Can you give me sanctuary
I must find a place to hide
A place for me to hide
Can you find me a soft asylum
I can't make it anymore
The Man is at the door
~~The Soft Parade~~
I love you.
Peace on earth
Will you die for me
~~Always A Playground Instructor~~
~~Poet: Jim Morrison~~Book: The American Night~~
CHAPTER 6: FINDING EDEN
The next morning Pickles laid there for a long while just watching Toki sleep. He watched as the Norwegian breathed, watched as he smiled sweetly in his slumber, clearly comforted by some good dream. He listened to that steady sound of him breathing, watched his hair flutter away from his face with each precious breath he took. He was pale, his eyes ringed by tired circles of black, and skinny, pitiful when compared to his old self. Pickles finally gave in and woke the guitarist up.
"Hey, beautiful, time to get up."
"Huh?" he blinked and looked around the room, a confused look on his face. "Where ams Nathan?"
He didn't answer this question. Instead he handed Toki three whole cans of food and encouraged, "Eat up."
Toki took the cans and a thoughtful frown came across his weary face. "Buts we can't eats all of it, we needs to saves it, don't we? For tomorrow and-"
"S'fine, I promise." Pickles said, opening himself up a can. He began eating and glanced out of a nearby broken window. Like before there was nothing in the early morning sky, no traces of the sun or any clouds. The heavens were just a blank, bloody canvas, streaked with tints of a rotting, sick black, as if it were dissolving into some kind of fathomless vortex. He swallowed his food and thought aloud, "I don't think that tomorrow will be a problem."
"What ams you mean?"
He snapped back into reality and gave the guitarist a warm smile, an everything's-fine-now smile. "Nothin', I was just...hey, you know what we should do after breakfast?"
"What?" he was beginning to finish off his second can of food already.
"In Ofdensen's office there's a bottle of brandy. You wanna go finish it aff?"
He gave Pickles a confused look. "But we can't just gos and eat and drink everything! Whats about tomorrow and the next day? We'll die!"
"Yeah," he agreed. "I guess we will. Let's just go, okay? Trust me, it'll be okay."
"You keeps saying that, but I don't think you means it." Toki said doubtfully. "Ams everything really okay?"
"Yeah," he lied. "everything's perfectly fine."
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"Pickle, what ams you looking for?" Toki questioned, watching the drummer attempt to break the lock off of a cabinet. Pickles didn't turn his green eyes away from the lock, only tugged at it some more and let out a frustrated grunt. "We haves the booze, so lets just gos. Why can't we-"
"Finally!" he said, letting out a relieved sigh. Pickles had managed to pry off the lock; he proceeded to open the cabinet and pull out all the guns and bullets that were stored in there. The Norwegian watched him with wide eyes.
"What ams you doing?"
"Hold this." he said, passing the guitarist a gun.
Toki took it but immediately put it down on Ofdensen's desk. "Ams we going to shoot some more rats todays or somethings?"
"In a way." he said vaguely, filling his pockets with bullets. We'll shoot some rats alright, lots of Gad damn rats...
The guitarist went over and laid his hand on the drummer's shoulder. "Pickle, you ams acting weird—what ams wrong exactly? We don't need all of those guns, dos we? 'Cause I'm not going to shoots anyone ever, not after I hads to kill that Klokateer. Nots after-"
"Toki, please!" he said, slamming the cabinet shut. The Norwegian instantly grew silent and lowered his head.
"I'm sorry, Pickle. I-"
"Listen to me," the drummer interrupted, rising to his feet and picking up the gun from the desk. "if I give you a gun, that means that you have to shoot someone, okay? That means that it's either them or you, don't you get 'dat? I don't want you to get hurt, so look-" he forced the gun into Toki's hands and insisted, "-you're gonna take that, and if something happens, you just pull the trigger."
Toki opened his mouth, tried to speak, but just ended up shaking his head. He managed to whisper timidly, "But I don't wants to hurt anyone, Pickle."
"What if they're tryin' to hurt you?"
"You can't ask me to dos that, not again."
"I'm nat askin' you to kill anyone, just to defend yourself." Pickles explained calmly. He glanced over at the bottle of brandy that was on Ofdensen's desk and grinned. "You want a drink? Gad, how long has it been since we've had any alcohol?"
"Too longs." he answered, sounding oddly bright and happy. As Pickles took the bottle and turned to leave the room, Toki hesitated and glanced down at the gun that he held in his cut and filthy hands. A frown came across his face as he laid it on Ofdensen's desk and exited the room.
