IMPORTANT NOTE! Chapter ten and the epilogue were uploaded at the same time, but as separate chapters. Please read chapter 10 before reading this. Enjoy!
Epilogue – A New Era is Approaching
August 6th, 2035.
The match lay in his hand, begging to be put to use, to be granted its five seconds of glory before dying. Or maybe the match somehow knew that even if it would soon burn out, the fire it was about to birth would not go out quite as silently.
Fatass's compound was about to fall.
For the last five years, it had stood empty. La Résistance had used the equipment for radio transmissions to spread the word that the world was free, but they left it as soon as they could. The soldiers had died where they had been standing, which meant that practically every room and every hallway was filled with the stench of human corpse.
To the recovering states of America, the building had been a memory more painful than a fork to the eyes. It would have been easy to tear it down, had there only been anyone willing to do so. It wasn't that anyone actually wanted the base to remain standing; just that no one felt like being the one soiled their hands and machines by coming in contact with the bricks and concrete that had been touched by the devil himself.
During the latest gathering of the National Council, the organization that was currently governing the states, it had been decided that the building had to be destroyed. Like remains from a horrid nightmare, it loomed over soil that refused to support life. To move on, the remains needed to disappear.
It would, however, be foolish to sweep the whole episode under the carpet, as Wendy confidently had stated during the meeting, much to the annoyance of the few old politicians that had managed to worm their way back into a position of power. They could move on and set their goals for the future, but they mustn't forget. Ever.
This was how Kyle found himself outside of the construction that to him was equal to hell. He had spent the last hours wandering the hallways, documenting everything he encountered with the help of a camera, which was now tucked safely in its case. Several times, the putrid smell had overwhelmed him and forced him to smash windows or flee the room. Still, he had worked his way through every floor, every room.
All except one, or maybe two, if one counted the adjacent bathroom.
There was no way in hell that he'd let anyone know about his previous residing in the compound, especially not as the only thing that separated fatass' quarters from his own was a door. They would draw conclusions, and he'd rather they not come down in the history books.
With the decision of keeping his stay secret, he no longer had a reason to even open the door leading to his rooms. Yet, it called to him, and the sadistic side he didn't know he had responded.
The door didn't make a sound as it was opened.
A thick layer of dust lay as a grey blanket over the space he had once been forced to call his own. It had been one of the few rooms that didn't outright stink. No, the scent that lingered was of untouched furniture and old books, reminding him of an old library, oddly pleasant after hours of walking with bile halfway up his throat. Like a safe haven in the midst of the madness.
How deceiving scenery could be. It infuriated him, really. He wanted to tear down the curtains on his old bed for swaying so calmly back and forth in the breeze from the long broken window; rip out the sheets for being made, as if inviting a poor unsuspecting soul to give in and sleep, unaware of the darkness that surrounded them. He wanted to tear, rip, bite and claw; anything to break through the innocent façade and show the world the disgusting truth.
Yet, he found that he didn't have to. As he had walked the hallways, he had left a trail of gasoline behind, as well as thoughtfully placed packages of explosives. With a mere flicker of light, he would take down the facility once and for all. The power lay in his hands.
"This must be how God feels like," he muttered and chuckled without humor.
True, he felt powerful, but unlike many others, he never enjoyed being in control of others. To him, control meant responsibility, and when it concerned living beings, it meant that he had to ensure their safety and happiness. He couldn't handle that kind of pressure. He had become very aware of that after Fatass' fall, when he was forced to turn down several positions that had felt too heavy.
He lit the match against his boot and watched it come to life, turning the wood black as the flames licked at it. Only seconds before it died, he dropped it to the ground, on the trail of gasoline that led to the building a few hundred feet away. At first, it would seem that he had been too late, or that the match had gone out as it fell. Nevertheless, the sharply-scented liquid caught fire, a fire that quickly spread along the path.
The earth was dead and barren, without leaves or grass that could catch fire, ruined by fatass and his toxic waste. He stood by the only thing that remained; an old tree, just as lifeless as the soil.
The fire had reached the compound, and the first explosion told him that it had reached the first set of explosions. Like domino-bricks where one dragged down the other, the first explosion set of those nearby, starting a chain reaction. The blasts were small enough to leave him unaffected, not counting the sudden hot breeze that swept by.
