Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Boy Named Nod: Latch-Key Part 1

Bus Fare

Destitute. That was a fitting word for my predicament.

Hey boss, how much did we get paid for that one?


That's only half! They trying to pull something?

No Trevor. Blank killed the mark. We acquired Blank's pay.

You mean he undercut us by HALF? That's bullshit! Those East Fredricksburg assholes are jerkin' yer chain.

It doesn't matter. We're lucky they paid us at all.

Let me loose. I'll go settle this.

To what end? Who'll hire us? Everyone will be after our scalps.

My brother has a point Nod. We cannot continue to be cheated like this. It'll barely pay rent for this month and the trip back to our district. We'll be reduced to basic bounty work to come back uptown.

Mr. Jonathan, I know. But if we kick up too big a fuss, we won't get another job. The scene we made in Esk's office got us points for ruthlessness. We can't go back looking like starving dogs.

But, Nod, some of us are.

Damn right.

You're figments of my imagination gentlemen. How in the bloody hell are you starving?

I rubbed my eyes and drew in a slow breath. The imps were squabbling somewhere in the basement of my brain. At least they were keeping out of this discussion. No need to worry them with finances.

Might I make a comment?

Of course Mr. Rook.

It would seem, sir, that you are forgetting one key element. We are only as healthy as you are. With every further notch you tighten on your belt, we grow more emaciated as well. Your penchant for alcohol isn't helping the situation either.

Hey, lay off him Gregor.

Indeed Mr. Rook. He's only a boy. He has weaknesses.

That's my point sirs. Mr. Nod, please, don't take offense, but I'm speaking the truth. We need funding to keep you well. In order to receive funds, we must have work.

I know Mr. Rook. I know. We're going home first gents, regardless. There isn't any work here for us right now... and I'm tired.

They were quiet after that, only the sound of the wrecking crew singing merrily filled my head. I sighed and adjusted my glasses. My bowler had been irreparably damaged during my escape. Damnation. That too would cut into our finances.

"Hey, kid, you boarding or not?"

I nodded and pulled out my I.D. card. One swipe through the reader. Take your receipt. Mind the gap. All boarding for the Akarin District. E-Rail services provided by Mayor Morelli and the East Fredricksburg Corporation. Keep your hands clear of the doors.

$10,000 gone. One hundred seventeen stops. A four hour wait at the south Takt District station. Halfway there. Then a non-stop ride back to the slums. I was going home.

I found a seat and wedged myself in between the odd couple. You know the two. The guy that swam in cologne all the way there, and the one that thinks deodorant is poison. I lowered my head to my hands, closed my eyes, and began to sing.

Count to 2000, my good son.
Your day is over, your night begun.
Mother's sleeping, father's gone,
brother's preaching to the dawn.
Sing your tune with quiet tone,
never lonely, just alone.
Count to 2000, let it end.
Only a dream would be your friend.

I cried like the desert, sucking in air and sobbing it back out. I sang until we passed Mom's cemetary. Then I leaned back in my seat and stared out the window. No Disciples at any of the stops today. My brother was slacking.

Even fanatics take days off.

No, Mr. Jonathan, they don't.

The Righteous Reverend Abraham Cain just might.

Mr. Jonathan...

Him and the great Disciples of Adam have to take time off occasionally. Maybe a trip to see the wondrous Adam 2.0.

Mr. Jonathan, you know my feelings concerning my brother and father.

And you know mine.

"If Cain won't go to Nod, Nod will come for Cain."

"Whass that?"

Grunt from the great unwashed sitting beside me.

"Nothing. It was nothing."

He snorted again and turned away. He died first.

The window shattered behind him and a net wrapped around his head. It cinched tight and he was jerked from the E-Train. From the screams, he wasn't wearing it as he fell to the street.

Catch and release.

The roof peeled apart and seven figures dropped into the cabin. Six Judges and one Repentant. The Judges were more consistent than usual. Four pirahna, a barracuda, and a moray eel. The pirahna hunched around the cabin. A thousand shards of shattered glass were their teeth, twisted knives rooted in their flapping mouths. Gaunt beasts, sulking about the cabin, claws curled with anticipation. The barracuda stood tall beside the eel, holding a black harpoon gun. His jaws jutted forward, gleaming with chainsaw blade teeth. The eel smiled through yellowed eyes and cracked fangs, sliding through air.

"You have been found guilty. Our Lord Leviathan, King of the Seas, demands that you be sentanced in the Courts of the Judges on your great dockworks."

I hate fish. I hate the cold, rotting smell that skips your nose and squirms down your throat when you clean them.

"If you repent, you may join us, and your pain will be lessened."

The Repentant among them stood silently. The sweeping tattoos swallowing his body hid the stitches well. Sterile and implanted with explosives.

I stood and adjusted my tie.

"My name is Michael Tarcynski, but you will address me as Nod. There is a bounty on all Judges at the price of $2,000 per head. $3,000 for Repentant. I thank you all, for you've just paid my bus fare."

"You will suffer for your crimes child."

"I already do. Gentlemen, I want fish for dinner. Do not disappoint me."

It's never easy going home.

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