Alex Wonder Falls in Love

FABLE 3

 

 

Alex hung in suspended animation. An unmoving blob of tissue and bone floating in synthetic amniotic fluid.

One tick from a second’s tock and Alex lay in a bed of foam and down.

Music

Screech

Silent void

Asleep, the mind breaks into separate wholes and follows the paths of musical notes. Tendrils of neurons mold into teleporting tubes. And once again, a piece of Alex found itself…

Awoken…

Born…

Drawn…

Written…

Sculpted…

…in a world different and yet the same.

Rumors of scandal and stories of myth stirred a small island community after the sudden appearance of a baby whose skin mirrored the blackness of a moonless night. Whispers of the demoness who would bear such a child hopped around the island. However, not one accusation corroborated with another. Ninety-seven different women couldn’t give birth to the same child, now could they?

Accusations found the men next. Sea farers, traders, adventurers, colonizers, slavers, pirates, and naval officers must have returned with some dreaded disease in their seed, infecting the righteous women folk.

Cooler heads eventually prevailed, after nine lynchings, four beheadings, two stonings, and a single disembowelment. The child must have snuck onto the ship. Saw the pure bright whiteness of the ship’s crew and stowed aboard. Or, and this more likely than anything else, one soldier impregnated a distant islander, who in return secretly tossed the weaning child onto the ship without anyone the wiser.

Although only a year old, by what the people could figure, Alex observed and comprehended each fear based argument and rationale as he hopped from one family’s care to the next. After six months, when Alex had circled the island once, then twice, and finally thrice, the citizens of No Regard set him in a child sized schooner and bid him a bon voyage, farewell, and safe travel to the Island of Holy Monks.

Alex’s little sail boat, sans sail, drifted for weeks under an unbearable hot sun. The dumb bastards from No Regard neglected to provide any element of shade for the infant. However, as if by divine providence, or perhaps an old friend in the sky, a lone cloud stood guard until the boat safely sunk into the wet sand of the Island of Holy Monks.

Hundreds of tiny schooners dotted the western side of the island. Years earlier someone had seared names into the wood. Johnny, Alan, Will, Buddy, Shawn, Doug, and so on and so forth. Most of the makeshift gravestones had rotted away, leaving partial or illegible names.

One monk sat atop a hill overlooking said graveyard. Nearly one week ago, a carrier pigeon from No Regard had dropped off a message.

 

NEW RECRUIT COMING!

 

Brother of Death and Burial held the crumpled message in one hand and a spade in the other. Years ago, he had assumed the island of No Regard, for some reason or another, wasn’t receiving his multiple notices of Cease and Desist. Every few months one dead, black baby after the next silently arrived at port. Brother D & B stopped sending letters after the eighty-ninth dead child washed ashore.

That was over fifty-two years ago, a long enough span for optimism to devolve into pessimism and accept that the people of No Regard not only received Brother D & B’s letters, but also didn’t give two shits. So, B of D & B started digging a hole for the island’s new arrival, timing it to coincide with Alex’s exact moment of arrival.

“What’s with the hole?”

After B of D & B’s funeral—along with the standard week of mourning and fasting—the Monks turned their attention to Alex, the wonder infant who could walk, talk, and reason as if he were a man as well as exhibit the aura and radiance of a great sage. The type of which prophecies are written. A shame these monks didn’t find it necessary to record their dreams or visions. So, and to their own demise, they raised him like any other initiate into the brotherhood.

As one might deduce, Alex was the only black kid on the island. This didn’t mean the monks weren’t diverse, however. Boys and men with various hues of yellow, peach, white, olive, red, and light cocoa lived and learned within the compound. None, however, with as dark a hue.

“Almost like a void to light.” Brother Tactless had said.

Despite his glaring difference, Alex quickly made friends. Liked by all except a handful who believed his presence threatened their popularity and status--unaware of the irony in their ambition to receive accolades as the wisest and most humble of monks.

