Friday, May 2, 2014

Day Six-Hundred-Ninety: Fear the Reaper

I have ripped these pages from Dragomir's diary. He doesn't need to know this - but I feel compelled to keep writing anyway.

We made a promise, we four. Very much out of guilt.

I didn't trust June not to betray me when I brought Plato to her clinic in Fareach, so I ordered Logan and Jeffrey to come along as well. They've been my go-to lackeys all week, and they're the only people who knew that the clinic was not necessarily on the up-and-up. Both were especially surprised when greeted at the door of the clinic by a hulking werewolf.

"Wow," Logan whispered as he entered the clinic, unable to take his eyes off the werewolf. "You... you got bigger."

"She grows as the lycanthropy grows," the werewolf replied. The many eyes of a tarantula peeked out of the scruffy fur on the werewolf's head. "I believe she's almost a third bigger than before. We will be hard pressed to hide - "

"Shut it." June, sitting in a chair in the clinic's cramped lobby, raised her staff and shook it at the werewolf. "Get me some tea, Julius. My head hurts."

The werewolf bowed, nodded to Logan, and slipped into a back room. I patted Logan's back. I remember how much he loved that kangaroo. Even if it was actually a werewolf.

Slow and ponderous, June led us into the small surgical area where Grayson's body waited. He looked no better than during our previous visit, gaunt and white and curiously absent of body odour. His leg twitched as we entered, and a ghostly limb flew up out of the fabric. My three compatriots took a few steps back.

"Yikes." Jeffrey looked to Logan, then to me. "You, uh, sure we need to be here for this?"

"Absolutely." I slid in behind Plato and patted his shoulder, simultaneously pressing the tip of a tiny knife into his back. "This one needs encouragement. Right?"

Obviously unhappy, the platypus nodded. He approached Grayson, twiddling his thumbs and asking June several pointed questions about the boy's case history. Though skeptical regarding my choice of surgeon, she answered all of his questions to the best of her knowledge. She coughed a lot in the process, and her gasping heaves made me wonder how long she has left before she winds up on a similar table.

"I'm not sure what you think he's gonna do," Logan whispered as he sidled over to me. "I thought he was just the navigator."

"Ye need to get caught up on Dragomir's diary, lad. It's... illuminating." I paused, shaking my head. "Your early writing is sad, by the way. Did ye really have to write in all capitals?"

"I was going through a phase."

"Annoying-ass phase."

"Shhh." Jeffrey joined us. "Assuming Plato is any use here, why are we helping Grayson? He's... he's not exactly on our side. He forced Dragomir - "

"I know what he forced Dragomir te do," I hissed back. "Ye'll see. Soon. Just be patient."

Plato laid his hands on Grayson's arm. He immediately reared back, two tentacle-like spectral appendages writhing in the air above Grayson's head. Grayson's head snapped up and he hissed, though his eyes were closed and his neck didn't seem to be working properly. He didn't settle down until Plato stepped away again, and even then he continued to snap at the air.

"Well?" June tapped her foot. Her ankle popped loudly. "Can ye do something, or was this just a waste?"

Though greyer than usual, Plato nodded. Raising a hand into the air, he closed his eyes. Nothing seemed to happen for a few seconds... but then, almost imperceptibly, a faint woosh of air entered the room. More followed, building in intensity, and soon a small vortex of swirling wind built above Plato's fingers. Green Non energy crackled and spat, pulling open a small hole leading to some space and some time that I'll ne'er fathom. We all gasped, even June - 

- as a long, slender, emerald scythe wriggled out of the hole, straightening into a solid pole in Plato's hand. Pulsating tendrils snaked from shaft to tip and back again, as alive and hungry as the glow in Plato's eyes.

No one said anything, though we all backed away. I can't speak for the others, but I was pretty damned surprised. I'd never thought of Plato as intimidating, but... with that scythe...

Jeffrey took the plunge first. "Huh. Sooooo... you're... one of...?"

Rolling his eyes, Plato flashed entirely black for about three seconds before settling back to his normal grey-and-blue look.

Jeffrey gulped. "Yep. That's that settled."

Perhaps gaining confidence from our shock, Plato gestured for June to move away. She gave him plenty of space, backing into the room's opposite corner and sipping at her tea. The werewolf helped raise the cup to her hand so the tea wouldn't shake out onto the floor.

Plato stepped in beside Grayson. The scythe cast an eerie, living light on Grayson's pale face, and he looked as though his muscles were wriggling beneath his skin like worms in a corpse. Gulping, Plato lowered the scythe towards Grayson's midsection, and we all held our breaths, most of us barely even aware what was happening.

I can't say for certain what happened next. I suppose it could be called an invasion.

I went still, unable to move. My eyesight went all white, blinded by the kind of blaring light that comes from staring at the sun. I tried to wince away from the sensation of burning eyeballs, yet it didn't hurt enough, it didn't hurt at all, and I couldn't force my body to flinch.

The light receded the tiniest bit. Just enough that I could see moving shapes. And what I saw...

A boy, playing with a spear.

An unborn teenager, speaking to his mother.

A young man, eating dinner with his parents.

A baby, hovering above a long field of grass on a curtain of air.

A man grown, placing a horned helmet on his head for the first time.

A youth, standing in front of an enraged dragon.

A guard, sneaking towards a pack of elephants.

A victim, bitten by a werewolf.

A head, hurtling through the night.

A victor, screaming laughter as he undid all his hard work.

A ghost, held captive against his will. 


And then...


Grayson and Philip screamed simultaneously, their voices mingling into a horrible, discordant duet, both struggling to escape Plato's blade as it bit into Grayson's flesh. Green tendrils pushed Grayson's arms down, pinning him to the table as Plato worked, but the writhing was too much, too strong, too violent -

Grayson spasmed so hard that the tendrils flew from his body. He pushed away from Plato, screaming in a tongue none of us understood... and as he did, his flesh parted as it met the impossibly-sharp edge of Plato's surgical scythe. It carved an enormous gash in Grayson's torso, so huge and wetly-red that I was instantly reminded of a butcher's shop.

Grayson's upper half collapsed onto the floor. His legs jerked and kicked on the operating table.

But the sounds did not end. Grayson's bloody mouth stopped screaming, yet we still heard the sound of his fury and agony, rising into the air as part of a looping ball of light. Dimming to a sickly purple, the ball crawled with the malformed details of two faces: one Grayson, one Philip. 

"We are free," the phantom gasped, its mouths huge and gaping. "No more pain. No more rats. Free."

The world became utter chaos in that moment. Dwarfing Plato's gusty exhibition, the phatom unleashed a mass swirl of air that ripped the room apart. Piercing winds tore cupboards from walls, doors from hinges, shutters from windows. Logan, Jeffrey, Plato and I fled through the doorway; I assume the werewolf grabbed June and leaped through one of the new holes in the wall.

Perhaps ten seconds after we escaped the clinic, the building collapsed. Every stick of the thing came down. A withering howl announced the departure of the phantom, though we saw ne'er a bit of it after that first sighting.

Despite the gathering crowd, we four took a few minutes to compose ourselves. We couldn't tear away from the clinic, terrible though it was.

Gods help me. I've seen few things in my life that have frightened me more. It was even enough to make me forget the crumbling deal with June for a few moments. But only a few.



Grayson is dead. And I suppose, in a way, I have avenged Ed. As I'd wished.

That's when we swore. We swore we would not tell Dragomir what has happened to his son. Not until the time is right. I hope I'm gone before that day comes.

What... what has that fucking Non unleashed on the world...?


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