Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Wither The Vain:Mightier Part 2

Lead Poisoning

No one ever remembers Arturo.

War on a red horse.
Famine on a black horse.
Death on a pale green horse, Hell riding with him.

One to be unsealed before them all. Brother to Famine, assistant to War.

No one ever remembers Arturo and his white steed, bow gleaming in the sun. No one ever remembers that the end begins with Victory.

Arturo drove his pencil through his notebook and into the table.

"Think I don't remember it all? I always remember first, even though everyone forgets me. I've been waiting for you Wither."

"What are you summoning brother?"

"Did you know that no one remembers me? They think I'm pestilence. They think I'm a plague. Who am I to argue? A pox on them all."

He smiled through whiskey eyes and fell back into the booth, giggling.

Wind poured into lead skeleton coming to life in front of me and muscle grew. Organs sprouted as muscles lashed themselves around its bones. The claws and fangs melted into slim fingers and tiny, meticulous teeth.

Pale skin erupted across the bare flesh, a thin mat bursting, latching, sealing it up. A red mustache and goatee sprouted, short and well-groomed. Shoots of blazing red hair grew from its scalp, down to shoulder length. Newly skinned hands pulled back the fresh hair and tied it into a ponytail with a simple black ribbon.

The noxious wind lunged from its lips, coursing around its new body, clothing it.

Arturo's creation wore black leather dress shoes and a black silk dress shirt. However, its three-piece tuxedo was new-fallen snow white. There was no tie, no fold-over collar. Instead, it was a collar that was held together by a single white opal clasp.

"Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. My name is Josef Saria. A pleasure to be with you all today."

His eyes shifted. Green to blue to red. A yellow orb, a cat's eye marble, a ball of twine.

Green again.

"Mr. Del Pluma has escorted me here from the recesses of his mind. Which I am most grateful for. However, dear Arturo, you are now defunct. As are you dear Wither. You see, there is no need for four now. I will handle this, myself."

And I'm the one they say is vain.

Josef was reaching up, rubbing his left eye. My gloves were already off as I lunged for him.

Josef twisted to the side, slipping past me. I landed on Arturo's table, breaking in half under me. I jerked Arturo's pencil out of the table and flipped over, facing Josef.

"You really should learn your place Wither. I've learned a great deal about you while rattling around in Arturo's imagination. Did you know he still blames you for the bubonic plague? Yet another reason everyone thinks he's pestilence."

"He's a horseman, first and foremost, no what people think he is."

"That's rich coming from the most celebrated figure in history. But don't worry, no one will ever mistake him for me again."

He lifted his right hand, streaks of green staining his hand where he had been rubbing his eye.

"Jealous Rain. A chemical agent fashioned three months prior to the Second Salvo. Causes internal bleeding and rapid death. Until target's expiration however, it also generates violent hallucinations and stimulates the adrenal glands. Incredible what you can do with the right kinds of mushrooms and some gelatin."

With a single breath, the green peeled off his hand and onto the dance floor. I was pulling myself to my feet. Arturo was pulling another pencil from his shirt pocket. Dad was shouting.

The couple I had just thrust together inhaled it first. He grabbed her by the hair and started to swing her around. She snarled and hooked a leg around his own, bringing him to the ground. She turned dalmation, black spots pooling just beneath the skin. She had him by the throat, slamming him against the floor. Even after he ceased to move, she continued to slam him against the floor.

I sprang for Josef again, but slipped aside once more, the tip of the pencil barely grazing his sleeve. His reaction was highly unexpected.

"Filthy lead. Staining my clothes. You'll pay for that. You'll see!"

I rocked back on my heels as he dug into his tux pocket. A blade? A gun? Another toxin?

A cleaning rag and a tiny vial of blue liquid. He splashed the liquid on the sponge and scrubbed at his sleeve. Detergent.

Arturo was snickering.

Even as the patrons of my father's bar turned into violent, blood-soaked, monstrosities, he was snickering.

"Replace us will you? I'm Victory, you prick. You think I didn't plan ahead? A fire to stop his black death, a disorder to keep you in check."

Josef's face turned white as his stained tuxedo, ever-shifting eyes wide. Arturo flipped a pencil between his fingers and whipped it through the air at Josef. The pencil lodged itself in Josef's right shoulder, red staining his pure tuxedo. As Josef wrenched the pencil from his shoulder, I was atop him. I sank the pencil I was holding into his left shoulder and twisted.

He squealed, eyes darkening, thickening into pure black balls of tar. Josef drew a hand across his right eye as my hands shot for his throat.

He writhed underneath me, catching my left arm, trying to avoid my touch. His hand hit my lips and I gagged as black slipped into my mouth.

I tipped over backwards, gagging, bacteria racing through me. A vise closed itself on my temples, my muscles tightening violently, suddenly drawn taut. Josef leaned up, grinning toothily.

"Ring around the rosie, dear Wither. A six minute version of the plague you created. As for you Arturo..."

Josef turned to the rest of the bar, to the frothing melee of poisoned patrons.

"The little Spaniard has the cure. Kill him! Kill him before he escapes or you'll all die!"

The shambling mob lifted their eyes from the charnel on the dance floor, their skins blotted with pools of black, their eyes dripping red.


Arturo was charging at Josef as he stood. Josef back-handed him, sending him spiraling to the ground next to me.

My back was breaking, pulling me tighter, tighter, a bow-string bending. The lumps were rising, lymph nodes swollen, twisting searing pinching pain.

"They have the cure. They just don't want to share. They can save you. But only if you stop them now."

"Save us."
"Help us."
"Won't escape. Won't let you."
"Cure! Cure! Want the cure!"

Josef was climbing tables, pulling himself up into the rafters. He drew a second vial from his pocket. Scent. Bat piss. Ammonia. He dripped the ammonia first, then the detergent across his suit and began to scrub.

"Blood stains. You can't. You'll pay. Get them. Tear them apart. That's the only way they'll give you the cure. See what they did to me? They stained my suit."

My mouth was foaming, clenching my teeth.

Not yet. Can't. Nothing's been finished. Not this way.

The patrons were loping toward us now, stained suits, torn dresses. Blood dripped from their fingers and lips and toes and eyes.

Sorry about the mess Dad. I'm really sorry.

Really sorry.


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