Through the drugged haze, and the sickly sweet caress of lips on her neck, she heard the squawk, the rush of wind, and the flutter of dark wings.

Panting, she flung open sluggish lids, momentarily distracted from the love-making-or their mutilated version of it- to see the huge, storm dark

bird lighting in the room, and watching her with a shining, obsidion eye.

"There's a big fucking bird over there," she slurred out, as she manuvered her neck to be more accomodating to his mouth. He paused, from his

writhing, bruising mouthwork to glance at the damn bird through the cage of her arms. His eyebrows rose in confusion, the morphine making his

thoughts sluggish, the words difficult to force out..

"It's a squab." Darla hissed out a giggle through her pearled teeth, the silence chorused by his own equally hissing chuckle.

His teeth-oddly white against the stubble of his chin, and the general filth of the room, were bared somewhere between an amused snarl, and


"Here birdie,,,,here birdie, birdie..." The crow cocked her head to the side, consideringly, as she nimbly danced two claws away, warily.

His broken babbling and waving hands held no allure or incentive for her to move any closer, than necessary. She cawed again, ruffled her wings as

in welcome. Funboy shoved Darla away as he lurched forward on the bed, cackling and waving to the bird. Drugged limbs slowly emerged from the

torn sheets, as his mop of dirty, wheatened hair spilled down from his shoulders. Darla smirked, giddily, and giggled.

Funboy did not notice the eerie gaze of the bird as she cocked her head to the side in focus, or the soft caw signaling the wafting form that was

now curling up with feline grace, haloed in the grey light of a cold moon. In perfect silence, Eric unfolded from the concealing shadows, slowly, deliberately

walking to the room, the mussed tangle of sheets, the despair and the filth radiating from its walls.

"Here," The soft, mocking voice emerging from the dark corner was alarming enough. But to see the ghastly form of a death-white face

with eyes and mouth rimmed in black, the teeth bared and glittering, the silent menace radiating from the tall, lithe form was enough to pierce the morphine filled

haze that Funboy had been comfortably oblivious in a few moments ago. Funboy was further confused to see the grin now arching across the black lips as the

form slowly, deliberately pressed a cheekbone against the lightbulb, and caressed the cold glass with his face. Eyes rolled back in ecstacy, or madness, he dipped his

head, the eyes eerily focused, as he suddenly charged the bed, like an incensed bull. Funboy frantically lurched forward, shoving Darla away as he saw the shadowed form

bolt across the room, with something ominous in his curled arms. Funboy nearly shrieked when the thought of it being a gun fired its way through his mind, as he watched,

paralyzed, as the stranger came on, one arm raised in a high, unwavering arch.

Eric stopped a few inches from the bed, lowered his arm, and braced it against the guitar, his lips curling in satisfaction as he saw Funboy scramble like a rat away from him.

Darla heaved out a stupid giggle, draping an arm over his, the thin straps of her black chemise slipping down her shoulder. She was oblivious to it.

"You almost gave me a fucking heart attack!" Funboy bellowed, as he felt Darla's snicker and soft breath wafting into his ear. Eric paused a moment, to regard him, before spinning on a heel and carefully setting the guitar down.

"It's time for you to take your bird, and leave, Freak-o!" Funboy choked out, as fearful fingers fumbled for the reassurance of the gun. Darla still clung to him, as he brushed her aside in annoyance.

Eric's only answer was a dark swirl of his trench coat as he pivoted to gracefully slide into a chair, and perch with all the ease of a dancer, as he sat down. He folded both arms over the rusted chair back in a harmless gesture, templing his hands underneith his chin, and looking quite comfortable, as he waited mockingly.

With trembling fingers, and growing focus, Funboy cocked the trigger. It was absurdly loud in the darkness. Funboy was quite unnerved to see the stranger's grey eyes fall on the gun, then place his palm on the barrel, with a tilt of his head and a glittering grin.

"Take your best shot, Funboy. You got me dead-bang." The words were soft, and waiting, the hand over the barrel unwavering, Eric's features snarled in twisted expectation, waiting.

