Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Pallbearer: Harvests Part 5

Grand Guignol

Never close your eyes. The first and foremost rule of attending a performance as grand as ours.

Never close your eyes. There's murder in ours. You can see it if you look.

Never close your eyes. I'll close them for you before I tuck you in.

The tunnel only last another hundred yards and four dozen popcorn corpses. I think four dozen. Was hard to tell after we passed by. Erin and Natalie perched on Beast's new body, hacking and rewiring. The children marched in silence. Gremlin's voice was back in their minds, whispering soft lullabies in their ears.

Compared to Mammon's legion, all things were tame now.

There were few guards surrounding the stockade the captive children were in. Triple barred and sealed. St. George whispered the password and the door fell open before us.

I'm lucky like that.

There were hundreds. All eyeless. It was as Gremlin said. They were a city below the city. All hiding from their parents who only wanted them flushed. Who were unconcerned as to whether or not their children were being hunted like rats.

Not all the children were there. Some had been missing for a long time. Others as recent as yesterday. I picked up the fallen door and flung it across the tunnel, embedding it into the cement.

I was angry. Slightly.

"Beast, do the girls have you operational yet?"

"Full power to weapons systems. Still lacking in the sensory department, but that comes with being headless."

"Good job ladies."

"Thank you kindly Neil." "Eh, he was easy enough to hack together."

"Now, take the children back home."

They were already milling about, embracing each other tightly. Samson, little stick that she was, was squeezing two others tightly.

"Well, that was the plan, wasn't it?"

They knew I smiled even though they couldn't see me. It was in the air, even though I never twitched, never budged. They knew.

"Count me in little man." "What the hell do you think you're doing? You aren't leaving without me!" "Neil, this isn't neccesary."

"Quiet. Beast and I have scores to settle. If he chooses to come, he can come. You two and that troupe of children will manage to get below just fine without us. We have work to do."

"Like what?"

I stayed silent and turned to Nikolas, resting the barrel of St. George on my shoulder. I waited, submerged in a tide of children, and watched him. The Colossus fit Nikolas well. Full curves with no abrupt edges, every piece flowing in economy of motion. A suit made for a killer. He turned to me first.

"Da little man, I am in. I have only one request. A change in stage name would seem appropriate."

"By all means."

A grim grin, a moonlight shadow grin. "Czernabog. Death. And I want the ones who stopped the music. The ones that made Gravesite. The ones that killed my brother."

"What the hell are you two talking about Nikolas? You're in? You're fucking in? Not without me goddammit!"

With a single enormous finger, he reached down and stroked Erin's furred cheek.

"You are lovely. I should have said so sooner. I am going now. We have a show to do and our performance must be at its best."

Erin stepped back, mouth hanging open in shock.

"I will be back Der Kitten, have no fear. But this must be done."

We turned and started walking, weaving between the children as they skittered about. Natalie pushed through the crowd and shouted after us.

"We'll make sure they get out. If you don't come back though, we'll hunt you down and beat you to death."

Nikolas and I said nothing. We alked. Up the tunnel and deeper into the belly of the Point Heston Hydroponics Facility.


"You must be kidding. How cliche."

I shrugged.

"Just asking."

"I want the company responsible. You just want another corpse to bury. You realize what you're going to find? Have you ever seen inside a slaughterhouse? That's where they took them."

"I know. That's why I want to go."


"Like you said, I want another body to put in the ground."

He was silent as we stumped through the still corridor.

We both understood. It was a harvest moon.

We had a long night ahead of us.


The corridor branched shortly therafter and we split up. To the left would be the fields, to the right, the processing portion of the plant.

Nikolas didn't understand. But St. George did.

No one in the company liked this plant. Too productive for its own good. Too cost-efficient to be true. The city sent in a municipal auditor a couple years ago. He disappeared.

Then, six months later, we get his report. All's clear. All's honest. All's above board. That was two months before he officially resigned from his post with the city and took over the plant. Production tripled.

We heard rumors, even out in prisoner transport. Rumors about the processing division.

There was only one person running the equipment. One. Harriet Henneg. Mother Butcher.

Ate so much the company removed her lower jaw to slow her down so less product would disappear. After all, there was only a limited amount of beef and chicken mixed into any batch of West Worthington's Susie Boo Sweet Meats.

We never knew heard the children.

Nikolas didn't understand what I hoped to find. Why I hoped he'd pick green.

Standing in front of the door to the processing part of the plant, I reloaded St. George. I slowly stroked St. George's barrel.

"This one is long overdue a burial, isn't she St. George? I already have a eulogy in mind."

St. George roared and the door blew inward, the slushing sound of smashed ground beef accompanying it.

"Hhello good thir. Welcome to my parlor. We've been waiting for you."

Only a head shorter than my Brute, the thing stood. Back hunched from the weight of the fields of fat hanging from its body. Hair matted with grease and grue and blood stuck to gleaming skin. A tongue nearly seven foot long dangled from the hole of its mouth, only rising to slurp at its saw-toothed upper jaw. Its entire lower jaw was missing, as if a hammer had been taken to it. Grotesque flaps of lard and skin hung as breasts, barely covered by a thin cotten apron, soaked in blood and raw meat. Two thick tree trunk legs planted it to the ground, and in each hand, it held a cleaver. The thick leather boots on its feet stretched and split apart at some of the seams. Its pants were ragged and would've hung it tatters were it not for the mass of flesh pressing against them.

Mother Butcher.


Neil wanted blood. Let him have it.

I wanted the ones who stole my brother from me. This company would be brought to it's goddamned knees.

The director of this place would do just fine for starters.

plants must grow

Voices? In the walls or over the p.a. system? I watched more closely now, waiting for an ambush.

There were no guards stationed along my branch of the corridors either. Hastily abandoned guard stations cropped up every dozen feet. They all had come for us in the tunnel, with no thought as to defending the plant's interior.


fools fools they tasted sweet good meat to eat

Voices again. Maybe they hadn't all fled.

"Attention. Attention. To the marauders currently inside our hydroponics plant. My name is Morton Gardener and I would like to have a word with you. I will be waiting in the field on level three."

A trap? Poorly played if it was. They had no idea what was coming for them. Oh well.

They'd know soon enough.

soon soon harvest moon sing in tune

I peeled open the gate to the level four field and the voices stopped.

Acres and acres of lush green vegetation laid before me. Tomatoes, potatoes, beets, corn, wheat... Food for years all under the tight control of the Corporations.

There was a sprout of a man standing in about a hundred yards away from me. Balding with light red hair. Rather than a bald spot in the back, this had started at his forehead, leaving a half circle of hair missing from the front. He stood no more than five foot tall in a faded yellow suit with too many pockets.

"Good evening Mr...?"


"Death? How quaint. It really seems to be in style this year."

"You are dying this night Morton Gardener. This company will not profit off of the atrocities of this plant anymore."

He smiled like a kindergarten teacher patting a drooling child's head.

"I've already died once Mr. Czernabog. I'm not particularly against dying a second time. But I don't think they'll let you kill."


"My babies."

Vines shot out from the rows of plants surrounding me and lashed around my legs, my wrists, pulling tight. Squeals from the rows and rows of vegetation.

Morton was changing too. His hair receded further back, slipping off of his skull as his mouth opened. His teeth opened. And teeth behind them grew visible. Green teeth pushing forward, the rest of his mouth disappearing into his expanding skull. His eyes broadening, the thick green of chlorophyll leaking into his pupils.

"I died my first harvest. After that, Mother Butcher knew to feed them. So hunger. We're all so hungry. Give us.

give us feed us need need more

Mr. Czernabog...

Feed us."

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