A tooth for an eye
A deathly silence filled the mall. Drowning out even the din of the hordes of furries banging sofly on the glass of the icerink. The sporadic bursts of gunfire from the mercs.
Carpenter and the French assassin hired to kill him locked swords again but stopped for a moment. Frozen like the skeleton crew on whose ship they were stowaways. It was as if they’d both realised they were interrupting some pantomime on a stage. An audience of people watching them in stunned silence.
They both felt naked and out of place for a second.
Carpenter looked over at the icerink. The Frenchman who’s eyes were still sealed blood opened one corner of an eye to look over to see what he was looking at.
Carpenter let out a sad laugh and a sadder smirk and said “I guess there goes the star of the show”.
Evergreen watched in silence, his face wooden but lined like an armrest on an old bench.
“Sir, we need to go”
“The shows over” Rigby said.
He sighed in agreement and squeezed the hand rail on the second floor balcony. Then released it and turned to walk over to Rigby. “You’re right”.
“YOU WILL DIE BY THE TIP OF MY SWORD THIS DAY!!!!”
“What the fuck?” Evergreen mouthed.
TJ drew his sword slow, the cold made it stick but it didn’t matter. Soon it would be warm with blood and it would rust and then it would never go back in the sheathe ever again.
His face was a mask of cold angry tears. A well of loss and desolation poured from the deepest pit of his self loathing. Filling every inch of his body with tremulous rage.
He felt light but strong, like he was vibrating, like every cell was awake and a sleep at the same time. Existing in the spaces between this world and the next. Ready for death and for life and for everything in between.
The sword glistened over his head, his eyes closed, his feet rooted in the ice. He looked like a statue. Like a weathervain, like the world would freeze over and he’d still be standing there just like that. Waiting for lightning to strike him and the ragnarok to begin.
“I’m gonna cut off your arm.” He said calmly like he wasn’t even in the room like he was talking to someone on the phone. He readied his sword in front of him and took a mountainlike stance. Were those his words, or someone else’s, did it matter?
The eviscergrator shrieked like a ghoul and started it’s blades whirring again. Those pumps and shafts and pistons firing building up heat. He was drenched in her, there was nothing left, nothing recognisable. She was in a thousand pieces, never to be put back together again.
He sniffed and closed his eyes and listened, darkness, whirring. The smell of coppery blood on steel.
“Are you ready?”
Some time had passed and below the pirate ship where there was supposed to be water. Was now a sea of hungry furry multi-coloured hands reaching up.
Murray was getting really dizzy from hanging upside down and had contemplated throwing. But the last thing he needed was sick on his own face at this juncture. So he watched and waited praying that the least crazy survivor might cut him down or at least clean his face.
Still their swords locking clinking and sliding. The frenchman’s eyes moved to the icerink and then down a the throng of furries waiting for them in davy jones’s locker. Just for a second a lapse of concentration. Carpenter struck hitting him in the bridge of the nose with the guard of his cutlass staggering him.
The Frenchman fell back touching his face and feeling the blood in disbelief. His eyes welling.
Carpenter gave pause for a moment to gloat, the first solid blow he’d landed on the slippery Frenchman.
“I’ll admit, the time I have spent with you has been for lack of a better word ’fun;.” He said as he moved the blood from his nose inbetween his two fingers. “’Interesting’ might be a better word.” He said still looking down. “But you see, I have a job to do”. He took up an aggressive stance. His front foot light and lifted, his back planted and he pointed the tip of the sword at Carpenter. “Playtime is over nes pas?”
It was over in a moment. All that force and speed and energy culminating in a blinding clash of white light. A deafening noise like the crack of thunder.
Evergreen squeezed the railing of the second floor balcony even harder. The wood and steel straining in his grip.
“Impossible” he said under his breath.
“Jesus Christ” Rigby said looking over his shoulder.
TJ stood with the blade held out in front of him, his clothes tattered and hanging from him. Little scratches and grazes all over his face and torso and arms like he pissed off a thousand cats all at once.
There was a dull whirring sound behind. The sound of a motor spinning out and loosing friction, cogs clanking dead with no teeth. A coughing spluttering noise and sparks flying.
The Eviscergrater 2.0 was a few feet behind him struggling to stay up right on the ice with one arm. The other arm had slid off by the edge of the icerink. It was stumbling about off balanced by the missing limb spilling. A black substance pouring out of the hole in it’s arm, spreading across the ice. A lone spark from the damaged electronics set the oil ablaze. In a matter of moments the Eviscergrater was engulfed in flames. It sparked and fell into it’s own firey footprint.
TJ fell to his knees stabbing the blade into the ice trying to stay standing. He looked back at it and watched it burn.
“Huh” He said absentmindedy. “Smells like fondu.”
The Frenchman launched at Carpenter with the zeal of a man half his age and half his size. Moving with precision and grace. It was like his feet weren’t even on the floor. They were fluttering above it, on the tips of his toes, dancing and rotating his hips for more speed and leverage.
