The Cold Inside
By AL BRUNO III
Thursday January 26, 1995
...“I did not fall!”...
The girl was securely tied down. Gawain Wight was trying not to look at her. The boy had pulled a leather pouch from a hidden compartment on the side of the altar.
Jason Magwier boggled at it; he had been here, in this very room, just a few years ago performing some blood rites of his own. How could he have missed such a thing? That had been in 1993, when he had been working with Jared and Pexley. He’d been here before of course, on that fateful night in 1958 when all this had begun. He might have died that night but Jason didn’t like to dwell on it.
“...hurting you hurts the Monarchs and I can’t let them win. Not this time, the stakes are too high.”...
Inside the leather pouch was a selection of blades, some thick and sharply angled others straight and narrow as a blade of grass. Each handle was black, bejeweled and well-worn. The boy pulled out one of the crueler looking blades and used it to slit open Pamela’s shirt from neck to belly. She sobbed and shouted at him. The exposed swath of skin was quivering and pale.
There had been a bit of glass in the corner near Jason, right where he always found it. He had been using it to saw away at the ropes whenever he could be sure no one was watching. He could feel the wires starting to fray.
...“Might I suggest a tactical retreat?”...
A slip of the fingers and the glass was gone, for a breathless moment he scrabbled then found it again. Gawain kept glancing outside, no doubt feeling as though he was being watched. While the world might belong to the Monarchs it was a rare thing to be so close to the essence of them. The natural order of things had a way of keeping creatures like the Monarchs at bay, but Jason knew the natural order wasn’t what it used to be.
Memories flashed through his mind, too fast for him to make sense of them all, memories that only he could ever know. Recollections of things that had happened to someone else, snatches of conversations he might one day have and visions of things doomed to come to pass. Jason Magwier knew that if he could just somehow make sense of them all he might save the world again for the very first time.
...“I did not fall!”...
The boy pulled a bit of charcoal and drew a small dot on Pam’s abdomen, then he offered the thinnest and shortest of the blades to Gawain Wight. The Special Agent paled and made excuses. The boy pressed the blade into the older man’s hand.
The time for delaying tactics was over- Jason knew that. This was the end of the beginning or the beginning of the end. It all depended on how the next few moments went. The bonds loosened and slipped off his wrists. Acting as quickly and cautiously as he dared, he untied his feet, fingers sweaty with panic.
...“What are you?”…
Easing himself to his feet he waited for the moment he needed. Jason knew it would be soon, right after the flash. He looked pityingly at Pamela Bloom, she’d done nothing to deserve any of this. In a better world he might have been able to save her, or she might never have been here at all. There was a length of wiring in Jason’s grip, he wrung it over and over again in his hands.
The boy began to speak in a language long dead. Gawain raised the slender blade. A roaring sound shuddered through the building, echoing through the empty spaces. Jason averted his eyes.
...“I did not fall!”…
There was a burst of light and the scent of ozone. Gawain stumbled back from the altar, howling. Pam’s every muscle tensed in place, her face locked into an expression of mindless determination. Blue light was arcing from her body. It had no effect on the boy. He merely watched, a bemused expression on his face.
The voices in Jason’s head became a shrieking chorus. He moved forward wrapping the wires around the boy’s throat, using the decades old electrical wire as a garrote. The boy’s arrogant smile became a snarl of surprise.
...“This has got to be the worst spring break ever!”...
The blue light began to dwindle. Pam began to sag back onto the altar. “Gawain!” Jason called, “Now’s our chance!”
The Special Agent stirred, trying to push himself into a sitting position.
The boy threw himself forward, dragging Jason Magwier after him. He grabbed at the pouch full of knives. Jason pulled back but the boy was too strong, too strong for his age and too strong for his size. There was a knife in his hands, the one with the thick and cruel looking blade. The boy raised the weapon up and jabbed it down into the side of Jason’s knee.
“Wait.” Gawain said, “Don’t...”
Energies exhausted Pam lay still, her breaths shallow, her eyes barely open.
Jason dropped the wires and dodged out of the way of a second slash from the knife. The boy’s expression was gleeful, he stabbed down again. The blade split the flesh of Jason’s arm and the fabric of his jacket with equal ease.
“Wait.” Gawain said again, he was on his feet, making his way towards them.
The boy shouted, “Stand back!”
Jason tried to feint to the right and run to the left but the boy was ready for him. The knife blade sunk up to the handle in his abdomen. The boy said, “Did you ever really think you could stop me?”
Jason choked, “I hoped.”
They boy pulled the knife free, blood spattered to the floor. He pushed Jason Magwier backwards, toward the open section of the wall. “I regret to say that my masters will have to celebrate their triumph without you.” The boy slashed again with the knife, catching Jason on the temple, sending him back a few more steps.
“They won’t like...” Clutching his gut, Jason fought to stand, “They…”
The boy slashed at him again, Jason pushed the knife away with his wounded arm only to find himself off-balance, standing at the edge of the drop off. He tried to right himself but the boy caught him and shoved back. Jason made a strangled cry. He swayed there for a moment, his arms flailing, then toppled end over end into the black wall of smoke and stars.
...“I did not fall!”...