Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Wither The Vain: Feast of the Dead Part 1

Invitations To The Ball

As a writer, it's always thrilling to see that one of your creations is well-received.

I was not, however, pleased when Wither read the headline of Tuesday's West Worthington Gazette to us out loud.

"Josef Saria; Miracle Man."

"What did you just say Wither?"

"What do you think I said Arturo?"

"I think you just mentioned Josef."

"I'm glad you noticed. This is a problem. The article here says he's been appointed Director of Health and Human Services for Chrysalis Falls."

"That's impossible."

"It's very possible. Says right here he even cured the Berlin Flu.

Tell me about the Berlin Flu Arturo."

"I have no idea what you're talking about."

"Of course not. I'm certain you had no idea this would happen."


"Even though you wrote him. Even though he's a part of you."

"A badly written part."

"Couldn't have been that badly written if you thought he could kill me."

"Like I said, badly written. It's not my fault if he's more creative than we guessed. Blame Cain for focusing on you instead of killing the bastard."

Wither grabbed me by my shirt and shoved the paper in my face.

"Read it Arturo. They're estimating four percent of the population died from that flu. It was contained in the Takt, Renner, and Mulberry Districts and still killed at least four percent of the REGISTERED populace."

"Give me a break. We've killed far more than that with a single disease. Your black plague slaughtered far more than four measly percent. And I found a way to stop it didn't I?"

"You're not reading the fine print Arturo. Read the article again. Right here."

He jabbed a gnarled finger at a paragraph right below an insipid photo of Josef and the Mayor shaking hands.

"Sweet Jesus."

"That's right Arturo, vaccinations. A specially designed antivirus intended to bolster the immune system. Created by dear Josef himself. He's setting up the entire goddamn city for a single outbreak. He's gonna kill the entire city in one stroke."

The others were staring at us. We were all silent a moment until Seth crowed the question.

"Who's Josef?"


No one would walk near me now. Seth and Wither were disgusted with me, Christoph and Holly afraid of me.

That was fine. I'd walk alone. I didn't need anyone to hold me up.

I pulled my silver flask from my jacket pocket and filled my mouth with bourbon. I let it linger on my tongue a moment and soaked up the taste before swallowing. The bourbon sank a river of soothing flame down my throat.

"Hey Wither."

"What is it Arturo?"

"Since when was it a brilliant idea for five world-killers, three of which don't blend in with society in the slightest, to walk down the street in broad daylight?"

"Since I said so."

"Brilliant tactical logic."

"No one will stop us Arturo."

"Of course not. We have so many friends."

Christoph snickered and Wither stopped walking.

"Would you like another beating Arturo? I believe it only took a single shot to knock you on your ass last time."

I ground my teeth together.

"What's that? I can't hear you Mr. Author sir."

I opened my mouth, a thousand barbed curses dipped in scorpion venom and marinaded in cynanide waiting on my tongue. They never had the opportunity to strike at Wither. A shadow crossed the Sun, bringing with it the stink of spoiled milk and road kill.

It was a bird, if something that size can be called a bird. Its faded and beaten blue feathers stretched thinly across its flesh, failing to cover patches of pale skin. Talons that could crush cars dangled beneath it as it glided through the air. A cracked and pale piss yellow beak jutting from its skull beneath two watery bloodshot eyes.

It circled over us once and then continued its flight northward, coasting on the clouds of smog.

"What is that thing?" Holly. Shivering brimstone. Quaking magma. Fear from the lashmaster.

"It ish da shalvation of Chryshalish." Whistles through needle teeth. Down the street.

Seth turned first, scraping his tongue with his beak, and spitting.


It was a Badger Sleeper that spoke. He was a stocky. Barely four foot tall with black and white fur. A ratty tan leather jacket draped itself over his shoulder.

"It'sh been a long time Sheth."

"Who let it out?"

"What? No hellosh?"

"Blight you and your hellos. Who let out the Scavenger? Who? None of the Somnubi would've permitted it. It's dangerous Boyd."

Boyd tilted his head and grinned through dozens of gleaming razor teeth.

"We know. We told you before. Shomnubi needed convinshing. You refushed. That'sh fine. We found shomeone elshe who would."

"Who? Who would dare? None of the Sleepers would ever..."

"Not Shleepers. The Counshil."

Seth's eyes widened and his beak moved without words.

The Council. The same bastards that tried to betray us to The Judges.

So long... It had been so long since the Scavenger had been free. It was the first death humanity could remember. The Scavenger, all-father of the feathered ones, hunter of elephants and dinosaurs. He who would devour the world only to hatch it anew from his divine egg.

It was madness. A cult. A cult that turned a vulture into a god.

Boyd snapped his fingers and four others slid from the alleyways behind him. A great one-eyed komodo dragon, nearly eye to eye with Christoph, scales hewn apart with thick white scars, clad only in a loincloth. A jackal and a hyena, side by side, giggling and snickering, preening each others sleek black fur as they came and took their place beside Boyd. A small birdwoman, nearly as short as Boyd himself and anorexic, clutching a butcher knife in either hand.

Wither pushed Seth aside and strutted up to Boyd.

"Are you ready to die Mishter Wither?"

"Are you ready to get braces? Or at least a floodgate on that mouth of yours?"

The badger snarled, lip curling back, balling his fists.

"It ishn't wiesh to make fun of me Mishter Wither."

"Now now now. Don't get short-tempered with me small fry, or we'll have ourselves a little bit of a problem."

There was no second warning. Boyd lunged for Wither, driving a shoulder in Wither's chest. As Wither brought his arms together, struggling to tear off his gloves, Boyd latched his teeth on Wither's arm and began to shake. As Wither screamed, Boyd's four companions charged for the rest of us.

Tooth on bone and it was begun.

The Scavenger had come to Chrysalis Falls and the Feast of the Dead was upon us.

No comments:

Post a Comment