The Mutant King
Chapter 1 (Part 1)
A circle of bats fled the belfry as Dylan Pearlson slouched thru the entrance of the tavern, like darkness seeking out greater darkness. From somewhere atop the city the curfew bell sounded, slow and monotonous . Here and there random shadows scurried into their various abodes, so as not to be caught out at the ceasing of the bell.
Upon entering he is instantly assailed by the familiar scents of stale sex and cheap dope. The walls are wet with human perspiration, the air thick and hard to swallow. The room is a motley assortment of shadows and dark corners, each home to its own particular perversion or excess. Perfectly unclad figures,all in various stages of decomposition and mutation, move languidly about as in a stupor, soliciting any and all vices to anyone who would take them.
In the corner sat a half-blind old nigger tapping some sort of diablo flamenco on a battered six-string, while a lizard girl did a serpentine grind on the lap of a half-dead queer gone too far into that gentle light on some bad dope. Her limbs writhed like a orgy of snakes, the queer just slumped in his chair oblivious to her sensuous rhythm. The assembled council of miscreants and dregs applaud her performance, like watching a drunkard doing a tango with a mop.
The dusty lights, hanging from the ceiling like bodies, seem to cast only shadow. Each table in the room was its own slice of darkness, home to its own peculiar obscenity. Within these shadows any vice could be bought, stolen or killed for. Cardinal virtues were left at the door and mortal sins collected within.
Behind the bar, on any night of the week , could be found Dante Diego Diaz, whose pathetic need to match balls with any and all demanded he be called Triple D. He hoped such a moniker would create a bearable degree of distance from from his family of migrant spics who had slithered into the Freehold on the backs of donkeys. Here was a man with too much to prove and no one who gave a good damn. Thus, it was all the same to him if he poured you 100 proof or watered down piss, whatever his disposition at the moment, so caveat emptor motherfuckers.
As Dylan made his entrance he approached the bar with the steady swagger of a man who knows exactly what he wants and has every intention of getting it. The soles of his shoes stuck to god knows what as he stepped up to the bar. He paid no attention to his surroundings yet his eyes were always keenly open. He lit a crumpled cigarette as he spoke to Diaz.
"I hear you got some new hardware. Send her to my table". He threw some silver on the bar, his tone as matter of fact as though he was making dinner reservations and requesting a seat by the piano player. "Not much left of her", Diaz chuckled, never looking up from the filthy glasses he wiping with an even filthier towel. "Leprosy got her pretty good".
Dylan turned and walked away. "Don't fret. I won't break her". He took his customary table and absently blew smoke rings of oblivion as he waited for the leper girl. As he pulled on the last of his smoke he spotted her, emerging from her own darkness and coming towards him. Her wretched form moved with a sultrier, sexy poise than that of any pink whore in the city. Dylan leaned back and took her in. One breast like a perfect, silken orb. The other a fallen half-moon, wilted and lifeless. Her narrow eyes saw beyond their years, her legs untouched by her cruel malady; perfectly chiseled haunches and calves like a clenched fist. As the rest of her slowly fell to pieces she seemed to be carried upon pillars of finely cut ivory. He wanted her like a fix, but the fix had to come first. After that nothing much mattered anyway. In slow, labored motions he lit another cigarette, while beneath the table the leper girl was a mouthful closer to calling it a night.
"Hey", Dylan's chin rested on his chest as he spoke to the top of the table. "Have you even started or are you just down there admiring me?" He spoke in a long, opium drawl, a familiar dialect in these parts. Tonight he had doubled up his fix and it was coursing thru him like slow redemption. Let there be no mistake about it, Dylan Pearlson was not strung out like the rest of these savages, no sir. He possessed the power to stop, he simply chose not to exercise it. For now he preferred not being able to feel. He had felt enough for one lifetime. He could do without the countless feelings of regret in all its wondrous manifestations. He was thirty-five and did not contemplate thirty-six.
For Dylan and his demons countless the junk and the malignant surroundings he kept to provided him with all the comfort of the womb. Here he could forget his past as well as his present. As for his future, he gave it no more thought than a dog does, probably less.
In his mind, such as it was, he had forfeited his right to a future in the bonfires of the purges. Their flames had long ago consumed his innocence and faith in anything pure and good. And God went with them. Dylan had abandoned God. Or God abandoned him. He didn't fuss over the particulars. It was done and somewhere inside he felt,no, he knew he was all the better for it. All that mattered now, all that was real to him was flesh. Flesh is so elegant in its simplicity. It either is or it is not , no moral ambiguities in between. This was the simple, beautiful truth revealed to him during the purges when his days were spent visiting the various sectors of the Freehold--interrogating, intimidating, incarcerating and incinerating. While his nights, sleepless as they were, he spent sipping tea by the raging bonfires as ashes, each one a life consumed, fell like grey snowflakes into his cup.
Gazing into those flames night after night, how could he conceive of God? Surely, if there was a God, he would have stopped him. Each day,with merely a word or gesture, he gave life or took it away. He was God. In truth he hoped not, as he had no desire for a gods immortality to reflect on his deeds. Dylan harbored no fear of death. He knew full well his catalog of sins and was ready to begin paying for them. Although he was but one of thousands of men and women who carried out the purges, he felt reasonably sure he was the only one cursed with a crystal clear memory of every single face that passed before him on their way to the camps and the fires.
