I felt cheated out of the life end reel of memories flashing before my eyes, as they never came..
So I just stood there eyes closed, waiting for a swift death, but instead of a gunshot I heard a sickening crack. Slowly, I opened my eyes at the exact moment Muhgz body slumped to the ground in front of me, her neck was twisted and bent at an odd angle, her eyes lifeless. I looked up to gaze at the person behind her and came face to face with Ramon.
His eyes were cold and dark, his steely expression made his intentions indecipherable. My sights then fell to the SIG Sauer on the ground and I moved quickly to snatch up the weapon, pointing it straight at him as I stood to my feet. He didn’t flinch or move, he just stood there, his focus not even on the gun, but on me.
I stepped over Muhgz body and pressed the barrel under his chin, I looking him in the eye and allowing him to see my rage, my fury, my pain. It would all end now, with the pull of a trigger.
I could hear voices, but I couldn’t tell whether they were in my head or in the distance, Ramon’s face didn’t register that he’d heard anything. The voices were getting louder and melding together into such a racket, my head spun and my brow began to sweat, but I held the SIG tight with my trigger finger ready.. All I needed to do now was pull.
That was when I saw him, it was Peace, right over Ramon’s shoulder. I couldn’t hear him but he shook his head ‘No’, his face looking grim and foreboding as he seemed to caution me about my actions.
I wanted to heed his warning.. but this was for him, for Stryfe, for the boy from the bus, and the many souls devoured by the culture he had built within these walls. This would also be for me, he had tried so hard to consume the depths of my soul, and have my body for dessert. Sure, I believed he may have loved me, but in a way comparable to less than the way man loves dog.
I raised the SIG higher, pressing it tighter to his face, and prepared myself to take the shot. That was when the main door to the cellblock swung open and Cerberus, followed by reinforcements, burst through the door. We were quickly surrounded by no less than twenty TAC Units, another fifty or so continued on into Hades to retake it from the rioting inmates.
“Jynx, it’s over man, you don’t have to do this! Just please drop the gun, there has been enough death already.” Cerberus pleaded with me, but I never took my eyes off Ramon.
“He needs to be punished.. I may never get another chance!” I replied angrily, my rage manifesting itself through a stream of tears that burned down my cheeks.
“We have a special place in Hell for people like him, please, I’m begging you, just give me the gun.” He asked softly, approaching slowly, his hands in a palm up gesture.
I was so torn, I felt an ache in my head and my heart, I knew that if I didn’t kill him now I’d never have another opportunity like this again. I turned to Cerberus and mouthed “I’m sorry”, I turned back to Ramon and looked him in the eyes as I pulled the trigger. The chamber clicked, and clicked, I must have pulled the trigger five times, still no fire. The gun must have been damaged in the fall, causing a malfunction. I screamed in his face and beat upon his chest, outraged at being so close to be rid of him, yet so far.
Ramon gave me a lopsided grin, clearly pleased at the turn of events, he pulled me into a crushing kiss and forced his tongue into my mouth. I pushed him off me and punched him in the jaw, they quickly separated us and the bastard was still smiling as the guards restrained him on the ground and zip tied his wrists and ankles. Cerberus had dragged me back, taking the gun from me in the process. He removed me from the cellblock out into the hall, he checked me over and could see right away, I wasn’t doing good. Now that the adrenaline had subsided, pain shot from my check, to my shoulder, on down to my ribs. I hadn’t made it out of this entirely unscathed but at least I was alive.
Cerberus demanded we head to the medbay, but I declined stubbornly, pushing him away slightly to stand on my own. I barely had time to regret the stupidity of that decision, when my head began to swim, and the depths of the darkness took me.
I awoke to find myself in the mists of another battle, I couldn’t tell you where I was, or how in the hell I got there, but I was right smack dab in the middle of a battlefield. There were men fighting all around me, the smell of blood and death in the air.
