I suppose it’s time again for the warning to those that might be just joining us here; if you’ve just stumbled across my writings you should go back and read Muse, Welt, and Vice first. They’re almost essential to understanding what’s going on here; unless of course you just want to read something that has sex in it, hot and flashy, in which case you’ll probably like other authors more than me.
Pyre isn’t even half told yet, so if you’re in for the long walk thanks for sticking with me as long as you have. There’s a lot of blah blah blah about how “writers should write for themselves”, but I’d go so far as to say that it should read “writers write for themselves first”. If no one reads it I’d still write it, but since people do read it that instantly becomes part of the equation; it makes it a living thing when others start to have their own hopes and dreams for the characters. I wouldn’t say it makes it worth doing, but it certainly makes it worth continuing. You’re champions, all of you.
Now for this; http://www.mixcloud.com/LaceratedWax/laceration-selekta-accelerate/
Now the Killer Was Smiling With Eyes Made of Stone…
“I think I saw this guy the other day,” I told my mother when she finished talking and we’d sat on the steps of the brick building for a few seconds in silence.
“Ohhh. Oh no,” she said, shaking her head. “What did he say to you?”
“Just that we all want something…and that I’m taller than he thought I’d be. I thought he was a guy who’d seen me on TV or something when I was little. I get that a lot from people,” I explained to her while she twisted her mouth up and kept shaking her head slowly.
“And then he just…left?” she asked me.
“Yeah, there were people around. We were at a pub eating, Magda and me. Maybe he didn’t want to start a scene,” I said.
“He wouldn’t have cared about a scene, Michael. Not even now I don’t think, now that he’s lost his Spark.”
“Well, I don’t know what the fuck then. He just sat there staring at me until I went up and got in his face about it. Look…I’m worried about Sam, Mom.”
“Why? What about Sam?” she asked, her face turning from worry to fear.
“No one can get him on the phone. Mark and Lisa have been trying since you took off.”
“Oh, Michael,” her face turned from fear to sorrow then to brief anger. “He better not have tried to hurt Sam.”
Anger balled itself inside of me like a fist looking for something to strike. My face must have clouded with it because my mother looked at me and put her hand on my cheek to pull me around to meet her shiny green eyes. She licked her lips and spoke. “Michael! Don’t let it take over. You have to control it or it controls you.”
“If it gets shit done, I’m okay with that,” I said, standing up from the steps.
“No!” she yelled. She hopped to her feet in front of me and reached up and took my face between her hands again. I was going to pull away but didn’t when I saw the look in her eyes. “Hold on to it, feel it, use it…but you can’t let it use you.”
I thought to the guys on the sidewalk when one of them had grabbed Magda. I saw them breaking, falling, dying when I shot them or battered them out of this world. At that moment it was impossible to feel bad; I saw in my mind the guy with the long white hair who’d stared at me in the pub and my whole body started to shake.
“Stop it!” my mother shouted at me. “RIGHT! NOW!!!”
I don’t think she’d ever raised her voice at me before that. The look on her face, the flash in her eyes, the edge in her voice. It wasn’t just menacing it was horrifying, and I calmed somewhat. Not much, but somewhat. The things she’d done, the things she’d seen, it was all there in her tiny face; if she wanted you to know about it then you did just by looking at her.
“But I think I can find him,” I told her through clenched teeth, still struggling against the hot knot of rage inside of me.
“You can’t do it by being like them, Michael. You were born and you age, you’re not one of them. You’re something else…don’t turn into one of them.”
“You mean one of you,” I said, a hard jagged edge on my voice.
My mother’s expression turned from stern warning to sadness and she let go of my face. “I suppose I deserve that. For what it’s worth I am sorry, Michael. I know you didn’t ask for any of this. I know you were never happy. Think about this though; when you look at Magda, what do you want to see reflected in her eyes? Is it this? Is it Wrath? Is it blood? Is that what you want to see when you look at her?”
“What are you talking about?” I grated out, still trying to stand still and not sprint off who knows where to do who knows what.
She shook her little head and looked at her feet, shuffling them against the sidewalk. Her hair fell over her face and she pushed it back over her ear as she looked back up at me.
