They're all the same
“What are you doing?”
Pookie looked up as he lay prone covered in mud and probably chicken shit and feathers.
“Trying to catch, that beast, I guess” Pookie sputtered.
Jersey was perched high on the rafters of the barn out of sight talking up as if to herself. Her slight but confident voice echoing through the large richety structure. “What for?”
“Training? Training for what?”
She sighed and said “I see” She said nothing for a moment as Pookie looked up at her leg dangling from the rafters. “What do you want? An apology.”
Pookie snorted “What for?”
“For trying to kill you”
“You were trying to protect him right?”
“Do you love him?”
She said nothing for a moment, seeming to freeze, as if the words sent electricity through her whole body. She sighed, releasing the tension in a long breath and spoke softly as if to no one in particular. “Have you ever met someone that didn’t want anything from?”
“Can’t say I have, but I don’t get out much.”
“A person that would do anything for anyone and not ask for anything in return?”
“No” Pookie said thoughtfully.
“He’s an idiot, people like him don’t last long in this world.”
“He seems like he can take care of himself.”
“You think so?” She laughed. “He’s not like us, not like you” She looked straight ahead as if trying to see a face in the wood grain. “He can’t kill, it’s not in his nature, he’ll always be the frog and we’ll always be scorpions.”
“I’m not sure I get that reference.” Pookie snorted.
“I’d die to protect him, I’d kill, because there needs to be more people like him in this world, or it won’t survive, can’t survive. It wouldn’t be worth surviving in at all without people like him!”
“No not, what!? Forget it, you wouldn’t understand, you’ll just keep chasing chickens until someone faster than you ends up killing you. There are a million guys like you in this world, you really think you’re that special?”
Pookie didn’t say anything, but for a moment his face gave Jersey a window, a glimpse of that lonely orphan boy and she knew she’d said too much, been too flippant.
She sighed “Sorry, I can be a real bitch sometimes” Her voice softened. “The trick to catching chickens is… you have to predict their movements, you can’t just reach out and grab them or they’ll flutter away. You have to move with them and follow their path or they’ll just get away from you.”
“Here’s your… thing!” Pookie said as he dropped the chicken on the crude wooden kitchen table in front of Riki and Brandon.
“What?” Riki asked quizzically.
“You told me to chase chickens… as part of my training.”
“I don’t remember telling you to do that.”
“I asked you to get eggs for breakfast and then you disappeared for an hour.”
As the sun was setting the fires had died. The gnoxious billowing smoke from the tents had turned into a light aery mist that hung over their crumpled deformed shape.
“What happened here?”
“You don’t know?” Pookie asked the strangely dressed man.
“Not a clue” the swammy said incredulous as he looked over the mounds of smoldering plastic and fabric.
“Ha, I guess it was just a coincidence” Pookie chuckled to himself.
The swammy turned to face the clown samurai. “How did you know I’d come here?”
“You said so.”
“I don’t think I did” The swammy said.
“Oh, you sure about that?”
“Well for the sake of plot convenience lets pretend you did.”
The swammy gave an odd sidewards glance at the clown and said. “You’re not the one I expected to meet.”
“Yeah well, can’t always get what you want.”
“Well, I can’t disagree with you there.” The swammy laughed a little sadly. “I wanted to be known for my skill, I travelled all over this godforsaken land to learn and bring them something they’d never seen before. But no one understands, I wanted respect, wonder, not fear. I thought joining the circus would change that but it’s the same, no it’s worse. The circus is run on fear and misery, I wont go back, you wont make me and neither will those damn mimes.”
“I’m not here for that” Pookie said as he readjusted his sword.
“I see, so you’ve come here to die.”
“For the boy that can’t smile, for the clown that cannot laugh.” The old man said as he stretched out his open hands, resting in them a strange and colourful sword.
The boy took it in both hands without a word. His face rich in the colours of their order, bright and shining. The smile painted over the stolid face of despair.
The boy opened it with a stiff jerk, as if breaking a seal, it pulled away like it was stuck. A horrible canned mocking laughter was released like a poisonous gas that sent chills up the boys spine.
The old man smiled and said “Cool huh?”
The kid studied the sword sceptically looking at the gawdy leds that made up the eyes of the devil face on the pommel but still he said nothing. The look on his face a mix of wonder and complete whatthefuckism.
“This sword will smile for you, it’s blade will laugh for you and if you point the devil at your enemy and pull this it might just save you from the brink of death.” The old man said as he flicked the mystery draw string tucked into the handle.
The boy instantly reached for the pully. The old man smacked his hand away.
“Not now, and not ever” He said sternly. “The other will make the sword laugh, that one you must master, it’s sound will bring joy and strike fear in the hearts of many.”
“Hey we were just talking”
“What?” Pookie sputtered.
“We were about to fight and then you went all glassy eyed like you were in a flash back or something stupid like that.”
“It’s nothing” He said looking down at his unusual sword.
