Moon Knight, A Twist of Fate pt. 7

Flames lick my skin; singe the hair at my legs.  I walk through the fire and yet I feel no pain.  I look all around as would a curious child, everything seems so upside down.  It’s like a fever dream, the floor is above me, yet I walk upright…just on the ceiling.  I can feel the prickling texture of the drywall at the bottoms of my bare feet.

It’s so very strange, where am I?

{You humans are funny creatures,} a voice calls out to me, familiar, I’ve heard it sometime before.  I look behind me, expecting to be sucker punched by another pansy but I see nothing.

{The funniest part, I cannot get over how you humans believe your thoughts to be secret in this realm.}

The voice is all around me.  {Alright, I am annoyed} I stop dead in my tracks as a green thing wearing mostly purple appears in front of me.

“A Sleepwalker?”

{As some of your people say, you hit the nose on the head.  How is it you know who we are?}

“I’m a man that communicates with mythical beings and sometimes Egyptian gods;” I cross my arms and will the fires away from my mind.  “There is really precious little I don’t know about.”

{Fair enough} It says to me, and at least I know this isn’t some bad acid trip sneaking up from my youth, if I’m dreaming, at least I’m still alive.

“So what do you want?  I’m bleeding from the base of my skull and lying in a pool of more blood that I suspect isn’t mine.  You’re haunting my dreams, which I can’t recall having a dream in the last few years that hasn’t woke me in a cold sweat halfway through the night.”

We stand there, the environment shifts a little more to his liking.  I’ve heard of these things in the past, didn’t think they existed until Murdock told me of that Sheridan kid. I do have to admit, I don’t miss the burning out building that had slowly been eating away my skin, but it is eerie to stand in my penthouse when I know I’m neither there nor conscious.  {You talk to yourself entirely too much, Spector.}

“What can I say, I’m my own best friend, is there a point to this?  Are you the ghost of Chanukah present that has come to preach to me of the wickedness that is my life?”

Emotionless as I’ve been told, the creepy being looks down on me with the tale-tell red eyes, and I’m not entirely too sure if he is trying to intimidate me or what.  {This is what I’m talking about, so wrapped up in your own mind, you’re not even conscious to who can hear you, and who is waiting for you to come home.}

I lunge forward and grip nothing but false air that is only the figment of my battered skull and unkind imagination.  “You stay away from her!”  I yell, and the fires return.  Flames grip the white carpet of my living room.  Hot, burning amber climbs the walls of the atrium, offering me no escape.  Without smoke, and knowing I’m standing within my own dream, I don’t fear what he’s doing to me.  “You can’t hurt me in here,” the flames overtake my body; I can smell the burning hair and some flesh, but there is still no pain.  “What’re you going to try next, make me fall forever until I wake up?  This is childish Sleepwalker, what the fuck do you want!”

He appears again, just out of reach, no matter to the steps I take he is still just out of arms reach.  {You’re out searching for the man who tried to kill your friend, while you leave you daughter at your empty home leaving her to her imagination?}  He scolds me; the son of a bitch is actually scolding me.  A member of the so-called dream police is trying to offer me parenting advice.  {Hardly, I do not offer advice, and I do not know the Sleepwalker that was trapped in that ridiculous human’s body, but you are supposed to be the great people we are supposed to protect from the power of their own minds.  I know why I’m attached to her, but to step inside this uninhabitable environment is sickening.  I cannot say how long it took me to look past the carnage you’ve brought people, all of this is sitting at the forefront of your mind, and I’m not at all curious as to why I’m still attached to your daughter.}

I’m furious.  The flames run away as the anger which no doubt shows on my face.  Black flows down my walls like a river of spilled paint, something solid appears in my hand just as I think of something to throw at this piece of work.  Just a small blade.  I turn it about in my hand, the tip is sharp.  It digs into my skin ever so slightly and I feel the pull at my nerves.

My hand is just as quick as I remember.  The knife is airborne, no spin, it flies all its own right to the target I want.  The weapon is an extension of my mind, and the Sleepwalker simply waves it away, destroying it as though it never existed, {I’m not here for violence, I will save those wishes for another time.}

It walks close to me, try as I might I find myself unable to move.  It jabs an olive colored finger into my forehead.  {This internal monologue of yours is mildly entertaining, almost like you are intent on keeping a mental diary of every move you make.  Your father’s Alzheimer’s disease frightens you more than you let on, and it is hereditary you know.}

His finger moves to my chest, that pressure I readily feel, his skinny finger pushing into my skin.  {Your life is in danger, and regardless to what I want, I cannot allow you to die.}  He reaches back, I’m helpless to defend myself against the coming blow, {get home to your daughter, before the pain takes her again.  She is too young to cope with any of this.}

The fist comes, and my vision goes white.

