Monday, November 24, 2014

Day Seven-Eighty-Six: Freak No More

The last thing that went through Bernard’s brain - aside from a compacted clump of grass and dirt - was “Oh, mercy be, thank the gods f’this”. It was the only time Cedric shared a consciousness with his former subordinate, and it made him sad - but only a little - to know that his fellow Freak was, at long last, dead. Bernard’s horned helmet flew off into the sky, forever lost to the zombies.

Then another clump of dirt, smaller and looser, hit Cedric in the side of the face. Purplish-red blood sprayed from his mouth. His head did not explode, however, and Cedric found himself curiously okay with not dying. Though the dull pain erupting in his temple did a great deal to irritate him.

As a third of Freak slumped, suddenly bereft of control from Bernard’s mushy brain, the marketplace erupted into chaos. Somewhere nearby The Baron leaped beneath a stall, pulling his manacles out of Freak’s limp fingers and disappearing. Titan Blue, expanding abruptly to full height, ripped free of her bandaged disguise and unleashed a mighty swing of her right arm. Three carts flew into the air, now splinters of breaking wood and clumps of bedraggled goods. Doc screamed something unintelligible.

Cedric shook his head. Driscol, beside him, seemed to be doing the same. Bernard’s sudden disappearance had left them stunned.

“Shit,” Cedric grunted, slouching. He couldn’t quite reach out and take control of Bernard’s half of Freak, and the left claw and legs dipped dangerously low. “Agh… ah… yo, Dris, can you…?”

Driscol shuddered. “N… no… and here I thought I’d be happy… when he left…”

Shambling off to one side, Freak slumped against a stall, leaving a long streak of oozing purple blood on the wood. Bernard’s body shuddered, apparently wanting to unravel from the rest of Freak, and Cedric struggled to will it back into place. He didn’t like being Freak, but he didn’t want to fall apart, either. Between himself and Driscol they managed to keep the remains of Bernard’s body in place, though it was ponderous going.

The ground rumbled. Looking up with considerable effort, sweat pouring down his face, Cedric watched as a massive column of dirt rose out of the grass beneath Evangelina, putting her on almost-even ground with Titan Blue. The massive Non took one more swing, sending a huge group of zombies flying, and squared off against her opponent. A dozen more dirt clumps flew at Titan Blue, but the Non swatted them aside with relative ease.

“Your… sister, right…?” Cedric asked, panting.

“Yeah…” Driscol allowed himself a crooked smile. “Yeah. Fuck me, she’s… she’s gotten good. I was always… terrible… at manipulating soil…”

“You plain sucked at the whole magic thing period, kiddo. So disappointing…”

Cedric couldn’t bring himself to turn, but Driscol’s head whipped around. July was crouched next to them, dabbing at Bernard’s blood as she watched Evangelina scream something at Titan Blue. She was grinning so widely that the sewed scars on Grayson’s pale cheeks seemed ready to split open and join the fun. A zombie stumbled over beside her, shrieking, and she casually swiped its head from its body with a flash of orange energy.

“Guess she got her magic back when my old body bit the dust,” July commented, licking a dribble of red from her fingertips. “Ach, seals. So unpredictable, eh? Remember that lesson, m’boy? You sucked at seals, too, so’s I recall.”

Bitch,” Driscol hissed, though after Bernard’s decapitation the word seemed to lack enthusiasm. “You… you… you - “

“Me, me, me,” July confirmed. She cupped Driscol’s chin in one hand, smearing his crusty stubble with gore. “Your boss over there makes a lot of noise when he’s in trouble, doesn’t he?”

Cedric rolled his eyes. Beneath the sounds of combat - perhaps even eclipsing it at times - he could hear Doc shrieking for help. He could also feel the faint tugs of his master’s influence on his mind, but with Bernard gone the urge to assist Doc… to give up control… it almost didn’t seem to matter, anymore. The pain was so dull as to be laughable.

July seemed to see as much, and she chortled. “‘e’s tryin’ to get to you, isn’t he? To pull you in? No worries. He tried to do the same to me, as well, but it didn’t work. ’n now I think he’s too weak to force you two t’do anything. That’s what happens when you’re a fuckin’ head, I guess… which means I’d best be splittin’ from his little group, while the gettin’s good.”

Rising to her feet, July cracked her knuckles and pointed at both Cedric and Driscol, one finger per head. At first her hands were held tightly together, but as her eyes began to glow she pulled her arms apart, slowly, deliberately - 

- and Freak cracked in half as she moved. The tight, tentacular sinews binding Cedric and Driscol creaked and unravelled, seeming almost to scream deep in Cedric’s chest. Both men howled in sudden pain. They’d separated before, they knew how to do it, but this process… this seemed much more permanent, somehow. 

“D… Dris…” Cedric groaned, his furry arm grasping at Driscol’s chest as it pulled away.

“Ced… ric…” Driscol groaned back, head waggling, unable to remain upright. Bernard’s portion of Freak’s body sloughed away and slopped noisily to the ground.

It took a full minute for the last of the strands binding Cedric and Driscol together to snap completely. Cedric fell onto the grass, panting hard, vision hazing over. Driscol remained upright… but only for a few moments, apparently, because when Cedric got his eyesight back, Driscol was no longer sitting beside him. He realized, in a flush of pleasure and surprise sorrow, that Freak was now dead for good.

July still stood over Cedric, dusting her hands. Something large - a door, maybe? - stood vigil behind her for a brief second before disappearing. She nudged Cedric with her foot. “Good for you, too, big boy?”

Cedric raised a shaky middle finger at her. He was too exhausted to speak, though his energy seemed to rebounding slowly, filling his limbs with an odd sort of second wind.

“Tut. So vulgar.” July blew him a kiss. “Say goodbye to yer boss for me. Hope he gets his revenge on Libby, or whatever. Ain’t no big thing t’me.”

July turned and walked away, vanishing behind one of the only remaining stalls. Over the sounds of zombie screams, flying wood, and vengeful sisters, Cedric thought he heard the distinct ‘pop’ of air rushing in to fill a void.

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