We’re Hunting Wabbits, and Ash and Dust Part 8
August 3, 2011 § Leave a comment
Hello hello hello. So nice to see you!
Yes, it’s been awhile, but for good reason! First off, the wedding was great. I’ve never been to a Coptic mass before, much less a wedding, and it was amazing. They sang the entire time. Also, there were crowns and capes. Do you know how many Irish weddings have crowns and capes? NO MORE SINCE THE BRITISH KILLED BRIAN UA Néill!
Ahem. In any case, good luck to Rano and Stephanie, and many, many, many happy years.
In other news, the Mass Effect story progresses. It’s going to take a solid effort to finish, but I might be able to do it this weekend. Yes, I might be super drunk at my friend’s cottage, but lazy weekends are perfect for writing, ne? Also, I love me some drinking. Hence the Kraken, my easy-going nature, and near-crippling reliance on alcohol to let loose. I’m not an alcoholic, but I would be. What a pleasant thought.
Also, simply because it’s a line so hilarious that it must be repeated, Tycho from Penny Arcade on Facebook: “I don’t book face.”
Oh, and the job hunt goes. Not well or poorly. It’s like the St. Lawrence: it just goes.
Have some more things to read and a little less rambling. Forgive me my poorly-placed song: for some reason, I can’t type anything after the posted story. Confusion reigns, but the song is quite good.
Chapter 8: Zip-gun Bop
Rain pelted down, thick as mud and as heavy as iron. It pounded off my shoulders and ran down my back in rivulets, joining with the blood, oil, and garbage of the city as they flowed together to the sewers. The coffee in my hand was tepid, my cigarette almost burned to a nub. I wasn’t drinking and I wasn’t smoking, but my hands needed to have something in them. I fidgeted, and always had. I’d been trying to stop, and this helped.
The shattered corpse in front of me helped too.
She had jumped, that much was clear. Shattered glass was scattered dozens of metres down the street, the shining of the streetlights making stars out of the gutter at night. The rain was so thick you could hardly see beyond an arm’s length, but flashing red and blue lights lit up the darkness like shooting stars. I kept thinking about the weather because I didn’t want to focus on the body. She was young. Too damn young for this to be real.
My partner, Mahindar, somehow managed to make his brown face the colour of concrete. He leaned over the body beneath the umbrellas thrown up by forensics. He was a rookie detective, but he had the touch. And he always forced himself to do the things he didn’t want to. Like hover five feet from a body that had been shattered by a 10-storey fall. I took a sip from the coffee and grimaced it down. They said it got easier. It never did.
“No ID, Ryan. Fingerprints didn’t turn up anything, but her mouth is mostly in one piece. Dental might bring up something.” Mahindar shrugged back into his jacket, his movements jerky and sharp, like a doll pantomiming actions. He joined me in the rain, me heedless of the rain in my hair, he heedless of it in his turban.
This is a dream. I thought. It has to be. Young, beautiful women don’t kill themselves like this. Why would they? It hurt. She looked like my…my something. It bothered me.
“Kind of hard to carry ID in lingerie that small, Mahindar.” The honest Sikh in Mahindar blushed when I reminded him of the girl’s near-nakedness. Corpse. She isn’t a girl anymore, she’s a corpse. I breathed in heavily, and put down my coffee. It was mostly rainwater by now, anyways. My cigarette grimly plugged away, of course. Marlboro cared more for their product than Tim Horton’s, apparently. “How’s the boyfriend?”
Mahindar snorted. “Higher than a kite. Think it’s blow. He doesn’t even know where he is.”
“Dressed pretty nice for a prostitute. Escort, maybe, but a damn stupid escort to let the john take blow.”
I grimaced. She’s a just a corpse. It. Not she. It’s an it now. “This looks like a job for forensics now. I’ve got better things to do than stand in the rain all night.”
Mahindar smiled, his colour improving. Now he only looked the colour of burnt asphalt. “Of course. Hey, do you want me to cover the paperwork? Melissa’s graduation is tomorrow, right? Let me take this, you get some sleep.”
I shook my head. “What did you say?” We walked to my
“Hmm? Oh. Just said you should get some sleep. The dead aren’t going anywhere soon.”
