A Collection Of Short Writing. @Acidjib on twitter
Dunwall’s finest hour.
I… The Outsider, have done something… delightful. As the patrons of Dunwall celebrate a fool and a genius, a young boy slinks his way across the rooftops, bearing my mark and wielding my gifts, he is a shade. Betrayed by the fury of his parents, and thrown by his father and his drunken companions into Wrenhaven River. They thought him dead. They didn’t anticipate… divine intervention.
Daud crawled across the slippery slates used to roof the upper-class building where the Sokolov family resides. He lay flat on the shingles and pulled himself, aided by the sleek of the rain, to the edge of the building. Below him was a lower rooftop, with access to a large circular window. Daud paused and prepared himself for what was about to happen. But a small pain disintegrated his concentration. The dark mark branded into his left hand still stung and he rotated his palm in front of him, still unsure if he was awake. Daud squeezed the emblem hard sending sharp pains through his body. He wasn’t dreaming. This was happening; The Outsider had truly gifted him.
Daud gripped his knife tightly in his hand, attempting to find a position that was least likely to slip due to the rain. The malicious weapon had belonged to a whaler, given to Daud as he and his family left Serkonos and travelled to Gristol. A last resort for his father, and as the situation failed to get better, he failed to stay sober.
‘Breathe, prepare and execute.’ He whispered the motto of the whalers to himself as he pushed the rain saturated hair from his face.
A quick mental countdown from three and he dropped to the lower roof. A small skid, slip, grab and fall and he learnt to never underestimate the rains ability to remove all grip from his soft homemade shoes. He was left clinging to the edge of the roof with his left hand, and couldn’t risk losing the knife in his right. ‘Smooth Daud, Smooth.’ he muttered to himself and pulled himself up enough to see in through the circular window. His small fall had remained unnoticed by the three occupants: a happy mother, father and son. An angry jealousy surged through Daud, and The Overseers mark on his hand glowed ever so slightly. He tensed up his legs into a horizontal crouch and pushed up and back, leaping from the wall like an uncoiling spring. For a moment he hung in the air above the iron spears that made up the front wall to the Sokolov household, and in that moment he vanished. The gift of The Overseer: Traversal of short distances in a flicker of a second.
Daud smashed through the glass of the window and ignored the slices being made into his clothing, skin and muscles and powered towards the family who were turning too late to see their doom raining down upon them. Moving like smoke through a cloud he severed all four of the mother’s jugular veins and grabbed the father by the throat pushing him up against the wall, the bloodied whaler knife held aloft above his head.
‘I… I…’ The fear in the Tyvian man’s eyes was almost erotic to Daud, wishing to see the same pain in his father soon. The blade dropped and punctured the father’s skull with a definitive crunch.
The mother had fallen to her knees with her hands desperately trying to contain the vital fluid pouring between her fingers. Daud snatched the crying ten year old child and dragged him across the floor to the other side of the room, slamming him hard into the woodwork and holding him there, the knife pointed at his eye.
‘I know who you are, Anton.’ The young boy’s tearful eyes filled with a mix of anger and fear hearing his name. ‘I need your creation, now! I want my father to feel the pain only you have been able to deliver.’ Anton’s body was frozen with fear, but his eyes moved enough to give away his projects hiding place. A small antique clock that blended into the wall so well Daud hadn’t seen it yet. ‘Thanks.’ Daud threw the boy to one side where he landed in a crumpled heap on the ground. Inside the clock Daud found Sokolov’s box, he opened it carefully; knowing what he was looking for could become fatal in a second. Once the small wooden box was all the way open, Daud finally felt safe retrieving the small coil of razor sharp wires held in place by a proximity trigger. Once tripped the device would let the blade like metal fly wild in a two foot radius.
‘Thanks for testing this on rats Anton. If I hadn’t seen you none of this would be possible.’ He had watched the young Sokolov from above and once he saw the capabilities of the item Daud instantly knew what he wanted to do with it.
‘Son? Thank The Outsider! I thought you were dead!’
‘You wanted me dead father! You brought me to this, you…’ Daud was lost for words; all he could accomplish was staring angrily through the rain. Daud was fifty feet from his father, who was stood under a streetlamp that highlighted every drop of rain that fell between them. Daud was no longer covered in the Sokolov’s blood, the rain had seen to that, but he still didn’t want to be seen by any onlookers, not that it mattered now that he had been identified as ‘son’.
‘I… I didn’t Daud! I promise!’ Daud recognised the insincere sincerity in his father’s voice, as it had been used on his mother countless times.
‘I know you didn’t Dad.’ I’m just so happy I lived to see you again!’
