Friday, July 6, 2012

R.O.B, Part Six

      The old witch stabbed me.
      I hadn’t sensed the knife nor had I expected the hag to be able to move that fast. I realized being in this human form had dulled my senses and I wasn’t at the top of my game. I should have known that the witch would want to dissect me to see what I was. Looking around, I saw that she dissected a lot of things that ended up in jars.
      I bled like a geyser from the wound in my stomach, but it didn’t hurt so much. Nevertheless, I was pissed off. If my body’s heart stopped, then I would be forced to leave it. I realized now that I didn’t want to. This was my body, the one I had spent seventeen years in, and I wasn’t going to give it up so easily.
      “Heal me, vieja,” I snarled. Manuela was a witch. She could do it.
      She turned her head and looked at me out of the corner of her eye. “And if I do not?”
      She was testing me, forcing me to tell her more about what I was. Too bad I didn’t have the luxury of stalling or steering her away from the subject. I could feel the life draining out of my body and knew it wouldn’t be long before I would have to give it up.
      This pissed me off even more. “If my heart stops, I will live again. But this time, it’ll be inside of you, vieja.
      I wasn’t so sure about this. What if Evil decided that I couldn’t have another body and I was forced to return to it, leaving Luz, Liliana, and my revenge behind ? I pushed that thought away and glared at the old woman. I was pretty sure my eyes were still black, so I hoped that helped to put the fear of Hell in her.
      But she didn’t seem affected by anything I had said. She simply turned to Luz, and with a nonchalant wave of her hand, she said, “He’s the one.”
       I wasn’t sure what that meant, but Luz looked relieved and maybe even happy. For Luz anyway.
      “You will help us, Bryce?” Liliana said. 
      I looked down. I hadn’t even noticed the little girl standing there. She wasn’t afraid of me and I wanted to know what part this child played in all of this. There was something going on here. Something beyond me. There was a bigger game at play and I was the pawn. I didn’t have to question if Evil was involved. It was, I knew it.
      “Move your hand,” Manuela ordered. I had been holding the gaping hole in my stomach so my body wouldn’t bleed to death but at her command, I moved it.
      After a quick examination, she ordered me to lie down on the couch even though my shirt was soaked with blood and demanded that Luz boil water. Gathering a few strange tools and a couple of unlabeled jars, Manuela went to work on my wound. She sprinkled this, smeared on that, then sewed me up with a precision that made me think she had done this many times before to many different people. I wondered how many of them had had injuries she had inflicted on them herself.
      I had assumed the water she had told Luz to boil had been for her to sterilize her tools or clean my wound, but in fact, it had been for tea.
      The two women and little girl sat around the old woman’s small, rickety floor table on filthy cushions. I was feeling better, so I joined them. No one seemed to care that I was still covered in blood or that the bullet wounds in my neck were leaking red fluid even though the old witch had smeared something foul on them and stitched the holes up.
      Manuela poured us each a cup of pitch black tea that smelled like pine wood and dropped a bone she had taken from a jar labeled “Gato” into each cup. Luz and Liliana drank without hesitation, but I was reluctant to drink any of this witch’s brews.   My body was in bad enough shape, having been shot and stabbed, without also having to endure one of Manuela’s spells too. Although I was pretty sure her spells would only affect my body and not my soul, I wasn’t taking any chances. 
      “You are a demon,” Manuela said to me, sipping her bone tea.
      I still hated being called that, but said, “Sort of.”
      “You are not alive anymore.”
      “No.” I looked at Luz and Liliana. Neither of them seemed surprised by my admission. It was like they had already known this. 
      Manuela looked me over and I felt my eyes go back to their original color. “You lived a bad life. You were no better than the ñeros that terrorize the slum. But it was a good thing you did for the girl. That is why there is still hope.”
      I knew she meant me killing my father for abusing Becca. I only wondered for a second how she knew. “I was running from the police when I died,” I said, “They had discovered my father’s body and had found me hiding out in the basement at a friend’s house. I stole their car and led them on a high speed chase through the city. I had a head on collision with another car and died in the hospital. I think I killed the people in the other car too.” I wondered about something. “Did Evil reap them along with me?”
      Manuela waved a hand. “This, I do not know. It is unlikely. But if they deserved to die, then maybe.”
      I didn’t like that thought. “Do you know what happened to Becca?”
