Day 30

Lanternon2 Aug 31st, 2015 1,280 Never
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  1. Day 30
  3. "So what, she just waits there?  Just sitting around until a guy shows up?"  
  4. "Apparently?  I don't know, she just says that it's the best way to find 'em."
  5. "And no one's reported her yet?"
  6. "That's the thing!  They're all these tough guys, so they don't want to admit what happened."
  7. "That's so cute!"
  9. The hushed whispers filter over the wooden partition between booths.  I lift another spoonful of the vegetable cream soup to my lips.  It's smooth and pleasantly thick, and with a smoky aftertaste that's apparently created purely by the mixture of mushroom and spices without any meat whatsoever.  I'm honestly impressed by the craftsmanship.
  11. "I wonder if- no."
  12. "Go on.  Say it."
  13. "I was just thinking, maybe I could find a spot like that.  I mean, it's been three months now and I haven't found anyone.  It's lonely, you know?"
  14. "You know what I think?"
  15. "What?"
  16. "Go for it.  I mean, what's the worst that could happen?"
  18. The young waiter, so smooth-faced that it looks like he hasn't started needing to shave yet, stops at my table.  "Are you finished, sir," he asks in that pitch that's just a bit higher than anyone naturally speaks with.  I nod, and he begins taking the plate away.  "How was it?"
  19. "Perfect," I answer.  
  20. I pull my collar up before I head to the front.  It's a shame that the shields were designed to be so obvious; I don't want to upset my neighbors.  They'll have a hard enough time "digesting" what's about to happen, after all.
  22. I try not to smirk too much at my own unspoken joke.
  24. ---
  26. I continue to jog in place as I stop at the light.  A handful of cars go past, moving me a few inches forward as the wind of their passing pulls me in their direction.  The light turns, and I return to my run.  The air didn't feel so warm in my throat when I started my jog, but now the sweat is starting to drip down from my brow and I'm having to drench the sleeves of my hoodie to keep my eyes open.  
  28. I stop halfway down the block, seeing an old public restroom between a tire and a stone landscaping shop.  I head in, slightly amused that two different signs are trying to interest me in spending money on gravel and rubber circles, respectively.  I push open the door and move to the large, circular sink in the middle to splash some water on my face.  The wave of crisp cold hits my face and neck, and quickly pours off again as I stare at the slightly soap-encrusted bottom and try to catch my breath.
  30. The slightest whine of metal hinges catches my ear and it's all I can do not to draw my weapon and assume a combat-ready stance.  Not reacting at all is the most difficult action I could possibly take, and yet I manage.  Or, at least, I manage well enough.  I reach up and turn the water on again, drawing another cupped handful to my face.  Parts of me strain simultaneously to hear everything that's going on, and to be completely oblivious to my surroundings.  In the end, training wins over intention, and I make out the ticking of something sharp hitting rock.
  32. It's suddenly very difficult trying to keep my expression neutral.  All of the muscles in my face are trying to pull in different directions.  My lips pull back into a grimace, and when I relax them I find my eyebrows have tried to meet in the center of my face.  I stand up and head further inside.
  34. I stop when I hear and feel the wetness when I plant my first foot in a stall.  I pull my foot, but it's stuck.  Immediately I hear the door to the restroom open, and a deeper, feminine voice calls out, "Ah, how delightful, another little fly wandered in."
  35. I shut the stall door, pull back my hood, and begin drawing my sword as quietly as possible.  
  36. "It's been four days; I've been feeling.  So.  Lonely."
  37. The ticking sound of what I assume is chitin on stone steadily grows louder.  The first stall door lets out a creak as it opens.
  38. "Hmm?  Are we hiding?  Aww, but you know, I just want to play with you a bit.  Or, could it be," it trails off.
  40. "That you're calling the pol-" it begins to ask as I see the white-haired thing's human half pull itself over the stall door.
  41. I twist.  It's a fluid, practiced motion, diminished only by the fact that my right foot is immobile.  Unfortunately, thirteen years of training didn't take that into account.  I lunge as my ankle lights up in pain.  Still, the blade connects, and the world goes red.
  43. Warm wetness sprays out over my face, blocking most of my vision.  I can still make out the thing over me.  Glimpses of a shocked face flash between the relentless stream.  Long seconds pass before it finally lessens, and then stops as the body over me slumps over the door and a river of red begins running down.
  45. I try to clean my face with my hands, but they're drenched.  My sleeves are drenched.  My hoodie is drenched.  I reach into my pocket to grab my phone and report the incident, only to find that my pocket has become a pool.  I pull the phone out anyway and flip it open.  It doesn't light up.
  47. "You did it again," a familiar voice tells me.  It's the one from the first spider-thing that I killed.  It's more conversational, less affected than the others.  It's deeper, yet still feminine.
  48. "I did, disembodied voice," I answer.
  49. "Are you glad?"
  50. "That there's one less rapist in the world?  I'm okay with it."
  51. "Do you want to spend your whole life killing?"
  52. I think about it for a moment.  I look at the body slumped over the stall, flooding the floor with red.  I feel the hammering beat of my heart as it slows from the adrenaline rush.  It feels uncomfortable.
  53. "Not really.  No."
  54. "Then why do you do this?"
  55. "It's preferable to the alternative."
  56. "Which is?"
  57. "Making another me."