‘Oh son!’ Daud’s father began a sloshy jog through the rain filled street adjacent to the Whale Oil factory and embraced his son. ‘I am so sorry!’
‘I’m sorry too dad.’ Daud tried to resist tears as he hugged his father back.
‘No more dad. I’m tired of your crap.’ Daud slotted the Spring Razor down the back of his father’s work trousers and pulled out of his embrace. He got one look at his fathers’ confused and upset face before delivering a kick to the man’s stomach that pushed him back, stumbling five feet before falling to the rain soaked cobbles.
‘Son I will fu-’ The Spring Razors tripped. The sound of metal scraping on metal filled the air as sharp whips sliced through Daud’s father. One long shard broke free of the device and sliced Daud’s face, narrowly missing his right eye, but leaving a long gash that began bleed heavily.
‘Damn! I knew I should have killed Sokolov once I got his stupid prototype.’ Once Daud recovered from his wound he turned to see his father. The man was on his back staring up into the street lamp. He was missing both his legs and an arm, the cleanest stumps of flesh remained. A deep crimson stream flowed with the rain, draining towards the river nearby.
‘Son…’ Daud’s father gasped.
‘Shh… Be quiet now father.’ Daud closed his eyes, and readied his blade.
The camouflage bleeds off of my suit as I prepare to strike, the poor sap scouting the hills won’t get time to gasp, let alone warn of the attack before I slit his throat. A few quick movements and one slow slump to the ground and I signal that the way is clear.
‘Take down the rebirthing chambers, they keep bringing back all of the anti air we deal with.’
I now know that I have just three minutes before the scout I dealt with will respawn and convey the message of the attack. The cloak returns and I begin my sprint, sliding and ducking past all of the New conglomerate guards, idly chatting to one another at the base of the bio lab. The heavy thuds of a max suit suavely thudding too close to comfort as I try to press myself into the corner of the stairwell. It passes by, barely. and I breathe easy the path to the rebirther is clear.
The max suit explodes in a purple blur, as a rough magrider thunders over the hill.
The new conglomerate jump up from there time wasting, grabbing rifles and rocket launchers to charge at the Rider. Either a stupid recruit has jumped the gun, or the suicidal rider was creating a distraction. the clock was now against me and I ran up the stairs the sound of the firefight blared out into the night. I paused to stab another NC as he charged in my direction heading for the exit. I reached the rebirther and hesitated to check outside. The magrider attempted a hurried retreat but it was in vain. The brave vanu troop melted in the rider as it slumped the the dirt and ignited in a swath of flame. For the lost soldier, and for the lost soldiers before him I jammed a knife into the rebirther control panel and twisted.
‘Well done soldier.’
From the window I watched as blue streaks lit up the sky as they arced towards the anti air. None of the bulky turrets survived. none of the feeble conglomerate heavy assault troops held their ground and were swatted from the landing pads.
The purple blur of sythe ships began to shoot towards the lab from all angles, but it was too late for me. The sound of heavy max units were marching up towards me. I had known from the start that this would be a one way trip. For the sovereignty.
The old man walked to his desk and pulled out a key. He handed it with a scowl to his nephew. ‘You don’t know what you’re doing,’ he muttered.
‘I know that I am finished here, uncle. I know that I’m done working in the fields. I’m done summoning water for the well. I’m done chasing rats in the dark with nothing but the light of my hand to guide me.’ The old man sighed.
‘They will never accept you out there. Not for what you really are. Creatures of the fayl are not welcome in the over world.’
‘Then I will hide my gyfts, I will keep them secret and only use them when I know no one can see me.’
‘And that is why you disappoint me. You don’t respect your gyfts, or you wouldn’t want to hide them.’
‘If I have any hope of finding my father I will need the help of the locals. They will never help me if they know I am fayl.
‘And what of your pointed ears?’
The nephew chewed his cheek. He hadn’t considered that.
‘I will round them with a sander if I must, but father has been gone for longer than he should, and I need to find him.’
The old man considered everything carefully and brought his hands to his lips. When he looked up he was surprised that the nephew was still stood there.
‘I wouldn’t have given you that key if I didn’t want you to go.’ He said with a smile.
The barking stopped.
Maggie slipped out of bed and quietly approached the window which faced the backyard, the neighbours still had their light on, but she couldn’t see anything. The dog that lived next door, never stopped barking. So why the sudden quietness. It seemed eerie for a moment, before being broken by her one night stand, Dom.
‘Mag, is everything alright?’
‘Yeah, I was just wondering why the dog stopped barking.’
‘Maybe the owners finally let it run outside.’
‘That’s true, the poor thing is always cooped up in that house.’
