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Brothers & Sisters – Chapter Twenty: The Best Laid Plans

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 Twenty

The Best Laid Plans

 

April 15th, 2003

9:41 a.m.

 

            “You brought a news paper.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “Yeah.” Tommy said, nodding.

 

            “I guess I shouldn’t even ask why you might think of such a thing.”

 

            “I thought you might have to take some time doing some of the things in your plan.” Tommy said. “Like getting past the door.”

 

            “And you were going to read a week old newspaper in the intervening time?”

 

            “Yeah.”

 

            “You would.”

 

            “Yes.” Tommy agreed. “Yes I would.”


 

            They entered into a large chamber made of chalk, which had been carved by the hands of many a skilled and novice craftsmen. The work was magnificently beautiful in some places, and painfully inept in others. It looked as though each person who had passed through had been forced to carve a section of the stone, with whatever came to mind. There were runes and designs of all kinds. There were lettering systems from a thousand different languages, and designs both simple and complex.

 

There was a man carving, with a piece of bone against the chalk. He looked tired, and he looked forlorn. The Weirdo walked up to him and the bearded man looked up at him, his eyes wide. There were teeth missing from his face, they looked like they had been beaten out. One of his eyes was swollen shut, and his left hand had a few broken fingers.

 

“Help me.” He whispered. “Please.”

 

“Can you walk?” The Weirdo asked.

 

“I don’t know.” He said. “They’ve beaten me so.”

 

“We can’t slow down.” Jack said, slipping the backpack off his shoulder. “I’ll leave him some water and food.”

 

He pulled the backpack off his shoulders and opened it. The man’s face grew sorrowful as Jack drew out a bottle of water and a few energy bars. Jack looked at him and then back in the bag. There was more, there always was more. He reached into the bag and drew out a small pistol. It was a small gun, able to be hidden in a woman’s garter, but it would be enough if the man used it right.

 

“Do you know how to use a gun?” Jack asked.

 

“Yes.” The man said.

 

“This is a small caliber, get very close before you fire.” He handed the gun over.

 

“I’m not sure.” The man said looking at the pistol.

 

“It’s either that or you follow us.” Tommy said. “And we’re going in deeper.”

 

“Deeper?” The man asked. “Why would you go deeper?”

 

“Because we have to.” The Weirdo said, “You want to come?”

 

“I’ll await your return.” The man said.

 

“We’re going out the other side.” The Weirdo said, and continued to walk down the hall.

 

The man watched as they went and then looked at the open door, he could smell the daylight, could see the bird song and could hear the scent of the flowers. He stuffed the bars into his pockets and picked up the water bottle. He looked at the gun and thought that he would only fire if he had to. He then began to walk towards the door, in a hope of getting his senses to work themselves out.

 

“What exactly do you think he’s going to do?” The Gray man asked.

 

“Get back to the surface.” The Weirdo said. “He had that look.”

 

“What will he do when he gets there?” Tommy asked.

 

“Probably do some very hard drugs and write some comic books.” The Weirdo said. “That’s my hope anyway.”

 

“What are we going to do though?” Jack asked.

 

“We’re going to talk to the owl headed man.” The Weirdo said. “Soon as we find him.”

 

 

April 15th, 2003

10:01 a.m.

 

            Our second team wasn’t having the best of luck in crossing the river Styx. The ferryman Charon who didn’t actually want to let them pass stymied them. It seemed that he was bored and was going to use any excuse to delay them passage. He had tried to pause them with the complaint that they weren’t actually dead but precedent had proved that the living had crossed the river before.

 

“Do you have an obol?” The ferryman asked.

 

“What exactly is an obol?” D’var Cassimano asked.

 

“A coin.” Charon said.

 

“Well I’ve got a quarter.” Michael Darrian said.

 

“It is a special coin.” Charon said. “Placed under the tongue at burial.”

 

“Bullshit.” Cassimano said. “It’s just any old coin and you want to be frustrating.”

 

“It is not.” Charon said. “It is a specific…”

 

“How deep is this river?” Cassimano said.

 

“D’var.” Athena said, in the tone that said he would die if he didn’t cease this insolence.

 

            “What?” The ferryman asked.

 

            “That stick you’re pushing your boat along with isn’t very long.” Cassimano said gathering up his cape and wading into the water.

 

            “That is the river Styx!” Tanteroy said.

 

            “Got high boots.” Cassimano said.

 

            “It’s not just the water.” Charon said. “There is the kraken.”

 

            His hip high leather boots had been made especially for him in a shop in Paris, they were guaranteed waterproof. Cassimano walked across the river, and came to the other shore, and found that the water had never come any higher than just above his knees. He looked at the boots, which seemed none the worse for wear, and walked back.

 

            As he began to walk back a great squid lashed it’s arms out and wrapped around his legs. Now when we say great squid, we mean in fact a Humboldt squid. The Humboldt is a large and aggressive squid, and it’s about six foot long. D’var Cassimano’s sword left it’s scabbard and plunged deep into the thing’s brain. There was a lot of black ink around Cassimano’s legs for a moment, and then the splashing ceased. He dragged his kill onto the shore with him.

 

            “Seems the river’s not so deep.” Cassimano said walking back to the stone shore. “And the squid’s dead.”

 

            “No.” Charon said. “That wasn’t it.”

 

            The Kraken then rose up from the water, and it was a much larger squid about the size of a bus. It was also more than a squid, standing on its limbs to stand strait up. It would have been a terrifying thing to any shore dwelling people who hadn’t discovered firearms yet. Cassimano and Darrian drew their guns and in less than ten second the beast was flopping dead on the stony shore as well.

 

            “I tell you what.” Cassimano said, letting his cape fall back down. “You ferry us across and I won’t tell.”

 

            “Tell what?” Charon said.

 

            “That you can wade across the river.”

 

            “No one can enter this, it’s the river Styx!” Charon said. “This is the river of death!”

 

            “It’s the dead that are coming here.” Cassimano said. “What’s this river gonna do? Is it gonna kill them? They’re already dead, they can walk this thing.”

 

            “What are you saying?”

 

            “I’m saying that I’ll put up big signs and I’ll stand here and shout to every passer by for the rest of eternity that they need not use the ferry, that they can just wade. You’re little business would fade away in a heart beat.”

 

            “You couldn’t possibly…” Charon said.

 

            “I’m immortal.” Cassimano said, his mouth twisting into an evil smile. “I can wait just as long as you can.”

 

            “If you can just walk, why ask for a ferry?” Charon asked.

 

            “Oh we want more than a trip across the stream.” Darrian said.

 

            “Much more.” Cassimano said. “But first across the river please.”

 

            “Athena.” Nike’s voice came like a breeze as the young goddess landed.

 

            “Nike?” Athena’s voice questioned as she turned.

 

            She looked at the young winged goddess, as she stood next to the one tree for the next forty miles. She was holding onto a branch, her hand twisting around the limb of the tree like a motorcyclist revving their engine. There were tears welling up his her eyes and her left hand was simply tugging at her pant leg. Athena looked at Cassimano for only a moment.

 

            “Can you go without me?” She asked. “I think this is important.”

 

            “Sure.” D’var said. “We can handle this.”

 

            “Thank you.”

 

            They boarded the boat and Charon pushed his pole into the water and began to move them across the accursed, but shallow, river. His eyes looked back at the young goddess holding onto the tree. His wither old heart went out to his young niece, though he knew he could say nothing. He looked at them until he heard the stones of the opposite shore scrape the bottom on the boat. He was at least glad that if he ever went blind he’d be able to make the journey by feel and sound alone.

 

            “Keep the meter running.” Darrian said as his feet touched the stony shore.

 

            “What?” The old man asked.

 

            “Wait here.” Tanteroy said. “We will be back soon.”

 

            “I’m not the only ferryman you know.” Charon said. “Some one else will likely be here when you come out.”

 

            “Will they?” Tanteroy asked.

 

            “Have you ever noticed how many people there are in the world? How often they die? There are a dozen of us now.” Charon said.

 

            “We knew.” Cassimano said. “But we’d like you to wait please.”

 

            “My niece is over there.” The Old god said.

 

            “I know.” Cassimano said. “Still please wait.”

 

            The three of them began to walk towards the large gaping mouth of a cave. It shouldn’t be that a cave would have large stalagmites and stalactites at the mouth of it. Yet this cave did, looking for all the world like teeth in an open mouth. They maneuvered around what were either earthly marvels or appallingly bad taste.

 

            “Do you know something I don’t?” Tanteroy asked.

 

            “Volumes.” Cassimano said.

 

            “About this plan?”

 

            “While you and Blackheart were trying to visit the mother country, I was helping forge part of this plan. So yes I do.”

 

            “You going to tell me the rest of the plan?”

 

            “You know the plan.” Cassimano said.

 

            “Obviously I don’t.” Tanteroy said.

 

            “Well you know as much as you need to.” Cassimano said.