I looked up into the sky at the same moment a nightingale flew overhead, whistling a tune, it was gone as fast as it came. I heard a battle cry from a man to my left, he had skin the color of onyx, his face covered by a mask of blue. He was in a battle with another, his skin had a pale yellowish hue, a mask of silver and white covered his face. The two battled it out fiercely, neither willing to relent, both aiming for a kill shot. When the third man entered the battle, he joined with the white masked man first to weaken the man masked in blue, then he totally flipped it and attacked him as well. He had skin white as ivory and flaxen colored hair that fell in golden waves to his shoulders, masked in earthy green and gold, he now had to play defense as the other two came to their senses.
As the three battled it out, I wove my way around them, dodging any fights going on around us. No one had taken notice of me yet, it was as if I were a ghost among them. ‘Twas then that I noticed the colors, the blues, greens, and silvers. All the hundreds of men fighting around me were wearing one of the three, matching down to corresponding skin tones. All these men fighting.. but for what?
That’s when I heard the thunder in the distance, and a laughter could be heard above head. An asomatous figure inexplicably resembling the maliciously sneering face of a man, cast down over the field, slowly enveloping the warriors in a noxious mass of fog. I turn to the three men, as they had to be the ones in charge, each appearing as a general to these many men. I screamed words of warning, only for them to be fed to deaf ears.
The cloud grew closer by the minute, the screams of horror by those in its path, sent chills down my spine. I had no choice but to throw myself into their battle, the ebony skinned man taking notice first, as I pointed to the fog heading for us. The buttery skinned man masked in white took notice next, he was also the first to act. Taking what appeared to be a distinctive martial arts stance, he looked to be gathering an energy within himself and a incandescent aura began to glow around him. I watched closely as he took a huge breath, held it a moment, then blew a huge gust of wind that knocked the approach of the gas back a bit.
The white skinned man seemed to be most ignorant to the danger, but after awhile I got him to notice the men of his falling too. He joined the two in a temporary allegiance to fight a greater enemy, but it was already too late..
Two things were immediately clear, I had failed to get their attention in time, and the three of them were hardly powerful enough for such a battle alone. The smoke overtook us, and everything went black. The pain I felt next was the most excruciating I’d ever felt, It seemed to eat at me from the inside. I couldn’t differentiate my screams of agony from the next man, as it enveloped us all.
Slowly my senses returned to me, first among them was my sense of smell. The sterile air surrounding me burned my nose and made me a bit queasy, something I’ve always experienced in hospitals.
The constant beeping, from what I assumed was some type of cardiovascular blood pressure monitor, confirmed my assumptions. My eyes fluttered open, but I quickly shut them, as the fluorescent lights overhead were too bright. I tried to speak but my throat was parched and dry, causing me to go into a coughing fit. My ribs hurt and were bound tight with bandaging, while my left arm was slung and tightly tied to my chest. I felt a dull ache in several areas of my body, my head the most notable.
Suddenly, I felt a glass placed to my lips and someone simply ordered me to “drink”, of which I immediately complied and was rewarded with cool thirst quenching water. The glass was removed and the footsteps of the person helping me could be heard moving away from me.
I slowly tried to open my eyes again, this time the attempt was successful, and I got my first view of the Mythos Peak Medical Ward. Several beds were lined up on both sides of the room, yet only three were occupied, I recognized Muhammed to my right and Chi across from him, both looked worse for wear. Another pang of guilt struck me, adding to the pains and aches already assaulting my body.
The stranger that gave me the water reentered the room, it was a woman of Indian descent, with a beautiful dusky reddish brown complexion and large doleful brown eyes. She was pleasantly attractive in a western sense, but I knew in her home country she may be seen as quite homely based on skin color alone. She stopped at her desk and returned to my bedside and checked my vitals, she made some markings on the chart she carried and looked back to me.