      I nodded. I was probably better off not knowing anyway, at least, that’s what I told myself.
      “You take souls from this world.”
      I swallowed. “Yes.”
      “You are a reaper.”
      There was a silence, then, “What do you really look like?”  That was Liliana. 
      I dipped my head. “Not like this.”
      “Tell me.” 
      “It would only frighten you.”
      “No it won’t.”
      “Mamita.” Luz intervened, “Leave it alone. Bryce doesn’t want to tell you.” Liliana scowled but did as she was told and dropped it.
      “Why did you save Luz?” Manuela questioned.
      Now wasn’t that the question of the fucking century. “I...I guess...because she needed me. There was no one else.”
      “So you care for her.”
      I looked at Luz, who simply stared back, waiting for his answer. “Yes.”
      Manuela smiled, displaying a mouth full of rotten teeth. “Then there is hope.”
      “Hope for what?”
      “Not what, child. Who.” She gestured. “Luz and Liliana.”
      Luz stared at me, anxiously. Liliana smiled. I don’t think I expressed anything but total confusion. And dread.
      “What’s going on here, vieja? And don’t waste your time telling me that nothing is.”
      Manuela smiled again. “I would not dare. For there is much that is going on.”
      “It is simple.” Manuela took a last sip of her tea then pushed her cup away. “There are those that exist that are worse than the one you call Evil.” 
      I snorted. “Impossible. I know evil. I’ve seen it. I’ve been in its presence. It’s touched me, and corrupted me with its sick, twisted thoughts. I know evil and there is nothing more depraved than the being I’ve reaped mortal souls for. Nothing.
      Manuela only chuckled. “Because you are trapped within the invisible confines of Hell, you have made yourself believe this. But you are wrong. There is worse evil that exists. That is the  point.”
      What was the point? “Tell me then. What could be worse than the evil I know?”
      She said one name. “Lu Mal.”
      The witch had to be kidding. “Lu Mal may be a murdering fucker who has a very gruesome death coming his way, but he’s human. Humans are only capable of so much depravity before they are dealt with by creatures like me.”
      Manuela smiled. “Have you seen Lu Mal?”
      “Then how can you be certain he is human?”
      I swallowed. I wasn’t now, not anymore. “What is he then?”
      “He is not human, you must know. He has no humanity.”
      “Okay.” What the hell had I gotten myself into? Lu Mal wasn’t human? Fuck. “What is he?” I asked again.
      Manuela shrugged. “He is a being that must be encountered for you to understand his existence. For now, I will tell you that Lucifer,” She touched the name that had been burned into my arm with the cat bone that had come from her tea cup, “knows Lu Mal well. They are former acquaintances.”
      I blanched, literally, blanched. My physical heart raced.      “Please...tell me...”
      “Lu Mal and Lucifer are related.” She bit into the bone. “They are brothers.”
Copyright © 2012 by Diantha Jones

Friday, April 20, 2012

R.O.B, Part Five

      I found Luz standing over Claudia’s body, watching her bleed out onto the shabby carpet from the wound in her head. When I entered the hovel, she looked up at me and I stopped dead in my tracks. There wasn’t a hint of grief in her expression, not a bit of sorrow in her eyes, and for a second, I actually thought that Luz seemed happy that her mother was dead.
      I shoved that morbid thought out of my head. She was in shock now. The grief would come later, once she’d realized that Claudia was really, truly gone.
      “Where’s Liliana?” I asked. 
      “Bedroom,” Luz replied. Her eyes dropped back to Claudia. She brushed her mother’s hair out of the old woman’s lifeless eyes. “Are they dead?” She asked.
      I knew who she meant. “Yes.”
      “Good.” Luz spent another minute smoothing her mother’s hair, then stopped abruptly and headed for the back room. “I’ll get Liliana.” She stopped and looked back at me. “We are leaving, right?”
      I nodded, still stunned by her reserved behavior. “We should have already been gone. Some of your neighbors were being curious, but I took care of them. It...won’t last long though.”
      Luz didn’t ask what I’d done to quell the building curiosity and that worked for me. I heard her talking to Liliana in the back while she gathered up a few things to bring with her. I took the liberty of covering Claudia’s body, in particular her head, with a ratty blanket so when Liliana came out she wouldn’t have to deal with that brutal image. It was sure to stay with her forever, as I was sure it would stay with Luz, even though she seemed to be unaffected by it all now.