 

            “You’re not going to explain anything to me are you?”

 

            “No.” Cassimano said. “You found Assitania more important, so you can piece things together as we go.”

 

            “Are you part of this as well?” Tanteroy asked Darrian.

 

“I’m afraid so.” Darrian said. “Though my reason for silence is different than his.”

 

“What’s your reason?”

 

“I don’t know anything.” Darrian said.

 

“You said you were part of this.”

 

“As are we all.” Darrian said, smiling slyly. “Doesn’t mean I know what’s going on.”

 

           

April 15th, 2003

10:28 a.m.

 

            “And then I shot him.” Nike said, between her now calming sobs. “I shot him dead.”

 

            “Oh.” Athena said, trying to find more to say.

 

            It was a lot to take in, and she was trying to processes it all. That her father and uncle had been killed, that her half brother had been emasculated and hen killed, it was a lot. She had known that her father would not bow to her children, but she hadn’t been prepaid for how they were react. She hadn’t even thought that they might kill to get their place. She thought about this younger generation for a moment, and though about weather or not she had been spared.

 

            It was possible, that she was to be put on the block as well. She was part of the old guard, but then so was Hermes. Hermes had already bowed and been given pretty much the same position he’d always held. There would be changes of course, there always were, but he had been aloud to keep his job. She wondered about her own place, would she be able to keep it? She looked at Nike and realized it didn’t matter, as long as they could now be together it didn’t matter. Nothing else besides that mattered.

 

            “Do you feel better now?” Athena asked.

 

            “I think so.” She said. “I can at least start to feel better.”

 

            “That will have to do for a start then.”  Athena said.

 

           

April 15th, 2003

10:30 a.m.

 

            The door of the mansion opened and Mrs. Pendleton and The Other were led out. Jorgaes kept telling them that if they kept calm everything would be okay.      The Other ran as soon as they walked out of the house, and she kept running. She ran around the back of the house, figuring on a place to hide.

 

            “There she goes.” Lilith said pointing at The Other as she ran across the lawn.

 

            The Other’s head turned for just a moment to see the forces that had begun to chase her down. The dogs were large and black, there were some kind of thing that looked like a dinosaur, and there were people on horses. She knew she wasn’t going to make it. They were going to get her. She knew that they were going to get her, and try to make her do what they wanted. If she didn’t do what they wanted, they were going to hurt her. She couldn’t escape them and she heard the feet coming towards her.

 

            “Don’t hurt her.” Mrs. Pendleton said as the dark wolves charged towards the little girl.

 

            “Shut up.” Lilith’s said, her fist smashing into the side of the old woman’s head.

 

            The Other leapt up a tree, her tiny fingers gripping onto the branches as she tried to pull her self up. She could barely see where she was going her tears had clouded her vision. Something clapped onto her leg and she screamed.

 

            “Help!” her voice pleaded. “Please.”

 

            The jaw closed on her leg and she felt the teeth poking into her skin. The jaw was strong enough to crush her bones and the teeth could tear her to shreds. Her fingers tightened onto the tree and the mouth closed a little bit harder, just to remind her they were there.

 

            “Please.” She whispered. “Please help.”

 

            The dog yanked its head to one side and she was pulled down to the turf, one dog latching its jaw around her arm and the two dogs began to tug at her. Now the screams were genuinely of pain. Lilith whistled but the dogs would no longer listen.

 

            “Help her.” Mrs. Pendleton said again.

 

            “Shut up.” Lilith screamed and punched Mrs. Pendleton in the face.

 

            There was an explosion of blood from the old woman’s face and her nose began to bleed profusely. Lilith’s head spun and looked at the screaming little girl and noticed that her coat tore. The dog that had her leg yanked back and the little girl was thrown through the air. Its jaw let her go and she flew a few feet before landing on the ground again. The dogs didn’t immediately turn to finish her off, first they looked at each other as if congratulating one another on a job well done.

 

            The Other looked at her hands, there were still five fingers on each hand, though her left wrist was a bit bloodied. She turned and looked at the dogs that were still laughing at her, saying how funny her screams were. One of the dogs turned and winked at her, it actually winked. They were going to take their sweet time to finish her off she knew that now. The one who winked began to trot towards her and she wanted to kick out, to scream, but she couldn’t move. She felt so scared that she couldn’t actually bring herself to move or to scream.

 

            “Please.” She said, and watched as it smiled.

 

            The dog’s jaw opened and its head ducked, but the teeth never landed on her. A bolt of something white struck out and hit the animal in the throat. A burst of blood flew and the dog fell back with a single squealing bark. A coiled horn drew out of its throat and the unicorn brought its hoof down on the dog’s skull. The head was pushed sickeningly out of shape, yet the skin never actually broke.

 

            “You are not going to have this child.” The unicorn said in a soft lilting voice.

 

            “Oh yes we are.” One of the dogs said. “We were brought from Russia for that very purpose.”

 

            “That’s loverly.” The unicorn said. “But I’ve got that welsh stubbornness.”

 

            “There are six of us.” The dog said.

 

            “I’m prepared for that.” She said, taking another step forward.

 

            The dogs rushed forward, which was all the worse for them. A unicorn might not seem like an effective fighter, the thin build and all. However, the unicorn managed to kill two more of the dogs before one of them managed to clamp down on one of her legs. She kicked at it, catching its skull and forcing the bones out of place. It was clear thought, when she tried to run towards another of the dogs that the bite had done some amount of damage. She couldn’t run as quickly now, and they were going to get around her. It’s fortunate that re-enforcements arrived at that moment. Well Minga arrived anyway.

 

            It would be difficult to fully explain where Minga had been and why she hadn’t come to the child’s rescue immediately with out delving into a more complicated explanation of particle physics than we’re prepared to give right now. Let us simply agree that even sometimes the great gray tiger can’t be everywhere at once.

 

            The two of them were enough to keep the dogs at bay, preferring a defensive posture to an offensive. They could have easily killed the dogs and all the invaders, but then they might have had to abandon the child. They weren’t about to have anything more happen to the little girl and thus they held everyone at bay. She leaned against the wall and looked at her bleeding leg and hand, trying to remain calm.

 

            “You said you weren’t going to hurt anyone.”  Jorgaes said. “You said this would be a peaceful operation.”

 

            “Do you need a beating too?” Lilith asked.

 

            “You really want to go that route?” He asked, and for a moment seemed very dangerous.

 

            She looked at the small man and was about to give him a slapping when she noticed his hands. She saw the glint of what she at first thought to be rings, but Jorgaes didn’t wear any rings. She then noticed that he had discreetly slipped steel knuckle covers onto each hand. They would have been regarded as brass knuckles, had they been made of brass. There were steel though and they had that dull gleam of brushed steel.

 

            She raised her hand to her lips and inserted two fingers. The whistle was high and shrill, and it called off the dogs. The dogs ran to Lilith’s side and she looked at Peach who was holding Mrs. Pendleton. The young Georgian looked at Lilith and simply shoved Mrs. Pendleton away. The old woman fell against the soft grass, and gasped for air.

 

            “We’d better go then.” Eve said softly.

 

            “Probably.” Lilith said. “Are you coming Jorgaes?”

 

            “No just yet.” He said still clutching the knuckle covers.

 

            They walked very carefully around each other, like gunfighters. No one was about to turn their backs on each other for even a moment. This meant that Lilith Eve and Peach had to back away slowly around the corner of the building, while Jorgaes watched them. Jorgaes watched them until they were out of sight and then turned to attend to Mrs. Pendleton.

 

            She was trying to stem the flow of blood from her nose, holding a handkerchief to her face. He walked to a fountain and dunked his own handkerchief in the water, discovering a slight shock at how cold it was. He rang it out at he walked towards her, twisting the water from the cotton cloth.

 

            “Here.” He said holding out the cold damp piece of pocket cloth.

 

            “Thank you.” She said, sounding like she had the devil’s own head cold. “Is she okay?”

 

            “I’ll go check.” He walked towards the Unicorn and the tiger who were investigating the spot where the little girl should have been.

 

            The Other herself was nowhere to be seen. There was the spot on the grass against the house’s wall where she had crouched, but there was nothing else. She might have passed through the wall, or run away through some of the bushes, but that was suspect. There was no path, no prints, nothing. It was as if she had simply vanished having been given the chance to do so.

 

            “She’s gone.” He said coming back to Mrs. Pendleton. “She just vanished.”

 

            “We better at least try to find her.” Mrs. Pendleton said standing slowly.

She pressed her free hand to her head, coping with the massive headache. She was fairly sure that her nose had been broken, which was a hell of a thing at her age. She had managed not to get hurt through out the entire Blitz of London, and now at age eighty-three, bam! It had only taken the one hit to break the nose, and now her entire head ached in the most unimaginable way possible. Her nose was swelling as well she could feel that happening as well. She was going to have to see if Doc could pack the nose for her, and maybe give her something to keep the scarring to a minimum.

