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8. Disturbing Recollection

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Once upon a time, there were legends, no – they were gods.

 

Help!

I’m a casualty of society; I’m a victim of modern tyrants overthrowing humanism.

Save me!

I’m lost in the masses, nothing more than fiction; a figment in a mile-a-minute world.

Spare me a moment?

Hear my screams, bear my pain, pay for my madness. Listen to my story. Please?

I’m asking nicely, pleading softly, begging desperately.

Come find the abyss, take hold of my outstretched arm, save me from my own insanity.

Maybe I’m mad, but take heed of my warning.

This artful little rant I’ll not remember by morning.

Sunlight hurts. Rolling out of bed, finding the world still spinning – gentle disappointment settles in. Get up, change, start moving. Sit, look around, try to figure out how much of this was here yesterday. I remember the general surroundings, the furniture arrangements, the light from the window…blink a few dozen times…everything’s still real. You’re awake, this isn’t a dream. This isn’t a nightmare either. It’s just reality, basic, boring…realism. This is why we have imagination…our sole salvation to keep us from dying of routine. I do firmly believe that a life without change can kill; I can feel it eating away at my soul as it is. Day by day, everything the same, I felt my motivation slip away. My inspiration crept out the back door. It went that way, officer.

Curl up in a corner, hide away from the garish light that stings your eyes. I sit with coffee, blinking unconsciously, breathing involuntarily, drinking silently. A few moments before the day starts, before Hell comes knocking on your door, pounding like an upset child. There’s no way to lock the world away, but it’s worth a shot. It’s early…too early to function properly. Or maybe it’s just me. I might be slightly insane, just a tad unhinged. Then again, who isn’t nowadays?

For a moment, the world is at peace with itself. Soft footsteps move around as part of the background. Stay curled up in the dark, my eyes became comfortable over time. The steps creep by, a kiss on the cheek, the usual greetings.

Good morning, Vince.

My mind can’t process much, like I said, too early. Vince refilled my coffee without question, he crept around almost silently. He had years of practice being nonchalant and quiet. It was somewhat comforting I guess, but it was unsettling at the same time. He was just that good and he took immense pride in his gifts.

Story time kids. Try to keep up.

Here is the case history, how we ended up where and how we did. Here’s to a trip down memory lane. You might want to take notes for this.

To explain and possibly understand the present, we must meticulously explore the past. To go back, let’s start with Cicero. He was the first in a steady line of lunatics. When he fell, crime reigned free…and then Vincent stood up. Cicero’s death was sudden, but he’d given up control of his gang when the war started. There comes a point where it’s just enough and you’re old enough to “retire,” if the business doesn’t kill you first. Somewhere along the way, Vincent took over. And Vincent’s methods might have been worse than Cicero ever was. The topic is highly debatable.

How and when I got involved with the gangs isn’t important. Something about Vince struck me and I got sucked in. Clawing my way through his ranks, I made it to my dignified location on God’s right hand. From the gang, I met Galat, Hadrien…and Havok. Dean was all kinds of reckless when he was younger; reckless is just another word for stupid. But he had something going for him – he had heart. Real, true, honest…devotion. He genuinely cared, which set him apart from most of the gang. I spent a lot of time with him to learn more about myself. It’s a gang, a family, a permanent marriage. Then we reached divorce…

Vincent got involved with his girl…involved in a bad way. Her name was Lyric. Once upon a time, we killed a cop as part of a personal vendetta. Lyric just so happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time…we had a witness. Standard procedure would be a single bullet to the back of the head, down where your spine and neck connect. Vincent decided to violate the family code for a bit of personal pleasure. The ranks knew better than to question the leader’s decision. We followed blindly…but the Lyric situation made most of us question our morality, our loyalty. If we hadn’t questioned our loyalty previously…

Lyric was doomed to die – we all knew that in advance. Even she knew it. But nobody knew when. By the time Vince set a deadline, we were all tense and most of the crew wanted out. Dean was loyal as loyal comes, he volunteered to be there when Vince finished her. Him and Deklyn went with Vince to the meeting with Lyric. Out of the four of them…only Dean walked out standing. And the way he walked out…I don’t think that classifies as standing. Havok bore witness to the truth. No, Dean. Dean bore witness to Deklyn’s murder by Vince’s hand. He stood and watched in silent horror as the Endless came to claim the lost. He watched as Elysium killed Vince and Harvey, ending the madness. Or so they thought.

They had to have known that he was there, but they let him go. Maybe they wanted the truth to get out. Maybe they planned on it. Maybe they were secretly hoping for it. But then the war would never end; it didn’t add up…there were factors missing. Dean came back to us like a madman, his voice racing as he explained to myself, Galat and Hadrien, what had happened. If the truth got out, the war would never end. Vincent’s death would make things bad enough, but at the hand of the Endless? There would be no loyalty; the gangs would tear themselves apart from the inside out…no trust. The streets would howl for the Endless’ blood…the Endless who bootlegged a unity amongst groups. It just didn’t add up…we couldn’t let the truth get out. Lives were at stake; many thousands of lives…we didn’t just do it for us. We did it for all the innocents that would suffer for this. Making Dean believe that truth wouldn’t set him free was the challenge.

