Fine Young Firecrackers - Conitions
Stepping forward, Cadmus reached his arm out and pulled the lamp switch. He almost threw up at the sight before him. Coughing, he stepped back against the door, almost dropping the gun to the floor. He tried to compose himself but the sounds of the breathing, the grey flesh, and the…extra extremities. It was too much. Too gruesome.
“You’re not going to throw up,” came a small voice from the corner, a young boy around six years old stepped into the light, her bronzed skin made the whites of her eyes glint dangerously. Cadmus felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up.
There are fucking children…they have…they have children.
He swallowed a bit of jealously and fear rose up in him but mostly anger. His shaky hands lifted the gun, pointing it at the boy, his black hair sat on his shoulders, straight and stringy. He smelled like death.
“Get back in the corner. Now.”
“You won’t shoot me.” His dark eyes narrowed, “You won’t shoot anyone.”
“You…you don’t know that!”
“Yes, actually” He placed his hands behind his back almost in an authoritative way, like he was the adult berating a small child, “I do.”
“Do you realize that I could kill you in seconds?”
“Yes, the possibility is there but destiny is not on your side. It’s on mine.”
“You know nothing.”
A childish giggle rang out, “I know everything.”
Cadmus steadied the gun again, closing his eyes; he prepared to pull the trigger…
“Mark!” another small voice cried out, “Please, Mark, please, hush…” Various sounds came from his mouth, more in growls.
Furious. Irate. Irrational. Cadmus screamed out, “Shut up! Just shut the fuck up or your all dead!”
The child named Mark whispered to the other voice, “Shh Autumn, it’s ok.”
Mark was on his knees, coaxing his sister out of the darkness, his voice was in a whisper but it clearly was not a normal language, Cadmus had half a mind to kill them still. But something held him back. No, no he couldn’t kill them. He could if he wanted to! But no, he’d play God and spare them…for now.
Curiosity got to him as he watched the tiny hands creep into the light, then arms, shoulder…Mark grabbed the hand and pulled her into the light and hugged her, “Autumn, we’re safe.”
The girl named Autumn shook her head, her black hair shivered against her back, the comparison between the two, the twins, was shocking. One had the face of harpy, the eyes filled with divine vengeance. The other, soft…a hidden nurturing instinct. But when she looked into the eyes of Cadmus he saw that behind that nurture was the fostering of hatred and malice, the venom sinking into his bloodstream, tainting him. He recoiled, she was unnatural, more than the other. And he feared her. It was obvious.
But why fear a small child? What could she do?
“You may see that he will not kill us, Autumn…but he’s killed before. Flesh and bone. The most blasphemous, the woman and babe.”
Cadmus’ eyes flashed.
“I did not kill my wife.” He said under his breath, more to himself than to the occupants of the room.
“No,” Autumn said correcting him quietly, “You killed your wife and unborn son.”
“No,” Cadmus’ grip on the gun slipped a little bit, “You could never know that. You don’t know anything! You’re just a child.”
“Am I?” Autumn said, “I know more than you ever will. You may have destroyed our people, tried to change us, force globalism down our throats with the ultimatum of conforming or being left to die in the jungles…my ancestors may be lost and forgotten but,” she was staring down at the floor, refusing to look into his eyes, “I will always know the truth. About you, about everyone. You may not of come here to kill us. But honestly,” she chuckled heartlessly, “what left do you have to kill?”
“Autumn,” Mark said quietly, his voice hushed but it intention was clear. Stop talking.
“What could you possibly have that isn’t already dead? Our heritage? It lives on in us! In the children! We understand the ways of our elders, even though we are forbidden to practice our teachings! We have been punished in far worse ways than you could ever give us!”
She lifted her head, defiant and angry, pressing her hand to her chest, a plea and a mockery, “Death is welcome to us! Welcome!” Her voice was high pitched, hysterical but the wisdom behind the words was far beyond her years. She threw her arms wide, cross like, “Kill me. Kill me if you must.”
“Autumn!” the other twin forced her arms down, scolding her while cupping her cheeks with his hands; he was speaking again in another language. In werewolf. In devilspeak.
“You should listen to them,” a man said from the far left corner, Cadmus eyes flitted toward that side of the room trying to avoid the…mass of flesh…in front of him, the two girls slinked back into the darkness.
The man who spoke stepped into the light, “They’re probably the twins they told you about. Whoever they are by the way, do you even know who your superiors are?”
The man shook his head, “Probably not. I doubt they’d tell someone so low on the list anyway. There’s a bunch of stuff going on in this place and I personally don’t wanna be here when the shit hits the fan. Because you and I both know, whether you wanna admit it or not, and hell little Mark over there knows to, that it will. And anyone caught in the blast is gonna be fucked. So why don’t you quit wasting our time and tell us what the hell you’re here for?”