* * *

My head is throbbing, with every beat of my heart, and yet for the life of me I don’t understand why I’m cold.  Everything is dark, all I hear is my heartbeat, but my body is frigid.  Most I feel is cold, solid ground but other than that I smell something familiar, deathly familiar.

I remember that smell.  Pictures flash in and out of my memory with every breath I take in.

Sarajevo, a church a few miles outside the city; bodies are pilled into a mass grave; I’m holding a weapon to some junior officer.  The words never materialize, but his lips move and his eyes plead for my mercy; but in those days, I had none to give.  I exhale before the memory finishes, the scent brings up another.

Followed by another.

I breathe in that almost metallic scent, death is in the air all around me.  More and more memories fill my brain:  Grenada, Columbia, Palestine, Cairo, Mogadishu, Mecca, Kabul, and Rio.  None of them in any particular order, and then I doubt there really is any need.  The most recent memories are the freshest.  Jimmy-boy’s teeth falling to the ground, my ears fail to let me in on what’s going on around me and yet I can still hear his teeth making small splashes in the puddle at our feet.  Frenchie lies near death in a hospital bed.  I’m standing too far away to see who attends Marlene’s funeral.  Manny’s fat ass sits lifeless as it did before death, relaxed in the easy chair I’m half surprised the remote left his fingers even in death.

Ricky.  That little piece of shit thinks he has a little power, and the thought of taking it from him excites me more than I’d like to admit.

“That son of a bitch is a dead man.”  The words fill my ears and the sound of my voice is almost alarming to my ears.  My senses are slow to return, but the though of Ricky getting the best of me boils my blood.  The anger does well to chase away the cold.

It’s no easy effort to stand.  I shouldn’t push myself this fast, but I’ve got things to do, I shrug off the pain and step forward.  I damn near fall with my first few steps.  Like a toddler learning to walk, my hands jump outward and search for the nearest wall in order to keep my face free from pain.  The haze doesn’t lift quickly, nor does my dizziness fade, stars light and die within my returning vision as I breathe deep.

A matter of moments and my sight almost returns to normal, my body still aches but everything seems to be working.  Nothing is broken, as far as I can tell, but I still can only move slowly.  My age seems to be catching up to me at long last.

I take a look around, still clutched to the wall and I admire the carnage that lies before me.  Six bodies, bludgeoned and dead are scattered in unnatural positions for any human body.  My eyes linger on one of the dead men, and the left foot that is left inside the void left behind by a broken mandible.  His eyes are wide open and a trail of washed dirt runs from both eyes and I know he died slowly and in quite a lot of pain.  Something juts out of his shoulder, a projectile of sorts, maybe?

I lean in for a closer look; the man’s face is drained of color.  He’s been dead for a while, his skin almost grey, and I pull a wrought iron rod from the shoulder that will never work again.  Something catches my eye as the body shifts.

“Your guardian angel,” I read aloud the words scrawled in the dead man’s blood.  At least I think it’s the dead man’s blood.

“Fuck.”  I whisper, not like a living soul is around to hear.  This isn’t going to end well, and right then I decide, hell none of these past few days have gone well.  Why should the ending be any different?

I hobble over a body and two more and take a look out a window.  Not much vehicle traffic outside, then again there isn’t much light either.  The pain mostly passes as I stare, I’ll probably limp for a day or two after this, but I’ll live.  Nothing as interesting is moving outside; though I hoped my paranoia was right, just for a moment I hoped someone was watching me.  But there’s nothing, so I turn my attention back inside, facing down the carnage.

It’s all pretty spectacular.  It’s been a while since I last saw any amount of human bodies heaped into one place outside of a photograph.  The Bugle needs a better photographer, there’s nothing he can do to catch what this feels like when you stare it down.  The faces look to me, they always seem to be looking straight through me.  Not a care in the world could matter enough to bring these souls back from the dead, or speed their trip down to the hell their lives has promised.

I lean against the cinderblock, feeling the same cold as I had only minutes before.  The heat drains from my body just as quickly as the cold takes it over.  I breathe deep and add this scene to the slide show in my mind.

I run the fingers of my left hand through the short hair atop my head and wonder when I’m going to have time to get another haircut.  It’s almost a curious thing, thinking about such trivial things.  I shrug it off and take another look around the warehouse I’ve found myself.  There is no doubt that it’s one of mine, filled to roof with small things like targets, at least the vandals haven’t found a way into the ammunition shelters I’m hiding from the mayor.  This is pretty bad, but it can be worse.  I count two more bodies and pick up a handgun and clear the chamber just in case.

Not that I have any idea what I’m looking for, I keep moving.

