Monday, July 2, 2012

The Pallbearer: Fevers In Berlin Part 3


Everyone has something they're fighting for. I'm fighting for Cassie. For my future. For three children not born yet. For a nice house I've never seen. For a city where you have a better chance of living through the night.

I had a witty line for Grendel. I always seem to have smart-assed comments when it looks like I'm about to die.

It went something like:

"You're not really Grendel."

"Yes I am. Why would you say otherwise?"

"Because you've still got both arms."

(And right here, I'd rip off the arm that held me up by the head and beat him with it.)

"Oh, my mistake, maybe you are Grendel."

But this time, I didn't speak. I stared to my left as a Sanitation Suit strode from the doorway of the nearest building. Cassie's suit.

With Cassie in it.

"Quit toying with your food and just fucking kill him. Time is money and he's eaten up too much in profits already.

The Conductor adjusted his tie and Grendel grumbled under his breath.


"Just shut up Neil. I've been infected with the regular flu for the last week, sitting in that goddamn room, surrounded by that fucking virus. Didn't you wonder why I wasn't dead yet? I was already vaccinated you twit."

Grendel dropped me and stomped on my skull twice. My Brute's head cracked around me, pain thundering through my brain.

"You had to rush right out and find a cure didn't you? You couldn't wait for them to come to the apartment to kill you. We knew you were coming this way since the Point Heston facility was destroyed. How predictable you are Neil. You disgust me."

Grendel was continuing to grind my head into the wreckage. It tingled a little. The Conductor was laughing.

"As soon as I got clear of that wall, I called in your failure. I've been working with Home Office to clear up this district and purge it of Disciple influence. They've already made me a Manager Neil. Being in charge of killing you? Hell, they'll make District Supervisor."

Cassie? Cassandra. Blonde hair. No golden. No.

Cassie? My Cassie. Scared of West Worthington. Scared of.

"Leave him alone you whore."

I blinked. Green arms - scythes - dropping down. Carving open Cassie's suit.

"One of the militants that raided the hydroponics plant. Just another dead Sleeper to me."

"He was fighting for you. To find you."

"Looks like he found me just fine."

Natalie slashed as Cassie again, tearing open one of her suit's arms. She was hurting my Cassie. Was that bad?

I didn't know. Natalie fought with me before. Fixed me.

I didn't know. I love Cassie. Saved Cassie at the wall.

I didn't know.

Stomp. Stomp.

I reached up grabbed Grendel's knees, Brute hands clamping tight around them.

"Hey asshole. My knee's gone. Not my arms."

I squeezed. Bubble wrap popping. Celery sticks snapping. Wet and slick and jagged; bones thumping, crunching, twisting.

This I knew. The killing game. My game.

This I could handle.

I popped open the back hatch of my Brute and lunged out. Two sets of eyes. One watching Grendel squeal as I dragged him to the ground, rolling, thrashing, bone shards embedding themselves in my Brute's hands. The other set, my human set, finding The Conductor.

"You're going to die Neil Anderson, just like you should've at the Gravesite Wall."

"By whose hands little man?"

The Conductor grinned and shrugged off his jacket. Muscles rippled under his skin. Every muscle curved at the same angle, his skin no more taut in one place on his body than any other. His veins glowed bright orange.

A fucking android.

He was smiling.

"These should do just fine."

The Conductor leapt out of the ruined train car and darted along the rails. I flipped a arm length piece of steel up to my hands and swung for The Conductor.

He sprang into the air, somersaulting twice, before landing on my shoulders, driving me to my knees. He wrapped his ankles around my throat as he rolled forward, hurling me through the air. I landed face down on the tracks, still skidding backwards.

My Brute was still thrashing with Grendel. I screamed, little girl scream, as Grendel drove a clawed foot into my Brute's ruined knee.

Cassie backhanded Natalie, standing over her, chaingun slowly starting to spin up.

"You should've stay out of this bug. It's between me and my boyfriend."

I stopped listening.

Not out of choice. The Conductor drove a foot into my ear and my skull cracked, blood trickling out my ear canal.

"You should've stayed in Gravesite Neil Anderson. Now you're going die."


The Conductor kicked me in the ribs and they snapped. Again. I wondered if they would ever heal right after the last couple weeks.

"What do you mean no?"

"I mean, I'm going to kill you. And I'm going to do it slowly."

"Oh yes? And why's that?"

"Because after I kill you and Grendel, I'm back to facing reality. And I'd rather just kill things." I rolled to the side, grabbing the shard of steel I had hidden beneath me, and rammed it through The Conductor's calf. Orange blood oozed out around the wound and I twisted. Artificial muscles clung to the steel like taffy.

"After all, if I'm going to put you in the ground, you gotta be dead first."

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