This, shocked him back to reality, Cadmus retightened the grip on his gun. His composure lost for far too long to truly ever be regained. But he could try.
“Excuse for interrupting your slow starvation,” Cadmus glared at the man, sizing him up. Pale, gaunt skin, disgusting brown hair, tired and bloodshot brown eyes. Typical. But why the hell did he have so much…attitude?
“The name’s Gabe and there’s no fucking need to stare. I’m half fucking starved here. Not much to look at other than skin and bones. Attractive, isn’t it?”
Cadmus scoffed, starring Gabe right in the eyes hoping this would intimidate him “Who the hell do you think you are?” But when he looked into his eyes, he couldn’t help but…feel…strange. Like...as if his thoughts weren’t exactly…
“I think, firstly, that you’re going to hand me that gun.”
I…no…Cadmus thought weakly. No…
And yet, he was reaching out toward Gabe, reaching out, toward the demon, the enemy, the werewolf.
No. He screamed inwardly, NO! NO! NO!
But, when Gabe smiled deviously at him, coaxingly. How could he resist? The charisma in this man, in this prisoner. How could he…not?
Cadmus tried to think but…nothing seemed…he didn’t know…happening?
Every thought was disjointed, the gaps between words grew, the flow of the thoughts—gone.
“That’s right, a little more.” Gabe grasped the gun in his left hand, his smile widened. “Step back now, there we go, just a couple more steps.”
Cadmus obeyed effortlessly, staring into Gabe’s eyes, wanting to do whatever it took to please him. To obey.
Gabe raised the gun, fiddling with it, “Let me see if I remember how to do this correctly…”
A gruff voice came from the corner, almost like a growl, “Don’t touch him.”
Dramatically, Gabe turned around and looked lazily into the darkness; his eyes were well adjusted and could see the young man crouching in the corner quite clearly, the lack of eye contact with Cadmus made the effect of his powers slump slightly.
“What of it, mutt?” Gabe said mockingly.
“That’s not my name,” His voice was low. Dangerous.
“Oh, I’m sorry.” His broad hand gestures were as taunting as his tone of voice, the overacting intentional, “Forgive me dearest mutt, or should I say mongrel? Maybe that’s offensive? Beast, brute, varmint, cur? Stop me if I hit one. Maybe even bitch? You prefer that you little bitch?”
A low growl came from the corner; Gabe snickered and turned back to Cadmus cocked the gun and smile, “Say goodnight, doctor.”
The man leaped up and tackled Gabe to the ground, his arms pinning him down to the floor, his uncut nails forcing themselves into his flesh.
“I told you not to touch him you fucker,” he growled darkly, the look in his feral eyes were rabid and furious.
He growled, “And the name’s Andy fucking Hurley…” He leered down at him, eyes dark with anger, “Don’t you ever call me bitch again.”
Gabe grabbed for his own throat, closed his eyes and coughed frantically and in between his coughs he managed to strangle out, “You bastard.” Gabe continued to cough and heave; droplets of blood flew out of his mouth and hit Andy’s cheek.
Andy stood up and wobbled slightly, standing on two legs was foreign to him. But not as impossible as everyone made it seem. He wasn’t an animal. He just preferred their positioning. He wasn’t a savage. He just liked to tear people down, show them who they were, make them feel just like him.
Was that such a crime? Was it?
Andy walked over slowly toward the fallen doctor. The frantic coughs, his footsteps and heavy breathing were the only songs in the soundtrack that played for him. He dropped back down to a squat, his arms hanging over his knees, peering down at the man. He grabbed his face with his right hand, squeezing his cheeks as he pulled the head off the hard ground, watching the eyes flutter and knew that his mind was returning to his control.
Cadmus woke from the daydream like status to see this…thing…touching his face. He knocked the hand away from him and backed away slowly, his hands scrambling to push himself away from the werewolf.
“Get back to your place.” Cadmus said angrily, slightly out of breath and confused.
Andy nodded and obeyed, falling back into his shadowy corner. Confusion fell over Cadmus, what the hell was going on here anyway?
Take a few more deep breaths, Cadmus steadied his thoughts and stood back to his feet, forgetting about the gun.
“Before you…you…demons try to pull any other tricks. I have a…proposition for you.”
“We accept,” Mark said in a soft voice, “We all accept.”
Autumn hushed him, her voice darker than her twins, “Continue speaking.”
Unsure of how he felt about being commanded, by a demon child no less, he did, after a short pause, continue.
“We here at the Facility are meant to bring Peace, Prosperity and renewal of life to all those worthy.”
He spoke louder as Gabe continued to cough over his words.
