Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Speechless: Hunting Party Part 3

Eye Sore

Being held up against the wall by thin air was not what I had been expected. Jack had warned me that the other two had gone on ahead of us but I hadn’t quite pictured this little albino worm with one fish eye and one oily eye to be waiting for us. Jack and I had almost expected it to be Corsair and were ready to charge headlong into death for our own reasons. We were not ready for our lives to be thrown away to some random twit.

As the air was squeezed out of me, I watched him from across the room. He was in dirty jeans and an old white t-shirt with eye juice stains spattered across it. He stood there, grinning broadly through white, bloodless lips, staring at me with other people’s eyes. That’s who he was. Curtis Eye. The collector. As bad as Mr. Shine. Whose eyes were those I wondered?

The hand around my throat squeezed tighter and I heard Curtis giggling.

“Yes, Mr. Sturm. That’s it. I don’t need to tell you, do I? Oh, well, I suppose. It means that much to, then certainly.

Take as much time as you want.”

Those weren’t good words were they? Someone had gotten one of Sturm’s eyes into Curtis’ possession. And now his ghost was choking the life out of me.

A gushing reprieve of air swelled into my lungs as my throat was released and I fell to the floor. Spoke too soon hadn’t I? A sharp kick to the ribs reminded me that I wasn’t being left alone, I was just being worked over first. Another kick came and then another and I felt my ribs splitting apart.

“Is what he’s saying true? Did you really cut off your friend’s head because of me? That was very nasty of you Nagy. Very very nasty.”

Nagy? Someone might’ve told him about me taking off Sturm’s head but no one outside of he and I knew that I put up with being referred to as “Nagy” by Sturm. He had been one of my oldest friends before he unleashed these monstrosities instead of killing them in their cells.

“Still lacking honor aren’t you Sturm?”

A foot slammed into my mouth and shook loose three of my teeth. I spat them out as my head cracked against the wall behind me. Better out than swallowed. The next kick was to my stomach again. I swung my arms around to catch the foot I couldn’t see but there wasn’t anything to grab hold of.

“You know Nagy, he really doesn’t like it when you talk like that.”

“Then he should stop kicking me and take his eye back.”

Curtis frowned hard at that and started to pout. It was the kind of pout that comes before a three-year old squeezes the eyes out of their hamster while throttling them to death. It was the kind of pout that makes the cats hide under couches and dogs whimper in their houses.

I did not like that pout.

The next kick came and it hit the same sort spot on my ribs that had been slowly worsening with every shot. Was it my imagination or was it softer this time?

“He can’t take his eye back. That wouldn’t be fair would it? Nobody else gets their eye back. Everybody gets to stay with me forever.”


“Yes. One big happy family.”

“How happy?”

“Oh, they yell and scream and cry a lot, but that’s what families do. Oh! Inky! Good Inky!”

Jack floated into the room, flailing wildly against a captor he couldn’t see. He was two feet of the ground, by the back of his neck from the looks of it.

“Jack? You okay?”

His lips were moving but nothing was coming out. He was too far away. I blinked, trying to see his lips through the gloom.

“Shut up. Shut them up. Shut them all up.”

“Shut who up Jack?”

“All of them. They’re all in his head. I can hear them. Screaming. Begging. They want out. They want out of his goddamn head. That’s where they are. The eyes are just his link with them. They’re all mixing around in that big empty bowl that’s supposed to be a head.”

“Shut up Mr. Nasty Mouth. Inky, make him shut up.”

Unseen hands slammed Jack’s jaws together and it chomped off the end of his tongue. Blood poured out of Jack’s mouth as he writhed in the grip of his captor.

I was kicked in the stomach again but it was half-hearted this time. What was Sturm thinking?

Curtis frowned again.

“You think he should speak? Are you sure Mr. Sturm? Well, alright. Go ahead Inky, let him talk again.”

Jack’s lips were moving through the fountain of blood pouring out of his mouth.

“If you’re that excited about eyes, take mine first. Right one’s always been pretty lame. Was supposed to get contacts for it but I never bothered. Left one’s perfect though. Wouldn’t you agree Mr. Sturm?”

“Quiet Jack! Don’t give in!”

I was kicked in the stomach three more times in quick succession but every one was light and barely meant to connect at all. I doubled over in pain regardless and played my part. They could hear him. They were touching him without touching him. And they were part of Curtis… So all three could hear everything he said. Just like he could hear them… Just like he could hear Sturm let up on kicking me.

Suddenly there was a hand drawing The Darkening from its sheath.

“Oooohhh… I’ve never seen one removed that way Mr. Sturm. And with his friend’s sword. This should be most delightful. Inky, help him.”

Jack’s eyes bulged from its socket slowly, pressing up and out. It made a slick “pop” as it emerged from the socket and was suspended in mid-air. Its vein tendrils reached back into the socket, a snake slipping into its hole.

My blade floated in mid-air slowly, inspecting its target with care. With a single slice, it carved off the mass of veins and nerves. The eye began to float toward Curtis, my blade accompanying it. Curtis was clapping his hands and giggling happily. Jack slumped in the grasp of his captor, biting his lip in pain. Blood dripped from the hole where his eye should’ve been.

“Yes! Yes! It’s very pretty! That was very nice Mr. Sturm! Oh, I’ve never tried putting it in while they’re still alive before. That sounds like fun! Inky, can you burn those ends off for me so he doesn’t die too quickly. I like Mr. Sturm’s plan.”

Burn them off? What the hell was this Inky that Curtis kept talking about? It obviously was the owner of the orb that was oozing thick, black oil from Curtis’ right eye. Jack still hung unmoving except for the teeth digging into his lip as the severed tips of the veins that had once been part of his eye started to sizzle and burn closed.

I looked away and saw that Jack’s eye had reached Curtis by this point. It was lowered into Curtis’ waiting hands, reverently cupped to receive the eye.

“Oh thank you Mr. Sturm, you’ve been so helpful today. Would you help me take out your eye? You’re so nice Mr. Sturm, I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

Curtis frowned.

“What do you mean I had better learn?”

Those were Curtis Eye’s last coherent words. Everything else that came out of his throat was incomprehensible screaming and a great deal of air blowing past his vocal chords. He seemed to lose all motor control when the invisible Sturm rammed The Darkening through his old eye and into Curtis’ brain. Sturm’s hand twisted the blade as it sank into the juicy parts of Curtis’ skull and jerked back out again. Jack fell to the floor and The Darkening jerked wildly through the air before pulling free and plunging into Curtis’ right eye.

Jack was cackling wildly through the blood dripping from his mouth. I crawled over to him and grabbed his shoulder so I could hear him clearly.

“He’s done. They’re free. They’re all free.”

Jack grinned. With one amputated eye and shortened tongue, he grinned.

“Sturm’s being pulled off to somewhere else but before he goes, he has a question.”


“Is it too late?”

I grinned in return and placed my head against the floor in a bow.

“Never, old friend. Join the honored dead, it is truly your right now.”

Jack laughed at some response I couldn’t hear before collapsing unconscious where he lay. I rolled him to the side so he wouldn’t drown on his own blood before I could tend to his tongue. It was never too late, for anyone, was it?

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