7.A Chapter by Shiloh Black
That night was one of the longest Amphion could remember. He spent the better part of it bouncing down narrow, nightmarish alleys on legs other than his own, his head a laden marsh of fog and light. Another, smaller section of his time was portioned to blindly weaving among concrete walls, fire escapes, dumpsters, barred windows, corrugated garage doors, oily puddles smeared in din yellow light -- all under the bark and order of his captor.
He never had the chance to garner a decent look at the man who drove him along. When they came beneath the light of a window, Amphion discovered his captor draped in a hooded, black cloak that billowed about his face, allowing only for a brief glimpse of the man’s chin and the bridge of his nose. Killing the man wasn’t an option either -- much to his embarrassment, Amphion was shackled in his own cuffs, and when he reached for his holster, he found it empty.
After several spells of fainting, his head cleared a bit and he began to observe his surroundings for hints that might translate into a location. It did not take long to figure out -- all the buildings were windowless and on the verge of ruin, their faces bleached with age. This was a section of the bombed-out Old Seattle that managed to survive. He knew of several such areas in the city; in theory they were strictly off limits. In practice, several sets of eyes winked in the darkness, nested like beasts among chalk skeletons of skyscrapers.
As they entered the ruined threshold, Amphion heard his captor say, “Sorry, Love, but I can’t let you see the way just yet. Hope there’s no hard feelings.”
Something small and heavy -- he was deeply suspicious thereafter that the article in question was his gun -- struck him across the head. Darkness. Footsteps. His body swung to the marches of streets unknown.
When he awoke, Amphion found himself laid out on a mattress. A threadbare blanket covered him from the waist down. For a moment, he forgot everything about that night’s incident.
Then, he felt a searing pain in his forehead. Letting out a cry he flung his head back and caught a glimpse of a needle and thread. A hand seized him by the cheeks and forced his chin to his chest.
“Easy,” it was his captor’s voice. “You’ll rip the stitching. Just a few more to go.”
The needle pinched as it was pushed through skin. His captor pulled it free and a length of thread followed after, drawing a section of the wound closed. He let out a howl of pain. By the second stitch, Amphion realized sweat was beading on the nape of his neck. The pain rattled through him, and snapped all his senses into awareness. When he concentrated, he found he could feel the blood course through the palms of his hands, surging up and down the capillaries of his fingers before being sucked inwards towards the heart. Each stitch made the reality of his body solidify a little more. Every muscle tensed. He could feel the power stored up in each of his segments, and wondered at their potency. Pain had suddenly become an inexplicable pleasure.
His captor laid the last stitch and tied the final knot upon his handiwork. “There,” he told Amphion. “Have a look at that pretty mug!”
There was something in the man’s voice that was a little off -- it was thick and gargled on every word. English did not seem to be his native language.
Amphion was propped up, the handcuffs removed from his wrists, and a mirror held before his face. At the hideous stitch--work of green thread on his forehead, he did not so much as glance, but rather turned his focus upon the hand which held the mirror -- it was pale as the moon’s crest with bluish, raised veins prominent beneath the skin, winding around his captor’s knuckles. His fingertips were capped with nails that had been painted black by what appeared to be permanent marker, for the skin around his cuticles was stained with ink.
Slowly, Amphion’s eyes lifted from the hand and he found himself peering into the unhooded face of his captor. The first thing he noticed was that the face was shockingly unsexed. If he hadn’t heard the voice before seeing the face, he would not have been able guess its gender. Second of all, the man was not really a man at all, but a boy -- a boy in his teens with spindly forearms but a torso of brick, broad and strong and compact. The boy wore makeup on his face, always in absurd quantities and strictly black. His eyes were caked in charcoal, his lips smeared in tar. Everything about him was black, from the abysmal, empty cosms of his eyes to the random tufts of crowfeather hair which sprouted from his head.
The boy caught him looking and spoke. “Hullo, Love. Slept well, I hope. Sorry about the egg -- that should mend itself in a couple days.”
“If you think you’re going to trade me for a couple of your friends in the clink you have another thing coming, Son,” muttered Amphion. He went to reach for his pistol, but remembered that it had already been confiscated.
“Easy. They’re no friends of mine, officer. Not the fellows you’re talking about. Come on, sit up and take a look here. There’s something I think you should see.”
