Prince of Fools

Death comes quickly down here. They say the first thing you loose in the Cafe is your mind. Exhale it together with the Shit. Yeah, right.

The Café is always dark. Only some gently glowing orange points of light. The sour odor of the Shit everywhere. Even as ashen remains on the floor. Dryed up like a second skin on concrete.

They’re all around me, Shakers, Speakers and the Soldiers. Prince Jasper on his throne, battered top hat slightly askew. Dreads framing his face. Dark skin glistening under KarmaKloth, taking a deep inhale from the water pipe. Hate beside him, the DrugNun bitch and the freak somewhere in the rooms behind His throne.

The bad news came this morning, some Kiestas fuckers slashed some of our gangs up pretty bad. Shakers came too late, could only prepare their souls for the Afterworld.

And Hate giving glances to Cassandra. She warned us, told she saw it in the cards, but the Shakers didn’t believe her. Now our soldiers payed the price.

She says the cards say that the time has come, the time for Death. The time for the Dead Man. Hate still doubts her. Ridicules her. What can she see in the cards? She no BoneShaker, simply a Mundane, no chance she can see anything in those cards. And where did those cards come from anyway.

They give me the creeps, these cards. I’m sure they give even Hate the creeps. Looking somewhat like the Glyph Cards the fresh Shakers use when they have no Suit. A suit must be earned, Hate always reminds them. Until they kill their first Ebon slop they have to use the cards.

Prince Jasper hands the pipe back to Hate, calls for the bitch.

She comes. Beautiful and chilly as ever. Pale face, DeathSuit interdermed and scarred eyes. Yet not quite Waster-like. Something else, something more dangerous. She has a den somewhere in the deeper levels, Lilly says. She has been there, toghether with Cas. Never at the same place. Guess you need juice if you run a joint like that.

Jasper never lets anybody else come as close as the bitch. No problem to kill him now, so close as if to kiss. Perfect view on the top of her trim breasts under the tight vest. Would never let her come this close myself.

Whispers some words into her ear, tapping her hand on the arm rest of his throne. The bitch takes a step back and snaps inside. Just like the Shakers and Cas does. One moment here, then somewhere else. Somewhere inside, or perhaps somewhen outside.

With her you always feel the essence of her bitchcraft. Not so with Hate or the Shakers. Guess she’s more powerful than all of them together. Then she snaps back and the bitchcraft is gone. Leans back towards the Prince, whispers.

And outside the shooting starts.

Killed them all. Snipers took out the drivers then the Soldiers finished the rest. Took their eyes and fired the cars. Fucking Kiesta drive by shooting went sour. Some civvies dead on the scene, Shivers will be here soon. And Slops, no big deal. “Have to wait,” Cas says. “For the Dead Man.” Hate answers, sarcastically, “There’s more than plenty of dead men on the pavement, my sweet.”

She ignores him, “He will come,” reassuring, “and more people will die.”

Hate and some Shakers and Lieutenants vanish to the back rooms together with the bitch. Meet with the freak, study plans. Kiestas will be back, this time’s the big one. The one we’ve all been waiting for. The one that will decide who will rule, who will serve and who will die. And Johannas never die.

Have to get the Prince out first, though. The Café is tough, but no protection holds forever. And some Kiestas are even more fucked up than a bunch of crazed Carriens. Probably goin to a safe-house in Lower Town. One only the bitch and the Prince know, some warehouse. They all look alike.

Motion on the stairs, some Soldiers rushing upstairs. Shivers on the scene I guess, offering blindness for unis. Slops are another matter. The new ones never leave this joint. Come in full of authority, loose their authority with their heads. Pack my gear, leaving soon.