A relentless barrage of thrusts were launched at Carpenter. A wall of points coming towards him. He had no recourse but to back up but he cast a quick glance behind him and realised he was running out of space to back up to. There was no way he could fend it off in anyway, the speed and amount of thrusts was just plain cheating.
He kept moving backwards as the wall of spikes got closer and closer like a trap in an Indiana Jones movie.
Carpenter put out his hand and said “Wait”.
The Frenchman stopped and smiled and said “Yes?”
Carpenter sucked his gums for a second to buy himself more time and said “Why don’t we make this interesting?”
The Frenchman smile got even bigger because it sounded like begging to him and he loved begging. He scoffed and said “It’s already interesting” and continued to move closer.
Carpenter was pushed further back he was a foot from the edge of the ship. He could hear them getting louder, they knew what was coming, those things below.
“Wait” He said again, tapping his chest with a balled up fist, holding out his other hand he coughed up a coin.
The Frenchman stopped with a disgusted look on his face and made a gagging noise.
Murray heard the gagging noise and instantly vomited all over his own face and glasses. “Goddamit” He squealed. “It’s in my eyes!”
Carpenter held up the coin and said “We flip for it.”
The Frenchman got his composure back in an instant and said “Flip for what?”
Carpenter smiled “Who goes on the end of the plank”.
TJ started to get up with a laboured creaking in his knees and an anguished groan. He squinted and felt a chill as a wind got in all the tiny cuts on his body. His bones felt soft and scraped against eachother as they moved.
The warm glow of the Eviscergrator burning lighting his face and back.
Suddenly a quick fluttering sound like the wings of pigeons. And then a sharp plinking snapping sound as he fell back to the ice like a sack of baked potatoes. He breathed out shifting tiny particles of ice on the surface of the rink and saw a metallic foot gripping the ice.
His sword seemed lighter and he looked at it and it was snapped in half like a twig. The jagged tip still embedded in the ice.
He looked up and saw the Lancer standing over him with those cold smiling one green one blue eyes. He kicked him hard in his soft gut and sent him flying across the ice like a fat pink hockey puck. He hit the wall of the icerink with a loud thud that shook the whole wall. Exciting the furry windowlickers on the otherside.
The Lancer stopped to look at the balcony and at Evergreen and Evergreen nodded at him.
A coin flipped through the air. Laura’s face followed it with an awed silence and then it came down on the back of Carpenter’s dirty hand.
“Damn!” He said as he looked at it under his other hand.
The Frenchman chortled as he looked over at the coin and said “Heads you lose.”
Carpenter sighed and his face got drawn and lined and serious. He disspeared the coin up his sleeve like a magician and started his long walk to the end of the plank.
He walked up and climbed the edge of the ship. He put a foot on the shakey piece of wood sticking out like a tongue over the sea of zombie furries below.
“Shit.” He said as he started to edge along it, it creaked and shifted and wobbled with every step, bouncing under his foot.
He slowly walked to the end keeping his balance. He turned with the sword in his hand to ready himself standing as still as he could.
The Frenchman instantly got nervous. Part of him was sure Carpenter would have just lost balance and he wouldn’t have had to make the trip at all. He took his time climbing over the edge of the ship and putting both hands on the plank. He looked up at Carpenter and smiled and Carpenter shook his head. The Frenchman grinned even wider and started to shake the base of the plank.
Carpenter started to wobble trying to keep his sword point forward. One leg went out as he tried to keep balance and he made a face at the Frenchman who laughed and said “Just kidding”.
He started to climb up onto the plank. Shakey at first but he got his footing easily and his natural gracefulness came back. Within an instance he was upright in front of Carpenter in his en guarde position once again. The horde of hungry furries only a couple of feet below them.
“En guarde” He said again.
TJ stirred on the ice. His eyes blinking open and closed as he watched the blurry silver figure coming closer to him. His feet sounding like cleets on the ice.
He grabbed TJ by the wrist and wrung him around on the ice. Dragging him into the centre of the rink like a frozen side of beef.
TJ was done, the last kick had knocked the wind out of him literally and figuratively. He could barely stand and had no weapon or hope or will left to fight something like that for the second time today.
He just let it go, barely conscious, he looked up at the silvery sliver of death and saw nothing human about it. No empathy, or pity, or love. Just a cold hard sliver of ice that gets caught in your eye as someone skates past you.
It looked down at him and then around as if to an audience and then at Evergreen again.
Evergreen didn’t say a word or move a muscle, he just stared on indifferent.
The thing stood motionless for a moment the lance at its side, holding TJ by the back of the neck like a trophy.
He let him drop to the ice, TJ lay flat and motionless looking up at the lofty high ceiling of the mall spinning above him. The cold feeling spreading all over him, numbing him, taking him far away. Then the silver thing got in his eye again, standing over him. Regarding him as a child might stumbling upon a beached whale in the middle of the artic.
Those smiling eyes cutting through the blur. Rising again and in it’s stead a steely foot floating over TJ’s head. Getting closer and closer and closer and then blackness.