Mixed State: Chapter IV – Out of Exile

We drove for what felt like forever. Yeah, I asked ‘are we there yet’ enough times that even I was getting sick of it. All the while, that fucking black mist kinda swept me up behind my eyes. I ignored it; I had shit to do. But A.D.’s face kept looming out at me and I couldn’t understand why I felt this way.

Priti and Hideo kept asking me if I wanted to talk and only went quiet when I threatened to smack them with God Killer. That felt fucking awesome to say; I really am a big kid. So yeah, they focused on the road and almost an hour later, we found ourselves around the side of this huge estate. Aleksander’s Mansion. Oh boy, it was opulent with all the trimmings. The main gate practically hit the sky and two lion statues flanked it because Aleksander is the epitome of taste. Obviously.

“Let me out then. I got shit to do.” I said, pushing the tarp down beneath the seat. I raised God Killer and my hand was already on the door handle before Hideo waved at me like some hyperactive child.

“Wait, I need to explain.” he said.

I sighed. I told him to spill.

“Head through these gates; they’re unlocked but only for the next thirty minutes. Go through the left side through the kitchens. My contact made sure his security was on the second floor. You only have ten minutes to get to him before they come back though.” he explained. As he spoke, he punched a few keys on his phone. “I let them know. You better mosey.”

I scampered through the gate which really, really should have been left closed. I mean, come on. He must be King Asshole if his own men can’t even be bothered to protect him. So yeah, I went on and ended up at the side entrance which, as Hideo stated, was open. I ducked in to the shiniest kitchen I’d ever been in. Every surface gleamed; every metallic utensil was its own supernova for my poor eyes. I ducked out of what must have been the stage for a failed sci-fi film and ended up in the main hall. Voices murmured from somewhere and I kept God Killer close. This whole place creeped me out, in all honesty. Red carpet lined every inch of the floor, weird portraits of children and surly looking adults covered the walls along with these fucking weird cherubic statues. Lacking the wings. They weren’t pissing water either; they were just occupying space.

Behind these was a large bookcase filled to the brim with such trash as Nabokov and Marquis de Sade. I don’t even wanna tell you what I think of those shitheads. Above these were (get this) all his own novels, novellas, short stories and even a scrapbook of news stories. Above it all, a copy of Fruit Unyielding was on a raised plinth and was bound in a leather dust jacket. Oh boy, batter up.

I knocked the book down and swung at it with my bat. Thanks to God Killer’s sociopath yet romantic design, it practically shredded in one hit. I laughed not realizing how fucking loud I was being and boy, I was laughing enough for everyone in the country.

“Excuse me, who the Hell are you?” came a Slavic accent that made my skin crawl. I turned to see the fat fuck himself; Aleksander the dipshit. He’d have looked pretty pathetic alone with his arm in a sling but he had his bodyguards with him. The big silent guy and the Scotch prick who smiled like one of those shiteater video game mascots from the nineties.

“Oh, you’re him.” he said, almost falling over himself as he backed away. “This won’t do. Not at all. Get the police now.”

Both his men remained still. The Scotch prick eyed me almost too eagerly; Aleksander gave up on him and instead addressed the bigger guy.

“Wallace, please.”

Wallace nodded and left. It was just us three now and that was fine by me.

“Aleksander, you stand accused of being a little too hands-on with the research for your novel. How do you plead?” I announced, stepping forward. “You-”

Then that Scotch prick ran at me and tackled me to the ground. Jesus, his fucking grip was like sinking in oil. God Killer flew out my grip as I thrashed against this grinning asshole.

“Only subdue him, Conrad. Leave him for the police. I have the most wonderful idea.” Aleksander mused. He observed me like some trinket in a nostalgia shop and I felt like vomiting bile. Arching my head, I nutted Conrad who dropped me like a stone. Gripping God Killer, I swung it at him and the longest nail lodged in his chest. The dull thunk of chipped bone; I tell you, I’ll never forget that sound for as long as I live. I yanked it out of his chest, hoping I was taking his lungs with it but alas not. The damage was superficial and Conrad was ready to sock me one. I thrust God Killer in his face and told the fucker to get on his knees.

“I’m fucking pissed now. DO IT.” I yelled.

Conrad sunk to his knees with his hands still clamped over the bleeding mass of his chest.

“You first, then this Polish fuck.” I snarled. Weirdly enough, both seemed content almost happy. What the fuck?