Years streamed like a roll of film. The monotony of a monk’s life: studies of the mind; working of the body; training of the will; cleansing of the soul. Four tenants of faith. Four keys to true humanity. Nurtured and refined for seventeen of the longest, most boring years one could live.

Alex had his best friend, Dickard, who dared to achieve Brother who Responds with Witty Retort. B of RWR for short. A pudgy ball of white dough, Dickard stood a direct contrast to Alex. Brother Hindsight would later realize he should have named the pair Yung and Yang. Or Coco and Vanilla. Or Ebony and Ivory. The regret at missing out on such brilliant names plagued the monk until his dying day, repeating only three phrases the final five years of his life. “Ying, Yang. Chocolate Vanilla swirl. Ebony and Ivory,”

Bunkmates and class partners, Alex and Dickard were inseparable up until their final test before graduation. As the senior monks separated the future generation of enlightened teachers into their assigned groups, Alex and Dickard experienced an unpleasant break in their friendship. 

As with any Holy monk/priest type of society no transition into senior membership was complete until the passing of one final test. And what kind of final test for teenage boys would it be if it didn’t include some sort of sexual temptation?

For the boys of Group A, in which Dickard stood, that test came in the form of forty days and forty nights resisting the beautiful women of Mammary Gland Resort. Same duration of time for the boys of Group B, the only difference in destination—Adonis Island—home to well-oiled muscles and Greco-Roman wrestling.

And Group C? Well, those poor souls, of which Alex currently found himself, had to not only suffer forty days and nights of temptation on Adonis Island but also an additional forty days and nights on Mammary Gland Resort. With only a six-hour break in between. Essentially the amount of time to sail from one island to the next.

While no science is exact and no religion perfect, the Elder Monks stood by their seventeen or so years of observing each graduating pupil and pairing him with his appropriate group.

Alex surely disagreed with his group placement but what could he do? Tell his teachers that regardless of his love for bright flowers and occasional moments of effeminate behavior like painting his nails and designing outfits for his dorm mates, he wasn’t aroused by the same sex—not that there was anything wrong with it. Or he could plead for Dickard’s wellbeing—that his best friend might stumble into the darkness if alone. Then there was the real reason. A forty day and night sausage fest and potential threat to Alex’s manhood followed by beautiful babes farther than the eye can see guaranteed failure.

The Monks felt different.

“You’re where you’re supposed to be.”

“Be vigilant and remember your training.”

“Do not worry what may awaken.”

“Fear not the hardness of the situation.”

“Resist the shudder of that tight squeeze into the forbidden cave.”

The first forty days and nights were surprisingly enjoyable. A literal and figurative cakewalk. Alex made a ton of new friends, received presents galore, ate the choicest cuts of meat, and even had offers to serve in the island’s government. Both the young and old danced as Alex pounded the bongos, roared when Alex sang, and wept to his poetry.

Seven of Group C’s twenty failed and remained on Adonis as Alex and the other eleven victors bid farewell to the weeping chorus of young men begging them to stay. Undeterred, Alex and the other remaining twelve students of holy and mystical arts set sell for Mammary Gland Resort.

Alex tried to sleep during the trip, but couldn’t because eleven young men wouldn’t shut up about resisting some hard bodies. They laughed and boasted that the most difficult part had passed and that the remaining forty days and nights would flash forward as if mere hours.

Fools. Pride boasts before it collapses. Alex foresaw a bleak return for one member. Singular. Sole. Uno. And Alex wasn’t too sure it would be him.

Their arrival on Mammary Gland Resort stood in contrast with their festive greeting on Adonis Island. Dead silence on an empty beach. Even the tide fell quiet as it rolled onto the sand. Once joyous faces drooped into a rigid anxiety.

Where were the women? Better yet, where was the prior group? Group C had received strict instructions to greet the departing victors of Group A, share in a prayer of strength, a praise of victory, and perhaps exchange a story or two.

Alex disregarded the pleading looks and hopped out of the boat. Better to get it over with. South presented a dense jungle while east and west a vast beach littered with driftwood and broken shells. Left, right, or straight ahead into the brush? The other twelve stood behind Alex and projected a collective thought. No way were they walking into that jungle.