 

            “She’s alright.” A voice said and the two of them turned to see the speaker.

 

            It was a woman and a man. She looked like she might be The Other’s mother, and he looked like something from a cowboy movie. They couldn’t see the man’s face because his hat was down over his face. The woman stood in front of the man and smiled at the two of them. She reached close and touched Mrs. Pendleton’s face, which suddenly felt much better.

 

            “We’ve taken her to a safe place.” The woman said. “She’s in the care of a friend of ours.”

 

            “Who?” Mrs. Pendleton began, but the beauty put her fingers to the older woman’s lips and shook her head.

           

            “Just relax, it’ll be alright.” She turned and faced the man in the Sergio Leoni get up. “Shall we go Sheriff?”

           

            The two of them then faded from sight, leaving no trace that they had been there in the first place.

 

 

April 15th, 2003

10:36 a.m.

 

            It would not be completely unfair to call Hades a patrician like figure. He was certainly detached as Cassimano and Tanteroy walked into the chamber with Darrian trailing behind. He was sitting on his ebony throne, reading a book.  He didn’t even look at them, simply continued to read his book. Cassimano cleared his throat, and was completely ignored.

 

            “Uh, hello?” Tanteroy asked.

 

            “Some one there?” Hades asked.

 

            “You know we’re here.” Tanteroy said.

 

            “Oh do I?” Hades asked, still not looking away from his book.

 

            “Why are we even bothering?” Darrian asked, leaning against a column.

 

            “Hmm?” Cassimano asked.

 

            “Why don’t we just fuck him up?” The vampire asked. “I’m running low on patients, I’m getting sick of fucking around with these little bitches.”

 

            “What do you mean?” Hades asked, his eyes flicking to the vampire for a moment.

 

            Cassimano looked at Darrian who was just looking at the God’s face. He then looked at the god, who tried to be detached. There had been something in the disgust in Darrian’s voice, which had tripped a switch of warning in Cassimano’s mind. He looked at the vampire, and noticed he was bearing his teeth.

 

            “I’m not sure what you mean Mike.” Cassimano said,

 

            “Oh come on D’var. This little bitch likes snatching girls and then starving them. Then he gives her a piece of fruit, and after she eats it he claims he gets to keep her.” He was scowling now, barely contained rage on his face. “He forced that poor girl to accept his repeated rapes.”

 

            “Now wait a second.” The God said lowering his book.

 

            It was a sign of weakness, and it was a mistake. Darrian leapt from his place and the vampire, the god, and the ebony chair all clattered to the ground. Darrian’s right hand came up in a fist and came down with such speed and strength that even a god would notice. The fist then raised and fell three more times before Tanteroy grabbed at Darrian. The vampire threw him off and continued to pummel the lord of the dead.

 

            Darrian had grabbed the lapels of Hades double breasted suit and was using it to smack the god against the stone floor which caused the back of his head to whack the floor. Cassimano final placed his hand on Darrian’s shoulder and squeezed gently.

 

            “I think he’s got the message.” Cassimano said.

 

            “Has he?” Darrian asked, his teeth gleaming in the light.

 

            “Have you?” Cassimano asked Hades.

 

            “Ung?” Hades asked.

 

            “What the hell are you doing?” Tanteroy asked.

 

            “Just disturbing the status quo.” Cassimano said.

 

            “Persephone goes free.” Darrian said. “Are we understood?”

 

            “Never.” Hades managed.

 

            “ I guess he hasn’t gotten the message Mike.” Cassimano said.

 

            “He will.” Darrian said.

 

            The vampire then sank his teeth into the god’s shoulder. The pain was incredible for Hades, as vampire salvia has a particularly painful acid in it. The vampire sucked deeply from the blood and raised his head, letting the blood drip from his mouth onto the god’s face. He then pressed his thumb into the wound, causing a fresh bolt of pain.

 

            “Persephone goes free.” Darrian said. “Are we understood?”

 

            “Fine.” Hades said.

 

            “Good.” Cassimano said as Darrian got up off him. “And I would like you to release the titans from Tartus.”

 

            “The titans?” Tanteroy asked.

 

            “What?” Hades asked as he began to get up.

            Cassimano simply drew out Coast Runner and stabbed the God through the chest. The blade slid easily between the ribs and punctured the right lung, causing a really weird gasp sound to exit the god’s mouth. Cassimano leaned on the sword until it pressed against something hard. It must have been a bone, because he was certain he’d know if it exited the other side. He didn’t want to press much harder in any case. He wanted the bones to be in their place on this god and for the blade’s tip not to be scraped across the stone floor.

 

            “The titans.” Cassimano said, twisting the sword. “I want them, and all the souls you’ve got here.”

 

            “Why should I give them to you?” Hades asked, amazingly.

 

            “Because the pain will end.” Darrian said. “And because we’re asking nicely.”

 

            “Zeus will kill you both.”

 

            “Zeus is dead.” Athena said as she entered the great hall.

 

            “Hello dear.” Cassimano said, slowly turning the hilt in his hand.

 

            “You’re torturing my uncle.” She said.

 

            “Yes.” He said, “It’s a war crime probably. I suspect I’ll have to answer for this later.”

 

            “Please stop.” Athena said.

 

            “Since you said please.” He withdrew the blade and sheathed it.

 

            “Can I speak to you for a moment?” Athena asked. The three men walked with the Goddess into one corner and Hades waited for his strength to return, or at least for his ears to stop buzzing.

 

            “Will he release them?” She asked.

 

            “No one said anything about the titans.” Tanteroy complained. “For that matter no one mentioned Persephone.”

 

            “What about Persephone?” Athena asked.

 

            “They convinced him to let her go.” Tanteroy said.

 

            “Cassimano and I discussed it.” Darrian said.

 

            “You discussed it.” Tanteroy asked.

 

            “That’s right.” Cassimano said.

 

            “Did you even begin to think of the damage that could cause?”

 

            “What?” Cassimano said. “You mean that she wouldn’t get raped any more? I certainly see the danger there.”

 

            “What about the unforeseen problems?” Tanteroy asked. “You have no idea what kind of problems releasing her could create. For one thing, where will winter go?”

 

            “Tanteroy.” Cassimano said. “You’re the son of one of my best friends, rest his soul, but this situation was a bad one. We don’t stand around and let some one be tortured for the betterment of all. That’s wrong.”

 

            “Yet you eat meat.” Tanteroy said.

 

            “You can’t worry about every damn thing.” Cassimano said.

 

            “One might ask why you’re so interested in keeping her here.” Darrian asked.

 

            Tanteroy flushed, and he had no answer for just a moment too long. He looked at Darrian for a long moment, and then finally began to speak. It was too late though, and they both knew it.

 

            “I’m not.” Tanteroy finally said. “I just thought we were here to gather a force.”

 

            “So let’s gather.” Cassimano said.

 

            “Well Hades.,” Darrian said walking towards the God, “Are we in agreement?”

 

            “It seems I have little choice.”

 

            “Well that is true enough.” Cassimano said.

 

            “If I don’t comply you’ll just torture me further.”

 

            “That’s right.” Cassimano said nodding and smiling brightly.

 

            “You’re argument doesn’t hold up then.” Hades said trying to sit up.

 

            “Doesn’t it?” Cassimano asked.

 

            “You can’t claim that I’m evil for kidnapping Persephone and that there is no reason to condone that and then do the same to me.”

 

            “Oh but I can.” Cassimano said, his sword lightly swaying in his hand.

 

            “How?” Hades asked.

 

            “We’re not beating you up to get something from you. We’re beating you up so that you might be punished for the crime of kidnapping and rape. You see we’re not pretending to have any higher notion of protecting the greater good or following the letter of the law. No, we’re just exacting vengeance.” His hand quickly moved and the point of Coast Runner was under the God’s chin.

 

            “We could just have easily killed you to get what we wanted.” Darrian said. “But D’var and I decided humiliating you would be a better show to later generations.”

 

            “So you haven’t been asking me, you’ve been telling me.”

 

            “I knew he’d get it.” Cassimano said.

 

            “I had my doubts.” Darrian said.

 

            “Can I speak with him for a moment?” Athena asked.

 

            “Sure.” Cassimano said wiping the blade away.

 

            Athena helped the prone god to his feet and walked towards a corner. She looked at Cassimano and then at her uncle. He’d been guilty of quite a few crimes in the time she known him, but so had her father. No one had ever brought any of them to bear for their crimes, they had been above the law, and now that was changing. She couldn’t identify the feeling she was having. She felt glad and also a bit worried. There had always been a line between the gods and the mortals, and they had just crossed it. Of course the gods had been crossing that line since the day it had been drawn, so maybe this was just them getting their own back.

 

            “Have you heard what just happened?” Athena asked.

 

            “No.” He said. “What happened?”