“Oliver.”

My answer. A.D. was stood before me in what appeared to be a slinky black dress. Her hair was combed neat and her fringe over her eyes in what must have been a fashionable style. Also, her eyes were black-rimmed as though a child had scribbled crayon around her lids. I must say, she looked great even though her whole body should have been the colour of her mascara. You know, charred black and all.

“The fuck?” I exclaimed. “You’re alive?”.

Then the world went black. Christ, that hurt like a motherfucker.

*

I woke moments later with my hands cuffed and Conrad’s breath on my neck. For the record, had I been unconscious for longer than five minutes, I’d probably end up dead. Just a little insight in case I ruined your literary device.

Anyway, Conrad was gloating about his sucker-punch as I felt the consequences bruise against my skull. I looked around and saw it wasn’t just us anymore. The police were stationed around, looking tough but having nothing to really do. Then the camera flashes began and yay, I felt the beginnings of a headache. So yeah, fun.

“Thank you, officers. Any moment later and he’d have surely struck myself or my dear sweetheart.” said. A.D. was stood beside him with a simpering look as they both spoke to the reporter. Hell, even the little girl was rolled out for a public appearance as she appeared to be sinking into A.D.’s half-hearted embrace.

Two burly officers dragged me away. God knows where God Killer was; I bet Aleksander was trying to fashion it into a sex toy or something. The lights of the press blinded me and I could only feel the unwelcome pressure shoving me forward into the din. As I felt the cold air of outside sweep over me, I wondered of Hideo and Priti and I guessed they must have fucked off. I’d have, I know that.

I was hauled into the back of a police van and as I sat, I was flanked by two pigs who kept their focus on every move I made. Yeah, like that Police song. Very funny but I wasn’t fucking laughing. The van rumbled into life and so, I began life on square zero. I’d fucked up and got caught. Hell, it wouldn’t surprise me if this was all manufactured to make sure I’d end up here.

I looked to the pig on the left of me and wondered whether to tell him his face looked like the result of a failed abortion. You know, wholesome family humour and all that. But I decided against it; my hands were cuffed and getting socked isn’t much fun. You know when you’re punched in the face and behind your upper lip gets all cut up? Hurts like fuck when you try and eat. Because of that unfortunate memory, I stayed silent the entire trip to the prison.

*

The prison was everything I expected it to be. Overstuffed, depressing and not the place to be if you wanted your ass to stay intact. I think, anyway. I was frogmarched with ten pigs to my cell which was on the second floor. First thing that struck me about this floor was how damn quiet it was. It appeared I was by myself on this floor; every cell was open and empty as though the cons here did a runner.

Oh, before you all ask, there was no trial. This counts if you have friends in high places as Aleksander apparently did. Courts were rarely used these days because they took up too much time; yeah, I know how dumb that is. I mean, I know with my murdering and bat collection, this is the most unbelievable aspect. I’ve been to court before and believe me, it is fuckety-fucking-fuck-de-de-fuck-fuck-fuck boring. You sit around, there’s a guy in a wig etc. You get the picture.

So, I was hauled into my cell and the door was slammed and locked. Nice and tight.

“Is it too late to ask for a lawyer?” I called out. No answer.

Footsteps faded as I realized for the first time in years, I was truly alone. I thought of A.D. and wished I was dead. Dramatic, yeah. But what would you do? I thought of her, Aleksander’s leer and that poor kid. Almost like a family.

“Newbie! What’s going on?” came a voice.

Huh, so I’m not alone. This could be fun.

“That’s right. And you are?”

“Johnny. I’m one hot guy.” came the voice. “There’s two others. MARTHA, SULLY, WAKE UP.”

Groaning. Oddly clear considering how thick the walls are but what can you do? I looked to the door and saw the food slat was open and it all made sense.

“Oh, a new guy?” came a female voice that was probably Martha. Well, I fucking hope so because she had a flirty vibe. “How are you, sweetie pie?”

“Hey.” Sully chimed. Boy, he sounded slow and that was only one word. First impressions and all that.

“Can I come round one of your cells and borrow a cup of sugar?” I announced.

They laughed in unison. It was quite sweet actually.

“What’s your name?” Martha asked.

I hesitated but then thought fuck it. I’m trapped here and secrecy won’t do shit for me.