“Mr. Ellison, I’m so happy to have you back with us, we thought we’d lost you for a bit but you’re coming back strong now. I’m Dr. Karishma Jhedav, I’m the overseeing physician in Mythos Medical. You came in pretty beat up and unconscious, at one point you even stopped breathing but we were able to bring you back to us. We feared you may stay in a state of coma but I’m happy you’ve awaken so soon. The other two males brought in aren’t as lucky, I’ve had to request transfer but that usually takes time due to the underfunding of the department, the poor bastards may not even last the night. We just don’t have the facilities and equipment needed to save many of the wounded, most perished in the first few hours, so maybe there is hope for these few you see here.”
Her eyes grew somber and I could tell she truly cared about saving lives, I wondered if I could have been such a noble person in another life, somewhere far away from all this, something close to normal. I was infuriated that more lives would be lost for lack of funding, who owned this fucking hell hole? Why such neglect? I wouldn’t wish the conditions I’ve had to live under this past month, on my worst enemy.
The machine next to Chi suddenly started to go off, Dr. Jhedav ran over to him, calling for help on a walkie talkie strapped to her waist. She cut the gown he wore and started to perform CPR while she waited for help, about three or four minutes went by before a overweight white girl wobbled her way into the room with a mobile defibrillator. It looked ancient, like something from the 80s, I found it hard to believe that was safe to use on anyone, let alone save a life.
They worked on him for what seemed like fifteen minutes, unable to get a pulse, the Doctor refused to give up even then. The heavy set nurse advised her to call time of death, acknowledging they had lost him, the Doctor left the room clearly upset and the nurse prepared the body to be taken to the morgue.
I heard some movements and sounds from the bed next to me, it seemed Muhammed had been awakened by the commotion. Our eyes met one another and I could see he was afraid, when you make the decision to fight or die, you never know how you will actually feel when death and mortality is staring you in the face. He shot me one of his sexy grins, that always seemed to make my skin flush, he just had that effect.
I looked him over and couldn’t help but wince, his neck area and shoulder wound was bandaged but bled through. His brown skin had lost its healthy glow and golden undertones, taking a grayish parlor, he also had severe bruising from where Torre had done the most damage, his sides looked dark and bruised. It looked like they could only get bottoms on him, as his torso was bare save for bandaging, and his long and lean muscular frame was on display. I turned on my side to face him directly and returned a small smile, I couldn’t lie and say I didn’t like him.
“Damn, they fucked us up good, huh shorty? I would do it all again thou, that nigga O Rei had to be put in his place.. plus, he had something I wanted, and wasn’t treating it right, That had to change.” He said, with this intense look in his eyes. “You don’t know what it’s like not being able to be yourself.. [cough].. pursuing what you want, instead of what others want for you. I been hiding from myself a long time, tryin to change the unchangeable.. Right now I just wanna live and do me, that starts with getting the fuck outta here, me and my big bro. There’s no life to live in here and I’ll neva come back.. [cough] [cough] [cough] damn, this shit hurts!”
“You have to rest, let me get you some water.” I replied, struggling to sit up and throwing my heavy legs over the edge of the bed, worried, as he threw his free arm around his ribs in pain.
I unhooked the IV and other attachments on my body, shakily standing up from my bed. I walked around to the other side of his and grabbed the glass of water from the bedside stand, then brought it up to his lips for him to drink. I wiped some sweat from his brow, with the clean white rag that was folded on the end table.
“Sit with me.. please.” He asked softly, and I obliged, taking a seat at his side.
“You’re gonna be ok, I hope you know that, we’ve made it through the worst of it and we succeeded.” I said, laying my hand over his to reassure him.
“Why couldn’t I have met someone like you years ago or somethin.. I would have loved to meet you on the outside.” He muttered in a low voice, so soft I had barely heard him.
“I doubt we would have met face to face, we come from two separate realms of reality in this world. It’s improbable we would have met and twice as improbable that we’d have been given chance to know each other.” I answered somberly but truthfully, as there was no use in lying to him.
“Head stuck in the clouds, huh?” He said smiling, somehow still able to keep that jovial spirit of his.
