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The Cellar City Chronicles

By Oru Manna All Rights Reserved ©

Other / Scifi

Chapter 35: Old Habits

Trap stared out of the big double window in Lenora’s apartment. Just as soon as the girl turned away and started fretting about the kitchen, his eyes tracked X-XIII’s movements down the alley across the street.

“Mrow.”

The data he had collected from the initial scan of the troubled young man had been startling. However, deciding that he would much rather have such a creature on his side, he had been rather friendly. What had really been the benefit of that impromptu acquaintance had been meeting Lenora.

What a darling girl.

Of course, she was a fool if she thought she could heal whatever ailed X.

Trap shivered, shaking out his tired mechanical limbs and wobbling onto his side.

Blasted busted leg. If only he had been more careful crossing the street. If only hooligans didn’t haunt every turn, with their headlights off and their whooping and hollering.

Well. There was a thought. The cast worked better then having the thing dangling about, but there had to be a better solution. What with the lack of opposable thumbs, Trap was useless at self-repairs. (A poor idea when coming up with a robot, truly.)

Trap heaved himself up and loped awkwardly off of the futon-sofa, shuffling over to bump his head into Lenora’s leg.

Poor girl.

She was standing in front of the simmering soup, just staring at it like a lost child.

“Mrow?”

Lenora looked down at Trap and suffered through a bit of a smile.

“At least you’re still here, Trap.” She knelt down and gave him a pat on the head.

“Mrow.” Where else would he go? This place was safe for now, and warmer and drier then outside in Cellar City. And he didn’t have to worry about hooligans.

“I…I don’t know what to do, Trap.” Lenora sniffled, running a hand idly down his patchy fur.

“Mrow?” Oh no, was she going to cry?

He could see her eyes fogging up and he nudged her hand with his forehead, getting a little wobbly in the process. She shouldn’t cry. He hated seeing ladies cry. Perhaps he could distract her? Yes, his leg! He had tromped over here to have her look at his leg! Wouldn’t she look at his leg now?

“Mrow?” He persisted, slumping over onto his side, the stumpy tail thwomping against the floor in no particular rhythm.

“You’re right, Trap.” Lenora wiped her eyes with the back of one hand and set her chin. “I shouldn’t cry. I should… I should keep busy.”

“Mrow.”

Lenora smiled a watery smile at Trap and rubbed his belly before she started to inspect his cast. Furrowing her brow in thought, Trap watched her for any sign of revelation.

He didn’t catch any. Ah well, she must not be a mechanic.

“You know… I may know someone who can fix your leg.’ Lenora ran a hand through her hair, and cast her eyes towards the ad-screen. “She usually works on Vehicles though… But maybe David will know something!”

Trap watched her smile brighten to genuine and he nuzzled her hand again.

Atta girl. Be strong!

“I could just invite them both over – for… soup.” Lenora swallowed hard, and shook her head, giving Trap one more pat on the head for good measure before rising and crossing to the ad-screen to make her call.

As unfamiliar voices answered, Trap struggled to his feet and sidled back to the window. He climbed awkwardly back onto his perch and watched the streets.

X was gone now. For a moment Trap was afraid that he had lost X for good – but one sidelong glance at Lenora banished those fears. His search was over. X wouldn’t leave Lenora alone for long – and if he tried, she would go seek him out. Trap could tell these things.

But he would be back.

And ‘Trap’ would be waiting.


“Hey kid, I haven’t seen you in a while!” Westy called past the thick glass of his convenience booth.

X hazarded a look up and nodded in Westy’s direction. He kept his hands at his sides and his fists clenched.

Don’t want to cause an accident, do you?

“Shut up.” X hissed.

“What was that?” Westy put a hand to his ear as if to say he hadn’t heard what X said.

X shook his head sharply, and hurried past. “Nothing. Warm night. Behave yourself.”

The simple good-natured chuckle that was his response grated finely on X’s nerves, and he pushed his fingers into his palms until his knuckles ached.

Just go kill something, you’ll feel better, promise.

X snarled, pulling his coat tighter to his sides, and ducking his head away from any passerby that might see his face.

No one can see you, remember? Or if they do, they just don’t care. You’re a ghost. Just like you’re supposed to be.

“Fuck you.” X ground his teeth tighter together and glanced both ways before darting across the street and towards the ladder on the side of an unsuspecting building.

Maybe he could just settle down on the roof again, go out when he had collected his thoughts. It was getting harder to focus, the more he went without…

Killing people?

X slammed a palm into his forehead to knock out the nagging voice that chuckled there. X suspected it had something to do with him and his shocking little ability to drain energy – ChiMera energy – from buildings and things. But it was too difficult for him to tell if that actually helped him or not. Or maybe, he was always a little crazy and now he was just used to it.

Or you just like killing people. Just admit it.

X pulled himself up the ladder and tried to breathe evenly. Sure. He liked to kill people. It felt a lot better knowing that they were all scumbags. He felt… vindicated. Maybe that’s not the right word. He felt like the vigilante they called him in the papers.

Westy liked the articles related to him. He used to tell X all about the mystery man who came into clubs and annihilated the bouncers and freed all the hookers.

Best charity ever.

X pulled himself over the side of the building and let himself deflate against the balustrade there.

“Ok fine, what will make you go away?” X muttered to himself.

If you go kill some assholes I’ll shut up for a while.

“Screw off.”

What? I thought you liked killing?

“Not as much as you do.”

Very funny. Hey, didn’t you say you were going to clean up this filthy city?

“I think that was you.” X wrapped his arms around himself, and shimmied down on the wall. It was a bit damp tonight.

You’re going to let these horrible people do these horrible things?

“None of my business. I just want…. I want my answers….”

Well then get up off your ass and look for them! They aren’t just going to appear in your lap.

“I tried. It doesn’t work.”

That’s because you aren’t using your brain.

“It’s fried.” X chuckled.

Find the big guy.

“The who?” X furrowed his brow, blinking away the confusion that followed.

The big guy. The one who shot you. You owe him a visit.

“How the hell am I supposed to find him?”

Go to one of the clubs. Stalk around. Don’t cause trouble. Wait until you see him and follow him home.

X mulled this over. On the outside it seemed like a great idea; just pop in for a visit, scare him a bit, get him to answer all of his questions…

And not kill anyone.

You are no fun when you’re like this.

“Fuck you.” X squinted his eyes shut and put his palms for the floor he was sitting on. He thought this might help clear him up – there were lights on in the building beneath him. Maybe…

See? Your brain isn’t fried. You’re just a lazy lab rat.

“Shut up.”

I bet if those lab coats hadn’t been there to feed you, you would have died of starvation.

“Shut it.”

And if Lenora hadn’t saved your poor little skinny ass you would be dirty and homeless, too!

“Never mention her again! Do you understand me!? I will kill you!” X’s eyes flew open and he lashed out the words to the empty rooftop, spitting venom and daggers from his gleaming eyes.

After the outburst, as he sat huffing and puffing, he ground his teeth together one more time and pulled. It was the only way to properly describe it. It was as if his soul reached down and grabbed the soul within the power lines in the building and pulled them up and free of their restraints. In an instant X’s head was thrown back, and his eyes went blind with light. His skin tingled on the verge of a burn and every vein turned to acid and napalm.

X screamed.

But at least the voice had shut up.

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35. Chapter 35: Old Habits