Sometimes, most times, the dope seemed to bring those faces into sharper focus, one after another, in silent procession. At the moment the dope was at its glorious peak, leaving nothing to give the leper girl but a flaccid mouthful, if a mouthful it could even be called.
The surrounding din, though seeming so far from him, suddenly fell into an uncomfortable silence. So uncomfortable that it stirred Dylan from his nod. Scanning the room through heavy lids, his bloodshot eyes fell upon a solitary figure standing resolutely in the doorway. He was a middle-aged man with a rather pallid complexion, which melded seamlessly with his white suite and shoes. The darkness of his surroundings made him appear absolutely luminous, almost angelic. It was just the sort of effect Christus and the other members of the Ministry lived for. Moving among the wicked like righteousness made flesh.
Christus did not strike an imposing figure in the slightest. His gangly frame and pale face did not in any way betray the brutal intent they harbored within. Only his eyes, small and mischievous, set sternly behind round steel-rimmed spectacles, took the spine right out of you. To even lay eyes on a member of the Ministry was an atypical phenomenon. One could easily travel from the cradle to the grave never seeing one of them. Yet there was no one in attendance that evening that did not recognize immediately the manner of man that stood before them. Even the most wretched and vile among them has had someone, somewhere at some time whisper into their ears strange stories about these elusive men.
Christus crossed the room casually, with the calm assurance of a gunslinger. He seemed wholly immune to his surroundings, the very stink in the air moving aside for him. He seemingly made eye contact with everyone in the room. Even the leper girl, peering out from under Dylan's table, did not escape his eye. He said nothing. The uneven grin upon his face spoke of a man who had nothing to fear from even the worst of them. Even Diaz, whose tongue never missed an opportunity to belittle anyone crossing his threshold, found asylum in perfect silence. This stranger's business was not to be hindered, sin itself shrinking away from him.
Dylan could feel his fix quickly dissipating, leaking out of his pores at the very sight of Christus. Not from fear, but rather the unique annoyance of a thousand pinpricks. His presence was nothing new to Dylan, nor was it awe-inspiring. Truth be told, it made him sick. Having been ranked Order Alpha of the Ministry's vanguard he had spent a great deal of time in Christus' company, particularly when the purges reached their terrible peak.
As Christus approached the table Dylan felt his stomach tighten like a sailors knot. His high was practically gone, what remained of it was draining out of him as Christus stood before him, his delicate hands folded in front on him.
"Greetings old friend. We must speak". Whenever Christus speaks one cannot help but detect a slight chuckle that seems to lace his words, making him sound like a child whispering an obscenity.
"I'm kind of busy, pal", Dylan replies dismissively.
"I see". Christus moves a chair from a neighboring table and sits as comfortably as in his own home. As he does, everyone makes an effort to return to their own business, though ever cognizant of his formidable presence. "I must confess, you were not hard to find, Dylan".
"No reason I should be. I'm not hiding." His tone is flat and disinterested. His glazed eyes move about the room inattentively , not making contact with Christus. Like, if you don't look at it maybe it will go away. No such luck.
Christus glances at the outline of tracks embellishing Dylan's arm. "It certainly looks like hiding to me. I wouldn't call it living."
"To each his own, right".
"No". The word comes from his lips with the cold finality of a death sentence. "That may be acceptable for these savages you keep company with. They have no honor. We hold ourselves to a higher code than that. At least you used to".
Dylan leans forward, closing the distance between them. "Look, I was working on a good rush before you came in. Now,I don't know what brought you here after all this time and I don't care. So, if you'll excuse me." He turns his attention to a folded rag on the edge of the table. He slowly unfolds it like a girl unfolding a ribbon from her hair, revealing a bent spoon, a well-worn needle and a few matchsticks. He reaches into his chest pocket and removes a thin, plastic tube. Christus recognizes it right away for what it is. He had seen them confiscated from prisoners during the purges. They were commonly used for smuggling forged papers of drugs. More often the latter. An H head could easily carry two or three in his ass with little discomfort.
Dylan puts the tip between his teeth, bites it off and spits it to the floor. He then empties its contents into the spoon, all the while acting as though Christus isn't there.
"We're not finished, Commander Pearlson." Dylan pays him no mind.
Without further deliberation Christus reaches across the table, grabbing the syringe with one hand and seizing Dylan's wrist with the other, pinning his hand to the table in a death grip. In the same instant, seemingly without pause or interruption, he brings the needle down into the back of Dylan's hand. He executes the movement so swiftly and with such lethal grace that anyone watching does not fully comprehend what has happened until Dylan lets out a blood-curdling scream. The pain is such that it takes whatever is left of his high right out of his throat. He stares wide-eyed at the syringe standing perfectly erect in the back of his hand,his bloodshot eyes leaving his head.
"I sincerely hope you didn't share that thing with any of these creatures", says Christus calmly. Dylan spits from between clenched teeth. "Go to hell!"
Christus brings his fist down in another swift gesture, leaving the needle embedded deeper in Dylan's hand. He than speaks in a voice as cordial as though he had just shaken hands. "I have approached you with the respect due your position. It's time you extend me the same courtesy".
Dylan seethes, "Fuck you!"
Christus' fist comes over the table like a perfectly projected arrow. Blood sprays from Dylan's mouth as three teeth fly into the shadows. He crumples out of his chair, the needle tearing against the flesh as his hand tries to follow the rest of him. Christus sits as calm as a Buddhist monk, not so much as a ripple to his countenance. He turns to his captive audience, all of them struck dumb. "I need two volunteers".
.....to be continued.