The hours go by as I start to transition and regress back to an inattentive and disinterested state. I can't remember the last time I was posed a challenge. And, it's funny, because it had been only days ago. The exchange I had with Cepheus has been the only thing in recent memory that vindicated anything in the way of genuine effort on my part.
But I don't have any way of contacting him nor am I led to believe that anything more of a confrontation will occur between us. The hole I was pulled out of by my father has swallowed me whole once more. I am in a rut and I am going nowhere. Beginning to feel bored and dissatisfied with what I am provided. If life's nothing more than a game, then I believe I can call myself the keeper of the high-score. My kill count is largest.
I am tired of jumping over barrels. I want something else. I haven't had time to piece together a scheme, nor do I have time to rifle through pages upon pages of folders, documenting the recent criminal activity over the last couple of months. I am a hunter without a target, and I can't care less about the prey I end the life of. My own teachings feel temporarily obsolete.
All I want to do is kill something.
I figure a mere stroll around the city will suffice in meeting those standards, but I can't afford to be careless. I have allowed for my emotions to overcome my better judgment before, and like stepping on glass and bleeding, I show no intent of ever doing it again. It is irrelevant how disgruntled I am, I will still have to implement everything I do to the best of my ability.
I stand on what is an especially ordinary-looking rooftop, glancing down at the flickering city lights as they sparkle. Beautiful, really. And I can't help but ponder whether or not I should invest in a superhero mobile. The necessity is obvious, and other caped madmen drive them. They also have a clever and witty nickname they call their persona. Before I am allotted the means to offer this much thought, however, my thinking kicks in and I pay recognition to the fact that I am not doing this for the same reason other caped men are.
I wasn't bitten by a radioactive spider and I wasn't overexposed to radiation. I didn't fall into a bucket of chemicals to be the way that I am, I just am. It is comical for me to even refer to myself as anything reminiscent of a hero. Heroes leave criminals restrained and ready to be placed in the back of a police car before being hauled off to prison. I leave criminals ready to be put into a body-bag and placed inside of a morgue somewhere. I find my methods to be better personally.
I walk forward.
I feel trapped in my thoughts again. I take a step back before galloping onward and leaping to the opposing roof.
Some of me wonders whether or not I might prefer if sequences paralleled that of a hero. I would have a clown trying to set the world aflame to keep me company. I don't think wanting a criminal to feed me riddles is too much more for me to ask.
I can feel a downpour of rain begin to shower me, I watch as the rain descends to the ground, the ruthless tapping of the water becomes both visibly and noisily apparent.
The night is young, with the blinding lights of the city leaving darkness almost in the minority. I can hear the sound of a dog barking, and I glance down the rooftop at a small alleyway to see where it's coming from. A man and his white dog stand being drenched with rain. There are noticeable black spots on the dog, I see the man yanking at the leash. The canine returns the favor, eagerly trying to get free while the gentleman only attempts at quieting the roars. The dog's barking refuses to waiver or end. I pinpoint what has held the dog's attention. A lady wearing a gray trench-coat with a white cloche over her head, sitting in a fetal position while she wallows in pain.
The man has little interest in assisting the fallen lady, but The Great Dane remains focused. The dog's persistent and tugs at the leash until finally managing to break free of the owner's grasp. The dog runs over to the petite woman.
Again, the man looks more annoyed than concerned. Glaring at his dog, he makes his way toward the lady and grabs at the leash, neglecting to acknowledge the damsel in distress.
Suddenly, she strikes!
I stand watching while the lady grabs the hand of the man as he is reaching for the leash and pulls him to the floor. An astonished mumbling comes from the man before he slams down against the asphalt. He sounds like he is trying to say something coherent, but can't find the words, it sounds more like a directionless wail.
The woman shoots up to her feet like a rocket and removes the trench-coat, exposing a dark purple and black attire. I feel my eyes widen and my jaw begins to drop. I am almost drooling at the sight. The suit is almost entirely identical to my own. She managed to duplicate the outfit, albeit with alterations to the color, but how? I watch on while she drives a boot to the chest of her fallen prey, unsheathing a lightly-colored sword. The sword marvels in the night.
The man tries to climb and return to a vertical stance. I can tell he isn't sure of what is happening. I can promise he doesn't want to know. Before the man has the chance to stand up straight and regain his composure, the lady drives a boot to the family jewels and brings him to his knees. The dog barks maniacally at the lady, who remains oblivious to the fact. There is no amount of barking that will stop her from doing what she is going to do. That much is clear. The woman pulls her sword back over her shoulder and then swings with all her might.
The man's severed head is sent flying.
I suppose I can write off the theory she is a more lady-like clone of me.
The man's detached skull rolls onward, prettily writing upon the ground as if it were a quill. I can't help but wonder where it is headed off to. Should I have saved him? The small ticklish poke of guilt gives me something close to a headache, but I know it isn't time to lose my head. But I remain entirely frozen in place. The feelings of dissatisfaction for the quiet riptide have washed away and been left alongside a broken castle at the shore. In its place, a massive tidal wave has splashed its way into view. I sink down to the ocean floor, a loss for words entirely. The dog scurries away.
She found her prey, and she caught him, hook, line, and sinker. It's hard to be infuriated because of the questions juggling through my head. I take sight of a rusty ladder protruding from the side of the building, leading to the alleyway, and make my way down without thought, startling my lookalike. She jumps slightly, but regains herself fast, and walks toward me with her sword clamped tightly in her hands. She is ready to fight if the situation asks for it.