 

            “My daughter and son have just killed your two brothers and Heraclese.” She said. “What ever rules you think were in place this morning when you got up, they’re gone now.”

 

            “They’re dead?”

 

            “Dead.” She said, “It might be best to try and join with the new generation.”

 

            “Where is the rest of our family?” He asked.

 

            “Scattered to the four winds. Some have probably gone to New York to join the other side.”

 

            “Why shouldn’t I just join that side?” He asked.

 

            “No one’s going to stop you,” She said, “But I would have hoped that you’d come with us.”

 

            “No my dear.” He said. “I’ll leave quietly, but I’m also going to leave my guards in place. You’ll have to fight them to get to the titans.”

 

            “You could just…” she let it hang between them.

 

            “No.” He said smiling. “No I won’t.”

 

            There was a flash of light and Hades vanished, he became a small bright point of light, which zipped over Tanteroy’s head and out the cave. They watched it go, and Cassimano knew what it meant. There had been no hand over of a key, no orders to the guards; this was going to be hard. He sheathed his rapier and drew his pistol, checking the charge on the weapon. Darrian drew out a pistol as well and worked the slider, checking the weapon.

 

            “Can we wait a little while?” Athena asked.

 

            “Why?”

 

            “We’re going to need some help.” She said. “I can ask Nike to get Kestrel and Max.”

 

            Cassimano looked from her to Darrian. There was a flicker of Darrian’s eyes from her to him and then he closed his eyes and opened them. There might have been a slight nod as well, but she could never be sure. It was a sign of agreement though, what ever it was.

 

            “Yeah.” Cassimano said looking at her. “Why don’t you do that?”

 

            “We’ll get Persephone and tell her about her freedom,” Darrian said, “She’ll be in one of these front most chambers anyway.”

 

            “I’ll be back soon.” Athena said, rushing up the corridor.

 

            “Shouldn’t we just wait?” Tanteroy asked.

 

            “You seem very interested in us not doing this.” Darrian said. “I wonder why?”

 

            “I’m getting a little tired of being accused by you Darrian.” Tanteroy said.

 

            “Yeah I’ll bet you are.” Darrian said.

 

            Tanteroy was no great brain, it’s unfortunate he never really inherited his father’s mind. Had he been a bit more of a thinker, he might have noticed how the two men were slowly moving in on him, forming themselves in such a way as to cut off any attempted escape.

 

            “What is it Tanteroy?” Cassimano asked. “You’ve been suspicious for some time.”

 

            “I don’t know what you mean?” Tanteroy said, before drawing out the pistol.

 

            He had moved faster than either of them would have credited him with. Darrian moved pretty fast as well and his hand closed around Tanteroy’s as he brought the gun to bear. He had clearly meant to fire on Cassimano, but Darrian intersected him too soon. His elbow caught Tanteroy in the throat and sent him reeling to the floor.

 

            Tanteroy stumbled back a bit, but he did not fall. His grip around the pistol increased and he rammed it into Darrian’s side. The trigger was pulled and Michael Darrian’s body jumped a bit. He fell back and struck his head on a leg of the ebony chair. Tanteroy fired at Cassimano as he began to run towards the depths of the cave. A portcullis began to fall, separating the main hall from the underworld, closing with a ringing bellow.

 

            “Mike?” Cassimano said pulling Darrian’s vest open.

 

            The fabric was soaked with a thick clear liquid that made Cassimano think of thin gelatin. It was clear that the vampire’s blood was seeping out of his body, at an alarming rate too. He pulled the shirt open and reveled the useless vest that just hadn’t covered enough area. The bullet looked as if it had shot Darrian through the ribs, but Cassimano thought maybe it had done more damage than that.

 

            “Mike.” Cassimano said.

 

            “Thing bounced off the vest, must still be jumping back and forth inside of me.” Darrian said.

 

            “We can get you some help.” Cassimano said.

 

            “Not this time.” Darrian said. “Too much damage.”

 

            “Maybe if I.” He pulled a small knife from his pocket and cut his wrist, the blood poured profusely from his arm and he pressed the wound to Darrian’s face.

 

            The vampire tried to latch his mouth onto the immortal’s arm, but they both knew it was futile. Darrian’s lips couldn’t hold the wound, and his throat had already begun to close up. His head tilted back and the face began to perform the centuries of ageing that the virus had kept at bay. Darrian smiled slightly as his head fell back.

 

            “It’s alright D’var.” Darrian said. “We tried our best, it doesn’t matter now.”

 

            “Mike.” Cassimano said, dripping his blood over the single entry wound to try and close it up.

 

            “Just get Persephone out of here.” Darrian said, a single tear trickling down from his eye. “Don’t waste my time.”

 

            It was then that it finally happened, after so long. Michael Darrian, vampire, died of wounds inflicted by a single nine-millimeter bullet. His body began to shrivel, and then to stiffen. It was like watching a thousand years of mummification, happen in just a few moments. His body dried, the skin blackened, the teeth still white in the gloom.

 

            Cassimano stood slowly, placing his left hand over his mouth to hold back the scream. He wanted to scream of course, he wanted to cry and to scream and to curse the gods. He didn’t know any Catholics rites, but he felt he knew the lords prayer. He had learned it somewhere along the lines. Living in any Christian society, it’s pretty hard to miss actually. He said it as best he could remember, which meant he left out the part about forgiving our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.

 

            Of course it could be that he had no intention of forgiving sins, or asking for his to be forgiven. D’var Cassimano had come from an old society, one that had become ritualized over the years. It would be hard for him to forgive such a slight. If he had time, he might actually ask Tanteroy why he did it.

 

            He looked at the pathetically small remains of Darrian and carefully picked him up. The body had some how managed to fuse together, but he wanted to treat this thing as fragile. There might be time later to come and pick up the body, and he wanted the opportunity of retrieving him. He set the body down on the floor against a wall, and covered him with his coat, very carefully.

 

            He then stood slowly and drew out his weapons, tossing the pistol into his left hand as he drew Coast Runner. He was going to find Tanteroy and then, he was going to kill him. Why he did it wasn’t very important, there was no time left for conspiracies. His reasons would probably turn out to be fairly obvious and boring. It would be about power, or some petty revenge for something that happened a long time ago. There usually isn’t a very good reason for betrayal, best not to look for one.

 

           

April 15th, 2003

10:41 a.m.

 

            “Odin, party of a million.” Odin said.

 

            “Your not the first one to come to this door today.” The imp said.

 

            “But I’m the first one who brought a battery of soldiers.” Odin said.

 

            “What’s the plan then?” The imp asked.

 

            “It’s time.” Odin said. “We’re here to help free the damned.”

 

            “Free the damned.” The Imp said shaking his head. “You might as well just turn back now. A few people just went through and they won’t be coming back out.”

 

            “We came to ensure they get out.”

 

            “But this is the door to the underworld.” The imp said.

 

            “Yes.” Odin agreed. “And I’d like it opened.”

 

            “No.” The imp said. “I’ve got a new paper to read, there is nothing you can do for me.”

 

            “I could.” Angel said flicking her lighter.

 

            She had the rolled the old news paper as best she could, and touched the flame to it. The paper went up amazingly fast, and she had to drop it faster than she had meant to. This meant the fiery bits of paper danced around her feet and she had to move away to avoid getting burned. The Zippo was still lit as she stepped over the flaming bits of paper, and she touched the paper with the edge of the flame. The paper began to burn, but the imp yanked it away quickly.

 

            “Don’t do that!” He screamed, patting out the flames. “I’ll have nothing to read after that.”

 

            “I’ll make you a deal.” She said leaning back with the still lit lighter in her hand. “Two choices, you get to pick the deal. Choice one, I get a dozen of these strong men to hold you down while I burn your paper page by page. Choice two, you open the door and I get you a big stack of books and papers and magazines.”

 

            The imp’s giant eyes squinted as she finished. Something had caught his attention.

 

            “You can do that?” The imp asked.

 

            “What?” She asked. “Burn your paper? Certainly, no problem with that.”

 

            “No.” He said shaking his head quickly. “You could get me magazines and books?”

 

            “Well if the world doesn’t end.” Angel said.

 

            He seemed to consider this, and then looked at the flame in her hand. He looked at the already scorched page in his hand, the smell still strong in his nostrils. The last of the old paper had already curled up and become so much ash and dust. He could go without a paper, but could he pass up an opportunity like this.

 

            “What guarantee can you give me?”

 

            “Jimmy?” Angel said turning. “You still got that Doc Savage book?”

 

            “Yeah Angel.” He said proffering the book.

 

            “See this?” She said fanning her self with the copy of one of Doc Savage’s adventures. “First installment.”

 

            “You wouldn’t kid a guy?” The imp said, now standing on his wooden stool.

 

            “Dose any one else have a book?”

 

            “I’ve got a copy of ‘The Hobbit’.” One voice said.

 

            “I’ve got the ‘Death of Arthur’.” Another said.