“I didn’t ask for any of this either, Michael. Until I met Mark and Lisa I would have given it all away so I didn’t have to be the hand of the Council. They gave me a reason not to want to just…flicker out and be no more. Looking in their eyes I learned that it’s not what we do, son. It’s why we do it. Giving up the Spark so I could be with them was hard, but it was the best thing I’ve ever done. I could look them in the eye and see what they saw instead of all the blood on my hands.
“When I had to take it back so I could help my other family, my older family, it broke my heart. I hated doing that to them, but maybe even more I hated doing it to myself. There are things I will never tell you, Michael. Things that only a few others really know and the rest just quaked and shook when I was around them because of the things they’d heard about me. There are things the Council made me do…terrible things. All I’d ever wanted to do was love and dance and smile and be normal. How do you think it felt to give that up once I finally had it? I didn’t want to, I just had to. It was still a choice though, Michael.”
The look of pain on her face and in her eyes was getting to me, but the violent and brutal fist inside of me was getting tighter and bigger as she spoke and I thought about how in the end it all came back to this Ephra. I told my mother, “If you’re trying to calm me down, it’s not working.”
“I’m not trying to calm you down, Michael! I’m trying to get you to see that this is a choice. If you choose it, it’s virtue…if you let it choose you then it’s just righteousness.”
She said it like it was a bad thing, but when I heard it the smoldering heat inside of me flared up bright and I had to clench all the muscles in my body just to make myself stand still. “What’s so bad about that? You’re the one who made me this way.”
She shook her head and made a face like she wanted to hit me. “There’s no such thing as intentional virtue, Michael. And no one made you.”
“Where’d I come from then, damn it!?” I snapped at her.
My mother lowered her head again and her body shook once with a small sob before she looked up at me once more, wiping tears from her eyes as she spoke in her tiny voice. “I…I don’t know. I’m sorry Michael, but I just don’t know.”
“I’m going to find Sam,” I said, turning to walk away. Mark was on his way to pick her up. He’d be here soon. Meanwhile, Ephra was out there somewhere and no one knew where Sam was. I couldn’t silence the voice inside of me, getting louder by the second and demanding that I do something about this.
“Michael!” my mother called after me. I stopped and looked back over my shoulder with my fists clenched at my sides. “I can’t stop you from doing what you want to do…no one can. Please though…promise me you won’t be rash. Promise me you’ll think instead of just feel. Promise you’re not going to do something you’ll never be able to forget so you can look in that beautiful girls eyes and see a man instead of a monster. Trust me, Michael…I know. Some things you will never be able to sleep through once you’ve done them.”
“Yeah, fine. Whatever.” I snarled. “I promise.”
“We keep our promises in this family, Michael,” she said quietly as I started to turn away from her again.
“I’m not one of you,” I said back to her without looking, one foot in front of the other as I found the tethers and strands connecting me to Samael. “I never was.”
I heard her start crying in earnest as I walked around the corner and left her there.
He Climbed the Stairs and the Gallows Groaned…
It was a shitty little apartment block, the kind that you walk by and don’t even notice. The sort of place that is teetering on the brink of falling down, and would if it wasn’t for its tenuous grasp on what it used to be. Samael was inside somewhere and the two guys standing outside the front entrance were between me and him so they were all I could focus my eyes on. They looked menacing, the kind of guys that say ‘don’t go near here’ without even opening their mouths. It was the kind of neighborhood where no one asks questions when things get messy and that suited me just fine.
Things were about to get messy.
“Hey!” I snapped as I walked up to them, a bit slouched in my stride as my steps sped up.
“That’s him!” one said, pointing at me as they both started reaching under their jackets.
The one on the right side of the entrance, the one closest to me, didn’t even get a chance to pull his hand back out before I was on him. I caught his elbow in one hand and the bottom of his jaw in the other and slammed him into the side of the steps. The other guy got a gun out and leveled it at me. I dropped the first and lunged into the second, my shoulder hitting his chin as my knee came up into his groin and lifted him off the ground. The bullet intended for my head went off at the sky and he dropped to the concrete in a heap.
There was movement out of the corner of my and I looked over to see the first guy actually getting up off the ground. His arm hung broken at his side but he didn’t seem to care. His features twisted into a grim set of determination and he put two bullets in my chest.
Getting shot sucks.
