Written by alcoholandaphorism
The air is sharp with the cold, gas spilling to the air and taken with the crackle of flame that does nothing to break the frost on most of the street. Terraced buildings caught with the flames of a gas fire, trapped inhabitants mewling in fear inside. If they are lucky the smoke will take them before the flame does. In one building, away from the flames, Jameel coughs up blood, a blade wound in his side, his wife screaming for help. The manifested ghost and sleeper projector Timothy and Geoffrey, ex of Orpheus, scour the home for medical supplier to help their fallen ally.
In the street the clip clop of spectral hooves sign the arrival of the hunt. Possessed civilians step blankly from their homes, cleavers and knives in hand. Blood dripping from their arms from acts unknown and unspoken. The projected skimmer Michael burns with energy as if alive, fleeing their hunt, trying to draw them away from his allies. The vitality burning from him a beacon for miles around.
Projected in ghostly self as he is, the walls of the surrounding buildings are no deterrent to Michael who skips through them, keeping his pursuers confused as they try to follow who they believe to be alive. The spectres attention is split by the internal battle with those they forced to do atrocities and Michael manages to keep ahead of them. At the back of the hunt a spectral man, chalk white and with flies buzzing around eye eaten empty eye sockets roars at the confused possessing hounds from atop his starving ghostly mount. Sutures around his mouth rip as he whips the possessed hosts with a flail of shrunken weeping heads.
A single hound, a woman with electric carving blade in hand, manages to keep up. Throwing itself repeatedly against the wall between herself and Michael, confused at this physical presence blocking its passage. Taking a chance Michael fades his face back through the wall, trying to lure the spectre out of its host body. With a hiss of realisation and joy the spectre finally understands and throws itself from the host and through the wall after Michael.
It comes through the wall, barely seen and flickering through space. A mix of humanoid skin and dog posture drops from above for Michael who stand ready blade in hand. Taking barely a nick the creature is on Michael in seconds biting at his collarbone. Miles away Michael’s physical form shudders and bleeds in sympathetic wounds. Locking his arm around the creatures neck and holding it still Michael plunges his moaning blade into it repeatedly, hitting with frenzied strikes until the creature screams, a storm from beyond dragging it back beyond the storm wall to oblivion. Gasping Michael stands again. None of the other creatures have followed and he can feel the burn of vitality on the air, drawing the spectres back to his allies. With a mutter he makes his way back to the street and flames, trying to work out how to lure them away.
Back at Jameel’s house Geoffrey, manifested in reality, tries to stabilise Jameel’s wounds. The hit man who attacked them seem to have missed the vital organs but he needs medical attention desperately. Through gritted teeth Jameel speaks with barely a whisper “Where did you learn to fight like that?”
“Basic brawling from having been in a rough spot once or twice. Plus special abilities” Geoffrey says
“My wife, is she ok?” Jameel asks
Geoffrey glances up at Tim who replies with an “ok” gesture.
“Tim’s looking after her”
“Michael, what about Michael, is he safe?”
Geoffrey pauses, hesitant “Michael isn’t here, but he has a plan and knows how to look after himself”
“You have done well Geoffrey, but I know I am in a bad bad way. I need to get to a hospital”
“That was a nasty wound. There should be an ambulance on the way now. There was an explosion up the street that should have got their attention”
Jameel blinks against the pain “Was anyone hurt?”
“I don’t know” Geoffrey says “It was the building at the end I think. Were there any people in that one?”
“No no, not since miss Jones passed away. No one has been there since. Teenagers, kids, they use it to take drugs. Things like that. My wife, is she fine?”
Geoffrey pauses, he has seen the past and future and suddenly he feels the moments branching here. His head whips around to see the other hit man, a tall black man with long braided hair, black muscle shirt and fur coat, manifesting from the air, his arms extending to a thick fire axe. “Tim! Incoming!” Geoffrey shouts, dropping and rolling under a nearby table for cover. The axe whistles through, intangible momentarily before manifesting again solid, embedded in the ground inches away from Geoffrey’s skull. The new attacker looks up at Timothy who sprints back to the scene “Who’s first?” The axe user says with a smile
Tim’s spectral pistol is in his hand instantly, barking twice at night point blank range. The Hit man keeps low, his axe spinning up, forcing Tim to flinch back, throwing off his shot.
“ I never saw anyone bring an axe to gunfight before. Geoffrey, show him what a mistake he made by coming here” Tim says trying to get enough distance for a clean shot.