The room descended into silence again, while Maggie stared out of the window, her eyes scanning for any movement. She took a deep breath and relaxed. Dom was probably right. In the moonlight her naked form was illuminated beautifully. From the bottom floor window of her neighbour’s house, the sniper could see her perfectly, and lined up his shot.
‘Come back to bed Mag. I’m sure no one’s been murdered.’
‘Yeah your right.’ As she began to turn, the glass shattered and a bullet tore through Maggie’s throat, and into the ceiling. Blood spurted out of her neck as she tried desperately to stop the vital fluid escaping, but it was already too late. Blood sprayed from her as she gagged and the window was instantly coated. From where Dom lay, he saw the moon and the sky go red, as Maggie choked and sank to the ground.
The sniper packed up his rifle and was about to leave when he spotted movement in the room. He pulled out the scope of the rifle and looked through the window. He saw a man rushing around the room, coated in the blood of the snipers target. The man returned the scope to its case and picked up his walkie talkie.
‘Command, we have a witness. I’m going to deal with them now.’
The woods were still. Even the highest trees refused to sway. Everything was frozen. Even squirrels refused to scamper. The silence of the forest was deafening. No birds chirped, no leaves rustled under the feet of forest critters. Even the creaky door of Charles cottage did not make a sound. The old man stepped off of the porch delicately and began his routine strolls around the forest. As usual he diverted from his path slightly enough as to stop the grass under his feet being crushed into a dirt road. His heart was beating its last few beats today. He could feel it, he knew he would not last until tomorrow. To Charles his heart hadn’t beaten for three years. He hadn’t felt its warmth in so long he could no longer remember the feeling in his stomach. The feeling that had kept him going for ten year, now the last degree of warmth was leaving him.
A rustle, a crunch, some sort of woodland noise echoed through the trees. The first sound the wood had made all day. The silence made the quiet noise sound like an explosion. Charles turned suddenly, in time to see a small boy crawl out from under a bush. He looked to be no more than six, but he brushed leaves off of his shirt with the grace of someone four times his age.
‘Why are you walking my path?’ the boy’s voice was deep. Charles was knocked off guard by the authority in his voice and it took him a moment to respond. The young boy stood and waited patiently.
‘There is no path here. I am walking idle through the forest with no conscience of my movements,’
‘Really?’ the boy raised an eyebrow ‘then keep walking, young man.’ The boy turned and crawled slowly into his bush. Charles looked around for the boy’s parent but could see no one in the woods.
‘Where are your parents?’ but when Charles looked down the boy and the bush were gone. Charles shook his head and continued walking, making mental plans to alter his medication next time he was in town.
After half an hour of walking Charles could feel some of his strength returning. Maybe what the doctor said about exercise helping his joints was actually true. It only took ten years for it to start to work. The more Charles walked the more he felt his muscles grow strong again, he felt like maybe his heat would beat a few days longer. Ahead of him was a stream he had never seen before. He stopped by it for a while, standing with his hands in his pockets. He felt and urge to do something he had longed to do for decades, but could never find the wind in his lungs. But now he took a deep breath and began to whistle. It was then that he caught a glimpse of his reflection in the water. He blinked a few times to make sure it wasn’t his eyes failing him even further. No, nothing would clear his vision. He had to accept what his eyes were telling him. He was twenty years old.
No one ever escapes from here; it rises from the barren desert, a concrete fortress behind double razor wire fences. Its windows are narrow horizontal openings resembling the arrow slits of a medieval fort. No one has ever escaped from here. The large metal gates loomed over the buildings and were lined with their own garnishing of hungry blades. But past the creaky gates, past the concrete shell of a building there was a hidden villa, with the jaunty angles of a modern architects work. A hidden egg buried deep into a nest of concrete. And it was mine. Rightfully mine in a way that felt unfamiliar and outdated. It became mine entirely through victory in a duel. No not pistols at dawn, though I would have loved to put a bullet between the eyes of Charmbrose. A man with wealth like his thinks he can get away with anything. Only when the hammer of my attorney fell heavily onto his knee, crippling him eternally, did he finally find his place.
I had just stepped into the villa and a strong breeze blew the door shut behind me. Then I heard the door lock. I tried the handle with no success and as I got out my phone I heard the voice of Charmbrose echo through the halls.
‘You may have taken this home from me, it may be rightfully yours, but I still own it. I control it and through that I control you. Ready to have some fun?’
‘Yes?’ Genna asked.
‘I… well… I just.’ Henry froze. Genna smiled and made a gesture to say ‘well?’ Henry felt a lump stick in his throat, stopping his vocal chords vibrating and silencing his voice. He croaked a little and ran through the crowd escaping from Genna. Students blurred past him as he ran into the English block that was opposite the science block. Henry slammed the door behind him as he clattered into the building. He took deep breathes a ridiculed himself over his failure outside.