“I’m Oliver S. Kennedy.” I said.

A silence and then they broke out in an excited gaggle.

“You’re the bat man! You tried to whack Aleksander, didn’t you? You’re a crazy sod, you know.” chuckled Johnny. “I had a bet on with one of our old neighbours. Until he hung himself.”

“Who won the bet?” I asked.

“I did. Charles is dead so he can’t say otherwise.”

We laughed and boy, it felt natural. Who’d have thought, being in a grey cell with nothing but a shitty bed, a tiny toilet and near-darkness would entitle me to feeling human. Not me, I tell you.

“Why are you three locked up, anyway?” I called out. “You’re not terrorists, are you?”

Once again, silence. It couldn’t have been my hilarious joke, that should have them in stitches. I was about to ask again but then Johnny answered.

“Can we wait till we get to know you first? We don’t put out on the first date, if you get my meaning.”

Odd saying but okay, I got it. I felt a little ashamed because they knew all about my crime. I mean, at least Johnny did. They got to fourth base and I was lucky to get a handie, if you get my meaning.

“Okay, I’m gonna hit the hay. Have room service sent up at eleven. I fancy sleeping in.” I said to even more laughter. Though I lay on the cold, unforgiving bed and closed my eyes, I did not sleep for some time.

*

I woke after what was the worst night’s sleep I’d ever had. That includes when I kipped in that alley during that fucking rainstorm. You know the one; the Thames flooded and it never went down. A tray of porridge and a glass of water was shoved into my cell through the bottom slider of the door. I picked it up and shrugged. Devouring the porridge, I’ll admit it wasn’t half bad. The water was even cool! Believe it or not, this was the first cooked meal I’d had in months. Probably years.

“Rise and shine, bat-man.” said Johnny. “How’s breakfast?”

“Not bad.” I replied. “Best meal I’ve had in ages.”

Murmurs. I guess that’s not what they wanted to hear.

“The food here sucks, I prefer my own meals.” Sully groaned.

“No shit, you do.” Martha muttered. “How can you eat this prison crap? It tastes like utter bollocks.”

What’s that old saying? Beggars can’t be choosers and all that. My stomach full, I relaxed onto my bed and let them protest my culinary preferences. Some nagging feelings pulled at me from within my skull but I ignored them for the time being. I didn’t want to be rude to my current company, did I?

“What do you guys do for fun around here?” I asked.

Martha answered first. “Piss off the guards.”

Sully grunted in approval. Even from inside this cell, I could tell she was grossed out.

“Oh, we get fan-mail too.” Johnny said. I bet he was swaggering around with a hand running through some overdone blond locks. “I have fans all over.”

“Yeah, tons of women wanna fuck him.” Martha interjected.

“He’s a real ladies’ man.” cackled Sully.

Boy, his voice was annoying. It was like someone turned grease into sound.

“Shut the fuck up.” snapped Johnny and Martha echoed his sentiment.

“You really get mail?” I asked. I was curious; not having a fixed address meant I never had the joy of getting junk mail flooding my doorstep. “Like chocolates and roses and all that shit?”

Johnny and Martha laughed. Sully resumed his oily chortle after he felt it socially acceptable.

“Well, mostly it’s hate mail.” Johnny admitted. “You kinda gotta sift. But then you hit the good stuff. The guards here let most things in. Nothing you can kill yourself with but things like food gets in. Cigarettes and the like.”

“Really? What do you get?” I asked.

“Mostly hate mail. But I do have correspondence with a number of sweet ladies across this dear country. They’re oh-so angry the system failed me and that I’m here. I tell you, they are very eager that I get conjugal visits. I reckon I could swing it with-”

“Not bloody likely.” Martha cut in, a little too enthusiastically. She was crazy and I could tell. “They won’t do that for you with what you did.”

I laughed. This was like a fucking sit-com. When were they gonna fuck and get it over with? I repeated this to them to which Sully guffawed. I forgot, that slimy fucker was gonna laugh every time we said something remotely humorous.

“Shut the fuck up, bat-man.” Martha snarled.

