Friday, November 7, 2014

Day Seven-Seventy-Nine: Freak Sneak

Driscol started to yell. Bernard didn’t know what was going on.

July started to laugh. Bernard still didn’t know what was going on.

Freak lurched into action, Bernard’s control over his right arm apparently overridden by Driscol’s rage. Bernard still didn’t know what was going on.

Then, abruptly, the familiar pain coursed through the remains of his tortured body, and Bernard caught up with current events. Pain he understood all too well.

Joined in body and spirit by their shared experience, Freak collapsed. It had been hunched over the fire, its clawed arms reaching out to throttle July, when Doc’s control blazed fiercely. Freak’s body went rigid, and it collapsed onto the fire. All three heads screamed horrid agony as the flames set its cloak ablaze and crisped its skin, but Doc’s enhancements protected Freak from anything beyond aesthetic harm.

I want m’sisters, Bernard thought, yowling. I want m’momma. I wanna go home ’n eat sandwiches ’n fuck around on the farm. I wanna wank ’t Ellie May in the next field over, bendin’ to scoop up toobers. I wanna be normal again. Why can’t somebody just kill me already?

Doc lingered behind Freak as it burned, smiling happily from Titan Blue’s enormous torso. Titan Blue reached to pull Freak from the fire, but Doc barked a negative, leaving Freak to suffer. The sizzle of crusted hair on Bernard’s side of the body hurt him the most, and he wished he could piss himself as the fire licked at his reddened eyeballs. But he couldn’t move, couldn’t flee, and so he simply waited for Doc’s lesson to end.

It took almost three minutes. By the time Titan Blue plucked Freak from the fire, Bernard had simply shut down. He didn’t return to sensible consciousness for almost half an hour, and by then, they were back on the road.

The valley, now filled with a dull light filtered through the thick bank of clouds overhead, was slowly widening into an honest-to-gods forest. The brush had intensified, thickening enough that Bernard’s wake-up call was a pine tree to the face. He squealed and complained, though he was at least happy to see that he was no longer on fire. (The poncho, burnt away by the flames, was no great loss to any of them.)

“Shut up,” Driscol hissed, nudging Bernard’s head with his own. “We need to keep quiet. We’re almost there.”

Tilting his dented helmet back into place - it had somehow slid over one of his eyes - Bernard looked around. There was no indication he could see that they’d arrived anywhere other than some random forest, filled with needle-covered trees and smeared with a liberal coating of sap. His thick, rubbery skin felt equal parts sticky and moist, and what little fur remained on his arm and legs felt even grimier than usual.

“Where we going?” he whispered back, trying to peer around Driscol’s head to see Cedric. He liked Cedric more. “Hey, cap, where we goin’?”

“You know where we’re goin’,” Cedric growled. “We have to grab the asshole. Be quiet ’n stop trying to move your own legs, you’re makin’ us stumble.”

As if on cue, Freak walked straight into a tree, guided by Bernard’s sudden thought of their forward momentum. The three heads cursed and argued, their four legs tangled, and it took them several minutes to extricate their Freak body from the needles. They didn’t dare pause to pluck the needles from their skin, however, each of them reasoning that Doc’s punishment for tardiness would hurt a hell of a lot more.

“He… he not with us?” Bernard gulped. “The, uh… you know… the guy. The master.”

“You see Titan Blue stumblin’ around in here with us, stupid?” Cedric shook his head. “‘course not. We have to get the drop on ‘im quietly. Elsewise she’s gonna rip us apart.”

All three fell silent. Bernard thought back to the few times that he’d watched her fight. He didn’t relish taking her on now, even if he was currently a hideous, three-headed man-beast with enhanced strength. No sir.

“How do we know we’re goin’ the right way?” Cedric eventually asked, hoping to change the subject ever so slightly.

“His bitch-face momma,” Cedric replied, head-butting Driscol. “She says there’s a village in here somewheres. Sensed it through her animal spies, or some shit. Maybe twenty houses. ‘bout as big as you’d expect.”

“Oh.” He turned to Driscol. “Is she right? You can do that stuff, too, can’tcha?”

“You know I can’t anymore,” Driscol grunted back. “Do you pay any attention?”

Bernard considered the question as another branch caromed off his helmet. He realized, perhaps for the first time, that he really hadn’t been paying much attention for the last two years. Hell, he hadn’t paid much attention while working at the castle. You missed out on a lot that way, but…

“I think I’m better off,” he admitted. “Lets me forget shit. Maybe forget that things used to be better. You know? Easier to be what I am that way.”

Bernard expected derisive reproach. Instead, Driscol thought it over… and hummed appreciatively. “That might be wise.”

It took twenty minutes of continued stumbling to break through the thick foliage, and the uneven terrain wreaked havoc on Freak’s shambling steps. By the time Freak reached the centre of the forest, it appeared to be a massive, hairy pincushion, and Bernard wondered if resembling a porcupine might raise their attractiveness level. Couldn’t hurt, at any rate… though the folks living in here weren’t the kind Bernard wanted to attract.

Seen enough of these assholes, he thought, relinquishing control of the body to Cedric and Driscol while he kept an eye on the thinning lines of trees. Never wanna fuck one. Even if they bent over right in front of me. I ain’t that desperate. Dunno if my pecker works anymore anyway. But yeah, they’ve done plenty. Not interested. Nope. None.

Somewhere above the tree line, just barely visible as the ground dipped into the centre of the valley, a plume of smoke curled out of an unseen chimney. Freak followed the signal, all three men wondering how they would react when they met their former comrade.

I’m gonna rip his lungs out, Cedric thought.

I will pitch him from a cliff, Driscol thought. And order roaches to crawl down his gullet.

I wanna ask him why, Bernard thought. ’n then maybe I’ll beg him to help.

Somehow, amazingly, the crunch of their collective feet did not wake the hidden village of Non in the centre of the valley. Only the village’s guardian noticed, hidden in one of the trees, and she was so disinterested in helping her wards that she didn’t say a word.


  1. I was excited when this week started, but I didn't think I'd be reading about what I think I just read about.

  2. EVE!!!! Oh sweet Eve, to be back again!