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"Hey, you 'member the time 'dat we were playin' that concert in fuckin' Australia?" Pickles asked, taking a deep drink from the bottle of booze.
"Whats time?" Toki inquired.
"After the show we all gat drunk an' I went up t'you and-" he turned red as he remembered, "-I just started singing to you real bad and shit, and you passed out and I caught you..."
Toki laughed and drank what was offered to him. "Ja, that I remembers. I also remembers how you dropped me and fell on the floors right next to mes and-"
"And we both fell asleep like 'dat." he completed with a sicker. "The next morning when we all had hangovers, we blamed it on each other. You said I made you drink and-"
"And you saids that I mades you drink." he laid back on the roof and let out a peaceful sigh.
After claiming the bottle of booze they'd managed to climb the half-crumbled stairs up to the roof of the Mordhaus, and now they were both looking down at the yard, laughing and joking as if the world wasn't dying around them. It was a bittersweet moment, Pickles realized, because as they both sat there loving each other and drinking, Nathan was probably dead or being hunted by those people out in the forest. He swallowed down some more of the warm, burning alcohol and looked down at the broad expanse of leafless trees. What was that? Could he see someone or something moving down in the trees?
"Hey, how 'bout we just stay up here for today?"
"And we can sleeps on the roof too?"
"Sure, maybe we'll..." his voice trailed off as he thought, Maybe we'll be safer. And so together they finished off the brandy and threw the bottle down into the yard below, watching as it shattered into a million pieces of glass. Pickles then hugged Toki to him and kissed him everywhere he could, desperately touching and whispering to him. The Norwegian began to worry.
"Pickle, what ams wrong with you today? You act like you're never going to sees me aga—you ams going away, aren't you? Just like Nathans and..." his eyes became bright with tears as he asked, "You ams leaving me?"
"No I'm nat. I'd never leave you."
"Duh." he ran a hand along the small of the guitarist's back and closed his eyes, remembering that night they'd slept together. "I'd never leave you, not ever."
There was a moment of silence before Toki inquired, "Pickle?"
"Why ams there no clouds or sun? Did they all die, too?"
Toki looked disappointed as he mumbled, "Oh, that ams sad. The moon must be lonely, huh?"
Pickles shook his head. "Nah, he's gone too. So are the stars. They all went somewhere together."
"When will they bes back?"
"I...I don't know."
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The day ended with more pleads of, "Tell me abouts Eden again, okay?" and more stories of candy-flavored fruit that grew on trees of gold and silver and rivers that flowed with wine as richly red as blood. When it was over Toki was laying asleep in Pickles' arms, being cradled by the drummer, and dreaming peaceful, sweet dreams of that imaginary Garden of Eden. That night the guitarist dreamed of the moon and the sun talking to each other, the stars and the clouds making love. For once everything seemed to have reached an equilibrium, some kind of unattainable serenity. The guitarist dreamed this until there was a loud, echoing noise; he awoke dazed and confused, looking around and scratching his head.
Pickles was awoken by the noise too, and in a moment he had jumped to his feet and was looking around wildly. There was several more loud banging noises and the sound of shattering glass. Toki frowned. "What ams that?"
"Shut up!" Pickles hissed, kneeling down next to him. He reached around and bit his lower lip, clearly concentrating hard on something, and found his gun. "I think someone's downstairs in the house."
"What? Ams you serious? What ams we going to do?"
"You're gonna stay up here until I come back."
Toki gasped. "What do you means comes back? You're staying here with me, right?"
"Dude, I bet it's nothing."
He stared into the drummer's eyes, saw the fear and the hopelessness that was reflecting back at him, and said, "No, it ams something and you knows it, and I'm not going to let you go down there by yourself."
Pickles rolled his eyes. "Fine, you wanna come with me?"
"Either you go with me or you don't gos at all."
"Shit..." he let out a frustrated sigh and took a moment to collect his thoughts before continuing, "Okay, look, you can come, but the second I say run, you do it, understand?"
Toki nodded. "Ja, of course."
Together they made their way downstairs and watched as two men tore apart the living room. "What ams they do-"
"Shut up!" Pickles whispered in desperation. "Just be quiet!" Didn't Toki see it? Didn't he see the two guns that the men were carrying with them, aiming at every shadow and object that they came in contact with? He swallowed. Maybe if he could kill one then he could get to the other and-
"What do they wants?"
"I don't know!"
"Pickle, shuts up! You ams yelling!"
