((Ilario Fiametta III continued from Slow Cheetah. Rhory Anne Broderick continued from Laisse tomber les filles. Co-written by karsk.))
She was washing her hands.
And her arms. And her clothes, although they were still on her. She'd splashed water on her pack and now she scrubbed at her nails. Lady Macbeth flitted across his mind for a moment, out damned spot except that reminded him of Kris and that reminded him of Etain and then Jackson loomed in his mind the way Jackson always did now. But this wasn't Jackson with one eye missing (not even missing, exactly, just - leaking), this was whole and hearty Jackson with a clove cigarette in the corner of his mouth. He was turned to the side, in profile, bending over a tall girl with attractively cut dark brown hair. A familiar girl. The name stuck with him even as he shook himself out of the daydream, because that as the same girl who was standing in front of him.
Rhory Broderick. He knew her name, in a vague way. He'd seen her around. He thought maybe she'd been at one of the parties he'd picked Rosa up from, but he couldn't be sure. Jackson had known her. He'd seen them together. Jackson turned to one side, smoke trickling from his mouth all spicy-sweet, late afternoon sun on the girl's hair as she held up a hand and said something he couldn't hear. A weird picture to stick with him. He remembered crossing the courtyard and seeing them - but that was why he did remember it, because he'd seen them, together, and his cock had twitched. He hadn't fought it, either, he'd just stood there and he'd watched Rhory's hand on Jackson's shoulder, fingers coming up for a moment to brush across his neck, tug his earlobe, she'd leaned into him and all around was a haze of black coffee and blacker lungs so that when pleasure knotted his belly he wasn't sure which of the two had triggered the feeling.
And he fucking hated it. Ilario didn't masturbate, had never masturbated except for that first terrifying time. He hated the feeling it gave him, he hated the loss of control, he hated being anything like Rosa who gave into herself, who gave into her desires (and look where that had gotten her, not her fault he'd done what he did but she should have known she should have done something-). He'd learned control and it hadn't been easy, but it was a strength, a triumph, a victory for him. And seeing them that day had broken the wall down without him even noticing until the warmth spread through his groin.
Now he felt a different kind of warmth. The blood was new, sticky, bright and red. It sprayed dramatically over her. It oozed out of a confusing mass of gauze and plastic wrap covering her right hand, thick as jam. His own hand, muddied, scraped, a smear of gun oil on the thumb, stole down to gently slide over the AK's magazine. Blood was blood. You could wash it off all you wanted, but it always showed. It stained. And oh, yes, speaking of staining here came the clothes, her hands frantic as she unzipped her fly, stepping clumsily out of the ripped jeans, shucking the bloodied gray sweater moments later. In bra and panties she crouched by the river, splashing and cursing.
She had the right idea. Cold water. But there wasn't soap and some had already dried - he knew how hard it was. Rosa, once or twice, coming home unable to see straight, and he'd washed clothes stained with blood and other liquids. It wouldn't come out. Rhory didn't seem to care, her bra the next thing to go, then her panties. His breath caught for a moment, settled. He was in control. Fingers on the gun-stock, he was in control. Always. He was okay. He was good. He straightened up, preparing to go to her. She was a killer - she must be. The blood wouldn't come from anything else, bright arterial spray (Etain, falling, his throat open and red fountains pumping out onto Kris), but she wouldn't be a long-distance kill. She didn't have a weapon - she was naked. He would allow her to know why she was dying, offer her the final comfort of knowing she was atoning for what she had done just as he was.
But then it happened. She flicked her panties to one side - turquoise, small, they caught his eye and he followed their path to the ground before a wash of embarrassment ran through him. He jerked his eyes away, settling them on her daypack in lieu of her naked body. The pack was nestled up against a rock, but something looked strange about it, something almost catching the gleam of the sun. He leaned forwards, trying to get a better look, and abruptly froze.
It was a gun.