     She and Liliana emerged from the back, with just one duffle bag between them. “I’m ready,” She said. I nodded and pointed towards the door, which Luz walked right out of without taking one glance in the direction of her mother. Liliana did, however. But it wasn’t out of grief. She wasn’t saying goodbye through tearful eyes. She was staring out of curiosity and that was when I knew that something wasn’t quite right about this mother and daughter.
      Back in the alley, I stopped to contemplate what to do next. I had a woman and child in my care and I wasn’t used to having to care for anybody. The last person I’d ever had to look out for had been my little sister, Becca. But I had lost her when I’d lost my life. Not a day went by that I didn’t think about her and what had become of her after I’d been killed. Our mother had died right after Becca was born, so I assumed she went into foster care. But that was better than what we’d had. I had done what needed to be done. I had saved her from our father who’d done monstrous things to her. I had killed him, brutally, and would’ve done it again to save Becca. I would’ve done anything for Becca.
      “I know where to go,” Luz said, interrupting my nostalgic brooding.
      “To Manuela’s.”
      I raised a brow, knowing who she meant even though she’d only given me a first name. In the slum, there was only one Manuela who mattered. “Why Manuela’s?”
      “She is mi tía.
      Now that was surprising. “Your aunt is an elder?” Luz nodded.         “And she won’t mind us, me, being in her home?”
      “She will not like it, but she won’t turn you away.” She looked down at her daughter. “You want to see Tía Manuela, mamita?”
      Liliana looked up at her mother. “Will she make me arequipe and crepes?”
      “She has never not made you arequipe and crepes.”
      “Then, yes, I want to go.”
      Luz nodded. “Bryce, is this okay for you?”
      I nodded and tried to remember when I’d told Luz my name. “, I just want you guys to be somewhere safe.”
      “Nothing will happen to us while you’re here, Bryce,” Liliana said, repositioning her doll in her arms. Luz confirmed this with another nod.
      I didn’t know how to respond to Liliana’s comment, so I decided to ignore it. “Stay close to me,” I said, “It’s true, no one will try to hurt me but they might try to hurt you.”
      They both agreed and I led the way to Manuela’s, making sure to keep them close, but not too close where there was a chance that Luz might touch me. We passed a few shady characters, who after locking eyes with me, decided harassing Luz and Liliana was not worth the consequence. I kept an eye out for more of Lu Mal’s men, but after a while realized that there wasn’t anyone tailing us nor was he going to send more of his cronies for me to kill.
      At least, not right then.
      The elder Manuela lived at the end of an alley that was as creepy as it was dark. Not that the slums were well lit, but even the moon refused to shed light on Manuela’s. Considering what the old woman was, I wasn’t surprised.
      I let Luz approach the door first, but she didn’t knock, just pushed the door open and walked right in. Liliana followed silently, but it wasn’t until Luz motioned to me that I crossed the threshold and went inside. Before closing the door behind me, I checked out the alley, but didn’t see anyone. But that was not unusual. Not even the ñeros that fed their families by robbing and killing hung out anywhere near Manuela’s unless they had a damn good reason.
      Though I knew of Manuela, I’d never seen her or been inside of her house. Even though she was a mistress of black magic, an elder witch, Evil had never made a request for her soul, so I had never had a reason to be in her presence. Her house was typical of a witch’s – dark, gloomy, and cluttered with strange odds and ends that would creep normal people out. But me, I was unaffected, as was Luz and Liliana, who made themselves comfortable on Manuela’s tattered couch. I wondered around picking up things to examine closer and looking at old pictures of people possessed by who knew what. I even flipped through a few books I found on the black arts but didn’t stop to actually read anything.
      It was as I was checking out a jar of what looked like blackened chicken feet that I felt a cold, dark presence behind me. I jerked around.
      Sitting on the couch next to Luz and Liliana, was an old woman with black eyes and long black hair that she kept swept to one side in a long braid. She wore several layers of clothing even though it was stifling hot in the hovel, but nothing on her feet. She was staring at me, as were Luz and Liliana, and I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t heard the old woman enter the room. No one snuck up on me. And it had nothing to do with the fact that before I’d been brought back to “life” by Evil, that no one could see me. I hadn’t felt Manuela’s presence and I couldn’t feel her now. Even though I knew she was a witch and was probably keeping me from sensing her with some kind of spell, I didn’t like it. No one could hide from a Reaper.
