I sit down in the back of the bus in my brown overcoat trying to blend in with the other terrified people riding along this fiery, rubble strewn road.
How strange that the city lies in ruins but still the bus service runs, like a beacon of hope in all the chaos.
There is a being that has invaded this city, my city. It has torn the city to bits looking for me. After it found me the first time, and I narrowly escaped with my life, I knew I could not face it again. I had no choice. I couldn’t do it and I won’t go back.
Some people would say that hearing voices in your head is crazy. I don’t think it is. Mostly because I know I’m not crazy and the voices of friends and foes alike ring through my head, advising me, praising me, tearing me down and, sometimes, they have the good grace to build me back up.
Right now the voice of the only woman who was ever stupid enough to let me fall in love with her was whispering to me.
“Get up. Don’t give up! I love you.”
“Yeah, you loved me,” I thought,”Now your gone.”
“Don’t be so pathetic. Please don’t give up. You never gave up on me.”
“But your gone now, and things can never be the same.”
She was gone. My Susan, my love. When I had her and I could hold her our love was like a rock I could stand on and reach the heights which most don’t even dream of. But now that is gone.
“Shut up bitchin’, you maggot and save the city that loves you, the people that love you. Be their rock.”
Dad, ever the soldier, always barking out commands that he expected to be obeyed without question. This one I can’t obey.
I look out the window trying to block out “The General”. All I see is destruction, the city laid to waste and a semi-transparent reflection of myself in the dirty window of the bus.
Suddenly, the bus grinds to a halt. Must be some sort of obstacle in the path of the bus. I sit back, voices still rumbling in my head, and wait for the road to be cleared.
Just as I am getting comfortable, there is a terrifying roar and all heads in the bus shoot up and look out. It is there. Dorian, The Crimson Demon, the beast that has been searching for me. I am one of the few who has seen him and lived to tell the tale. He is about eight foot tall, but hunches over so his knuckles drag on the ground. His skin is grey, the colour of dullness but now associated with fear and pain. Every joint is wrapped in bone, his own exoskeleton. He has more muscle than any body builder. Easily a ton of pressure possible from each tree trunk limb.
“Dean!” He screams, revealing his pointed teeth and sickening saliva engorged tongue licking his lips in anticipation.
“Come out and greet me. I know you are in there. Dean Delgado, come to me or I’ll kill all of the pathetic humans around you.” Dorian grabs an abandoned car and hurls it from the bridge with a roar.
Susan speaks to me, blanking out all this destruction.
“Dean, sometimes in life we have got to do what we want, like you are now, running like a scolded puppy, and that’s fine, but then there are the times when we have to be steady and do what we need to do, not what we want. Dean. You have to do what the whole city needs you to do. Stand up and fight.”
“Yes.” I think.
I stand up and shrug off my overcoat. As this symbol of my cowardice and failure falls to the floor I can almost feel the air getting lighter and a calmness settles over everything. I reach down to my guns at my waist. They are unique and beautiful. Sandlewood grips inlaid with gold.
Now, instead of staring at Dorian, with his mad grin, the passengers are staring at me. I am wearing my costume, but I’m not bothered with the mask. I love this costume. Although it can be uncomfortable I wouldn’t trade it in for the world.
I pick my guns up and slowly load them.
“Cant you fight me fist to fist?” Says the beast mockingly.
I look him straight in the eye and grin.
“I deal in lead.”