Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Speechless: Aiming High Part 2


It was almost as boring as playing a video game. Wait. Kill. Repeat. They might hear the bullet coming, but these were ordinary humans in league with The Judges out of fear and survivor’s guilt. A shot, a kill, and I’d move on to my next target. Another level cleared, another thousand points that no one gave a rat’s ass about, another target waiting. They were all just heads to step on as you headed for the boss.

What happens when the game’s beaten though? I turned that thought over in my head as I pulled the trigger on my new rifle. My body shook and my ears bled and I was on the floor squirming in pain, but that wasn’t where my brain was. My brain was waiting for the bonus round.

My brain was waiting for Nagumo.

Yes. Nagumo.

I picked myself up off of the floor. My hands found the tissue in my pockets and I dabbed the blood from my ears. The new rifle disassembled nicely and fit into its padded case with all the ease of pulling its trigger. The case snapped close happily and its black leather handle fit nicely into my hand.

My feet went down the stairs, but again, my mind was elsewhere. It was still hearing Nagumo’s screams. It wanted to hear him scream again. It never wanted him to stop screaming. I had been trying so hard to stop hearing things that I couldn’t help but smile. I had a reason to hear now. I had a purpose. And it felt good.

There was running up the stairs in front of me. Someone was coming to find me. Delightful. Must have been more than one of my targets milling about at the same time. I set my case down on the step behind me. I open my dirty leather jacket and pulled out the pipe I had found at the safe house from its new holster. I turned it over in my hands. My fingers traced the threads at the end and spiraled slowly around the cold metal. For a moment, it was Angela’s cheek my fingers were running over, soft and smooth. Yes, she was in the pipe, waiting for the moment she could finish what she had tried so hard to do.

Waiting to kill Nagumo.

I hopped up onto the slim metal guardrail and edged down to the corner of the stairwell. The concrete wall held me up as I waited. All things would lead in the proper direction. They had to. The Baron would keep his promise, just as Mr. Heat and Nate had. I knew where all of these cowards that worked for fish lived. I had all the tools I needed. My rifle and my pipe were all I’d need. The explosives I’d save for Nagumo. The footsteps were about to turn the corner. As I lunged through the air, brandishing my pipe, my keyring was jingling happily at the thought of making Judges explode.

“How does he taste?” each of the detonators were asking. “What will he say as he’s torn apart? Will his breath be a tornado or the lapping of dying fan?” they cried. I wanted to know too. The man I landed on had freckles and was screaming. My pipe was kissing his nose and it was crunching like glaciers falling into the sea. My keyring was still begging for a taste of Nagumo’s scales, pleading to gnaw on them like potato chips.

The freckle faced, red haired man flipped me over and we started rolling down the stairs. I jammed my pipe into his stomach and heard Angela cheering for me. Hurt. Break. Kill. It was all right. These people would die so that Nagumo would die. There could be no other reason. No other reason that mattered at any rate.

I drove my forehead into the freckle faced man’s nose again and smiled through the blood dripping down my face. I lashed out with my pipe and used it brace myself against the wall. We stopped tumbling and I untangled myself from the freckle faced man. He was quite dead. I tried to remember when that had happened. I pulled the little lace handkerchief from his pocket and wiped off my face and my pipe. I laid the kerchief over freckle face’s broken nose. It was like a crater now.

I remembered now. The last bit of bone had plunged into his brain a couple steps after we had started rolling. My keyring and my pipe sang in agreement. The three of us headed back up the stairs to fetch the rifle.

There were still seventeen more targets we had to find and they would be tougher than the first nine we had found. The nine had been sloppy. They shopped together, ate together, partied together, sent communiqu├ęs to the fish together. I felt embarrassed to be related to them by species. But I wasn’t related was I? I was a freak that ate sound. I was an adopted out of the shallow end of the gene pool. How appropriate.

A freak to kill a freak.


I had been too eager at first I think. When Sturm told me that he had a way to determine where Jack Lorenz was heading, I rejoiced. Now, faced with the broken body of a Sleeper known as Rancid, my stomach was turning.

“This one provided Lorenz with all of his weaponry until his escape into Pier 451. We caught him handing over weapons to resistance forces. He almost succeeded into detonating his own merchandise but one of our marksmen shot off the fingers that were holding the button.”

The rat smiled. It wasn’t an obvious smile. His jaw had been dislocated and several teeth were missing. It was a smile though and I could see it in the eye they hadn’t removed that he was not broken.

“They’ve been at him for the last day and a half. He’s spilled all kinds of information. He can map out exactly where all the safehouses are. He was the best catch we’ve made yet.”

I leaned in to look into that defiant, pleased with itself, eye.

“You are a smart one aren’t you?”

The rat nodded, blinking at me.

“Did they hang you from the ceiling and dislocate your arms and legs? Did they ram bamboo under your nails until you screamed for mercy? Did they put your head into a vise? Is that how your jaw came loose and your eye left your skull?”

The muscles that controlled the rat’s cheeks twitched, trying to broaden its smile.

“You told them everything didn’t you? They had given you the serum and still broke you, just to make sure you were being truthful. But you were never truthful from the start, were you?

The rat was trying to laugh now. Sturm fidgeted behind me, irate at the rat’s behavior.

“You’re the one called Rancid aren’t you? You were the one that supplied Jack all of his goodies. You were the one that gave him his assignments. But you knew you were expendable. We didn’t catch you with all your merchandise. We caught you with only what you wanted to be caught with. Why?”

“His tongue’s been removed Nagumo. He couldn’t answer you now if he wanted to. We already know all we need to.”

“No we don’t. We don’t know because he has been lying to you.”

I turned and started up the stairs. Sturm turned to follow me. The rat began to cackle wildly and jerk its head from side to side. Its lower jaw collided with its upper sloppily. You could hear the joints slid sloppily against each other.

“What’s he doing? We’ve never had one do that before. What in the abyss is he doing Nagumo?”

His teeth were clicking together. Clicking. Just like the keyring our spy told us Rascal Jack had.


I grabbed Sturm by the arm and lunged up the steps with him. The correct teeth collide in Rancid’s mouth and the explosives lining the inside of his belly erupted. Shards of the metal gurney the rat had been laying on were embedded in Sturm’s coral armor. His right leg had been hamstrung by a chunk of another Judge’s armor larger than a dinner plate. His foot was nearly severed. The rest of the technicians below had become nothing more than chum.

“Damned Sleepers!”

“This is why I choose honor, Arbiter Sturm. This is why I will find Jack Lorenz my own way. Even in her treachery, Angela strove for an honorable death. Jack has no honor, but those he associates with believe otherwise. Those who Judge must set the example or we will all become self-detonating martyrs fighting for supremacy in our dark abbatoir. We aren't the only who imagine themselves as virtuous. Never forget that my friend.”

I helped him up and slipped his arm over my shoulder. We began the slow process up the stairs. Medics were coming. We could hear their sirens wailing long began the door at the top of the stairs opened. Sturm said nothing, not even as they loaded him into the ambulance. He simply slipped his access card into my palm and nodded to me as they carried him away.

It was time for honor, meditation, and pruning. The tree was getting overgrown again. With proper pruning it would bear fruit once more.

That fruit would be the head of Jack Lorenz.

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