      “Step into the light, demonio,” Manuela cackled, and beckoned to me with a crooked finger.
      I didn’t like being called a demon, but I couldn’t actually deny it. I did as I was told, stepping into the light of a few flickering candles that were all one gust away from leaving the hovel in complete darkness.
      As I stepped forward, Manuela held her hand out towards me and I knew she was getting a sense of me, feeling me out. Luz and Liliana just watched her, quiet but definitely not scared.
      After a few minutes of this, Manuela’s hand jerked away from me and she gasped. 
      “What is it, tía?” Luz questioned taking the old woman’s hand and actually seeming concerned. 
      Manuela’s eyes never left me. “We will all be like you very soon.”
      I stared back at her and knew the second my eyes went from green to black. Luz gasped.
     Manuela stood and leaned into the light.
     “Soon,” She said, “We will all be dead. Just like you.”

Copyright © 2012 by Diantha Jones

Thursday, March 22, 2012

R.O.B, Part Four

        The first thing I did was rip the soul out of some poor, unsuspecting street level drug dealer. Just walked right up to the punk and thieved it out of him. Who the hell cared, somebody had to be my guinea pig and he was no innocent. It was just strange how he had looked at me before I had turned him into a soulless shuck.
Usually, they could feel me descending down on them, about to consume their spirit in one satisfying gulp. But he was surprised. Because he had thought me just another rolo on the street trying to get on by killing and getting people strung out.
He had the first part right, at least.
I was about to send the bastard’s soul hurtling back to Evil, when the great depraved one did me a great dishonor and came to me instead.
Like I said, Evil terrified me, and in that dark, empty alley where I had pilfered a human being’s entire life force on a whim and sent his empty skeleton stumbling down the street uninhabited, I was practically paralyzed with terror. Evil had never sought me out before. I always went to him.
The cost will be great, Evil’s voice grated in my head, leaving my thoughts in shreds.
“What do you mean?” I asked, cringing. My head was throbbing with the pain of the intrusion.
You desired the mortal, and you shall have her. You want revenge, take it. But the cost will be great.
“I’ll pay it, whatever it is,” I said. I was already dead. I was a Reaper. What else could Evil take from me?
The list is endless.
“As long as Luz isn’t on that list, then I’m okay.”
I may be vile, but I keep my word. The mortal is yours forever.
If I had known what was to come, I would’ve asked it to elaborate on that a bit.
      I have restored your mortality, but there are things you must know if you wish to remain in this realm of the living.
“What kind of things?” But I was dreading the answer.
First, you are still a Reaper and your soul belongs to me. You are not free simply because you are mortal. There is no such thing as freedom for a Reaper.
I knew this and needed no reminders. “What else?” I said, knowing there was more.
Ah, the best part. If your mortal touches you, ever, she will die and for eternity, her soul will reap for me.
He had found my weakness. Because I would’ve rather died a million more painful deaths than to ever condemn Luz to an after life spent as a Reaper.
Yet, I was torn.
The idea of never being able to touch her was like death to me. But I had sacrificed that for revenge and Evil made the rules. I wouldn’t let her touch me.
Knowing how this tortured me, Evil’s face stretched into something that I figured was supposed to be amusement. Instead, it turned out to be one of the most horrifying things I had ever seen. And I did mean, one. Because I had seen Evil do some pretty terrifying stuff.
I will be taking that now.
I looked down at the soul I had clutched in my fist. The essence of a man, silently screaming and crying out at the horror standing in front of him. I could do nothing for him. I didn’t want to do anything for him and felt no remorse when I handed him over into Evil’s anxious hands.
Evil left as it had come. Silent as death, leaving the air smelling like a rotting corpse. Right away, I started making my way through the slums, towards Luz’s hovel. I was harassed by a few ñeros looking for a victim to rob or beat into oblivion, but the threat was abolished as soon as they got within a few feet of me. I guessed they could sense that I was something they didn’t want to fuck with and backed off. It felt kind of good to know I was still scaring the shit out of people even though I was mortal again. 