 

            “I’ve got ‘Champaign for One’.” Said another. “And the ‘Golden Spiders’.”

 

            There was a chorus of voices that claimed to have one book or another. They listened and Angel looked at him. She then held the book out for him to take. His yellow hands wrapped around the paperback pulp novel with the reverence one might normally have for a book of the holiest and most sacred kind. He held the book close to him and his large eyes watered with the sudden greed of k knowledge.

 

            “Okay.” Angel said. “If you’ve got a book, please deposit it with our friend here. If you let us know later what it was we can replace it. If it’s got some personal meaning for you then keep it. If it’s just a book to pass the time, he’s got a lot of time to pass.”

 

            They were aloud to pass, and the imp suddenly grew rich in books. When a million men walk past, even when only one in a hundred has a book, that’s still a thousand books. There were magazines and books and newspapers, and the army was aloud to pass. They must have been passing for a long time, but to Angel and Kaala it seemed to go by like the breeze on a summer dawn.

 

 

April 15th, 2003

10:45 a.m.

 

            Cassimano raised his pistol and fired at the heavy wood and iron portcullis, it exploded in a flaming ball of wood and molten iron. He tightened the focus of the beam to it’s smallest point, if he was going to get into a shooting match with Tanteroy he wasn’t going to endanger anyone any more than he had to. He was going to free someone after all, and as a special bonus kill some one. He’d have to keep the beam narrow to avoid hurting anyone besides the one person he wanted to. He walked carefully past the emberic remains of the gate he had destroyed. There was a lot of smoke, and still a few pieces of flame, so he didn’t see Tanteroy. He did hear the snap of the pistol though, and felt the slug slam into his chest. He felt himself thrown over, almost more from shock than the blow. There was another bang and his head snapped back. The bullet hadn’t penetrated his skull, rather it had smacked against the bone and zipped around it under the skin.

 

            The slug in his chest burned, and he felt his blood seep though his clothes as he lay back against the stone. His vision had begun to blur when he noticed Tanteroy walking towards him. The barrel of the Beretta flashed twice, though Cassimano could no longer hear anything, not a thing. He wondered for a moment if the bullet had some how managed to strike him deaf. There were two more slugs, one in his chest and one near his groin.

 

            Cassimano tried to tighten his grasp around the pistol, but his hand had no strength left to it. His vision wasn’t just blurred now, but fading. His last thought, as he lost consciousness, was that he’d never actually trusted Tanteroy. He had never actually thought that it would happen like this, but there it was. His eyes closed, and his head tilted to one side.

 

           

April 15th, 2003

11:03 a.m.

 

            They approached the throne room, or at least one of them. Sitting on this throne was a creature with the body of a muscular man and the feathered head of an owl. The feathers actually grew out of his back and gave the illusion that he was a man who had simply grown his hair very long.

 

            “You have wasted your time.” The owl headed man said.

 

            “Have we?” The Weirdo asked,  “You haven’t even heard my proposal.”

 

            “I have been in contact with the Olympians, and the Aztlan’s. Voltan and I have discussed the options and I’m afraid The Yucatec have all come together against you.”

 

            “Ah,” The Weirdo said.

 

            “You thought I would be resentful, that our people would be with you in your little revolution.”

 

            “The thought had occurred to me.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “No.” Hunhau said. “You have no friends left.”

 

            The damned of Mitnal began to slowly move around them, forming a circle. They were going to be trapped by the damned souls, who were going to fight for their oppressors. It made them angry, to look at them. He felt his blood begin to rise, and his head started to pound. The tinnitus began to squeal it’s loud protest in his ears and he felt that it was going to be a perfect day.

 

            “What did you do to get stuck down here?” He asked pointing at one of the slowly closing in crowd.

 

            “What?” One of them asked.

 

            “Yeah.” The Weirdo said marching towards the one who had spoken, “What did you do to get stuck down here?”

 

            “Well…” He looked around at his fellow inmates and then at Hunhau. “I don’t know.”

 

            “You don’t know.” The Weirdo said, and looked at Jack and Tommy. “He doesn’t know.”

 

            “Is that wrong?”

 

            “You’re being incarcerated in this hell hole, and you don’t know why.” The Weirdo’s voice began to rise, his indignation rising. “How many of you have been told why you’re begging held here? How many?”

 

            A few hands went up, tremulously. The Weirdo looked for the smallest, meekest looking person who raised their hand and zeroed in on that one. She looked to be about sixteen, and very shy. She was a dark skinned girl, and looked to be some variety of Mestizo. He couldn’t be sure of course but he thought she was.

 

            “Okay.” He said, angry now. “What’d you do?”

 

            “I.” She began but would say no more.

 

            “What did you do?” His voice was so soft and kind, and the change so sudden, she couldn’t help but tell him.

 

            “I knew of a man.” She said.

 

            “No.” He said. “That’s what they told you.”

 

            “Yes.” She said, tears of shame trickling down her soft cheeks.

 

            “What was it really?” his voice was soft, calm, and wishing only to help.

 

            “Do I have to?” She asked.

 

            “Tell me.” It would all be okay, she knew it when he spoke.

 

            “I committed incest with my brother.” She said. “He found me washing in the river and was unable to control himself. He drowned me in his…”

 

            “That’s enough.” He said placing a hand on her shoulder, almost whispering. “You don’t need to say another thing.”

 

            He turned and he looked at the figures who had closed it around him. His face was not one that a person wished to be near. The circle was beginning to expand around him as he walked back towards the owl headed god.

 

There were guards for the God, of course there were. Some sort of lizard men that looked like they had been imported from the Egyptians were coming in to fight him. They began to move towards The Weirdo, and Jack and Tommy began to move to back him up. The guards had curved swords and thin long spears, but our boys were packing something else.

 

Jack’s hand went to his side and his hand swung up. His left hand flipped the hammer back as he began to fire. The bullets struck and the first guard went down, Tommy opted for something larger than the pistol and his Thompson came out form under his coat. The sound clattered off the high walls, and echoed long after the shooting stopped. The shooting actually only went on for about two seconds. Which was just long enough for The Weirdo to climb the stairs take Hunhau by the broach that held his cape around his shoulders. His hands clutched at the fabric and The Weirdo yanked hard, twisting his body around as he did. Hunhau was thrown down the steps that led up to his throne. He spun and rolled down the stairs, The Weirdo trailing him.

 

“She was raped.” The Weirdo said directing attention to the girl he had spoken to. “I suppose her brother gets to go to the good place, since he was tempted terribly by her. She gets raped and you victimize her again.”  

 

“The laws are…” Hunhau began, but The Weirdo leapt from the middle of the stairs and both feet landed on the solar plexus of the lord of Mitnal.

 

His right foot swung up and caught Hunhau across the jaw and then he fell upon the God. He reached into his coat and produced the pistol, smacking Hunhau with the butt of the weapon. The face of the god began to dissolve in a haze of blows. The beak shattered, and was mashed into the torn flesh. The blood-coated feathers flopped instead of fluttered, and there was a consistent wet sound with each strike. The Weirdo brought his fist wrapped around the pistol down again and again. He stopped long after what had been a face was no longer recognizable. He could have stopped long before that, his actions were excessive.

 

            The lizard men began to move in close, thinking of making an attempt. They knew that they had been given a job, but this was something that they hadn’t been prepared for. They had been ready for an honor guard position, not this.  The Weirdo didn’t even look up at them, having more important things to do.  The pistol simply swung around, aimed itself and a single round fired. The exploding gas expelled from the sudden burning of gunpowder made the bullet tear through the air, catching one of the lizard men in his wide flat head. The hapless creature was picked up off his feet and landed on his back, a wide hole drilled through the back of his head.

 

            “Now.” The Weirdo said pushing the barrel of the weapon into the God’s face. “Allow me to explain things, if things get to difficult you let ‘em know. Okay?”

 

            Tommy took two steps back away from The Weirdo, fear tugging at his heart. His tone was too measured, his voice too calm. He was near another explosion, and it was best to keep back from a lit fuse.

 

            “Gnhg.” Was all that Hunhau could manage.

 

            “Good.” The Weirdo said. “We’re leaving, and we’re taking your play things with us. I don’t care if you don’t like that or not. It’s how it is. Savvy?”

 

            “Ngh.” The god said.

 

            “I’ll take that as a yes.” The Weirdo said standing. “Now I wonder what we do with you?”

 

            He thought about pulling the trigger, how easy it would be. He could just blast his head all over the floor. It would be so easy. He looked at the blood and feathers stuck to his hand, and the pistol. He peeled one of the feathers off and noticed something hard in his hand. He was able to tug it out of his flesh with his left hand, and held it up to look at.

 

            “Weirdo?” Tommy said, as shadows began to shift.

 

            “Hmm?” The Weirdo asked, and realized with revulsion that he’d had a bit of the owl face’s beak in his hand. He dropped it to the floor and made a face, looking away and into the shifting shadows.

