3.109 – Stay Gold

Isaac frantically drives along the wooded path trying to find a way to main road. He’s shouting that every turn and curve just leads to more road. I’ve already figured out that there’s some magic at play, I just don’t know how to get out of it. My mind keeps jumping to who is behind it, not how to stop it. Did Michael rig the car to keep us trapped? What if we’re not even moving? No, it could be one of the girls. I don’t even know what kind of magic they have. I got set up, but none of them came with Isaac and Sampson. No, this is the magic, I can’t focus because of the magic. My head is pounding the more I try to focus on the road ahead of us. Giving Isaac directions pains me. Every time my heart beats it echoes through my body shaking my brain loose.

“Stop the car,” I say to Isaac.

“Are you crazy, I can’t stop the car.”

“We need to stop. I’m going to be sick.”

“We can’t stop, they’ll kill us.”

“Stop the car,” I grab the wheel.

He slams on the break as the car starts to swerve off the wooded trail and onto the dirt. He’s talking, but I can’t hear him. I’m too focused on my head at the moment. It’s gone from a constant throbbing to feeling as if a worm is burrowing through my brain determined to eat it’s fill. I get out of the car and dry heave. I stumble as I feel a hand on my back. I calm down when I realize it’s just Isaac.

An old yellow pickup truck approaches us. In the driver’s seat is Isis, beside her is James and standing in the bed of the truck grinning over the rooftop is Pearl. They come to a stop in front of us but I’m in no shape for a fight. The world around me seems to be warping, changing into something more familiar. The woods vanish and the plantation returns as they exit the truck and stand in front of us.

“You boys got further than I thought, but not as far as you thought you did,” Pearl laughs, her face twisted into a smile. James laughs along with her, but Isis’ face remains stoic.

“Just let us leave, nobody has to die,” I try to reason as my senses struggle to come back to me.

“We don’t mean you any harm granny. We just need to get out of here. It’s best for everyone,” Isaac pleads.

“It’s a little late for that,” James responds.

“I’m honestly surprised you got through my illusion so fast. I’ve seen folks get stuck for days, experiencing years of torment,” Pear gloats. “Poor little Sampson has no tolerance at all. Too bad he’s going to have another dose, because of you. Poor little Isaac over there, your first decedent, your first offspring, he’s about to get murdered before you can even show him the ropes. Not that you’d know all the ropes,” Pear keeps gloating.

“So I guess we’re fighting,” I don’t have the patience anymore, the spirit of Destiny must have possessed me.

Isis blushes and Pearl continues to laugh as if she’s won. “Don’t worry granny, I’ll take care of him,” James steps forward.

“Hey, before we do this, why do they all call you granny,” Isaac asks.

“Because I sired those that sired them. Except that poor Destiny girl, she was a stray,” Pearl cuts her eyes at me.

“Want to see a cool trick,” I summon one of my nightmares to my hand.

James rushes forward, full vampire speed. It’s so funny, I couldn’t keep up with Destiny when I first met her, now this is just normal to me. I throw the dagger directly towards his head. He slides out of the way but the dagger vanishes into my pocket leaving everyone confused. It appears again going full speed directly at Pearl’s head. She manages to dodge, throwing herself to the ground. She almost dodges, when she comes up I spot a bright red scar across her cheek. James and Isis rush to tend to her. I can’t tell if it’s the cut causing her to freak out or maybe, just maybe she’s being tormented by the enchantment on the dagger.

“Isaac, can you turn into a bird,” I ask.

“Weird timing but yeah, I can do a cat, a bird, a dog and a few others.”

“Turn into a bird and get away when I attack James.”

“What, I can’t leave you.”

“Either one of us is going to make it out, or neither of us. If we both run, they’ll catch us again. If you stay and fight, you’ll die and they’ll catch me. If I fight, you can get away.”

“I’m not going.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll be coming for you soon.”

“You promise?”

“I promise.”

Isaac gives me a kiss on my cheek, I don’t pull away. “Thanks vamp daddy,” he says. I always hated being touched. Hated that I fell like Isaac was flirting with me. I probably should have been a better friend to him. I think he just likes to be touchy. I don’t even chastise him for calling me vamp daddy this time. I’ll even allow the kiss as a goodbye. It’s good to know someone besides Elias and Destiny liked me. I guess, even Sampson liked me in a way. I made friends, I didn’t even realize it. I told Isaac I’d be coming for him soon, but this is the last stand. I’ll be seeing Destiny before I see him again.

James lands the first punch when I’m not expecting it. I block the next one and counter with one of my own, he dodges. Fighting James is different than fighting Sampson. Sampson and I were fighting with nothing but brute force, to see who was stronger. James relies a lot on speed, I’m not used to that. I’m taking a beating, I just can’t feel it yet. Isaac finally takes off into the sky, I need to buy him some time. I summon both my nightmares and take a few swipes at his torso. Almost instantly, I feel an arm around my neck.

