Campaign of the Month: October 2017

Blood and Bourbon

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Story Nine, Emmett III

“I hate myself more than any of you.”
—Emmett Delacroix


Date ?

Emmett: Em staggers back, towards the direction Amelie pointed—before she vanished into thin fucking air—and runs, trying to count the blocks as he sprints. But not too hard.

GM: That’s fucking hilarious.

Emmett: I’m dying of laughter. Oh, wait.

GM: I mean, normally it’s opening your mouth that fucks you over. Who’d have thought you’d manage to fuck yourself keeping it closed? I even told you how to make her stick around!

Emmett: I thought I had. In case you hadn’t picked up on it, you’re pretty bad at explaining yourself.

GM: In case you hadn’t picked up on it, you’re pretty bad at picking things up. And not hurting anyone who’s stupid enough to care about you, I guess.

Wonder where she’s going now? Maybe Hell for all those cunts she slobbered over.

Emmett: Cute. Any read on what she said was here?

GM: But hey, maybe Doc Brown fucked her straight. Does a deathbed conversion count when it’s rape?

Emmett: Em grits his teeth and repeats the question.

GM: Gasper repeats his.

Mine’s more important.

Emmett: Hey, why do you think Catholic priests diddle little boys if it doesn’t?

GM: Yeah, good point. You think Doc Brown got diddled by a priest, or was he just born that way?

Emmett: I don’t think anything, I just hope the bastard didn’t touch me. Or her, for that matter. Your turn.

GM: You’re a lot better-looking than her. He could’ve even reused the wig to make you both look like girls. Not the first time someone would’ve done that to you.

Now here’s the real question: whose hole do you figure he pounded more times?

Emmett: He literally diagnosed me with AIDS. Who do you think?

GM: Yeah, but that could’ve been from whoever, whatever the hell was ripping apart your asshole in that neat little vacation spot Mouton sent you. That could’ve been a whole army for all we know.

Emmett: I’m saying if I had AIDS before I rolled into his ward, and he presumably waited for a basic STD test before getting the wig, he wouldn’t have raped the AIDS patient.

GM: You go and hope that.

As Emmett barrels through the tunnels, shades materialize from the dark.

The first is a dark-haired man wearing a physician’s white coat and stethoscope. He looks relatively young for his presumed profession, maybe a few years Lena’s junior. His hair is shaved to a near buzzcut, and his facial stubble is maybe an hour short of five o’ clock. Em can’t say if it’s due to the doctor’s almost-beard or just the lighting, but a shadow seems to spread across his lower face as he smiles down at the madly sprinting young ghost.

Resident_Rapist1.jpg
His throat has also been torn out. Not neatly slit, but savaged as if by some feral beast. Blood freely leaks down his shirt and white coat like runny paint. Further blood leaks, too, from his shoulders, knees, and the crotch of his pants, where an especially large stain coagulates.

He smiles at Em, too widely. The act tears his face and exposes raw glistening muscle.

“Hello there, Em. Figures we’d run into each other down here.”

Emmett: “Oh, what the FUCK!” He peddles his arms to avoid a collision.

GM: The second figure, the bloated and water-logged corpse of a woman, regards Emmett in silence.


Emmett: Guess I got the luck of the draw, cause-of-death wise.

“Uh. So, this is awkward,” Em croaks.

He starts to back up.

“I was actually just thinking about you, Doc.” He points at his legs. “I’m cured!”

GM: The two figures walk after him. Dr. Brown grins wider. Blood leaks from the shredded corner of his lips. “You look good, Emmett! Very good!”

The woman next to hfim gurgles, water spilling from her blue-tinged lips.

Dr. Brown’s eyes flash. His grin spreads wider. “Dying cures a LOT of things!”

Emmett: “Like a complete lack of empathy for fuckable patients? Because to be honest, Doc, you ain’t looking so good.”

GM: “Dying hasn’t gotten in the way of that either, Emmett. You’d be AMAZED what dying can do for you!”