"No I'm—get back up the stairs." he began slowly backing up, pushing to Toki with him. "Maybe if we just go back up the the roof they won't-
"Stop." He shut his eyes tightly and his heart skipped a fair number of beats as one of the men ordered him again, "Stop, don't move."
This wasn't right, it wasn't how it was supposed to happen. He was supposed to kill the two men and be okay, he was supposed to protect the Norwegian, save him from a horrible death, but this was going all wrong. Pickles forced his eyes open and watched as one of the men raised his gun and aimed it at him. "Crap." was all he could think to say. Thoughtlessly he let his own weapon fall from his shaking hands. Toki saw this and let out a whimper of fear.
"Pickle, you drops-"
"Come down here." the man ordered harshly.
When Toki didn't make a move, Pickles took his hand and slowly guided him down the rest of the stairs. "Just do what he says, okay beautiful?"
"I told you nots to calls me th-"
"Shut up and come here." he insisted, pointing a few feet in front of him. Pickles walked over to him, stood in front of the guitarist, trying as best he could to shield him from what was undoubtedly about to come.
"Look, dude, what do you want? We'll make sure you get it, just don't go aimin' guns at us." he said, trying to fake calmness. The man with the gun didn't buy it. Instead he just called over his partner and they both took one look at Toki and Pickles and laughed.
"I thought we shot you," one of them said, pressing his gun to Pickles' cheek. "I thought we shot you right in the head."
"In the stomach." he said, trying to conceal his growing anger. "While my back was turned."
He elbowed his partner and chuckled. "Yeah, I remember that—it was you and that blond one. I shot him in the back, too. Wasn't he Swedish?"
"Yes." he was growling now, biting his tongue to keep from spitting out insults.
One of the men said, "Wasn't he the one who could never speak English?"
And his companion grinned and asked, "He's not around, is he?"
"No," Pickles hissed, glaring down at the floor. "he's gone."
"So he stayed dead, didn't he?"
"You...you killed Skwisgaar?" Toki asked, turning his pale gaze onto the stranger. "You were the one who shots him?"
He sneered down at Toki and aimed the gun at him, let his finger caress the trigger delicately. Pickles tried to push the Norwegian away, but the other intruder held him back. "I sure did," the man hissed, smiling at Toki's hatred and sorrow. "Blew his God damn useless brains right out of his skull."
"More like his guts, it seemed." the other man remembered as he struggled to retain Pickles.
"Like this." the other said, pressing the gun to Toki's stomach. "And you just pull the trigger and-"
"Leave him alone!" Pickles cried, trying so hard to brake free from the one who was restraining him. "Just leave us alone! What the fuck did we do to you? Why'd you have to burn down our house, fuckin' take away everything?" he felt a sort of useless anger rising in him, quite similar to the kind of bitterness a child might hold towards a parent for being unfairly punished by them. He knew it wouldn't do any good to let this feeling grow, but he couldn't bring himself to hold it back, either. It was like a horrible trap, one that made him look weak and pitiful.
The one who was aiming the gun at Toki glared at him and his face twisted with rage as he spat, "What did you do? What did you and your stupid, money-hungry friends do?"
"My brother," said the other man, "gave up everything so he could afford to buy one Dethklok ticket—just one, and he threw away his whole damn college savings and dropped out of school..."
"That wasn't our fault!" Pickles said desperately. "We didn't handle the numbers and prices, only played the shows for the-"
"Money!" he said angrily. "That was always what it was about for you, wasn't it? You want to know what my brother got from your damn concert? He died!"
"It wasn't us who killed him!"
"You might as well have!" the one who was pointing the gun at Toki said vengefully. "You might as well just aimed a gun at his head and blown his fucking brains out." slowly he aimed his own gun up at the guitarist's skull and a small smile came across his face. At the desperately urgent look on Pickles' face he laughed coldly and asked, "What, you care about him? You don't want to see him die?"
"Don't hurt him, don't..."
"What would you do to save him?"
And of course it came down to this, the only question that mattered. Either Toki would die first or he would, there would be no other option. Silently he cursed himself for ever having dropped his gun, ever having come down from the roof and for not running away with his lover in the first place. How stupid he'd been. Maybe he did deserve to die, but did Toki deserve to see him die? Pickles took a deep breath and opened his mouth to speak, but before he could he felt the cold barrel of a gun being forced to the back of his own head.
"I...don't hurt him." he repeated mindlessly. The man who was standing by Toki let his smile grow.
"What would you do?"