“Play fair,” Isis has finally inserted herself. I drop my daggers and she returns to Pearl’s side.

I take the opportunity to snatch a gold chain from around James’ neck. I wrap it around my fist and go to work. It seems like my punches are having more of an effect on him now. I might be able to take out James. Something huge slams into my back, flinging me aside. Old Ben is here, his skin blistered, and burned away. His skeleton has become visible through parts of his left side, clear that Sampson had done some damage.

“Surprised to see me,” Ben asks, but I don’t respond. “Little boy never could finish the job when it actually mattered.”

“This is my fight,” James steps forward.

“No, fuck all that honor stuff. We do this as a family.”

I don’t have time to react before Ben, James and Isis are working to beat me together. I’ve got no way of escaping or even fighting back. I can only dodge and block so many attacks, the numbers are just too much for me to overcome. I didn’t expect to go out like this. I’m not giving in, but it’s just too much, too fast, too strong. Sampson is probably dead, but Isaac got away. One of us got free. That counts for something.

3.108 – Old Man Strenf

 Old Ben hits me harder than I’ve ever been hit in my life, I go crashing through a wall onto the front lawn. I wasn’t expecting the escape to go down this soon. I thought I had at least another day to prepare. I guess when all the cards are on the table they don’t play around. My mind is racing, and I’m trying to think of a plan as he walks through the hole where a wall used to be. I just can’t seem to focus after getting hit so hard. He hits harder than any vampire or werewolf I ever went up against. I see why Sampson is so afraid of him.

“Can’t think straight? In all my years, there’s one thing that I’ve found true to be no matter what,” Old Ben is smiling as he approaches me. “Any time you go upside a man’s head, or a woman, then they have a tendency to get a little loopy.”

Loopy is right, but I can’t just stand here. I get to my feet and rush in. If I’m faster than him, I can beat the strength advantage he has over me. I land a few quick punches while dodging his. They don’t seem to be doing much other than making him laugh. A big open hand slap rocks me, not enough to send me flying again but enough to make me freeze. Old Ben laughs again before he sends me flying with another shot. I’m crouched over coughing, flecks of blood spot the grass beneath me. Alright, not playing fair anymore. I summon my blades to my hands and stand up.

“Do you want to know why I’m so strong,” Old Ben asks as he walks towards me.

“I’m sure you’re going to tell me.”

“Magic, really that simple. Nothing you can do to keep me down for long.”

Trying to stab him doesn’t work. I just focus on dodging punches and slicing every chance I get. There’s no real method to the madness. Death by 1000 cuts, that’s what I’m hoping for but I doubt I’ll have the stamina to last that long. Old Ben smacks me down into the dirt again. Before I can stand I spot Sampson approaching, sucking in air. I don’t bother standing up, and choose to cover my head. Ben laughs thinking I’m cowering in fear.

The laughter stops as a stream of green fire slams into his back causing him to scream. His shirt burns away and flesh begins to burn. The cuts I had left melt into the rest of his flesh. I’m not free from the flames either. I roll away when the heat begins to burn my hands. Ben drops to the ground screaming, but far from dead or knocked down. This is the first time I’ve seen the results of Sampson’s flames up close. It isn’t pretty, there’s visible muscle and bone on Old Ben.

“Sorry, I think I got you a little,” Sampson takes my elbow and lifts me from the ground.

“Why did you help me?”

“Because you were right. I slept with Destiny, blamed her when we got caught and didn’t leave with her. I was scared. But if you, of all people, can run around with no fear, I can stand up to Ben. I’m not a kid anymore.”

“You backstabbing bastard! I knew you’d join him you damn coward,” Old Ben yells as he starts to head towards us.

“Isaac is on his way to get you,” Sampson says stepping in front of me.

“What about you,” I step forward standing beside him.

“Didn’t pack any of my stuff,” he smiles at his own joke.

“Are you making jokes?”

“Yeah, I just feel really good.”

Old Ben takes a swing at Sampson allowing me to stab at an open wound. The blade easily cuts at whatever piece of muscle beneath his right shoulder. Old Ben screams in pain allowing Sampson to land a combination of punches. We’ve got him on the ropes now. Even with all the damage he’s taken, Old Ben is still a monster. I tackle Sampson to the ground as a red car slams into Old Ben throwing him to the ground.

“What the hell are you doing,” I think Sampson is yelling at me but he’s yelling at the driver of the car.

“Thought I’d help you guys out,” Isaac smiles from the window. “Get in, we’re getting out of here.”

“You two go, I need to finish this,” Sampson says pushing me towards the car.

“How are you going to get out?”

“Same way I got in, my car.”

“Alright, I’ll see you on the outside.”

“Yeah,” Sampson yells at me as I get in the car but I don’t believe him.

