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now is the winter of our discontent; one-shot
Topic Started: Oct 2 2016, 12:43 PM (114 Views)
Grim Wolf
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The Very Best
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
(Alex Tarquin ENTER: from AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH)

The pitiless sun was glaring down on a killer.

Alex could feel it somehow, prickly at his neck, making him chafe. His face was sticky with his own blood. The crown of his head ached from his battle against the nameless girl's nameless avenger. And he was-

And he-!

Monsters preying on the weak.

He couldn't stand the pitiless sun. He couldn't stand the indifferent day that seemed to have no idea of the monstrous thing in its midst.

He ran, and did not stop running. He couldn't stop hearing the girl's strangled cried. He couldn't stop seeing Sabrina's terrified face. She had believed him, and he had...

And he had...!

He ran, until he found a blocky building with broken windows, and charged inside. He passed over the raucous remnants of some long-past party, slipped on some of the birdshit lingering. He didn't know where he was going, until he saw the faux-marble bathroom and plunged inside. Most of the windows were broken, but a few remained.

He needed to see what had become of him.

Alex Tarquin did not look like a hero. Alex Tarquin did not look like a man who knew what he was doing, who would rise up and challenge the

monsters

terrorists who had put them here. Alex Tarquin looked terrified. There was blood on his face. His eyes tore over the room until he found a dirty towel, and suppressing the moment's bizarre disgust (don't want to get infected when you're killing innocent girls ha ha ha) he grabbed it and wiped himself clean.

He saw.

There was a crusty groove in his forehead now, just above his scrub-cut headband, stretching back into his hairline. Hesitantly, he ran his finger along it, wincing. It ended near the very crown of his head. A scratch, almost.

A scratch left by a bullet?

He saw his lips trembling, his eyes welling with tears.

It was an accident. That was all. An accident. He had cleaved open a girl's back on accident, like he was tripping over something. Come on, can't you guys take a laugh?

And when you pushed down the shelf, was that an accident? When you clawed for his gun-

He was trying to kill me. He
tried to kill me.

A scratch left by a bullet. What were the odds on that? An inch lower, an inch to either side, a fraction of a degree's difference in angle, and Alexander David Tarquin isn't standing in front of a mirror feeding himself justifications. He's a corpse with his brains splattering the shelves and floor.

It's what I deserve.

It. Was. An. Accident!

Where's the glory in that?

The thought was a whisper, somewhere in the deep dark recesses of his mind. He froze as though he could hear it in the room with him.

Glory? What glory? What glory was left. He had awoken and played the hero, played and calm collected confidence and unshakable audacity. He had pretended he could rise against the

monsters

people who had brought them here, and had cut open a woman because of phantoms in his own head, memories and images of movies. He had killed her for a fantasy, and now there were no fantasies left.

Come on. What kind of story was that? Heroes make mistakes and have regrets, true, but not like this. That woman wasn't cut down in the line of duty, an unfortunate sacrifice, the unexpected consequence of a noble intention. She was an accident. How do you atone for an accident? How do you play that antihero? Who remembers or cares about Alexander David Tarquin, the boy so stupid he cut a girl open while playing pretend with a machete?

Machete Master. Monsieur Machete.

Who cares?

Monsters preying on the weak.

Not, not even that. Look at the scared boy in the reflection. That's not a monster. That's not even a man. That's a child with a collar on his neck and no choice. That's a victim. You can pity a victim, but you do not idolize him. You do not have confidence in him.

The stage is collapsing. The play is over. What now?

It's not over.

He remembered the nameless woman falling, the bloody meat of her slashed back. That would be him, not too long from now. It was only luck that he was still standing, that he had dodged those deadly bullets. Only luck that stopped him from being a bloody corpse upon the floor.

But what if it wasn't luck?

No. He was done with pretending there was anything special about the man in the mirror, a child wearing a costume. He was done.

Pretend? Or play?

God, he wanted to play. He wanted to lose himself in the role, but there was no such thing as a hero with a sword, because the hero cut open an innocent woman and when a righteous man tried to shoot you down you fought tooth and nail to stop him. Because he was alive. Because he was.