While one of the explosions wouldn't have been enough, the collective force of them soon had the building crumpling. Bits and pieces fell off, still burning,
A floor in the middle gave in first; he had managed to get three of its supporting pillars. The force of the collapse cracked the pillars on the floor below, and so it continued, with the floors above falling to pieces due to the quivering body of concrete and stone underneath.
"So this is it," he mumbled and smiled sadly as his former prison had turned into a giant bonfire, with a column of black smoke escaping the smoldering rubble. "This is all that remains of your glorious empire."
He laughed bitterly and gave the ground an angry kick, sending dirt flying.
"No, that's a lie. Even though you're gone, your memory still torments us; you're the reason people think twice before trusting their neighbor, why children are scared of sleeping with the light off. You have sullied them, tainted them, and left a trace in their lives they can never rid themselves off. Their lives were destroyed because of you. My life was destroyed by you."
He glared at the fire and found that if he concentrated hard enough, he could see Fatass' face among the flames, hair snapping in an imaginary wind and teeth that sparkled in a mouth twisted into a smirk.
"I wonder if you truly know what you have done, the pain and suffering you have inflicted on others. Surely you must know in terms of words, but I doubt that you could imagine how we felt, how we feel. You are a monster, never thinking of anyone but yourself, perhaps because you can't. Guess I'll never know."
His face scrunched in confusion as he stared into the grinning face.
"Yet, you had your moments, didn't you? When we were kids, you saved my life more than once. Butters is crappy at keeping secrets, you know; I've known about California since fifth grade. After all the time you spent trying to kill me, you hauled your fat ass down to San Francisco not only to rescue me, but also my family. I hate you, I'll always hate you, but I'll always be thankful for that.
"That's why I can't bring myself to say your name, you know. It's the ultimate connections, tying the last string that connects Cartman and Fatass." He smiled, almost fondly but with just a bit too much darkness lingering in his eyes. "To me, there will always be two of you; the kinda, sorta friendish guy, and the evil dictator."
The sound of footsteps approaching reached his ears, but he didn't turn around. He knew who it was.
Out of his chest-pocket he fished up a braid. Once upon a time, the hair in that braid had been of a shining crimson color, but time and dust had matted the liveliness. However, when the braid was fastened on a low branch of the old, dead tree, the moonshine made it sparkle back to life.
"This is my last goodbye to the both of you; for Fatass, the final token of my captivity, a sign of my freedom, if you will. It might seem stupid, but the fact that I couldn't even make the decision to cut my own hair was below degrading. In this time, a time of restoration and rebirth, it's time to let go of our old pains. Eric Cartman, I hope that whatever sliver of soul you had may rest in peace, even if I doubt it."
With a last glance at the burning inferno, he turned from the scene and met the eyes of his old friend.
"Just wanted to make sure that everything was under control," Stan replied nonchalantly while digging his hands deeper into the pockets of his jeans. His eyes refused to meet Kyle's.
"It's me you're talking about, I'm fine, obviously," Kyle couldn't help but tease as he caught up with Stan, who nudged his ribs.
"So you say, but I can recall at least three accidental forest fires on your part, ass hat."
"Who says they were accidental, douchebag?"
The sound of their teasing grew distant as the slowly left the ground of their former friend's base. Neither one of them noticed that on the ground by the three, amidst the black flakes fallen from the sky, as a result of the fire, grew the unopened bead of a lonely flower.
Not sure how I feel about ending this, I mean, sure it's nice to have the burden of writing this story off my shoulders, but I have really loved writing it. Really, really loved it, and all of you who have taken the time to read it as well. Which is why I'll do this...
There's this little competition I'd like to announce, if you even can call it that. You see, the review of a specific number (that's already chosen and I will give you a motivation on my page) can request a one-shot. Pairing, setting and plot is up to the winner to decide, just know that I'm not writing porn or erotica. It's not that I have anything against it; I just haven't written it before and wouldn't like to end up with something that sounds like the 40 year-old virgin.
The number is very close to the number I already have (41) as I'm not doing this just to get reviews, but rather as a mean to that all my dear readers. Hope you'll come back to the next one I'll be writing.^^
Responses to reviews will be sent as PMs this time.
PICTURE: lotsofdarkroses . deviantart . com / art / SiS - The - End - 123464073