Welcome to the space where I experiment, my weekly serial. It is written raw, not edited at all, and mostly unplanned.
The world is partly based on the background of an unpublished Steampunk game that I worked on with a few friends, which has grown in my mind over the last couple of years. The story is a take on those ultra-violent revenge epics of the eighties where a man’s family is abused and killed, but he survives and seeks vengeance. Needless to say it is a grim, bloody tale, that deals with bad people doing bad things, so be warned.
“Guess you don’t feel comfortable goin’ up with anyone else…” Rose says to Chris Cackles, watching the hate crystallize behind his eyes. She imagines that she can see flecks of Red Wraithstone coalescing to warp him.
Cackles just grunts. His face looks deflated without the customary grin; Rose loves it. Of all of Lawch’s band she hates Cackles the most, she thinks. Cackles had tossed her boy into the septic pit and just… laughed, like it was a joke of some sort. She wants to enjoy his death.
As the last lift vanishes above them, she turns to Cackles. It is difficult to keep from sneering at his cowardice, they are alone, he wants to kill her, but he fears attacking her by himself. Of course, this kind of cowardice has made Chris Cackles a survivor, more dangerous than bolder men.
“I’m going to use the cesspit,” says Rose. “Keep an eye on the goods. If anything goes missing I will know and The Spider will have your head.”
“You having problems, boss? You spent along time at the pit last night…” He manages a weak chuckle. By The One, she hates that grin.
“Yeah, I had the shits, you fuck! Seriously, do I have to add you watching me while I splash my guts out to my reports as well? Fucking old pervert.”
“What do you mean by reports?” Cackles eyes were round with fear now. The Spider was known to punish even minor infractions severely.
“We’ll talk about it when I get back. Keep your sodding wits about you, Cackles, I don’t want any surprises.”
Cackles moves with the quiet grace of a cat, at first Rose thinks it is someone, or something else, stalking her in the dim light. But then he creeps into the circle of lantern-light, his teeth glimmering in a mad grin that seems on the verge of splitting his head in two. In his hand, in a white-knuckled grip, is a particularly vicious looking knife. His fiendish intensity as he closes in on the figure at the edge of the pit is almost terrifying to behold. Indeed, as she watches Cackles slide soundlessly forward, Rose figures that such a grin has probably paralyzed many unfortunates as they glimpsed it, too late.
The silence is shattered as Cackles drives his blade home with a brutal thrust between the shoulder blades. Only Rose is not that figure squatting beside the lantern at the edge of the Cesspit. Cackles grin fades as he realizes it is a dummy, but before he can move, Rose trips a lever and a rope snare closes about his feet and snatches him into the air.
As Rose steps out into the light, Cackles throws his knife at her. Surprised, Rose narrowly, steps aside. He reaches into his boot, but she crosses the distance between them and lands a solid punch on his temple with her metal hand. Cackles immediately ceases to struggle.
Rose has tied Cackles exactly the way she wants him before he begins to stir. His feat, bare now, are dangling in the filth of the Cesspit while a series of ropes hold him above the pit.
“What the fuck, what the fuck! Help!” Cackles begins to shout.
“No one can hear you,” says Rose. “The Lift isn’t even back down yet.”
“You fucking cunt, let me go, let me go.”
Rose spins the wheel that holds the ropes, Cackles sinks to his ankles in shit.
“Oh shit. Please, I don’t want to die,” he whines.
“There is no way you are leaving here alive, Cackles,” said Rose. “You’ve come to the end of your rope, so to speak.”
Rose spins again and Cackles sinks further, screaming in horror.
“Like I said, you are going to die here, Cackles,” Rasps Rose. “But if can answer a few questions, I might just kill you quick and be done with it.”
“What-what do you want to know?”
“Do you remember me, from before?”
“Yes. Your the softborn woman from that little house on the road to Avalain. We did you good… twenty years ago.”
“You understand the irony of your predicament then?”
Rose spins the wheel, Cackles sinks up to his thighs, shrieking.
“I don’t understand, I don’t understand.”
“Yes. What does it mean?”
Rose laughs. “Nevermind. Do you understand where I got the idea to do this to you. What did you do to me and mine where this kind of death might be considered just.”
“Go to hell you rancid fucking cunt!”
This time Rose spins the wheel slowly, lowering Cackles inch by inch. By the time the shit is halfway up Cackle’s belly his defiance has given way to stark terror. He thrashes and screams. Rose stops, baring her teeth as she growls at him.
“What did you do?”
“I killed-killed your boy.”
“I threw him in the shit-pit.”
“That’s right. Then you laughed. You and your friends thought it was quite the joke…”
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I swear by The One that I am sorry. Please just let me go.”
“Fuck you Cackles. You know I can’t let you go.”
“Why? I won’t tell anyone.”
“Bullshit. But that’s not the reason. You see when you threw my brave little boy down that pit, you laughed, but all I could hear was his screaming. He was yelling for me. I still hear that sound every time I close my eyes. I still dream of that moment EVERY HOUR THAT I TRY TO SLEEP! … I still say his name every time I wake from those nightmares… So, I think you can agree that I have to kill you.”
“No, no, no, no…”
“But if you can answer this last question, I’ll do it quick. Are you ready?”
“Are you ready?” Rose snarls.
“What was his name, Cackles? What was the name of my little boy.”
Cackles just stares at her, mute. Rose shakes her head, and then she pulls a rope and Chris Cackles falls free of the web that is holding him, plunging the rest of the way into shit and waste, until only his head remains above. He retches and empties the contents of his stomach into the mess as he struggles.
“You know they say that killing people like this leaves a black mark on your soul,” mused Rose as Cackles struggles, retching, and grunting, to keep his head above the muck. “But I feel damn good about this Cackles. I might actually be able to sleep tonight. Maybe I’ll dream of this moment… I hope so. Enjoy your last breath, you black-hearted bugger.”
Cackles struggles and struggles, but he keeps sinking. By the time Rose was done speaking only his mouth and eyes remained above the shit. Rose meets his gaze one last time, see the hate and the terror, and then he is gone. There is a frantic struggle beneath the surface, and then silence descends once more.
“Rest now, Gared, the bad man is gone,” Rose whispers. Then she turns and begins to take down the rope and pulleys.
Rose was nearly done when a tentacle shot out of the cesspit and snared her leg.