The Waste Land

'God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh.'


'Every experience is a paradox in that it means to be absolute, and yet is relative; in that it somehow always goes beyond itself and yet never escapes itself.'

T.S. Eliot

Author's Note: I started this way before the finale, and damned if I'm going to ignore all the effort I put into it. That said, I'm posting this first chapter to capitalize on the post-finale blues. First few chapters are already written, so the more you review, the quicker they'll go up. Betaed by the awesome Windy City Dreamer.

Prologue – The Coffin and the Killer (Other)

It's a box.

Not a conventional box, when it comes down to it, though. It's made of expensive, polished wood, and it has a strange shape, but it's a box nonetheless.

More specifically, it's a coffin.

There's a distinction between caskets and coffins. The coffin usually has a hexagonal shape, while the casket is rectangular, and often used for viewings. This particular coffin is definitive; it's what you would expect a coffin to look life.

It's a little smaller than they'd imagined. It feels so surreal to imagine that everything of this one person has been compressed to fit into that tiny box – every frown, every smile, every moment, shoved in and nailed shut. Of course, they have their own memories, but it will never be the same.

The wreath is a sharp contrast against the darkness of the wood. In its multi-colored glory, it's the only bright thing in the room. Everything – everyone – else is a sea of dark colors. The funeral is as archetypal as the coffin.

There are sobs. Tears. Complete breakdowns.

They spend their days holding back the tears, holding back the emotion – it's a coping mechanism. If they were to let it all out, every time, then there would be nothing left. Because they see so much. They experience so much. Death in all its incarnations. Chaos and misery reigning. Sometimes it's hard to find a little brightness in amongst all the dark. The whispers of immortality go unheard.

Though it was unexpected, the team has been waiting for this day a long time. Some of them have become exceedingly pessimistic in nature; a side effect of the monstrosities they've seen. Every time they go outside, there's a risk that one of them could die. They've all died a little bit inside – emotionally, speaking. But physically speaking, every shot fired, every person killed, they've made it out alive.

Until now.

This time, they had all come so close to death.

And one of them had crossed the line.


2 weeks earlier.

It's April, and it's raining in Boston.

The knife isn't in his hands; he knows she would see it before he could get the chance to slit her throat.

He has a calm, unassuming look on his face. A look that anyone would find themselves trusting, even though it's after midnight, and there's no-one else around. It's a look that's worked well for him in the past.

And it's going to work well again tonight.

The rain inhibits his vision, but that doesn't matter. He has practiced every slice, every thrust, so many times.

He hears the whir of the car as it desperately tries to cough into life. He sees the girl turn the key in the ignition, over and over again, frustrated. He smells the water that has tried so hard to wash away the world, feels it on every part of his body, tastes it as it rolls across his lips.

A murderer knocks on the car window. 'Do you need a hand?' he calls out.

The girl in the driver's seat jumps. She's not used to this kind of thing; she's led a sheltered life. Looking at his face, she can't see anything but concern. With only the slightest amount of hesitation, she rolls down the window.

'It won't start,' she says, upset. 'I need to be home by one a.m, and the car won't start.' There are tears in her eyes, dead cell phone in her limp hand.

He smiles at his luck.

'I'll see what I can do,' he says, and watches as she breathes a sigh of relief. She unbuckles her seatbelt and opens the car door. She needs to see what has trapped her here on this unforgiving night.

His hand slips into his pocket, curling about the knife.

He sees the look of shock as he plunges it into her chest. It's shock at the fact that there's a foreign object stuck inside her body. Shock at the fact that someone has just stabbed her, someone who looks so normal. She gives a tiny gasp as he pulls the knife out and a moan as he thrusts it back in.

The blood runs over his gloved hands, diluted by the water that's falling from the sky.

When he's finished, he walks calmly to the nearest payphone. The rain washes the blood from his clothes.

He speaks into the voice distorter. 'I've killed another one,' he says.

'Excuse me sir?'

He smirks at the operator's slightly panicked tone. In a neutral voice, he gives the address.

He can't help but add his own little disclaimer, repeating the message that had shocked the operator. 'This is the Reaper. I've killed another one.'

It's April, and it's raining in Boston.