The slops have come. Vet together with some new ones. He wears a Shiver Armor in a pattern of greys, brown and concrete white. Packs a whole arsenal, Punisher, Assault Cannon and Pistol. Fuckin’ arms master. Got a droolin freak with him, full in chain shirt and metal plates, stinking of slay drugs and another Waster with rain soaked fedora, RainMan duster and an elaborate walking cane. Looking like a Geek in his clothes. Probably wouldn’t like me calling him Geek. Cas tenses when she sees him, her nails biting into my arm, her words almost breathless, “The Dead Man”.

“Forget them, Cas. They’re with the Prince. Wheelin’ and dealin’.”

“They bring destruction. Keep away from them.”

“Where the Prince moves I move. You know the rules.”

“Then take Lilly. She can see.”

The slops and the Prince keep talking. The bitch arrives and the slop in the Shiver Armor tenses. You can see the change in his posture, there is something between them, something bad.

They strike a deal, protection for Jasper and a small crew for peace in our territory and then all of them leave for the back rooms to plan. Enough time to fuck Cas before I have to leave too, but she’s somewhere else and it’s over too quick.

Cas is searching for Lilly cannot find her. Slops are still dealin with Hate and Prince Jasper is back on the throne, talking to the freak. On the other side of the throne stands a guy completely in white Shiver armour. Mean revolver on a magplate at his right hip, MAC knife on his left. Acts all cool, like under control. Typical Prop.

The freak looks back at the Prince, I can see Prince Jasper’s face reflecting in his mirror-shades. The freak never takes them off, even here, in the Café.

Nobody knows where he comes from the freak. Suddenly appeared together with the bitch. Said he was an associate of her. Cas says he has a band, Korrozion or something. Play down in the lower levels, she says. She heard them in the bitch’s bar and when she came back from the gig she was loaded. Aggressive, full of rage towards Slay. Said how they let us rot down here makes her wanna slit the next Shiver up, said somebody has to put an end to the fuckin Slayer regime, whatever she meant by that – never heard the word before. She acted funny the next three days or so, then she became normal again. Must have been the music. Korrozion.

Cas walks by together with Lilly, can hear them talking about going down to the Charge and hiring Coma. Guess that must be the Prop. They both don’t notice me.

Outside they’re shooting again and even the Prop blows his cool. Jerks his head up to the entrance. Acts as if he expects the Conqueror Root Himself. Only the freak is patient, sums it all up behind his mirror-shades.

The bitch leaves the back room, running, shouting. Hate follows her. The Café full of their commands.

“Get up you mutherfuckas”, Hate’s booming voice, “Faster, faster, guys. You wanna die in here?”, the bitch’s cool, urging tone.

I get up, get my gear, walk over to the Prince. The freak still stands next to him, watching the door. The Prop holds back, waits to see who gets closest to the prince. A double tap crash outside. Heavy ammo. The Slops run out of the back-room, the Frother talking into the headset, “Max, do you copy? Max? Answer, Max. Fuck!” The Geek Man right behind the Frother, eyes sweeping the scene. Acts as if he wants to try something funny. He’d better not to. Another Slop gets out of the backroom. Must have come in when I was occupied with Cas.

We get in motion, heading for the entrance to the sewers in the back rooms. First the Frother, then Hate, the freak, the bitch, Lilly, the Prop, Prince Jasper and his guard and the Geek Man last.

We run through the planning room. Maps all over the place, some of them with handwritten notes and some circles. Cannot make out the details. Through the next door into the rest-rooms. Cole waits at the sewer lid, already open. One by one we drop into the darkness. Even the droolin’ Slop fits through the gate with his armour.

Been a long time since I’ve been in the sewers. Took some trophies with me out of the sewers the last time. Don’t know where I put the eyes, but I still got the pig’s ears. My lucky charm.

The sewers under the Café are cleaner than most of the other sewers I’ve been through. Prince Jasper lets the Shit Crew check and clean them every odd week. Never been in the Shit Crew, never had to.