Dr. Brown reaches into his coat pocket. Moans sound from within.

Human moans.

The drowned woman gurgles inarticulately. Her bloated eyes do not open. “shhd… kll hm…”

“Oh, no, no,” Doc Brown smiles. “I’ll get a good price for this one!”

He draws closer. “Don’t struggle, now, Emmett, and I’ll make sure you aren’t slated for the forges.”

Emmett: “Yeah, well, don’t take this the wrong way, but I’ve had about as much as I can take of your smile. Always creeped me out, even before I figured out who you were.”

His eyes narrow, briefly flick over his shoulder, and widen before flicking back to the dead doctor’s eyes, his smile growing.

“So when Amelie gets around to swinging that goddamn sword, I hope she turns that fucker upside-down.”

GM: The drowned woman gurgles and whirls around, surprisingly fast for a corpse in her condition.

Doc Brown whirls to face Em’s ‘friend’ too. He doesn’t frown so much as smile less.

Emmett: Em springs back, his eyes wide, turning in midair and hitting the ground running. He just needs to get to the door, and then he can lose them.

GM:THIS WAY! I’M RUNNING TOWARDS THIS SUPER SNEAKY HIDDEN DOOR!” he hears himself yell.

Emmett: Oh, fuck you. To death.

GM: Two pairs of too-close footsteps thump behind the fleeing ghost.

“It’s time for your medicine, Emmett!” Dr. Brown calls.

Emmett: “If I get a choice, I’d prefer rapey innuendo over lame medical-themed threats!” he bellows in response without turning his head. “You fucking creep!”

So close. So close.

His feet slap against the wet concrete, which is stupid, because he’s supposed to be fucking weightless.

GM: “No, it is time for your medicine,” Dr. Brown audibly smiles as his footsteps thump closer. “There are all sorts of new things down here for me to try on you!”

There’s a better way out of here. Want to take it?

Emmett: What. Do you. Think.

GM: Smarter thoughts than you, usually.

Emmett: What’s the way out you’ve backed me into taking?

GM: The drowned woman’s feet pound against the concrete as she draws closer.

No time. Say you’re coming with me or staying here.

Emmett: His eyes squeeze shut in frustration. I’m coming with you.

GM: There’s a roaring concussion that cracks the darkness like a cannon shot, and then the ground opens up beneath Emmett’s feet. Everything shifts sideways, then spirals around as he pitches backwards, spinning head over heels into a formless black void.

“Aw, nuts!” exclaims Dr. Brown.


Date ?

GM: Em feels as though he’s floating through a dense fog. Downwards. Something is pulling him, relentlessly. Wind whistles shrilly in his ears and tugs at him as powerful gusts buffet him from every direction. Their force tosses him about like a dust mote in the void.

This is it, Em! Let go and enjoy the ride!

Rushes of vertigo and stomach-tightening nausea sweeps through him as he twists about in the dark emptiness. The wind blasts around with him with a thousand screams that drown out all thoughts, except one:

Whether any of them are his.

Emmett: He doesn’t know what’s happening, or why.

A part of him wonders if anything that’s happened over the last—how long ago did he die? It feels like days, already, and yet a few hours at the same time—is real. Or if he was ever real. Maybe Em is just somebody’s heroin-induced, vaguely genre-savvy existential crisis expressed through a nightmare. Maybe there’s nothing but the screaming, ever, always.

But.

Gasper’s an asshole, and he refuses to join the abyss until he’s gotten even.

So.

None of you are me.

GM: You wish.

All Em can see is a swirling darkness that churns around him like storm clouds. He does not know if his eyes are open or closed, but such distinctions seem silly now. The void is exactly the same, whether it’s inside him or outside him.

He continues to tumble in seemingly endless free-fall. There’s a sensation of moving at great speed, as if he’s been pulled and torn by some irresistibly strong force. The darkness before his eyes surges with hungry energies.