It was dark, but not late, and the lights in Luz’s tiny chantey were ablaze. The windows were so dirty that everything inside was like a blur. I couldn’t tell if Luz was anywhere in there and I couldn’t just appear inside anymore.
So I knocked.
Liliana, Luz’s daughter, answered the door. She was a tiny beauty, like her mother, with wide brown eyes and straight black hair down to her waist. She couldn’t have been more than six years old and reeked of an innocence I had never had as a child. My childhood was not something I wanted to remember, ever, however, Evil refused to let me forget. 
Hola, Liliana,” I said, using the child’s name to gain her trust.
Hola,” She replied. She was staring right at me and I knew she wasn’t afraid. I didn’t affect children like I did adults. I didn’t know why exactly, just that it had always been this way.
“Is your mother home?” I asked, glad that my Spanish speaking skills seemed up to par. It was the first time I had ever spoken Spanish out loud. With my inability to talk as a Reaper for the lack of a tongue, I had only been able to master the art of comprehension.
“My Aunt Paola is dead,” The little girl said, matter of factly.
All I could say was, “I know.”
“Liliana, who are you talking to?” An older woman’s voice said, and Claudia, Luz’s mother, appeared behind the little girl.
As soon as the old woman saw me, she crossed herself. I tried to smile, to ease her, but I didn’t think I managed it very well. Having been a Reaper for so long, smiles had become foreign to me.
The fragile old woman came forward to take Liliana’s hand. “Who are you? What do you want?” She croaked. Her voice was weak and I wondered what ailed her. I searched her mind and found it. Cancer. It hadn’t gotten as bad as it was going to get, but everyday, she could feel herself getting weaker.
Claudia gasped. I was sure it was because she had felt me poking around in her head. Sometimes that happened.
Dios mio,” She breathed, wrapping her arms around Liliana to pull her close, away from me. 
“I’m here to see Luz,” I said, pushing on as if nothing was wrong, “I want to make sure she’s okay. I...heard what happened.” Word traveled fast in the slums, so it wasn’t a surprise that I already knew what had happened to Luz.
“How do you know my Luz?” Claudia was suspicious of me and had every right to be. It was obvious I wasn’t from Bogota. I wasn’t even Colombian, or Hispanic for that matter. I wasn’t even alive. I had a feeling Claudia knew that.
“I’m an old friend from school,” I lied. “I knew Paola too...”
At the mention of her youngest daughter, Claudia’s eyes filled with tears. “They’ve taken her, I hear. To the morgue. I haven’t even seen her,” She managed to say, “I’m not well and Luz...” She swiped at her wet cheeks. “I have to care for Liliana.”
“I understand.” I hesitated. “May...I come in?”
Claudia didn’t want to, but against her better judgement, stepped aside to let me pass. Their little hovel was dim and cramped, even with the small amount of furniture they had. Crosses covered the walls as filthy, matted carpet covered the floor, and a bible sat on a small table nearby, opened to Revelations. The place smelled of sour mildew and even I was bothered by the stench. Even though I usually only ever had the smell of dead bodies in my nasal tract.
“Luz is in the back room,” Claudia said, crossing herself again. I was sure she didn’t want me anywhere near her daughter and would be praying over her bible again as soon as I was out of sight.
“I’ll show you,” Liliana said. The little girl reached out and grabbed my hand. I barely stopped myself from screaming.
But, nothing happened, and I realized that nothing ever would. Evil hadn’t taken everything from me, only Luz. Then I realized she was everything to me and something impossible happened. I began to loathe Evil even more than I had before. Mortality would be torture for me, just like my last life.
The back room was filled to capacity with a big bed and nothing else. With nowhere else for them to go, clothes and shoes were stacked on the floor. Luz, my dark-haired beauty, lay on the bed covered by a thin blanket. Her eyes were closed, her breathing was shallow, and her face was swollen from being backhanded by Andrés. I seethed with rage. I wanted to kill the ñero all over again.
“Mama,” Liliana softly called out, giving Luz a little shake. 
Her mother’s eyes fluttered open. She looked at her daughter and smiled. With a weak hand, she brushed Liliana’s hair from her face. “Hola, mi mamita...” Then her eyes found me and I waited for her to either ask who I was or cross herself as Claudia had. 
But neither happened. She kept smiling and held out her hand to me. “Mi salvador...” She breathed.
