Thursday, June 21, 2012

Wither The Vain: Wherever The Wind Blows Part 1


Cities like to shift their feet. So many ants squirming between their toes, they can't help it. So they go on a shifting, rocking everything back and forth. A city moves its foot a little to the left and a car takes out a transformer station. A little to the right, and a kid's ball rolls out into traffic. They can't help but shuffle their feet though. Too much squirming.

It had only been three days, and my hair was already white. Too small a change. Needed something bigger, juicier. The wall kept whimpering, like some three-year old scared of wettin' itself. Always came back to the walls. Never failed.

Like faults under the dirt, that's where it all grinds together. At the walls.

I walked. Never liked the train. Not steam. Not coal. Not electric. I prefer my feet. Reminds me that they're still attached.

I dug my hands deeper into the pockets of black denim jacket and kept walking. My shoes spoke to each other through flapping soles. I'd need replacements soon. A chill xylophoned up my spine.

Change. Something small. My hands burnt in my pockets, veins bulging, raw to the touch. Another mess to clean up.

I stepped into the nearest alleyway, hiding from the pissing rain. In a puddle, I saw myself. Couldn't help but laugh. Not too shabby for a homeless old man. Needed a shave and haircut.

Two bits.

I chuckled and an old bum with three teeth looked up at me. We grinned at each other and laughed again.

Things changed. The city shuffled its feet.

The buildings pushed together, the alleyway constricting. I grabbed the bum by the collar and jerked him out into the rain with me. The old apartment houses collapsed in on each other. Three-tooth's eyes were wide.

"Whad... whad jus' happened boss?"

"They did."

Amid the rubble, the ants were warring. So that's what had the city wriggling.

The Ogres versus The Goblins. Bah. Just humans. Boulder built men with log arms, charging through the rubble. A pack of skinned skeletons loping through the rising dust. They collided and the world ground together.

My hands. Dipped in boiling water. A thousand bee-stings.

I pulled off my jacket and handed it to Three-tooth. "Watch this for me." He nodded.

"What you goan do?"

I cracked my knuckles. "My job."

I strode foward, dead shoes flapping, stained shirt hanging half open. My hair dripped down my skull, wet tinsel, three years too old for the tree.

Bodies thudded against each other. Splintering wood and kicked dog squeal as one Goblin was driven into the ground. An Ogre bellowed, bled out and brought down, four Goblins clinging to the mammoth man's corpse.

I went unnoticed.

Until I grabbed the first one by the throat. It was a Goblin ganger, some scrawny young punk, looking to carve out a piece for himself. He opened his mouth, foul thing, filled with rotten language and green teeth. His tongue went dry, a black sponge in his mouth. His eyes hardened. Skin crinkled like a wet then dried book. His lips drew back, pulled into his head. The veins in my hand coursed with flame, drinking him down. Down to dust, to ash. Until he crumbled to dirt.

Then they noticed me.

Six Goblins, three Ogres. They charged at me and never slowed. My stubble retreated and they never slowed. My hands steamed under the rain and they never slowed.

I moved. Forward.

Step one: Goblin knee.

Step two: Goblin head.

Step three: Ogre head.

Spun in mid-air, coming down his back. Dug my fingers in as I slide down. Dried mud, peeling and crackling.

The Goblins turned fast and were on me. My hands came off the ashen Ogre and both found Goblins. Another throat and three fingers in a collarbone.

Free Goblin swung with a pipe and a loosed the throat. Half gone, mummified corpse. I snarled and snatched the wrist of the pipe-Goblin. The wither coursed up his arm and drew him into my hands. The collarbone Goblin dissolved to ash.

Two Ogres. Three Goblins.

They circled now, territory forgotten. My hair bloomed and glistened silver in the rain. I drew it back and tied it in a ponytail. My cracked concrete eyes glowed steel. And I smiled.

A Goblin ran.

I was on him, hands clamping onto his shoulders, feet buried into his back, snapping him in two. Rolled over his disintegrating form and released. An Ogre was there, swinging for my head. I caught his fist and held it one-handed. The Ogre's mouth widened and a rasp managed to scrape up and out of his throat. His blood turned to sand and he fell away.

I went down to my knees with two Goblins on my back, each snaring an arm, wrestling with my hands. The last Ogre stood before me, cracking his knuckles. With a tooth-split grin, he wound up and swung. I went backwards, pinning the Goblins beneath me. My hands twisted, wrists wrenched. Fingers met flesh and began to feed.

The Goblins beneath me squealed, writhing, wriggling, struggling to free themselves. They ceased to exist as the others had, falling apart as the threads that held them together were pulled.

I flipped up and onto my feet. The last Ogre was running. So was I. My teeth were sharp again, muscles focused. I lunged through the air and buried my fingers into the sides of the Ogre's neck.

A rasp.

"What... are... you..."

Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust.

I stood and dusted off my shirt. Leaning down into the pile of ashes, I drew out the Ogre's black work boots. 11s. Perfect.

I changed my boots, lacing them up meticulously. My hands still throbbed, the fire searing within.

One last bit of business.

Three-tooth was crawling away, fingertips bloody from trying to pull himself along. He had tried to run but his ankle disobeyed. I touched two fingers to his tongue as he screamed.

Teeth erupted from his gums, clean and white. His distended belly drew in and muscle slithered over his bones.

"Harold Q. Clarke, get up."

"What... how... Who are you?"

"Harold, get up. You've got a lot of work to do."

"I do?"

"Yes sir. Those apartments need rebuilding. The poor folk have to live somewhere right? I'm making you landlord Harold. Do me proud."

"You don't know me."

"I don't need to. I just follow orders. And orders tell me it's time to go."

"Go where?"

"The city's shifting its feet again. Over by the wall. Can't be late."

"Just... who are you?"

"Eli. Eli J. Barrabas."

I picked up my black denim jacket and slipped it back on. He was still talking as I walked away. The wind was blowing again.

No comments:

Post a Comment