It was a big gun. His finger tightened unconsciously on his own weapon as he stared at the dull lustre of the metallic body, the black hole of the muzzle. It rested next to the daypack like a crouching metallic lizard waiting for the opportune moment to strike. He could almost see Rhory's small fingers wrapped around the trigger as her shoulder absorbed the recoil. She'd have the same bruises as him, sure enough. Alike. But not alike. Her kills (and now he knew she'd killed for certain, couldn't still have that weapon without using it) must have been raw and bloody and perhaps based on anger or fear. She was a wild animal now. Corrupted. Now, he thought she did not even deserve the closeness of his body as he performed the deed. He would strike from far away. It wasn't worth the risk to his own person.
He raised the stock to his shoulder before hesitating. She was bent over, washing her clothes in the river with violent strokes as she scrubbed at them with handfuls of rocks and sand. All he could see was the pale flesh of her rear end; not a desirable shot. Even if she stood he wasn't sure if he should try for the bullet entering her head, as tired as he had become he wasn't sure that he could make the shot.
He stood there for a time and perhaps would have stood there even longer, lost in a weary haze of regret and guilt and the knowledge that he must act soon, had it not been for Rhory herself. Throwing down the bloodstained sweater with a dry choke-sob she straightened up and stretched her bare back. Light slanted down through the trees and in front of Ilario's wide and dumbfounded eyes it shone on her back, on those wide and spreading antlers that were inlaid into her skin - or perhaps more accurately, it shone just between them.
The world went white around the edges. Ilario's vision tunneled to the crosshatched beams of faint sun. His lips moved. And as he beheld and considered the hart diligently, he saw between his horns the form of the holy cross shining more clear than the sun...
He knew the story.
Who was it who had told...an aunt, perhaps, some distant relative? The priest in Sunday-school years ago when he had first begun to learn the burden of his wild child sisters? Eustace who had been called Placidus before Christ himself had appeared in the body of a stag, His holy cross between the deer's antlers. The story had always seemed preachy to Ilario, a familiar parable about how one must suffer in order to know true faith.
It was appropriate to think of the hunter now. Bowstring drawn, arrow aimed, poised to make the shot until he notices the shining cross planted between the beasts's antlers. One of those Signs From God you hear so much about while you're wondering if this will be the day that those horrific church pews finally break your coccyx. Saint Eustace had taken it as a sign from God. He had stopped his slaughter, taken up the priestly life. Ilario wondered if this was God again. If it was, his message was different. Ilario knew that by now. The trigger on which his finger depressed for what seemed like the millionth time was sign enough of that.
Or maybe not just the Lord. Eustace was the patron saint of hunters, after all, it made sense that he'd have an interest in something other than orange-vested big city businessmen with a weekend license and a flask of bourbon. Ilario again raised the stock of the gun to his shoulder and settled it against the fresh bruising, neatly lining up the sights to focus in on the center of Rhory's back where sunlight made a halo of her skin, shivering in and out of focus as she dipped her ruined clothing in the river. He wouldn't waste this gift. He hadn't wasted the gift of the AK-47, and this wasn't any different. Sign or not, this sure felt like the universe cutting him a break. You have suffered, Ilario Fiametta III, but you have kept your purpose clear.
He smiled. For a moment it felt like he was back at home. The forest floor twisted into forest-green carpet under his feet, and what had felt like confession when he had stood over Timothy's body turned to triumph as his finger slid over the trigger. He could almost see his father's smile, forgiving him, welcoming him back into the fold. Like Eustace, he had endured.
And now he was so close to absolution.
He began to depress the trigger. Slowly. He would savor this one. There was no need to rush through the motions. That was a killer's method. It was ineloquent, inartful. It stripped the act of its meaning, of the importance of a human life. This was a ritual cleansing.
