Chapter 4: The Trance, Some Pizza and Her Result
Hope Is A Gamble
Fate Is Inevitable
Their Curtain Will Rise
A Neverending Story
“You do realize that the cerberus is a greek myth right?” the rather well-read homeless man to my right quips, with what I presume to be a rustic smile on his face, as I stare off into the abyss of the large TV screen across the street.
Murdering my classmates like cattle.
Saving a city of thousands from a ravenous three-headed-hell dog.
My actions can only be described as contradictory.
“And I can fly now?” I ask no one.
“I haven’t seen you do it, personally, but the video evidence is damning…” the homeless man answers my rhetorical question.
What am I supposed to do now? Turn myself in? Get some sweet dosh out of my newly acquired hero status?
How am I supposed to proceed?
What do I want? What do I deserve?
The usual modus operandi of ‘do whatever you want to get a rise out of the sisters’ doesn’t fly here. Because the ‘sisters’ here are police officers, and I don’t know if my sick-ass wings are gonna stop them from busting a cap in my ass.
It’s all so confusing. What should I do? There’s no one I can go to. They’re all gone.
“I can tell you’re conflicted little man, why don’t you just hang out here with me? No one knows you’re here, excluding me, and the only thing you’ve got to worry about is what time to wake up for the soup kitchen!” the strangely excited homeless man declares. “It’s scary out there man, just stay here… where you’re safe.” he adds, smiling softly.
To be honest, it sounds great. I’m being hunted by the government, by the police (probably) and god knows who else (like, I’m sure that mutt didn’t show up on its own). If somebody figures out who I am and what I’ve done, it won’t take more than a couple minutes for a sniper to infiltrate the back of my skull.
“Yeah, that s---”
Without warning, a special scent smothers my face. It reeks of sweet, syrupy passion. My heart races faster and faster the longer it lingers on me. All the fear, the loathing, it washes away. I can forget it all in this scent.
I want it. Whatever it is. I need it.
“I’m leaving now.” I tell the rather disappointed homeless man, the words virtually falling out of my mouth with little feeling put behind them. But I don’t care. This scent.
I follow it. My dirty sneakers dragging me to the source of the scent on their own. That bum was probably gonna sell my kidneys on the black market anyhow, this scent is far more interesting. Far more mesmerizing. Far more…
Leaving the alleyway, my body, heavy with exhaustion and regret, turns right this time.
I ignore the guy I just ran into and attempt to trudge towards my destination, but he grabs a hold of my shoulder.
“Are you doing this on purpose, asshole?” he asks, a low growl escaping his throat, as a deep sigh escapes mine.
The man I’ve now managed to bump into twice goes to donkey punch the back of my head, but I duck (again), reach my right hand up at his arm, currently outstretched over my head, stand up straight and I judo throw his ass over my shoulder.
“UGH” he screams, all of the air leaving his body.
My first instinct, still holding onto his hand firmly, is to commence with a righteous beatdown the likes of which have never been witnessed by mortal eyes.
But I need to get back to the sweet release from decision-making that mind control has to offer, so I calmly set his palm on his chest, smile, and say “I’m sorry for your loss dude. But I went to that godforsaken school for reals. I’m sure your dad was a fine man, who didn’t deserve what happened, but stop attacking me before I’m forced to snap your neck like a popsicle stick.”
Then my feet start taking me down the road, away from the crowd of concerned citizens circling the probably injured man. Who cares about decorum and good sense, I have a smell to catch.
Yeah, I’m definitely getting controlled by something right now. Not really surprised. There are demons, I have wings and claws. Why not mind controlling smells at this point?
But being told what to do is comforting. It’s soft and fluffy. It smells good. Very good. There’s no worry about whether I’m doing the right thing. Someone else is at the wheel. Can’t do a worse job than I’ve done these last four months, ya know?
So I’ll just keep walking towards the scent.
I hope that guy isn’t injured.
