A storm broke behind me, as a gust of bullets blew across the already ruined lobby. Before the Darkness, the police exercised far more discretion as to where they pointed and fired their firearms, but now, with remainders of the Darkness seasoning an otherwise dead world, discretion was not a care the police took very seriously.
Luckily, the dream held fast, transforming the majority of the deadly injuries I should have suffered into mere bruises and superficial cuts. But the police and their gunfire were far from primary to my thinking, only the fleeing form of Tom Hush pinned my attention.
He fled, still laughing, if perhaps a bit more nervously, up a nearby staircase. I almost stepped on his shadow as I gave chase, and nearly caught him in the grinning arc of my sister’s shining teeth, but he managed to push his borrowed, if almost entirely ruined, body just slightly beyond her reach.
As we rounded the next corner I was surprised, as a fool often is, by a mob of persons bearing knives, keys, towel racks, and any other object they could quickly seize upon. I should have known that a luxurious hotel, little more than a hive of rich and indulgent men and woman, would be thick with secrets for the antlered god to sup. And feast, he did. I could hear the floors above me shaking under the wide trample of secret-keeping crowds. Mercifully, these new devotees were without the physical adjustments that manifest madness could supply, and so I was confronted only by crazed humans.
My father cleared a flowing, red path between the teeming crowds, but my pace was sorely wounded, and I lost sight of the bleeding god somewhere on the third floor.
I slipped into the dark silence of a hallway that had been closed off for some kind of repairs, hoping the god had taken the same route. And, sure enough, standing at the end of the corridor, holding the slack darkness that tumbled all around him as if it were a pull string, was Tom.
“Where is your mother, now, Donald? Do you even remember what you did to her? What she did to you? Think hard, Donald…You can do it, my boy. I’ll even help you.” I felt the god’s psychic-fist slam into my mind, crashing past memory and dream alike, searching and clawing for more secrets.
But this time my family was home, and they were admitting no visitors. I grinned, ever-so slightly, at the terrible violence that greeted the god’s efforts. After all of the slashing, hacking and smashing, Tom seemed to reel from the inner conflict, but held himself up via the grip he continued to exercise upon the flowing darkness of the corridor. Then, after a few moments of satisfying quiet, Mister Hush seemed to regain his sense of humor, letting drip a small stream of oily laughter as he rose up from his psychic defeat. “Oh, yes. I forgot about that awful family of yours. It’s funny how they look nothing like you, hmm?”
The taunt found its mark, and I mindlessly lunged forward…just as Tom yanked away the darkness, as if it were a curtain being parted to reveal a glittering prize. Almost immediately, Tom’s laughter sank beneath the sound of something large and mechanical, and the god’s shadow stretched towards me, pushed by a large, blinding spotlight that projected from somewhere behind my opponent. The shadow transformed as it fell over me, monstrously revealing the outline of the thing that hid within the dead, mutilated folklorist.
The sight almost distracted me from the gunfire that began thundering through the window behind the spot where Tom had once stood—where a police helicopter fired both its mounted cannons, chewing the world around me into so much smoking ruin.
I followed the curve of silence as it diverted into an adjoining hallway, all the while thinking of the monstrous battle that had risen up around me, wondering if it was all too much for me. I eventually concluded that such things were only to be expected when one seeks the death of a god, or, in this case, the vessel of a god; and that mine was a killer’s pedigree worthy of the task…and perhaps then some. (I could also feel my father’s fire upon me as I gave my doubt even the slightest voice.)
I could hear more police vehicles massing around the building, and the skies were filling-up with additional spotlights: I needed to finish the god quickly if I was to have any chance of escaping.
Tom would need to conserve and repair what was left of his vessel, I reasoned, and so it seemed a worthy idea to make my way towards the hotel wedding chapel, should it have one, as secrets have no greater haven than beneath the shadow of religion.
Regrettably, the chapel, according to the map of the hotel I found carved beautifully into the wall, was located many floors above me, near the “rooftop lagoon,” of all things.
The most direct paths to my destination lay on the outside of the building and up the elevator shaft, and I was fairly certain that my armor of dream would not long survive the direct and vulgar reality of a police gunship’s shower of high caliber, armor piercing rounds. So I found myself prying open the elevator doors and scaling the walls to the top of the building.
It was a fairly predictable route to take, I confess, but I hadn’t realized how predictable until large numbers of people began tumbling down at me from one of the floors high above me. I was growing progressively more and more irritated by the antlered god. (I also have to admit to being slightly taken with the creature…He was a crafty one, after all.)
It was a mostly surreal, if not terribly comfortable, situation: persons falling silently through the darkness, hoping to knock me from the wall, so that I might join them on their way into death. (Tom, smartly, denied them their screams, as I might have determined their angle of decent and avoid an unfortunate impact.)
When I reached the floor above me, there stood a wall of armored and armed policeman, eager to be done with their night’s business, the fastest way possible. I stood to my full height, letting my father’s head scrape against the ceiling, and I pushed their obnoxious lights away from my face with several obedient shadows. One of them croaked into the radio, “We got’em, all right. He’s cornered and all out of tricks. Were gonna bring him down…the easy way.” I was amused by the bravado of several men dressed in armor and brandishing extremely potent firearms.
Within seconds the power went out, and a few seconds after that…explosions and screams. It seemed that my sister had done her work, and done it well. I had inserted her into one of the plummeting, suicidal secret-keepers, hoping that she might help improve my situation, if only slightly, from the lower floors of the hotel.
The bravado of numbers and weapons vanished quickly from the darkened and weaponized crowds before me; I remained amused, but no longer stationary…
As I rose from the human wreckage, I again heard the police radio; the voice on the other end was calling out to the six dead policemen. Chaos and death also poured from the speaker of the device. Apparently, my sister had transferred herself to one of the operators of a large, armored vehicle…and was making quite merry. Again the voice broke through the din of madness, “Come in, guys! You still there?! Talk to me!” I picked up the police radio and held it to my lips.
“Even God knew when to call it a day, my friend. You should run away. Quickly.”
I tossed the noise-box over my shoulder just as another explosion turned the voice on the radio into a single, wet shriek.
I hastened up the stairs to the rooftop, weeding my path of any lingering ill-wishers as I went. I saw a small bit of blood just outside the door to the chapel. Tom was inside.
Somewhere in the darkness of my mind, I heard my father cracking his knuckles.
Art Piece: The Red widow Victim 34: Jessica Elise Riley, 23, Murdered in September of 2008