‘Warning. Unauthorised access.’ The college was testing a new type of security system to record and stop truancy. Students were not meant to be inside during breaks. The mechanised unit walked around the corner towards Henry. The Mech units moved very fluidly but still had the robot voice and appearance due to some students ‘having trouble distinguishing metal from flesh’ when the lifelike versions were tested in a neighbouring school.
‘I… I needed to use the toilet.’
‘Restroom facilities are located on the second floor.’
‘If you knew why did you ask?’
‘I didn’t ask.’ The robot froze for a moment as it tried to replay the conversation. Henry casually walked past the robot and up the stairs. The device came back to life and realise Henry was not stood there. It panicked.
‘Continuity error! Continuity error! Activate scan! Activate replay! Activate Alarm! Acti.’ The mech shut down due to system overload. Definitely prototypes.
Henry walked out of the English block and onto the balcony. He got out his phone, the latest model of the NugBus SafteyTorch. He tapped the pane of glass and small icons appeared on its surface. He flicked through the pages until he found the program he was looking for. Henry’s dad developed phone software for NugBus and so had access to lots of prototype programs. Henry had borrowed his dad’s memory stick to activate the security release and get all the programs for free and accidentally gained access to some of the military software designed for the armed forced. He returned the stick to it case on dad’s desk and cleared his digital fingerprint. He pointed the phone into the yard below and scanned the area for Genna using the camera, which was now showing a blue filter. He located her sat on the steps in front of the science block, chatting to her security force of girls. Henry crouched down and scanned her with the software. The phone in her bag showed up on the screen in a vibrant yellow contrasting with the blue filter. He tapped the screen where the phone showed up. ‘Beginning remote access hack’ appeared on the seven inch screen.
‘How did you do that?’ Genna said down the phone, trying to sound violated but failing to hide how impressed she was.
‘You’re not going to reach the Promised Land, Andy…’
‘Hmm… I kind of came to that conclusion years ago.’
‘That may be true but yet, you continued this fight.’ John stretched his legs by circling the tent and then began to fold up the canvas sheet he had slept on that night. ‘You’re going to destroy yourself if you continue this campaign.’ The sun was peaking through the horizon; its rays illuminated the back of the tent in a silhouette of the wildlife outside. The branches of the trees looked like blots streaming down the fabric of the tent, a rabbit hopped by like a splash of ink thrown across a canvas.
‘That may be what you chose to believe before we even set out, but your here now. You still came with me. So that either means your my friend, or my dog. Which is it?’
‘How dare you! I could leave right now!’
‘So why don’t you?’ I never asked you to come. Leave if that is what you want.’
Andy pulled his hat back down over his eyes to signify that the conversation was over and placed his hands behind his head. John stared at Andy angrily as he packed his makeshift bed into a bag. He had had enough of this behaviour. Andy could survive without him, they both knew that. He had feigned the notion that book keeping was a noble profession that satisfied his desires. But he could never leave the world of adventure behind. He was desperate for the thrill of discovery. John was jealous of Andy for having continued the search. John himself had grown weary of the work required to journey the great distances and had called quits when Andy and himself finished their discussions with Eve. But he could not fight the thought that with a little more effort, together they could find the Garden of Eden.
I kissed her forehead and she finally pulled away, her arms drifting slowly from my side. The crowd swallowed her up in an instant like piranha to flesh and she was pulled into the carriage of the train. I still felt her fingertips on my sides for a few sparse moments after the train pulled away from the station and I knew I would never see her again.
Hands deep into my pockets and my eyes down to avoid the stabbing pain of the wind as it blew invisible shards deep into my retina that caused my eyes to leak, I pushed forward towards home. Home. It had once been my primary home but too many disagreements with family members and too many long nights of loud music had lead to it being the one place I never wanted to call home. And now I had to return. They would already be there. My parents would probably have been dealt with. This was the first thing I would truly have to face. The first thing I couldn’t just run from.
I freed my hands from my pockets and pulled up my collar to deflect as much of the sharp wind as possible. It was a pointless gesture to nature though. The air still found its way between my clothes and into my bones. One thing warmed me, the knowledge that she would be on a plane in hours and off to a country that no one could know. She was safe. She got away because she had qualifications, a possible future and the information that the agency’s craved. Witness protection is only good for the witnesses had something worth protecting, and I had nothing. I had to stay here while she got pulled away from me, as like charges repel we were being separated permanently and constantly moving away from each other pulled tightly on my heart strings. Snow had started to spiral from the sky and now the walk home was a difficult hard slog, a walk leading to the gangsters waiting at my home, the journey towards a dead end. But to me a dead end meant at least three ways out.