I was shocked into a complete non-reaction. Luz had just called me her “savior”. How in the world had she known?
“Come closer,” She beckoned me. I did, scooting just close enough so that if she reached out she couldn’t touch me. Not on purpose or by accident.
“You saved my life.” She coughed and cringed as she tried to sit up. I wanted to help, but all I could do was watch.
“Yes...” It was all I could say.
Que gracias, I am grateful.” She was reading me just like I was reading her. Liliana wasn’t paying us too much attention as she started braiding a very dirty doll’s hair.
“How did you know?” I asked. “That wasn’t me. I mean, I wasn’t myself––”
Luz smiled. “I know. I can sense you. You haven’t been yourself for a very long time.”
I cursed to myself. I hadn’t expected this. I hadn’t expected Luz to know me, who I really was. Maybe even what I really was.
“Do I scare you?” I asked.
Sisas, yes.” But yet, she hadn’t crossed herself or told me to get the hell out. She didn’t even seem to mind that Liliana was around me.
“I know you’d never hurt her,” Luz said.
“Can you read my mind?”
She smiled. “No. And even if I could, I wouldn’t. I don’t want to know what someone like you thinks.”
“Someone like me?”
“Whatever you are.” And with those words, I knew that even though she didn’t know exactly what I was, she accepted me anyway. Her salvador, the Reaper of Bogota.
El Muerte is dead,” I said, “Lu Mal is next.”
Luz’s smile fell and pain filled her expression. She said nothing. Liliana was looking up at me, fully alert, but Luz didn’t send her away. So I kept going.
“For what’s happened to you, he will die.”
She looked up at me, her mouth set in a grim line. “And for Paola?”
I smiled, though it probably looked more like a grimace. “For Paola, he will suffer while he dies.”
Luz didn’t even hesitate. “Good.”
“Good,” Liliana repeated, then went back to braiding her doll’s hair.
Then Luz and I just stared at each other. She was beautiful still, even with effects of being beaten marring her face. There was an aura around her, but not like one of an innocent. There was something dark about Luz, and I realized it was the reason I had been so drawn to her. Something lurked underneath all of that beauty, something tortured and untamed. And even though I was the Reaper, ruled by Evil, I hoped I would never find out what it was.
The gunshot cut into the silence like a machete.
Within a breath, I was in Reaper mode. I pushed Liliana to floor and Luz fell on top of her, curling her body around her daughter. I flew from the room, pulling the door closed behind me. I wasn’t scared. Being dead already had that effect on you.
I smelled death even before I found Claudia bleeding out over her bible from a shot to the head. I left her as she was, not daring to touch her. I wasn’t going to allow this saintly woman to fall to my fate because I had reaped her soul. I would never give Evil the pleasure.
The front door had been left wide open and I ran out into the night. I heard the sound of screeching tires and chased it. I saw the black car whip around the corner, heading away from me, and I dashed through the alley to cut it off on the other side, knowing where it was headed. There was only way out of this part of the slum. 
I moved fast, even for a mortal, and emerged from the alley before the automobile could fly by me. I stood in its path, unmoving. The car revved its engine and sped up. I just smiled and waited for it to get close enough.
I leapt onto the hood just as the car was about to mow me down. With a fist, I punched through the windshield and went for the driver. I grabbed the first part of him I came into contact with and jerked him headfirst through the pane. The passenger shot at me and I was hit a couple of times. Being used to pain, I ignored the sting of the wounds. This was just a body to me and I could just steal a new one if mine ended up with too many bullets in it.
With no one to drive, the car crashed into a group of hovels. The stench of death didn’t taint the air so I knew the crash hadn't killed, or even hurt anyone.
I snapped the driver’s neck as easy as crumbling a cracker, as I rolled off of the hood of the car. I had no use for him. The passenger was the shooter and that was who I wanted. Letting the driver’s body drop to the ground, I ripped the damaged door from its hinges and dragged out the injured bastard who had killed an innocent old woman in cold blood and had then tried to do the same to me.
“Who sent you?” I growled, even though I already knew. I wanted to hear the name so my rage had something to attach itself to, making my thoughts of revenge all the more demonic. 
A crowd had gathered, but as expected, they stayed the hell away from me. Good, because I was in that zone now, the one where no one was safe from my wrath.
Fuck you,” the ñero spit at me.
