Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Pallbearer: Harvests Part 3

Wants And Needs

My body craved a hot bowl of three-day old coffee as black as tar and twice as thick.

Castor and Pollux lumbered forward, the mark of the Commandant glowing on their chests. A rectangle with seven short lines thrusting up from its lid.

"They exist for one purpose Erin. They exist to bring pain unto those who would oppose The Black Symphony. You understand."

"I understand that you're leaving me in the custody of this lunatic. Norman, he killed Alex."

"Inescapable casualties. We have to hold the wall."

"What the hell does that have to do with Vaudeville?"

"He's the Mayor's nephew Erin. You understand. We have a treaty. I leave Eric alone, Mayor Morelli leaves us alone."

"That's it? You're going to let it end this way? You're more worried about a pair of fucking statues than you are about one of your own?"

"Yes, I am. Dismissed."

"Well, at least I wasn't the only one sacrificed for the greater good."

"Father knows."
"He is wise."
"Never hasty."
"Never lies."

Laughter invited my ribs to caress my lungs.

"You know what's worst about all of this?"

They stopped, tilting their heads, blinking around marble eyes.

"He won't get to see you die."

Their brows furrowed at once, and in step, in tune, in rhythym they lunged for me. I slid low, diving, scrabbling, ignoring my lungs. Down, between Pollux's legs. Scurrying through.

A stone foot landed next to my head, crushing a chunk of wall beneath it. Roll to the left. Stomp.

Roll to the right. Stomp. Once more to the left.

This time his foot continued through the floor, sinking in without hesitation. Pollux jerked his foot free as Castor ran towards me, drawing his foot back. His field goal kick was denied as I slipped through the hole in the floor.

It was a vent shaft and started crawling, sinking my claws into the walls and pulling myself forward. They were behind me, shattering the floor as they came.

"Won't escape."
"Trapped like rat."
"Buried alive."
"Crush you flat."

A bend in the shaft. No light at the end, but it'd do. The floor just behind my feet collapsed. Stone fingers fumbled at my boots. I jerked myself forward, curling around the corner.

My hands found air. Plenty of it. My body soon followed and started the fall.

"Hey Alex."


"You worried?"


"What's up?"

"Ever worry about a Second Salvo falling? I mean, the first was bad enough. A second... Just... what'll happen if the wall falls?"

"It won't. They're almost done with it now. It won't come down."

"What if it does? What do you think'll happen?"

"Eh, we'll survive. Always do. Now c'mon, we've got customers waiting."

"What customers?"

"Me. I need a bowl of coffee and I need it bad."

When I came to, I didn't need my coffee any less. But it was still dead and buried. Just like the bookstore. Just like Alex.

I wiped my eyes, trying to focus. My tommy was still strapped to my leg, digging into me. Fuckin' useless against them. At least the luger had fit down Pollux's throat. Fat lot of good that had done. Need organs and flesh for a bullet to matter. My eyes finally decided to obey and the room reappeared.

Fuck coffee. I had guns.

I pulled myself to my feet and staggered forward. I was in an armory. Gun lockers lined the walls.


I slammed each one shut. Bunch of damned fools took everything with them.

Well, what have we here?

I gingerly wrapped my hands around its handle and pulled it free of its prison.

A G3 Mjolnir Assault Shotgun. Fully automatic, integrated cooling system, built-in shock absorption. I slid an ammo drum into in with a satisfying click and lock.

Hammer of the Gods indeed.

The door, a steel slab mounted on the south wall, folded in on itself. Castor and Pollux stepped into the room with a smile chiseled on their faces.

I smiled and pulled a cigar from the locker that had held my new friend captive. I bit off the end and held the cigar between my teeth.

"You know, for a long time I doubted that The Commandant could've made stone come to life. I figured you had to be a pair of Evols like me. Couldn't figure out how someone could mutate into rock but what the hell? Anything's possible, right?"

I pulled a rucksack from the locker and kicked it shut, one arm still leveling my Mjolnir at them. I rummaged around the sack, finally finding a book of wooden matches. Peel, strike, light.

I puffed twice on my cigar, and grinned at them.

"Nope, you two are stone alright. Dumb as fuckin' rocks. Came to a gunfight unarmed."

"You've got it backwards."
"Wrong all wrong."
"Father's mark."
"Is what makes us strong."



Firing. My ribs and lungs screamed in agony. I didn't care.

The titanium shot powerwashed Pollux's chest. Castor was charging. I jerked to the side and brought Mjolnir's barrel to bear on Castor's legs. His legs blew apart at the knees, shattering into shards of granite. He was wailing, falling, slamming onto the floor. I let off the trigger.

Pollux remained motionless. The Commandant's glpyh had been erased.

"What's that symbol on their chest?"

"Egyptian. In hieroglyphics, I am told it represents pain. The pain of my enemies. The pain of the fallen."

"You're out of your mind Norman."

"Never forget who I am. I am The Commandant. I am your Commandant."

"Not mine. Not now. Not ever."

I headed for the door, reaching into the sack once more. I pulled out two grenades and tossed the rest of the sack onto Castor's chest. The first grenade I tucked into Pollux's still open mouth. I slipped my finger through the pin and headed for the door.

The pin pulled out. I began to run.

I pulled the pin on the second grenade and tossed it over my shoulder.

Castor was screaming.

At some point, the armory exploded, but I was already too busy to care. Where was the way up? That damn tank had better not be having fun without me, or heads were going to roll.

No comments:

Post a Comment