I hear the birds as they chirp outside, and I have difficulty sharing their enthusiasm. A bumbling swimming around my ocean of nothingness, talking in riddles, the confusion is there. Cepheus devilishly drives himself into believing what he does is necessary in his happiness, but does he deserve it? I wonder whether or not I ever actually deserve happiness, there are so many people I have stopped from murdering good people, but I didn't manage to save a child's mother, and because of that, he is forever going to wander around, like me.
This isn't the first time that I have seen the vicious 'thing' approach a youth, with Belladonna, I witnessed the same vicious acts of a mugger, but this time, I could have prevented it. I could have saved this child from enduring the splashes and waves that will eventually drown him. The idea of allowing a small child to be driven to a similar evil of my own is frightening. It's something that I would like to be able to pretend I am not capable of causing, but unfortunately, as proven, I am.
The little boy will forever be forced to spend his days on this green and blue sphere looking for validation without certainty of where he's looking to get it from. He'll begin drinking, and find out that it won't work, and then what? He'll find himself sporting a ski mask and pummeling criminals in dark alleyways. He'll break through past the first layer of his addiction and seize himself a more strikingly powerful sense of pain.
"Orion, it's almost three in the afternoon, and you're still not up," James says with a worrisome stare distorting his face.
Hearing concern from my roommate, who has spent the last couple of days sadder than what I had ever thought possible, is startling. I sit up in my bed and stare back at James with an exhausted glare shining off my face.
"I'm fine, just a little tired is all," I respond trying to sound as assuring as possible.
Truth is, I am not fine, I am far from it, I can literally feel myself fading, and it will only be a matter of time before I am nothing more than a demented memory in the hearts of those that hold me dearest. The light coming from the end of my tunnel was never anything but a freight train coming at me with fierce speed, and turning to run away will merely prolong the attack.
I am almost ready to stop dead in my tracks on the tracks and let it come.
I am almost ready.
James looks at me with skepticism before turning around and departing from view while I lean back in my bed and look up at the ceiling. It's as if he can sense the riddles that I constantly talk to myself in. I feel a vibration coming from my back-pocket, and instinctively, I answer my phone.
"Hello," I utter dryly.
"Yes, Orion, this is your father, and I just wanted to apologize about the other day. I understand that you're angry and upset, I even understand that I am probably the last person that you want to talk to right about now. Still, Belladonna really wants to speak to you, so I thought that I should at least give it a try," Cepheus retorts with a tongue sharp enough to take a stab at my jugular veins by itself.
My tired expression dissolves, I feel my emotions shift to frightening panic.
"What?" I holler at the phone with a fuming anger in my voice.
"Yes, she's very upset, I had to go into the other room just to make this phone-call, she really misses you, and she's about to be missing her legs as well, feel free to pay us a visit," Cepheus concludes with a slyness in his voice that makes me want to climb into the phone and pummel him.
A voice whispers at me, reminding me that pummeling him is what got her in this predicament in the first place. Beyond the phone-call, I notice I also have a voice-mail, a voice-mail from Belladonna. The time of the call is from a couple of days ago, and at a little after midnight. My mind drifts back to the vibration that came from my back-pocket from a couple of days ago, and unsurprisingly, at a little after midnight. I press play on the voice-mail and listen to the obscure screeching.
"Orion, it's Belladonna, anyway, I don't know if you're back from the hunting trip but I found someone for us and I think that I already have about enough to prove his guilt. So, we can go straight to the good part, great, right? Yeah, well, I have been doing some research, and I can't seem to get a read on him. I think that we should break into his house in a couple of days, you know, to get more of a read on him, and then we can go for the kill. He's a middle-aged man, but there's something about him, he does these experiments, I think he might be the one that burnt down that house, you know, with the weird fire and all those colors? Anyway, I hope you enjoy yourself, whether your back or not, take care, bye," I hear from the phone, along with a lot of static before it is replaced by silence.
She was talking about Cepheus, I could have warned her.