I punched out a few of his teeth. “Who sent you?”
He coughed and spit out dentene and blood. “That guaricha is gonna die. So is her little guaricha hija. No one gets away from Lu Mal.” He laughed and I let him.
With two fingers, I reached into the wound in my neck and without a sound or even a grimace of pain, pulled out the bullet that had caused it.
The bastard stopped laughing.
“I’m sure someone out there cares about you and will pray for your soul,” I said, “but by the time those prayers make it to God’s ears, you will already be in Hell.”
The man opened his mouth to scream as I shoved the bullet into his eye socket.

Copyright © 2012 by Diantha Jones

Monday, February 6, 2012

R.O.B., Part Three

      Andrés Felipe Hernández was dead, and he belonged to Evil now.
  I unwrapped myself from around his corpse and gazed down on him. He was mangled into something unrecognizable. All bent and twisted at all the wrong angles. Some people gagged at the sight of him, but most just stared. I believed, out of curiosity, not fear or worry.
  With my job done, I appeared on the outside of the crowd. The truck was flipped on its side, smoking and making that tinkling noise vehicles made when they were out of commission. The driver was okay, but if he hadn’t been, it wouldn’t have mattered. No, I didn’t like the idea of the innocent dying. But in some instances, sacrifices had to be made. 
  I didn’t bother listening for sirens or looking out for the policía. They would show up only when they felt like it, which meant, it was up to me to look after the girls. Why I felt the need to, puzzled me. I shouldn’t have cared if they lived or died. But I did care. Especially for the beauty. I wanted to make sure she made it back home to her hija.
  A young Colombian man no older than twenty-one years old, had emerged from a nearby hovel to see what was going on. I intercepted his sprint and stepped into him, taking control of his body and mind, but I didn’t dare possess them for long. I risked corrupting his soul if I did and there were enough corrupt souls in Bogota already.
  Even before I reached the entrance to the warehouse, I knew I was too late. I stepped inside and nearly slipped on the blood that coated the floor. All around me, the bodies of the young girls had been left to rot, or rather, bleed out from the slits in their necks. I counted. There were only five bodies. Two were missing. I searched their faces and my possessed body’s heart began to race. She was not among them.
  I heard a gurgling noise behind me and I turned just in time to see a member of Andrés crew, or ex-crew, slit another girl’s throat. But it was not the beauty. She was next.
  I made my presence known with a cough, then stepped into the light pushed through a small window above me by the sun. 
  “Who the fuck are you?” The crew member stood, wiping his knife on his pants. And within seconds, I was surrounded by the other members, all flashing really sharp knives.
  “You deaf, rolo? I said, who the fuck are you?”
  “Doesn’t matter who I am,” I replied. This voice, I didn’t recognize, but I was glad that it didn’t sound scared. It sounded kind of menacing. Good thing. Fear would only provoke them and I really didn’t want to get this boy killed.
  El Muerte is dead,” I said.
  They looked around at each other. “So what, you want us to hold hands and sing a fucking hymn or something?” But I knew he was not so unaffected by Andrés death on the inside. Their leader was dead and they had no clue what was going to happen now. 
  “I just want the girl,” I said. “Just give me the girl and I’ll leave.”
  He looked behind him. Then turned back. “That your guaricha?
  “She is now. So move.”
      There was a pause, then they all burst out laughing. I let them, knowing it would be their last happy moment.
  When they had quieted down, the member said, “She’s mine now, rolo. Now get the fuck out of here before I––” He stopped, finally noticing what I’d hoped the light would bring to his attention. “What the fuck is up with your eyes, rolo?
  I didn’t reply. I knew what he was seeing. Two solid black ojos that were reflecting his image back to him.
  He stepped closer. “I said––”
  He never saw me coming.
  With a single snap, I severed his neck from his spine. As he crumpled into a lifeless heap of low-life criminal, his boys jumped me. Only to find themselves being taken out one by one. I broke necks, stabbed hearts and ripped out souls. Six lives paid for the six lives taken.
  Evil would be pleased.
  Covered in blood, I approached the beauty. I was so glad she hadn’t been awake to watch me slaughter six men. Or rather, watch...Alejandro Carlos, slaughter six men.
