Heathens

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 70 (v.1) - Chapter 70

Submitted: February 01, 2018

Reads: 48

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Submitted: February 01, 2018

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Dion

The bars hurt Dion’s hands when he punched them. Indented them. Made them cry and shake in the silence of the room. 

It had finally been enough for Dion. Having to come into the room, having to see the bitter and anxious face of Alestor, a face torn between anger at his circumstances and reflective on his future death. And it was Dion who made him think and feel this way. It was him who had brought that chill of death. Brought it down on the bars, the little cage as Astyanax called it. Over and over and over again until the room was filled with the sound of slapping metal. Pummel after pummel, a successive beat of blows that had stung his knuckles. 

“Stop. Stop.” Alestor screamed. Dion looked down to his knuckles, the flesh was out, his bone exposed. His wounds were regenerating and opening at the same rate and all he could see was a distinct pink and white where bone and muscle was trying to replace itself. He looked at the bars. Only small dents, scratches, here and there and blood that stained and that evaporated. 

“Why should I?” Dion clenched his fist again. He pushed against the cage. It rose. Alestor hung to the bars as they did and collapsed to the floor as Dion let go. Like a pinball machine, and Dion the angry player. 

“Did you stop?” Dion grabbed the prison again. He put both hands forward and pushed with his knees, against the floor, shoulders forward. He could hear the metal scratch the floor as he dragged the box across and slammed it into a wall. 

“Hear me out,” Alestor screamed. “Stop.”

Dion reached his hand inside the bars. He tried fitting himself, body and all, through the gaps. With one hand outstretched he waved wildly inside. Alestor hugged the wall and waited there.

Every now and then, Dion would switch, chase him from another side, make him run inside his little cell. It went on for hours before he gave up. 

“What’s this made out of?” Dion mumbled to himself. He sat on his hams, a look of defeat on his face.

“Harder than any metal you’ve ever seen. They mine it from the third circle, you idiot.” Alestor wheezed. He was gasping, bent over. His head was a mess of stray hairs. 

“Shut up. No one asked you.” Dion kicked the cage. There was an audible yelp from Alestor, a bit high strung and tired. 

Dion looked around. His eyes were red, two giant balls of anger.

“I should go out.” Dion was smiling to himself. Alestor could hear his ramblings, forced to hear them. “I should go out and kill that guard. Take his spear, yeah, yeah! And I’ll…I’ll!”

He made a stabbing motion with his hands.

“They’ll kill you fool, as soon as you do. And then you won’t save anyone.” Alestor shouted.

“I can fight it out. I’ll take them all out.”

“No. You won’t.” Alestor pleaded. “Revenge or freedom, you can’t have both. Not at the same time.”

Dion looked around his cell, out the window, around the walls, almost confused. 

“Maybe I’ll just take his deal. If it means killing you, at least. I can tolerate Hell. I can live with it.”

“For how long?” Alestor bargained. “Eternity is a very, very long time. How long do you think you’ll last before you become as insane as him?” 

He pointed to the drawing of Astyanax on the wall.

“You? You’re talking about insanity?” Dion rushed to the cage. “How many people did you have killed? How many bled to death, offered to your little demon god?”

“It...It wasn’t like that.” 

“How else could it be? Huh?” He punched the cage. The whole room seemed to shake. The font in the corner of the room vibrated. “It wasn’t your hand that gutted the poor girl? It wasn’t your words that riled a cult of freaks? How many dead? Do you even remember them?”

Outside they could hear the shuffling of the guard, a large heavy sound as if a sentinel had just awoken from his thousand year slumber. A soldier of clay, of metal, of little humanity. He peeked inside, took a glance at the two and smiled. Yes, they were at it again, he must have thought and enjoyed it. Dion looked back at him, glared at him. He hadn’t worn a different face since and it began to worry Dion, only a little, if he would ever be able to take off his frown again.

The guard closed the door. Dion looked around, the small pots of flowers hanging by the sides of pillars in the corners of the room. A table with a long-faded candle whose smoke still filled the air with a strange scent, a bit fruity, a bit like incense too. Burning oranges. Can I wear this face forever? Dion thought. With him? 

On a table, where the candle burned, a dribble of wax came down and onto the floor. It hardened immediately. 

Can I live here forever? Dion thought. Astyanax did. And look at him. Look at all the things he feels or thinks or does.
 
It made him nervous to look at Alestor again. He felt it down in his stomach like a full bladder. 

“It was a mutual ritual. I was lead to believe that I was purifying these men and women, bringing them somewhere closer to God, you see. God, for fuck's sake!” Alestor threw his arms in the air.

Dion sat. His whole body felt weighed. Morose. 

“You thought,” He almost laughed. “You thought killing someone would purify them?”

“Yes, well, I was lead to believe it. He told me, he said - “

“He told you but you did it. Thinking and saying and acting are all different things. You can think all the things you want, but finding the strength to do them. That’s something else.”

“Listen! My wife was dead. My second-born, dead. I had to, it was for them - “

“And think of all the children you killed. All the mothers and the fathers you stole. All the families, ruined. And you..You, who created the very misery that brought you ruin.”

“Some of them…some of them… They were!” He bit his tongue and paused. “They were criminals. Murderers, rapists.”

“Shut up.” Dion stomped on the floor. “Shut up. Shut up. Shut up.”

Once again the room was filled with that decisive silence. And once again both were left to their own corners, like boxers in the ring. A stack of books besides the bed entertained Dion with their bright covers and their tails for bookmarks. They did, at least, up to a point. Dion opened one. He saw scratches, weird glyphs, and pictures. Some strange, some horrific. He felt his head hurt and he threw the books aside. It hit one of the pots on the pillar. Something of a vase of roses. He walked over to it and looked at the dirt all spread out on the floor. He could see worms, maggots even amongst the shattered clay and bruised green stems. He knelt. Then stood again for Alestor.