The low growl that had been building in my chest as I started walking towards them turned into a savage snarl as the bullets pounded into me, making me stagger back. The second guy was rolling over on the ground and his gun started ringing out loud reports as well. I tried to stay on my feet but couldn’t, the force of the bullets’ impacts drove me back and tipped me over onto the ground.
“Ha!” I heard one of them laugh as they reloaded their weapons. “Not so tough after all.”
I forced myself up onto my elbows. They had their backs to me and were looking up the steps to another guy coming out of the building. They looked like mercenaries from some cheap action movie, especially the new guy with his little black submachine gun.
“We were told it wouldn’t be this easy,” one of them said as the third joined them on the sidewalk. “Must be our lucky day…”
“There’s no luck,” I said, now on my feet. “There’s only me, now.”
All three swiveled around to face me but I was already there, kicking the new guy in his stomach and sending him back up the stairs and through the door. One of the first two was in my hands and I lifted him up in the air and slammed him into the other. They both hit the ground in a pile and I was on them before they could untangle themselves, smashing wildly with my fists at their faces and heads. When they’d stopped moving I looked up at the door to see the guy with the submachine gun pointing it at me. The bullets that started flying through the air did nothing to stop my trajectory and he fell under me when I reached him.
I remember seeing a look of shock on his face, mixed with a solid determination you only see in zealots and fools. That same look was still on his face when I tore most of it off and crushed his skull under my elbow. Small points of heat and pain covered my body and only served to make me even angrier.
Two more came into the front hall of the building from a door to my left. Two more died in my hands as I broke them. All grace and fluidity, taught to me by Samael and Christopher when I was growing up, was gone now. There was only the rage. The Wrath and those responsible for it. I could tell Samael was upstairs so I stepped to the elevator just as it opened. One more goon with a gun raised it to level it at my head but before he could pull the trigger I pushed my leg straight out in front of me, denting the back wall of the elevator with the impact of his now lifeless body.
The door opened on the fourth floor and I was greeted by a hail of lead. I covered my face and head with my right arm and crouched until their ammunition was spent. Nephilim or not, trained or not, zealot or not; nothing could have prepared them for what emerged from the elevator as they frantically reloaded. When it was done and I stood panting with my knees bent and my hands twisted like claws at my sides there were more pieces than whole people, more destruction than standing hallway, and my clothes and body were more blood than clean.
Samael was down the hallway, so I went down the hallway. There was no one left to keep me from him.
He sat tied to a chair, his face bruised and blood dripping from the corner of his downturned mouth. His head hung with his chin on his chest. He looked up slowly and I could tell he was trying to focus his eyes on me.
“I can’t…believe you fell…for this…” he stammered breathlessly, shaking his head.
I was about to ask ‘what?’ when something hit me from behind and I fell to my knees screaming in agony. It was like being stabbed by fire and I dropped down to my hands as well. I struggled to turn my head and I saw standing over and behind me the haggard looking fuck from the pub. Ephra, with his long white hair and smug looking face. Sticking out of my back I could see the hilt of an ancient looking knife, only a couple inches of its serrated blade were visible…the rest was inside of me and the wound was smoking.
“The folly of youth,” he said. No doubt he once spoke in a voice that could level mountains, but even mostly mortal as he was it was sinister. Low and strange. Inhuman. “Did you think I would not know how to find you? To draw you to me?”
He reached down and twisted the blade, drawing another scream from me as I fell to my face on the floor.
“Did you think I would not know how to fell you? Do you think I have not snuffed out the lives of countless others just like you from the dawn of time?” He went to one knee beside me, twisting the knife and leaning down to sneer in my face.
“Did you think I would show you mercy?” his bizarre voice rumbled as he pushed the knife deeper and kept twisting.
My mouth moved on its own but I could no longer scream. My eyes blinked rapidly and my hands scratched at the dingy floor. My legs started twitching. Ephra laughed softly; a strange chuckle like the thud of a kick drum from deep in his chest. “You will perish now and all that was stolen shall be returned to me.”
I could feel the whole length of the blade in me, from where it went in next to my spine all the way down to the top of my right lung; Ephra twisted it and laughed. I looked around in disbelief at the pain I was feeling. Raw torment. I caught motion across the room and struggled to focus my eyes on Sam as he waved his foot back and forth at the ankle. He put his toe down on something and flicked it towards me. A large greasy shard of broken and dirty glass slid towards my hand and I slapped my palm down on it.