He pressed until the trigger began to creak, He slowed his pressure, separating out each individual note. His arms trembled out of nothing but sheer effort. No fear, no anxiety this time. Not even excitement. It was almost clinical. She threw her head back and he adjusted his aim to match the light playing across her tensing muscles. Then the light vanished. A sudden shock of birds driven by some all-surrounding inhuman blare cut through his focus. As his finger slipped, he briefly wondered what kind of a Sign the screaming was supposed to be.
He saw the splash but the sound didn't register. Just the screaming. It filled everything. It echoed through the trees and barrel of his gun and through both ears and made ripples across the surfaces of his eyes. It emptied the space of any air and even if there was any left to breathe he couldn't, not with the shredding and clawing at his lungs. The sound was at once unnatural and ungodly and far, far too human. It was rage and desperation and complete broken-ness. It was full of electricity and failure and loss and futility. It made his blood curdle and boil. He felt it would kill him, kill them both, suck everything that made them out by osmosis because it was so dry and so fucking empty and he could already feel its gravity pulling at his guts and splitting the skin over his joints. It made him want to scream things like fuck and cunt and cry and vomit and claw his own eyes out and rip at his cheeks until his nails scratched over the bone. It made him want to rip out each and every one of his teeth and swallow them all until he choked. A sound like that could not exist while there was any inch of hope or contentment to be found. The sound was pure, fatal reality. It was enough to make him drop the gun.
The sound never really stopped. Even as her vocal cords refused to keep producing it the trees and the birds and the guns all screamed it back. Her body collapsed under it, as if she'd screamed out her bones. Her knees hit the water hard. Neither of them heard the splash. Neither of them saw the sheets of blood-ruined fabric run down the river and out of sight. What Ilario did see, he didn't know or understand. He wanted to. He wanted to know whose blood it was in her hair and across her back. He wanted to know that the fingers of her right hand that limply skimmed the surface of the river were the ones that made her a killer. He wanted to know who her scream was for.
But he would never know the scream. The scream was for nothing.
The gun had slipped down to rest against his ribcage, and his shoulder ached. He felt empty. The sign was gone if it had ever been there, and the scream had torn out what vestiges of victory he had felt. It had hollowed him out. He felt suddenly, inordinately tired. His knees were loose with exhaustion (when had he last slept?) and hunger (when had he last eaten?) and confusion (what was he even doing here?). He watched her with suddenly dull eyes, and the feeling that rose gnawingly in the back of his mind was one that called to memory black sticks, clove-smell and cinnamon spice. He'd felt calm. For once.
Rhory wasn't calm. Her hands were in her hair, tearing at her scalp, splashing water across her flesh frantically. She was crying. Not loudly, but with the hysterical breaths of one who can keep it up forever without even knowing why. He'd cried like that before. Not recently. Ilario set the gun down, fumbled with one hand blindly at the zipper next to him. His pills were in there. He didn't take his eyes of Rhory, now crossing to her own stuff, groping with her ruined hand as his own fingers scrambled at the childproof cap. Dry-swallowing two pills, going by feel that they were different, he averted his gaze from her naked body and studied her face instead as her hands moved over her things.
She placed aside the gun that was Bill's to her but Rhory's to him. She opened the pack that was Marion's to her but Rhory's to him. She unzipped Marion's zippers and pulled out clothes. Clearly hers. Tan corduroy that was once pants but was summers ago rudely hacked apart above the knees. A black bra, lacy, like a doily or like the ones he sometimes saw in Victoria's Secret storefronts or on Rosa's bedroom floor. A thin gray thermal, a henley. One he vaguely remembered because it had been light enough one day in spring that he could dimly see her skin through it. Then, a black t-shirt. Clearly not hers. Slightly stained, unlike hers. Ends cut by something as if she had meant to use it for rags. Not her size. Whose was it? He didn't know. He wondered as she reached for the gun. He hadn't noticed the drying gore that splashed across it. He didn't know that it was Bill Davis's. He didn't know that after Rhory had taken the bag that was Marion's and used gauze and cling that were Marion's to keep her hand from ripping apart entirely, she'd crawled over on her knees to take the gun that was Bill's. He didn't know that she'd looked down at Bill. She'd looked at Bill for a long, long time. As she'd looked at Bill she'd lifted Bill's gun above her head. Then, she'd brought down. Against his face. Again, and again. She looked at Bill as his forehead began to cave and his nose liquefied. She'd kept looking as his eyes lost their perches and fell backwards into the newly revealed soup of meat. She looked and she listened to the crunching of his bones and the crack as his jaw unhinged. She hadn't made any sounds, hadn't screamed like she had in the river. She'd only looked at him until there was nothing left to look at.
