Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Wither The Vain: Scavenger Hunt Part 7

Ten Sticky Fingers

“How does it feel knowing you’re the father of modern disease?”

“Bah, I’ve been thought of as the father of all disease, modern or not, for long enough it doesn’t matter.”

Josef had his feet up on a teak coffee table and was drinking from a glass of vodka and cranberry. He was taking my visit entirely all too well since the badger invaders had been dealt with.

“Obviously you’re not here to kill me Arturo. If you had been, you’d have helped the Sleepers finish my guards and I off. So what do you want?”

“Those particular messengers were from The Scavenger, yes?”

“Yes. We had been supposed to work out a business arrangement regarding the dispersal of toxins into the water system. I had been informed that a correction to my vaccine had already been released. I thought rather than fighting with each other, that maybe this Scavenger would be interested in some sort of business arrangement.”

“It’s not. It’s more intent on destroying everything than anyone else alive today.”

“That’s unfortunate. I’m getting used to this breathing bit now. I’d hate to have to stop for an oversized vulture.”

“That vulture is the representative of the first death humans remember as a species.”

“I didn’t think it was physically possible for something like that to exist.”

“And an OCD twit with multi-colored eyes that pump out virii and poison is? For being a child of the supernatural, you seem to be a bit skeptical.”

He shrugged and swallowed another mouthful of alcohol.

“I blame that entirely on you and your talentless portrayal of me.”

“Everyone has to pick don’t they? Listen to me, we need a very specific toxin created Josef.”

“Too bad. If you had your way, I’d be dead. Don’t think I don’t realize that. If you had been more in control of your faculties in The Dreamtime, I’d be dead already. As I’ve said, I’m quite used to be alive now and I don’t intend to change that.”

“Then you ought to aid us. The Scavenger won’t rest until everything in the world is dead; The Council wants the city gone at the very least.”

“So what? I’ve got plenty to throw at them. Maybe they’d get past my guards but I can always improvise something.”

“Sure you can. Sure you can Josef. That’s why I had to rescue you.”

He slammed his glass down and got to his feet, adjusting his meticulous, blazing white suit.

“I think you can leave now Arturo. I’m not interested in hearing what you have to say any further. I have enough to…”

He was cut off as a small girl, no more than six came tottering into the positively antiseptic office we were reposing in. Unlike the sparse, metal on plastic surroundings, she beamed with life. In a darling, pink pinafore with jelly stains, she wandered in.

“Daddy. Why are you makin’ so much noise?”


“Oh you just hush now Mandy. Daddy and his friend were just talking. That’s all. Now you scamper back off again. It’s awful late for little girls like you to be up.”

She pouted and looked down at her feet. Josef stooped over and kissed her on the cheek. She wrapped her arms around him, jam fingerprints painting his suit. He smiled warmly and patted her bottom and sent her back through the door. My jaw was still on the ground when he spun back around and flung his jacket into the fireplace. It erupted in flames and turned to ash. I watched as it was incinerated. As I turned back to look at Josef, he was washing his hands and face with some light blue liquid from a tear-drop shaped bottle in his pocket.

“What the hell was that?”

“I don’t want to hear a word out of you Arturo. She is not part of this conversation.”

“I think she is. She’s too old to be yours biologically. Christ, she’s not even old enough to have been born biologically. You adopting strays Josef? That doesn’t really fit in with your style.”

“She’s not a stray. She’s… she’s my daughter.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Humans are just a collection of properly cooperating bacterial cultures all working together to create a semblance of unity. I thought to myself, if I have these talents, why couldn’t I…?

“Why couldn’t you create people? Because it’s never been a good idea. Gods created people and look at what people have done to them. I’ll bet you there’s not a single being that created sentient beings and is sitting around pleased with themselves now. You can’t do these kinds of things and not expect repercussions.”

“I know that much. I had intended to use them as test subjects for various new mixes I had in mind.”

Josef was standing so still, the room moved around him. All except for his eyes. They were whirling, pulsing, their colors changing faster and faster.

“You felt pity for them?”

“Not pity. I… I created them. They don’t make people sick. They don’t do anything to me except make me… dirty.”

He shuddered at the last bit, like a dog with too many fleas, but he kept going.

“Even that can be washed off. I had that fireplace installed simply so that I had a place to get rid of such things easier.”

I leaned back in my chair and sighed. My temples were pounding. This wasn’t in the plan.

“Look, Josef. Sparing the insults to the intelligence that I am used to hurling about when talking to other people, let me have a word here. Your children, however many there are, are going to be killed by The Scavenger unless something is done. We know how to go about killing it and everything. Christoph is putting the pressure on their home, Wither is setting a trap, Seth is recruiting a bit of backup, and I’m here to pick up a designer item from you.”

“What if I won’t make it? What if I refuse?”

“I was going to kill you and spend every bit of energy I have to compose it myself and send it to Wither in the same way I brought you into this world. However, I’ve changed my mind.”

“Oh yes?”

“If you don’t help us, I’ll kill the children. I know there’s more than one from the way you talked. I imagine you’ve got quite a little army there. How would you like it if they suddenly caught an incurable version of the Berlin Flu? How about TB? Hell, maybe it’ll just be a freak chance that some mustard gas comes roiling out of the air ducts around them.”

“I’d kill you first.”

“You can’t, even if you tried. None of your toxins or diseases will affect me. I made sure of that before I came in. Do you think me stupid, son? I took care of that sort of thing long before I made you, and again, before I came into this building. You have to kill me hand to hand and I don’t think you could. I’m not the best when it comes to real fighting, but I bet I’d be able to read you like… a book.”

“Aren’t you cute? Just as vain as your brother.”

“Runs in the family.”

Josef slumped into his chair and sighed.

“What do you need?”

And that is why they call me Victory.

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