“See you on the other side, then.” Alex said, and plunged into the damp darkness.

As if someone flipped a switch, the jungle woke with the sounds of singing birds, chattering bugs, and squeaking primates. Slowly, the air pulsed with the rhythm of distant drums. The tickling of wood against an ivory xylophone made its entrance. An aroma of lavender, lilac, and jasmine swept in with the cool breeze.

Run

Flee

Get

the

hell

out

you

fool

Alex’s naked torso prickled as the wind cooled the beads of sweat running down his chest.

Trouble

Alex’s mind reached out to find something—anything—to keep him grounded. A pink haze of euphoria enveloped his field of vision.

Screams erupted less than a mile behind him. Terror. Pain. Then the screams stopped, replaced by eleven moans of passionate release.

Visions of smooth skin, large breasts, and seductive lips clouded Alex’s good judgement. Large, blue eyes invited him to dive into the bubbling pool of unreserved ecstasy.

Alex struggled to breathe as his throat tightened. Heart hopped out of rhythm. He reached out further, past the trees, toward the sun.

One…

        Two…

                  Three…

Years of training and discipline took control. Breathing returned to its subtle rhythm. Heart back to its groovy beat. Alex’s erection, however—

“That shouldn’t happen.”

Alex flicked at the large lump in his pants and cringed at the simultaneous sensation of pleasure and pain. Meant only one thing, he was fucked both figuratively and literally if he didn’t get the hell out of there.

“Stay.”

The seductive hiss froze Alex back in place.

Five women, naked except for neon colored paint expertly brushed across various parts of their body, growled as they prowled his way. He gulped.

Hairless. Everywhere.

The paint seemed to accentuate their curves more than hide them. Alex shook and shuddered.

“Mount, fondle, bite, kill me.”

Five voices in his head replied, “Gladly.”

Long fingernails slid across his chest, back, and stomach until they found his waistband. Buttons popped. Pants slid down to his ankles. One of the women squatted to better face his penis when finally let loose from his boxer shorts. Two of the others rubbed his legs. Another made waterfalls with her fingers from the nape of his neck to the crest of his buttocks. Another stared into his eyes as she took hold of his finger and lightly sucked on it.

Alex’s eyes rolled back as he released a guttural moan. The one pulling on his boxers started to laugh—a laugh of victor over spoils—but quickly stopped and screamed instead.

Fingers stopped rubbing, scratching, and squeezing. Mouth quit sucking. Four gasps followed by a scream, and the five were off and running.

As blood found its way back to Alex’s brain, he started to feel rather proud of himself and little Alex. However, the cracking of twigs revealed a rainbow-colored anaconda slithering between his legs. He nearly screamed and ran as well, but the giant snake motioned its head for Alex to follow.

The colors flowed and shimmered like a hypnotic spell from which Alex could not look away.

Man will be your doom.

And I will be your god.

“No.”

The sound of his own voice woke Alex from his trance. Hadn’t there been an orphan boy who lost his life to a hypnotic snake? Or had that been just another morality tale? Alex searched for the rainbow snake but couldn’t find it. He did, however, notice that he had entered an unmolested clearing.

A waterfall pounded into a dark lagoon. Water frothed in an explosion of white and blue, tapering off into a flat, calm veil of deep purple. The roar of the fall quieted as Alex’s eyes trailed away from it and toward—

Snip

Snap

It became difficult to breathe again.

A young woman of cream colored skin lay naked on the shoreline. The flutter of heart and throb of penis felt different from his earlier encounter. Less shameful and dirty. A strange urge to talk to her beckoned him forward. To learn her likes and dislikes. Dreams and desires.

“Hello.”

Alex spoke without realizing it.

Her smile reflected a danger Alex had not considered. Something in that display was more dangerous than any sexual touch, grind, or moan presented by the horny five from earlier.

Voices, small and far too distant, cried warning. Too late, for Alex was already intoxicated by her pure and innocent allure.