We walked through a valley of ghosts. Shadows that resembled police officers moved through waxy sheets of rain, their forms indistinct, their purposes uncertain. They hovered just at the edges of my vision, staying away, letting Mahindar and I make our own way through the grotesque darkness.
Mahindar started talking about cricket in a high, nervous voice. He was trying to work his nerves out by inane chatter. We both knew I didn’t care about India’s chance in the next test match against Pakistan. Hell, right now Mahindar didn’t care about the test match right now. The girl’s shattered face sparkled in the light like a stained-glass window framing the wounded Madonna. But I had never seen a virgin prostitute, and Mary wasn’t known for her blow addiction. It wasn’t pretty, and it wasn’t meaningful. It was like the hotel window: a big hole where something should have been. It hurt.
“Dammit Mahindar, what?” I snapped at him. I was tired, so bloody tired. Tired of the rain, of the dark, of being called out to places like this to see sights like that. Christ’s blood, her organs were pressed so tight against her stomach I could make out the ruptures. I wasn’t much of a religious man, but no God made us hard enough to see things like that and not break a little. Die a little, too.
“Fuck you, Ryan.” His accent always crept in when he swore. His “u” lilted like he was selling me bad clothing at wholesale prices. “I’m tired too, but at least I listen when you’re talking to me. Forget it now, wasn’t anything anyways.”
Now we were grumpy with each other. And to top off this shit sandwich, my cigarette died. Grumbling, I reached into my pocket and pulled out another cigarette. My lighter, good soldier that it was, lit the first time and damn the rain. In the grimy kerosene flash, I noticed that my left hand was almost completely covered in some black stuff. I wiped it on my jacket but it didn’t come off. Now where the hell had that come from, I wondered.
I definitely heard it that time. A voice, low and gravelly, and most definitely near. “Who’s there?” I spun around, my hand lifting up beneath my jacket to loosen my shoulder rig. But behind me was only the rain and the ghosts of the night. The red and blue comets still swam through the air, but no assailants telling me to wake up.
Mahindar called over from the car. “You alright Ryan? Not seeing things, are you?”
I stared off into the night, certain that I wasn’t imagining anything. “Nah, just hearing the last of my sanity take a vacation.”
“Hah!” He laughed, the bitterness obvious. “Vacation? Not when there’s bloody overtime! My kids want to go to Disneyland. Disneyland! We talked about visiting the Golden Temple, about my old country, but no! They want Mickey Mouse and Cinderella! Kids, eh? What do they think, I’m made of money?”
A familiar rattle cut through the mess of this night. It sounded like a waggon with a loose wheel. I relaxed as Spes walked out of the rain in front of me. His jacket was hardly damp, but his waggon was filled to the brim with water. It sloshed happily, and unidentified bits of stuff floated in the collected rain. I holstered my gun and a rough smile cracked on my face.
“Dammit Spes, trying to scare me? What brings you here?”
“Ryan!” Mahindar’s voice was so changed by the rain it sounded like a different person. “Do you know this fellow?”
“Yeah, yeah. I got it, Mahindar.” I looked at Spes, in his grubby coat with his unshaven face and eager eyes, and realized I had no idea how I knew this man. “Uhh, I think I do. Do I know you?”
Spes nodded furiously, like a child. “Yep. You sure do. Certainly. It’s me! Wisdom sent me!”
Lightning exploded around us as the storm suddenly crescendoed. I jumped, startled, and in the light I thought I saw a flock of shadows drifting towards me. This was weird, all of a sudden, and my mind had trouble processing what was going on. It felt like I already knew what was supposed to happen and we were different somehow. I’m supposed to…get in the car. Mahindar drives me home, I wake up early for the kids and then take them to Senelė’s, and then, something. But there was obviously a problem, what with this hobo in front of me.
Spes kept nodding furiously, his head almost rocking on a spring. “Wisdom wanted me to show you these! He was very particular that you see ’em as soon as I could show them to you.”
Mahindar honked the horn. It was shrill and high, and cut through the rain like a dagger. “Come on Ryan!” His voice was ragged and sharp, bestial in the night. “Get in the car! You have to!”
I shouted over my shoulder at him. “Shut up, Mahindar! I’ll be right there.” I crossed my arms. “What did you want to show me?”
