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Third Host: To Kill the Dead

April 14, 2010

(The first section of this is a redux of an existent story-bit back in the archives of the blog, but there is also a nice section of all new stuff.

The phone rang, breaking Henry’s attention away from the girl. He stared at the phone with a concentrated frown, almost as if it were actually taking his brain an extra minute to comprehend what he was looking at. Alexia watched him, face streaked with tears but eyes now gone cold and dry. After three rings, Henry finally stepped away from Alexia and over to the phone.

Once Henry was obviously distracted, Alexia started inching backwards, trying to stay focused on the man and not the sticky red substance soaking into her jeans. A small shudder traced through her, then she stiffened and continued scooting herself through the mess.

Henry slowly put the bloody knife down on the counter, but kept the gun in his right hand. He cradled the phone to his ear and waited silently.

The man on the other end hesitated and papers shuffled in the background before he spoke, “Henry? Is that you on the phone? My name is Bryce O’Connel and I’m here to talk to you.”

The corner of Henry’s lip twitched upward slightly. “Hello Bryce. So how many of you are out their, waiting for me?”

Alexia didn’t really hear the man talk. She was focused on what she could touch, fingers working through the blood and water and spilled food. A large shard from a ceramic bowl sliced open her finger and she bit her lip to hold back her reaction. She slowly worked the shard up into her hand and started sawing at the ropes holding her wrists, eyes still locked on Henry’s back. His attention had moved to a window and he tried to peer through the blinds without actually stepping over to adjust them. Alexia tightened her grip, ignoring the cuts to her palm as she slowly sawed through the rope. She let the rope fall away, but kept her grip on the pointed bit of bowl.

Henry shook his head, “Oh no, can’t let her go. Poor little girl would be all alone in the world if I sent her out their. A family should stick together.” He edged closer to the window, as if he would be able to see the man’s reaction from their.

The last Alexia’s reservations slipped away with those calm words. She slid to her feat almost silently and stepped toward the man who had killed her parents, raising up the shard of ceramic in a two handed grip. One hard motion into his throat. He might have time to turn and shoot her, but her parents would be avenged.

Henry was pushing down a small section of blinds with his gun to get a better look when he heard the beginnings of a terrible scream starting to well up from the girl behind him. Instinctively he sidestepped and turned to face the possible danger, leveling the gun. Alexia missed him and stumbled into the wall while in that same instant the window splintered with a loud crack and the side of Henry’s head vanished, adding another spray of gore to the room. Before his body finished hitting the ground, two men were smashing out the window and leaning in to check the room while another set smashed open the door.

Alexia stopped, just in front of the now limp body of Henry and fell to her knees, still holding her long nasty curved shard of ceramic. One of the men retched slightly in the background of the scene. It didn’t take the officers long to pull her to her feat and rush her out of the house The praises for the sniper who had taken Henry down “just in time” were going on nearby, but Alexia didn’t seem to hear.

Alexia was lead to the paramedics, who eased her onto a stretcher. The word shock was passed back and forth and after several tries, they managed to pry her hands open enough to let the make-shift weapon fall to the ground. It clattered off the pavement and into the gutter.

The ambulance left quickly, but it took some time for the rest of the vehicles to leave the scene. Full night had fallen when a figure in a black suit with a black shirt and red tie came walking out of the gloom and up to the house. He tsked softly at the police tape around the house and made his way to the spot where Alexia’s make-shift knife had fallen. The man picked it up and examined it, a slow wide smile spreading across his features and slowly turning into a deep and disturbing laughter. He walked back into the gloom he had entered from, but that laughter seemed to hang in the air far too long after he left.

Alexia lay in a hospital bed, staring at the ceiling. The doctors had insisted on putting a few stitches into deep cut in her right hand where she had gripped the piece of ceramic. They itched now, but Alexia couldn’t be bothered to do anything about that. She hadn’t said a word since they had taken her away from her parents. The sedative they had given her fogged the edges of her resolve, but she held on, focused on the patch of ceiling. It was bland and white and uninteresting. Completely safe. Unlike the questions and worried stares from the staff at her silence.

A bit of sound in the room snapped her eyes down from the ceiling and onto the man in the black suit with the red tie. Somewhere in the back of her head, a piece of Alexia begged her to scream or fight or anything. But too much of her was laying in a pool of blood in her parents kitchen. She managed a small frown at the man.

Mastema smiled at her. A smile that was not altogether friendly, but still full of promises. “You dropped something when they were bringing you here,” he said and produced the bloody piece of ceramic. “I thought you might want it back.”

Alexia stared at the bit of ceramic and that moment of white hot fury started creeping back into her. It had turned sour and fled with the death of Henry. Her chance at revenge gone in a split second of cockiness from the careful killer. But for some reason, seeing her impromptu weapon stirred emotion in her again. Her frown deepened.

“I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, ‘what good is that now? He’s already dead.’ You think that he’s beyond your reach now. Despite all that, you still want something, don’t you?” Mastema stepped in closer to the bed. In the faint light of the room his eyes looked like living pools of shadow, dancing points of darkness.

Alexia shifted, uncomfortable with the man’s stare. Yet, something about his words offered something she had given up on. Possibility. Where that could come from with a dead man escaped her, but she pulled herself more upright. Her voice felt choked to her. “I’m listening.”

“You say the word and take up your weapon, and I’ll tell you how to get it. I can see it in your soul. You’ll never be whole again without it,” said Mastema, holding the bloodied ‘handle’ of the makeshift weapon toward Alexia.

Alexia hesitated a moment. Something in the back of her head screamed in wordless terror. Somehow, this decision. This strange man. This was bigger than what had happened in the house. She shoved it aside anyway and took the shard of ceramic, letting it settle against her stitches with a soft rasp. “Revenge,” she said, her voice a hoarse whisper.

“Revenge,” echoed Mastema, the word rolling out of his mouth with a hint of ecstasy. “Three things and you will be able to exact your vengeance on Henry Trinn. First, a key to the gates of Hell. Second, a door to use that key in. And third, a weapon that can destroy a soul.”

“That sounds like riddles and not answers,” said Alexia, a hint of cold creeping into her roughened voice.

Mastema laughed, a sound that sent a chill down Alexia’s spine.

“There is a woman who… has quite a bit of knowledge at her disposal. She can make you a key. I will give you a way to reach her. Death offers a doorway and he is… coming to terms with his new position just now. He should be easy to make use of and again, I can’t point you in his direction. And your weapon is most of the way ready. You’ve anointed it with blood and fury, with the vengeance of family. Plunge it in the fresh grave of Henry Trinn before you travel to Hell to find him. I have already touched it with the end of times for you,” rattled off Mastema, his pointed promising smile still in place.

Alexia looked at the bit of ceramic and found another shiver tracing down her spine. Only this time, it was anticipation. It was crazy. It was outside the bounds she had created for herself on how the world worked. But then, so were serial killers and men in suits appearing in hospital rooms with promises. She wet her lips with her tongue and took a slow breath before speaking again. “Why?”

“Why?” Mastema blinked at her question.

“Why tell me all of this. Why help me?” said Alexia.

Mastema settled onto the edge of her bed and lightly took her hand, the weapon still in it. “Because, my dear, somebody has to. And because I am one of the few people with the knowledge and resources to help you get what you actually need to be whole again.”

Alexia drew in a sharp breath, suddenly fighting back the tears that she thought used up while she still lay in the pool of blood. “Tell me where to start.”

Mastema patted her hand, “Of course, my dear. Of course. I’ll tell you everything you need to know.”

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