“You’re…different from the other monks.” She said.

Alex nodded and, for no reason he could rationalize, sat down next to her and sang the official monk history.

She clapped when he finished and introduced herself as the young maiden, Tia. After exchanging pleasantries, she invited him to lunch at her place and meet her bunk mate Amy.

Alex eagerly accepted. The two chatted, sang, and laughed during the two-hour walk. Every time she spoke or touched his hand, a little bit of his internal armor chipped and dissolved. His body vibrated with a low hum and tingle he couldn’t quite explain.

During that two-hour walk, the pair aged by five years and knew one another in a way more intimate than family or brotherhood could provide. Alex tore out a piece of his heart and handed it to Tia, who graciously accepted and plunged it into her own.

When the giddy couple arrived, Alex found Dickard waiting outside the entrance to Tia and Amy’s cave. Dickard’s face melded and molded between surprise, relief, and shame.

“Alex?”

That baritone to near tenor sound partially woke Alex from his stupor.

“Dickard?”

The best friends embraced, stared into each other’s eyes, and together said, “I’m not going back!”

If misery loves company, then failure craves brotherhood. Another pair of failed monks. Not the first, certainly not the last. And so, Alex and Dickard found themselves bound to Tia and Amy in spirit and law.

For a time, all was pleasant. Alex and Dickard forgot about their island home. Memories of growing up as a monk faded into a gray fog neither desired to penetrate. Within days, the cave evolved into a proper palace for Tia and Amy, who in return birthed them a son each.

Alex and Dickard worked as men do and expanded the boarders of their grove of bananas, oranges, and grapes; welcomed new men paired with known women; created friendships; developed a community different from the neon painted sluts who fucked the last drop out of a man before slicing his throat and feeding on his flesh.

Days passed with work and play while the nights supplied parties of wine, music, and dancing. Enjoyment by all and for all—sadness for none—their unspoken motto.

Until one day…

        the monotony…

                  sameness…

                            uneventful parade produced cracks in the façade.

Alex woke one day to a tightening in his chest. The world blurred. Steps faltered with lack of balance. Electrical waves of anxiety and uncertainty zapped his cerebral cortex—fried his frontal lobe.

Dreams of untraveled worlds and time kept him sleepless. Nagging doubt at God knows what created an aversion to food and drink.

The ambiguity

The ambiguity

The Goddamned ambiguity to it all.

Why in God’s name did his mind press him into such unintended madness?

Neither Tia nor Amy, and not even Dickard noticed Alex’s discomfort and loss of forty-five pounds. Why bombard them with phantom problems?

But then he nearly died. Sleepless nights led to hallucinations and ghost walking. Twice he nearly walked to the edge of a cliff overlooking a six-hundred foot drop onto jagged rocks and bleached corral. Thankful, the unattended children (one his own) found and stopped him.

When Alex told Tia, Dickard, and Amy about the unseen weight crushing his soul, they disregarded it as nothing more than a bad diet and boredom.

“Get a hobby,” Tia suggested with a wink to Amy.

“I could help you find one.” Amy said on cue.

Dickard only stared, a flare in those eyes Alex had never seen before. That wasn’t exactly true, but Alex, in his desperation, could not recall.

Days circled with Alex and Amy lying in a grove, watching the clouds and deciphering their hidden form. Alex wasn’t certain, but he felt as if Amy were trying to hint at something. She would bring up the size of Alex’s member—or at least what she had heard from Tia—and laugh at how if it were true, then Dickard truly was Alex’s exact opposite.

“Don’t get me wrong. He’s good with the tongue, but sometimes a girl needs something thicker and longer.”

Amy always laughed and claimed to be joking, but after hearing it on average of five times an outing, Alex wasn’t so certain. Nights brought on a new wave of loneliness as Tia spent less time in the bedroom with him. He could hear her laugh with Amy over God knows what. Sometimes Dickard’s laugh clanged and broke the melody. No matter what, however, Tia’s attention and conversation always centered around Amy.

