Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Pallbearer: Funeral Music Part 3

Life is Blitz

Explosions don't go boom.
Thunder booms. It echoes, rolls around in your head, shakes down through your bones, and fades away.
Explosions sing. high notes as steel, screaming, is torn asunder. Low notes as debris rains down. Flames dance to the beat, ravenous for more.

And from the sound of it, someone was conducting an orchestra.

Fighting to the northeast, at the wall nearly two miles away. I lowered my field glasses. He'd be there.

"Look alive boys! Time to go kick some ass!"

The Seven rumbled with glee.

"Beast, we'll lead, the rest of you fall in formation."

Beast lunged forward, thundering with anticipation. He ground to a halt less than an inch away. His treads were still caked with dried blood and grue. I leapt up, swinging up onto the treads.

"You could've hit me."
"I'd never hit a lady."
"Is that right? What about Vaudeville's acrobat? The one still embedded in your treads?"
"...she was no lady."

I giggled and hopped astride his huge twisted black cannon.

"Ride out!"

We roared forward, following the trail of devestation Vaudeville's carnival had left behind.



I grinned from beneath my cap, my jacket blowing in the wind. I watched the small army growing ever closer.

A whisper into the wind.

"We have such sights to show you my love."

I've always hated the circus. Too bright. Too grotesque. Fluorscent light gargoyles that suck out your eyes. Too fake, too plasticine.

I have a new depth of hatred for them now.

The first ranks of clowns sprinting towards me erupted in a ball of flame. Screeching and gibbering, they surged ever forward. St. George roared twice more, incediaries tearing apart their ranks, leaving them charred and in pieces. They never slowed, the gap between us dwindling.

My suit was built for one purpose; prisoner transport. The focus went into making it strong enough to carry the coffins. The Cleaners were there as backup should things get hairy and prisoners escape. I had St. George commissioned mainly because I didn't trust my Cleaners skills. Why else? Because I've never trusted, nor saw the use of the flamers attached to either arm. Short-range crowd control? What for?


I dropped St. George and kicked on the flamers. The front line of clowns went down screaming, blood boiling, flesh burning. But the horde didn't stop. They pushed forward, trampling the still flaming corpses beneath them, and were roasted as well. The flames licked their skin, sinking its teeth into them. The flesh peeled off their bones like overcooked pork and still they came. Leaping over the mounds of their dead, burning, dying.

A pack of five made it through the flames unscathed. They lunged forward, latching wherever they could. Claws and teeth and talons, shredding, carving, peeling me open. Howling, I turned the right flamer on them. They cooked, turning black, curling up like dead leaves, flaking off of me. My legs glowed red hot. I turned my right arm back to the horde but I had been distracted too long. They were breaking through faster now. I kicked off the flamers and gritted my teeth.

Fine. The old-fashioned way it'd be.

I grabbed one by the arm and swung him like a club, batting them away with my right hand. The left crushed the few that still got too close in its grasp. They circled me, panting, slavering. More came, and more died. Bones and blood, squeals, howls. The circle grew ever tighter.

And then the shelling began. It was beautiful.

Explosions rocked the Gravesite side of the wall. Screams filled the air and music began once more, urgent and strained. Calliopes.

Vaudeville was back atop the wall, screaming.

"She will not end my performance prematurely! Our audience will be ENTERTAINED! KILL HER! TEAR THEM APART!"

The clowns slowed, unsure where their fight belonged. Vaudeville turned, waving his cane at them.

"Go! Join the others! Leave him! Giggles will deal with him! I WANT HER DEAD!"


A long howl filled the air. The same as before. Retreat. The clowns spun, single-mindedly and flooded for the breach. Few were left, but enough to have killed me. The howl sounded once more, echoing through the night.


As the clowns raced through the breach to the fight on the other side, a shadow crossed the breach. It padded across the bodies, taloned feet with legs jutting up to bony hips. Its spine curved into a hunch, arms dangling, claws scraping the ground. Its muscles snaked around its bones, taught and eager. Its head sloped forward to a muzzle and vicious jaws with yellow, cracked teeth. Up, up the bridge of its nose where two eyes should be, there were six sockets. Four bloodshot orbs peered out of sunken holes, but two on the left were absent. Unlike Brutus, they were not cauterized closed. Rather, they were vacant, infected pits. It grinned at me and began to laugh. The laughter gurgled up. A young boy torturing frogs. A bully beating a handicapped kid. A laugh that crawls under your skin, snaking up your spine, dragging its claws along your bones.


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