Chapter 20: Determined
The thrall of the dream released him to a world almost bright. He remembered only clips and pieces of the dream, but he remembered striking down that smug doctor, a hook with his off arm had been enough to send the weakling sprawling to the floor in a cascade of black hair…
X blinked, body tense to trembling on the edge of the futon mattress.
The sound of falling furniture caught his attention and a man with green hair bolted to the woman’s side as she groaned from the floor.
X looked down at his hand in disbelief.
Break everything you touch. Everything. Even the nice ones. You are so fucked.
X pulled himself up, stumbling from the futon and throwing himself up against the wall, almost falling in through the open door of a bedroom. His teeth were clenched and bared, eyes narrowed in anger.
The man with the green hair and funny eye glared over at him from the woman’s side. She started pushing herself up, turning over to hold her cheek.
Her eyes were wide with surprise.
Fuck, fuck, fuck.
“Been swell.” X hissed, snatching his clothes from the top of the closest laundry basket he could see. “Thanks for the eats.” X slid his feet into the unlaced boots.
The man’s eyes were unnerving him. He felt his pulse quicken and he accepted the challenge, looking him right into his cybernetic eye. The man’s eyes widened as the creeping veins of red started to filter into X’s vision.
No, no, no, I said No. X pushed a hand against his forehead, and slammed the other into the wall to drive it off. His coat dangled from one arm.
X shook his head violently, using both hands to pull back his hair and hold onto it as if it was keeping his brain in place. He looked at the floor to focus himself as he edged to the door. Releasing his hair he picked up the clothes he had just dropped and started yanking on his shirt and coat.
She had washed them. “Fuck. Fuck this.” X spat the words, casting wary looks all over the apartment before seeing the door.
“X?” A tiny voice from the direction of the green haired man inquired.
X didn’t look over. He didn’t want to see her. He didn’t want these dreams. He had been perfectly fine without her being in the way. Why did he bother staying? It was the real bed, that’s it. It was just so darn comfortable…
“X, don’t go, it’s all right, you were just dreaming…” The woman said.
The name burned a hole in his chest and he clamped a hand over the offending piece as if he could reach in and tear out the pain.
“My dreams are real. MY dreams. They’re nightmares, all of them.” X blurted, the train of thought derailing as soon as he reached the door.
“It’s all right, X. This is my place, you’re… you’re safe here.”
He heard the catch in her throat but didn’t understand it.
X reached for the door handle and turned it. He hesitated there, staring at the cool wood of the front door.
There was painful silence behind him.
X broke it. “No where is safe. Not where I go.”
X pulled open the door and was gone from that place as quick as his legs would take him – who gave a damn that it was day time? He could hurt and kill now just as good as he could at night. He could cause misery and pain like he could breathe. His tricks still worked, and he used them to duck out of sight and darted down the street like a bat out of hell.
Good phrase, X. Appropriate. You fucking bat.
“I am going to kick his –“ David pushed himself to his feet, making an immediate line for the door.
Lenora used the straps on David’s uniform to yank herself up.
“No, let him go, David!”
Her face hurt. She had one of her cool hands over the afflicted cheek and it was still radiating heat. It stung like a massive bee sting, and her eyes were still hazy.
“Fine. I’m calling the police, then.” David changed his trajectory only slightly in order to get to the ad-screen. He left Lenora standing stunned by the futon.
She felt like her brain was working slower than usual, but when the steady flashing of advertisements on the screen shifted, she snapped out of her daze.
“No, wait!” She called out, darting to the window. She scoured the street for X, but didn’t see him in the artificial morning glow.
“~Make your call~”
Lenora immediately spun and ran across the short space between the futon and the ad-screen. “David, stop!”
She slapped her hand on the ‘disconnect’ button that popped up on the bottom left of the screen, and it once again reverted to cycling ads.
“Lenora! He just flat out punched you. In the face.” David’s eyebrows scrunched together, gathering darkness in his eyes. “And he just killed about a dozen bouncers.”
“He was just dreaming, he didn’t mean it.” Lenora felt the words tumble desperately from her mouth, struggling to argue against David’s logic.