"You are seriously fucked up. Did you look in the mirror, Freak-o? You need some professional help!" Funboy chortled, as he raised eyebrows in shock of the obscenely easy kill. With a shrug, Funboy pulled the trigger. The reverberation from the shot thundered through the room, and Eric was flung away to the floor from the force of the bullet. There was no blinding pain, there was no smoke, just the eerie echo of the fired bullet, and the sick, mocking sound of Funboy jumping up and down, in apparent victory, in some pyschotic dance on the bed. Waving the gun in triumph, Darla's broken giggle wafting sickly through the room.

They both watched as Eric bowed in what appeared to be agony, his body curled around the injured limb, as he grunted and groaned in time to his own dancing shuffle away. With a deliberate flourish, Eric spun around, held up his shattered hand, and grinned. Darla watched in drugged swooning as Eric peered at them through the gaping hole in his palm. Bone and flesh knitted together instantly, leaving nothing but his own unbroken skin, and a cackle of sick glee.

"Jesus Christ!" It was an oath of astonishment, not prayer, that burbled up from Funboy's lips as vicious, sickening awareness gripped his gut with fear. Darla, too rose from the bed, her tattered chemise now slimed with scarlet that was not her own. She whimpered, and darted a glance at Funboy, as if seeking a direction. There was no more

drunken laughter, but the cruel chortle from Eric's mouth.

"Jesus Christ." Eric repeated in a snarl, as he lowered his head, and strode forward. "Stop me if you've heard this one." Funboy could only heave, and grip the gun for reassurance. Darla did nothing but gape and tremble.

"Jesus Christ walks into a hotel." Eric's voice was mockingly friendly and casual, as if he were in a gathering among friends. Funboy's only answer to his gliding stride was

to fire another shot.

Darla collapsed on the bed, body shuddering as she had been hit, as she saw Eric stagger backwards with a grunt of pain. He crumpled, briefly, but straightened, the smoke trailing down his side, harmlessly. His only acknowledgment of being shot was a sarcastic, "Ow."

Funboy bounced on the bed, with a sneer-as if it were a grand deed to open fire on an unarmed man. Maybe, in his drugged up state, it was.

Eric crossed hands behind his back, bowed, and danced forward in an odd zigzag across the distance between him and Funboy.

"He hands the innkeeper three nails...and he asks..." His joke was puncuated by another shot that left him reeling, as his body instinctively folded from the force of it.

He bowed into the pain to keep from collapsing, as he slowly stood, and hissed out.

"Can you put me up for the night?" It was a pantheresque grow, as the sleek form curled beneith Funboy's bent knees. Eric's hand flared out from the darkness,neatly

striking the gun, as Funboy pulled the trigger, and promptly blew a gaping hole into his own pants. There was an animalistic squeal, as Funboy collapsed from the pain

and howled and bled.

Eric heard Darla's howl of terror, and her fleeting footsteps as she scrambled away from the bed, and bolted blindly into the bathroom. Her panic was punctuated by the slam of the wooden door.

Eric snatched the gun away, raised it in sarcastic salute, as he ventured to ask, "Does that hurt?"

Funboy looked up at him with a snarl. "Yes, it fucking hurts!" He curled up, struggling to brace the bleeding limb to him, as he raised eyes heavenward with a groan.

"Look at what you've done to my sheets!" He choked out, before he fell back into a bloody heap, unconscious. Eric sighed in disgust, or maybe sadness.

He cocked the gun, then tossed it onto the bed. With a grimace of distaste, he gripped Funboy's ankle, and proceeded to drag the bloody, limp body onto the floor with a dull thud, and into the bathroom.

The wooden door flew open with a loud bang from Eric's boot heel, and he winced to hear the helpless sobbing. Darla lay curled and crying on her knees, helpless panic and masqara running down her cheeks as she cowered away in mindless terror. Eric stared down at her for a long moment, eyes falling on the glittering gold cross around her neck. Eric paid her no mind as he dragged the yielding, limp body of Funboy across the room, and heaved him into the bathtub.