“We understand that there are many of those still in the world who have not been brought to the light, to the understanding, to the enlightenment that we have to offer. Norms and…demons-alike.” Cadmus paused, looking around the room and then continued, “It is my utmost loathing that I offer you, this one and only chance at freedom.”
Andy growled and Gabe gasped in between his coughing, which could’ve been from shock or the need of oxygen, regardless of the reason, he’d finally stopped. His silence emphasized the next words as Cadmus’ voice returned to normal, “This freedom comes at a price. You will end your imprisonment and testing, which means all drugs and or treatments you are receiving will end. All meals will no longer be guaranteed to you—“
“Like they’re guaranteed now?” Gabe sneered, “That one meal per century rule will be hard to pass up!”
Cadmus glared and ignored him, Gabe continued to lie on the floor, appearing nonchalant but the look in his eyes, however hard to was to avoid staring into them again, was filled with yearning.
“What’s the price,” Andy barked from the shadows, “The price that we have to pay?” Desire welled up inside him, anything to get free. Anything to get back at those who left him here to rot in this forsaken place, he’d do anything. Kill anyone.
“You work for us.” Cadmus said simply, as if it was plain and simple, as if work meant handing out flyers promoting the cause. But everyone knew there was more, so much more, they waited for Cadmus to speak.
But silence met their ears.
Gabe spoke up and drawled lazily, “What kinda work are we talkin’ here?”
“Killing. Recruiting.” Cadmus tried to keep his answer as short as possible.
“Listen here, doc.” Gabe said angrily, he held his chest in fear of another coughing fit as he sat up, “Nobody’s doin’ nothing without some sorta explanation. We all want to get out of this hell, so why don’t you just give us the damn details. They say that’s where the devil lives.”
“Fine. You wanna know? Then here’s the information, the low-down, the what’s to know: We need more people to run this place, but we’ve got all the people who actually want to be here already. Within the past six months, we’ve suffered heavy casualties. God knows that shoving murderers under the same roof would lead to something less than happily ever after. It’s tough business working in a murder factory…but we’re trying. That’s where you come in. We need demons, real ones, you people. The ones who know how to kill and torment like never before. We also want you out of our hair and out on the streets. You’re the most resist to everything we’ve tried…and after the…failed experiment.” Cadmus nodded toward the caged beast, it gurgled in response.
“We’ve realized that some things…we can’t contain. You are now a danger to our hierarchy. Not easily discouraged, strong enough to fight back but as of now, hasn’t. We can’t anticipate what you’re trying to do and we’ve lost too many of our own to your antics and we are not having any more of that. We’ve already had one damn escape group and it’s gonna be hell to find them again. They had it good, but now we have to kill them.”
Cadmus scanned the room, “Which means that we’re sending people off like you, into the world to hunt down recruits and demons. Force the norms into going to the nearest Facility, drag them, kidnap them, threaten their families, or starve them. I don’t know and I don’t have a half mind to care. Just get them hear and you live. Run off and we’ll send others out to hunt you down. It might even be someone in this very room that kills you dead. As for the other demons, kill them or bring them here, just don’t set them free.”
“What about the escape group?” Andy said quietly from the shadows, “Who's going to kill them?”
“We don’t know yet, we’ve just got to get more recruits first to run the Facility. Plus they can’t of gone far, so we’ll have all the time in the world to get them.”
“What if I said I could shorten that time?” Andy murmured, flexing his fists as he crouched, “What if I said I could kill them all.”
“Well then I’d say welcome to the Facility, we’ve finally got one of you lot trained correctly.” Cadmus chuckled slightly and lifted his head toward the corner, “What got you so set to kill them anyway?”
“Anything to end…this,” he looked around the room in disgust.
Cadmus smirked, “Hey, what happens out there…happens. Just report into the Facilities that you pass or try to stay in contact with us via…”
Cadmus checked his pockets, “Hmm, I’ve seemed to misplace the—“
A loud noise startled the inhabitants of the room, including Cadmus who had no idea that an intercom was set throughout the building…
“Your first assignment: Kill the doctor. Complete this and the door will open and soldiers will escort out to the arsenal and you may choose your weapons and be escorted out of the building…if the doctor does not die…”
The voice trailed off.
The light flickered, dimmed and went out.
Scrambling, clawing, heavy breathing.
Two gun shots. Screaming.
The light came back on; Autumn dropped the gun to the floor. Successfully shooting the doctor in the leg twice. Andy, on the other hand, was snarling above Cadmus, who was still screaming.
Gabe swallowed and turned away, Mark covered Autumn’s eyes. Gabe coughed again and picked up the gun, he glanced over at Andy and averted his glance; he moved toward the breathing mass and closed his eyes,
“I’m putting you out of your fucking misery…this isn’t a life you wanna live.”
Ready. Steady. Aim. Fire.