Similar Bedfellows, Love?
Confusion Births Fear
Control Breeds Comfort
Can He Wrest Control? From The Beast?
Time Will Tell
And So Will I
With eyes glazed over like an overpriced donut, I peer into the source of the scent, a pizzeria touting cheap slices and the need for an ‘apprentice’. All it took was crossing the street and getting called ‘roadkill’ in the process.
I walk inside, causing the couple of customers sitting inside to shuffle uncomfortably. One lady even books it for the exit, not that I can blame her. I look like a bum and… yeah, I smell like one.
“Oi, young man!” The old but subtly brawny man behind the pizzeria’s counter exclaims in my direction. “You’re driving out my business, what cha’ need?” he asks, in a weirdly kind manner.
Can’t ask him about the smell, he’ll think i’m crazy. Can’t just walk out, I won’t get any smell-formation.
“Um… can I have a slice of pepperoni?” I ask, desperate to not get kicked out.
“Ya’ got a dollar to ya name?!” he inquires, knowing full well the state of my finances at a glance.
“Can’t take some pity, old man?” I ask, which is the best I can come up with. The scent is mesmerizing, tantalizing. But my head feels funny. Not all there.
“No. If I give evra’ homeless guy whose stench reaches to the outta’ limits of Melas a slice, I’d be outta business faster than you can say ‘The Cerberus ate my dingo!’.” he exclaims, confusion firmly plastered on my face.
“Can I, uh, work for it?” I ask, a new plan forming in my head, one to ascertain the exact source of the smell in this cramped pizzeria by killing as much time as possible.
The lingering scent drives me forward. Pride be damned, nothing will stop me. Begging for work in front of customers horrified at my ensemble is an easy feat in the face of losing out on the smell.
“Ya’ interviewin’ skills leave a lot to be desired, but I like yer moxey!” the old man expresses, speaking like a weird mix between a pirate and a shuffleboard world champion. With a toothy smile, he hobbles around the long counter, passing all manner of dollar slices, and shakes my filthy hands. “David DeMarco, at yer service! Or, I guess, you’ll be at mine! Maybe! Sit down!” he yells, probably not realizing his lack of an inside voice.
We sit at the booth farthest away from the front door and he offers me a cup of soda from the fountain. “It only costs me a nickel, after all!” he exclaims.
“So, what are your qualifications to work er’ sonny?” He asks, obviously.
“I, uh, have none. This would be my first job sir.” I mumble, not giving a bit of my concentration to the old man. The scent lingers, even as the remaining customers exit the cramped business. Its source taunts me.
“So yer a homeless kid with no job experience, asking me for work? Right? Dat sound right?” he asks, scrutinizing me.
“Yeah, I guess. The, uh, the sign out front says you need the help.” I say to the old guy, sweat falling from my brow from the desperation of searching for my scent.
“That’s true young man, but you smell worse than the damn anchovies!” he complains, comically holding his nose at me.
Speaking of noses, I fake stretching my neck side to side and get a good sniff to try and find the smell… but it’s faded.
One of those customers, then.
I stand and go to walk out of the small establishment, but the old man takes my wrist. My body tenses up and I’m ready to fight, like earlier. With my left hand balled into a fist, I turn back around. “Sorry sonny boy, ya’ not like being touched or somethin’? I was just gonna offer you a shower before ya go.” he proposes with a sheepish smile.
What am I doing? Was I gonna clock this sweet old dude?
“Sorry I gotta go. Looks like I’ll be seeing you around, uh, David.” I tell him with my own smile, in an awkward attempt to apologize for the aggression.
Then I leave, probably for good. That guy was nice. Don’t want to hurt him. Don’t want him to get hurt. It would probably be my fault.
When the fresh winter air hits my face, so too does a whiff of the good shit. Whatever it is. I follow it.
“Hm, what should I buy for the occasion?” I whisper to myself and my other half. “I was thinking salmon, but she might be allergic, ya know.” I add.