He lands in the courtroom’s witness stand with a painful thud. The galleries above him are packed with dark figures, with darker faces he can’t make out. Their low murmurs sound like crackling flames. He can feel the hatred from their collective gaze, even obscured as it is.

Bert Villars leers at him from across the stand.

“You’re late.”

“Too late,” says Christina Roberts from the counsel table.

Caroline Malveaux smirks at him from alongside her.

Emmett: He scowls at those assembled. “If I don’t play along to this shit fantasy, you’re going to hurt me, aren’t you?”

GM: Wood screams as a gavel clangs down once, hard, the sound reverberating across the entire courtroom with a great echo.

“Mr. Delacroix, you are acting in a manner which disrupts this tribunal and prejudices the administration of justice, and are in contempt of court,” Judge Underwood icily pronounces. Her wrinkled face seems far too close as it looms down over Em.

The other threes’ expressions have gone utterly still.

Emmett: He grits his teeth and bows his head. “My apologies, Your Honor.”

GM: “Good boy,” Cash Money says with a puffy-lipped smirk as he twirls his nightstick.

Fingers clack along a keyboard. “‘Em swallowed his pride and said nothing back. Like the little bitch everyone knows he is!’” recites a blonde little girl from the stenographer’s seat.

“Why Sue, ma doll, that’s right as church an’ flapjacks on Sunday mornin’,” grins a large and barrel-chested man wearing an executioner’s black hood. He casually teases the flip switch to the electric chair up and down.

“Mr. Delacroix, you are permitted several minutes to confer with your counsel,” Judge Underwood continues.

“Don’t worry, Em!” exclaims Mouse. He’s dressed in a shabbily ill-fitting suit with a polka-dotted tie that’s so long it trails across the floor. “I’m your lawyer! I’ve watched lots of Law and Order episodes!”

Emmett: Em rubs his eyes. You have anything to add?

GM: No response comes.

Emmett: “Great,” he mutters.

The dilemma is a painful one. Play along or keep fighting? He has no idea what these things want. Or what they’ll do to him if he can’t supply it.

GM: “Let’s look over our case, Em!” Mouse chirps as he hefts a bulging briefcase on top of the witness stand. Several loose papers fly out from the half-closed lid. He tries to grab them but they flit out of his hands. “Um, sorry, Your Honor-ness,” he mumbles to the judge, who regards him with icy silence.

He turns back to Em. “All we need to do is show them you aren’t a bad person, Em! That’ll be easy!” he laughs. “Even I can do that!”

He pulls open the briefcase and more papers fly out. He tries to catch them and half-trips over his own tie as he fails, banging his head against the stand. “Um, really sorry, Your Honor-ness,” he apologizes again, to an even icier silence.

Emmett: “Mouse,” he hears himself say. “I’d like to represent myself. All right?”

GM: “But, Em, I’ve got all this proof! I did lots of research!” Mouse exclaims, his expression crestfallen.

Caroline: “Someone representing themselves has a fool for a client,” Caroline adds with amusement from the sidelines. She ideally studies her fingernails, which before Emmett’s eyes grow into blood-drenched claws.

“But I guess that’s inevitable. Still, I’m surprised you aren’t going to drag him down with you—that’s what you do, right?”

Emmett: He ignores her. “You deserve better than me, Mercurial. Get out of here, okay?”

GM: Bert Villars leers and strokes Caroline’s talons. “Be patient, my dear, they’ll sting worse after he fucks everything up himself. Like he always does.”

Caroline: “Look at his humanitarian act,” Caroline replies, talons morphing back once more into flesh. “It’s cute how he’s so eager to help Mouse here, when it’s too late, after ruining his life once already. Here’s a clue, Emmett: we all deserved better than you, but it’s too late now for any of us.”

GM: “No, he didn’t do that!” exclaims Mouse. “I’ve got proof, I really do!” he cries as he digs through the briefcase, tossing items onto the floor. Papers fly past, then a broken guitar, used condoms, bloody handcuffs, court fees printed on legal stationary, and an ugly-looking shiv. The once-bulging briefcase is empty when he’s done. When he turns back to Em, he’s dressed in an orange jumpsuit, and blood leaks from between his legs.