I thought of pointing out the irony of someone named Martha calling me that but I decided against it. After, the morning was patterned with the odd cluster of chatting between Johnny and Martha and the odd ‘shut up, Sully’. Eventually, the door shunted open and two guards slowly stepped in, guns drawn. I briefly thought of charging at one and letting it all end there and then. Blaze of fucking glory. Hell, I’d sleep forever then. But of course, I remained on my bed as a sack of letters were dumped on the grimy floor. The guards snickered as the door was slammed shut and locked and I waited for their footsteps to recede before diving into the pile. Let’s see…

Death threat, death threat, Chinese restaurant menu, death threat, death threat, death threat, court summons for unpaid council tax and another death threat. I picked up the most interesting.

“Hey guys, any of you up for a Chinese?” I yelled.

They laughed and I admit, it was a pleasant sound. I tossed the menu aside and opened the death threats. Most were ‘I’m gonna kill you’; you know, prose from writers who can’t write. I made a mental note to ask them if they worked for NME. Some did get creative; one person promised to sodomize me with one of my bats; some woman was planning on oiling me up and having horses tear me in quarters; I was invited to go fuck myself. Maybe I could have laughed but fucking Hell, people were brutal. I know I’m a guy who kills others with a baseball bat but these were meant to be good people. There’s no room for this on the moral high ground, you know? I swear, people will indulge in their worst desires if they feel it’s justified.

“It gets easier. After a while, you’ll just ignore them.” called out Martha. I knew exactly what she meant but I didn’t want to agree.

“Shut up.” I barked. Martha replied but I ignored her. All those letters screaming for my blood made me wish I was dead, in all honesty. I don’t give a shit about anyone I’ve killed because most of them deserved it. A.D. went into the arms of that pervert and it made no sense to me. Now she was a curio along with his daughter.

His daughter.

The penny finally fucking dropped. Did you clock this? Because I just have. That girl was the daughter she was going on about. Aleksander screwed her and they had a kid? How old WAS she when this happened? It made sense but I didn’t want it to. She was with him to protect her daughter but why not just stab the cunt in his sleep? For a moment, the mist fell and when I steadied, I found all the letters before me were torn into quarters. Even the fucking Chinese menu… I wanted to see if they delivered.

“Oliver, m’boy. Everything alright in there?” Johnny called.

You know, being imprisoned with two guys and a woman who may be even worse than me made me oddly vulnerable. I don’t know; maybe it was the shitty lighting or the hard as fuck bed. I couldn’t see them so I wouldn’t see how they’d react if what I said was utter bollocks.

“You guys know Aleksander is a pervert, right?” I said.

Sully said something excitedly but I shut him up. I could imagine his moist breath on the wall as he craved whatever attention he could. Fucking creepazoid.

“Yeah well, my friend’s now with him. I don’t know why, I think it’s something to do with his kid.” I continued.

Johnny laughed. “Your squeeze went off with him? Jesus, you must wanna wear his skin and eat his heart.”

“That’s oddly specific.” I said. It… really was. I know this is jail but fucking Hell, what is wrong with some people? Oh man, to have God Killer back right now. I wished for the clouds to come crashing and for this entire planet to be wiped clean of everything. You know, there were nights I was with A.D. that were ordinary and whatnot. We’d talk and other things. I tell you, I don’t think I realized how lucky I was back then but I do now. Now she was on the arm of that asshole and that doesn’t fucking settle with me, okay. I don’t know how I’m getting out of here but I will. Even if it kills me.

*

Days turned into weeks and all I had to show for it was a five o’clock shadow and a toilet full of piss. Each day, food was shoved under my door and hate mail was dumped by the foot of my bed. All the while, Johnny bragged about his fanbase, Martha said something sarcastic and Sully was told to shut up.

OVER AND OVER.

Fucking Hell, it’s like that Goddamn film. You know which one I’m on about. Anyway, I took up a new sport of beating the holy fuck out of my walls. I made no superficial impact but my hands were bruised to fuck. I screamed until I vomited, I bruised until I could no longer bear it and I swore once or twice. The Goddamn guards never came by but it pissed off my neighbours. Apparently I’d been talking in my sleep too which I imagined they enjoyed; Sully probably enjoyed it way too much if you know what I mean. The only time they came by was to dump the latest batch of hate mail which they did again today, always with the bullshit smiles. As the door locked, I gave up on trying to ambush them. They’d tasered me twice already and I was either developing electrical abilities or my heart was giving out. As my pile had grown, I wondered of the older mail which I’d had taken to tearing up as a pass time. I had a pile of overgrown confetti taking up a quarter of my room which didn’t do much for the décor, I tell you. Sifting through the trash again, I began tearing up anything that had an adjective or a verb. You know, any describing what they’d do and how’d they do it. So far, people had promised to drown, burn, dismember, assault and verbally assault me. One even promised to freeze me which made me laugh in all honesty.

