Hmmm, took longer to finish this one then I'd hoped, the reason being no less then five university essays. Anyway, sorry for the wait and thanks to all readers and to The Astounding Copper Panther for reviewing. Replies are at the end.
Just two things, I'm going to make most chapters longer from now on. This one should be roughly twice as long as normal. Secondly, this chapter's a bit more unpleasant then most and may not be for the faint of heart.
Chapter 15: Providence
Burn it to the Ground - Frank
Donnie's watch, which had conveniently taken to changing itself with the transition from one time zone to another showed the time as 00:34AM. Cars were still whizzing in either direction and the sound of music was coming from at least four unpretentious looking clubs. There were small groups of people dotted about the street who were parting with assorted words and drunken giggles. Two uniformed police officers were standing in front of a spindly man who seemed to be resisting the urge to break into a sprint.
He didn't recognise the town, nor the time. Everything had that same similar yet different quality that he'd been dealing with since he arrived in the future. It smelt different as well, though that was probably the fault of someone's discarded meal on the floor. It was hard to tell whether it was actually food or vomit.
There was something about it that he liked. It could be pretty if you didn't look too closely, a bright, shiny façade covering – something. Given more time and a lack of anything better to do, Donnie could spend hours following his train of thought and any that branched off of it, ending as always in the same unanswerable questions.
But he didn't have time for that now. He still wasn't certain why.
The choice of what to do now was apparently up to him. The street he was on stretched in either direction towards rows of dimly lit areas of buildings which looked either empty or abandoned. In all four of the clubs, lines of half drunk men and women, (women clad in clothes that looked more like a series of tight fitting facecloths, something that must have been uncomfortable in the freezing weather.)
Donnie made his way across the road, heedless of the unending string of cars that passed through him as he walked. He was walking to a seemingly popular club which didn't appear to have a name. Or at least not one that was made obvious to passers by. There was something about that as well which he liked.
As he stepped past the bouncer who was looking with unfriendly eyes upon a group of kids who looked about fourteen and were claiming with a passion that they'd left their ID at home. Donnie couldn't help but smirk. How they could have ever have hoped to talk their way past any halfway decent bouncer was something of an enigma.
He put the thought aside as the sound of a song he didn't recognise jumped to an almost deafening volume. After he'd walked past the cloakroom, he found himself in a cavernous hall with about half a dozen spotlights flicking from atop the head of one dancing patron to another.
In the distance there were about twenty people all screaming at two bartenders who were making a valiant effort to dispense drinks quickly. Distantly, Donnie remembered that it had been a while since he'd emptied a beer can. Granted anything he ate and drank in his new form as a wraith or whatever he was now dripped or tumbled out of the hole in his stomach less then five seconds after he swallowed it. Also he didn't know if he could still get drunk, and even if he could that probably wasn't a wise idea right now, for one thing the sight of beer leaking from an invisible guy's gut might raise an eyebrow or two. Then again, that wasn't his problem. And his throat, somehow, was a bit on the dry side.
No sooner had he made this decision then Donnie found a pair of arms belonging to an obviously wasted Blonde girl draped around his suddenly corporeal neck. For a moment it was all he could do to gawk in surprise at this revelation. His mouth formed a slack jawed expression which sent the sloped figure in front of him into a slurred laugh.
As she laughed, her head drooped to and her grasp on Donnie waned somewhat. She began to fall to her knees. Instinctively, Donnie's own arms shot out in and closed around the girl's shoulders in an attempt to catch her before she fell, leaving her dangling awkwardly in mid decent at an awkward angle. A few people were beginning to stare at this unusual show unfolding before them.
Donnie's salvation came in the form of a strangely familiar looking man who appeared behind the girl and virtually ripped her off of him.
"Sorry about that." The newcomer shouted over the sound of 'Iron Man' which was now playing, "Dumb bitch'll cling onto anything with a prick."
With a muffled expletive that Donnie didn't catch and an unfriendly glare at the girl who was now making a fighting effort to keep her head rested on his shoulder shoulder, the man began to move to the exit with the girl stumbling in tow.
Donnie stared at the retreating figures for as long as they were within sight, searching for any faces in his memory which might explain why that guy looked so familiar. In the end though he came up empty and soon decided that it didn't much matter at the moment.
"You want to spare the innocent from harsh realities?" Whispered Frank in Donnie's ear, the noise of the club conveniently vanishing at the same time, "Now's your chance. Kill him."
"Did you think I bought you hear to get drunk?" Frank said in the same haunting monotone voice he always used, "Kill him, before it's too late." With that, the music and assorted sounds of the crowd returned. Leaving Donnie alone, once more ethereal he discovered as someone vomited the contents of their stomach straight through him, causing a string of outraged complaints from the living patrons standing in the way.
Who did he have to kill? Well, that part was simple. He had to kill the guy whose face he vaguely recognised. He knew that beyond any doubt. Frank had instilled a certainty in him to ensure against any confusion. The obvious and difficult question was why did he have to kill him? And what would happen if he was 'too late'.
A number of unpleasant theories presented themselves, and though none came even close to putting Donnie in a murderous mood, he decided to track down the man anyway. If something happened, he could intervene without killing anyone. Right?
He hastily made his way through the nearest wall and found himself back on the freezing street. It was marginally less crowded now. The drunken shivering lines had all but dispersed and the seemingly incessant lines of traffic seemed to have broken up somewhat for the moment.
Donnie knew exactly where the man was thanks to Frank's silent distribution of information. He was in a black ford mondeo which was moments away from leaving a nearby car park opposite a disused library. Having not known anything about this town only minutes ago, Donnie now felt almost like a native as he hurriedly traversed a shortcut in the form of an alleyway.