 

            “Something’s coming.” Jack said.

 

            “Can you two get them to the door?” The Weirdo asked.

 

            “Not unless something distracts that thing.” Tommy said.

 

            “There will be a distraction.” The Weirdo said reaching under his coat and producing his Thompson. “You just go.”

 

            “Weirdo.” Tommy said.

 

            “You have to follow them.” The Weirdo said directing the poor souls to Tommy and Jack. “They’ll lead you out of here.”

 

            “What about you?” Jack asked.

 

            “I’ll be fine.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “We cannot.” The young girl said.

 

            “Get the fuck out of here.” The Weirdo said, looking disgusted again. “Go! Now!”

 

            Tommy and Jack began to run towards the doors, followed by the gathered souls of the damned. The thing made of shadows began to colelese into a tangible thing, and it had a huge head. If its body was a powerful at the shoulder’s the Weirdo was beginning to make out, there was going to be trouble.

 

            “Hey.” The Weirdo said firing the Thompson at the thing’s head. “Hey! Over here!”

 

            The massive head turned towards him, and a pair of red eyes began to glow. The Weirdo sighed heavily as the red eyes glowed in his view. Once the eyes were glowing red, then there would be shiny black horns and a maw of razor sharp teeth. The head tilted down towards The Weirdo and he fired again. In the light the machine gun gave off, he saw the horns. He wanted to scream to rant to rave, but there wasn’t time. He fired at the head and watched at the gathered souls of the damned made their way out of the creature’s immediate attention.

 

            “That’s right.” The Weirdo said, raising the gun and firing again as he began to back away.

 

            There was a very long stair way behind him so he could at least run. The shadow beast roared at him and he noticed the maw of twisted and sharp teeth. They couldn’t avoid convention just the once could they? He fired again and turned to run down the stairs. A massive arm struck out though, and he was actually caught. He hadn’t actually expected the speed, or the attack. It was something really, that they had surprised him. He shouldn’t have been surprised, but he was. They had fooled him, of course they had. They made this thing so much a bad movie special effect he’d expected it to move like one. The massive hand swung him around like a rag doll and smacked his head against the wall of the throne room. Tiles came loose and clattered to the floor, as did part of The Weirdo’s scalp. His scalp didn’t fall to the floor you understand, but it did come loose. He was smacked again and the entire world went black.

 

 

April 15th, 2003

11:14 a.m.

 

            The Other had no idea where she was going just that she had to run. Was there anywhere left to run to though? She couldn’t go back to the house, and she couldn’t stay in the city. She had to get away, and there was nowhere to get away to. They were everywhere, and they were going to get her. She could still hear the sounds of the dogs, biting her, about to tear her in half. They were going to kill her, just for being her.

 

            “She’s still twitching.” The woman said.

 

            “She’ll be alright.” The Sheriff said, brushing her hair.

 

            “Are you sure about this My Lady?” The Wind Lord said. “You know how he is about visitors these days.”

 

            “He’ll tolerate her.” She said. “Trust me on this.”

 

            “If you say so.” The massive red ribbon of magic said as he sailed through the air.

 

            “You sure about this?” The Sheriff asked.

 

            “I remember waking up on the shore.” She said. “I remember it all perfectly. I woke up on the shore, so that’s where we leave her.”

 

            “That’s coming dangerously close to pre-determinism.” He said.

 

            “You wanted to come into the past to help me.” She said, “He took me in and kept me safe.” She said.

 

            “I hope so.” He said.

 

 

April 15th, 2003

11:15 a.m.

 

            You wouldn’t have noticed the shuffling noise really it was that kind of sound. It was fairly constant, and very soft.

 

            “You should be able to make your way from here.” Tommy said pointing down a tunnel in the rock.

 

            “You must come with us.” One of them said.

 

            “We can’t do this alone.” Another protested.

 

            “You’re gonna have to.” Tommy said. “We can’t do everything for you.”

 

            “Please.” Another pleaded.

 

            “Will you just get up the fucking tube?” Tommy screamed, and there was a sudden cessation of sound.

 

            The shuffling sound had suddenly stopped, and it was more of an attention getter than a great noise would have been. Tommy and Jack both looked up the tube and wondered at the suddenly lack of sound.

 

            “Tommy?” The voice came down, echoing off the walls.

 

            He looked at Jack and then u the tunnel again. The voice was familiar for some reason, and then he remembered.

 

            “Angel?” He asked.

 

            “Yeah.” She said. “You down there?”

 

            “With the first batch of refugees. They are however reluctant to leave our side.”

 

            “We need a protector.” One of the doomed cried.

 

            “I think we got you covered.” Kaala’s voice said, and it was joyful. “Hang on.”

 

 

July 2nd, 1996

3:21 p.m.

Pennydale Hospital for the Criminally Insane

 

            He was chained to a wall, actually chained, with restraints and everything. The room looked more like the sort of cell you’d expect in a mediaeval dungeon, not a mental hospital. The walls were rough stones that had simply been placed one on top of another, with some mortar in between. The floor had a lot of straw, which he could make into a bed. At least he could have if he wasn’t chained to the wall and sitting on the floor. He knew he was in a nut house, thought he also knew he was in the underworld. This was just a trick. He knew that, yet there was a doubt.

 

            There was a window behind him, and it had bars. He knew it had bars because the sun was shining through it on the floor. It was perfectly between him and the door, and that he thought was a clue. The spot of sunlight was perfectly set between the window he was directly under and the door. If he could keep thoughts like this in his head, he might be okay. He just had to remember who he was, and why he had come here.

 

            Come to think of it why had he come here?

 

It was…

 

            He had come here, uh, because…

 

            There had been a reason, and a terribly important one at that he just couldn’t come up with it. He knew he’d promised something, but what had he promised? The details were drifting like a dream. If he could just keep his mind on how fake this world was, then he’d be okay. He’d be all right, if he could just keep in mind that none of this was real.

 

 

April 15th, 2003

11:19 a.m.

 

            “What is that?” Kestrel asked as they entered what had previously been Hades throne room.

 

            “That’s Mike’s coat.” Max said.

 

            “Looks like someone’s still in it.” She said.

 

            They looked more closely, walking slowly towards what they thought to be a coat. It was clearly apparent quite quickly that it wasn’t just his coat that he was still in fact still in it. Kestrel stopped dead in her tracks, and she had to close her eyes for a moment and then open them again slowly. She didn’t want to look away, not with everyone there. She might have normally just turned away and walked off, but not with Max there.

 

            “He’s dead then.” Max said.

 

            “It looks that way.” She said.

 

            “We’ll come back for him.” He said more to himself. “When we’re done here.”

 

            “Okay.” She said. “We’d better get on then.”

 

            “He can’t be dead.” Nike said. “The Weirdo said everyone would get to live.”

 

            “Some one must have betrayed us.” Kestrel said.

 

            “Which one of them?” Max asked as Kestrel walked past the shattered gates.

 

            “Tanteroy.” She said.

 

            “How can you tell?”

 

            “Cassimano’s here.” She said.

 

            “Is he?” Nike asked.

 

            “I don’t know.”

 

            Kestrel crouched down on one knee and brushed some of Cassimano’s black silk hair from his face. There was a bullet hole torn in the flesh of his head and an exit wound, but not as big as she would have thought. She touched the place where the bullet had torn out of the skin and pressed. The skull was intact though as the bullet had managed not to penetrate. By some miracle he had been shot in the head but not killed by it, or at least his brains were still in his head.

 

            She licked the end of her index finger and held it under his nose. There wasn’t any breath though, at least none that she could feel. She stood up and shook her head at Athena and drew her gun off her side. She checked the rounds, and slapped the cylinder closed and began to walk down the hall. Max followed her, barely casting a glance towards D’var Cassimano.

 

            “We should follow them then.” Athena said.

 

            “What about D’var?” Nike asked.

 

            “We’ll bare him away later.”

 

            “We’re just going to leave him here now?” Nike asked.

 

            “We were asked to perform a task.” Athena said. “I would like to stay and morn him, but it would be useless to do that at the expenses of the job.”

 

            “I just don’t feel very good about it.” Nike said, her wings drooping a bit.

 

            “I know love.” Athena said. “But it must be.”

 

            “Then lets go then.” Nike said, walking past Athena after the other two.

 

            It was a few minuets when they found the body of a woman, lying in the hallway. She was dressed in the sort of gown that Victorian artists always imagine the Greeks wearing. It was a pastel green, and was badly stained with blood. She her dark hair had been torn away by a bullet from a gun that appeared to have been shoved against her left ear. The blast had gone up through the top of her head and caused quite a splattering. She had been quite beautiful before this happened, but now she was just another corpse.

 

            “They were going to free her.” Athena said.

 

            “This would be Persephone?” Kestrel asked.

 

            “Yeah.” Athena said.

 

            “He killed her.” Max said.

