Another long pull he took; his lips and taste buds burning from the freshly chilled ginger-ale that had a hint of lemon in the aftertaste. It was sour to him, but the after effect the black mongoose wanted far outweighed the bitter taste. Draining the clear glass, he poured more of the ale from an expensive shaker on top of the ice cubes that still lay in the glass. Reaching for a medicine bottle that sat beside it on the smooth table, he then poured some of it’s liquid contents in his drink, only eyeing his measurement to his satisfaction.
His three day old studio apartment sat five stories up in a nice part of the now liberated Casino Night City. He watched as a few hover cars and speeders made their way down the lone street outside his window. When three more had past by in the span of only a few minutes, he felt the surge of his outlawed elixir enveloping his senses. In a few more minutes, the honeysuckle lemon juice would engulf his entire nervous system.
He wanted more, but he shot down his temptation quickly. The fear of not being able to afford more of the “juice” was furthest from his mind. The money that he had –thanks to a certain bald Overlander who was now serving hard time in the Devil’s Gulag– could out last his cravings, probably for the rest of his life. No, it wasn’t the money he worried about; only overdosing. It was easy to do on the “juice,” the chemical make up made the user want to take in more. Even if it meant certain death.
His brain felt as if it was floating in air that replaced the fluid in his skull. He watched the blazing lights of the city in a dazed awe. The drug was now taking full control of his nervous system as he began to relax even further in his love seat.
He suddenly twitched his head behind him and to his right. He strained his neck and eyes as he gazed towards the bathroom, trying to decipher where the muffled creak was coming from. The ambient light that filtered into his large living room window fought desperately to defeat the darkness in his apartment, but failed as he couldn’t see anything past the lone framed passageway that lead to his bedroom and the bath. His fighting instincts beckoned him to investigate it, but the juice told him otherwise. With an involuntary jerk of his shoulders and a snuff, the mongoose turned back around and continued his drug induced trance of the outside world.
For a moment he couldn’t believe it; snow, falling from the sky in the late-summer night. It started out as flurries, but soon intensified as the wind began to pick up. The lights from the surrounding tall buildings added to his surreal feelings, making the snowflakes look as if they were rainbow orbs floating down from sky. Another gust of wind began to shake the window that he gazed out of that spanned the entire room from floor to ceiling. Then a thought came to him. With the snow falling and his lemon juice taking its full effect, he wanted to take a long warm tub bath. The idea of the steaming warm water flowing around his fur coat seemed like heaven to him...and that was what he wanted at the moment.
Standing up, he tried to gain his balance that he fought against from his stupor. Three steps later he found it, but he still wobbled side to side with each stride he took. He passed a bookcase that didn’t hold what it was made for. Instead, a manikin head that had his new black fedora hat on top of it. Among the new things he bought with his blood-tainted money was a large rain coat that he figured he was now going to need tomorrow when he ventured out to get more of the lemon juice. It hung in the closet, waiting for its master to put it on.
He neared his bathroom, bracing himself against the frame of the passageway as he fumbled to get his boots off, followed by his expensive Monte-Carlo shirt that he discarded as if it were trash. Before he flipped the switch to illuminate his next sanctuary of comfort, he swore he heard another creak coming from the tub. He wasn’t certain of it, but he then figured it was either the wind, or the “juice” toying with his mind.
With the snap of the light switch
being flipped on, light protruded into his eyes with a blinding, stinging
feeling. As his pupils adjusted to the
light in a mere second, he gazed hard at the tiled wall of his bath. The creaks of the fiberglass tub became very
pronounced as a dark figure rose up from it.
The mongoose caught the sight of the dreads that barely moved, dangling
above his green shirt that covered his red silk fur. When the figure rose up even higher, almost
becoming fully erect, the mongoose finally caught a glimpse of the tan snout
that identified who the intruder was.
An Echidna, his eyes burning with rage as his brows sharpened his triangle sockets into sharp acute slits.
Even in his high dopamine state, the mongoose realized in utter horror who it was. He tried to walk backwards away from the door frame as his brain tried to make the decision to fight or flight, but he almost tumbled over himself as he tried to maintain his balance. “You– you’re suppose to be DEAD!” he shouted at the echidna in protest at his new reality.
