A/N: Brace Yourselves . . . I just finished this and HAD to post. Please remember . . . it's only a story ;'D
Epilogue – Triumphus Malum
The lights were never switched off. Never dimmed. Always blinding. The pain in his unseeing eye throbbed and pulsed along with his erratic heartbeat. The wound the turtle gave him to his hand and his eye were repaired, only so that the Not Men could examine it in their own way, with their own piercing tools. His shattered tail was ignored to swell and fester and itch and ache. The cage they kept him in was too small for his limbs to stretch out in anything resembling comfort, so he crouched, huddled and bent. Day after day. Hour after hour. Counting the minutes between the sessions of his torment. Freed for the experiments before being brought back here and imprisoned once again. He knew he had to escape but haste would get him killed. No, he had to be cautious. Haste was not going to get him free. So he plotted and planned. Biding his time.
His fingers absentmindedly roved up and down the vivisection scar that ran the length of him. Petting it and fighting against the terrifying memory of the ordeal he fought the tears that built. They had taken him and strapped him down and cut him. Like he was meat. Only meat on a slab. They had murmured in their strange repeating voices in the high-timbered tones as they prodded and dug within the confines of his physical body. Stretching his skin and putting him all back together once they had discovered whatever it was they were looking for during that procedure.
It took everything he had to cling to the threads of sanity. He ever focused on two things and only those things were what got him through: his escape and his revenge. With that in mind he formed a plan. A clever plan. It took everything he had to stay clever despite the distraction of the pain that lanced through his body. But he was clever. Always clever. Even from before. When he was a lowly creature scavenging through the alleys that made up the wasteland of human gluttony and shallow whims. The kingdom of hollow despair.
He heard the latch and the metallic sound of the door swishing open to the lab where they kept him. Oh yes, he was clever. Counting the steps to and from the rooms, making note of the guards and the shifts of scientists that came and went. The woman's perfume floated in the air, that and her causal, non-interested emotions swept over to Scrag before her shadow even reached him. He knew this one. Had been waiting for her. This human woman, with the soft hands and the indifferent attitude. Her shadow fell over him as she pressed the code into the key pad.
He'd never struggled. He'd never fought. He laid limply in their arms as soon as they brought him here. Ever compliant to their needles and burning injections. Ever humble and silent. Because Scrag knew that he must escape. He had to make them at ease around him. He was no threat to anyone. He was harmless. For if they didn't believe - death lay waiting for him between the white walls and the silver cold tables. Ah, but he was clever. And they did believe his ruse. He wouldn't hurt anyone. Not a living thing.
The cage door opened. And now it was time to be quick.
The alarms were blaring as he raced through the halls. His shattered tail sending waves of bright agony up through his spine as he ran. He'd have chewed it off by now, only the cage they'd kept him in didn't allow enough room for him to spin around and reach the fleshy, swollen appendage. And there was no time for that now. His feet slid across the polished floor, coating it in his bloody tracks. He licked his lips, still tasting the woman's salty, hot blood as it ran down his throat as he bit and tore at her. Her flesh was devoured in haste and his stomach nearly rejected what he'd engorged on. But he fought against the urge to vomit and so far had won that battle. He needed the strength her meat brought.
He turned and barreled through a door. A man in a white lab coat with a squared-off hood spun from where he stood. Large yellow gloves adorned his hands. He held a canister with a heavy-duty metal clamp. Scrag wasted not a moment. He hissed at the human and leaped at his face. The contents of the canister flew in the air and rained down on him in thick fat drops. In two quick movements, his claws tore through the fabric of the man's protective suit. Two more slashes and Scrag buried his face into the exposed organs. Taking his fill, choking it down, relishing the coppery rich flavors. He rolled away from the body as he heard footsteps stampeding down the hallway that he'd just escaped from.
His good eye scanned the room. As he raced across the expanse, he pulled a lab coat from a table. Throwing the garment on, he pushed through a set of double doors. He paused in the hallway; noting that this one was different from the others. This one had fewer lights, more crates and boxes lined the walls. He looked left and tuned his double senses to pick up any trace of humans or Not-Men, but there was only the distant thrum of traffic beyond.
And so he ran. He ran on all fours; leaving crimson prints marred with black gory bits of his victim's entrails as he exploded out the back receiving door of the lab. Never stopping to catch his breath or to look back, he headed for the darkened alley beyond. Dashing across the empty street, his lengthy shadow was the only thing following him. The alarm blazed in the distance, fading as he ran. A sudden cramp went through him and he brushed it off. But it was soon followed by another and another; each one more powerful than the last.