My memory fails me after my encounter at Manny’s place.  My fists aren’t sore, but then again I rarely rely on them to get my point across.  They aren’t as much fun as brass knuckles and throwing knives.  The whole warehouse is silent, save that constant hum of electricity emanating from the halogen lights hanging loose from the ceiling rafters.

Constantly moving, I’m reminded that my head is killing me, and some of the feeling returns.  Something bothers me back there.  I never felt it until just now, and I stop to investigate.  My fingers touch soft cloth, and tape.

“Okay, what the fuck.”  I can’t help but say as my fingers tell me there is a bandage taped to the back of my skull and extending down part of my neck.  All of this just makes my head hurt more.

Nerves start to fire as I try and force my brain into telling me what happened, but it’s no use.  The damn thing is as stubborn as me; it’s not going to budge until I probably go to sleep and some green wannabe alien visits me in my dreams again.

I sigh and start moving again, the service elevator is just ahead and the way my day is going I might as well just go home.  I slide the chain link enclosure to lock myself into the moveable platform and just as I’m nearing the down button with my pointer finger something in my gut tells me no.  My mouth hangs open, I want to say something but I can’t find the words, and it’s mainly the flashing timer counting down with less than twenty minutes that has brought me to speechlessness.  “Jesus Christ,” so says the pagan who was also once Jewish.  “How does this get any worse?”

* * *

The door chimes again.  Amanda jumps out of bed more frustrated than angry, and storms to the front door checking the looking glass before she attempts to open the door.  “What’s wrong Chelsea?”

“Is Marc here?”

Amanda shifts her movements slightly and opens the door to allow the secretary inside, “It’s late you know.  Why are you looking for Marc?”

“Isn’t he your dad?”

Amanda looks up at Chelsea as the question leaves her lips, “You just keep calling him by his first name,” Chelsea continues, allowing her voice to trail off as the youth hasn’t an answer in her face, “It’s none of my business.”

“Marc’s not here, I haven’t seen him since I went to school this morning.”

The secretary takes a knee beside the girl, “honey you shouldn’t be here all alone, have you eaten anything?”

“I’m eleven, not four.  My mom wasn’t really the greatest at always being around either; I’ve learned to take care of myself.”

Amanda smiles at the secretary, mostly at the concern in her face, “I am kinda bored, are you dating my father or something?”

“Oh god no.”  Chelsea laughs; she tries to speak a few more times, but takes a second to regain her composure.  “Sweetie, your dad is a hottie and all, but he’s a little too old and too much of a mystery to be interesting.  I’ve dated a boss before, it’s just bad news.”

The two laugh at the idea, and Amanda disappears into the kitchen and returns with two bottles of water.  “Marc doesn’t keep anything worthwhile in the house; he’s too much of a health nut.  At least my mom let me have a soda once in a while.”

“Thanks, but I really wanted to talk to your da…Marc about Mister duChamp.”

“Is it weird that I don’t call him dad?”

“A little, but it’s none of my business.”

“It was his idea, he was all like ‘you don’t have to call me dad if you don’t wanna’ in Seattle.  It kinda makes things easier, leaving home, and starting here.”  The girl confesses, “He says we don’t know each other, and we will get to know each other, I think he said….”

“Crawl before you walk?”

“Yeah, how’d you know?”

“He gave me that speech when I first started working for him,” laughs the secretary, “I was the overachiever trying to do too much, he tried to set me straight and told me to take it slower after I spilled some coffee on him.”

“Oh no!”

“Yeah, I thought I was fired.  But he’s a nicer guy than he lets on, there’s a lot going on in that big head of his, but he’s a good person, a good person to work for, always looking out for us.”

Amanda slumps on the couch, “So,” she stammers softly, “What’s wrong with Uncle John?”

“Nothing sweetie, he woke up.  He’s still weak, but he wants to see your father.”

Happy to hear it, a smile grows on her face, but something else pulls at her mind.  The smile doesn’t really fade; rather it slumps into a weaker vision of itself as she allows her mind to ponder.  “Can you take me to see him?”

“Are you sure you want to do that?”

“Yeah,” she says, “I hate hospitals, but I don’t want to stay here alone, can you take me?”

“Get your coat, sweetie, it’s going to rain.”

Amanda forces her smile to widen, trying her damnedest to fake it, “I have to grab something first.”  She says as she jets off into the rear of the apartment, back into Marc’s bedroom and through the bathroom door she snatches the bottle of medication off the counter.  She stares at the label once again and doesn’t try to pronounce the name, the date, however, is something that takes precedence a year ago and almost four more months after.

He lied to her, now it was time for her find answers on her own.

She runs back into the living room, her coat closed tight in her fist she meets Marc’s secretary with car keys in her hand, “Ready to go, I’m glad he’s awake!”