“I… I don’t understand…” Mouse mumbles. He’s missing several teeth and his face is swollen with bruises. He loudly starts crying. “I just wanted to help you, Em! That’s all I wanted!”

“Classify these under Exhibit 3,092,” Christina Roberts notes boredly.

Caroline: “What did you call yourself, a sinner with a smile?” Caroline asks cruelly. “Why aren’t you smiling still?” Her own visage has twisted into something monstrous, with burning red eyes, too long canines. Her clothing has warped into what might have once been a white dress, now stained with blood, grime, and worse that barely hides her maimed flesh whipped to ribbons, fingernails ripped out, with long cruel needles through her exposed breasts.

GM: “Ferget the chair,” Bud grins, pulling off his hood. The man’s ruddy face is wide and blonde-haired, with a strong thick jaw. “We’ll feed ya to her, Delcoy, once ya’ve fucked yerself sideways ta Sunday. Vampires, innit?”

Emmett: He blinks, temporarily jarred out of the menagerie of old ghosts. “So that’s her deal, huh? And here I am thinking answers aren’t free.”

He glances around the room. “You want to scare me? Do better than The Shining. I’m a bad person, and I knew that before I died. You’re beating a dead horse, literally, and I’m not scared of what already happened.” He glances at Mouse. “I’m sorry for whatever happened to you. I’ll fix what I can, and carry what I can’t on my shoulders too. You’re a goddamn idiot, but you never deserved to meet me.”

GM: Judge Underwood’s gavel splits the courtroom not with a bang but a shrill scream. The distant crowd of spectators to writhes, swoons, clutches their ears, and finally freezes. Caroline’s, Bud’s, Villars’ Cash Money’s, Sue’s, Christina Roberts’, and even Mouse’s face go as still as a paused YouTube video.

“Mr. Delacroix, this is your final warning,” the judge intones, her deeply lined eyes bulging with hate.

Emmett: He closes his eyes and hangs his head, hating himself.

He remains silent.

GM: “‘Fix what I can and carry what I can’t.’ How very zen-sounding, Em,” Bert Villars leers, blowing cigarette smoke that smells like insect repellent towards the young man’s face. “I hope that makes him feel better in his suffering, I really do.”

“C’mon, Mouse-boy, yer vampire-chow now,” Bud grins. Cash Money simply offers another puffy-lipped smirk as he hefts up the jump-suited, not even struggling Mouse together with Bud, and then stuffs him head-first into Caroline’s toothy mouth. Tears, screams, and blood leak from the torn hole over Mouse’s ass as Caroline’s throat bulges impossibly wide, swallowing him whole.

“Objection, Your Honor,” calls Christina Roberts. “None of this evidence is new. The defendant is correct, even he knows how many lives he ruined before he died. But does he know how many he’s ruined by trying to fix them now?”

She stares up into the gallery’s formless mass of spectators. “I call Amelie Savard before the court.”

Emmett: It’s a cheap trick. Some sick play to extract the self-loathing he’s already had months to pick apart. He doesn’t need to hear it.

But his eyes narrow anyways. If he were a cat, his ears would stiffen.

GM: No response comes from the gallery.

“Maybe she’s scared we’re going to rape her too,” Cash Money smirks.

“I wonder, Emmett, where is she now?” Christina Roberts asks. “What will happen to her now, after you got what you wanted and threw her aside? Please, explain before the court.”

Emmett: “She’ll return to the hospital. She’ll live. I’m glad I didn’t manage to keep her around—she narrowly avoided running into, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, a literal ghost rapist.”

GM: “Oh really, Emmett?” asks Christina Roberts. “How do you know she made it back?”

“Or maybe she was better off not making it back,” leers Bert Villars. “Who knows what she might wake up to, mmm?”