Then I came across a brown envelope which was a lot skinnier than the usual fare. I tore it open and I guess they were getting lazy because it only had this:

Midnight. Be ready.

On second thoughts, that was a lot different to what I usually read. I still felt wary, don’t get me wrong, but something resembling hope bubbled up in me. Things have a way of working out for me, as you can probably tell.

“Anything good?” Johnny asked.

“I renewed my subscription to Gay Times and they sent me all the back issues I missed.” I replied. Boy, Johnny laughed hard at this and I’m sure I heard Martha curse. Sully saved us from our laughter, as he always did.

“You’re gay?” Sully asked.

I rolled my eyes. “Sure.” I answered. I never really thought of myself in terms of gay or straight. I like both. Fuck if it makes me greedy; it’s no one’s business.

“Sully, why haven’t you killed yourself yet? Do us all a favour.” Martha snapped. Sully muttered something before she let loose a scream that hurt my fucking eardrums. Boy, she was insane.

“Settle down.” I said. Being the voice of reason wasn’t a role I was comfortable in but with these three weirdos, I didn’t have much of a choice. Oh, they still hadn’t told me why they were imprisoned either. I tried not to think about that; you know my moral code.

Martha snapped at Sully and the verbal dogpile began as Johnny joined. I stayed out this time; I couldn’t get over the note. Had Selena managed to break me out? I know she hates Aleksander and she wants me to kill him but then why wouldn’t she just hire someone else? Then again, who cares? This gets me out and about and finally in act three. I just had to bide my time.

*

Midnight came at a snail’s pace. I was already dozing off before my cell door clicked open, spilling in light from the hall. My eyes snapped open as I’d always been a light sleeper. Hey, if I wasn’t I’d have been killed years ago. I got out of bed and pushed the door open to reveal absolutely fuck all. The hallway was empty which made me wonder who unlocked my door (unless it was electronic then even so). My boot brushed against something which clinked on the stony floor: God Killer. I scooped it up and felt safe for the first time since I was locked up. I had my fucking bat back!

“Well hello bat-man.” came a familiar voice. I spun around to see Johnny approaching me. He had the look of a man who knew he was attractive and played on it for all his worth. His words were sultry and I admit, I was almost blindsided. “Off somewhere?”

“Uh, who let you out?” I wondered. He shrugged.

“We’re lucky, I guess.”

I turned to see Martha approaching. She looked like a porcelain doll weighed down by a mane of black hair. Her eyes felt sharp on me as she sized me up. I half expected her to slash me in pieces with those long fucking nails. Behind her was the slothful figure of Sully who looked like a slug that learned how to express self-pity.

“We need to get out.” Johnny said, tousling his locks. I could see the blond-tints in the pale light.

The trio walked on ahead but something was nagging away at me. Call me a stick in the mud, but I had to indulge myself.

“Why were you all imprisoned?” I asked them.

A collective sigh. Always a good sign.

“I like to dissect women. Just the ones that annoy me, mind.” Johnny answered, winking at Martha who rolled her eyes.

“I shot my best friend and poisoned her whole family after she stole my money.” Martha said. Feeling their eyes upon her, she continued. “Turned out, I forgot I put my money in a different place and it wasn’t stolen.”

We all laughed. It was a cheery sound that made me feel a little lightheaded. Then I slammed God Killer into Johnny’s skull. We all laughed even as I tore off half his pretty face. His skull glimmered with blood like some awful art project. No one screamed. Maybe he haemorrhaged or I was just that good, but he went down like a ton of bricks. Martha could barely form a remark before I slammed God Killer into that snarky fucking mouth. Her teeth crushed to dust, her head smashed into the bars of an adjacent cell. Her eyes, frozen in pain, smeared my vision as I stilled her. Her last breath came out in a creepy rattle before I pulled God Killer away. She joined her friend on the cold ground.