Eric recoiled at the vicious memory of beloved Shelly, as she lay, hurting and violated and broken beneith this monster. The cruel onslaught revereberated with her tears and pleas, when she felt his filthy hands on her, her innocence shattered and bleeding away from her as he continued without mercy..

Eric's lips flexed into a snarl, as he drank in the rage. It ended any inner torment about this being the correct action. The moment this monster touched her, he had signed his own death warrant. A place in hell would be too good for him. Eric toyed with the facet, and allowed the slight trickle of water to run down Funboy's drawn face.

He heard another one of Darla's sobs, and sensed her fingers, fumbling blindly over some burnt down candle stubs to latch onto a razor. Out of the corner of his eye, he watched her, paralyzed. That hopeless, bleeding terror in her eyes so resembled Shelly's last moments. But, here, Darla was, shoring herself up against the bathroom wall, crawling like a wounded animal, and so terrified, she could not even hold the razor up enough to wound.

"Stay away from me! Stay away from me!" Darla wailed as she slashed blindly, in flailing archs, as Eric easily gripped her wrists in one hand and dumped the razor away, where it skittered harmlessly onto the dirty tile. Darla wailed again as she felt herself encircled by harsh arms that raised her off the floor and dragged her stumbling feet unwillingly away from the corner. Arms that were strong, and confining, but not bruising or punishing as she expected them to be. Eric easily contained the tornado of

flying limbs and terror-ridden shrieks as he braced a palm against her tarnished gold hair-now cheaply bleached- and pulled her face back. With a steadying arm around her waist, and a firm, but gentle grip on her forehead, he nudged her forward, with the soft command, "Look."

With a shuddering breath, and a wince, Darla saw her image in the chipped mirror, her sweating forehead cradled by Eric's firm hand, and her shoulder haloed by his white, burning face. His dark hair curtained the agony that gripped his eyes, but she saw his lips drawn back in pain. It was all there, in tortured clarity. The scars, the bruises, the worn beaten look in her eyes, where her own hope used to be. The pain that etched itself over and over and over again as she handed herself, body and soul to whoever promised her a bit of destraction from the daily anguish her life had fallen to.

"Mother is the name of God on the lips and hearts of all children." He hissed out. "Do you understand?" It was a tormented whisper, as Eric forced down the impulse to slap the cowering shivel away from her. Bracing her bent spine against his chest, his hand traveled down to the white expanse of her pock-marked with needles, and marred by Funboy's bruises. She felt the crippling grip of his fingers entwined over her wrist, the firey ache, and saw, to her shock, the needle marks weeping the poison from her veins in small, silver trails.

"Morphine is bad for you." Eric whispered, as he released his grip, and gently stood her on her feet, before backing away, arms arched wide to show he meant no harm.

Darla's eyes went from tear-ridden surrender to wonder as she stared at the last of the morphine leaching from her arm. She pivoted to stare at Eric, her eyes glittering with

vague repentance, and so much unspeakable sorrow.

Suddenly, he lunged forward, placed two warm hands to her temples, and drew her face up towards his. His eyes were burning dark, his chin tilted downward with deliberate intention, as he whispered. "Your daughter is on the streets, waiting for you."

With a jerk of his head towards the open door, he released her, watching, and waiting. Her face crumbled into indecision, as her eyes flicked around the room, frantically.

Funboy's body, laying, still and bleeding, the sheets flung open wide as the gates of hell, the morphine needles shining their mocking invitation for sweet, sweet oblivion.

The dirty stars, shining through the window, the world outside of all this misery..the gaping ache in her heart from the guilt where her mother's love used to be. With a sob, and faltering footsteps, she gathered up her tattered coat, overwhelmed by the burden of the choice and the freedom it promised. Eric watched her give the room one parting glance as she clawed at the door, fumbling with the locks, and fled. Eric smiled.