She was finding it exceedingly difficult.
David shook his head and went to make the call again.
“Please wait, David!” Lenora pleaded. She reached out and took David’s extended wrist with both her hands, pulling it away from the screen.
“He’s gone now, okay? We’re even; he and I are even, I saved his life. Besides… it’s not like we know where he went, right? And he didn’t have any identification on him, so we wouldn’t be able to tell them anything useful.”
David eyed Lenora with suspicion. He let his arm fall to his side and Lenora released him. He sighed in frustration, eyebrows still furrowed together. She could almost feel his irritation levels. His ocular device focused repeatedly on a spot on the floor.
Lenora couldn’t blame him. She must look like a total fool, begging him to let a murderer – and they both saw him do it – run loose in the street.
David jerked around to his FloatBoard and shouldered it, then stuffed his hands deep into his pockets. For a long minute they both eyed the floor.
“Fine.” David suddenly blurted. It bruised the silence, and Lenora’s eyes flicked up to his face. He wasn’t looking at her. “You and that guy are done.”
Lenora nodded, finally allowing herself to breathe. David looked at her for another long minute, and she could see his eyes soften.
“I am going to call the police the next time I see that guy, though.” David waggled a warning finger at Lenora.
Lenora smiled, relief flooding her senses, and nodded enthusiastically. Regardless of the fact that the idea of the police getting a hold of X terrified her for some reason, she knew that she wouldn’t be able to argue David out of that train of thought.
At least without making herself look completely insane.
Who am I kidding? She thought. I already look completely insane.
“…Do you need a soda?” Lenora offered, watching his ocular repeatedly focus, the shutter opening and closing.
David mumbled something and pulled a slender can of SuperSoda out of his pocket. “I got it. I’ll drink it on the way.”
Lenora knew how taxing an ocular could be, Renee had told her all about it a while ago. Apparently it feeds off of the inherent energy your brain produces, so David needs the stimulants and nutrients from SuperSoda to keep up with it…
David gave her a brief one-armed hug before he left and from her big window, Lenora watched him walk out into the street. She saw him switch on the FloatBoard and drop it, hovering just above the ground. She stood there and watched him take off down the street, ribbons of ChiMera energy trailed behind the FloatBoard like the image an old-world camera flash leaves in your vision.
Once the image of him had disappeared down the street, Lenora numbly went to the front door to re-engage the deadbolts. As the second one clicked into place, it seemed to echo in her head, and she felt incredibly alone.
Lenora swallowed only to find that her mouth had gone dry. Trembling hands brushed black strands from her face as she slowly moved to the island and robotically put the cereal away. She put one bowl and spoon away – and then as an afterthought put the second set away too. She stood staring at her cabinets for a second before taking a glass, pouring some M1lk into it and calmly swallowing it down. Once she finished it, she carefully put the glass in her tiny sink, and then turned to put both hands flat on the island counter.
Lenora bent her head over her hands, locking her elbows to try and keep them from trembling.
Don’t think about him. Stop thinking about him. It is not healthy. He is a psycho killer. Who knows how many people he has killed? And he laughs when he does it, Lenora! He laughs! David is right you know.
Lenora ground her teeth together and squeezed her eyes shut. Her right hand clenched into a fist and she methodically hit the counter top several times with it; light taps only, just enough for her to try and calm down with the rhythm.
It didn’t work.
If he hadn’t come in when he did, you would be dead. She told herself. He tore his way through that filthy hole and found you. He knew you weren’t one of theirs, he knew you were…different. He saved you. Somehow, what he is doing is right, and you believe that.
Lenora opened her eyes. Her fist was still bouncing on the countertop like a dull metronome. She turned and looked over at the futon, where a layer of towels and sheets still had X-XIII’s blood spattered here and there. She then turned her head to the ad-screen, where the ‘make your call’ screen was still waiting patiently for someone to dial.
Lenora moved to the ad-screen.
One touch of the screen and it had returned to the tedium of advertisements.
From there, Lenora went to her bedroom and removed the scrap book filled with articles and printouts.
All right, M. Jones. Where is X going next?