“Well then, no standing on ceremony, let’s get on with it shall we?”
“Keep that tricky head game stuff to yourself this time.”
The swammy chuckled as he unsheathed a long curved sword. “As you wish” Almost before he finished the last syllable of his last word he was advancing fast, weightless almost. He was floating above the ground and he delivered a devastating downward slash.
Pookie had miliseconds to react, he pulled the cord shooting his blade up to meet the curved sword of the swammy. The moment the blades made contact, the Swammy seemed to float backwards as if suspended by strings. With a small just audible chuckle he fluttered back down to the ground one toe at a time.
“Doesn’t that noise get annoying after a while?.”
Pookie looked down at the laughing sword as the tinny noise wound down and stopped. The led lights in the laughing devils eyes dimming and turning off with the fading laughter. “I’m used to it”
“One can get used to almost anything”
“Yeah I guess” Pookie said as he readied himself for another attack.
The clown circled his enemy slowly before erupting quickly with a flurry of quick diagonal slashes.
The swammy deftly evaded or parried each strike effortlessly. His body moving with a swift flowing motion moving with Pookie’s blade just out of reach. As if Pookie were attempting to swat a fly with a fan. The fly floating just out of reach each time surfing the crest of a wave.
The swammy’s counter attack was unrelentingly vicious and precise. Thrusting and slashing, Pookie dodged and deflected the strikes just barely. It started to feel almost like each strike were a joke or a push in a certain direction as if he were being kneaded like fresh dough.
Pookie caught a glimpse of a smirk on the swammy’s face as he toyed with him. Finally the swammy with a flick of his wrist freed Pookie’s laughing sword from his hand. The blade flying over his head and stabbing the soft earth near one of the smouldering tents.
Pookie looked on in a frozen amazement as the Swammy slashed him across the chest with an almost disintested look on his face. “How predictable” He sighed.
“I can read your mind, every strike, it gets boring honestly.” The swammy sheathed his sword and walked over towards Pookie’s weird katana stabbed into the earth.
Pookie watched and bled as he dragged himself backwards across the sand to lean against a gnarled stump.
“This sword on the otherhand is very interesting.” He said as he pulled it out of the ground. “I’ll be taking it of course, as a prize for killing you, you won’t be needing it where you’re going after all.”
Pookie laughed and spat out some blood “What do I get if I kill you?” He smirked.
The swammy let out a little laugh as if it were a moot point. “I would’ve told you the number one tip on picking up any chick” The swammy laughed.
The swammy turned and gently jiggled the sword free of the earth which triggered the tiny laughter and the glowing devil eyes on the hilt. “How tacky” The swammy sighed.
“How do you get this damn thing to stop making that noise?” He hissed as the laughter seemed to be stuck on a maddening loop.
Pookie didn’t respond.
“Ahh here we go” The swammy said as he awkwardly fingered the ringpull on the hilt. “The one on the scabbard launches the blade so this one must stop that infernal noise!”
Pookie’s eyes got wide as he watched the strange man about to pull the second pully on his sword. The one which he had no idea what it did, he wasn’t even sure his master knew. That’s why he never touched it and was told only to use it when he faced death.
“Here we go” He said happily as he tugged the ring pull.
For a moment there was complete silence, the laughter stopped but the eyes still glowed. Suddenly there was a flash of light and a thunderous crack that followed after. From the devils mouth came a billowing of a weird and colourful substance like bits of paper flying all over the swammy.
The swammy froze covered in the stuff, he spat it out of his mouth making a raspberry with his tongue.
“Confetti?” He scoffed as he looked at the handle of the unusual sword and then the laughter started again but it was louder and crueller and real.
Pookie was laughing to no one, a dull death rattle imitation of a real laugh. “Ha ha ha ha” Pookie said phonetically.
The swammy was confused and angry like he’d had a trick played on him. “What are you-?” Then he felt it, a pain in his chest, he touched his hand to himself and lifted it awkwardly, weakly to his face. “Blood?”
It was spreading across his chest like he was rusting on fast forward. He looked into the glowing eyes of the devil, the smoke rising from the mouth and then the tinny laugh that followed, that mocking devil laugh.
The swammy’s knees gave way to weakness and he fell dropping the demon sword carelessly by his side.
Pookie scraped himself off the ground feeling like road kill. He staggered forward, dragged by the call of his sword. With a pained effort he plucked the daemoniac blade from the ground.
“A gun- you cheated” A breathless voice said as if from far away, the voice sinking lower. “But how, I could read your mind”
Pookie carefully slid the sword back into the sheathe “I didn’t know what it did, until now”
Pookie started to limp away.
“I see” the far away voice said quietly. “Wait!” The swammy called out weakly.
Pookie turned to see the swammy bleeding out, his head propped up awkwardly as blood ran from his lips. “The number one tip for picking up any chicks is-” He coughed violently spattering blood all over his face and chest. He smirked “-they’re all the same!” He laughed a guttural low laugh and then faded to silence.
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