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Thread: Down by the Crossroads
09-30-2009, 11:59 AM #1
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- Jun 2009
- Phenix City, AL
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Down by the Crossroads
They say you can hire the pale riders if you’re desperate enough. They can smell that need, you see, and they only come if you stink of fear and it’s clear you’ve got nowhere left to go. If you’re lucky. If you try to call them and you’re moved by greed or desire they may come anyways, but you won’t like what you find. Someone tried to own them once, and they don’t cotton to it. Not one bit.
He was killing angels. They came to the slums to feed the kids, wash the feet of the sick, and generally make everyone’s life just a little bit less hellish. They were angels, and he was killing them. The papers told enough so that the truth was clear; he was a Ressurectionist and he needed to die. But the occasional ugly murder of some dumb soul foolish enough to go to the slums wasn’t enough to bring the Guild crashing down on him.
All of that said it was clear enough the Guild would be there soon. The killings were getting more ballsey and the last victim had been some rich snobs’ son; cut to pieces and remade into a crow of red skin and wet bone. The papers said it was crudely animated and that the thing had tried to flap its dead wings, scraping them forlornly along the cobblestones. That rich snob wasn’t taking kindly to it and was asking powerful friends to have something done.
The Guild would come and that was something the Old Man couldn’t have. In his study he chewed his pale lips and rustled the newspaper in his hands, occasionally closing it with a grunt and then snapping it back open to that same page. A Death Marshal had made official comment on the issue of the Slum Angel Killings, as they were known. He was curious and he thought it might just be some Ressurectionist scum perfecting his craft on people who tried to make a bad place tolerable. He had other more pressing duties, but he’d like to take a look. Soon. He had promised on his badge.
The Guild was coming. The Death Marshals at that! He Old Man reckoned he had one, maybe two more splayed flayed corpses before the Guild was in his little corner of the slums in force, all coffins, guns and ignorance.
They didn’t understand and so they would destroy. That was what made them meat, like the rest of the human race. They had understanding, but they lacked will. They lacked will, sure enough, but they could ask questions and they could kill. They could end his carefully constructed plans and burn down his rats nest house of lies. They lacked will, sure, but these things they could do.
This ****-ant fresh meat Ressurectionist want-be-be was going to bring the hammer of the Guild down and it would be enterprising and cautious Ressurectionists like the Old Man who would pay the price.
This couldn’t stand. It was time to wake up the Boy. His Boy. There would be thunder and gunsmoke, screaming and dying, and then the problem would be solved. The Slum Angel Killer would be dead, his Boy would be fed, all fat and gross on death, and life could return to its methodical march to the grave. Life could return to normal.
He rose from his stool, came from behind the bar and locked the door to his saloon. The Drunken Ass would be closed for the night. He hobbled along, muttering ugly nothings to himself, and made his way to the cellar. He kept beer and whisky down there, and he kept the Boy down there. His Boy, sure enough. He’d born the Boy into life and then born him into death. The Boy was his son twice over and his rightful property. Not for the Old Man the moaning hordes of the undead. One perfect creature was enough. Born of love and sacrificed, along with that love, on the Old Mans’ bloody slab. Sacrifice was the key; of this the Old Man was certain.
He lit candles as he walked down the creaking stairs and looked at the Boy, all cold and perfect on his stone bed. His calvary hat covered his face, the hawkish nose so much like the Old Mans’ own, and the moustache and beard, and the two rows of sharp teeth. The Boy had a grin like a shark, and twice as soulless at that. The Boy had a horseshoe moustache and soul patch, too. The Old Man often regretted not shaving that off. Now he would return to that state no matter what happened to him. So long as the Boy had enough flesh to eat and parts to sew on it didn’t matter what happened to his gaunt frame, he’s return to that same perfect state with the same stupid moustache and beard.
The Old Man thought the facial hair made him look like a vagrant. The Boy thought it had made him look every inch the perfect cavalry officer. He did look the daring horseman, the perfect pale rider, but it wasn’t that stupid facial shrub, it was the seeping gut wound that had killed him. It was the thundering twin irons he carried on his hips and the cavalry saber that he never washed the blood off of. These things made him perfect. He was death, the consumer, the destroyer of worlds.
The truth was plain in his ravenous mouth and the six shooters gripped in cold dead hands. He had started life as his fathers’ boy, ended it as the Old Mans’ Boy, and had become a perfect murderous implement. The Boy was worth any stinking horde of crude puppets and now it was time to wake him up again.
The Old Man spoke the words and those ruthless gray eyes snapped open and an abyssal hiss escaped the thin lips, breathed past the knife teeth like the earth’s moan through a stalagmite riddled cave.
His son, the Boy was awake. Death had come to the slums again, and this time, for the first time, it would seek out someone who just plain had it coming.
To be continued.
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