  I searched her mind to find out where she lived, and found out her name was Luz Marina. A beautiful name for a beautiful girl. I lifted her up into my arms. She moaned a little but didn’t wake up. I made sure she stayed that way by making her dream she was already awake, then walked out of the warehouse.
  As I carried Luz’s slumbering body through the slums, I drew many stares. I didn’t care though. I simply swiped their memories of Alejandro’s face and pushed forward. If any of them had dared to piss me off by trying to interfere, I would’ve swiped every memory they had as compensation. Would’ve left them as mindless shells. But my eyes held them off, as well as scared the shit out of them and I liked that.
  From her memories I had learned that Luz lived with her daughter, Liliana, her sister, Paola and ailing mother, Claudia. Lu Mal had come calling and she’d answered. She’d become a drug mule to provide for her family. And almost hadn’t made it back home alive. But that wasn’t all. When she woke up, she would learn that the last girl to have her throat slit open had been her sister, Paola. Her sister had been a mule too.
  My black heart bled for her.
  I laid Luz on the threshold of her family’s tiny hovel. I wanted to take her inside, wash her and put her to bed, but I didn’t dare. Instead, I knocked, once, then twice, waited to hear that somebody was coming to the door, then dashed away.
  I heard an older woman’s frightened voice and a that of a little girl’s come to the door. They must’ve hurriedly pulled Luz inside because I heard the door shut only moments later. I hated leaving an ailing old woman and a child to deal with Luz alone, but I had no other choice. Out in the deserted alley behind Luz’s hovel, I let Alejandro go. Once free of me, he tore down the alley, screaming. They always did.  Being possessed was one thing. Being possessed and knowing you had been, was another.
  I vanished away, back to where Evil resided and actually sought him out. Something had changed for me. Luz Marina, for one. Paola, two. Lu Mal, three. They deserved vengeance for what he’d done to them. And I was going to help them get it.
  To summon Evil, I had to dig away the scar tissue in my arm where the word “Reaper” had been burned into it almost twenty years before. It was excruciating, but the only way.
  Evil appeared, as hideous and gruesome as it always was. Hollow face, rotten teeth, exposed brain. I wasn’t scared of anything, but Evil terrified me. I cowered from it. Just like people cowered from me.
  You summon me? Evil didn’t speak out loud. Not because it couldn’t, it just didn’t have to.
  I nodded. I could feel it prodding around in my head, searing my thoughts with its depravity, and I prayed it would find what it was looking for soon.
  When it had, it bore down on me with its demonic gaze. What is it you desire? Evil questioned. Tell me what it is you desire.
  I knew it already knew, but I was going to have to ask for it if I wanted it. I tried to speak, but only choked on air. I didn’t even know why I tried anymore. Reapers didn’t talk.
  I tried to get into its’ head, but failed. One didn’t penetrate Evil’s mind, and for even attempting it, Evil punished me.
  I was forced to my hands and knees, and into the concrete slab I cowered on, I was compelled to scratch out, L-U-Z, with my own fingers.
  I screamed with no sound. I lost most of my fingernails and scraped my skin down to the bone for those three letters. The pain was agonizing, complete torture, but Evil had gotten the message.
  That was the last thing I remembered.
  I woke up back in the slums of Bogota, naked and disoriented. I climbed out of the rotten garbage and filth I’d been lying in and stumbled into a cleaner part of the alley. I noticed right away that I wasn’t limping and that my body wasn’t in a constant state of torment anymore. I looked down and saw...
  I tore down the alley and the first guy I saw, I beat unconscious and stole his clothes. I didn’t care. I was a Reaper. Possibly one that had just been given a second chance.
  I stole away into the nearest hovel I thought might be empty. It was and I quickly locked myself in. I hunted down a mirror and stared with amazement at what I had become.
  I was mortal.
  Brunette, with green eyes and a nice physique. I’d always been the cute guy at school when I’d been alive. And when I’d actually gone to class. There were no scars, no wounds, no...nothing. I was perfect. But there was something else, and I realized it with dread. 
  I was still a Reaper. A harbinger of death. Just in a mortal’s body.
  A thought occurred to me then. I probably should’ve stayed dead. The world did not need me back in it. 
  But it was too late for that now.
  I looked at myself in the mirror, and spoke with my voice for the first time in almost two decades.
  “Welcome back, Bryce Gambit.”

Copyright © 2012 by Diantha Jones