Friday, July 6, 2012

Wither The Vain: Feast of the Dead Part 3


I finished my last sentence and ended it with a stabbed period. The words tore themselves from the page and slammed together at the end of the alleyway. Soon where the entrance had been, there was another wall… and then a roof over our heads… and finally a round table for us to sit at with sub sandwiches already made and on paper plates.

“I didn’t what kind of bocadillos everyone wanted…”

“Oh shut up Arturo.”

I sneered at Wither. I’d have loved to see him do that. Wither sank into his folding chair and leaned back sighing. Seth spun his chair around and took his place. Christoph sat on the floor and was still taller than we were. Holly and I sat, pulled our chairs in, and started in on our sandwiches.

“Well, what do we do now?”

That was Christoph, aiming his question at Wither. Wither rubbed his temples.

“Good question. I haven’t mentioned it much, but I may as well now. You three boys know about this, but I don’t think you’ve had the pleasure yet Holly.”

Wither took unzipped his leather gloves and laid them on the table. There were gasps from Holly, Christoph, and Seth. Not all of them were for the same reason. I might’ve had a similar reaction if I’d cared. I was too damn hungry though.

Seth was the first to talk.

“Your left hand… it looks like a normal human’s. What happened?”

Holly looked at Seth crosswise but remained quiet. She was still too new to the family. She’d have to learn to interrupt if she was going to be heard.

Wither’s right hand pulsed and throbbed. The skin was raw and flaking, the veins pumping beneath the surface all-too-visible. It was surprising. Both hands normally looked the same. It was our creator’s way of communicating instructions. His hands knew what needed had to be erased (and or rebuilt).

“They’ve been this way since we brought Holly into our circle. As previously stated, aside from being a destroyer like the rest of us, her purpose is to verify specific targets for my hands. Don’t be fooled, the left will still unravel someone’s existence if I want it to, but it has lost its steering ability.”

Holly leaned forward, her frowning creasing the vine thread holding the halves of her forehead together.

“What does that mean?”

Wither put his feet up on the table and rocked his chair backwards.

“It means, when you start getting a little bit more comfortable with your talents, you’re going to have to start getting a taste of everybody with that vine whip of yours. We’ve never needed to concern ourselves with specific targets before. Ever. It has been grand motions. So what if a couple extras died or didn’t? We didn’t care. That’s changing I think. Seth, do you still have that card I gave you when I recruited you?”

Seth nodded and produced a card from with the feathers of his wing.

“It says Golgothan Security Services on it. That’s what we are now. We have to be. This isn’t the Crusades. This isn’t the Black Plague. This isn’t a World War. We HAVE to be specific in who gets killed. That’s why I brought that Judge, Moon, back to life. He’s intended for other things. His guards were inconsequential. I have no real idea what he’s intended for, other than that he’s supposed to be watching for a mute on the shoreline.”

I choked on a caraway seed.

“And how do you know that?”

He fidgeted a bit and started to put his gloves back on.

“The hand will write on occasion and give me instruction.”

“Fantastic. No wonder you didn’t mention this earlier. The bosses have their hooks directly into you. Is that how you’ve been avoiding Thane the last dozen or so cycles?”

Holly piped up.


“Yeah. Death. The Grim Reaper. The most classical version of him anyway. He’s the one that when whoever rules us decides we’re done, sends us back to Hell to wait until we’re needed again.”

Wither snorted.

“It’s not just Thane. It’s all the incarnations of Death. The Council of Kismet have frequently allowed me to remain here instead of going back if I continue to make myself useful. That deal’s over now apparently. They were the ones that betrayed us to the Judges. I doubt we’ll be getting any decent freelancing opportunities from them to cover up what we’re doing.”

Everyone sat around silently for a moment.

“Wither… Where are we heading now? Saria? This Scavenger thing? You’ve been stalling this entire time. What’s going on?”

“We… we’re staying here for awhile.”

“So what? We’ve camped out for targets before. No matter how many times I try, I can’t forget any of the trips to the London sewers.”

“It isn’t that… They’re going to turn loose The Hunt on us.”

There was silence.

“They wouldn’t.”

“They will.”

I laid my head down on the table and whimpered. The Great Hunt. Not again. They weren’t as kind as Thane. You didn’t die quietly when they came to toss you back to the nothing you were born from. They dragged you back, kicking and screaming, devouring you alive as they went. Them and that goddamn hound of theirs, Black Shuck…


“We aren’t moving fast enough. They want us to prove where our loyalties lie.”

“So… what? Where are we supposed to go? Tell us damn it and we’ll go get the job done.”

Wither shook his head.

“You don’t understand. I just found out myself. This accursed hand brought me here so we could face The Hunt. This isn’t about finding a target. We haven’t had one since Arbiter Moon. We’ve been wandering aimlessly waiting for orders. And here they are. We have to beat what’s been killing us the last three thousand years or we go back to Hell. Maybe for good this time. Whoever the hell our overseers are, they want proof.”

“Proof of what?”

“Proof that we have what it takes…”

“To what?”

“To kill the world.”

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