Bad, to Ugly, to Ok! And Ash, Part 10
September 7, 2011 § Leave a comment
First, my relationship collapses.
Second, my work period ends.
Third, my laptop, where I do 99% of my writing, breaks.
Fourth, my desktop pc breaks. I remind the jury again, that I am newly unemployed. It’s been a great week.
Fifth, I somehow magically repair my laptop in time to write this week’s segment.
So all is not lost, people! I admit, I could live without the desktop, but if both were gone, my writing would stop. The work required to manually write out something, and then re-enter it into a computer would be astronomical. So much so that I wouldn’t want to consider it unless it was an emergency, capital OH SHI-.
But I’ve got this week covered. Next week? We’ll see!
Oh, and Ghadzilla has gotten back to me. We’re currently exchanging emails to work it out completely, but I’m very intrigued by what he wants to see. It will be very, very different, very difficult, and if done correctly, very rewarding.
Stay tuned! Same John-time, same John-channel.
Chapter 10: Ring Around the Rosie, a Pocket Full of Posies
We walked towards what I felt was the West. There was nothing to actually suggest that it was the West, but West just felt right. Success swelled my head so much that I imagined myself like a less-grizzled Clint Eastwood, telling Spes to make two coffins: one for Depression, one for Despair.
The Hor-ghast howled and dragged itself after us. My mistake, make that three.
Depression rode in Spes’ waggon in sullen silence but kept his, well, eyes, on the Hor-ghast. He had fought a bit when I ordered him in, but a few blows from my gun kept him agreeable. I, personally, was all for shooting him and leaving him in the dust, but Spes insisted he come with us. Fair enough, as far as I was concerned, but that didn’t quite apply to the Hor-ghast. I motioned to it with my gun.
“Damn thing’s been following me ever since I got out of that hospital. He a friend of yours, Depression?”
The wire man shook his head. “Not mine. Despair uses them sometimes in his war against Rage, but they are anathema to me.”
Something clicked in my head. “Wait, war? What war? Who’s Rage?”
Depression began laughing, his voice shrill and cutting. “Oh, you don’t know? This is wonderful! Truly, just wonderful! You don’t even know about the war! I’m now surprised you survived this long, Ryan, Abyss, forget this long, I’m surprised you survived a walk outside the hospital!”
He started laughing, his mockery cutting. I rubbed my eyes and stared out at the ruined city and the legions of ghosts that hung like hungry shadows. The city was slowly resolving itself back into itself from the cloudy wasteland of before, but the ghosts restrained themselves. Maybe they were scared of us doing something to Depression, or maybe they were scared of Spes and the waggon. Either way, they were over there in the shadows and we weren’t.
So I kind of decided that that was enough from Mr. Depression.
I kicked over the waggon and with a yelp, Depression tumbled out, splashing into the water. We had tied his hands with the elastic that I found myself wearing on my wrist, which was also somehow long enough to tie around his wrists. By this point, I had decided to stop questioning things. Reality just seemed to happen somehow, and that was enough for me.
I pointed the gun at Depression’s face and, in my best tough-guy “Gimme de bag, dame” voice, said, “Talk, Depression, or else we’re going to see why you’re afraid of the gun.”
Depression started shaking again, his wire-frame body reverberating in the rain. “You don’t want to do that,” he moaned and scuttled onto his back, “it won’t end well for you!”
I thumbed the hammer. It was completely unnecessary on a Glock, but remember, full tough-guy persona. “Really? Because I actually really, really want to do this. So what you’re going to do is talk, and tell me about this war and whatnot, and I’m going to listen. Then, if I’m satisfied, you get back in the waggon. If not…” I shrugged, but kept the gun pointed at his face. “You have until three.”
Depression’s head jerked around back and forth, but I didn’t waver.
Spes walked beside me and whispered, “Be quick. Be quick. Ghosts get hungry and then they get mean. I don’t want to get mean again.” But Depression wasn’t budging.
“FINE!” Depression screamed, his voice suddenly very high. The ghosts began moaning louder. They wanted something. Hell if I knew what that was, but the way that the smoke swirled in Depression and the fear in his voice told me his balls were in a vice and he knew it. Come to think of it, I never looked. Yep. Depression was a eunuch. What a surprise, huh?
“Wh-what do you want to know? I don’t know everything, only what Despair told me…”
“Let’s keep it simple. Who are the big fish?” God, being an asshole could be fun sometimes.
“D-despair, is first. The biggest. Well, he was until you escaped, but right now no-one else knows that and they’re still keeping their distance. Then there’s Compromise, but she’s just hanging off of Desire’s arm right now, or at least she was. And Desire, I guess, but he’s just a fat old thing that only wants you for you.”
“And Rage?” I asked, keenly aware that the ghosts were starting to move towards us.
“Rage is bad.” Depression’s voice suddenly dropped to a whisper. “Rage doesn’t care who wins or loses. He just wants to rip and tear and burn it all down. All of it.”
I jammed the gun back in my holster, but didn’t go to help Depression. He still had some questions to answer.
“So what are all you guys, eh? Parts of my subconscious or something?”
Depression spat out some rain water. “Just like all you mortals. Everything must be so small to fit in your puny heads, and so you make yourselves kings of the universe just so it makes sense to you! We’re not just a part of you, Ryan. We’re a part of everything that ever was! From the moment you crawled out of the water, Desire, Lust, and Rage were with you. When you began to grow your brains, Despair, Pity, and Joy appeared, and when your souls emerged, the rest of us came tumbling out. We have always been with you, always will be with you, and will be here when you are gone.”