Emmett: “I don’t know,” he says truthfully. “I just know that wherever she went was probably safer than what we were about to walk into.”

GM: “Let’s find out then,” replies Christina Roberts. “The prosecution calls Amelie Savard to the stand.”

Amelie: Septic is the only word for the thing before Em. The smell is unbearable: the unmistakable sickly-sweet rot of death and necrosis. Whatever the hospital bed once looked like, the mattress is soaked in black-red fluids. Molds and fungi create a bed not even fit for a corpse. Yet the figure laying in it still moves, barely breathing. Her nearly skeletal form struggles to take in rattling mold-spored breaths that betray the fine line she straddles between life and death.

Only the tattered bottom half a hospital gown covering her from her hips to her ankles, a naked breast-less chest reveals horrific impact bruises and festering infected surgical cuts, ribs clearly visible on the starved form besides the gaps where they have obviously to any viewer been broken and caved into her body. The legs are withered. The toes are black and ooze puss from their severed stumps. The arms are worse. Where chunks aren’t missing, there are hundreds of bite marks and festering gashes. Maggots infest both her chewed arms. The trench of gnawed flesh around her collarbone attracts a macabre necklace of writhing white and red that gleefully feed from the half-corpse.

The hood over her head is the only mostly dry cloth present, but red and white teeth are clearly exposed through gnawed hole in the fabric. The scared young woman who Emmett met is devoid of her own lips: they’ve been chewed to scraps along with the bag in front of her mouth. Whether that was to fuel her life force or in a desperate, insane bid for freedom, he can’t tell. But he can see her teeth, broken and jagged, pieces of flesh caught on their hooks and edges. But ‘it’ keeps rattling off breaths. The head turns like a sliding block of stone towards Emmett, speaking through shredded remains of lips in an unnaturally crystal clear voice that stabs into his mind.

“Emmett. You useless rat. How dare you show your face on my death bed after you abandoned me,” the voice hisses, her form shifting in the bed. Or rather, her skin does. Something the size of a fist makes its way over her sternum. Blood and puss press out of the dozens of fresh-stapled wounds on her broken body before the thing ducks back behind her rib cage.

“Why didn’t you find Tantsy? Or did you ever intend on finding her, just to leave me to die because you got off on torturing me. Like that family you sold. I wonder if she likes her new life being bent over and ass-raped. You ‘Nawlins’ savages can only get off when someone suffers, right? But how was I ever not doomed relying on a useless ‘thing’ like you. You couldn’t teach me how to do a damn thing, chipped my spirit because you got off telling me I was raped by some sick nigger, forcing me to call myself a dyke when I wasn’t. You schizophrenic waste. That voice is no visitor, it’s just you, everything it says to hurt you is every fiber of your being trying to make you suffer like you fucking deserve. But it’s fine, Emmett. It’s fine. Just you wait for me. I could come there alive, imagine how powerful I will be in death. I’ll twist your form, flay you again and again and again, I’ll slam a hammer of my all my blackest bile and make you into a fucking ashtray. And I’ll have all the time in the world to repay you for doing this to me.”

The figure on the bed rattles and laughs manically, stirring her skin to bubble. Dozens of fist-sized impressions ons her black and blue skin stir like a wasp’s nest until several staples fly from her body. Tiny clawed hands jut from every one of the scars as they rip apart the staples. Her body seizes up as rats gnaw and claw their way out of her body, one after another. They gorge on the maggots and mushrooms before turning to the body itself. Flesh rips and rends as the black cloth stares at Emmett hungrily, sunken impressions acting as eyes. They glare at him with an insane and quietly focused hatred.

GM: “The defense will answer the witness,” Judge Underwood’s stern voice rings out. Her eyes are livid with hate as they focus on Em.

Emmett: He closes his eyes, and counts down from five.

He shouldn’t.

Bad idea.

Very bad idea.

“Permission to cross-examine the witness?”

GM: The judge stares at him.

“Granted.”

Emmett: Fuck, really?

