Monday, October 14, 2013

12/24/12 - Myron - Run Until You Drop - Pt. 4

"Then here are our needs, and our conditions," Doctor Power says to the presence, here with them. Floating outside their bodies. Amulet held high, eyes crackling.

(Strength is gathered. New strategy formed. Confidence is high)

"This body needs to be reanimated. It must be reanimated so as to look like it did in life. It must be reanimated to act as it did in life."

(The terms are spelled out exactly. Nothing left unsaid. No room to wiggle.)

"The deception must be so good that even its own family cannot tell that anything has happened. It must not do anything suspicious. It must not say anything suspicious."

 (Further clarifications are always necessary. The Abyss is full of rules lawyers. That's how most got to Hell in the first place.)

"The body will be reanimated until such time as we say we no longer need it to be. After that, you will retain no further hold upon it. After that, you will seek no further hold upon it."

(Because the Fallen rarely leave well enough alone. Always another deal. Always an attempt to make one.)

"This is what we require of you. In return, you may require of us one thing. It must not be permanent, nor spiritually, mentally, or physically damaging."

(They always start with souls. Then they want your mind, hoping to cause insanity. Then your body, hoping a handicap will force another deal.)

"Those are our needs, and our conditions. They are fair and just. Will you agree to them?"

(A long wait. It seems like hours go by. And then-)

* * *

"Let me explain what's really happened, here," Myron says, looking at each of the tall beings in turn: "You made three big mistakes, throughout your time on this planet. And as a result, you're not in any position to Attend to us."

"You overstep yourselves!" the one with the torch hisses: "We have no time to hear this nonsense-"

"You have all the time in the world," Myron insists: "We heard your story. You will now hear ours."

"And if we do not?" the One Who Attends asks: "We can stop this at any time we choose-"

Myron quickly pulls his gun out of his holster and holds it to his temple: "Then I tell these people, here, to do what I'm doing. We will die, here and now, and you will have failed to Attend to anything. Will your code forgive you for this?"

The trio take a step back, and Myron smiles, and continues:

"You see, your first mistake was coming to this planet. You picked a world where there was no real life, true, but you didn't count on evolution. And you, of all people, should have realized that a planet like this would eventually get life back on it. Maybe you should have picked Venus or something-"

"Um, there are people on Venus," one of the team members says.

"Oh, sorry, forgot," Myron shrugs: "Well, !@#$. You should have !@#$ing picked Mercury or something. It'd get a little hot but hey, nothing you people can't fix, right?"

He smiles, but the smile is not returned.

"Please continue," the One Who Stands Between insists: "I would hear more of this."

"I will, but first I want to hear you say that you agree with my reasoning," Myron says: "I want you to understand and recognize that I have a point, or this means nothing."

From the expression on their faces, he can tell the trio realizes he's turned the tables on them.

"I agree with your reasoning," the one with the Torch says.

"As do I," says the One Who Attends.

"And I," the One Who Stands Between says: "Please continue."

"Alright. Now, your second mistake you've already admitted to. You underestimated the Imago and how hard they'd fight to get out of here. They sacrificed themselves to create enough energy to help one of them escape, and it did. And everything that's gone wrong on our world over the last year is because of that."

"We have admitted to this, true," the one with the torch says: "But what is our third mistake, then? Being powerless to help you in your time of need? Confronting you for your crime, here and now? If so, we will reject these so-called mistakes out of hand-"

"Neither of them," Myron interrupts, the handle of the gun slick with his sweat: "Your third mistake was the worst of all. You had the perfect opportunity to make up for those two mistakes by doing one simple thing. And while I think we all know you could have done it, you didn't do it.

"You didn't tell us what had happened."

* * *
I have considered your request, the Fallen responds. Her voice is like a foghorn in their souls. It promises doom.

(Vibrating painfully. Eardrums breaking. A speaker full of glass shards.)

Before I say yes, I would know why she is so important. What is she to you, this person? Why would you risk so much to deal with us?

(A sensible question. But a hint of menace, there. A beehive in the treehouse.)
"If you can look into our hearts, you know the answer," Doctor Power insists: "We came here to save her. We failed, and so we are desperate."

(The truth, yes. But not the whole truth. And he knows she knows this.)

But you fear failure, in this case, the demon says. You know that, should this battle be lost, the war would end. You know that all depends on total success, for all of you.

(And there's the truth. Failure would have many consequences. Many of them for him.)