I bring myself to my feet with great haste after the voice-mail ends, and I depart from the apartment, nearly shoving James to the ground in the process. The time comes that I am riding speedily across the roads on my motorcycle, not caring if a policeman tries to follow me, only caring about stopping Cepheus from doing whatever it is that he plans on doing. I run a red-light, continuing on my way with hatred in my eyes then I hear something in the back of my head, the sound of a child crying at the top of his lungs.
I refrain from driving into a blue truck, the side of the truck is buried in rust. I stare at it, seeing an importance in it that I can't understand before I hear the voice again.
The voice pierces my ears, taking me deeply aghast before I confirm to myself that the crying child is me, but why is he crying.
There's no reason why he should be crying, no reason at all.
Everything's going to be okay, right?
I'm not so sure, but before I can further comfort the past memory of myself, I realize that I am where I need to be.
I fling the helmet off of my shoulders onto the rocky driveway, and then, I barge into the house, and for the first time, I finally see the rooms for what they truly are. The dull and pale painted living room has holes where nails used to be, and squares cleaner than its surroundings.
Pictures used to be there.
I pivot my stance and behold the television set that rests on the stand.
The screen formerly black, has illuminated, and now, I see a child, me, walking to someone, but who is that someone?
He has dark-black hair and a trimly cut beard along with a smile that I know better than to buy as genuine.
The man holds me into his arms, and all of his emotion begins to glow, and I know that it is real. Just as real as Belladonna's.
I drop myself onto the couch and continue to watch the journeying down memory lane.
"Cepheus, lemme see him real quick," I hear a feminine voice call as the video-tape continues.
"Alright, Liz," a younger Cepheus responded to the voice.
I finally see her, a beautiful lady with gorgeous blonde-hair, and she cradles the infant in her arms happily. She places him down on the floor before sitting with him. She holds a small box in her hands and begins to wind at the handle, turning it while a melody follows, until, "Pop goes the Weasel!"
The baby laughs, and I look on with a certain satisfaction of my own.
"She really was beautiful, your mom," I hear Cepheus inform me as the television screen goes black.
I turn to Cepheus and see his dark eyes looking back at me with a strong sternness.
"Where is Bella," I demand.
"Have you ever read the Bible? Your grandmother practically worshiped the man it was about, and she lectured quite a bit of it to me. Your mother liked it too. I never could really believe in the words myself, but it's not fair to say that there isn't a certain relevance to it.” Cepheus smiled dryly.
The smile isn't real, not like the smile of the man on the television.
“There is actually a moment that came where Jesus withdrew himself into the wilderness; he was filled with all this uncertainty, much like how we've spent our lives. He prayed to God out of desperation, wondering about whether or not the treacherous journeys actually were leading to something. A voice came to him, and he pointed out that nothing good has come from his pandering, and that he should take the side of evil. He ignored them and he was killed," Cepheus explains. "The moral of the story, at least through my interpretation, is that you can't let the right thing take over because it doesn't matter. If you do, you'll without doubt face pointless suffering."
"Where's Belladonna," I say, not looking to hear anymore preaching.
"I need you to understand this before we see her," Cepheus begins.
"Just show me where she is," I finish for him.
Cepheus turns away from me and begins to walk on.
I follow him.
He leads me down the hallway of his house before opening a door.
I walk inside and am taken by what I see.
There are several shelves spread about the walls of the room, each filled with a compelling amount of chemicals, some of them resting in beakers. I notice several syringes and look at them in awe, finding myself at the center of the room. In a corner rests Belladonna, lying unconscious on an examination table.
Cepheus walks on to Belladonna before putting something to her nose, and then, she suddenly awakens. She isn't tied up, but she is not moving, I assume this is because of one of the chemicals fed to her.
Belladonna's eyes rapidly move around the room before focusing on me, and her expression turns to desperation.
"Orion! This is the guy that caused the fire, the fire at Jacob Nelson's, he's responsible for Jacob's death," Belladonna hollers with fear.