At last, he crumbled and tumbled; rolling forward until his body hit a chain-linked fence. He looked up in the moonlight. Mountains of discarded, rusted vehicles blotted out the horizon. He needed shelter. He needed somewhere safe, he thought, as another bout of cramps coursed through him. Something was happening to him. Something painfully familiar. This was a deserted place. A place where he could hide until the pain went away.
Clawing his fingers through the openings of the fence, he climbed, ignoring the anguish his body was experiencing, until he flipped over the barbed-wire laced top; his fur catching and large bits gouged free as he fell in a heap. He writhed and coiled and rolled to the safety of the shadows. Foam and red-tinged spittle dribbled from between his gritted teeth as he gasped and panted through the rippling agony. The sound of bones snapping and popping filled the silence. He groaned and fell into the gravel and dirt; shivering and shuddering in pain. His aching muscles bunched and released in violent spasms. He held a trembling hand up and watched in horror as another finger emerged through the flesh; making a squelching sound as the muscles tore and reformed. The fur peeled away from his body, leaving his hand exposed and pale in the blue light of the moon. He doubled up in pain and his stomach lurched; emptying its contents in an agonizing eruption of gore. He rolled to the side as his body bucked and rumbled, creaked and snapped. With a sickening thud, his swollen, tail detached from his bottom. It coiled and undulated and quivered with a mind of its own before finally laying still.
And then, like a raging storm now spent and subdued, it was over. He lay, shivering and trembling; panting from terror and exertion. The ringing of his ears eased and a new sound reached him. The sound of a hundred thousand voices. Tiny voices coming from the thoughts of tiny creatures. Some were closer than others. Some were brighter than others. Some were repeating over and over mindlessly, but others were clever and curious. Scrag rolled his teary eyes up and blinked. Red dots peered down at him from every shadowy swath of darkness.
"Wh-Who's there," he asked, his voice hoarse and wavering.
The chattering cacophony fell silent at once; leaving only the sound of his heart beat hammering in his ears and the distance roar of traffic. Unnerved, Scrag raised up onto his elbows. Even as he asked, he gazed in amazement and wonder at his hands, his human-like hands; long black claws curved out from the end of each digit. So not entirely human. But closer than what he had been.
He felt the eyes bearing down on him. Felt the presence of something large and ominous. One being through many. One consciousness formed from thousands of individual minds.
"Wh-What do you want?"
The voice came as one, into his mind, flooding his senses, "To serve you, oh, great one."
Scrag's eyes glittered in the dark as he felt it. Their subservience. Their loyalty. Their adoration. A smile slid slowly across his face, revealing a pair of long dagger like incisors at the corners of his mouth. He was no longer Scrag, the scraggly lab rat, meant only for torture at the hands of the Not Men and their pathetic human servants. He had shed that persona as he shed away the fur and the length of his broken useless tail. No, he was something much more than that now, thanks to the mysterious fluid that spilled over him when he attacked that man in the lab just before his escape. His mind scattered at the implications, but one sweet thought stood out.
He unsteadily climbed to his feet and the scores of rats poured from every crevice that surrounded him. He raised his arms up over his head. His throaty laughter boomed throughout the junk yard.
"Yes. You will serve me! You will! For your KING has come!"
. . .
A/N: *Triumphus Malum = Triumph of Evil in Latin
Now run and play Hells Bells by Cary Ann Hearst - mwhahaha (a little different, I know, but creepy as hell!)
Oh, Jaddis and RedWritingRebel! THANK YOU! You guys have given me the GREATEST idea ever. Scrag as the previous identity of THE RAT KING!
My wicked muse was spinning and weaving this wicked little web all the while really mulling over and considering your words from your previous reviews. Particularly what you mentioned Jaddis . . . about the boys being older and what it may do to them to face Scrag again and 'there are some monsters even they can't fight.' CHILLS! And Rebel, god you angel, your little mention of wondering what April may or may not remember, what had happened to her after her father brought her home, etc. well, that got me going as well.
So, hang on to your butts! I've got something brewing in the back of my mind that is slowly taking shape. All other fanfics may be put on hold for this sucker. I just have to be sure I, myself, am ready! EEP! See how your reviews help me so much! So, please keep them coming, not only do they make me feel so loved and appreciated, but sometimes they spawn Wonderfully Wicked plot bunnies!
Please brace yourselves for part 2 of What Makes a Father: In the Kingdom of Despair