is.”

 

            “Oh we’ll go.” Lilith said.

 

            “And take that with you.” Jorgaes said, pointing at the dead body. “You brought him you take him.”

 

            “Peach, arrange it.” Lilith said spinning on her heel and stalking towards the front of the house.

 

            “Make sure she just goes Michael.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “Can do.” The vampire said, and flew into the air behind her.

 

            “You can’t win this.” Peach said as members of the new group gathered the young man up on a pair of cloaks and began to bear him away.

 

            “We seem to be doing all right.” Tommy said. “Besides you’d be surprised how many times over the years we’ve been told we can’t win, and yet we always do.”

 

           

April 11th, 2003

4:30 p.m.

 

            The Weirdo was standing at the kitchen sink, washing his hands. He looked at them, and wondered if he was going to start doing this in his sleep. He knew he didn’t have to kill the young man, didn’t even have to shoot him. He could have knocked the gun from his hand and given him a cut across the face, but he’d killed him. Not only that, but he killed him in a really messy way. He could have put a bullet or two through his heart that would have done it. He had just been seized by the impulse to splatter the guy’s brains so he went with it.

 

            He shut the water off and began to dry his hands. There were a few spots of blood on the sleeve of his shirt. He thought that if he just wiped them under the faucet he could probably get the spot out quickly. He shook his head though and took the shirt off.

 

            “I’m not about to start obsessively washing in my sleep and saying out, out damn spot, not at my time of life.”

 

            He looked at the spot on the cuff, and then looked around the kitchen. He looked back at the small spot, and wondered how so much of his clothes managed to get away from the blood. There had been so much blood, and yet here was a nearly unmarred shirt, untouched by the profusion. He rolled the shirt up in a ball and walked to the laundry, tossing the shirt on the brown tile floor in front of the washer.

 

            “You could have just let him go.” Tommy said walking into the room behind him.

 

            “Yeah.” The Weirdo said leaning against the wall. “Never even learned his name, I think I should have learned his name before blowing his brains out.”

 

            “Why do it like that?”

 

            “I think I’m getting sick of having them bring one person after another in front of me.” He said. “I want them to go away.”

 

            “They’re not going to, you know that.” Tommy said playing with the button on his jacket. “We’re going to have to fight Lilith before this is all over you know?”

 

            “No choice?”

 

            “Friad not.” Tommy said. “I have foreseen it.”

 

            “What are you, the emperor?”

 

            “Damn skippy.” Tommy said. “Got a guy in armor with a cape and everything.”

 

            “If you’re the emperor, and Jack’s Vader, who am I?”

 

            “Captain Neda.” Tommy said.

 

            “Shit,” The Weirdo said. “Didn’t I always just know it?”

 

            “Yeah.”

 

            “What the hell are we gonna do Tommy?” The Weirdo asked. “I mean even if we win, we don’t get to have peace.”

 

            “Isn’t the price of peace eternal vigilance?”

 

            “No.” The Weirdo said. “That’s the price of living in a militaristic society. Peace, I think, would be best formed by convincing people that fighting would hurt profits.”

 

            “Profits will save the world?”

 

            “Who wants to fight when they know if they do they’ll lose what they’ve got? It’s like all this terrorism around the world. You notice all most all the terrorists come form poor, desolate, poverty ridden parts of the world? You fill their bellies and put a few bucks in their pockets and they’ll look loose what they were angry about.”

 

            “How does that plan help us here?”

 

            “It doesn’t.” The Weirdo said. “Unfortunately we seem to have a group of disaffected rich kids who’ve decided to end it all.”

 

            “Extremists are just extremist.” Tommy said. “Nothing we can do to change that.”

 

            “No, probably not.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “So what comes next?”

 

            “Not sure.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “No.” Tommy said. “You know.”

 

            “I could be wrong.”

 

            “Are you?”

 

            “No.”

 

            “It’s Athena.” Tommy said. “That and the thing you don’t want to talk about.”

 

            “Yes.”

 

            “You think we could defend her and take it on?”

 

            “I don’t know.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “You scared?”

 

            “Worried.” The Weirdo said. “Just worried.”

 

            “I’m scared.” Tommy said. “The idea, just the idea, scares the shit out of me.”

 

            “I know,” The Weirdo said, “But I think I know how to get through this. It’ll just require a lot of frustration.”

           

© 2014 Autumn Knight Productions

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May 10, 2014 - Posted by | Fiction | , , ,

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