Pickles knew that admitting it would make him seem weak; it would be like admitting that he was sorry and pitiful, that he deserved to die. Toki was his weakness, his only one in the world. The fact that he had let his weakness come this close to harm was an impossibly stupid thing in itself, but to acknowledge this grave error surely proved that he was nothing short of a spineless idiot. "Anything," he finally said in a faltering voice. "please, I'll do anything, just let him go."
"You want me to let him go, just like that?"
"Please, please, please..."
"Pickle, I-" clearly Toki could read the drummer's mind, because in a moment he was sobbing, crying desperately, "Don'ts says it, please don't! Don't do it, you don't haves to give up for me! Please, don't dos it!" Don't be weak!
"Toki, shut up." the drummer commanded harshly, glaring down at his tattered sneakers. "I know what I'm doing."
"Anything!" the man laughed, keeping the gun pressed to the back of Toki's skull. "Hear that? He'll do anything! What if I shoot him right here, what if I kill him?"
"I don't wants to die..." he whispered, his eyes growing wide as he realized the reality of the situation. Pickles barley felt the warm tears that were beginning to run down his face as he tried to comfort the Norwegian.
"You're not gonna die, you're not. Remember what I said, that I would keep you safe no matter what." he watched as the man who was holding Toki raised his gun, prepared to bring it down.
Without hesitation, Pickles managed to break free from the man who was holding him; he went over and wrapped his arms around Toki, accepted the hurt from the butt of the gun. He tried to block it with his arm, but it was a useless effort—the man just brought the gun down a second time and bones snapped like Popsicle sticks, making the drummer let out a startling yell of agony and cradle his broken arm to his chest. "Fuck..." he whispered, biting his tongue to try and distract himself from the horrible pain. He was panting now, struggling to hold back tears as Toki kissed him.
"Ams you okay?"
"Uh-huh." he hissed thru clenched teeth. "Fine."
"Ams you broke?"
"N-No, I'm...are you okay?"
"Ja, of course I ams." Toki glared up at the man with the gun and added in an undertone, "I'm going to kills him; both of them. I want to fucking tear them apart..."
"T-Toki," Pickles whispered, touching the guitarist's cheek. Without warning he fell to his knees and Toki followed, holding onto him tightly. "I love you, you know 'dat, right?"
"Of course I do, but what-"
It was about to happen, this was it. In a few moments he would be nothing but a lifeless corpse, no different than the hundreds of dead Klokateers that littered the yard outside. He'd be laying there bleeding and cold in Toki's arms, never have to see the gun being put to his love's head...last thoughts. They were like they had been before, on the night that the Mordhaus was first attacked—his head was full of memories of Toki. All he could think of—the only world he could breathe, the only scent he smelled—was him. Toki naked, covered in sweat and completely flushed, collapsing onto the seat of that old, rusted car...Toki laughing as he won some stupid prize at the carnival that the band had always gone to every year...
"Look, Pickle, I gots this bear!" he announced proudly, presenting the drummer with the stuffed animal.
Toki pale and shivering as they took him away from his home in Norway after his father had died...
"I guess I miss hims. No matter how bad he was to mes I'll always miss hims."
And Toki, that blue-eyed, brown-haired fantasy, the only person in the world who Pickles had cared about, trying to get over his crushing stage-fright by practicing maddeningly on his guitar backstage before his first concert...
"Skwisgaar has his hands insured for, likes, six-million dollars, doesn't he?" the Norwegian asked, glaring resentfully down at his boots. "Why can't I haves my hands insured for that much? Or even half that much...fucks that, he ams so stupid. I'm better anyways, right Pickle? Right?"
"T-Toki, y'gatta..." he was crying again, completely breaking down and weeping as he watched a man walk up behind the guitarist and raise his gun. "I love you."
"I...I..." clearly he was struggling to take this all in. "Ams this what it's like to die?"
"I sees stuff—you. All I can thinks about is-"
"Yeah, I guess it is." Dimly Pickles felt something cruel and cool being placed at the back of his head—a gun. He took a deep, shuttering breath, and nodded, feeling oddly numb. He almost accepted this.
"It ams not so bad." a pause then, "What ams you thinking about?"
"You, nothing but you." And he began silently counting down the precious seconds of what remained of his life. He didn't feel wholly there, though; it was as if he was already crossing over into that shadow-land, that place beyond eternity. Suddenly another memory came to his mind, one in which he was just a six-year-old kid talking to his half-drunk father. They were both wearing black suits—it was after his grandfather's funeral.
"So daddy, if grandpa went to Heaven, then does that mean that he's up in the sky?"
"No, Heaven isn't in the sky, you stupid boy."
"Then where is it?"
