Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Pallbearer: Harvests Part 4

 False Idols

Somewhere, Cassie was safe in an apartment building hiding as best she could.
Somewhere, Cassie was crying over a life lost and a marraige never to come.
Somewhere, Cassie was.

But it wasn't where I was.

And I meant to rectify that.

Conduit and I danced in circles, St. George shouting down his blue bolts of electricity. He brought the lightening, I brought the thunder.

I was curious, I wondered if he had a body in that suit. Or if he just possessed the entire thing. I wondered how he felt being a Corporate lapdog that was just as easy to replace as a schmuck that called himself Pallbearer a lifetime ago.

I wondered a great many things.

Mostly I wondered how his face would look smeared across the bottom of my Brute's foot. I wondered if it would be just as smug as his voice was.

What can I say, it's the simple things that amuse me.

Conduit lunged to the side, a sudden movement instead of the slow pacing we had begun to grow used to. St. George came around, but I wasn't moving fast enough.

This time, we hit each other.

Being struck by lightning isn't like touching an electric fence or even sticking a fork in a light socket.

Believe me.

You don't see much, just a bright flash of light. Things stop working. Ice is dripping magma and that scalding pot of soup must have just been pulled from the freezer. You skip a couple beats and you start forgetting. I still catch myself writing backwards when I get tired.

Being struck by lightning isn't like throwing a toaster in the bath while you're in it. Not quite.

Being struck by lightning is throwing a toaster in the bath... and being the toaster.

My hands were shaking when I forced my Brute to its feet.

Every strike rolled me tighter together with my Brute. I could feel the tiniest pebbles under its feet, crushing, turning to dust.

I smelled burnt feathers.

Conduit had a hole in his suit's chest, rimmed with flames. Sparks danced within the cavity. He was still glowing.

He had stayed on his feet.

He was already ready.


Another freight train of lightning slammed into me. I didn't topple over.
The world was white.
Another strike. I kept my feet, even as the halo around my eyes shone all the brighter.

I was blinking.

He was blue. Blue with lightning stripes.

An angel? Warrior seraph come to put down the demon in me?

A Norse angel, looking for Valhalla.
A Jihad angel, searching for paradise.
A Kamikaze angel; victory at any cost.

I laid down St. George and started forward.

He was talking, in tongues no doubt. Angels would, wouldn't they?

"I made a mistake last time. I crushed you as a man. I squeezed the life out of a shell. But you're more than that."

Two bolts of lightning leapt from his hands, rocking me sideways. I refused to fall and pushed forward.

"Leaping from body to body. Looking to do your work as best you know how. Come to give an ending to the misguided."

Why was he shaking? Couldn't be afraid. Would an angel fear?

A lightning bolt drove itself into my right knee and I fell. I caught myself and pushed up, swallowing the pain.

Walking backwards. Backwards is forwards. Down is up. Short circuit in that mess of noodles you call a brain Neil.

I shook my head and kept moving.

"I know what it feels like. You're just doing your good work. Hoping to fall in the line of duty. But I can't die today. I have work to do."

He spoke and I could hear him.

"I wrote her off as dead. If she's still alive, West Worthington doesn't know. All they care about is putting you down as a favor to the Mayor. Just lay down and die already."

Who? Cassie. Pretty. Halo on her finger.

A spear of lightning rammed itself into my chest. Two more followed it.

I was glowing now. Molten orange.

I could feel blisters rising on my chest. Heat. Heat hot.

"That's not my work. I'm a pallbearer. I'm the Pallbearer."

I drove an orange fist into his suit's stomach, and brought my hands down on its back. Electricity arced off of his body, coursing through mine with each touch, every motion.

He was rolling over, raising both hands. A steady current poured into me as I fell on top of him, grabbing his suit by the head.

"You're nothing. You're no pallbearer. You're an unemployed psychopath that won't face the truth!"

I ripped off its head and the electricity stopped. A man. A bald man. A thin man. A short man. This one live. Eyes were wide, spit flecking his cheeks.

Not an angel at all.

"Who are you?"

"I am an employee of the West Worthington Corporation, gainfully employed by the greatest company in the world."

The back hatch of my Brute hissed and sizzled as it slid open and I leapt out. I walked, smoking rising from my clothes, feet sparking as I crossed his suit.

"No, who are you?"

"What does it matter to you?"

"I want to know what to put on the headstone."

He was screaming, lunging, charging for me. I stepped to the side and he slipped past me. He was spinning, turning to face me, face curling into a snarl.

"Who am I? I'm the one gets to put the pallbearer in his grave."

I backed up, to the edge of his Colossus. My foot found what it was looking for where the head had joined the body.

He was charging again, roaring. He had filthy teeth. That should be in his eulogy.

I pulled up with my foot and an electrical cable came with it, the main feed for his lightning.

As he came, I flipped it up and spun it around his neck, leaping aside. He was screaming as he started to fall.

He stopped falling, less than two inches from the ground.

I slid to the ground. My legs didn't move with my feet. A flagpole on a windy day, bending on a whim. I made it around the fallen Colossus to see him.

He was alive and tap-dancing in mid-air. Quite a talent that.

"Who are you?"


"You will be buried and have a headstone. You will be buried proper. You deserve that. Who are you?"

"Myyyy name isss Ppppiiiooo-teeeeerrrrr Lllluuukovichhh... Mmmyyyyy bbbbrother and I... we... perrffffforrmmmeddd... " Air hissing out of a wounded tire.


His eyes were wide and he nodded around his conduit noose.

"I will tell him how you died. He will see your grave. I swear it."

The bald little composer continued to turn colors. His mouth was open.

"The wire's insulation stops you from going anywhere doesn't it? Too much to fight through. Rest Piotr, rest. You deserve to sleep."

I sat on the tunnel floor and waited for it to end.

Not an angel at all.

I'll be damned.

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