Spes began rooting through his waggon, sloshing water all over the sidewalk. The light caught in it, a thousand kaleidoscopes spilling across the concrete before flowing down the drain. It all went down the drain eventually. He plunged his arm in the waggon up to his elbow. My eyebrow arched. The waggon wasn’t nearly that deep, but he quickly pulled it back out, something small carefully hidden in his palm.
“I found it! He had hidden it carefully in his fields and in his wasteland, but not so carefully I couldn’t find it! Despair’s never hid anything from me forever, no matter how hard he tries! But it’s yours, Ryan! Yours! Take it, before he sees me with it!”
He offered his hand to me, slowly and reverently, as careful as if he was holding the Host. I took the item from him, about the size of a dollar, and looked at it in the streetlight. It was blackened and charred, like it had just come out of a fire. A little ash actually flaked off it as I handled it, and it was warm and dry to the touch. The rain sizzled off it, but it felt nice in my hand. It was a small circle of metal with three tines splitting it into three equal parts. With a start, I recognized it as the Mercedes-Benz symbol, from a car just like the crappy one I drove. For a second, I wondered how it was still dry.
And then I remembered.
The world stopped. The rain disappeared from a rumbling darkness into a thin grey mist. Muffled lights shone through the grey, but they floated in the air as disembodied wights. Buildings gradually disappeared as they ascended into the sky, starting from solid foundation to smoky heights that disappeared into the suffocating mist. Behind me, the world disappeared into blank whiteness. Only Spes and that which I could directly focus on resolved itself. Everything else floated in a hazy absence, marked by lack rather than existence.
The cops that had been meandering around had transformed into black ghosts. A single eye, baleful grey against the blackness of their bodies, shone from their face and white teeth glistened in the half-light. Suddenly revealed, they screamed in bloody unison and started drifting towards me. Unseen winds carried them through the air, sometimes blowing them closer or further away, but enough were coming close that I reached for my gun.
The feel of steel was comforting, reassuring, emboldening. I remembered the nurses, the doctors, the Hor-ghast, the things in the forest; I remembered being powerless. Not today. Not anymore.
With practiced ease, I pulled out my gun and put three in the chest of the nearest ghost-policeman. His chest exploded out in black shards. With a whistling moan he blew away on the unseen wind.
I smirked. “God may fail us, but Glock never shall.”
That smirk died when the wind picked up into a gale, all directed at me. The ghosts rushed towards me in their hundreds, moaning and screaming. Clawed hands grasped and long teeth chomped at the fringes of my jacket. I stumbled back, shooting furiously into the mass of ghosts. Each shot blew a spirit into fragments, each shot scattered one back into the wind. But chunks of black glass stabbed at my eyes, and pieces of ghost caught in my mouth.
Fear rose in the back of my throat as a claw caught me across the face and drew fuel. I wasn’t even surprised anymore to smell gas come out of my skin, but just kept shooting.
Spes suddenly charged the mass of ghosts, bravely swinging his waggon. With a screech that shattered the windows in a half-building, they dispersed in a cloud but began swarming Spes like a cloud of angry bees. They gnashed their teeth and scratched at the waggon, but the rusted piece of metal resisted their efforts. Spes’ eyes were wild and his hair, bone dry, stuck out at the ends.
“Get after him!” He shouted over his shoulder.
“Who?” I asked as I quickly reloaded. My hands decided to start shaking now and I almost dropped the magazine several times.
“Depression! He’s right behind you! You get him, and Despair is practically done for! Go! I’ll hold these off!”
I looked behind me and Mahindar had also changed. Instead of a slim, greying Sikh in a blue turban, a wire frame outline of a man huddled behind the car, the top of his head just peering over the edge. He didn’t have a body, but instead, it was a wire outline of a body. Inside, grey smoke swirled where there should have been a person.
Even if he didn’t have eyes, he saw me look at him. With a terrified squeal, he took off running.
“Run, fucker.” I snorted. “Papa’s coming for you.” I was tired, bone, dog tired. Tired of running away from the monsters. Tired of not knowing what was going on. Tired of being savaged, mentally and physically, and tired, oh so god damn tired of failing all the fucking time.
But the sight of Depression running away like a scared rabbit filled me with a savage glee that erased all that weariness.
Run, little rabbit, run. I’m coming for you.
I ran, my gun ready and my heart pumping. Depression sobbed with fear. I cackled with glee.
It felt good.