Ephra glanced up for only a second to see what had happened and in that space I summoned all my strength and screamed again as I slashed back at him with it, gashing him across his right cheek. He fell backwards away from me clutching the wound and I rolled over to my side. He had a look of absolute shock on his face as he took his hand from his face and looked at the blood on his fingers. With another scream of agony I painfully reached up and over my shoulder to yank his blade from my back. It slipped from my grip and clattered to the floor next to me.
“What’s wrong, fucker?” I asked in a choked voice. “Never bled human blood before?”
“I am not human!” he lashed at me with his voice. He pointed at Sam. “But he is!”
Ephra pulled a gun from the back of his pants and pointed it at Sam’s face and pulled the trigger. I saw the bullet flying through the air as Ephra lunged towards the window, snatching up his blade from the floor as he passed. I took a step towards Ephra, seeing my chance to rip him into pieces before he got away, but as I did I glanced back and saw the bullet racing to shatter its way through Sam’s face. I remembered the look on my mother’s face as the Wrath started to take me, I remembered the words she had said.
“Some things you will never be able to sleep through once you’ve done them.”
I pushed off awkwardly towards the bullet hurtling at Sam’s face, reaching out with my right hand and screaming in pain from the wound in my back. Mere inches from Sam’s battered face I slapped downwards and the bullet ricocheted off the floor and I fell in a heavy heap in front of the chair.
Ephra was gone.
“Get up,” Sam gasped. “You…have to…get out. Now. I heard them…talking… yeah? If this goes…wrong…they’re…blowing up…the building.”
“What!?” I yelled, pulling myself to my feet, almost blinded by the pain of the wound in my back. I tore at his bonds and broke apart the chair.
“Go!” he yelled. “There’s no time! SOMEONE’S got to KILL that tosser! It couldn’t be HER, and if it’s not going to be ME then it’s got to be YOU!”
“Fuck that,” I said, looking him in the eye. “Fuck that weird old dude…I’m not leaving you.”
“Are you fucking MENTAL!?” Sam yelled as I grabbed him in my arms and dove for the wall.
It’s more accurate to say I dove through the wall, just as the building exploded around us. I rolled in the air so that I landed under Sam instead of on top of him. As the building collapsed burning around us I rolled over so he was under me. A whole lot of brick and burning timber fell on me and crushed me down into him. I could hear him yelling about how stupid I was for a second but then something must have knocked him out because he went quiet.
When I thought things had stopped falling I shrugged debris and burning ruins off of me and hauled Sam’s unconscious body clear of the destruction. My black sweatshirt, tattered from bullets and soaked in smoking blood, was on fire. I brushed the flames off of myself and sat next to where I’d leaned Sam against a neighboring building in the alley we’d landed in. I could hear sirens in the distance and the fire was spreading to the buildings on either side of the one they’d held him in. I reached in my pocket and pulled out my phone. Well, what was left of my phone anyways…which wasn’t much. I shrugged and tossed it to the concrete and started rifling through Sam’s pockets to find a phone that worked.
He woke up then, looking at me with bleary eyes, covered in soot and little cuts from exploding glass and brick. He asked me, “What are you doing?”
“Calling my lawyer,” I said, dialing Paul’s number from the rumpled and battered business card in my smoking wallet. Fire trucks, police cars, ambulances; they were pulling up on every side of the building they could get to through the rubble. “When we get to the police station I need you to find a car and wait outside, Sam. I won’t be in there long.”
“What are you on about?” he asked, pushing himself up straighter against the wall as a police cruiser screeched to a halt nearby and the officers got out and started running to us, paramedics not far behind.
“I’m going to admit to all of this, but then I’m leaving. We’re going after Ephra, this isn’t over.”
“Fucking proper,” he replied as he coughed out smoke, leaning against me and offering me something from his soot blackened hand.
All I could taste was smoke and ash and rage. I’d never actually liked gum, but I took it anyways.
“Kick ass,” I said as I chewed away the bad taste in my mouth.
“I was hoping you’d say that,” Sam said.
Hell Is Boiling Over, Heaven Is Full, We’re All Chained to the World and We All Gotta Pull…
“I’m a public defender, Michael,” Paul said, confusion in his eyes as he sat across the white painted metal table from me. “This all might be beyond me.”