“What about you, asshole?” I said, turning to Sully. But he wasn’t stood in abject fear or trying to reason with me like most did. Instead, he was hunched over Johnny’s corpse making enough grunts to make me wonder if he was part pig. I tapped him on the shoulder with God Killer and he lunged at me. I was sent on my ass with this chunky fuck breathing acrid air down my throat. God Killer was thrown across the hall as I grabbed this fucker by the throat. His teeth were oddly elongated as his lips pulled back to a length they should not have been able to. He snapped at me angrily as I struggled against his weight.

“Fucking Hell, you fat prick. What the Hell?” I exhaled. It was times like these, I was grateful for the death penalty, I tell you. I kicked the wanker between the legs which caused him to grab his bollocks in pain. With enough adrenaline to kill me ten times over, I launched myself over to my bat and swiped it up with my right hand. Standing, Sully got to his feet as well as we both eyed other. His breath was heavy and carnivorous and suddenly, I felt sorry for every deer in the wild.

“Let me guess, you lost an all-you-can-eat contest and ate the winner? Always choose the pie, man.” I said.

He began to tell me about his criminal past. His taste for blood, flesh, killing his best friend, his sister etc. BLAH BLAH. I’m not telling you the interesting stuff, you fucking sickos.

Running at me, he let out this fucking unholy shriek before God Killer tore his throat off like wet toilet paper. What I assumed was his Adam’s Apple was stuck to my bat and took several shakes to get loose. Sully had hit the ground. Man, that was anti-climactic.

I creeped down the stairs to the first floor which, to my surprise, was completely empty. All the raucous fuckers from before were all gone as if Lady Justice set her vacuum to hyper. I couldn’t see any of the guards and, surprise, all the doors were open. Even the thick security ones. In fact, I was outside the front of the prison in two minutes flat when really I should still be locked away. God bless the English legal system.

I thumbed my way down the lane until one sucker was polite enough to slow down. It was some guy in bad glasses who saw me and, before he could hit the pedal, I yanked him out and took off in his motor. Boy, I hadn’t driven in ages.

*

I made it back to the city and decided to drop in on an old friend. I ran into O’Shea’s bar which, despite a lock up, was open if you jimmied the back door. As I stepped into the stock room, Selena looked up from laying down a crate and wasn’t even surprised. Yeah, she knew me that well.

“Howdy. Did I miss anything?” I asked, cheerier than how I felt.

“Aleksander was one step ahead of you.” she replied.

“I didn’t see you do anything.”

“I didn’t want to cramp your style.”

Nick walked on and did the whole ‘eyes bulging’ thing as he was surprised I managed to escape. Then again, with how easy it was, so was I.

“Heya Nicky.” I said.

Nick raised his hand in greeting before fixing his gaze on Selena. Boy, the anxiety levels were gonna make me laugh. He was such a berk sometimes.

“Oliver, uh… you watched the news recently?” he asked.

“Oliver S. Kennedy.” I corrected. “Sorry man, no TV in the clink.”

“Well, you’ve been the best thing that’s ever happened to him.” he said.

He pointed to the doorway and so, I went. I hit the stairs to where their living room was and Selena channel surfed until an image of Aleksander took up the screen. I had to steady myself otherwise I’d have sent God Killer through the screen and then I’d probably be stuck with the cable bill.

The programme went on but didn’t provide enough exposition so I asked Selena and Nick to explain.

“Basically, he’s milked this for all it’s worth and he’s now the greatest thing since Shakespeare.” Selena said before trying to slap me. I grabbed her arm and stared her down. I don’t give a shit who you are, you aren’t slapping me. Getting her arm free, she pressed on. “He’s been given the Pulitzer and Fruit Unyielding is mandatory reading in schools now. There’s talk he might run for PM.”

I scoffed at this. Boy, this was pushing the boundaries a bit, you know?

“She’s not wrong.” Nick said, adjusting his glasses. “Apparently, he’s close to finishing his novel about you and he needs an ending. The papers are all speculating; they want it to end with your corpse.”

I thought about this and I won’t lie, it didn’t bother me. Not at all. With A.D., Aleksander and that little girl of his, I wondered if there was any reason for me to be alive. I’d be beating on perverts but with that prick alive, he’s made it socially acceptable to be that way and now I’m fighting a losing battle. It had to end. I was taking that prick out, no questions asked.

Leaving the room, my foot was on the first step before a thought occurred to me. I called back to them.

“What happened to Priti and Hideo?”

A silence. I got the hint neither wanted to answer.

“The cops got them.”

