Belladonna doesn't understand.
I am not a silent protector of the innocent. I don't creak in the cracks and crevices of this troubled world to save the fallen from wrongness. She spirals, twists, and bends over backward for the benefit of the world in a way that I cannot. Do I hold envy toward her? She had the privilege of understanding the disease before feeding it everything it wanted. Yes, but I am too blinded by the addiction to allow for these feelings to swarm into my hive of isolation, my pyramid of blackness, the tower of despair, as well as other synonyms that may follow.
She has found a way to control what she is, to release the evil, in a way that doesn't entirely consume her. It is hard to accept that she's departing from my life, after all, for a time, she stood as the most important figure residing within it, and even still, I hold a certain fondness for her.
I wish her the best, and hope she is able to overcome all of her obstacles, and to leap all the hurdles that the disease will surely provide her. I stare own at the blackness from the rooftops, not wearing a ridiculous costume, not pretending to be a hero, but instead having a motorcycle helmet around unheroically over my head.
I also wear my new black leather jacket, which also has a yellow stripe on the sleeves.
Cepheus insists that we should take baby-steps away from my old ways, not discarding of them instantaneously, but allowing them to fade away in time. He thought that this last time on the rooftops, this last time galloping over buildings, could be permitted. He didn't much approve of me wearing the motorcycle helmet the whole time, believing it to be another example of me trying to hide from what I truly am, but I convinced him that it was necessary.
Cepheus and I both walked around the rooftops, I looked down at all the civilians below, pondering as to whether or not they would go to a desolate location in the future.
“I spoke to Belladonna,” I say plainly.
“She doesn't understand us, Orion,” Cepheus replies. “You need to stop seeing her, you're only going to make this transition harder on yourself. You need to let go of her, she's not one of us.”
“I know,” I say with a firmness in my voice. “I don't need you to keep reiterating it.”
“Apparently, you do,” Cepheus responds, frank.
I turn around from Cepheus and moments later, I feel his hand over my shoulder. It'll be another time for him to haphazardly attempt normality and fail.
“You want to connect with someone, but the pill will be easier to swallow if you stop trying to fight it. You don't love her; you love the idea of her. The idea of getting to be something that you know you'll never have the chance to be. And you can't do that. You can't allow yourself to constantly feel inferior; you can't let yourself think that you are lesser to the extent you need someone like her. And, Orion, if by some chance, you really loved her, you wouldn't want her to be around you,” Cepheus explains.
I can tell he's working me in the same manipulatively way he always done. I shot a look to him, one that he cannot see past the helmet, and I at least know what he's saying is the truth. I have been deluded into formulating this artificial and fictitious reality, passing off what I have created as real acquaintanceship with those wandering around me, but it was never real. I was never meant to be happy, what I was meant to do was bring the conclusion, but bringing the conclusion is something that brings me the closest thing I have ever had to honest happiness.
The stars in the sky are sparkling brighter than I have ever seen before. I look at them, admiring fondly.
I am almost able to depict the sight of a man on one knee holding a club in one hand and a lifeless lion in the other. The imagery dissolves into the blackened sky, and I blunder onward, half-wanting to disappear into the stratosphere before remembering where I am.
With this, a swish and swash of uncertainty overwhelms me, and for the first time that I can remember, I feel afraid.
I am afraid of carrying on what I am doing, afraid of walking any closer to the vicious and remorseless brick-wall. As if a veil of darkness magically draped over my head has been pulled off, I look down and almost have to shield my eyes from the city-lights, even with my helmets clear vision, before my focus returns to Cepheus. Breaking down the walls of silence, I hear the unique and distinctive sound of dismay, a woman's desperate wail, a shriek becoming familiar to me.
I have heard these cries before, and now, something has awoke inside of me.
“Come on,” I say to Cepheus with a sense of urgency in my voice.
“Why?” Cepheus retorts casually.
“Forget it,” is my response before I charge away from Cepheus.
I charge down from the buildings, feeling something, not new, but returning, push and shove its way back inside of me. After galloping over many small spaces between each structure, I make a leap of faith across one of the frameworks with a significant gap, and nearly fall, but manage to keep my balance. Unchanged and unaffected, I continue forward, the stars aligned in my favor, the hunter in my favor, I continue trying to discover where the cries of the woman in-trouble are coming from.
I turn and I don't see Cepheus on the rooftop where I left him, but it doesn't faze me, and I regain my focus. The air beginning to sooth me, and my surroundings beginning to become more and more vivid until finally, I spot who I have been looking for. A little boy and his mother, I have seen this before, but this time, I can stop it from happening. The mugger is pointing a gun in the mother's direction as she helplessly rummages through her purse, looking for money, or whatever it is that the mugger desires. The little boy is hugging his mother's leg and has tears running down his eyes.
I carefully descend from the rooftop from a ladder attached to the side of the building before finding myself behind the man. I bring myself forward with as much discreetness as possible, and watch as the little boy takes sight of me, his mother too preoccupied to notice. I put my fingers to my lips and request he silence himself and feel an uncanny feeling of déjà vu. The only difference is I can stop history from entirely repeating itself.
