The Fool

By Angelfeatherwriter

A/N: Massive thanks to my good friend and talented author, Willowfly, for looking this over. Please check out her side of Halloween '09, The Fallen.


(He's stuck in a dream, a vision of his mind and desires far away in that corner of darkness, and the way back is bathed in scarlet light.)

(i will give you the world)

It starts with what you fear most.

'Father' passes your mind and you're coated with his blood, warm and sweet on your tongue where you swallow it back. He blinks at you with wind passing through his teeth and it says, "What have you done?"

You have killed him and that is the first step.

(His consciousness is split in two and he knows what is real, drawn in the fighting breaths of his brothers. And he knows that this is not what he wants.)

You twist your weapon and his chest is torn like meat, red mist spraying into the open air and quenching the dryness of your skin. The world pitches and blurs and reality is set to this, the path you have chosen with darkness in your veins like flowing shadows; you wipe your blades across his soft gray fur and they only become dirtier.

As you turn to leave, a blue strip of cloth flutters from his open hand into the pools rippling at your feet. It was once, behind your smoke and shattered mirrors, something from everything. Now it is nothing, from nowhere.

-----

(He has visited space and the hallowed voids, felt dimensions and the universe stretching beneath his fingers like the pages of an ancient book. And yet when the world is offered, kingdoms roll across his eyes and desire burns his throat. Only the world, and he is)

(weak and mortal and mine)

People. They are the crawlings beneath your skin, the past-things from the once-then and the never-again. Now you are walking and there are so few and the earth spins either way.

The sidewalk is caked with dirt that spreads beneath your feet. The streets are crumbled and wind-swept with the baubles of humanity rolling across the horizon. There is nothing here but brokenness and the moving time, but still the people are stirring around him.

They see the penciled expressions on one another and erase, erase, sketch for the world and never ink. They see the bright yellows of living and whites of dying and blacks of dead but the beauty is never captured in their palettes. Smears of color that all melt to gray in the time of dying.

(colorless nothing yours)

The beauty they do not see are the oranges and purples and reds drawing low from the sun. The blues they do not color are you.

(colorless nothing mine)

And gray to black like fading into the night.

----

The women are tied by their wrists and the men by their necks. Lined up like animals to the slaughter, warm water and salt from their eyes, blood from their skin, lips drawn back in despair. The time of dying and color bursts from them in its apex.

A monster stands in front of them with his weapon in his hand and does not speak. Unseeing eyes beneath a blindfold and a scar over his shell make him mortal, yet power flows from his breath like a god. A scarlet gem is embedded on the hilt of his sword, wreathing the blade in crimson.

And you are a ghost in this world. You are not seen by the monster or the prisoners and you watch as the weapon is lifted in silence.

The first man's head rolls to the floor, and his wife's body falls as she reaches for him. Blood pumps the air around them, spreading over the white-tiled floor in ribbons.

It seeps into a girl's torn jeans, her purple-dyed, pigtailed hair shuddering as she leans forward and clenches her eyes. The Monster moves with the bright ceiling-lights on his blade, and she will not open them again.

Help us, the red-haired, green-eyed woman moans and trembles as the ropes cut into her skin. Someone help. Someone help.

(He can help them.)

A man with broad shoulders and long dark hair roars and pulls at his bonds with heat pulsing beneath his skin, the uncontrollable rage, such burning, feral danger. His face boils red as he leans forward and spits. Saliva lands at The Monster's feet and the man curses at him with a note in his voice that is so familiar, so betrayed.

He dies with his teeth bared like a cornered animal's. The fire still burns in his chilling eyes.

(i won't stop you)

A woman, Japanese, rough hair cut short and her eyes full of green frost. Her arm is bent at an odd angle and her ropes are replaced by chains. She is lethal, more so than the man before her; she does not strain her shackles and her face is quiet. But you know her enough to see the storm lingering in her gaze.

It is her dying expression, and the only one that was ever really meant for you.

(He can save them.)

You see them all and none see you. A ghost in this (your) world and you, the only still alive. The only one. (barely, barely!)

The last is the green-eyed woman. She moans louder and presses her forehead into the ground, hot tears running down her face and mixing with the thick pools of blood that clutch her matted hair. The Monster stops, his sword pulsing as the tip draws a hairline across the nape of her neck.

He leans down, pushes his fingers through her hair, and whispers.

You watch as she cries. Then he kills her, too.

("I didn't help you then. I won't help you now.")

---

The blackness roaring at the end of the path is your only goal.

Your arm seizes up and you can ignore it at first. Only when it is no longer yours do you react, when you stumble with mud and drops of blood stirring beneath your feet, does the gnawing pull register as important in your mind.

You breathe and it sounds like wind scraping broken shards of (your mind) glass across concrete. Trembling fingers and throbbing arm, spots searing across your vision while the world tilts too far. You will not fall but spittle flies from your mouth as you gasp stale air.

You scream. It's white noise buzzing in the back of your mind, stirring beneath the thunder and pain, but the straining of your voice lets you know.

A shadow sits at your arm ripping and tearing with a red jewel in its forehead; afterimages glaze your mind and your arm is now three. Red and slick, fingerless, writhing from the base of your shoulder and dripping with blood that is probably yours. (But possibly not.)

And your mind. It begins to collapse within itself like the gentle folds of origami. Ice pricks your face as you feel coherence and thought being sucked from your consciousness as though the vacuum of space; your eyes roll back and saliva gathers thickly in your mouth.

(This isn't worth it.)

(mine mine)

Your drag yourself along the ground, feet rubbed raw by the grit and mud. You are hunched and leaning over, your once-an-arm writhing and sickly at your side, slapping your legs with wet sounds and dripping, dripping, with the choking sounds from your throat and hazing cavern walls and you think you might be dying.

(This isn't what he meant for—

the world the world)

The air echoes with breaths that are not your own. You stop and shudder, your mouth sweltering with heat that melts the ice and returns enough of your mind.

Young eyes open on the ground, unfocused, swathed in orange and carrying the fear of The World in their whites. Unsteadily he rises, calls for you, and you answer.

(i was merciful)

The fright grows as you speak, and he steps away from you, his hands reaching for weapons that do not exist in your world.

(serve me be like me)

(He accepted its offer.)

You know that you cared for him in the world full of color and living and your mind.

This is not that world.

(your world)

The fear drains from his eyes like an hourglass as your not-arms clench around his neck. Where the sand goes, you do not know. But his dying sound is your name.

("Monster...")

--

He feels the temptation and desire burrowing into his mind like a tick, feeding on his darkness, breathing sickness and promises into his lungs. The jewel forces its way and pulses with his veins. And offers him the world. The World.

He sees the rolling, sterile kingdoms beneath his palms and there are no murderers, rapists, drunkards or prostitutes or anything but just the people dragging forward with pale faces and strings in their movements. The almost-living, the never-alive, and the dead.

And he sees The Monster arching back on a hill of bones, the crimson sun on its blistering maw. It might be him.

He sees one color. No world.

"Sorry." The word tears from his mouth and his mind opens up in a flurry of images and sounds and his brothers. "Not interested."

-

(He could count the city lights how many died that night. The one that mattered most of all is carved on the shadows of his desires.)