They were inside a bare room that was fitted with a concrete floor and large windows stripped of glass. One of the buildings in Old Seattle, Amphion guessed. A dozen children were seated on mats around a makeshift fire pit. Each sipped quietly from a bowl in their hands.
“That’s from the warehouse guys,” said the boy. “They were nothing but crooks. I robbed them blind and bought food for the little ones. More worthwhile than w****s and cocaine -- wouldn’t you agree?”
He went on to introduce himself as Garrett Quinn, and the children as “his” -- and that’s all anyone needed to know.
“You’re under arrest on account of forced entry, murder, battery, and abduction, Mr. Quinn,” Amphion snarled. He was none too impressed by the youth’s show of Robin Hoodlum-ery. Crime was crime, as far as he was concerned.
It was strange how Garrett’s pupils reflected no light. Amphion felt uneasy as the boy surveyed him. “You’re a guy with a real sense of justice, aren’t you?” asked Garrett.
“It’s not standard procedure for me to answer that.”
“It’s not standard procedure to let your guard down at the scene of a murder, is it, Mr -- ?”
“That will be Officer Oswald for your reference, boy.”
“Oh?” A sheen momentarily passed over Garrett’s eyes. “Not friendly enough to get to know a guy on a first name basis?”
“I don’t associate myself with crooks.”
“Come on. I ain’t a crook. We’ve got more in common, you and I, than you think. We both want to see a little justice happening. Different methods, same results.” Garrett got up and paced about, every now and then shooting an anxious glance at the ring of children. “I want to keep them safe, Love. No cop’s going to give a s**t and a half for our kind. That’s the price of being parentless and homeless. There’s no record of us -- we’re outside of society now, which means we aren’t bound to oblige its rules anymore.” The fervour in his voice was rising and, against every inch of Amphion’s better judgement, he too felt his chest swell with monstrous passion. “We’ve got our hands and feet and knives and guns -- that’s all -- to keep ourselves alive. I can give myself that much credit by saying I do a damn good job at playing your role.”
Amphion got to his feet and wandered over to one of the vast, industrial windows. Garrett observed him closely, but did nothing to stop him.
Placing both feet on the sill, Amphion gripped either side of the window jamb and allowed himself to lean out over the city’s parti-coloured twilight. They were high up -- around ten stories or so -- and the sense of teetering on the edge of peril made him shiver. Down there was a tide of humanity as mixed as the landscape of bright lights and shadows which rose before his eyeballs. There was segment -- a wave -- which rolled through it all, that was impervious to all others, which hungered and destroyed. It roamed the streets with a switchblade and a sneer, coaxed women into prostitution and the lowly of spirit into dens of the heroin-kings. It did not yield to any moral or precept, written or unwritten, and held no allegiance, no law but the shape of a knife and the trajectory of a bullet.
A certain term Cossack had used stuck with him. Bleeding hearts. It was sickening, that anyone could find reason to pity the lecherous stank of crime.
“Some people don’t want protection,” he murmured.
“But they need it,” said Garrett.
“So we have to provide it for them, whether they like it or not.”
Amphion stepped down from the windowsill. Garrett was waiting for him, a syringe in his hand.
“Hm? Oh, your name. Kind of queer. Well, better than some I suppose -- though you’re a little late on the question.” He reached out and shook Amphion’s hand. “It’s been nice having this chat with you, Amphion. I’ve been looking for one of your kind for a long time, you see -- a cop. There’s been several issues which for me have been… inaccessible.”
“I see the sense in your cause, Mr. Quinn, but I’m afraid your arrest is warranted.”
Without warning, Garrett jabbed him in the arm with the syringe. Cursing, Amphion shoved him aside. “What was that for!?”
“I’m doing you a favour,” Garrett spoke in a low, soft voice. “Ask yourself, Love, which is worst: to know the problem is there and do nothing, or to take action at the offence of a few?”
© 2010 Shiloh Black
Added on June 16, 2010
Last Updated on June 16, 2010
A Stone to Kill
Saint John, Canada
AboutI presently reside in Atlantic Canada. My interests, aside from writing include drawing, reading, and indulging in my love of all things British. I'm currently attending the University of Dalhousie, w.. more..