Geoffrey leaps from the man’s blind side, grappling for the axe and trying to drag it up into the attackers leg. The struggle lasts only a moment before the elderly Geoffrey is overpowered and thrown back. Dropping low to give Tim a clean shot Geoffrey lashes out with a kick to the man’s shins but finds it catches but solid bone that gives not an inch.
With a backhands swipe the hit man catches the approaching Timothy painfully and tosses him to the ground. Geoffrey leaps forwards, grabbing the man’s neck and yanking him backwards from Timothy. With a wrench he tries to break the man’s neck, but cannot find the strength to do so.
Vitality flows through Timothy now given a moment to recover and with inhuman speed he aims and pulls the trigger of his pistol repeatedly, trying to point blank their assailant. At the last minute the attacker’s axe comes up, forcing the shot off course, expanding gasses still burning into the air. A shoulder backwards sends Geoffrey stumbling back against the table. Bracing Geoffrey leaps forwards again throwing a stiff forearm against the hit man’s face. That distraction is all Timothy needs and the pistol barks again blowing a gaping hole in the man’s face. The man hangs falling in the air for a moment and an unseen cord jerks him from the air. Ripcorded back to his body.
Staccato booms and blinding light fills the room without a moments respite. The front door exploding inwards. Armoured men, a swat team bustling in front and back, MP-5s held in steely grip. In the light Geoffrey and Timothy fade back to incorporeal. Invisible in the air. Watching closely Timothy recognising the men’s movements, room clearance, ready for danger. Not seeing the two spirits the armed response team quickly converges on Jameel and Jasinta screaming orders for them to get face down on the floor. Nigh passing out from shock Jameel cannot resist as they slap handcuffs to his wrists. Jasinta complains loudly about her husbands injuries but gets nothing but a backhand and then cuffs on herself. Photos are shoved in their face by the leader of the swat team. Photos of Michael and other Orpheus employees “Where are the terrorists? We know you have been harbouring. Where are they?” the policeman barks
Outside Michael is back by the street, realising he has not been followed in his attempts to lure the spectres away. Instead the possessed people loiter, surrounded by confused, nervous policemen in body armour. Their commanding officer is the only one who seems certain here, commanding them with a familiar bearing “We are not here to put these poor people under arrest” he says as he waves at the blood and excrement stained hosts “Put them back in the houses. Gentlemen, these brave men and women are seeing a future you cannot imagine. They are victims not perpetrators. This street contains terrorists who will not rest until they have repeated the horrors that happened at the shard. These victims have been affected by some chemical agent the terrorist released. You will take them indoors. Sit them down and then we will find the terrorists and deal with them”
One policeman looks uncertain “But”
“No!” The commanding officer says “No, Yes, but here. In my experience in the military we would have you court martialed for such impudence”
Taking a breath he does not need Michael realises. The Gemeni, Timothy’s Gemeni has possessed the police captain.
Unseen to any but Michael and the spectres the spectral horse with rider astride paces back and forth “Come on boys, it has been an awfully long time since we have had some fun. Now where would I be hiding? My boys” The rider looks to the possessed hosts “When will we flush these rabbits from their holes. My hounds have a scent. Their blood is up. These Asian filth are poor sport. My boys need meat. White meat. Find me something worthy”
Holding his radio to his mouth, talking as if using it the Gemini replies “Patience sir. Patience. You will have your time Sir Elwin. I just need to borrow your hounds for a while longer. Now remember, don’t unduly harm my twin. There is hope for him yet ”
The rider and huntsman spectre now addressed as Sir Elwin looks with contempt “He is meat dear boy. Just meat, You can’t see anything in him that you haven’t already offered to oblivion a thousand times already”
Timothy’s Gemini smiles through the policeman’s features “We always need generals. Tell me, after the great war, how many shades and dopplegangers did you send against those hierarchy fools?”
The huntsman smiles at the memory for a moment “Those where the good times. Enough! My hounds need fresh meat. Give them to us!”
The Gemini turns to his officers “Right you, you and you -take these people back into their homes”
As the nervous police officers accompany the blood stained residents back into their terraced houses Michael makes his move, slipping up on the blind side and stepping through the wall to see what is to occur.
Inside the policeman is looking around in shock and disbelief. Blood and shit covering the walls. A man in his mid forties in white vest and boxer shorts smiles through excrement smeared lips as the officer just mumbles to himself “This is wrong. Fucking wrong”. The officers finger flicks the safety of the MP-5 on and off in nervous tension.