 

            “She’s not dead.” Athena said, touching the side of her neck.

 

            “No?” Kestrel asked.

           

            “She might as well be thought.” The goddess said. “I can keep her alive for a few hours, but I have no powers after that.”

 

            “Keep her alive then.” Kestrel said. “Maybe we can do something for her later.”

 

            Nike came flying down the hall, her be-sneakered feet fluttering behind her. Kestrel noted for the first time that she wasn’t wearing the shoes that bore her name. They were something else. She thought they might be Keds, but she couldn’t be sure. Had she had a good look she would have noticed that they were from a French shoe company, but you’d have to be really looking to see that. Her eyes were still red with tears, having seen more death in a day than she wanted to. It didn’t make her look more attractive unfortunately. It made her look like she had a bad head cold, which she was determined, would not send her to bed.

 

            “He’s locked himself behind the gates.” She said.

 

            “I thought those were the gates.” Max asked.

 

            “There are many gates.” Athena said.

 

            “And he’s locked himself behind a big pair.” Nike said.

 

            “Can we get around them?” Kestrel asked.

 

            “I don’t know.” Athena said. “Probably not.”

 

            “Shit.” Max said. “I’ll go ask the ferryman, maybe he knows something.”

 

            “I’ll come.” Kestrel said.

 

            They walked to the place where D’var Cassimano had fallen and Kestrel stopped. She told Max to just go ahead as she sat with Cassimano’s body. He still lay dead in a pool of his own blood, his body stiffening slowly. She looked at him and felt the tears come, and tried to hold them back.

 

            “I’m sorry D’var.” She said. “If we had come right away you might still be alive.”

 

            Her shoulders began to shudder, and her tears came rushing forth. She couldn’t have stopped them even if she wanted too, she didn’t know how. The tears just came and flooded out over her face, spilling onto the dust covered floor of the hall where D’var Cassimano had been shot down.

 

 

April 15th, 2003

11:25 a.m.

 

            “Half our warriors to take that group.” Odin complained.  “We should have told them they didn’t each need their own protector.”

 

            “We’ve enough men.” Tommy said. “It’ll be alright, you’ll see.”

 

            “But for all of those men, we still can’t find him.”

 

            “I’m a little worried about that.” Jack said.

 

            “He was behind us.” Tommy said.

 

            “He was taken by the black beast.” A voice said behind them.

 

They all turned to see a great orange bird, sitting on a stalactite. Makemake was too great a bird for the single cone of stone sticking up to possibly hold, yet it did. The massive bird looked at them with first one eye, and then the other. He then took them all in with both eyes.

 

“What is a black beast?” Tommy asked.

 

            “One of those things you wish you’d never heard of once you know all about it.” Makemake said.

 

            “Doesn’t sound that impressive.” Jack said.

 

            “Doesn’t have to.” Makemake replied. “I saw it take him up and carry him away. If he’s even still alive, they’ve driven him mad by now. It can take you into slow time and drag a second into a year. They’ve probably killed him by now I would guess”

 

            “Shit.” Jack said.

 

            “I know.” Makemake said, his head dipping low.

 

            “This is not how I would have had it.” Odin said.

 

            “I know.” Tommy said.

 

            “Do we give up then?” Angel asked.

 

            “We do not.” Tommy said. “We look for him.”

 

            “That could take forever.” Aphrodite said. “We’ll have to leave him and take what we have back to New York to fight.”

 

            “I will not.” Tommy said, stabbing at the ground with the butt of his machine gun.

 

            “Nor I.” Jack said.

 

            “I am taking control of this expedition.” Aphrodite said. “You men come with me.”

 

            And with that the forces were gone. Odin watched, stunned mute, as his men followed her. Angel and Kaala looked at them going and tried to pull them back. They were brushed off as a great horse might brush away a fly with its tail. They watched as the army went away, leaving them standing behind. Tommy watched as they went and then looked at Kaala and Angel.

 

            “You two go with them.” Tommy said. “You’ll be safer with them.”

 

            “No.” Kaala said. “I’m not going to abandon this.”

 

            “I’m going to stay too.” Angel said.

 

            “We’re going to just sit here.” Tommy said. “Trying to think of a plan.”

 

            The other’s looked at the two girls and then at each other. Makemake’s left claw raised up and scratched as the side of his head.

 

            “Then we all stay.” Kaala said sitting.

 

            “And we all try to think of a plan.” Jack said. “Got one yet?”

 

            “Nope.” Tommy said. “You?”

 

            “I did.” Jack said.

 

            “Did it require us being on the other side of an air tight hatchway?”

 

            “Yes.”

 

            “Bugger.”

 

            “’Fraid so.”

 

            They then lapsed into a dreadful and despairing silence.

 

 

July 3rd, 1996

1:35 p.m.

 

            He was still chained, and they had forgotten dinner for him. They had also forgotten adequate waste disposal faculties, and thus he was having to sit with his legs crossed. He could feel his bladder, gently wishing to explode, which would have been a kind of relief. Had he just gone on himself, would that be so bad? Yes, he still had some form of dignity left. He hadn’t fallen asleep, had simply sat wondering about his excretory system, and counting the minuets. They had been kind enough to provide a clock, which was nice of them.

 

            He was beginning to wonder if this place was meant to drive him insane rather than cure him of the dilemma. He looked at the big door that suddenly swung open, and there was the doctor. He was balding, had dark hair, and looked exactly like Stanley Tucci. This was not that he had a great resemblance to Stanley Tucci rather he looked exactly like him. If this story were made into a movie, this part could only ever be played by Mister Tucci.

 

            He was dressed in the standard kit, a dark suit, a white coat, and a silver tie. He looked held a medical clipboard in his left hand. It was the large metal variety, which was really a metal box with a clip on it. Every time our hero saw one of these, he always had the same thought. You could keep a gun in one of those and no one would ever know.

 

            “Ah.” The doctor said as two orderlies brought in a table and a single chair. “You’re awake. Good.”

 

            “Is it?”

 

            “It’s always good to find you’re awake at an appropriate time of day.” The doctor said.

 

            “Who are you?”

 

            “Oh dear.” The doctor said pulling a pen from his coat pocket and making a not on the paper in front of him. “Lapsed the old memory again have we?”

 

            “What?”

 

            “Can you remember where you are?” The doctor asked.

 

            “Pennydale nut farm.” He said. “Home of the biggest Macadamia ever.”

 

            “Good.” The doctor said in an approving tone. “You name?”

 

            “I have no name.”

 

            “Still just the title?” The doctor asked. “The Weirdo? It works as a name though, dose it not?”

 

            “It’s a title.” The Weirdo said. “You wouldn’t call him John The Pope Paul would you?”

            “But you still don’t remember a real name?”

            “There is no name.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “Carl.” The Doctor said. “Your name is Carl Peters.”

 

            “Carl Peters?” The Weirdo said.

 

            “Who’s that then?” The doctor asked.

 

            “That’s who you said I was.” The Weirdo answered.

 

            “No.” The doctor said shaking his head. “I said your name was Peter Monkhome.”

 

            “Munkhome?” The Weirdo asked.

 

            “What sort of word is that Mister Peters?” The doctor asked as he sat down in the chair.

 

            He unscrewed the top of his pen and looked at the tip before screwing the cap onto the other end. He took out a pad of paper and began to write a few notes. Apparently he was writing about the fact that he couldn’t keep his name strait.

 

            “Back to Carl Peters are we?” He asked.

 

            “What are you talking about Bruce?”

 

            “Is that my name?”

 

            “Come sir.” The doctor said placing his pen in his jacket pocket and standing.

 

            “What?”

 

            “You know perfectly well your name is Bruce Kent.”

 

            “Do I?”

 

            “Don’t you?”

 

            “No.” The Weirdo said. “Is it going to be Clark Wayne in a moment?”

 

            “Are we to talk about the title again?”

 

            “We’ve discussed the title.”

 

            “How about the office then? Who decided who is or is not The Weirdo? Are there many Weirdo’s, or just one?”

 

            “Why don’t you let me use the bathroom?”

 

            “If you needed to, you could have gone before you were restrained.”

 

            “I woke up in these chains a day ago.” The Weirdo said. “And you left me in a room with no toilet.”

 

            “Then what is that?” The doctor said pointing with his index finger towards The Weirdo’s left.

 

            His head turned and in the corner sat a perfectly serviceable commode. It hadn’t been there before he knew that for a fact. He had been sitting in this room for more hours than he could count, and yet now there was a commode. He had mentioned to himself many times how helpful it would be for them to have put a commode in this room, and that corner would have done well.

 

            “That wasn’t there a moment ago.”

 

            “Wasn’t it?”

 

            “I don’t think it was.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “You’re not going to get me to unlock you Peter.” The doctor said.

 

            “Just Peter now, am I Parker or Pan?”

 

            “Yes.” The doctor said. “How amusing, still not going to open your manacles.”