After three months without sex, Alex found himself hardening whenever Amy walked with him through the poppy fields. He would pleasure himself as Amy bathed in the lagoon. Ashamed, he confessed his sin. Tia demanded he describe it in full detail.

“No, I’ve seen that! Describe Amy.”

As he got to the description of how hard and dark her nipples looked when she burst from beneath the water, Tia mounted and rode him for hours.

The pattern of bedroom loneliness, erotically and shameful charged outings with Amy, and occasional sex with Tia went on for nearly a year. In that time Alex lost more weight and a pit deep in his soul developed.

“I’m losing them.”

Alex realized it one night when he found Tia sitting in Amy’s lap, playfully slapping her breasts and toying with her hair. Amy laughed in wholesome fun while Dickard watched and (perhaps unknowingly) slowly rubbed his pawn.

The electrical shocks zapped with more intensity, nightmares more frequent, weight loss near deadly. While Amy continued to toss hints, Tia ignored him, and Dickard became near unrecognizable.

And what does a man, no longer in love, do to keep grip on that sad façade?

Whatever the fuck it takes.

If two could become one, why not four? Desperation makes fools of us all. Amy was the first to say yes. Tia agreed on one condition, a taste of Amy’s honey pot. And Dickard, only if he could slide into Tia’s most forbidden hole.

The wine was poured. Weed lit. Special bark brewed. As Alex had hoped and prayed, the four bodies melded into two and then one. Alex and Amy. Tia and Dickard. Amy and Tia. Amy and Alex. Amy and Tia. Amy and Tia again. And again. And again. And after Dickard had fallen asleep, Amy bounced on Alex one more time, for good measure.

Whatever pureness had lived in Tia hardened at its last when she noticed the joy in Amy’s eyes. Dickard’s love for Alex died as he witnessed the same. Only one could have Amy, and if not one, then two—but only two—and none so black as night.

As Amy slept peacefully under the arms of a man she had desired for years, Alex stared at the ceiling, heart beating with a wretched sadness worse than before. Somehow, he realized, this wouldn’t make things better, but only worse. But he refused to accept it and forced his mind to believe a fantasy. To the left he rolled, as was his way, and settled himself to sleep under the safety of a lie.

The subtle degradation of a long con goes unnoticed, perhaps unaccepted, for years. It isn’t until a grand, albeit foolish, gesture crushes a rotted foundation.

Dickard neither spoke nor joked with Alex the following day. Or the day after that, and the day after that—into not one—not two—but three weeks. Tia spent less time in bed with Alex and insisted he sleep in the guest room. Amy avoided him completely, by choice or not, Alex wasn’t certain. His mind had abandoned him too. Instead of the gentle whispers from people’s thoughts, he heard a piercing wail of emptiness and regret.

Increased solitude produced an unbearable loneliness. A deep void that widened each time he stumbled upon a laughing crowd, kissing couple, or Tia and Amy (who would always drag Dickard off into some hut they had built near a cliffside).

Alex resolved himself to walks through the jungle. Excursions lasted hours at first. The continual exclusion, however, lead to days and nights away from home. He would sleep wherever he dropped from exhaustion. After the tenth night, he woke to a painted nympho riding him like a carousal. The will to fight against the rocking tide of her body drained away with his essence.

The following night brought two new riders. One, with glowing green painted on her cheeks and breasts, nearly tore his jugular as she bit into his neck. Teeth broke skin and the blonde moaned at the taste of his blood.

A naked brunette fingered Alex’s fresh wound and rubbed a streak of blood across her cheeks, breasts, stomach, and hairless crotch before mounting Alex. Together, the three howled at the moon and expelled more fluid than any of them previously thought possible.

Three women arrived the next night. Then four. When five arrived, Alex suggested they wait a few nights, allow him rest—his blood levels had him near death’s door.

They ignored his suggestion. By the sixth night, he nearly passed out, but one of the nasty nymphos gave him some concoction of alcohol, blended fruit, and a powdery substance he didn’t recognize. New life and prowess flowed through his veins.