Blood bubbles from the elderly man’s mouth as he sees this, coming out as a whining mewling laugh. “What the fuck?” the officer responds “You did this. Don’t you understand you fuck? you did this! You killed her! Shut up you sick fuck!”
Sensing the officer about to snap Michael throws his arms out, trying to drag the blood on the wall to a warning. It is too late. The spectre inside the elderly man sees the movement and lunges forwards, vomiting the possessing spirit into the police officer. The officer staggers back then smiles with sadistic joy, turning the gun on the elderly man and putting a bullet though his brain. From within the newly possessed policeman the spectre turns to smile at Michael.
Silver threads flow from Michael around the MP-5, turning the barrel up under the policeman chin. A bullet spits out with a deafening crack tearing through the man’s cheek and ear. Spilling blood bright red to join the darkening stains on the carpet.
The spectre gurgles with glee “Ahh he hates you. Hates everything you stand for. He’s urging them now to find everyone you care about. To hurt them. To r..
The speech is cut off as a silent Michael pulls down the silver threads again, holding them now. The gun bucks again, emptying every round in its magazine up in a gory mess through the possessed man’s head. Muzzle flash flickers against the window and the splatter of blood.
Torn from the body the spectre leaps for Michael in a rage, a second figure behind it. The police officers spirit lost to spectrehood, his gauze face a tattered shred and spikes growing from his hands. Michael has barely enough time to recognise this before the two are on him, flickering through the air, kicking biting and stomping. Miles away Michaels body spits blood to the air, ribs bruising and joints dislocation. As consciousness fade Michael feels the cord snapping him back to his body. Then just black unconsciousness fades over him.
As if just awaiting a sign, the possessed police officers on the street turn on their companions and open fire. The first men are cut down before they know what is happening. Those who survive scatter for cover, barely able to believe what is happening. Screams come from the tenement buildings. The screams of the occupants rising above the gunfire.
The huntsman smiles “Isn’t it glorious Tim? All these men fighting and dying by our command”
“Just like Bosnia” The Gemini replies.
Inside the tenement building Timothy can feel himself shaking with rage as he watches the Gemini actions. The relevance is all too clear to him now.
“We need to move. Now” Geoffrey says.
Slowly Timothy nods “There’s no saving anyone here. We need to go” He looks out to where Jameel and Jasinta are trapped behind the police van. Fire pinging off the metal around them “But we can’t leave them behind. They know too much about as” his face softens slightly “Not to mention they have been good to us. They are near the police van. If we can get them in that we can get them away. It is risky but our only chance”
“I could take over an officer and use him to get them in” Geoffrey suggests.
“Get one who is scared shitless. He won’t resist as much” Timothy says from experience “Right, lets go”
As the two prepare the acts outside are prayers given up to the ever hungry void. In the midst of the violence the Gemini strides, pointing his pistol at seeming random, ending the lives of those who cross his path. An injured teen falls from a wound to the leg and the Gemini pauses, kneeling over him, plunging the glowing hot barrel of the pistol into his wound. Grabbing his arm, he drags the wounded teen across the ground, rejoicing in his cries of pain.
“So tell me boy. How does it feel? Tell me of your pain. Tell me if you still believe in your little god. Tell me if you still think he watches over you” A squeeze of the trigger and the teen screams again as the Gemini puts a bullet in his other leg. “Renounce your faith. Go on. Give in” Another round flies from the pistol, embedding itself in what was once the teens groin and now just a red stain. “The longer it takes the stronger you will be when you come to the dark. So, take your time.”
Geoffrey sprints out towards the police van. Bullets cannot hurt him, but the swarm of spectres in the area can. As he slides to cover behind the van a spectre slips into one of the police taking cover there. Grinning like a wolf the possessed man turns his SMG upon his team-mates. One of the men tries to snatch the gun from the possessed officer but before he can do so thee man places the barrel under his own chin and erupts his brains all over the huddled group. Another possessed person, a small girl, scuttling across the ground, pulls herself into the confused crowd. An officer aims his weapon at the approaching girl but his finger can’t pull the trigger on a child.
Walking nonplussed through the gunfire Timothy points to the police officer, indicating he is right for possession. Stepping onwards his gauze shifts and flows into the police van, the engine purring awake at his touch.
