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You walk in a world of graying static.

The grass is pale, prickly, and hazy around the edges. The sky is a blank. Trees are black, withered nonsense shapes, strangled corpses reaching toward the infinite blankness beyond. The water in the river nearby ripples in a dull, sluggish rhythm. There are no birds. No insects. No scampering fur-covered animal, no scaly beasts around. The sound of bones crushing, flesh splattering and the dripping of blood echoes everywhere. You look everywhere to find the source but only see a forest of grey: of deadness, of man-made static created by a fictional world.

Your mom seemed like a real racy little whore, huh? A whisper overhead booms as a sudden cackle creates lightening. The sudden light is as fuzzy as everything else, and it doesn’t scare you. A cloud suddenly appears to the sky, forming into the face of a laughing, demented clown with a Cheshire grin. Kid, go do your superhero thing. Try killing me again, since you failed the first time. It’ll make your day. You continue to move along and the cloud continues laughing, laughing as it fades away quickly as it arrives. You barely notice him. The cloud doesn’t matter anyway, not anymore.

I feel it my skull, you know, a voice down below, close to your bare feet. It’s a girl’s voice. You look down and you see a skull talking, the back of it blown off by a bullet. It talks without lips or tongue, moving its lower jaw in coordination. The bullet Joker gave me. It’s still inside. You delude yourself thinking that there’s a chance to save me, but you knew I was about to die? Have I knew you written me off as dead, I wouldn’t never traveled with you. Horrible boy.

Your reply: Then maybe you are better off not knowing me. I’ve done worse things.

The skull’s reply: Yes, you have. You stayed by my side ever since I came back, didn’t you? Trying to bury your guilt? Selfish.

You walk past the skull as it suddenly explodes from a rain of invisible bullets, tearing it apart.

You walk through a deep, heavy mist and you see the beginning of colors returning. The first color was red. It seeps through, like a faint drop of watercolor. And then blue smoke comes hazing in, neutralizing the faint, pinkish mist. You smell both colors and breathe out heavily.

A figure colored in deep blue emerge, wild, unkempt black hair obscuring his overlarge, pale eyes. You should be happy, he muses, rubbing his thumb against his lower lip. He stares at you as though he doesn’t recognize you, as though he’s talking to himself. Perhaps I was wrong to send a child to the field. As he say this, you can here your own voice, from the sky replying in a cold but angry matter, telling L that he is not your leader, that he could care a whit on L’s opinions on your feelings.

HA! Another girl’s voice crows out, a complete sneer in her tone. You turn and you see a large grizzly bear, roaring. The bear’s battling a monster (yoma, you take notice) and suddenly one of the bear’s front arms became severed. It’s not like that will stop her: she merely picks up the severed paw with her attached one and merely beats the yoma the death with it. Doesn’t that genius detective realize that we are the battlefield, Marco?

Another figure emerges, appearing next to the blue man’s side. He’s completely tinted in red now. He holds an open notebook and you can see him writing down names: Jake, Rachel, Cassie, Aximili, and even your own name. You again, he says in a tone of voice that is normally used for commenting on the weather. You really are a killer, aren't you? You shrug. You find himself not really caring about his opinion. A murderer’s opinion on another killer’s morals means nothing. You live, you fight, and then you die. It’s a truth no one likes and tries to deny. But in the end – ashes to ashes, dusk to dawn, amen.

It’s a simple outcome, the blue man, L, says. But you too don’t care about L. Now that he doesn’t know anything anymore.

“None of you mean anything anymore,” you dismiss the two. “Everything’s obsolete. You’re now nothing, Light, and L has no memory of me, of what he has done.”

(The skull behind you cries, while in pieces: I’m still here! I’m here, Marco!)

You walk away from the boy, the detective, and the bear now chewing the insides of the yoma (where purple blood drips from its brown fur, it's terrifying muzzle). Further away from the skull, even though you want more than anything to hold that battered skull in the palm of your hands and you don’t know why. But emotions – they mean nothing do they? All for the mission. All for the mission. You say to them as you walk away, as you tell even yourself this: "Everything I have ever done back home and here is for a mission."

Nothing for you.

Accomplishment does not require longing for home. It doesn’t require forgiveness.

