Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Pallbearer: Funeral Music Part 2

A True Showman

"Jesus christ. It's Vaudville's Carnival. Home Office, come in. Home Office, come in."
"Report Associate Anderson."
"It's Vaudville's Carnival. I think he wants out."
"Your orders stand. Hold until reinforcements arrive or be terminated."

"Ladies and gentlemen! Tramps and thieves! Welcome to Vaudville's Carnival! I have only one question for you. Are you entertained?"

Everyone began to shout at once.

"Everybody, shut up! Where are your manners? Let me talk to our gracious host."

Vaudville perked at that, grinning wide, flashing a set of brilliantly gleaming teeth.

"Do continue Mr...?"
"Anderson. I must say, we are terribly entertained by your performance. Never been have we seen such incredible sights."
"Nor will you ever again."
"I know a master performer doesn't like to reveal their secrets but... is that fellow the one that brought down the wall?"
"Brutus here? Indeed. He's quite the strongman. One of the best my show has had in years."
"Fabulous. I have an associate who is interested in speaking to Brutus."

The sound glass makes when you step on, snapping twigs, meat in a grinder, a flyswatter slapping the window, blood oozing out around a coffin.

"Oh yes, I have a friend that would very much like to speak to Brutus."
"Then by all means... what's your friend's name?"
"St. George."

St. George roared. Vaudville snarled and flipped backwards off of his hulking strongman. Brutus turned his head slightly, a stream of drool trickling down his cheek. The nearly four inch shell punched through the cauterized wound that was Brutus' left eye. The strongman's head exploded in a shower of bone, blood, and discolored gobs of flesh. Brutus fell to his knees, then toppled over and lay still.

"Fine! You boorish swine want the show over that badly? Have it your way!"

"Eyes forward, kill anything that moves. We're about to die. Let's give them a performance to remember."
"Me too Cassie."

The carnival music grew louder. Click click click. Clack click clack. Something was climbing the wall.

"Rocket teams, prep. What's Digger's status?"
"I'm here boss. One gun's wiped, but I've still got a good arm left."

Click click click. Clack click clack. Pipes were just barely visible over the top of the wall, first to the left, then to the right of the breach. Movement stopped. Clickety clickety clickety. The first one came through the breach itself. A calliope on disjointed spider legs scurried over the strongman's corpse. Its pipes dropped horizontal and the shadowy figure at the keyboard grinned.


Of the first three rockets, two hit, blowing legs off the calliope. The calliope screamed, the figure at the keys snarling. The music grew louder yet as the calliope fired. Fist-sized balls of steel erupted from the pipes, catching Undertaker in the chest. He fell, half of him missing, painted across the corridor walls. Chaingun fire stitched its way across the calliope, the notes warped, twisting. The figure at the keyboard winced, continuing to play. St. George roared again, taking the head off its player. The calliope screamed one final time before slumping to the ground, black fluid trickling out its pipes.

"The walls! Watch the walls!"

Two more pulled themselves over the lip of the wall, barely exposed, and began to fire. From their height, we had no cover. The infantry barely had time to scream before their bodies were torn to pieces. One of the rocket teams squeezed off a final shot before they died. The rocket crashed in the left calliope's pipes, rupturing half its pipework. Black fluid spurted out the ruined tubes, the remaining pipes still firing. St. George continued to shout, a gout of flame accompanying every shot, clipping the calliope, or destroying a pipe. The chaingun fire danced across the pipes with little effect.

Mortician, dear sweet brilliant Cassie, lowered her aim and severed the two legs the calliope supported itself with. It reared back. I don't know whether it could've survived the fall or not, but St. George put a hole through its pale purple underbelly regardless. The calliope burst in a shower of black blood and was gone behind the wall.

The other continued to fire, and Digger was caught in his good arm, then his knees. He screamed into the radio, and a final shot to the head ended it. He slumped forward and was gone. Cassie kept firing, but St. George was empty. An incendiary clip. Yes.

"Burn, in hell or out here. Doesn't matter. Just burn you motherfucker."

St. George spoke again, the language of dragons. The shell flew through one of the calliope's pipes, deep into inside it. The calliope erupted into a fireball and it too fell.

"Can't. Won't."
"Just bloody well run."
"Head for the Takt District. Lose the suit. They won't search for you. They'll assume you're dead."
"Just fucking GO!"

She ran, fast as her suit would carry. I was alone.

"I'll find her."

Vaudville again, walking through the rubble and corpses littering the breach.

"No, you won't."
"The clowns have her scent. They'll bring down your little toy, and then be after her."
"But they'll have to make it through me first."
"True enough."

He grinned, mouth stuffed with those flawless teeth. And was gone. I didn't blink, but he was gone nonetheless, disappeared into shadows as light began to fail. The cackles started. The shadowy shapes of clowns filled the breach, watching. Their eyes shined. St. George and I were in agreement. We both roared at once.

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