I’ll admit it…I loved him then. Before the madness, before the war, I truly did. Like I said, he had heart. He wasn’t consumed by the hatred that had destroyed Vince. Everyone thought of me as Vince’s girl; I was merely the only one that he couldn’t have. I let Vince think that he held my leash, but he knew better. He knew that unattended, I’d bite him just as easily as he could bite me. That’s how it works with stubborn people. So I let Vince think what he wanted, and I let myself go the way I wished. Dean had something. Vince didn’t approve, naturally, so I didn’t make such a big deal of it. I didn’t want to create waves. With Vince out of the way, not only did I have freedom…I had the opportunity for power. Dean and I could rule the whole thing side by side, but he had to understand first that some things are better left unsaid.

We tried to talk to him, rationally, logically, patiently proving our point. He wouldn’t have it. He was determined to do the “right thing,” and the cost would be worth it. Galat and Hadrien were running out of options, we couldn’t keep him locked away from the world forever. I was supposed to distract his mind. And then we’d start to screw with him. Make him think he’s seeing or hearing things that aren’t there. The process would take awhile, but the end result…was…Dean. Havok was dead. Havok, the gangster with a heart who would take on the world for honor and cared about few and was warm to touch at all times…he was gone. We’d killed him with our desperation. With our lies, we killed the only person I could honestly say I ever truly loved. I killed him…not we. I. There’s no bending the truth now.

It took weeks to get him to believe he was insane. He blocked out everything. And I mean everything. His memory and attention skills went right out the window…he wasn’t focused anymore. Nothing seemed to matter. What we had was merely a shadow of a fiction. And what makes it worse? The absolute worst part of the entire fiasco – he blames himself. We made him believe that he did something wrong to hurt us, to hurt me. And he blames himself wholeheartedly for it. It’s not fair. It’s not right. But I did this, and now I pay the price for my treachery.

After Vince’s fall, the gang was in shambles, I tried to regain power, but there was an eager fellow ready to overthrow me. His name was Marcellus. Well, that’s not entirely accurate, there was a branch of time in between. When Vince fell, the gang lost its’ heart, its’ spirit. A lot of the old members quit and let go. A few stranglers tried to hold it together. It wouldn’t stay. Marcellus was close with Vince, but there was an underlying tension that everyone felt. Marcellus was young for the role. And not only was there Marcellus, but his dear darling baby sister, Dev.

How it happened, I don’t know. There was a situation and I had to leave my home territory and go on a bit of a business trip. The information was relayed improperly, purposely so I came to learn too late, and in my wake, the gang was rebuilt. Galat, Hadrien and Dean dropped out as Marcellus took the group by force. I came back to find my loyalties scattered, everything I’d thought I’d known…fragmented. Instead of fighting for the pieces, trying to wretch my life back from the children, I let it go and moved on. Dean was Dean; Havok was long gone…so we started over. We found new professions, most of which were not far from the old haunts. And over the course of five years, we fought and bled and tried and cried…and in the end we were just too old to play the game. So the big dogs were fenced and became typical upstanding citizens.

Yeah, sure, in what parallel little fucked up universe are you coming from? We did what we could to get by, legal or not, wherever the business carried you. We took the apartments close together to keep contact. The more time passed, the less Dean remembered. I think Hadrien physically beat a lot of it out of him. I don’t know. We did so much to hurt him; we all screwed him over terribly. But it was for the greater good, or so we thought. It’s always the self righteous that suffer the most. Always.

Dyre knew about Dean knowing the truth…well, I’m not quite sure how Dyre knew. Dyre was a sneaky character, he knew a little of everything that he wasn’t supposed to. He had his own tragedy once upon a time; he was done with it all now. He was never really part of the gangs, maybe, a long time ago, but that’s another story. There’s always a reason to quit. Pain is on the top of the list right under “sudden cardiac arrest”.

Hmm, seems I got a little sidetracked and lost. I forget where I was…if I was anywhere at all. This I explained to Havok…to Dean, in the most comforting words I could find. And even those words weren’t soft enough. I knew he’d hate us but he needed to know the truth, so I gave it to him, in all the pieces and shattered parts. We lied to him, we made him blame himself…there’s no two ways about it. There are no words to forgive what we’ve done; I think I cracked him a bit though. Or at least…well…dented a few bits of him. I’m not too sure anymore. I told him all this as carefully as I could manage and his whole body locked up. He wouldn’t speak; he just sat down and wrote. He wrote the things that he did know, the stories he was sure of. He lost himself in fiction because it was less painful than truth.

Can you really blame him? You can try, doesn’t guarantee results…

God help me…no one else will. I pray he understands…please.

Damnation is at hand. This’ the price…I earned my keep. And then some…

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