“You were a public defender,” I told him. “Now this is happening. Look at it this way, you’re probably going to get rich and famous over this.”
“It’s not about the money,” he said, shaking his head and taking his glasses off to rub his eyes. “I didn’t get into this to be rich. I just don’t know if I’m qualified for something this high profile. I’m not the right man for this job, Michael.”
“My family has always said that that’s what makes someone the right person for the job. Anyone that wants it is the wrong guy, dude.”
“I just don’t understand what it is you want me to do,” Paul went on. “You admitted to the police that you killed a bunch of guys. Last time we talked you had a simple assault charge and a drunk-in-public. Now we’re talking about murder. You told them you went there to kill those men and then you killed them. That’s premeditation. Maybe if you hadn’t said anything until after you talked to me we could have tried something, some kind of plea or something, but you already confessed.”
“I just need you to keep my family out of this. I need this to be just about me.”
“That’s going to be almost impossible, Michael. You’re Michael Fox. There were news crews at the building. You looked right into the cameras and told them you weren’t done yet and no one could stop you.”
“That’s because I knew he’d see it and know I was coming for him,” I explained calmly, leaning back in the chair. The handcuff on my right wrist was uncomfortable but I just let it chafe. I wanted the cops to feel, at least for now, that they were doing well. Imagine that; I was shot dozens of times today then blown up but my wrist was chafing from a handcuff just because I let it.
“Okay, so tell me about this Ephra character,” Paul said, pinching the bridge of his nose and squinting.
“Headache?” I asked him.
“Do you have a headache, Paul? You know…headaches?”
“Hm? Yeah, a bit,” he replied.
I leaned forward and touched my fingertips to his forehead and his eyes went wide and his jaw dropped. “How did you do that?”
I shrugged. “Ephra’s this old enemy of my family. That’s probably the best way to describe it.”
“We might be able to work with that. Maybe you can plead self defense. Tell me more about him…”
“Nope,” I cut Paul off. “I don’t want to work that angle, man. I’m not trying to wiggle. I’m not trying to get out of this. I just need you to know what’s going on and keep my family as far away from it as possible. There’s something else as well.”
“Look, Michael, I actually want to help you. But you have to help me help you, okay?” Paul said to me.
“You sound like a lawyer,” I joked at him.
“I am a lawyer,” he replied. “What’s this other thing?”
“I need you to make sure that why I’m doing all of this gets heard. I need you to make sure that some sick media fuckhead doesn’t make it look like one of those ‘celebrity kid goes crazy’ stories,” I explained.
“I think your family has a pretty healthy reputation, Michael. I don’t see that being a problem.”
“You and I both know that it’s been too long for that, right?” I asked. “It’s already all a big laugh for everyone. It’s a reason to have a party and watch crazy old videos that no one really understands. Public belief at the time helped them win, but no one really gets why it all happened.”
“So you’re going to remind them? I still don’t get it,” Paul said, frustrated. “You’re going to go be a hero or something like that?”
“Nah man, I could give a fuck about heroes,” I said, waving the idea away and laughing at it. “Heroes get away with everything. I don’t want to do that.”
“Well what the hell then, Michael!?” Paul snapped.
I laughed at his frustration and confusion. “Take it easy, man. I can’t tell you. You seem like a good guy and if you knew you’d have to tell someone. I don’t want to put you in that position. Just keep my family as far from this as possible, make sure that the why gets out, and that’s it. Cool? I’ll pay you whatever you want.”
“So what’s this ‘why’, then?” he asked.
“I’m setting an example,” I said simply. “Between that and whatever you saw when I touched you the day we met you’ve got enough to go on.”
“You’ll get it when it happens, that’s enough for you to get started,” I said. “You don’t have to make me look good, either. Just figure it out as you go. I trust you.”
“You’re a really frustrating client,” Paul said to me.
“Fuck man, try being my mother,” I said with a smile. “Look, I gotta go now. Just handle this on the back end for me, alright?”
“I still don’t get it though!” Paul said as I stood up and snapped free of the handcuffs.
“You’ll do fine,” I told him as I walked over to the white painted wall of concrete blocks, feeling it with my fingertips and then looking up at the camera in the corner and waving with a smile. “Thanks, Paul.”
“What are you doing?” Paul asked as I leaned back and raised my knee to my chest.