"I have nothing to apologize for," you call back to all those hollowed forms behind him. How can you apologize when there’s nothing there? You turn back and the people and the bear and the skull are gone. Vanished. Just like that. Just like last time. Might as well.

You swallow the tears in your mouth and continue on.

You walk through a world where everything is a pale watercolor painting of colors. Vague but have some sort of definition, like a pencil sketch. There’s a field all around, pale green. You can faintly smell salty water and a breeze: a beach, an ocean ahead. There’s a cliff jutting the edge of the world you are in. And on that cliff, is a grown woman: Hispanic, from Mexico, with her dark hair and dark eyes and tan skin; around her late thirties or early forties.

You forget how old your mother is, sometimes.

“How did it happen?” You say to your mother and your voice isn’t a whisper but a bang. Violent, crashing, crushing sound. It sounds all normal. She has her back turned, wearing her usual work clothes: a businesswoman’s clothes, all black with a black jacket and black skirt and high heels. Her hands are clasped tightly together. You can see the faint, pinkish blood seeping slowly, faintly out of the clenched fingers.

“The infestation?” You press.

“It doesn’t matter,” she replies and her voice is just as loud but is an echo within her and all around her. “They took me away, Marco, even though I was physically there to tuck you into bed at nights.”

“That wasn’t you. That was Visser One,” you argue back.

“And like I said: they took me away. Have you pulled your grades up yet?”

“I haven’t been in class,” you admit. “Before I have to leave for good, I’ve been skipping classes. All for everyone I knew.”

“Good boy,” she says. “But you need to keep up with your cover.”

“Not possible. They wanted to take Dad too and I couldn’t allow that to happen. I won’t let them take my family again.”

“And yet, you let them take your step-mother?”

“She’s just a math teacher, Mom.” As though it explains everything, that it excuses everything he has done.

“She’s still family.” She shots back.

“Not my family.” You reply shortly.

She turns her head to a downward angle. The wind picks up, so you couldn’t see the expression on her face. It makes her look wild and unrefined and dangerous despite the fact that you can’t see her eyes. Or maybe it’s because of it? “And how did your father react to that?”

“She was taken by the Yeerks because she’s connected to him. That’s all he needs to know.”

She turns her head completely and you can see her face. You know you have her face, her narrow eyes and shrewd, charming expression looks. She frowns and she knows that you know that she can see straight through the lie. “Is it necessary?”

“I wouldn’t have done it if it wasn’t, Mom. You know me. Nothing I do is not without a point.”

She turns toward you now. Her white blouse is partially open, but it’s oddly drenched. Her neck is wet too, as well as her face. “I’m so sorry Marco,” she whispers, unfolding her arms from her back to wrap herself into a self-imposed hug. “You did so much. You scarified too much. If I hadn’t responded to that call, you wouldn’t have been forced to be put in so many horrible places and situations.”

“Even if you weren’t infested, Mom,” you say, taking a step closer, soothing her and the urge to hug her. “The Yeerk invasion would still be going on. You’ll still be in danger, and Dad would’ve discovered Z-Space anyway.”

She unfolds her arms again and this time, she spreads them into an open, welcoming gesture. “Marco, you’re truly my son. You take in more of me than your father. I just wish I could’ve given you a little brother or sister.”

“Nah, they will just try taking my spotlight.” And you grin for the first time in ages and it feels so good, so good that it hurts. It hurts because it’s all a lie. Just like everything your mother is saying to you now is a lie. You embraced her hug. It’s been so long that you felt a warm body this close, this intimate, this caring and loving. But you know that too is a lie. She hugs you back and the trap is set.

For the longest while, both of you say nothing. Here, in this place, it’s just not-mother and son, just hugging each other, trying to out-lie each other without saying a word.

“Mom?” you say, your voice muffled by her body that feels lean and thin, like she hadn’t eaten much. “There’s something else that’s been bothering me. I have to ask.”

As you think she’ll might, the thing pulls away, putting her hands on her shoulders and looking straight at you in the eye. “Anything,” she says softly.

“When was the last time you fed, Visser One?”

Visser One displays her surprise by gasping through your mother’s mouth. “What?”