The seventh and final night should have killed him as the most experienced climbed and rode for over an hour—into a final crescendo of what should have been orgasm followed by death for Alex. A death that left most young monks in smiles.

Alex saw admiration, awe, anger, and fear in the young woman’s eyes. Other women began to question her skill. An argument developed followed by a fight that resembled a mix of wrestling and lesbian orgy. Alex grabbed his clothes and quietly limped away.

After a half mile, Alex’s body refused to move another inch, and he fell into a patch of poppy. Before consciousness could abandon him, Alex rolled and wedged himself between some stones and a fallen bush.

Deep breath.

Steady the heart.

That deep seeded need for survival stirred Alex’s years of training. He closed his eyes and reached out to an unseen force the Monks called Great Mother.

Protect and heal.

I beg and pray.

The tendrils heard, and the Great Mother Earth wrapped her arms of grass, leaves, and flowers around Alex’s body until he safely slept in a cocoon of healing. Truth in nightmares flickered on the memory reel. As body healed, mind and soul suffered. Six days cycled, but for the dreaming spirit, years dragged.

Within that gray mist of the spiritual realm, pockets of memories, dreams, wishes, and regrets played out as if on television. Alex wept as the web binding his soul to Tia, Dickard, and Amy fizzled into ash.

No

Lies

I fixed it

The fog broiled and roiled into those moments with the painted nymphos. Alex retched. His fault. His wicked actions had broken the web. But the mist wasn’t finished as it shattered the walls of denial.

Past events clarified. Tia’s colorful aura of purple had drained and then darkened to a passionate, blood red—brightened only by Amy’s presence. More so when Amy walked or danced naked. The yellow glow of Dickard’s friendship had degraded to the ugly brown-green of envy. And Amy—the sweet girl with a white aura of purity—now stained with that same lust red as Tia.

When

How

He should have seen this. Caught them. Why did no one tell him?

Lies?

Nothing more than a fabrication to justify his shameful actions and the guilt that followed? In a way, he wished that were the case. For some reason, it would make this easier to swallow and understand.

But then their past thoughts appeared liked court transcripts.

Take a break.

Don’t love

Amy amy amy amy

Wish I had seen Tia first

Alex looks like he could go deep

What does Alex have that I don’t have?

Sometimes I wish he were dead

Sometimes I wish he had gone back

Sometimes I wish I could just fuck him and toss him in the closet for later.

Alex spun in a circle, hands over eyes, and screamed.

No. Wasn’t true. Couldn’t be true.

An unseen presence held Alex still and uncovered his eyes. A breeze stung his pupils. Thunder shook his mind.

And then he saw.

The truth might set you free, but that bitch is a bitter pill to choke down.

Alex realized he should have taken Dickard home. That the two could have plead their case and submitted to a ritual of cleansing. The monks may have been harsh, but they practiced grace and forgiveness first and foremost.

Fear of failure and admission of guilt. Two sins of which to repent. But there was more—always more.

Alex remembered.

Alex wept.

He had become drunk on too much shine—night after night after lonely fucking night—yelling and cackling unintelligible nonsense.

“The pain—the ache—my heart breaks! Who will mend it?”

Mumbles of “drama queen” and “attention whore” had been the communal response. Flash forward minutes, days, months, or years—to be honest, it didn’t matter.

Tia and Amy lay naked on a patch of soft grass. They touched, licked, and kissed every inch of each other’s bodies. Tia moaned and cried out in ways Alex hadn’t heard since their first meeting. Dickard watched from a distance, pleasuring himself.

Anger rose but then dropped. It was over and had been for a long time. If Alex had accepted it sooner, he would never have fallen into his current position. Denial hurt himself and those he had loved. Nothing left to do but heal, confess, ask their forgiveness, and move on with his life.

A violent rip into the cocoon put an end to Alex’s newfound hope and healing. Alex caught Dickard’s eyes, but before he could confess and forgive, Dickard slammed a rock into Alex’s forehead.