The tunnel looks like an upturned “U”. In the middle is the brown water, on both sides are narrow walkways and over our heads is the ceiling arch. You can stand upright, but then you risk running your head through some low-hanging slime on the ceiling. Not much head-room. We all run in single file. Although narrow, the walkway is comfortable, not slippery and not too narrow. Even the droolin Slop can keep up with the pace and avoid crashing too much into the walls with his armour.

We come into a chamber where three sewer arms meet and we split. The guard takes the right tunnel we take the left. I can hear shooting from behind. Shit Crew is giving some intruders a couple of grains of lead to swallow.

The further we are away from the Café the more dirty the sewers become. The Frother slows the pace. Hate calls a halt from time to time, checking with the bitch and the Droolin Man then we’re off again. I want to smoke a cigarette but I can resist. Not the time to look like a fuckin amateur to the Slops. Not the time to give them an excuse to bust my ass. Especially not the Geek one behind. I know he wants to try something funny. I know.

Soon I’m lost, but Hate he has the map and the bitch seems to know some parts of the sewers, too. Wonder what business she had down here.

After some hours we stop in another chamber. The brown water is moving fast here and a rusted ladder leads to a sewer lid. The Frother opens it and checks the area, then we all leave the sewers.

I don’t know where we are, but we are deeper than the Café. Probably some 15 levels. We are standing in a back yard, trash around us and the dirty sludge falling from the walkways above. Hate looks on the map and the bitch confirms and then we’re off to the street.

I cannot see any gang colours on the street and I cannot place the street names. I want to get close to Lilly, but I can’t leave the prince. I feel the Geek Man right behind me, waiting for a bad move.

We use the DownTown byways, across fire-escapes, walkways and dark alleys, tunnels in a baby porn district, a closed-down subway line. We emerge from Bergen Street, never took a train that ran through here. Must have been down for years now.

There’s a motel on the other street side.

We rest.

This night the Vet arrives. I don’t hear him, but he’s around in the morning. When I wake up there is silent anger between the Slops. I never see the body, but I overhear that the droolin’ Slop iced the other Slop during the night. Cut his head off with a GASH fist. The Vet handles the situation. He wants no witnesses. Takes the GASH fist, walks down to the janitor and ices him too. Then we leave.

We continue through Bergen Street. Guess these tunnels run a big way down. We almost need no flashlights, there’s enough light around.

The tunnels are broad and cold. There are puddles of water between the tracks. It is not as brown as the sewer water, but just as dirty. Sometimes a row of light bulbs move in the strong wind down here and they sound like Shaker Chimes.

We enter a dark area. There are almost no lights here and we have too few flashlights.

I hear them about the same time as the Slops do. And then they are upon us. Usually you can hear the pigs miles before they find you, but when your party is big enough the distance shortens. Like now. At least the Slops and the Prop seem to have seen pigs before. I have seen men stop in horror after coming face-to-face with their first pig. Not these guys.

The Prop brings up his revolver and pulls the trigger. The explosion of the shot is even louder than usual and it booms through the tunnels. I want to use my gun, but I don’t want to give the Slops an excuse for making such a noise when I can use my knife. The Prop will get into the deep shit for shooting, but I don’t need that.

The droolin Slop draws his huge sword and charges the pig. And then the light of my flashlight strikes the pig dead on and I can see the crazy evil eyes glittering and the crusted blood around it’s snout. It’s only a baby pig some 2 meters shoulder height, but I can see the Frother stop when he realizes what he’s up against.

This would be the perfect time for the Geek Man to make his move. I watch for the Prince, but the freak and the bitch have taken care of him, shielding him. The Vet carries a huge MAL AC and he aims it at the pig the Prop has hit. It is bleeding through a nasty wound and it’s left jaw is missing, but it is still coming.

I know that the Geek Man is making his move. The Frother is charging again, and cuts away one leg of the pig with a clean powerful chop. I can hear the roar of the pig, anger mixed with rage and face the Geek Man, blade drawn. Best to plunge it right under his chin so he can’t .