“But with that logic, you wouldn’t be able to bring anything to the potluck. Some people are allergic to sunlight for god sake. Couldn’t imagine.” they add, with what I can sense to be a smile on their face as I stare at the ingredients for a box of pre-made pasta.
“Chips and salsa it is. Milquetoast, but I’ve only been rooming with her for two months anyway. And she stinks up the bathroom with her… habits, anyway.” I argue.
“Agreed.” they add.
More cars to get out of the way of. More crossing the street. More passerbys staring at my raggedy-ass. The splendid scent leads me, in a much further goose chase, into a supermarket. Every single person wearing a branded apron and a dumb plastered on smile looks at me with great disdain, probably wondering how much produce I plan on stealing.
None is the correct answer, of course. I just plan on stealing… actually, what is the game plan here? The endgame? The point?
Like, the calming embrace of losing faculty over my decision making is great and all… but if I manage to catch up to whatever, or whoever, is smelling so scrumptious, then I need to be ready.
‘You smell awesome’ won’t really fly, right? What if I covertly step to their side and ask ‘Hey, what’s that smell?’
Bit too obvious, I guess. It’s gonna have to be spontaneous then, I’ve been staring at this deli case for five minutes and a security guard has been breathing down my neck the whole time.
So I wander the grocery store, strolling past the cereal aisle with a mother deathly afraid of me and the little gremlin of a child in her shopping cart. But they aren’t the target, so I don’t bother her.
The frozen aisle holds nothing but two frat boys from the local college arguing about what flavor of mini pizzas to pick up for their tailgate. They both stop what they’re doing and stare me down. “What do you want you fucking bum? Need a nickle for your Halcyon kick?” the chud asks, with two balled up fists and hair spiked up like it’s the early 00’s again. But I just smile and move to the next aisle, knowing in my heart of hearts that I could rip out their hearts and wear them like a necklace.
The smell hasn’t gotten any closer, nor farther. It simply persists inside the building. The fish aisle gives me nothing interesting, only a blonde lady talking to herself next to the salmon and take-away section. The urge to ask her if everything is ok is pushed aside by the raw desire to acquire the smell.
But this plan isn’t working. Whatever this smell is, this luscious, awe-inspiring scent, I can’t tell where it’s coming from indoors for whatever reason.
And actually, let’s examine the situation a bit closer. I have wings, apparently. I have razor sharp claws that cut through bone like cottage cheese, apparently. For all intents and purposes, i am dangerous.
So why in the green hell is someone trying to attract me to them? Most people wouldn’t want to get next to a walking ICBM!
While I’m at it, this is some real shitty mind control. I’ve been aware of it since the beginning. Maybe that was never the point.
“UGH! Why does everything today have to be so convoluted?!” I scream to the sky, the rain clouds forming above reflecting my mood.
Wait… when did I end up outside? I was in the fish aisle.
Quickly turning my head all around, I find myself in unfamiliar territory. Not that any of Melas was that familiar to begin with.
“Another blackout? At least the goddamn season didn’t change this time.” I whisper under my breath.
To my front is a rather large metal fence with spiked tips, behind which is a school of some sort. Behind me, some kind of hospital? And across the way, some distance from wherever the fuck im standing… is a train station. Should I even bother? If the busses are shut down, then the trains are probably fucked too.
…there isn’t any point though, is there? I killed them all. There isn’t anything to go back to. No one left.
They were assholes, the lot of them. I suffered a lot in that hack of an orphanage, and it sucks to know that in the end… the sisters and the fathers were right about me.
Demon. Right? That’s what I am. Some kind of monster.
“Guess i’ll try and find my way back to the alleyway. Maybe convince that David guy to give me a job? Try to make something of myself here, on the down low. Lost track of that scent after all.” I say to nobody.
My feet start to shuffle towards the epicenter of downtown Melas, when my eyes go fuzzy again. My head cloudy like the sky. Scent. Smell. Need.