I can stop this little boy from losing his mother, and I can keep him from having to spend the rest of his life blindly searching for salvation, and living in fear of the brick-wall that towers him. The little boy nods his head softly, obliging to my requests, and I begin to step closer and closer to the mugger.
“You better hurry up, trigger-finger's feeling frisky, hate for a little boy to grow up without a mom,” the man says before shaking the gun around in his hands.
I finally find myself standing just a few short feet away from the man, determined, the snake slithers from its hole, and I charge my way onward toward my prey. I take him off of his feet, sending him to the concrete ground and bringing for me to fall on top of him. The gun dispatches from his hands and is sent whirling out the clutches of the man before the mother picks it up with shaking hands. I pull the man back to his feet and lean him against the wall.
“I stopped you from making what would have been the biggest mistake of your life, and even now, the mistake you have made instead is large and fatal,” I say with a coolness and certainty in my voice.
“Bullshit,” the man responds, shaking, and trying to pull free.
The man headbutts me in the skull, breaking me out of my spell and I begin to search for my composure. He throws a punch at me, sending me spinning before I drop to one knee, he leans my head to the side of the brick-wall before backing away. I have flashbacks of Branden Cutler pushing my head against a headlight. He runs at me with vile intentions weighing on his mind. I manage to turn and roll forward, landing on my feet and causing for his knee to nearly crush itself into the wall. He turns around, pampering his wounds and I wail on him with a compilation of fists to the skull.
I throw my punches to the face of a man who tried to take the life of a child's mother, a person who tried to leave a little boy journeying down the same checkered path that my pieces move on. He falls, blood staining the wall, and I back away, I back away with something reminiscent of genuine satisfaction before bringing my attention back to the family of two. Both the child and mother visibly shaken from the events leading up to this moment. I step onward, closing nearer to them, and they back away, frightened.
I see their expressions alter with a moment's notice before turning to see the man running back at me. I penetrate the flesh of his chest with my switch-blade and toss him roughly to the ground, hearing the awakening crack of his cranium as it drives into the floor. I rest my head against the brick-wall, contemplating, trying to figure out what is happening to me. A remorseless and ever rampant raging rapid of exchanging ideas circulate within me.
Should I do this, or what about this?
I drop to my knees, trying to make sense of this all. I return to my feet before ripping the helmet off of my face and throwing it to the opposite wall of the alleyway.
“Goddammit, this isn't how it's supposed to be!” I yell aloud. “It isn't supposed to be this hard!”
I look away from the family, my heart drowning itself. Even if I don't know exactly what a heart drowning feels like, I know that is what's happening. My hair drapes over my eyes, and I bring my fingers through it, gouging at it. I finally understand what it's like to want to rip my hair out. I hit my head against the brick-wall faintly, again, again, and again. The question is asked repeatedly with great haste, and never fails to reiterate itself to the point of excess, but the answer isn't anywhere to be seen.
A sound is made apparent to me, and I glance next to where the child is standing and take behold of Cepheus walking beside them. His eyes wander off to the body that I left a useless heap, and then, he smiles broadly, before continuing his way into the alleyway.
“You've done well,” Cepheus acknowledges with enthusiasm.
I continue staring at my father with a dumbfounded expression on my face; a look of uncertainty in myself, and bewilderment in what has transpired. He looks back at the mother who clutches her son's hand, absolutely thrilled that she is still alive. Excited for all the birthday parties, graduation ceremonies, and all the other events she'll get to be there for in the future.
“Since you got that one, I think it's only fair that I take this one,” Cepheus utters.
I look at him, confused, before immediately turning my expression to panic. I nudge myself away from the wall and plunge myself toward him, he doesn't wait for me to arrive, and instead, he sends a bullet spiraling onward and into the skull of the mother. She drops to the ground slowly, first to her knees, and then, Cepheus pushes her forward, causing her to fall face-first against the concrete pavement.
My entire world is set ablaze as digestion of the act commences, the demented dancers formerly parading around my demented but humble abode are now shedding tears. The snake cowering back in its fortress, and I watch the expression of the small boy change just as well. I couldn't save him, I merely gave him a sight of hope, and took it away.
Everything ceasing, the blindfold is gone, but in its place is a feeling of whiteness.
I fall toward my father, I fall to one knee, by face resting against his chest. I can feel the tears running down.
Suddenly though, the whiteness is white rage, and I throw an elbow to his sternum, climbing to my feet. He falls to the floor roughly, clearly not expecting for his sinister smile to change, and I begin to pummel him with punches to the face. I let up, I see the little boy running away. He's running away from Cepheus and I, but he's also running away from something else. He's running away from something of greater purpose, a metaphor with excruciatingly powerful realism.
I bring my way to my feet, leaving Cepheus unconscious on the ground, and I look up at the stars. I see a man holding his arms aloft, praying for something, praying for salvation, and I know that he'll never get it. The stars begin to blacken, vanishing entirely from my view, and a lavish smile stretches my face. I turn to the brick-wall, the brick-wall that has forever towered over me, pulling the strings, and hiding everything in question from view.
There is nobody to stop me.
I turn around.
I turn around away from the constant never ending suffering that has been brought. I turn away from the brick-wall towering over me, and I walk away. I'll never be able to completely dispatch this disease out from inside of me, but I don't have to allow for it to consume me.
I see this now with firm clarity.