Speak 24-II

I Am Death.

Surprisingly enough, I wasn’t prepared for the sound of someone getting impaled through the chest. You got me, I'm not as worldly as I claim. It was less… wet, I guess. Not as visceral. In fact, it was quite a hard sound. Very crunchy.

Talie hung there, held off the ground by… you know. Her face was… still. Like it hadn't registered with her yet. Her arms hung limp by her sides. Slowly, blood began to trickle out of the wound and down his arm. It didn’t seem that there was enough of it.

He sniffed, and flicked his arm to the side. Her body went flying off, tumbling limply to the ground. “Interesting,” he said, sounding amused. “I suppose that certainly would explain it.”

I’d figured it out by now. He got strength from having mass, but had to consume it to get speed. And he’d consumed a lot already. It was probably the only reason the shoulder-charge that I hit him with did anything at all.

He stumbled back slightly, and I kept moving forward, throwing out blows that had about as much effect as hitting a concrete wall. I didn’t particularly care. Keep him off his feet. I tried hitting him between the legs, like I had last time, but I didn’t have the advantage of it being unexpected anymore, and it didn’t connect. He actually seemed slightly unnerved. Or, he didn’t immediately pulp me.

My ears were ringing oddly. There was some loud noise, that…

Oh. I was screaming. That was it.

One of his hands blurred, and caught my fist. I tried to kick him, but he just tossed me to the side.

“Children,” he said dismissively.

I hauled myself back onto my feet. I needed to figure out how to destroy him. I needed to-

He had me by the neck again instantly. I writhed and twisted, spitting at his face, but even though he was now almost painfully thin, his grip was still like iron. I grabbed his forearm with both hands, swung up and kicked him in the face with both feet. It rocked his head back a little, but the hand didn’t slacken in the least. I growled and started digging my fingernails into his skin, drawing small beads of blood from the skin.

“Mm,” he said, disaffected. “I suppose this was to be-” I spat straight at his eye, forcing him to turn his head to avoid it. It splattered against the side of his skull, and ran down to drip onto his shoulder. “...expected,” he finished.

“I,” I snarled, “am going to end you. I’m going to throw every last little piece of you into an incinerator. I’m going to bury you in the foundations of a building. I’m going to-”

He tightened his grip, and I suddenly lacked the air to speak. “No,” he said, “you’re not.”

My vision began to contract as I struggled, going grey around the edges. Fine. I stopped moving, and focused inwards, pulling together every last scrap of power I had, focusing so hard it felt like I was scraping out the inside of my soul. I didn’t really know what I was doing with it, but that didn’t stop me from condensing it all into a tiny, wicked spear of energy. My thoughts were starting to fog over, but I almost had something, some way of-

The pressure around my throat suddenly released, and my lungs involuntarily contracted in a wheezing, heavy gasp. My concentration broke, and I lost my grip on the spear, letting it splinter and fall away. “...why?” I managed to cough.

He smiled, and I immediately wanted to break his teeth and make him choke on them. “Because that wouldn’t be any fun.”

Then he jumped.

The force of the sudden start jerked my head at an odd angle, and I choked, gasping for breath. The wind smacked me in the face as we hurtled upwards, bitterly cold. Without even shifting forms, he’d sent us at least a dozen stories into the air in a few seconds. Not just up, either; we were moving very quickly laterally as well, even as we reached the peak of the arc.

So in addition to everything else, he could leap tall buildings in a single bound. Of course.

Dragged behind him like I was, I couldn’t see where we were going, so it was a shock when our fall suddenly stopped with a jolt of impact. The source became clear a second later as my legs smacked against the edge of a roof, then bounced repeatedly off the surface as he skidded to a stop.

I groaned involuntarily. My legs felt weirdly numb, but I was pretty sure they weren’t broken. It wasn’t like I could check, though.

The hand holding me jerked me up again, dangling me in the air. The murderhobo had one foot up on the raised lip of the roof, and was holding me over the edge with a smirk.

I stared him straight in the eyes. Don’t look down.

“You asked,” he said casually, voice raised above the wind, “why.”

Old habits die hard. “I don’t actually care,” I replied, the snark laced with venom. “If this is the bit where you start monologuing at me, you might as well just let me drop.”

He ignored me. “One,” he said slowly. “One. Three.”

I blinked. “What?”

“I was nothing, you know,” he said casually. “Not even nothing. I was a wretch, a wretch’s wretch.”

“Yeah? Maybe you should give it another shot, see how you like it this time around.”

“But I was visited.” His vision seemed to cloud over. “By an angel.

Oh my God. Did I have some sort of sign on my back, that said ‘Religious Crazies, Please Be My Nemeses’? Why couldn’t I have any secular nutjobs?

“She showed me a vision. A beautiful world, filled with strife and blood and glory. All the things I had never known I wanted to see, laid bare before me. And then she blessed me, and gave me a holy mission, so that I could see it come to fruition.”

Wait, was he saying he’d been given his powers? Or, no. It was probably just some crazy story his fucked-up brain had invented after the fact, so he could go around turning people into mulch as much as he liked.

“She showed me the way, showed me the tool I would need.” At that, the hand holding the pad waved slightly. “But alas, she was no true angel. Her commands changed. She shied away from her path, tried to turn me from what she had shown. So I venture forth alone, to spread the beautiful light.”

“Ohhhh,” I said slowly. “I get it.”

He actually seemed surprised. “You do?”

“Yep. You’re fucking crazy.” Smiling seemed wrong, but I did it anyway, vision flat. “Should’ve figured it out earlier.”

As quickly as it appeared, the emotion was gone from his face again. “Ah well,” he said, back to smiling again. “You don’t need to understand in order to further the cause. And you will make such a…” he shuddered joyfully, “beautiful malform.”

I didn’t need to ask what the word mean. “So that’s the plan, then?” I asked, trying not to think about my body distorting and warping like Paladin’s had. “Show me that and drop me in the city centre, right?”

“Ohhh yes,” he said, savouring the words. “You don’t get the honour of being first, but in the large scale, I’m sure it won’t matter all that much.”

Lis, crumpling as her knee shattered. All my friends, bleeding out in the rubble. Talie. This time, I didn’t need to be choking to death to shape my last, desperate attack. The tiny spear formed again, crackling with power inside. “Fuck you,” I said, and-

A blur of white flashed across my vision, and the datapad disappeared from his hand. Along with the hand that had been holding it.

Edith stared at the back of the datapad as she held it in her hands, standing a few feet away from us. “Finally,” she whispered.

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