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14. Torn – End of Absolutism

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My assignment was simple:

Get Set to the alley. Employ any means necessary. Don’t get killed.

Where would I find him? The bar. He had business to tend to with Harley. So I headed there early, so I could be there first. Rev would take care of getting Payge where she needed to be. And Angyl was waiting for us in the alley.

There was one alley where all-important events took place. My grandfather died in it. Angyl’s aunt died in it. I think Rev’s cousin died there. It was a center of tragedies. It was just that simple. All things came back to it. You could feel the pain there, blood permanently soaked into the walls. It wouldn’t fade – it would never die. If you listened, you could hear the screams and the cries for help or mercy. Listen well. It’s there. Trust me.

I went to the bar early, sitting idly. Harley was busy helping people. My mother was home tonight, working on her latest project. I was glad for that, I didn’t want her to know about this. She’d be suspicious if she saw me talking to Set. Gin was here tonight, cleaning things idly. She had a job. Harley was looking after her. Harley’s own daughter was floating around tonight as well. She was younger; she sat in a corner and drew mostly. She just liked to be with her parents, and the people. They inspired her.

 

I sat at the bar, sipping at a drink idly. They let us drink, “us” being Rev and I. And “they” being the family. But only as long as they monitored our progress. We weren’t allowed to get totally smashed. Which made sense. And worked out well for us. We needed to have our senses about us at all times.

Harley was watching me, I could feel her eyes shift to my end of the bar every so often, but she kept at her pace anyways. I was sitting there, minding my own business. My mind was racing; I was trying desperately to calm it down, slow the pace. I had made my decision. And I would stick with it. This would be it. We would help kill the Drakes. She needed help. She needed us. And we would do as we were asked. I was told to simply deliver a message. And go with him. And that was it. I had the simplest job of all. Barely hands on. Rev had the tough part. And Angyl. She would do the actual deed. I just had to lead the lamb to the slaughter. That’s all.

Every time I heard the door close, I wheeled around on the stool. And every time, it wasn’t whom I wanted. I saw strangers come in that I’d recognized from the funeral. They must have been in town for a while. Their features were indiscernible. I didn’t think about them, continuing to sip my drink, thinking to myself. I heard the door open yet again. I wheeled around involuntarily. No.

Another few minutes went by before the one slam I was waiting for. I could feel it. The door open and close, the sudden rush of wind, sweeping in dirt, a person in the cloud. I wheeled around, seeing him in the doorway. He took a quick glance around, moving steadily to the bar. He sat down at a stool a few away from me, running a hand through his hair. Harley came over to him. They had a few words, they smiled back and forth, and she moved away to get him a drink. I decided I’d let him get through most of it before I broke the news. He seemed nice enough. I sat there, watching him.

He was smooth in his movements, nothing out of place or clumsy about him. At all. He spoke beautifully, most of his sentences short and to the point. He seemed like speaking was unfamiliar. It made sense. But he also had warmth to him though mostly vague warmth. It was only present in the rare genuine smile, the gleam of the eye. Mostly, he was indifferent. He simply was. This was whom I was waiting for. This was Set Drake. His true name was Dante, but it was deemed too formal. So, he was referred to by Set, his middle name. He was one of a pair of twins. The only son of the long dead legends. I could feel his eyes sweep over the place, resting on me for a moment. I’d turn – take a few more sips. Ignore him. I’m not here. Not now. Don’t figure it out – don’t be obvious.

“Aren’t you a little young to be drinking?” I heard. I looked next to me, finding that he’d gotten up, shifted down the bar, and sat next to me, without so much as a sound. Or maybe I was just that oblivious. I shrugged.

“Maybe. What’s it to you?”

He shrugged. “Curious.”

“Curiosity killed the cat.”

“You don’t say, huh?” He smiled a little grin. “Guess what then?”

“What?”

“Meow.”

And he went back to his drink. And I went to mine. We just sat there, staring straight ahead. When he got bored of that, he turned his eyes back to me. I kept drinking.

“Do I know you?” he questioned. I nodded.

“My mother introduced us the other day. My name is Maven Merrick.”

He nodded his head a few times. “That’s right. You’re Pan’s kid.”

“Pandora,” I corrected him. He laughed.

 

“Yeah. Her.”

And the silence settled back in. For a few minutes more.

“What brings you here?” I asked him. He shrugged.

“Business.”

“Oh.”

And silence. Another few minutes passed. I decided it was time, before he moved off. He was zoning out a little.

“I have something to tell you,” I coughed out. The sentence seemed to get stuck in my throat. He looked over.

“Like what?”

“They’ve taken Elysium.”

He coughed on his drink, narrowing his eyes. “Excuse me?”

I realized for a moment that he didn’t know that he was found out. He didn’t know that his cover was blown. That I knew who he was. That he was really Entropy. That he was part of a very important pair. That he was a living legend. He was found out. He carried away the bodies in the shadows. With his sister. Elysium. But in the real world, they were born Payge and Set Drake. But out there, on the streets, in the world that matters to us, they were the Endless. Entropy and Elysium. Chaos and Heaven.

“Elysium’s been stolen.”

He smiled. “You don’t know what you’re talking about, do you, child?” His eyes were burning through me, a human lie detector, searching, searching…coming up empty.

“The streets took her. The demons will damn her. Do you trust me?”

He smiled. “You’re insane. And no, I don’t trust you. How much do you think you know?”

“I know enough.”

“Did you know that your grandfather, Cicero, killed your grandmother, Madison? Did you know that our parents were almost victims of your grandfather’s? That he was a madman? He too had problems seeing what was real and what wasn’t. I know more about your family than you can ever pretend to know about mine.”

I nodded. “Are you willing to bet her life that I’m lying?”

And he stopped. He looked around and he thought about it. And he got off the stool. He took a step away, and he grabbed me. I fell off mine.

“For your sake, you better be lying. Because I’m more prone to forgive a silly little girl than I am to forgive a group of suicidal street demons.”

And I was forced out of the bar. He had a firm hold on me, pushing me ahead of him. I didn’t fight and kick and scream. I knew that Harley had seen what happened. And she’d let it come to pass. We would have to learn on our own. I knew that. He shoved me along. I kept pace.

“Why would I lie to you?” I asked along the way. He tightened his hold on me.

“Because you’re a fool. Like your dear grandfather.”

I shoved away from him. “I can walk on my own you know. You’re hurting me.”

And he held on tighter. “This is nothing compared to what I’ll do to you if you’re lying to me. Do you understand?”

“I’m just the messenger.”

He laughed. “Kill the messenger, no more messages.”

And we were silent until we got the alley.

 

Rev was there, with his lackeys at his sides. They had Payge on the ground in front of them, on her knees, facing us. She was bleeding here and there, nothing major. She looked disoriented, roughed up. There was a gun pressed to the back of her head.

Set shoved me ahead of him. “An eye for an eye,” he demanded. He had a weapon on him somewhere. He was a clever guy, he’d know to be armed at all times. I trusted Rev. I couldn’t completely say the same about Angyl. But nonetheless. Here we stood.

I was about to lose faith when Angyl crept out of the shadows. And everything after that fades to black. The memories are too confusing to understand. Where she came from, I’m not sure. She might have come from behind.

The ground was hard, and wet. And that’s all I remember. Fade to black. The world went away and I wept in my dreams for I wanted stable ground to hold onto but could only find shattered dreams and lost ambitions instead. Fade to black. To black. To nothing. Now. The now is nothing. The nothing is now. And I’m here. I’m there. I’m alive. I’m dying. I’m waking.

“I’ll teach you some good bad habits,” she told me.

And I believed her.

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