“Later, yo,” I said, then I kicked forward at the wall, exploding it outwards.
Blocks and chunks of concrete laced with rebar blasted out into the parking lot. I was glad they’d put me an interrogation room on the outside edge of the building or I might have hurt someone. Almost immediately an alarm started sounding somewhere in the station. A fast looking car squealed to a stop in the parking lot nearby and I jogged over to it.
“Sam!” I yelled as he rolled down the driver’s window. “Do we need to stall any of these guys?”
“Could do, could do. Bit of a head start never hurt, yeah?”
I ran over to the gate from the parking lot and after Sam had knifed the car around through it onto the street I drug a police car across the gap and flipped it on its roof. I jumped into the passenger’s seat and Sam peeled away from the curb. A grin was spreading across his face as he handled the wheel. The ignition terminal had been ripped free and wires hung loosely.
“You love this shit,” I said to him.
He chuckled as he gripped the wheel harder and positioned the mirror to see better behind us. I looked over my shoulder and saw that someone had started trying to bash down the chain link fence with a police van while others were pushing to flip over the car I’d tipped to slow them down.
“Some days I guess I miss it,” he said to me through his smile. “Where exactly are we going, Michael?”
“We have to get Magda to meet us somewhere. I don’t want to bring any heat on the family, you dig?” I told him.
“It’s a bad idea to bring your girlfriend on the lam with you, you know that yeah?”
“I’m not leaving her alone, man,” I explained to Samael. “Mark and Lisa and my mom…they can go home and Christopher and Aunty Av can take care of them. Magda doesn’t have anyone, man. Just me.”
“Alright, if that’s how you want to play it, friend. So what are we doing Michael…other than running from the cops in a stolen car?”
“We’re going to find Ephra and end that weird old fucker,” I said. “Along the way we’re going to punish the wicked.”
“Punish the wicked?” Sam asked, raising his eyebrows and glancing over at me as he drove with speed and precision that a race driver would envy.
“Fuck yes,” I said. “I’m done with this shit man. You, Av, my mom…all of you lost something trying to get this fucking place to pull its head out of its ass and no one seems to give a fuck. I’ve fucking had it, Sam. We’re taking this shit to the streets, man. No more gloves.”
“You know that back in the old days that kind of talk would your wings clipped, yeah?” Samael asked me.
“I don’t know if you’ve noticed but I don’t have any fucking wings, Sam. And there’s no one left to clip them. So fuck it.”
“Law enforcement doesn’t look too kindly on vigilantes, Michael. You know that, right?” Sam said to me.
“This coming from the guy running from cops in a stolen car. Fuck, man…I know you want Ephra. I know why. We’ll get him, trust me. We’re gonna take a bunch of others out along the way though. It’s time Sam. It’s time.”
“You sound like your mother, friend,” he said to me, whipping the car in a spin to slide backwards into a narrow alley. He killed the engine and waited as three cops sped past. “When she started our own war. When we went against our own kind.”
“That’s what I’m doing,” I said grimly, looking over to meet his steady gaze. “Going after my own kind. No matter what else is inside of me, I’m mostly human I think.”
“Why you?” he asked.
“Who else?” I shot back.
“Good answer,” he said, holding out his hand. I took it and shook it and he nodded. “Let’s go get your girly, yeah?”
“Yeah,” I said.
“Bec’s gonna be cool with this?” I asked him.
“Bec’s going to want in on this, Michael. She’s not as sweet as you probably think. She loved Sara too…a lot. She goes everywhere with me, friend. She’s at the hotel right now, probably cursing me out for being a right proper arse but wishing she was sitting where you’re sitting.”
“Alright, let’s do this thing then, Samael. I need to change though, man. Jail orange doesn’t do much for me,” I plucked at the front of the coveralls the cops had replaced my shredded clothes with.
“I’ll sort you out from my suitcase. Nothing to worry about.”
“For real? Man, no offense, but you dress like a bit of a fag.”
“You just wear those county colors then, yeah?”
“Fuck it, fine. Whatever. Your shit’ll have to do for now.” He laughed at me and I laughed at myself and then we laughed together.
“Where do we start, then?” Sam asked as he took the car back out on the street, driving it back and forth in a grid through the streets to avoid the cops looking for us. “With the punishment of the wicked and all that lot?”