Fucking Hell. They didn’t seem that bad, in all honesty. With all the assholes in the world, they did not deserve getting rubbed out. With that, I hit the road and climbed into my stolen car. Luckily, it looked like a piece of shit so no one stole it. Always a benefit, you know?

*

I had one stop to make before God Killer’s date with Aleksander’s face. You might wanna read back a bit just in case you forgot this detail, otherwise let’s hop to it. I rushed into Maple Block until I was at door nineteen and rapped God Killer until I heard footsteps. I was humming that Iron Butterfly song, you know, the one from that Homecoming novel? It’s a good song.

The door opened to what looked like the result of the most popular kid in school growing up in the real world. His hair was thinning, eyes rimmed red and a permanent frown was etched on his considerable forehead. Very attractive, you know? Anyway, I could tell he recognized me so I cut to the chase.

“Angelika, remember her?”

His eyes darted nervously. Bingo.

“Yeah, you told some lies about her, didn’t you?”

Before he could no doubt waste my fucking time with sputtering, I smashed God Killer into his face and sent him on his ass. Yeah, I don’t like liars. I scared that poor woman half to death, let alone the emotional damage I inflicted on her son.

I turned and left the prick for the police to scoop up. Maybe now Angelika could get some peace.

“You.” wheezed a familiar voice.

Joseph, the old bastard who stole Slugger, was approaching me with the same scowl. Slugger hung from his belt; it must have been made of tough stuff because that bat was heavy. Whatever he wanted, I didn’t have time to fuck about. Kill me or get killed, you know?

“How’s Slugger treating you?” I said, gesturing with God Killer. Grunting in response, Joseph looked down on Angelika’s ex-boyfriend and shook his head.

“Beat me to it.” Joseph muttered and walked off.

I’m all for dramatics but if he knew Angelika, why didn’t he do something about him before? I know I’m nit-picking and you want me to get back to murdering but come on, that’s poor pacing. Fuck this, I have to be at Aleksander’s.

*

My stolen ride choked on the carriageway so I had to walk the last couple miles or so. It didn’t matter; I was pissed off and I was ready to swing God Killer into that fat prick’s face. It was still dark out and that suited me fine. I approached the tall iron gates of Aleksander’s Manor which were open just a crack. Slipping in, I did wonder why they weren’t locked. Considering the author was meant to be the zeitgeist of this generation, his security was pretty fucking lax.

I approached the front door which was also open just a crack. I paused, wondering why the fuck this was so easy. I imagined thousands of SWAT swooping in with their semi-automatics aimed at me. One fucking swiss cheese Scavenger and Aleksander’s third act is written. Oh boy, I hope it’s painless. I really do.

I pushed the door open. Nothing at all except the groaning of distant traffic. So far, so good. I went in and my eyes were accosted with this offensive to taste; elaborately carved cherubic statues and lilac carpeting. I don’t know a thing about art but all this crap grossed me out. I rushed on until I ended up in the same hallway as last time. I noticed the bookcase and his vanity shrine were missing as though he took them out for repairs.

“Olly Olly Oxen Free.” I called out. I could sense he was here and I wasn’t for that stealth bullshit. Sure enough, he waddled into view with a smirk that appeared to scar his face. “Alright, get on your knees. Let’s get this over with.”

To my surprise, Aleksander did. Panting, he pressed down on his legs as he knelt on the landing. Not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth, I climbed the steps and readied my swing. I could already imagine smashing that skull in.

“I’m already bored, come on.” I sighed.

“I don’t think so.” he croaked. His Polish accent was thicker than I remembered. He made A.D. sound almost English. “You followed my story to the letter, głupek.”

Yeah, I didn’t have a fucking clue what that last word meant. But before I knew it, hundreds of armed police officers had flooded the base of the hall with their guns fixed on me. I really should have seen this coming.

Conrad and Wallace came out and flanked Aleksander who winced as he got to his feet. A.D. and his daughter were just behind them with the same placid expression.

“Why did you get on your knees for?” I asked. I was really curious; he looked arthritic. Seriously, he was in pain and he made all this elaborate for some reason?

“Do your worst.” Aleksander smiled. His lips pulled back and revealed a row of capped teeth that reminded me of split tic-tacs. “I look forward to it.”

Conrad seized me by my jacket and an acrid plume of whisky-soaked breath stung my throat. Struggling, I tried to smash God Killer into the tosser but he was too close. Wallace watched as his comrade slammed me into the wall and pulled back his right fist.