He spotted the car almost instantly. It was one of only three in the car park and the only one which had anyone in it. The blonde girl was now passed out in the back seat, her head leaning against the car window in a doubtlessly uncomfortable pose that she seemed utterly unaware of.
Breaking into a sprint, Donnie cleared the remaining distance between himself and the car and hurriedly sat himself in the passenger's seat before the man, he still couldn't figure out why he looked so familiar, accelerated into the distance.
When Donnie sat down he realised that his travelling companion/apparent murder victim seemed nervous about something. His mouth was fluctuating continually between a worried grimace and an angry snarl. His head was flicking over his shoulder incessantly. Donnie's suspicions escalated no end. However he still couldn't be sure, and he couldn't kill someone if he wasn't sure if- and anyway. Even if it was what he thought it was, there had to be another way.
Ten minutes later and Donnie was still in the passenger's seat. Still watching as the driver gradually became calmer. He even caught an occasional hint of an unpleasant grimace on the man's face as the city lights began to give way to a darkened and largely empty freeway.
He was sure now. This guy would take the drugged girl back to some secluded house where he would rape her, and they'd probably find her stab wound riddled corpse in a ditch about twenty miles out of town in a month or two. There was no doubt anymore. If the looks on the guy's face weren't enough, a silent nod of confirmation from Frank who was sitting on the hood made for a pretty convincing argument. Certainty and a resulting action though weren't as easy to combine as one might expect.
The problem was ultimately solved by Frank who, with a grin of what could almost be described as pride, reached through the windshield, grabbed Donnie's arms and flung him onto the road like a discarded coat.
This sight, or at least some of it had not gone unnoticed by the driver. With a strangled cry of horror he slammed his foot down on the breaks and pulled hard on the steering wheel, trying desperately to avoid this guy who'd just appeared out of nowhere.
The car broke into a spin and passed straight through Donnie, it managed to stay on the road however, after a moment of listening to the ear piercing screech of the breaks and watching smoke emerge from under the tyres, Donnie saw the door on the driver's side of the car open. The figure that stepped out was a different one to the one he'd seen earlier. But now Donnie had a pretty good idea of where he'd seen the guy before.
Hey you fuck!
He was wearing a Middlesex high school uniform of all things. His face was the same intimidating mesh of stubble and overly gelled hair that Donnie remembered. He couldn't help but feel a twinge of instinctive intimidation.
I've got a bigger knife.
He seemed apparently unaware of his recent change in shape and clothes however. He also didn't seem to recognise this mystery person.
"What the hell are you doing in the road arsehole?"
Donnie stayed silent; an almost involuntary grin appeared on his face. He was almost tempted to laugh at the strange and almost nonsensical feeling of triumph in his gut.
"What are you doing with her?" Donnie asked coolly, the tone of his voice sounded a bit like Franks.
A nervous twitch was his answer. As well as:
"Mind your own fucking business." Then after a deep breath, "Where the hell did you come from?"
Without waiting for an answer, the man, or at least the teenage thug he'd turned into looked around nervously for any signs of life other then this mystery guy who'd he'd just swerved to avoid, (he somehow looked strangely familiar). There was no one else around however. With a nervous, stuttered laugh and a clumsy motion, he pulled a sizable looking knife from a pocket in his trousers.
"You should have stayed the hell away from me." He half shouted as he moved towards his target.
Donnie remained motionless. The smirk was still on his face, any feelings of reluctance were now giving was to a single minded certainty that neither the world, nor himself would suffer without this guy in it.
The first swing moved gracefully to the side of Donnie's neck and made a sound like metal hitting stone. He needed to be corporeal to deal with this fucker, but barriers could help him avoid and undue complications.
He launched a fist which caught the surprised high school student in the side of the head. The force of the blow was stronger then anything that Donnie could have pulled off during his previous life, and the guy wasn't likely to be getting up anytime soon.
The knife fell to the floor by Donnie's right foot. Kneeling down, Donnie scooped it up almost distantly. It seemed to fit in his hand like it was designed for such a place.
His victim was unconscious on the floor. With a grin and a sick sense of satisfaction that Donnie wasn't entirely convinced was his own, (or entirely his own), he moved over the unconscious form and struck downwards with the knife.
To be continued
Right, now for some long overdue replies.
TheAstoundingCopperPanther: Glad to see you're willing to overlook colossal spaces of time between updates. Thanks for the review, glad to see that the story's still on form after the many months of nothingness.
Aiden Burn: It wasn't a bad review really, over use of commas and so forth is stuff I'd probably do well to avoid, in any case, thanks for your review and comments.
Elliot Bowers: Your considerable devotion to the rules of grammar is all well and good, and some of your advice I think I'll do well to take onboard. Overuse of commas for example. However things like one sentence paragraphs suit my purpose in that they emphasise the point or halfway witty line that I'm using. Anyhoo, thanks for your in depth and well rounded comments.
Sharah: I'm glad you enjoyed it. Again, sorry its taken me so long to continue with the thing. I'm glad to see that the characters in the story resemble the characters in the movie. Although that may change after this chapter. Anyway, thanks for reviewing.
Wayward Childe: Ah come on, its not that good. (I have to make some show of modesty), seriously though. Thanks for your review.
Since I can't really say much to anyone else apart from thanks for reviewing and sorry for the wait, I shall extend thanks and again appologise also to blackfphoenix, tzuy, stardust03, mousewolf, Horrorfanatic6990, Joralie and anyone I've overlooked for reviewing. Thanks also to any other reading persons.