Ilario didn't know any of that. He watched her wipe the stains off with the tee and then toss it aside. He could only wonder.
He stopped wondering as she stood and turned. He was, at first, surprised by how large and dark her nipples were. He was close enough to see their erect middles and the individual bumps that played across their surfaces. He could see the lighter unfreckled disks that marked where the sun less often touched. He noticed, of course, that they were very large. His eyes traced her downward, across the faint outlines of her ribs and her smooth abdomen an the curves of her hips to the dark triangle above where her legs parted. It had begun to grow wild over the past days, nursing small, dark curls. She lifted her right leg and he caught a brief glimpse of the flesh of her lips before she pulled the shorts over them. She bent down again for the bra, her breasts hovering slightly away from her body as she did. She pulled the thing over herself, struggling a bit with the clasp. She pulled the henley over her next. The light was almost gone now. The shirt was more opaque than he remembered, offering no hint of her flesh. Maybe he'd remembered wrong.
She pulled the sneakers on, sockless, with some visible effort. Some dull blood was still visible on the white lines that cut through where the gray and black patterns met. The laces had turned a sickly brown. She ran her good hand through her hair as she carefully maneuvered her bad one across the bag's zippers. She swung it onto her left shoulder. The gun she was careful with. Ilario noticed that she didn't handle it as he handled his. There was some fear in her face and some disgust. Her muscle tensed against its weight.
He was still wondering what that meant as he watched his stag slip through the trees and out of his sight. He'd never taken his shot.
((Rhory Anne Broderick continued in and you may say to yourself, "My God, what have I done?"))
Maybe him and Eustace had more in common than just the suffering.
Exhausted, Ilario let his legs give way, spilling him messily to the mud and soil below. He was trembling. Exhaustion, hunger, dehydration, he didn't know. He considered taking more pills. Rhory's naked body danced through his mind, sending a flush of heat through his lower belly. His head resting on his pack and his legs stretched out in front of him, he allowed his eyes to close while one hand drifted over his groin. Touched lightly. But disgust wormed through him and he turned his head, pressed his face against the dirt. Jackson would be like this, now. And Etain. If Kris had ever let him go. Timothy's face was in the sand. Rhory was still running.
God hadn't spoken to him, after all.
Ilario slept. When he woke he couldn't remember what he'd dreamed of, all that was left faint images of naked women, Rhory, his sisters, antlers on their heads and crucifixes hanging around their necks. Green carpet. When he stumbled to his feet and set off through the trees, weaving slightly as he struggled to wake up, he didn't notice the staining that had spread across his crotch and stiffened overnight. He didn't notice the tear tracks that carved through the dirt on his cheeks.
He noticed the turquoise panties, spotted with blood and earth, trailing in the stream, but left them there. Long after he had disappeared into the trees they remained, a crumpled remnant of a girl who'd washed away her bloody sins in the baptismal font of the river.
He wondered if it helped.
((Ilario Fiametta III continued in Nothing To See))
1 post • Page 1 of 1
- Joined: April 6th, 2009, 5:22 pm
fall down seven times stand up eight
(so you've got to keep in mind, when you try to change the world for the better not everybody's gonna be on your side)
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