“Then why do you want me so bad, if I’m just one person? Why do you give a fuck about me if you have billions of people to bug? Why the fuck can’t you just leave me alone!” I shouted the last bit. I admit, I was angry, and looking back, I had every damn right to be.
“Because you’re not supposed to be here!” Depression wailed, his voice suddenly filled with hunger that lurked below the surface like circling sharks. “Your kind and mine…we aren’t supposed to touch. We’re supposed to linger on either side of the veil and just barely see either other through the blanket of dreams…but you came here. Your injury brought you through to our side, and you are very tempting, Ryan Kazlauskas. You might just be a pathetic mortal of no consequence in your world, but on our side of the veil, your soul burns brightly. We’re drawn to it, and we hunger for it! Whoever sits atop your throne when you awaken will bring themselves back to your side, where they will be free to do…whatever they want. We are bound, Ryan. We cannot be but what we are, because that is the nature of the Spirit realm! But in your realm…”
It suddenly hit me. “You don’t get to choose. You aren’t Depression because you want to be, but because you are.”
Depression nodded furiously. “Yes yes yes! But you can choose, and you have your memories! And in this world, that gives you a great deal of power, Ryan. More than you can possibly imagine.”
I suddenly had an idea. I closed my eyes and imagined my favourite beer in the world: Kaiser. I imagined myself holding a cold bottle, I imagined the taste as it touched my tongue and the smell as I rolled it down my throat. Then, I imagined myself holding that bottle. I opened my eyes and wasn’t the least bit surprised to see myself holding a cold, brown bottle of beer. It almost scared me, how much like a real beer it was. It certainly tasted right, that was for sure.
Depression’s eyes were fixed hungrily on the bottle, and I heard the ghosts moan that much more desperately. I looked at them, and they took were unerringly drifting towards my bottle of beer. I scowled. It was my beer.
“They want your memories,” Spes said, as he grabbed Depression under the arms and put him back into the waggon. Depression shuddered violently as he entered the waggon, but Spes didn’t seem to notice. Or care, I thought.
“The ghosts are the souls. Mortals. Mortal souls. They don’t know who they are anymore. Sad, it is. Really sad. They’re not hungry like the Hor-ghast. They miss light. And warmth. And blood. But they forget it. Forget it all. But you didn’t, and they want you. You.” Spes continued as he trundled along.
I took another sip of beer and put the bottle on the ground. Stuffing my hands into my pockets, I walked away while the cloud of ghosts began tearing themselves apart to get at the bottle. The Hor-ghast moaned pitifully, and continued dragging himself along with his remaining arm. I contemplated shooting the thing, but something held me back. I think it was just because I liked having something along that was as pathetic as I was.
Something suddenly nagged at my memory, and I asked Spes, “Hey, remember back in the forest? When the Hor-ghast exploded?”
“You said you could only show me what to do. So how come you came back with that message from Wisdom? How come you fought off those ghosts?”
Spes smiled at me, his teeth glimmering in the slight darkness. “Did I say that? Really? That doesn’t sound like me.”
My eyes narrowed. I was still in tough-guy mode. “Who are you, Spes?”
“Come now Ryan, we’ve still got places to go. Let’s talk about this later.”
I suddenly felt very, very suspicious. Depression was sitting far too calmly in the waggon for my liking. I drew my gun, feeling immediately reassured with it in my hand.
“No, let’s talk about this now. Take your hand off the waggon.”
“Ryan, please, lets-”
I thumbed the hammer before realizing it was still thumbed from pointing it at Depression. OK, so I was new to the tough-guy routine. Sue me, eh?
“Now.” I said.
With a sensual sigh, Spes dropped the waggon handle, and all of a sudden it morphed into a sleek red limo, the door open and the engine purring. Depression was still inside, now wrapped in chains from head to toe, but Spes turned around and I could see it wasn’t him anymore. It was a beautiful woman, as pale as snow. Long, black hair fell unbound around her naked shoulders, as pale as her face, that teased out from underneath Spes’ dirty coat. Her face was covered in intricate, swirling tattoos that drew the image of a skull on her beautiful features. Black pits cut with red designs surrounded her eyes, and black lines of ink drew teeth on her full lips. Even beneath Spes’ coat I could make out shapely hips and more chest than I would know what to do with. I had some ideas, though.
I gulped, but trained my gun on her. She was stunningly attractive, but dangerously so. Just looking at her made me want to go over there and do…things to her, mostly involving my genitals. I won’t lie. She was that good looking.
“Who are you?” I stammered. Oh yeah. Tough guy of the year.
“Come into the car, Ryan. We’ll talk about it here.” She put out a white hand, thin but strong, and it looked like it would feel great wrapped around my-
I swallowed again. “Where would we go?”
She slipped inside the car, moving like water. I caught a glimpse of white leg and nearly lost it. She leaned her head out the door and looked at me, as innocent as the day is young.
“Why, off to see Despair! Where you were going anyways, weren’t you? Come now, silly!”
I hesitated, but reasoned that she had helped me so far. And when I say reasoned, my reason actually had very little to do with it. The moment she smiled at me, it was all over.
Well, all but the crying.