"It's like an imaginary place, one that God has to show you and invite you into."
Pickles ran a hand thru Toki's hair and smiled. "Gad, I love you. Thanks for loving me back..."
"Pickle, what ams happening? I-" his voice broke as he said painfully, "-I don't wants to die."
"You're not," he said, feeling the insistent, pounding pain radiate from his broken arm thru his entire shaking body. "We're not dying."
"D'you remember Eden?"
"Whats?" Toki met his gaze and sniffled.
"There's fruit," the drummer explained, "that's sweet as candy—better, actually."
"And they grow on the gold and silver trees, rights Pickle?"
"You gat it."
"And there ams no pain or hurt, right?"
He choked back a sob and answered wretchedly, "No, and there's nothing to be scared of either, only good stuff...no fire or guns...no death."
"You can sees anyone there, too, huh? Likes Skwisgaar and Nathans and-"
"Of course you can."
"And we can be together, rights?"
"Always." Pickles kissed Toki's cheek and shut his eyes tightly.
"We ams going to go there, right?"
"Course we are."
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Soft kisses, a fleeting touch to a tear-stained cheek, and affectionate whispers of, "Pickle, you should wakes up now. You really should, because it ams so pretty..."
"Huh?" he shifted and let out a tired groan; no, he wasn't laying on the cold floor of the Mordhaus anymore. He was laying on something else, something cool and comforting, soft and nice. He opened his eyes and looked around. No, he wasn't anywhere near the Mordhaus anymore. It was night, a dark, blue midnight. He smiled softly, felt the jet-black grass underneath him. It was long and brushed his skin as it blew in the cool breeze. Above him a blanket of stars sparkled and glowed, appearing to be nothing less than billions—what seemed like more—winking little silver eyes above. The moon was full, so close and huge. It seemed to be almost within reach, a mere few miles away.
Neither he nor Toki bothered to ask where they were just then. It didn't matter and the answer that they might both come up with would spoil this fresh beauty, so they just sat, holding each other and staring up at the sky, their eyes aglow with a new found delight. "Pickle?" Toki finally asked, his voice a breathless whisper.
"Do you still loves me?"
"Of course I do."
"Good, because I thinks we ams going to be here for a long time." he laid his head against the drummer's shoulder and smiled. "A really longs time."
"That's sure as hell fine with me."
"Hmm?" he hugged Toki close to him, cradled him in his arms like he'd done back at the Mordhaus under that red sky. It seemed like it was ages ago that they'd been trapped there in that Hell.
"What happened to everythings else? All the bad stuffs?"
"I think it went away."
"Oh." he hesitated before asking in a childish sort of wonder, "You mean like how the suns and the moon went away and took the clouds ands stars?"
"Somethin' like 'dat." Pickles answered. His arm no longer hurt anymore and he wasn't hungry, filth, tired, or scared anymore. He didn't know why, but he was just okay. It was the first time in a long time that he just felt okay.
The Norwegian nodded like he understood and continued with, "But they ams back again, so does that mean that everything else will come back?"
"No," he answered slowly and thoughtfully, "I don't think it will."
"But how come the stars and stuff cames back? Is the world okays again?"
Pickles grinned and kissed the top of the guitarist's head. "I don't think this is the world at all, Toki."
"Then what ams it?"
"It's just..." his green eyes glanced around, took in the endless meadow of long, gently swaying grass and hills that lay before them. They were sitting on the top of a hill, overlooking this impossibly gorgeous countryside. Something special caught his attention; there, glistening and glowing in the silver moonlight, were a few large trees. They gleamed the colors of pure silver and gold and he could see that there were many plump, ripe fruits that hung from their branches. He felt an odd sort of unreal feeling coursing thru him as he said, "It's just us. That's it, just us."
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Wow. That was horribly sad and depressing, wasn't it? Yeah, I cried when I thought of that ending, but it was just so perfect and rightthat I had to use it. So yes, hate me if you must, but Pickles and Toki are definitely dead [so are Nathan and Murderface, and soon after they were killed the world finally finished rotting away], but at least they died together...that kind of makes it worse, doesn't it? Hmmm...
The next story I publish will be almost as sad, but also much happier. I know that sounds stupid, but this is pretty much as depressing as it gets...hopefully. ^_^ Thanks to all of those who have reviewed, because I love you and really appreciate it. For those of you that haven't reviewed yet, you should. I would really like it. Hope you enjoyed this story and thanks for reading. Until next time,
Peace, Love, & Eden
[R.I.P Pickles & Toki]