 

            “Why not?”

 

            “After what you did to Nurse Kelley?” The doctor’s face grew dark purple for a moment, and he looked like he wanted to scream. “My God Carl, you took one of her eyes and both her ears. She was just bringing you some water. She may never walk again.”

 

            “Nope.” The Weirdo said shaking his head. “Don’t remember any of that. I suspect you just made it up to annoy me.”

 

            The doctor’s face grew a shade darker, and The Weirdo wondered if his head was going to pop. He instead reached under his coat and drew out a long metal stick with a box at one end. He had seen electric cattle prods before, but this looked specialized. It also looked like it was going to hurt. The end touched him and he was gratified to learn that at least that much of cause and effect still worked. His body leapt around as much as it could but he failed to wet himself. Oddly enough when the prod was drawn away he didn’t need to go anymore. That was a small comfort as part of his body now hurt in a way you wouldn’t believe.

 

            The shock of the zap shook something loose in his head. He wasn’t really here, but this place existed. He wasn’t chained to the wall, but one of him was. There was a man in a mental ward, a serial killer. He was in the place or half way in the place, of that killer. He was looking through his eyes at the world. He was phasing, perhaps between two or more versions of himself. One had a commode and the other didn’t, then the shock of the prod began to fade and his thoughts became fuzzy again.

 

            “Anymore trouble from you?” The doctor asked. “Or can we get to the work for today?”

 

            “Ow.” The Weirdo muttered.

 

            “I will take that as a sign of compliance.”

 

            The doctor set the electric prod down on the table and stood in the center of the cell with his hands behind his back. The Weirdo looked into the corner of the room and noticed that the commode was gone again. Well, that was something wasn’t it? There was an inconsistency here wasn’t there? Some one was trying to drive him mad.

 

            “Where’s the toilet?” He asked.

 

            “You’ve lost bathroom privileges.” The doctor said calm again. “You know that.”

 

            “Have I?” The Weirdo asked. “Oh, so I have.”

 

            “You have what?”

 

            “Lost bathroom privileges.”

 

            “You have not the toilet is right there.” The doctor said pointing.

 

            “No.” The Weirdo said. “It isn’t.”

 

            “Falling into your stories again?” The doctor asked.

 

            The kick came out of nowhere and if The Weirdo had been asked he would have said the doctor was too far away to hit him. Hit him he did though, with a strong left hook of a kick. The Weirdo’s head careened left and he had no choice but to look at the now returned commode.

 

            “What have I said about your delusions?”

            “Probably that they take over my mind, or something to that effect.”

 

            “You don’t remember?”

 

            “No.”

 

            “You’ve allowed yourself to reconstruct your reality. What you see or don’t see is based purely on what you want to see.” The doctor said. “I mean you really are an interesting case. You probably don’t even remember your actual crimes do you? Do you at least remember the stories you told about them?”

 

            “Stories?”

 

            “About how your twin brother was actually and evil clone, so you shot him dead. The man who you claimed was an immortal, despite the fact that you were able to shoot him in the street. You finally made a mistake and we finally caught you, after all these years.”

 

            The doctor turned away and began to pace towards the door.

 

            “Caught me?” The Weirdo whispered.

 

            “So what is the tale this time?” The doctor asked.

 

            “Are we to still be regaled with your imaginary friends? The alien named Union Jack and your Tommy Gun person? Such colorful characters, I often wonder why you make them dress in blue so often? Or you in gray so much for that matter. I wonder if you read something about symbolism or did you make that up yourself? I mean shall we go down the list of ridiculous characters? Shall we mention the comic books, movies and books you lifted them from? Nothing you’ve told us is original, you know. I’ll admit it’s got a touch, being arranged in new ways, but it’s all be done before.”

 

            “Stories?” The Weirdo asked.

 

            “So come on.” The doctor said crouching down in front of The Weirdo. “Tell me today’s story. Dose it involve that white clothed woman again? Or maybe this will again be the one where everyone wants to go to bed with you. I’ve got quite a long list of those.”

 

            “I’ve got something completely new for you.” The Weirdo said, his head tilting back.

            “Oh yes?”

 

            “This one time, Randy Beeman’s uncle had a guy who learned escapism from Harry Houdini locked up in two dollar shackles that any idiot could get out of, so he stabbed him in the throat with his own pen.” The Weirdo’s hand shot out and it was less than a second later that the sharp point of the pen stabbed first into one side of the neck and then the other. Two quick streams of blood flew up and the doctor fell back to the ground. “Kay, bye.”

 

            He stood up and ran for the door.

 

            The door swung open and there was a table and chair under a cone of light, and a large group of doctors standing behind a heavy glass window. The window went from ceiling to floor, and was probably made of bulletproof glass. The group of doctors was light by a single hard cone of light, which obscured most of their faces with shadow. He looked at them and then at the dead man in the cell behind him.

 

            “I suppose you realize you’ve just murdered a human being.” One of the fatter doctors said. His face moved animatedly though the rest of him was rather still. “Another human life thrown away by you.”

 

            “Sit down.” Another of the doctors said.

 

            She was dark haired and in her early forties. She might have once been pretty, but she had spent her life with a stern face and it had hardened the soft lines. He touched the chair and pulled it out, but he didn’t sit. He just leaned his weight against the chair, and looked through the glass fifteen feet away from him.

 

            “You’re going to have to come make me sit.” He said.

 

            “At this point I’m not sure just shooting you wouldn’t be the best solution.” The woman said again.

 

            He looked at the table, and then at the two doors. He was pretty sure that if a gun stuck through one of the slats he could get it. A smart man wouldn’t stick the gun through the slat, but the world was full of very stupid people. He then looked at the table again, and up at the doctors.

 

            “Can you risk it?” He asked.

 

            “Risk what?’ She asked.

 

            “Having to explain another death.” He asked, beginning to think of a way out of here.

 

            She considered that, and he looked at the chair he was leaning on. He didn’t feel like sitting, and he didn’t want to sit. He knew he was just being stubborn, but sitting would somehow manage to let them know he was under their thumb. They wanted to make him sit to show that he hadn’t been broken and he wasn’t going to sit for them. He was feeling angry and the anger made him want to be an immovable object. He wanted to force them to do something, to make some kind of move. A single act against him would give him a reason, a vague excuse. It didn’t have to even be a very good reason, just a thing he could point to. At this point the smallest thing could be provocation. It was a matter of camel’s backs and the weight of a single straw.

 

            “We could fire on you without risk.” One of the men said after a moment.

 

            “There is no such thing.” He said. “This room is concrete, that means a lot of ricocheting. It also means a lot of noise. Why I could go deaf just from the sound. You want to interview me and you want to get answers. You at least want me to break down and admit your right and I’m wrong. You get nothing if you kill me, and then I win. If you were going to whack me, you would have done it by now.”

 

            They watched him as he leaned a little more weight on the chair he was leaning on. He hadn’t actually moved much more than his mouth and lungs, but it looked like his hackles were rising. There was a distinct menace to his voice, even if they all knew it was impotent. It didn’t much matter if he could get in there or not, no matter how safe they were, he was scarring them.

 

            “We can sit here forever.” One of the doctors said. “We get to go home, you have to sit in that room. You’ll want to eat after a while. You could just play along and we could get a pizza slid under the door and we could all have a good time. You could even jerk us around if you like, true answers aren’t as important as just the fact that you answer at all.”

 

            It had been a calculated risk. By playing to his ego the doctor could have insulted him, or who ever he was supposed to be. An ego isn’t usually stroked quite that easily, and there was a risk of him turning around and getting angry. The other mind was seeping into his though and that mind controlled the next few moments. There was the promise of a pizza though, and that went a good long way. There had also been the fairly honest comment about how what he said wasn’t as important as just getting him to say anything.

 

            “I don’t like black olives or mushrooms.” The Weirdo said. “And only a lunatic puts fish or fruit on a pizza.”

 

            “But other than that?” The doctor asked.

 

            “Everything else is fair game.” He said.

 

            “I’ll order it up now. Anything special to drink?”

 

            “Just a Coke will do.” The Weirdo said. “Or a Cherry Coke, a Dr. Pepper even. 

 

            “I think we can get a few cans.” The doctor said.

 

            “So I’ll sit.” He said and sat down.

 

            “Do you know you’re name?” One of the other doctors asked.

 

            “So we’re at this again.” The Weirdo said, smacking his head against the table.

 

            “Yes.”

 

            He knew now that he had been tricked, that there would be no pizza. He had been beaten, they had tricked him into sitting down and now he was trapped. He was actually kind of looking foreword to a pizza. It would have been nice to have a slice of pizza. He looked at the steel tabletop and thought about what had brought him here. He tilted his head from one side to another, and bit his lower lip.

 

            “Fuck.” The Weirdo said.

© 2014 Autumn Knight Productions

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May 14, 2014 - Posted by | Fiction | , , ,

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