"That is true," Doctor Power says: "Many things hinge on her returning to the world, safe and alive. But you will have your payment, either way, so why is that important to you?"

(The wrong question, at the wrong time. The Knight leaps off the board. Failure.)

Because it means that I may now ask whatever I want, the demon coos, growing large enough to envelop the four of them: Should you refuse me, you fail everyone. And no one else will deal with you, now. 

(A slap in the face that shatters bones. The feeling of falling. And when she speaks again, it's like ice in the brain.)
* * *

"What do you mean?" the one with the torch asks: "We had no way to contact you-"

"Bull!@#$," Myron spits: "You could have found a way to talk to us at any time. All you would have had to do was get one of your guards to initiate contact."

"Guards?" the One Who Stands Between asks.

"Yes. The things you have prowling the inside of this place. The things you have outside, keeping people from getting too close. We called them DEROS, and we've known about them since World War II. But they were out there earlier, weren't they? Looking for your escaped prisoner?"

The trio are silent, and then the One Who Stands Between nods, solemnly: "This is true. We sent our servitors out to find our charge, and bring it back. We searched until we could search no more, and then, thirty or so of your years after the breakout, our charge took control of our servants, and came back to free the others."

Myron nodded, tightening his grip on his gun: "And everything that happened from there... well, you were all powerless, and I can't begrudge you that. But if that !@#$ got out of here in the 30's, and you got taken over in the !@#$ing 60's? Well, that was thirty years you could have found a way to contact us. You could have told us what was coming, and what we were up against-"

"And what would you have said?" the one with the torch snorts: "You forget, we know how you are, as a species. The best you would have done would have been to ignore us. But you would have wanted our technology, and when we offered you friendship you would have betrayed us-"

"Maybe," Myron admits: "But you should have tried. !@#$ you, you should have tried! And now... Jesus Christ, how many are they saying now...?"

"Maybe two billion," the team leader says, seeing where he's going with this: "Between who they killed before, all the people who died on 3/15, everyone they got rid of during their rule and all the people who died when we took the planet back. Israel. Yeah, two billion. At least."

"That's one person in three, dead," Myron says, shaking: "Parents who won't see their kids anymore. Kids who are orphans, now. Whole cities and towns wiped the !@#$ out. 

"And... you know? I'm a smart guy. I'll admit it, no shame in it. But even I can't visualize a billion. A hundred? Sure. A thousand? Okay. And maybe even a million I can figure. A million dollars buys an artificial island the !@#$ Gulf off the coast of Dubai if you talk to the right guy. 

"But a billion?" he says, shaking his head: "I can't conceive of a billion anything, much less a billion people. But now there's two billion dead.

"And all that?" he asks, pointing at them with his free hand: "That's on you. All of you. Because you could have told us what was loose in our world, and you didn't even try.

"And now? Now here we are, trying to salvage something... anything from this !@#$ing place, just so we can have some kind of a silver lining from all this? Just so we can understand more about our enemy? And you're !@#$ed off at us because we had no idea you were down here? 

"I mean, you let us go, right now? I make a phone call, and we leave, and no one comes back. No one. We can do that. I can !@#$ing guarantee it. Look in my mind if you don't believe I can, or will-"

"I know that you would," the one with the torch says: "But there is still the issue of-"

"The Lesson of the Lost Money. Yeah yeah. !@#$ you. How about the Lesson of the Three !@#$ Big !@#$ing Mistakes You Made That Cost Us A Third of Our !@#$ing Population?"

He shuts his mouth at that point, and just looks at the One Who Stands Between. The barrel's at his temple. His finger's on the trigger. 

And then, without him having to say anything, every other member of the team does the exact same thing. In solidarity, they show that they would rather die, here and now, than be administered "Attending" by such a hypocritical bunch of teachers. 

Together, they stand as one.


* * *

"So... what happened?" the psychologist asks. He's leaned up against a wall, on the other side of the room from Myron. 

"Well, I'm here..." he says, shaking his head as the fuzz finally leaves it. 

"I know that, but-"

"We reached an understanding," Myron says, looking up at him and smiling: "I think that's the best way to say it. The !@#$ put something into the body. In return, she took something from us, and then we went back into ours."

"What did she take from you?"

"I don't know," Myron sighs: "None of us did. I got the sense she wanted the most precious thing we had, but... !@#$ if I know what that was."

The man nods: "And then what happened?"

