Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Speechless: Hunting Party Part 1


As it turned out, Nagumo was not so abysmal to travel with as I had expected. We both sucked at conversations so we didn’t bother. Every so often, one of us would laugh softly and the other would notice and start laughing too. It was priceless. It really was.

You see, the hate hadn’t subsided in the slightest. With every step down the bare concrete tunnel our torturers had used to escape, it only grew. It grew in Nagumo as well. I could hear his mouth moving as he talked to himself. He was reciting every Far East mantra he could come up with to calm himself and his swords. It made me feel less guilty about how badly my lead pipe wanted to crush his skull.

I had found my rifle and my precious lead pipe that whispered to me with Angela's voice. That was I had looked for needle, thread, and something to serve as bandages. Nagumo had gone into the bathroom and talked to the water coming out of the tub’s tap. After giving it instructions to tell “The Divine” about what had transpired, he had coaxed it to clean the salt out of his chest. I had been closing a kitchen counter drawer when water from the tap in the kitchen began to ooze out. It shaped itself into a seven fingered hand and began to reach for my arm.

“The water’s coming to clean your wound Jack. Just let it do what it can for you.”

I would’ve loved to ask him about treachery and have him counter with some riposte about how he had no intention of fighting a weakened opponent. Yeah, would’ve loved to. Except I had no voice and he was three rooms away. The water darted for me from the tap and wrapped itself around my arm. I could feel it reach little tendrils deep into the holes Tobias’ salt nails had been driven into.

Did it hurt? Enough to make me drop the thread and listen to it unravel as it rolled across the floor. I wasn’t watching it though. My eyes were clenched tight as the water’s rough tongue licked the salt out of my wounds. When it felt its job was done, the water disengaged itself from my arm and retreated back up into the faucet.

I looked at my battered and bloody arm. At least it was fairly clean now.

“I’ve found gauze and compression wraps.”

As soon as I had heard those words, I had bolted for Nagumo. In less than ten minutes, I had us both bandaged up.

“No sewing?”

I had shaken my head as I had wrapped up my arm. I put my foot on the edge of his kimono.

“No. The cuts are all too wide apart. We’ll have to heal on our own for a bit first before I can close anything up completely. That’s why I’ve got so much of this stuff crammed into my pockets. My arm will take weeks to heal up properly. I’ve heard you fish heal fast.”

“I’ll have skin back in less than a week if I’m lucky. Scales will take another week after that.”

I nodded and rose, spinning my pipe in my hand.

“Where are you going?”

I turned and touched the pipe to Nagumo’s arm as he sat on the side of the bathtub.

“To listen to the tunnels and see if I can hear our quarry.”

“Just how far away does your hearing extend?”

“Far enough away to have heard your “Divine” tear down the gates to the city. My ears bled for a week straight. I heard them dictating their manifesto and giving all of you instructions from my old apartment. Stuff inside the city is harder. Too much banging and clanging to sort anything easy out. But I’m gonna see what I can do to find our hosts.”

And so I had climbed down the broken boards and the shredded aluminum air ducts and dropped into the concrete tunnels below. I still wasn’t sure how they had avoided being turned into a fine mist of blood on the walls and I intended to find that out too.

I had put my ear to the concrete and tried to listen. I never tried to listen any more. It hurt too damn much.

I was listening now.

There were feet running down the corridor. Many feet. I counted the beats and listened for them. There were many feet in the tunnel. From the sounds of it, at least ten pairs. Most were scattered across the miles of twisting, concrete corridors. There were three pairs though that were running together. Three pairs that included one that squished and slapped as it ran. And oh yes, they were running. The squish-slapping skinless wonder was limping as he went, but he was most definitely limping.

Nagumo dropped down through the hole and landed next to me.

“Have you found them?”

I nodded and he helped me to my feet. There was hate in his hand, even as he pulled up. There was a smoldering desire to run me through with those swords hanging at his hip. Just as Angela’s voice had joined my keyring is proclaiming weepily that I was a traitor to them unless I bashed in the nasty fish’s head right now.

I pushed the thoughts of the way and smiled at Nagumo. He smiled back and we began running down the corridors. Our feet echoed on the concrete as we charged after our quarry.

We were hunting, just like I had hoped we would. Out for blood and death and honor and vengeance and suffering and all the other words that made little shivers do the conga up my spine. I felt good.

I felt alive.

So what if my ears wanted to bleed? So what if I was running alongside Angela’s killer without avenging her death? So what if her voice whispered to him in the same way? Did it really matter? I was off to pursue a growing rogue’s gallery. The days of fetal position whimpering and eating dead rat alone were over. I would never have to worry about dying alone again.

The three pairs of feet ahead of us were slowing. That meant we were gaining on them. I laughed again and ran all the faster. Nagumo widened his toothy smile and ran to catch up with me. Off to confront our foes. Off to fall upon them without mercy.

Off to live.

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