Then I see the tentacle. His mouth is wide open as if he wants to scream but cannot. Coming out of his mouth is a thin, sinewy thing, a cross between a tentacle and a finger, with a razor-sharp three-inch-long nail at the top. Twitchign as if probing the air. Then it bends around the mouth and six other tentacles apper. They force the mouth open beyond what is possible, but I cannot hear any crack. And then I see the evil light.

It comes right out of the mouth of the Geek Man. Deep electric blue, with white veins and an aura of darkness even I can feel. It flickers towards the pig, hits it with a sickening sound and eats the pig’s flesh from it’s bones. The rest of the carcass collapses and crashes onto the floor.

The Frother is splattered with blood, he only turns around and looks at the Geek Man. I put down my knife. I cannot kill this monster.

Lilly is somewhere, but I cannot reach her. She will know. The other pig is dead, too. Guess the Prop and the Vet iced it.

We take a Hotel this night, too.

All are too tired and spent to talk. Prince Jasper, the Prop, the bitch and the freak take one room, while I share a room with Lilly, the Vet, the Droolin Slop and the Geek Man. Three psychos in a room with me and Lilly. Could think of better places to be right now.

There are beds in the room, but none of us bothers with them. I need a wall in my back, need to face the Geek and the Droolin Slop. Both of them are acting funny again, and the vet is only watching. Cold, his MAL AC in his lap. He too needs a wall in his back. Sits down on the right side of the room, the Droolin Slop and the Geek Man to his left, watching. Gives the Frother dude a red pill and the drooler is high up on Personal Interest for the next hours. Moaning and making funny sounds.

Sleep never came so easy before. In the middle of the night I wake. Only Lilly is awake, too. She is leaning against the wall, sitting on the floor, like me and the Vet. She eyes the Slops carefully, even fearfully. Especially the Geek Man. I should take my knife now and plug the Geek Man. A wonder they didn’t mess with the Prop for shooting in the tunnels and giving away our position to every cognate in the vicinity. But if the Geek Man wakes I’m history.

I get up and walk over to Lilly. Perhaps I can help her.

“So what’s up, little?”

“The Slop”, pointing at the Geek Man.

“Yeah . bad muthafucka. I knew he wanted to do something funny.”

“He’s not right.”

“Fuck he isn’t. Never seen a Waster pull some shit like that.”

She is silent. I sit down next to her and put an arm around her shoulder.

“Hey, come on. I’ll protect ya from him.”

“Cassandra fears him. Said he’s the bringer of destruction. Said she saw it in the cards.”

“You really see something in the cards? I mean you’re no Shakers.”

“Sometimes. I get a feeling .”

The crash is deafening. High caliber.

Look down at Lilly.

Her face splattered with blood, her eyes wide open, just woken from sleep.

Looking at me. Pain in my guts.

At the hole in my stomach and the guts.

At my hand on her shoulder.

At my raised arm.

At the knife in my hand, ready to cut her throat.

Looking at myself from outside: Stirring in my sleep. I cannot defend against it. Suddenly it is there, like a thief in the night. It replaces me, takes my body. I see myself getting up, drawing the knife. Walking towards Lilly. I cannot see my face. It is hidden in shadows. But I can see my eyes, cold, almost blind. And my body begins to cry when it places one hand on her shoulder and raises the other hand to slit her throat.

Then the Vet shoots. I see the shock in my eyes, the crying stops.

All that’s left is it’s laughter as it pulls me into my body while it steps outside and leaves me to die.

Today we brought the prince to the safe-house. I stay with Fix, should He send another one after us. The warehouse was a surprise – I always thought that Fix was stronger. I still wonder why He wanted to kill the Prince. Why did it switch from body to body, first the Frother, than the Johanna Boy and finally Coma? Why not kill the Prince directly? Something doesn’t add up here. I have to take a side now. He won’t like my decision, but someting has started today, and we begin to slide down the surface of things. I can’t let them all die.

AN, 10/03/908

 

© 2004 by dnotice.de

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