“Huh, so you actually do exist, I was beginning to believe that Allen was just blowing smoke. Maybe I shouldn't be surprise, considering he got killed about thirty seconds after one of his last little preachings. Good work by the way,” the purple and black clothed lady says enthusiastically. She sounds giddy, like a fan meeting their favorite actor.
“Thanks, I guess, and who do I have the pleasure of meeting, aside from the horseless headsman over there,” I continue to anticipate a fight, holding my staffs tightly.
We both stop dead in our tracks, looking back at one another in the dead of night.
“It's just a flesh wound on him, he'll be fine. I owe you a type of gratification. I mean, how you inspired me is obvious,” she says while she bows, presenting her attire. “It's funny, I had a beer in my hand, and then, I heard about you. Allen Young's speeches were passionate, but it wasn't the blurting way he spoke that caught my eye. It was simply the words, your name … Poison, isn't it? I'm leaning toward Belladonna myself,” she concludes.
“I don't have a name, just something Cutler came up with. You must be disappointed to not be thanking Allen Young for giving you the inspiration.”
“If you wouldn't have killed Allen Young then you can rest assured I would have. After I found out who he was, or who he really was. It was a long time coming. You know, we might be one in the same, you and I.”
“Somehow, I find that hard to believe.” There is only so many people I can be 'one in the same' with.
I fling my eyes over to the ladder I had slid down, my thoughts racing to when Cepheus made a similar proclamation in my path.
“Well, I can see somebody here is not in the mood for small talk. There's a basketball court not too far from here, and we've got a ball, if that's more your speed,” Belladonna replies, under her mask, I believe I heard a small uncomfortable and nervous chuckle.
“The only thing I wish to know is why you felt it necessary to end the life of this man.”
“Don't tell me the big, bad, Poison is angry at little old me,” she mutters. “The man deserved to die.”
“Don't call me that, and why did he deserve to die exactly?”
“All that you need to know is what I did was for just cause. I would never take the life of somebody that didn't deserve it. That's why we are one in the same. That's why I was inspired by you.”
“I need more than that, because the answer can mean the difference between life and death for you.”
“I'm shaking,” Belladonna says before giggling, this time I hear it plainly, she hides some slight intimidation. “I'm disappointed, I expected someone a little less intense and boring.”
I watch as she turns from me and begins to depart. She stomps her feet like a small child that didn't get what they wanted. In an effort to remedy that, I throw my switch-blade in her direction. The knife spins and twirls before striking the side of the brick-wall Belladonna is standing beside. Striking the wall, and barely missing the back of her skull, the blade ricochets to the ground.
Belladonna turns around and slowly points her sword in my direction.
She isn't afraid. Why is nobody ever afraid?
We both make our way toward one another, staring eye to eye. Her sword isn't enough to cut the tension, and there's the metaphorical sound of gears turning in both of us. She makes a brash attempt at the first swipe with her sword, hoping to get an easy-kill. Her intentions concluded when I block the attempted attack with one of my staffs.
The sword clings against it, leaving her looking on; irritated. In rapid movement, I make strides at bringing my other staff to her midsection but she manages to clutch it in her hand. She throws her foot in the air before clashing it over the staff, removing it from my clutches. It allows her to make an undertaking at my expense and my misfortune. She swings her sword at me once more. I duck beneath the failed effort and hear the swishing sound of the blade. If I hadn't moved, I would have been another severed head on the pavement. I drive my staff to her back, ramming her against the brick-wall. This pins her against the wall before she breaks free by driving a forearm to my temple and sending me stumbling backward.
She flings the staff she had taken from my grasp to the floor, deciding it is of little use to her before turning and trying for a strike. I block the attack with my staff, counting my lucky stars she didn't manage to slash through it, and, well, … me. She uses it as a chance to drive a boot to my stomach. Down to one knee, I am left for Belladonna to followup with a roundhouse kick to the side of my skull. The attack sends me trembling down to the ground. She didn't connect very well, but even the smallest touch is enough to take me almost completely down for the count.
The near-concussion caused by Branden Cutler and his goons hasn't been forgotten. My black-gloves fall into the blood ridden ground. If not for the adrenaline pumping itself through me, I likely would have already fell unconscious for the third time. She brings her sword up into the air. Soaked by the rain, I can see the glisten off the blade.
She is going for the kill.
It is clear she feels nothing ending the life of her inspiration. I roll out of the way and make it back to my feet. But, within seconds, the aching agony of defeat comes back. My head hurts, but I turn to see her heading my way again, swiping my way with her sword. I back away.
The ringing sound made from the sword striking against the ladder is loud, but it isn't as loud as the shriek from Belladonna when I drive my staff to the side of her leg.
She trembles to the ground, resting in the puddles of blood made from her first kill, but only after driving her sword to the back of my leg. The wound obtained is nothing fatal. But I can still feel the blood begin to trickle down. Falling on my chest, I am resting beside Belladonna. Both of us drenched in blood and rain.
It is a bloodbath.
A colorful and ever delightful bloodbath!
We both find our way back to our knees, leaning up against one another, using each-other as a crutch. The moment comes when we are face to face and staring eye to eye.
There is something strange overtaking me. Something I have never felt before. And maybe it's brought on by the romantic setting, but within seconds, my mask is off. As is hers. And we're kissing.
I feel the blood drip down my spine as I am leaned against the brick-wall by Belladonna. The man's severed head watches me avenge his murder.
The taste of blood is intoxicating.