"Well, while we were all lying there, writhing and puking like we were coming down from a !@#$ fever, Doctor Power whammied our heads so we wouldn't !@#$ing remember any of this."

"But that didn't last."

"No. I don't think it was meant to, so if something went wrong we'd remember in time to fix it. Or maybe it was supposed to last, but he didn't have the power to make it permanent. He was running on !@#$ing empty by that point, to hear him tell it."

The psychologist nods: "And, of course, we can't ask him, now."

"No. We can't."

There's some silence, then. Myron coughs and tries to lean back, and then winces as he cuts his !@#$ on a fresh patch of broken bottle.

"So you know," the psychologist says, steeping his hands in front of his face: "I've been thinking. You said you think she wanted what was most precious to you? There's a lot of things that could be, and I'm not discounting your soul-"

"Gee, make me feel better, why don't you," Myron sighs.

"But if I had to guess? I think she took your personality away."

Myron blinks and sits up a little: "What do you mean?"

"Well, all your files? Everything I've ever read about you? I can see that you've been down, before. And with good reason, from time to time."

"Oh Jesus, I've been down before," Myron says: "You should have seen me after Zalea Zathros escaped, down in Costa Rica. I was a !@#$ing mess for days."

"And what happened?"

"SPYGOD kicked my !@#$. What else?"

"Did that help?"

"Well, maybe a little. But I think..."

The psychologist smiles: "Go on, Myron. You think."

"I think... I know. I got given something to do. Something important. And as soon as I was doing it, I was back on my feet again."

"Right, exactly," the man says, pointing to him: "And from what I've read of you, since then? When things go bad, you dive into some major project, and then you're good again. You feel good about yourself again. Having a challenge makes you feel like you have a purpose, a place in things."

"Yeah..." Myron says, blinking: "You know, that's right."

"But this time? This time, you haven't challenged yourself. You've just fallen down. And when people have tried to give you something to do? You just tell them to !@#$ off and leave you alone.

"And now..." the man gestures around the room: "Here you are."

Myron nods, some vestige of himself coming back into his eyes: "So what did everyone else lose?"

"Well, that's a !@#$ good question," the psychologist answers: "Maybe you should find out?

"How do I do that?"

"Well, maybe you could start by getting up off the floor?" the psychologist asks, taking his own advice: "Take a shower, have some coffee? When's the last time you got something to eat?"

Myron blinks and looks around: "You know, I don't... what day is it?"

"Tuesday. The day before Christmas?"

"Oh, !@#$," Myron says, and starts laughing. The laughing turns to tears, and then laughter again. And then nothing but deep sighs and shaking his head.

"You know, after all that !@#$?" he says, looking down at his hands: "After all that, I told myself this was going to be one !@#$ of a Christmas. I was going to have turkey and all the trimmings. Go see my mom, invite over Winifred and her family, get Randolph and his kids. !@#$, get SPYGOD there, too, if we could. Just have a big !@#$ blowout.

"And instead, here I am," he snorts: "Drunk in broken glass."

"Well, sounds like you got your work cut out for you," the man says, grabbing his briefcase: "I'm heading for my family, Myron. I suggest you find what remains of yours and see what you can do. After that shower, of course.

"And then? I suggest you meet up with everyone you were with, that day in the Ice Palace, and see if you can't figure out what you lost."

"Yeah," Myron says, knowing all too well what remains of his family, real and otherwise, and having a bad suspicion of what his comrades have lost.

"And thank you," the man says, looking back before he leaves the apartment: "For finally telling me."

"And to all a good night," Myron replies, waving goodbye. As soon as the man's out the door, he turns the wave into the bird.

"!@#$er," he sighs, wondering where the !@#$ is phone is, and who's left to call, and who would listen. 

Outside his window, it's started to snow. He looks outside at it, and remembers the last thing the One Who Stands Between told him, just before the one with the torch (whose proper name he never even learned) let them go.

"I think you, too, stand between," he'd said. But before Myron could ask if that was good or bad, they were all up in the chamber, where they'd began. All the other teams were back up there, dazed and confused for their ordeal.

And the hole in the floor was gone, as though it had never been.

"Never been..." Myron says, thinking of what he'd had with Winifred. Thinking he knows where the phone might be. Where she is. If he should call.

The snow keeps falling, even after he makes his decision. 

(SPYGOD is listening to Reach the Beach (The FIXX, dub remix) and having an Anchor Steam Christmas Ale)

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