  59. The voice goes silent.  It strikes me that this is the first time I've had a real conversation with one.  
  61. This bodes well.
  63. I try to lift my foot to move and it lights up in pain again.  I hiss, and immediately taste iron as blood continues to flow down my face.  I spit, turn, brace my leg, and lean back.
  64. Judging by the intensity of the shock of pain that just ran up my leg, the ripping noise that followed could have either been the wet webbing giving way or my tendons coming undone.
  66. I lean against the door, causing it to whine angrily under the weight of the form slumped against it and limp out of the stall.  Almost all of the restroom floor has disappeared under the stream.  I slowly make my way out to the sink in the center, turn on the stream, and clean my face and hands in seconds.  My sword is going to take minutes, though.  It's completely drenched, and I'll be damned if the professor's gift is going to turn into rusty slag.
  68. Finally, ignoring the constant, searing discomfort coming from my ankle, I dry off the last little pit on the pommel.  I'm about to sheathe it before I stop.  I pull off the sheath, turn it upside-down, and sigh unhappily as another red stream pours out.
  70. I drop it and hobble outside.  
  71. I turn to the tire shop.  It's a small, wooden affair; probably unchanged since it was first built, maybe twenty years ago.
  72. I turn to the landscaping shop.  It's brickwork, but looks even older than the other.  
  73. I'm not sure either one of them has a wired phone.
  75. I take a deep breath and brace myself for a long, slow, painful walk.
  77. ---
  79. "What in the hells," the mare yells over the silent lobby.
  80. "I came to report an incident," I answer.
  81. "What in the actual hells," it yells again, trotting closer.
  82. "I was involved in an attempted rape in a public-"
  83. "What in the literal hells, paladin," it asks as it comes to a stop five feet away.  "Did you just march through town-"
  84. "It's good that you ask; I actually limped.  Do you have a doctor here?"
  85. Ignoring me, it continues "Drenched in blood-"
  86. "And a towel.  Oh, and the doctor needs to be human, not some dirty-"
  87. "And openly carrying a readied sword," it finishes.
  88. "Now, see, that's not my fault.  I lost my scabbard in a pool of Arachne blood - which, weirdly enough, brings me back to why I'm here."
  90. It clenches its fists.  "Where," it asks through its teeth.  
  91. I tell it.
  92. "And it - she - tried to rape you?"
  93. "Yes."
  94. "In spite of your collar."  It stares at me for a moment.  "I'm just curious," it begins, not bothering to hide its anger, "why were you dressed to hide it?"
  95. I raise my brow in half-feigned shock.  "Officer, are you implying that I'm responsible for this because of how I dressed?"
  97. For the first time, as its face lips pull inward and its arms begin to shake from how tightly they're held, I realize that I actually enjoy talking to this thing.  The physical pain masks whatever feelings of discomfort I might have over the epiphany.
  98. "We've just gotten reports of a serial killer walking down the street."
  99. "Well, I guess that's technically correct now."  It takes a breath to say something else, then simply releases it, glaring down at me.  "Now can I get a doctor?  And towel?"
  101. "I'll send for one.  You, however, are going to stay here until you've finished your paperwork."
  102. I smile.  "Oh?  And why am I going to do that?"
  103. It forces a smile back toward me.  "Because I'm not lending you a car to go elsewhere."
  104. My ankle throbs painfully.  "Well played."
  106. ---
  108. "Victor," another familiar voice calls out.
  109. "Autocrat," I answer without opening my eyes.  "You'll forgive me if I don't snap to attention, I-"
  110. "Yes, yes, that's fine.  How's the leg?"
  111. "Unfortunate, sir."
  112. "I'd imagine."  I hear and feel the weight of a person land in the seat next to mine.  I crack open my eyes and look over to him.  He, meanwhile, seems to've just finished looking over me.  "Quite the mess.  Aren't the cops raising hell over you messing up the furniture?"
  113. "I asked for a towel that never arrived, so I'm guessing they don't care that much.  Either that or this is their idea of punishment."
  115. He laughs an arbitrary, social laugh.  His smile seems honest, though, and only grows as he sits there, looking around the lobby.  "You know, when I told the main hall that I needed someone to scare the monsters around here into behaving, I never imagined that I'd get my own horror movie stalker limping around town drenched in their blood, sword at the ready."
  116. "Glad I could be of service, sir."
  117. "You sound glum, Victor."
  118. "It's been a long day, sir."
  119. "Of course, of course," he says, raising a hand as if to place it on my shoulder.  It goes back down to his knee.  "In any case, once you get looked at, I think you've more than earned any time off you need to let this heal.  I just felt that I'd have a look at our returning conqueror."
  120. "I just defended myself, sir.  I doubt I'm keeping pace with anyone else's kills."
  122. This just makes him laugh again.  "That'll come in time, Victor.  Besides, what you lack in speed you make up for in spades with impact.  Men defend themselves everyday and no one bats an eye.  You, though," he laughs again, "you put the fear of the gods in 'em."
  123. He gets up, nods again, and heads out.
  125. ---
  127. I lean against the railing at the top of the stairs, finally letting out the last held breath and just breathing.  The pain I can live with, I think, but not lifting my body up a flight of stairs using only my arms on one side of myself.  This is not how arms are supposed to work, and they don't.
  129. I make my way to my door, step over the covered plate of food and head inside.  
  131. I just need to wait the week for my tendons to move back into their proper place, and then a healer can fuse them back together.
  133. I'm bored before I get out of the shower.
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