He isn’t a punching bag. There’s no need to give him anything, in this game.

Unless the rules say he’s allowed to play.

And if he can play…

He steps out, stares at the Amelie-phantom. “Ms. Savard, you allege that I couldn’t teach you, I quote, ‘to do a damn thing?’”

Amelie: “You sang the song of an obese Hawaiian faggot, and shunted me down three floors to crash into cement. After, like I said, forcing me to call myself a dyke. I asked you to help me go through walls, you useless rat, and you sang a fucking song.”

Emmett: “I sang you one of the most talented artists of his time, but besides the point. And I didn’t force you to call yourself anything. I convinced you to go along with my only lead for getting us out of an impossibly dangerous situation, which featured, among other things, fucking rapist ghosts and Christ knows what else. Oh, and it worked. So maybe you’ll never thanked me, but you know what? I did the best I could. I’m only sorry neither of us were smarter.” He leans forward. "So here’s my question. What the fuck did you do? While I was making mistake after supposed mistake, what were you doing to get us out? "

Amelie: “Oh you wanted me to go along with you? It must have been so hard not to just be able to say; ‘I need you to trust me,’ to the terrified first person you’d ever seen in the underworld. You could have just stopped and fucking explained things to me, like a normal person! I didn’t have a fucking voice giving me the guide to the recently fucking deceased you fucking moron! I got you off the street, away from windows, so the tower couldn’t destroy you like a lemming! I knew there were tunnels under the hospital, and how to get there. I gave you where to find someone who could fucking help you, and when I knew I’d slow you down, I told you to just leave me and run. I sacrificed for you! It cost you NOTHING to take the time to try and speak with me, and instead you put on a song and dance. Does being a ghost make you feel important? Did you not get enough attention in the world of the living!? Where do you think I vanished after falling three or five or however the fuck many stories, Emmet!? WHERE!?”

Emmett: “And what did I do, when you asked me to leave you?” he asks quietly. “Did I abandon you? Did I do the easy, selfish thing and cut you loose? Or did I keep trying to do the right thing, even when I didn’t know what was happening?”

He looks to the jury, to the judge. “Did I commit any crime in trying to be a good person, for once in my miserable existence?”

GM: Judge Underwood bangs her gavel down on the bench.

YES!” she roars.

A sound like crackling flames goes up from the jury’s phantasmal outlines. Each of their black eyes is a tiny fruit ripe with loathing, and the time has come to reap their hateful harvest. A thousand feet stomp against the floor as they collectively scream, gnashing needle-like teeth:

YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YESYESYESYESYESYES!!! YYYEEESSSSSSS!!!”

As one, every figure in the courtroom leaps from their seats and surges over the stands in a furious tide.

“Well done, Emmett! You’ve turned everyone against you all over again!” comes Bert Villars’ phlegmy, rasp-like laughter.

Cash Money seizes Em and twists his arms behind his back. A pair of handcuffs clink. “You’re under arrest,” he declares with a puffy-lipped smirk.

“Such a perennial fuck-up,” Christina Roberts declares with a shake of her head.

The mob howls for blood. The hateful tide washes over Em. They spit in his face. They kick at his sides. They throw garbage at his hair. He can see their faces, up close. Mom. Affelbach. Dad. Dino, still missing his penis. Someone he “borrowed” money from and never paid back. What was even their name? Someone he claimed to have terminal cancer to. Another nameless victim fleeced. The interior design chick he picked up. What was it he even did to her, that she’s here? There have been so many, all victims of the same lies and sob stories. All screaming for his blood.

Bud and Cash Money interpose themselves between some of the kicks and blows. “Now now, y’all gotta wait for the big finish,” the big man grins. The jury hisses and boos even as it parts like the red sea.

The big finish.


“You suppose you can’t die twice, Emmett?” Christina Roberts inquires.

Emmett: “I think we can still work something out,” he says, keeping his voice calm. “After all, you don’t want to throw good money after bad, and I couldn’t even die correctly the first time.”