Isaac speeds off, with the light of purple flames filling the car as we try to get out of here. I glance back at Sampson, he’s got Old Ben on the ropes. Still, I don’t think I’ll ever see him again.

3.107 – You Ain’t My Granny

 It’s May, sunny, hot weather. Still Granny and Old Ben find it necessary to have the fireplace burning in the living room as I approach them. I heard Isis leave before I entered so they already know what I’m here about. I take a seat in the armchair across from the one Granny is sitting in. Old Ben is standing behind her chair looking more like a servant than her husband. I can tell by their faces that the masks they’ve been hiding behind are gone. That means there’s no real reason for me to keep being polite and trying to follow the nonsensical rules they seem to rule this place with.

“Are you two actually a couple? Sometimes you act like, but other times it’s like he’s your servant,” I ask Granny.

“It’s none of your business,” Old Ben shouts me down.

“I guess you’re ‘shacking up’ as the old folks say,” I respond.

“You’re full of jokes for someone who has just been caught in the act of treason,” Granny answers coldly.

“I see you’ve dropped the harmless old lady act,” I respond.

“I see you’ve dropped the heartbroken idiot act.”

“Oh, I’m very heartbroken. The love of my life taught me to spot a con artist, so I knew you were up to something the moment you had Sampson kidnap me.”

“You didn’t know anything, you were too busy crying over the dead slut.”

“You really don’t like her? What’s the deal with that? What did she do to you?”

“The same thing you’re doing now. Trying to take my children from me. I’ll let you take the queen since you sired him, but the rest are my children and grandchildren. They’ll remain under my watchful eye.”

“What happened to all the others you’ve sired? Did you send them away like Destiny, or did you put them in cages and sell them to the highest bidder?”

“You know nothing,” Old Ben shouts again.

“Ben, why don’t you pull up a chair and have a conversation like an adult instead of yelling adlibs at the end of every sentence,” I’ve wanted to say that for a long time.

“Pearl, let me gut this boy right now.”

“Pearl is a much nicer name than Granny,” I interrupt.

“Look boy, you’re getting on my last nerve,” Pearl says. “Understand I don’t owe you an explanation on anything. The fact that I haven’t dealt with you yet is out of the goodness of my own heart.”

“What goodness? Everything I’ve seen here always comes back to money. Send people out to steal as a trial. Send us on a trial with Sampson, to kill drug dealers and get money. What did you have the girls do with Isis? I bet it involved, I don’t know, getting money.”

“You think this all happens for free? You think it doesn’t cost to keep this house, keep a place for all my children?”

“All your children? How many people do you think are left around here? You got Sampson, Michael, James and Isis. You might keep Catalina and Ashley, but that’s it. You don’t have some big family because you send them all away like Destiny.”

“You don’t know a damn thing,” Pearl rises to her feet.

“I know there’s easier ways to make money than killing and selling people,” I don’t leave my seat, I want her to know I’m not afraid of her.

“You are not worthy to be Adze,” Pearl yells at me.

“Why not? I read The Book of Adze. I’ve gone through the actual trials not some made up crap you created to indoctrinate people. I talked to actual Gods, I’ve got a whole new view of life now. What some old lady cult leader says doesn’t mean anything to me.”

“Who told you about the book? Was it that harlot? Did she send you here for it? Are you trying to kill me,” Pearl seems panicked.

“I found the book, in the library, where books tend to be. I don’t want to kill you, that hadn’t even crossed my mind,” it has several times but I’m trying to play this smart.

“You aren’t welcomed here anymore,” Pearl says in a calm threat.

“I get the feeling I was never welcomed here.”

“I should have never opened my door to you.”

“You had me dragged here, I was going to give up and go home. Destiny didn’t even want to come here. I pushed the idea because I thought it would be safe. But, now, I’m feeling you helped set her up.”

“I got nothing to do with that wretched heathen being killed.”

“Who would tell the Marsons that gold bullets kill Adze? I imagine that’s not knowledge we want getting out, as Adze. At least tell me you made the bullets yourself, and told them that you put some kind of curse magic on them or something. Otherwise, they’re going to start wiping out Adze left and right.”

“I didn’t make the bullets, James made them, didn’t even ask me why. The Marsons wouldn’t have known to come to me for information about her if she had kept her damn mouth shut and legs closed,” Pearl smiles smugly.

“I’m glad you confirmed that for me,” I finally stand up. “I’m not going to kill you, because that would mean I’m no better than you. But, I’m going for a full set of three, so I’m going to burn this plantation down on my way out.”

“Over my dead body,” Old Ben steps forward, causing Pearl to walk out of the room.

“I said I wasn’t going to kill her. I want her alive to see everything she wanted burn or go to someone else. I don’t really care about you. Hell, I feel like I might be doing Sampson a favor if I kill you,” I hear the words in my own voice, but they’re Destiny’s words for sure.