He wouldn’t say another word.
The echidna rose his right arm up, leveling a large metal framed pistol with a large, heavy barrel anchored to the front of the slide.
The mongoose watched as the Echidna’s tendons in his hand flexed his finger.
He felt the force of the impact on his chest, but not the pain. The sounds of the slide working its mechanical journey to chamber a new round was all that he could hear. He didn’t know why, but he found it very hard to take a breath at that dazed moment. Then he felt his knees start to give out. The mongoose only dropped a mere three inches when he felt two more thuds slam into his chest that registered in his brain over his drug induced state. When he began to feel the pain filter in through his nerves, his heart felt as if it was going to explode. He grasped with his left hand at where the three shots had penetrated his furred chest, feeling the blood draining from his body as he tried to protect his mortal wound. Then his pointed ears echoed the sounds of brass falling on the white tiled floor as he fell. He tried hard to get a gasp of air and he was successful, but the long pull from his lungs thundered out as a harsh wheeze.
Finally, his head hit the floor. He was still alive and fighting hard to stay that way, however, with his eyes catching the glimpse of his violet blood pooling around his furred cheek, he realized in shock he wasn’t going to win. Even as the light in his eyes faded to black, he still didn’t feel a thing thanks to the lemon juice that numbed the nerves from the pain of his heart bleeding out.
The Echidna stepped out of the tub, his boots echoing his steps on the tile floor as he threw his face into a harsh angered frown as he watched the mongoose give out the sigh of death. With the harsh expression came the pain from his broad snout, flaming back with a vengeance. He slowly stepped around the lifeless body of the mongoose, his pistol dangling from his hand. And there, he stopped cold as he caught sight of himself in the mirror to his left. The reflection he saw of himself was bawd, grotesque enough that his face grimaced even further with the rage that burned inside him. A rage that overpowered the deep remorse that seemed to whisper to him.
In turn, the long deep cut on his face began to run purple as his blood trailed down over his mouth...rinsed by the tears from his
The wind glided across the mournful day, making the flowers on his chest dance with the elegant breeze. A brownish-tan blanket covered his stomach down to his knees, protecting him from the elements he would never feel. They left his shoes on along with his mittens that held the flowers down over his chest. They knew he would need them in the afterlife somehow, and if not, he would have want them anyway.
Julie-Su was the last to depart, saying her farewells for the last time to her equal, her soul mate. As the sobbing pink echidna glided away from them, Lara-Le and Locke for once in a long while, held each other as they showered their dead son with their tearful eyes. They both felt that it was wrong for Knuckles to look peaceful the way he did. But something in Lara made her bring up a harsher pain than what she and her ex-husband both equally felt; something that made Locke snap his around, even above his sadness.
“Now both of my sons are dead!” she wept out. “I hope Knuckles finally meets him in the afterlife...to find the last lie that we should have never told.”
“It was for the best that he didn’t know about him,” Locke breathed out.
“How do you know?” Lara seethed out over her tears. “It could have sent him on a quest for truth as to what happened to his brother, and possibly had this whole thing averted.”
Locke slowly shook his head as he said nothing.
“But now they’re both dead...” she trailed off as her sobs returned.
Locke looked over at his ex-wife with sympathy in his eyes. “But your carrying again, Lara-Le. You can move on from this with a new life that you and Wyn are about bring into this world.”
“But it won’t be the same without them. No parent should have to bury their sons...”
She broke down even further from the harsher thought that wasn’t of burying Knuckles. “I never buried my son!” she wailed out over Knuckles’ lifeless body. “What mother am I if I didn’t bury my dead son.”
Locke took her once more and squeezed her hands. “Blame me, not yourself,” he said with his best comforting voice.
Lara threw his hands down as she now wanted nothing more to do with him. “I do...along with your selfishness, Locke!” she scowled as she took one last look at her son, rubbing Knuckles on his forehead before she left the both of them...crying as she went along.
Locke watched his former wife leave him once again as he stood century by Knuckles. But what he had said to her over the course of months was a lie...Knuckles’ brother wasn’t dead.
But the secret that he kept, that he feared was true, only wanted him to cry more:
“He’s not dead Lara...but I have this nagging feeling, for his sake, that I wish he was...”