"Ah, yes, Jacob Nelson, certainly not my crown jewel, the reason I didn't tell you is because it happened before I knew you were on my side. I was caught off-guard by your guys' arrival, and I started a fire out of panic, the fire was, of course, greatly adjusted by the chemicals scattered about." Cepheus confesses with the littlest of guilt.
"What, Orion, kill this guy, and let's get the hell out of here! I can't move! You have to do something! He has me on some drug!"
"To be fair, it was more than just some drug, it was a nueromuscular-blocking drug, the effects are only temporary, but, Bella, I think that you'll find death to be more permanent."
"Don't hurt her," I intervene on the altercation with cautiousness in my voice.
Almost before the words could escape my mouth, Cepheus reveals a gun in his clutches and shoots Belladonna in the side of the leg. Belladonna lets out a scream of agonizing pain but that is all that she can do to react. I charge toward Cepheus with incredible frustration before Cepheus points the gun in my direction.
I come to a halt.
"Let's not jump to any irrational decisions," Cepheus recommends. "I have absolutely no intentions of killing you, but I need for you to open your eyes and see. She's not like us, she's just some girl."
"Shut up," Belladonna begins to interrupt before Cepheus points the gun at her again.
"She doesn't understand us, and you know this, I don't think I should have to keep having to give you these speeches but you absolutely refuse to listen to the words I am saying."
Cepheus tosses the gun forward into my possession, taking me by surprise, as I look at the gun, puzzled.
"I am giving you the chance to make the right choice."
I look down at Belladonna, looking away from Cepheus. My eyes are becoming watery, drenching the fires.
I wonder, for a moment, just who I am, or who I was.
Belladonna will never understand what I was, she wouldn't walk into the darkness with me, but she could have led me into the light, and what I've become.
"My entire life has been a troubled path to nowhere, never knew what was going to happen next, and I was afraid by it. I was afraid because of a disease that you, like me, have had to live with for your life. You've let it win, you've let it distort and configure everything about you. You've given up, but I haven't, I've only lost sight of that. From now on,” I decide, holding the attention of my father with every word that depletes out of me. "I will only kill those that deserve to die."
I point the gun at my father with a mirthless look on my face, neither happy nor sad, but wanting for the moment to end. I tighten my grip while my father looks on without neither conveying a reaction.
I pull the trigger, and nothing happens.
Yes, maybe there was a small chirp from the gun, but nothing else.
I look back up at my father, and he smiles faintly.
"I am sorry that you feel that way," Cepheus says.
He runs my way grabbing me by the throat until he shoves me viciously into a shelf of chemicals, I fall to my hands and knees, trembling in pain before the shelf falls on top of me.
The striking pain doesn't really bring an audible response out of me but I am unable to move.
"You just couldn't stay away, could you? You ruined everything, you destroyed everything," Cepheus yells out, turning over to Belladonna. “Everything that I worked for. Everything that I've spent my entire life trying to accomplish was for him! I've lost everything, you know, the last person to take something from me, I drugged to death. You're special, you took the last shred of humanity from me, this is about physical pain, I want to make you hurt!” Cepheus hollers with fiery eyes and piercing words.
He begins to circle around Belladonna, he begins to circle around his prey, at the moment, he is the king.
He picks up one of the syringes with fuming frustration, slowly, I crawl out from under the shelf.
I didn't break Cepheus out of his trance as he stares down at Belladonna, he throws the syringe to the ground and he picks up his empty gun and pulls a series of bullets out of his pocket. He puts the bullets into the gun, but alas, before he has the chance to strike, I leap back to my feet and take the switch-blade out from my pocket. I put it up to his throat.
"You deserve to die."
With that, I bring the blade across his throat and leave the blood to flow as he drops lifelessly to the ground, staining the floor.
“No,” are the only words that escape from Cepheus' mouth.
Cepheus lays lifeless on the ground, and I look at Belladonna, her face remains panicked but I can see that she is also relieved.
I drop to my knees.
The end has come.