GM: His voice is shrill and high-pitched, barely short of panicked screaming as it comes out. The mob roars with laughter.

“You always thought you were so smooth!” Bert Villars jeers as Bud and Cash Money slam onto whatever the fuck that thing you die on is killed. There are so many screams, are any of them his as the straps pull mercilessly tight into his arms and legs, as the blood starts to well from his limbs. Bud holds up Sue as she leans in close and licks it up.

“This tastes right!” she smiles.

“You bet it’s right, darlin’. Tasty fer us all,” the big man grins.

“It takes like justice,” comes a new voice from the crowd.

The crowd’s bloody howls quiet.

Lena strides forward. The same Lena he saw in the hospital. No longer plump, but thin and gaunt, with a lined face and gray in her thin wispy hair, someone who looks more like his grandmother than an older sister. She silently prepares the lethal cocktail that killed him last time and holds up the dripping needle.

“You don’t deserve a second chance.”

“I know what you did. I know what you promised to do. To your own niece and nephew? Haven’t you hurt us enough?

She slowly shakes her head as she takes Em’s arm and clinically searches for a suitable vein.

“Same old Em…”

Judge Underwood’s stern face leans in close.

“Do you wish to make a statement?”

His audience is watching.

Emmett: “I do.”

He gazed up at them, the faces of his own conscience, mouths given too-sharp teeth.

He stares up at Lena, his eyes searching hers.

His next words are quiet. “I hate myself more than any of you. And I’m sorry, Lena. When it’s done, I’ll go to hell. I’m okay with that.”

“But I’m not ready to leave. Not while the problems I left behind fuck things up even more. I don want to stay behind, but some part of me needs to. And that’s the fucking truth, whether you want it or not. You fake bastards.”

He tilts his head backwards, shows them the name of his neck. “You think it’s hard to give you what you want? You think I relish trying to pick up after myself? You think YOU scare me? Try the thought of failing you all ONE MORE TIME!”

His voice is a scream, now, ragged. His eyes remain dry as a corpse. “So BRING IT! YOU WANT TO BURN ME BEFORE I HURT ANYBODY ELSE? THANK FUCKING CHRIST!”

GM: The furious mob remains silent. Christina’s, Caroline’s, Amelie’s, Bud’s, Villars’ Cash Money’s, Bud’s and Sue’s faces are all still.

Judge Underwood’s eyes glint.

“Very good, Mr. Delacroix. Lie still. Embrace Oblivion…”

Lena stabs the needle into Em’s arm and depresses it. It hurts. He writhes and buckles in his restraints. But that wasn’t supposed to happen. The first component of the lethal cocktail was supposed to induce paralysis.

The judge’s eyes narrow.

A scream tears its way from Em’s lips, raw and needful. He’s burning up inside where the needle stabbed him. Heat shoots through his veins.

“Inject him again-”

The judge’s voice is cut off as the heat in his bloodstream becomes fire. It’s unbearable, but it’s not, because it must be born. Em screams and white-hot flame billows from his mouth. The furious crowd screams too and recoils. Their dark features melt like wax beneath the heat.

Cash Money and Bud shoulder their way past the flaming spectators and grab Em, and suddenly they’re screaming too as their hands catch fire. Em sits up as the leather straps burn away. Judge Underwood’s gavel furiously bangs against something.

“Order, ORDER in the court-!”

Emmett: He snarls, given a tool at last, and opens wide in front of Bud first, flame pouring like righteous fucking waters.

GM: Underwood’s voice vanishes too over the fire’s crackling tongues, which are swiftly becoming an all-consuming roar. Em looks for Bud’s face, and though it’s gone, it somehow doesn’t seem that important anymore. Em breathes in the smoke. It’s white and pure, like steam. It doesn’t make him cough. It fills him up. It makes him feel powerful. He looks down and sees he’s floating high above the crowd. They look like dolls, no, ants, from where he is. There’s a bright white light. It’s warm, and it’s right, and he floats towards it…


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