Then A.D. charged forward and, with a silver gleam that caught my eye, plunged something sharp into Aleksander’s neck. His eyes glazed until they were nothing but reflections of the overhanging light. No one, not Conrad, not the police, not even myself, believed what we had seen. A.D. then looked to me with the same intensity as ever. Game on.

I nutted Conrad who collapsed in a heap. I swung God Killer into him until his head was nothing but mush. Then the police started firing.

“Open your eyes.” A.D. said, her voice gentle. And so, I did. All the bullets that should have torn us to shreds were instead frozen in mid-air to the befuddlement of the officers. I tell you, I got nothing for this. A.D. instead turned to Wallace and cradled his baby-fat-ridden face.

“Thank you. For me and for Sara.” she said as he nodded. Wallace looked to me before flickering violently. I blinked and then it was as though he wasn’t there at all.

“Where did he-” I asked before I realized. That fucker. He couldn’t keep to the script.

“Goddamn it, Ben. What’s this Twin Peaks bullshit?” I called out.

Lo and behold, Ben E. J. Edwards stepped past the light. He ducked past the haze of static bullets and adjusted his glasses in that way he always did. A nervous smile crossed his face as he spoke.

“Uh, hey. Oliver S. Kennedy. You called?” he said. He was way too fucking confident; I lifted God Killer and made sure he saw it was glistening with blood.

“What sort of resolution is this? Fucks sake, I get out of prison with no consequences and now Aleksander’s dead?”

He shrugged and began to look away. Apparently looking into my eyes was too much for him.

“I just didn’t like writing this yet everyone liked it. I don’t know, it bothers me.”

Sighing, I shoved God Killer in his face without clobbering the bastard. I wonder about him, I really do.

“Do something different, for God’s sake. I haven’t even heard A.D.’s side of the story. And why don’t any of us know her name? A.D. isn’t a name. It’s a fucking set of initials.” I continued.

“Well, I don’t like this story.” he said, his voice rising in volume. “I mean, I liked Conrad and he was a Michael Rooker-esque guy but I didn’t really utilize him or show why he’s such a bad guy.”

“Michael Rooker?”

“He was in The Walking Dead. Anyway, I was gonna name A.D. but I left that to Martyna but she never got round to it. Besides, let’s forget this meta stuff and we’ll figure something out. Come on.”

He began to ascend the staircase that went higher than it did before. The light was blinding.

“Wait, one second.” I called out. Jesus, this asshole never explains himself. It’s like talking to a fucking Buddhist. “Was Aleksander a pervert? If you’re not gonna characterize Sara, you can at least tell me that.”

“I don’t think that was the point of the story.” Ben said, flashing that fucking smile. Ugh, this better be good.

*

Somewhere in France, I woke to a beautiful cottage. A.D. lay beside me with her arms wrapped around my bare chest. Birdsong filled the room as she stirred and I smiled. After the giant phoenix rescued us from Aleksander’s mansion, we settled down in this quaint village where the denizens were friendly and the wine was sweet.

“Shall we get up?” I whispered. A.D. nodded and we climbed out of bed. We dressed for the day; A.D. in a black dress with a large white collar and myself in a suit. My hair was combed neat, all the while I referred to my photo of Humphrey Bogart. Here’s looking at you, kid, indeed.

We entered our rustic little kitchen that was warm with the smells of fresh bread. Pans and other utensils hung over the counter top where Sara sat, awaiting her breakfast expectantly. Like her mother, she was clad in a dress however, hers were longer and was a light pink. A cute red bow hung just over her cut bangs and it bobbed when she spoke.

“Yay, finally. What’s for breakfast?” she said, her voice like the tinkling of a bell. So much like her mother’s.

“I’ll make something.” I said before A.D. pushed me onto the seat beside Sara.

“I want pancakes, honey. And I want them done right.” A.D. said, winking wickedly. We all laughed as she pulled down a pan and worked her magic. I didn’t know if I had enough time for pancakes as I had to be at work for nine, but oh well. I was with my family and nothing was getting in the way of that.

In the living room, above the smoky fireplace where I’d spend evenings reading old literature, was a rack where God Killer lay in all its glory. I had an appointment with a pervert down the small house by the lake. But it could wait because Sara was telling me that she was excited for her first day at school.

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