Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Pallbearer: Bad Blood Part 4

Swallowed Whole

It's kind of funny.  I think me and the old man are the only two people I know of who could spill their guts on all their devious little activities while chasing each other around an office that had been torn to hell.  I'd gone charging after him, shotgun in hand, as he bounded away.  He was giggling as he had told me about my parents' death and his occult associations.  He had stopped dead in his tracks when the last word spilled from his mouth, caught my shotgun, and bent it in two.  He had stared into my eyes with a bit of sadistic glee then.

"Your turn boy."

I didn't wait for him to start chasing, I had bolted first.  Over the corpse of his secretary I went, charging for the flag pole in the corner.  He tried to trap me between the drywall wall and the glass wall.  I parried his fists and he let me.  I told my story of The Errata and Angel's death as he reduced my flag pole to splinters.  When the pole finally broke, I jabbed an end into his stomach and cracked his jaw with a fist.  He reeled a bit and I slipped around him.  I grabbed his office chair and spun to face him, playing lion tamer as the Angel's head exploded in my tale.  Mobius, Papa, whatever he wanted to call himself, he stalked me as I finished.  When my last word on the matter slipped out, he lunged for me.

I shoved the chair forward, trying to break his ribs with the its castered legs.  He pushed the chair aside and slammed me to the ground, wrapped his long spidery fingers around my throat.

"One question... old... man..."

"What my darling boy?"

"If you slit their throats... how...  hearts... missing..."

"Trade secret.  Well, if you must know."

He opened his cracked lips and a long tongue slithered out.  It wasn't the broad muscle that I had flapping around in my mouth, but a long skinny tube with a sharp, bony edge.  It slipped out further and further, like his intestines were unraveling out his mouth.  At what I'd guess was the five foot mark, it stopped, and he showed off, moving the entire muscle in unison.  The little horned tip dangled just over my nose, a drop of spit dangling from it.

"Impressive.  They...  never looked into... the case... further?"

"A little encouragement from the family and they'd prefer not to look.  Just a little surgery with the end and the heart comes right out.  Fastest way to a person's heart is through their chest, don't get me wrong, but this works in a pinch.  I look forward to snapping your wishbone to get at your heart though."

"My... heart...?  Nah.  Don't have... one..."

He laughed.  That was precious.  He was still the stupid, vain, old man I had remembered.  I leaned into his hands and snapped my teeth around the bladed tip of his tongue.   I bit down hard and jerked back, letting my head slam against the floor.  Mobius howled and his tongue jerked back towards his mouth.  His hands released slightly and so did my jaws.  I head-butted him in the throat and flipped him onto his back.  I sat up and wrapped my arms around his legs.  Mobius howled and sat back up, swinging a fist for my temple.  I rammed my forehead into his fist and listened to the bones crunch.  I struggled to my feet as he fell backwards again.  Mobius swung sat up and grabbed me by the hair.

"You insolent little fuck!"

"What?  You mad that even though you're supernatural, you're still a pussy?"

He snarled at that and tried to rip out a chunk of my hair.  I wasn't paying attention to that though.  I was looking at the window.  I had found my feet.

Here we go.

I put all the steam my legs had to give into it and slammed into the windowed wall.  Spiderweb cracks burst across its surface.  I staggered backwards and tried again.  Mobius was past words now.  His eyes were boiling red, that disgusting cable of a tongue lashing around my neck.  We hit the wall again and I was grinning.  The safety glass bowed out and Mobius finally was noticing what was happening.  Two times couldn't be an accident.  As I stepped back, he looped around mine, trying to trip me.  I caught it between my legs and twisted.  His ankle snapped, his tongue tightened, and we went forward.

Glass fell with us as we went out the side of the twentieth floor and started to fall.  His tongue shot back into his mouth and he was pushing away from me.  I held fast to Mobius' legs and refused to part with them.  His tanned leather back split open to tanned leather wings.

"Cute idea Neil, but I've no intention to die tonight.  A shame I won't be eating your heart after all."

He kicked me loose at the seventeenth floor and started to ascend.  At the sixteenth floor, a robot covered in old Dr. Steel stickers erupted from the windows a couple floors beneath me and rose to catch me with the jet pack strapped to its back.  As it wrapped fleshless arms around my own, the fire started to die and we slowly headed towards the ground.

"Hey, old man."

Mobius looked down at me approvingly.

"Good for you.  Maybe I'll get to eat that heart one day after all."

"You know what I have to say to that?"


"Eat this."

Far below us, my Brute's eyes and mine were watching the same star.  St. George roared, and with a single shell, blew the star out.  Pieces of Mobius fell down around me as we dropped to the dirt.

"Shitty weather we're getting this time of year."

"Statement: The precipitation is not unusual.  Burning demon flesh, however, is abnormal."

"I really need to get one of you guys to help the rest out with a sense of friggin' humor."

I strode forward toward my Brute, whistling as I strolled past a dozen shadowy Mammon copies running for their non-corporeal lives from a pair of wheeled Errata with flamethrowers for hands.

"Would someone kill that goddamn rat already?  I mean, what the hell, do I have to do everything myself?"

Enough practice time for my new army, it was time to get moving.  St. George refocused on Mammon and an armor piercing round burst across the courtyard at the nasty little Sleeper.  The shell caught him in the chest and drove him back to the ravaged elevator shafts.  The tank-treaded Errata that had given me the original proposition rolled up to me.

"Neil, are you well?"

"Could be better Bellmaker, could be better.  I just found out my grandfather wasn't my grandfather, that I hit him with little league baseball bat and buried him to no real effect, and that he's now in pieces over there on the ground.  My parents were killed by him, we've only mostly destroyed most West Worthington's headquarters here in Jeng, and we'll no doubt be marched on by countless Sanitation Squads within a matter of hours.  Like I say, not bad, not great."

Bellmaker's eyes flickered as he nodded his head in simulated agreement.  He was picking up on human conversation about the fastest of any of them, but it was still slow going.  Being brilliant didn't help their social skills any.  As with most humans, it hurt them a little.  It raised a small joystick in its vaguely skeletal hand.

"Would this cheer you up Neil?"

"This being?"

"The explosive device that our forces have planted in the building.  It is ready to be brought down.  Our forces are clear of the anticipated demolition zone.  The building will fall away from us.  Any flying debris should be able to be countered by ground artillery adequately."

Efficient little bastards.

"And here I thought you were having fun while I was doing all the real work.  Certainly my man, certainly."

I took the little gray stick in hand and rested my thumb on the button.

"If this was junkyard was a boat, this would be our bottle of champagne."

"Esoteric metaphor Neil?"


"Ah.  Good."

I hit the button and watched the fireworks.  It was good to be back.

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