Alex woke, tied to a tree on the cliffside from which the children had saved him months earlier. Old friends, community members, and failed monks had gathered around the tree to pronounce silent judgment. The failed monks of Groups A and C held crudely made buckets brushed with the neon paint of the nasty nymphos.

“Oh come on now.” Alex said.

The monks remained silent as they strategically placed nine buckets around and beneath Alex. Men of the community set up a network of tubing from nine specific locations on Alex’s body, into the buckets. Red paint marked the locations: Neck, left arm, right arm, left nipple, right nipple, left thigh, right thigh, abdomen, and left side right in the middle of the ribcage.

Once finished, the men created two parallel lines to form a ceremonial pathway. Tia and Amy, dressed in pure white that hid nothing; and Dickard, adorned in a thick codpiece and nothing else; made their way forward.

Amy pulled out a thin, short blade and walked to Alex first. She gripped his penis with her left hand and licked from his neck to naval. Three quick slices to abdomen, thigh, and forearm made Alex second guess the entire confession and forgiveness routine.

“Thanks for the fun.” Amy released her grip and handed the knife to Tia.

Alex’s soon to be ex-wife didn’t show any emotion but instead a slothful boredom. Once her eyes caught a glimpse of Amy, however, her cheeks flushed and lips rose in passionate glee.

“Why?” Alex said.

Tia shrugged before slicing a gash along both nipples and his right arm. She noticed the right thigh was still untouched and shoved the blade there, leaving it for someone else to remove.

“Fuck!”

Tia rolled her eyes. “Don’t be such a martyr. You brought this on yourself. If anyone’s a victim it’s me. Years of beauty and purity wasted on your darkness.”

“Bitch!”

Five knuckles crackled Alex’s teeth and busted his lips.

“Keep your mouth shut.”

Dickard ripped the knife from Alex’s thigh and tore into the other gashes. The blood splashed into the buckets with a more rapid tink tink tink tink tink.

Alex searched for any semblance of their friendship and found nothing. As if Dickard had erased nearly eighteen years of conversation, secrets, fears, jokes, hopes, dreams, and playground fun.

Dickard sliced a perfect line of red from nipple to nipple. Alex screamed. Tia rolled her eyes and scoffed.

“Hurry and die already.”

Amy laughed.

Wordless and soulless, Dickard slowly slid the blade between Alex’s ribs, into his heart. No flicker of sadness or remorse. No tears. Not even a smile. Cold and calculating. No worse betrayal.

Dickard pulled Alex’s head back, removed the knife from heart, and slit his throat. A waterfall of blood spilled over the buckets below.

“Finally.” Tia said.

“Let’s go.”

Amy slipped her hand into Tia’s. “Come on, Dick, you’ve got chores.”

The procession began their exit when a bright flash of light froze them in place.

I was a victim of cold hearts

Lying tongues

Jealous eyes

Defiant ears

Idle hands

Vapid souls

“Make it—

Tia’s mouth was forced shut by an invisible force. Roots sprung from the ground and wrapped around the entire processions’ legs.

I found strength in my enemies’

Pursuit of my happiness

They tried to steal

My thunder

My calm

My storm

My world

But you cannot have

What you have not earned

Alex’s eyes glowed neon green. The procession would have screamed. Some would have fled. Others fainted. But none could move.

Hold my disdain and wrath

Take my anger—I need it no longer

In the end, your weakness made me stronger

Stronger than your

Vile, vain, and venomous vitriol

Climb upon my mountain

Where the blood of man pours

Into the river of purification

Meet me upon my death

That I may cast judgment upon you

Clouds of black billowed and blocked the sun. Lightning struck as thunder roared.

If my body be of bone

I’d still destroy you with a glimpse

A look

A mere gesture of my dead finger

My sword remains locked in its hilt

My dagger was in plain sight

But you wouldn’t accept apology

You refused forgiveness

So take your punishment

Fall into the abyss I send you

Grind and gnash your teeth

Reap

Sow

Enjoy your hell

The storm disappeared. Roots loosened their grip and retreated. Sun shined her rays. And upon the tree of despair, only tubing and buckets of blood remained.