* * *

Fifteen minutes to go and I suddenly wish I took up that offer to sit in on a bomb diffusing class.  I was never good at this shit, and unlike TV it’s never as simple as ‘cut the blue wire’ especially now that I’m staring at about twelve red wires.  The asshole that built this couldn’t even make the ground wire green, where is the decency anymore?

I laugh at myself; in all likelihood the asshat who planted this monster is dead or long gone.  Either way, it’s likely I’ll never find him anyway, and judging by all the C-4 that’s packed into the charge cables, there’s not going to be much left of this warehouse.

“Shit, shit, shit,” I repeat over and again, “you knew what you were doing, didn’t you shithead?  You’re not some punk, not some teenager making pipe bombs in his mommy’s basement; you’re a fucking professional and paid for by someone high up on the food chain with enough cash not to care.”

Staring at the bomb now, I don’t think my eyes will stop the timer from moving, but I’ve done far more idiotic things.  There’s no telling how much C-4 is packed into this elevator, nor how much is left inside the warehouse.  I can’t be seen leaving the place just before it blows all to hell either.

I’m starting to hate this city.

I turn my eyes upward, I don’t want to move this elevator, but there is a ladder that will take me to the roof.  If I have any luck at all I’ll be able to flag down one of those flying tight wearing goons I used to associate with, but I’m not holding my breath.  One rung at a time, my life is on borrowed time and I’m climbing the ladder slow, I can’t think of anything more retarded.

If I bothered timing myself, I’d look down at my watch and guess how much time I had left before I became a thousand smaller pieces of myself.  Though, if I had a choice on how I was going to bite it, this would be about the quickest and least painful to go, if I were lucky enough to catch a direct hit.

The access hatch is easy to lift up, and I hoist myself up to the roof with very little complaint from my aching joints.  The adrenaline is pumping hard; I look down the skyline from the third story rooftop.  I’m not as impressed as I was a half an hour ago, but the thought of death will do that to a man.

I’m trying to keep behind some large objects that obscure my frame from being seen by anyone who might be interested at looking at a warehouse nearly about to explode.  Then again, who am I kidding?  I’m at the docks, there’s nothing but warehouse space here, empty warehouse space, who the hell is going to see me anyway?

I laugh at myself, trying to think of a master plan of escape.  ‘I can’t let anyone see me.’ Give your paranoia an inch and it’ll run all over you.  I walk to the east, and climb down the fire escape.  Simple enough and I can still make an insurance claim no problem.  I might lose a little bit of money in the process of finding a new warehouse and replacing inventory, but it’s better than being accused of sabotage and jail, right?

I don’t hail a cab until I’m two miles outside the docks.

* * *

His eyes are roaming all around the room; she’s peering at him through the window just outside the ICU hall.  She’s nervous, she hates hospitals, but she swallows the flood of emotion back inside herself and walks into Frenchie’s room, “Uncle John?”

The brown eyes of Marc Spector’s friend move with the sound of the voice almost unfamiliar to him, “It’s Amanda, do you remember me?”

The ventilator had been removed an hour before, he was finally breathing on his own, a little over a week in a coma has left the once near unbeatable man in a state of child-like wonder, though he couldn’t voice the questions that plague his mind.  Amanda gives Chelsea a look, without a word she asks to be alone with the man she calls Uncle.  “I’m not sure how to say this; I’m not really sure what all this could even mean.”  She struggles to say until she’s sure no one is listening.  “Marc is leaving at all hours of the night, I haven’t seen him in almost two days and he forgot to pick me up from school.”

Frenchie doesn’t move; the worried girl has his undivided attention, though he doesn’t say a word.  He nods and hopes it’s enough to keep her talking.  The young girl pulls the bottle from her pocket, “You know Marc better than anybody, a lot better than me.  What are these?”

She lays the pills on his chest and immediately his eyes sink and he sighs.  “Young lady,” her questions are interrupted by a doctor, “you shouldn’t be in here alone.  This isn’t a place for children.”

Amanda pulls the bottle from Frenchie’s tired fingers, “Doctor, can you tell me what these are?”

Before she can hand it over, “Anti-Psychotics,” Frenchie’s voice is almost as weak as the rest of his body.  He breathes in a deep breath, “suppresses Schizophrenic delusions.”

Amanda takes a look at the bottle again, back to the Doctor and then Frenchie.  “My dad’s crazy?”

Frenchie pushes himself a little farther than the doctor liked to see.  Before the man in the white coat could stop him, Frenchie takes every effort to look into the eyes of Amanda Spector.  “If you found those…”  The pain forces him to pause, despite the copious amount of painkillers in his system, “It’s much worse than that.”

* * *

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