The intensity is palpable. The scent is mixing into my sweat, pouring down my throat and gnawing at the back of my head.
Goosebumps cover my back as I take action, running towards the singular opening in the giant fence. A single security guard, some fat schmuck with nary a fair hair on his bulbous head, blocks my path.
“Can I come in? I’m, uh, late for school.” I tell the man unconvincingly.
“What’s ya’ student ID number then?” He asks with an air of a man who couldn’t care less about what happens in the next five minutes, but still feels like collecting a paycheck.
“If you let me go to my dorm, I can grab my ID card and show you my number. Hows about it?” I plead.
“No can do kid. Got a rascal at home to feed and don’t feel like getting fired letting a bum like you in.” he responds, stating the obvious.
A sigh escapes my lips, visible through the rapidly cooling air. “Please?”
His eyes waver for a moment before he solemnly shakes his head nope, motioning with his right hand to “Go”.
Like lightning to a metal rod, my right hand shoots out. First the pointer finger indicating my departure, then his wrist is in my grasp. His gasp in surprise is masked by my free hand and the fear protruding from his eyes is akin to a gazelle that knows it’s chow.
A tingle escapes the webbing between each of my fingers. Openings appear, exposing my flesh to cold air. Something in my hands shift.
But I shake my head.
“Not like this.”
The hand holding his hand hostage shoots to his hip and I crush his walkie-talkie with little effort. “I could’ve killed you man, so how about you give me a 30-second head start?” I ask with a smirk, running past him and through the wooden swing-gate adorning the entrance before he could answer.
And I run. Dash. Sprint. Raindrops begin collecting on my forehead but I persist, my feet pulling up fake grass by the pound as I follow the scent in front of me.
What awaits me? Who is waiting for me? Who is trying to tempt me?
An alarm blares somewhere far away, but my legs keep chugging towards the scent… before coming to a sudden stop up realzing their destination.
“Should I, like, ask very nicely for her to come meet me out here for a spot of tea?” I again ask nobody in particular, in a weird attempt to make myself laugh.
I’m sure that the scent is coming off somebody in this unholy building but I don’t know if any amount of ‘mind control’ or ‘temptation’ or if god themselves could make me try to B&E the girls dormitory of a private school. But the band of overly-enthusiastic rent-a cops wielding batons riding in on souped-up golf carts will change a man’s (demons?) morals real quick.
“Unholy building… unholy… me. It fits.” I quip to myself while dashing into the building, ignoring the pleas of the rent-a-cops behind me and the Dorm Manager standing guard in the lobby.
The scent is ever closer.
Two flights of stairs worth of my feet pulling up carpet to the tune of shrieking women later, I find myself standing in front of the entrance to the third-years dorms. Most importantly, the source of the scent.
What am I supposed to say, anyway? Never went and figured that part out, did I. This might get awkward, if they don’t know what they’re doing to me. Didn’t really consider that, either.
And what if this has nothing to do with me specifically? Maybe it’s just really fancy cologne.
A stampede of stomps draws ever closer. The horde of wannabe pigs brandishing batons is on their way. I don’t want to have to hurt them.
A final deep breath escapes my mouth and I reach my right hand out towards the doorknob… which turns without my touching it.
The door in front of me swings open, and so too does my jaw in… some unimaginable miasma of emotion.
“Oh, Azriel. Sup. You transferred here too?” SHE asks, as if it’s the simplest question in the world.
Maybe what I smelt had nothing to do with ‘mind control’. It probably wasn’t ‘temptation’ either.
I was probably drawn to some long forgotten scent of days since gone.
As I fall to my knees, tears flow from my eyes like the rain outside.
My blood soaked hands have been washed of at least one foul atrocity.
“What the fuck is going on, Beth?” I ask, hoping she has the answers I’m seeking.
But Beth just shrugs, smiles politely and asks “Want to take a shower at my place?”
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