The girl crawling across the floor bares her teeth at the terrified officer who finally fires, but his hands jerk, unconsciously still unwilling to kill her. As Geoffrey’s gauze seeps into the officer, possessing him, the girl leaps, teeth bared, for the officers throat. Geoffrey’s eyes snap open, the possessed girl inches away from murder and his finger slams down on the MP-5 trigger, the wild fire clipping the girl in the shoulder sending her spinning in the air, crunching to the the ground with the sound of neck bones breaking. Geoffrey stares open eyed as blood pours forth from the girls mouth and her eyes stare up, the spectre rising from her once more.
The police van distorts and grabs Geoffrey, Jameel and Jasinta into its centre. Snapping back to reality Geoffrey shouts “The hospital. Go!” Needing no encouragement Timothy spins the car away under hails of fire and with the sound of hunting horn in their wake. As Geoffrey sags down he uses his control to wipe memories of the past fifteen minutes from the officers mind, a small blessing he could give.
Watching them leave Sir Elwin shuffles his bloated form on his horse, gazing down at the bullet ridden body that was the Gemini’s host “Well my boy, you failed. Your soul is now mine”
A heat haze rises from the dead body, coalescing into the Gemini Timothy “Failed? Sir Elwin, the casualty rate was nearly a hundred percent. We have given rise to a new wave of cannon fodder for the cause. I would call that a success”
“Yes, but you let the Orpheus crucible escape”
“Escape” Timothy’s Gemini says with a raised eyebrow “No. I just gave them a head start”
Elwin nods appreciatively “My dear boy, you would have made a very good member of the party, though I fear you were too low born to join in its heyday. We could have made something of this country”
“Crippling poverty. People starving in the middle of cities. I would say we are doing a good job already” The Gemini replies.
Outside a hospital nearby a police officer comes around. The police vans horn blaring drawing attention from the medical personnel within. Two injured people in the van behind him needing their attention. A note is left in his hand “Go to ground. The people who organised this wont leave you alive. The evidence is here” after is scrawled a youtube account and password, one that the officer will find holds footage of the hitmen who came to call
The Orpheus circle are long gone, after a nerve biting wait at the contact point they came to realise Michael was not joining them. Now, cautious and alert, they scour the church where he was last known to be, eyes always watching for approaching spectres. They find him, cold as the grave and bloodied. One bruise running the length of his body, wrapped in tarpaulin and unconscious beneath a bush.
Manifesting from the air the crucible struggle to bring Michael back to pained consciousness. Blinking and shivering Michael looks and them and croaks “Did it work? Did I manage to lure some of them way for you? I don’t remember anything from when they reached me”
“Jameel and Jasinta got away” Timothy says
“Thank you” Michael sways as he tries to stand
“We need to get away” Timothy says, looking at a nearby car on the street “Don’t think I have enough left to move that though”
“Let me” Michael reaches out, his hand brushing Timothy’s and energy flows between them. Weakened and in pain a memory Michael has held onto, hidden for so very long, slips out with it.
Everything is larger. A policeman looms over him as a giant. Bushes reach up to touch the sky and a gate swings above his head. His finger hurts, nursed in his hand. A man, talks to the policeman “I don’t know where he gets such ideas. Running away like that. Thanks for bringing him back. We’ve all been worried. Haven’t we Michael”
The man takes Michaels hand and a realisation comes to Timothy, this is years ago. The people are normal sized, but Michael is but a child. Pain flares from his hand as the man grasps it. Pulling him down the path towards a door that looks like a maw. He is safe here in the light. The pain again, dragged forwards. It doesn’t look like anything from the distance but Michael’s hand burns as the man clutches it tightly, too tightly. Broken bones flare to pain again. The door envelops him, clicks close behind him. The light peaking in from outside cut off. Alone with the man that looms over him. Finally young Michael feel the terror peak. Wet warmth spilling down his trousers as his bladder fails.
The vision falls. Timothy doesn’t say a word at what just passed between them. Instead he turns to the car and lets the gifted vitality shape him to flow into it and take control. The car door clicks open and Michael falls within. Belt pulls tight around him, holding him up in the front seat so it appears the car has a driver. Geoffrey ghosts through into the back seat.
“We can’t go where we will be found again.” Michael mutters “I know where we can go where we wont be remembered. Under bridges and in forgotten place. Places where they don’t talk to the police”. So the car starts south west, heading on back roads, switching cars and ditching old ones in parking lots and car dealerships. They prepare and plan. Where to lay low, and how to fight back.