"Fit," he said aloud, staring at him, and the word seemed to echo through the room and through his bones and through his thoughts.

Fit, right. Survival of the Fittest, after all. And he had survived, hadn't he? But not by any skill. It was all luck. It was all...

He traced the cut along his head again.

"Luck?" he repeated. "Or..."

Or what?

"Survival of the Fittest," he said, staring at his reflection. And when he said it, the face in the mirror didn't look quite so young or scared. When he said, it, the face in the mirror, with its self-made headband and the scratch upon its head, looked dangerous.

"Survival," he repeated. "Of. The Fittest."

Where was the glory in being a lost kid who'd made a mistake? None. There was no path to redemption that captured the imagination. He would be a child who had made a terrible error. His story would earn him enmity at worst, pity at best. He would never be Alexander David Tarquin, towering above the stage, larger than life. He had closed that door with a careless swing of his sword.

But what if it wasn't careless.

He turned, looked around the room until he found it. The camera where the monsters watched.

"Monsters that prey upon the weak," he said, eyes gleaming, the corners of his mouth slowly spreading into a maniacal grin. He was thinking so terribly fast. He felt so terribly alive. His skin was tingling with vitality. He could feel himself, the soles of his feet to the tip of his cock and tongue to the pads of his fingers to every hair upon his head.

"But that's not right, is it?" Alex asked. "No, no, no, I didn't see. You didn't prey on anyone. You just set the stage and cast us. We fill the roles we can."

He started to pace, not looking at the camera. "It's a crucible, isn't it? A place to remake the weak flesh into something stronger, something that understands. We've lost touch. We play pretend." He snorted. "Heroes! Like protecting the weak is something admirable. Contributing to the downfall and degradation of a decadent human race."

He spat these last few words.

The smile widened slightly. "But when that weak woman tried to sneak up on me, she learned. Her. Place. And when he tried to fight against the order, he. Learned. His."

His finger traced the lucky wound once again.

"Not luck," he said. "Chance. And our reactions to it. How we adapt. How we survive."

He looked back at the camera, grinning. He strode towards it, pointed a finger into the lens. "Oh, it's a glorious game," he said. "Repeated again and again until we get the lesson." His grin faded slightly. He looked into the camera with all the solemn fervor he could muster. "But I wonder if you yourself have faced the trial?"

He stared at the camera as though looking through it. Then he smiled again. "Don't worry," he said. "I'll play your game. I'll win it. The fittest will survive."

He turned away from the camera, grabbed his bag and his machete, and headed to the door. He paused, and added, "And after that, I'll see how you measure up."

Heading away from the bathroom, not looking at the mirror, not looking anywhere. Moving with purpose even though he had no idea where he was moving to. His smile was gone, but he did not have to play the manic gleam in his eye. He saw his path to glory. He saw the story that let him stay Alexander David Tarquin. He had wanted to be loved and feared. He had wanted to be a hero who struck terror into the hearts of the wicked. But he couldn't do that any longer, could he? He had seen only one road. the road of the child, unlike any other. Nothing special.

There was another path, though. A harder path. Because if he could not be loved, he could still be feared.

He wandered into a bedroom, found more remnants of an ancient party. A pair of crusty boxer, flung over a table. A bra, slung over a broken lamp. And beneath the bed, was that...?

He pulled it out. A leather jacket. He tried it on, wrinkling his nose at the smell, and found it a little to small for him. He shrugged, pulled it off, then paused, touching the denim on his knees, struck by a sudden idea. He laid the jacket out on the bed, sliced off one sleeve, turned it over and sliced the other. He pulled these sleeves over each arm, so suddenly he wore leather gauntlets. A Mad Max, post-apocalypse look. A ramshackle man finding advantages wherever her can. Because in this place, there is only one path to survival.

There is only one path to glory.

And therefore since I cannot prove a lover
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
I am determined to prove a villain
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.


(Alex Tarquin EXIT: to This World Belongs to the Mad)
Edited by Grim Wolf, Oct 3 2016, 03:15 PM.
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V6 Players

Tara Behzad: "They don't get to decide how I die."

Lizzie Luz: "I don't want to go."

Alex Tarquin: "No more masks."

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