“Haha, you could put it that way.. I was raised to keep my nose in the air, my eyes cast down on those less fortunate. I am guilty of thinking of others as just ‘the help’, but I’m starting to see we are all mortal men, under the same sun in the sky, accountable to the same rules of gravity. We all bleed, shit, and die the same, no matter how blue the blood.”
“Would a nigga like me have a chance now?” He asked, bringing my hand up to his soft lips, to place a kiss.
“I’m no good for you, only trouble follows me and those who have love for me, it wouldn’t be in your best interest..” I started, only to be cut off.
“Man, fuck what’s in my best interest, you sound like my fuckin brother. I didn’t figure you the type to play it safe shorty, specially with all you’ve done to survive in here.” He objected earnestly, I could tell he wouldn’t let me off easily.
“What do you see this becoming? Have you ever even been with a man before? Cause that’s what I am, a man. Don’t let the pretty eyes and long hair fool you.”
“You’d be the first, but I could see a future for us, one outside these walls. I’m ready for that, I’m ready for a chance.” He said, with all seriousness in his voice. “I’ve seen death and I’m not afraid to live for me now.”
“What if I can’t get us out of here? I can’t stay trapped here, within these walls…”
“Shhh, don’t worry about it.” He replied in a hushed tone, looking around for the nurse. “I know a plan B out of this place, just in case the legal don’t work. Only problem is, it’s a suicide mission, there would be no turning back. We run, we have to keep running.”
He squeezed my hand gently, when he picked up on the nervousness in my face, though all it took was one look into those smooth buttery brown eyes to calm me, still, tho soothed I wasn’t entirely sold.
“That’s too dangerous, I don’t trust it.. that’s a path to take only as a last resort.”
He nodded in understanding looking exhausted, a yawn escaped his lips and as if it was contagious, I felt one escape mine as well. I was just as tired and really feeling whatever painkiller Dr Jhedav gave me, so I told him to get some rest. I could see the sun setting through a window on the far end of the room, so I went to get up and return to my bed.
“Hold up, not so fast..” He demanded, as he pulled me back down beside him.
He brushed some of my hair from my face and pulled me close, bring his soft lush lips to join mine. It was as if I’d never been truly kissed before, it just felt right. My face flushed with heat and a tingle shot down my spine, I felt all the stress of my life in this caged prison just melt away, I felt at peace for the first time, in a long time.
He broke the kiss and gave me one of those sexy grins, with mirth in his eyes. I went to tuck him in and pulled his covers over him, but he complained of being hot in a whiny childish voice, accompanied with another warm smile. I couldn’t help but to smile back, and the thought that maybe things could work out flashed through my mind, as I got back in my own hospital bed.
I looked at Muhammed one last time before I shut my eyes, our eyes met, and I smiled finding comfort in the love I saw there.
*Maybe there IS hope for a better tomorrow.* I thought to myself, as I drifted off, letting the sleep take me.
When I awoke in the morning, I looked over to Muhammed, and could see he was already looking at me with his sheet drawn all the way up to his chin like he was cold, so I smiled at him, before yawning.
“You creep, haha, I hope you weren’t staring at me like that all night.” I joked, chuckling, as I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and suppressed a yawn. “Did you wind up getting cold last night?”
Oddly, he didn’t answer me back, not even a peep, I looked back towards him only to see that same vacant stare. It was then I noticed he wasn’t smiling, he made no noise to speak of, his eyes didn’t even blink. I felt a chill that froze me to the core, and my throat dried up, my eyes became heavy with the wetness of tears threatening to fall.
I got up from the bed and tried to call for help, but it only came out as a whimper. I was in a trance of disbelief as I got closer and closer to him, and when I yanked the sheet down, I could see his body faced away from me. His neck had been broken, his head was twisted horrifically at a one hundred eighty degree angle.
There was a ‘gift’ clutched in his hands, presumably for me, and the message was clear as the sun of a brand new day.
The harrowing scream of anger and anguish that escaped me, burned it’s way from my throat like fire as I collapsed to the floor, feeling utterly defeated, as I clutched the collar of diamonds in my hand.