“Why’d you do it?” Dion said. His voice sounded easy and steady. “What compels a man to do all this?”

Alestor sunk a bit. His bearded face brushing against the metal. He gripped his rags and pulled them down a bit. His scarred collarbone showed. 

“I did it for love.” He said. “A love for a family I lost. That’s it.” 

“I won’t even ask how much you loved them. I know it.” Dion walked back to the cage. “The whole city knows it, experienced it.”

“I’m sorry. He told me, he said it.” Alestor articulated with his hands. “He promised me they would get fixed. The broken, he called them. The pedophiles and the rapists and the murderers I helped kill. I swear it started like that. Out of pity, out of hope.”

“Then you killed children. Why?” 

“Astyanax asked for it. He’s the one who demanded it. For the ritual, he said. But I promise you! I promise we went for orphans, the sick, the decrepit. The kids with no future.” Alestor was crying, though he didn’t notice it. Maybe it was just second nature at this point. “He said he’d deliver them unto God. He said they would live eternally in peace. It was a compassionate euthanasia!” 

Dion wanted to vomit. He wanted to scream. He wanted to tear this man's head off. He could feel his hands shaking, his pupils dilating, his nape going cold. He felt inside his pocket. What was in there? Something sharp?

Nothing he would show today. He removed his hand and took a breath. In, out. What does the scripture say, Dion? Of those who throw stones. What does it say? If I loved as hard as he did, would I have done it?

He couldn’t answer. But he couldn’t attack either.

“What was originally planned with all the blood and bodies? What did you want from Astyanax that could have only been done through a black Sabbath?”

“Well, does it even matter?” Alestor’s face was low, his body against the wall and bars behind him. The standing torches inside the room shook, waved, then fixed themselves and through the embers, Alestor’s face was lit. Nothing more. The rest of him was in a kind of shadow made by the lowered ceiling and the covered windows. 

There was a wind. It blew out some of the curtains and subsequently, some light.

“I thought. With his cup, that we could summon him. Bring him to earth. That’s what I hoped. And then from there…”

“The cup doesn’t work like that. Hell doesn’t work that way. He’s marked. There’s no going out for him.”

They spoke of course, of a branding neither had, as they were living dead. In a way.

“I know that now.” Alestor slapped his forehead. “He was supposed to come up there and raise the dead. He was supposed to bring us all into a kind of rapture. Just us, just the chosen.”

“Well, he brought you somewhere. Didn’t he?”

“Yes. Yes, he did.” Alestor could barely talk. 

Again silence. They both sat around, fiddled with their fingers and their feet and let the hot breeze outside cool them. Dion was the first to break the silence.

“I heard you were a Doctor.”

“I was a licensed therapist,” Alestor mumbled.

Dion sat on the bed. A bit easier, his shoulders less strained, his chest less winded. 

“How’d someone as smart as you get duped? I thought you’d know everything about liars and psychopaths.” 

“I guess I was desperate. Sad and desperate.” He said. “When you see a miracle performed in front of your eyes, when you see countless acts of magic. When that same miracle-giver promises you hope and family, how can’t you see them as the next coming of Christ? No one can resist that.”

“I can see it, I guess,” Dion said. “Magic is hard to do.”

“So there are others, huh?” 

“Not many. But there are a few practitioners, yes.” Dion walked up to him. “But I’m not one of them. So don’t ask.”

It didn’t matter. Alestor had lost hope long ago. He slumped down on his metal bars.

“Must be an interesting world you live in. Huh,” Alestor rubbed his eyes. “I wouldn’t know. I don’t know. Not anything, not a thing. And now I’m even less than stupid. I’m alone now. My baby dead, wife dead.” He paused. His voice choked. “My son, dead.”

Dion let him weep a bit on the floor. Only a moment, that’s all he would give him.

“I can’t forgive you. You know that, right?” Dion put both hands on his sides and clenched his fists.

“I know.”

“But at least I understand you.” He said. They looked at each other for the first time it felt. Both of their eyes were weak, both of their heads were low. He didn’t want to understand this man. But seeing his weak face, his spirit in a loss, he couldn’t help but feel some kind of kinsmanship. It was a disgusting feeling, to be similar to someone so disgusting, to see how thin the fence line was between them. And worse. To imagine, somewhere along that fence of good and evil, to imagine a rotating door. Perhaps he was going to go through it, perhaps not. Perhaps it had bled into each other that each side didn’t even matter. 

There was a knock on the door.

“The king wants you.” The voice said, a bit of a haughty voice. “Don’t make him wait.”

Dion stood. 

“Tell me, Doctor,” He breathed heavily. “What do you want now? After all is said in done, now that you’re here. What do you want?”

Alestor looked up. He pushed his head to the side in a slant.

“I want to stay here.” He said. “I want to rot here and repent. I don’t deserve oblivion, I don’t deserve the peace of nothingness. I just want to be here. Forever and maybe, with an eternities worth of pain, I’d have suffered the price of what I’ve done.”

The door opened. Horace burst in. Yelling, hurry, hurry. Screaming, you’ve made a mess. Fuming, in the throne room. Horace went over to the vase and began piling the pieces, fixing the dirt into a mound. Dion walked past him, towards the door. He heard a dying voice behind him.

“And you, Vicar? What do you want of me? What would satisfy you?”

But Dion didn’t look back. He didn’t answer. He walked and disappeared into the light of the door frame. It was time, after all, to settle the deal. 

He thought.

 


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