You shove her over the cliff. Mother/ Visser One screams, arms cart wheeling in the air, one foot lifted, just like you see in the cartoons. You push her again and she falls over the edge. But she doesn’t die. She manages to grab hold of a foothold, a jutting rock on the side. “Marco, it’s me!” she begs, sobbing. “I’m free, Marco, can’t you see, I’m free!” The tears look real enough. But you have seen people crying as they die, knowing it’s the Yeerks who are crying, not their hosts. Not even their hosts are given the right to do their final seconds alive, not while the Yeerks find them as unfeeling as pigs and cows.

“Really? Because why are you covered in gunk from the Yeerk pool?” You lean down, looking at her intently, darkly, without remorse.

“Marco, please!”

“No, Visser. You are not my mother. My mother doesn’t beg for her life. After years of being your slave, she will have welcomed death. She will understand what needs to be done.”

“Marco, you’re trying to kill your own mother!”

“No, Visser: I’m trying to kill you. My mom’s just in the way.” You reach down and grab her arm, loosening her only grip on the rock. “I’ll see you later, then, Visser One.”

You let her go.

You watch her fall to the rocky shore.

The sound of the waves doesn’t cover the snapping sound of her spine cracking, her skull shattering.

So much for a fair trial, a voice behind you calls. You turn around and you see Birthday boy, squatting, poking something red and lumpy and bloody on the grassy ground. You realize it’s a heart. His heart. Have you always been this way? he asks. Or are you a shark? He stares at you, lopsided grin, looking straight into you, looking at nothing at all.

Then L walks up next to B. And Light. And Joker, carrying the skull, still falling apart.

“Everything I have ever done, ever since I was twelve, it was for the mission.” You say to them. A sudden, suffocating sense of déjà vu overwhelms you. Where does it come from.

Six billion lives, L echoes a conversation a long time ago. It’s an easy choice.

You glare at L. “Shut the fuck up.”

Yes, let’s, Light agrees and writes down something down on a notebook. But Joker pulled out his revolver from his purple overcoat and shot him in the head. Shot B in the neck. L in the chest. They all fall down like the corpses they have now become, and you can hear children crying in the winds, And we all fall down!

Whatever it is you want to see last before you go, Joker said, grinning and laughing as he points at the useless gun at you. Look at it now.

You stare at your mother’s body down below. Blood is blooming in the waters and you see sharp triangular shapes, surrounding the corpse. Sharks. You know all about sharks. You have been the shark. In a way, aren’t you the shark in human form?

The sound of feet softly walking closer to you doesn’t escape you; the sudden sensation of a warm body close to your own, to close. You feel the pressure of something cold and metal pressing to your skull, right on the spot where he killed Rin, all those weeks ago. If you weren’t such a good guy, hero-boy, you would have made a great serial killer. Really fantastic, even a legend, like Jack the Ripper.

"Yeah, I know," you say.

You could feel Joker’s finger twitch and you suddenly twist, turn, lifting Joker’s arm. You hear the final bang, the greatest thunderclap you have ever heard. You pull him as much as your strength allows: the strength of a scrawny kid in the average American suburbia; all your strength with your mind as a child soldier; the strength behind the forces all around. Take them and bind them as yours, that it the important rule to survival. The lunatic’s legs twist around yours and both of you stumble, struggling for the gun, for the next bullet. You know that the other man is stronger than you. You can’t win.

But you planned this for the beginning.

You know how this will end.

With another pull, hands and legs clasping tightly, you pull the Joker down to the rocky shore to join your mother.

[After the dream ends, the Hitomi clicks on to capture a young teenager sleeping peacefully.

He doesn't wake up.

After several minutes of broadcasting nothing, the Hitomi shuts itself off.]


(Deleted comment)
Sep. 8th, 2010 07:09 pm (UTC)
[voice] [private]
[Marco sighs. He's been dreading this, really: having a dream that will air all of his regrets and faults and all for Rin to see. When Rin disappeared, that weight of the worry lifted from his shoulders before an entirely different weight presses on him again, this time more suffocating.]

It doesn't excuse the fact that it happened.

I messed up with Joker. When I found out what happened, I called the shots.

I just wished I could have found some way for you not getting killed.
(Deleted comment)


Kannagara - The Way of the Gods

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