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When the Wretched Rise Up
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Glenn Douglas
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 09, 2016 7:15 pm    Post subject: When the Wretched Rise Up Reply with quote

Life moves on and the clock keeps on ticking.

“**** that,” Glenn said, tossing the journal onto the table. He glanced at the clock on the dresser of his tiny room. It was ten in the morning and he’d dropped her off around four hours ago. He hadn’t been to sleep yet, but that wasn’t for lack of trying. Anytime he laid his head down on the lumpy pillow on his thin, sagging cot, he saw things he wasn’t supposed to. He thought of the world turning along with or without him, thought about the nothingness that sat on the other side of the veil, and he thought of home. He thought of home in a way that he never did.

His mother, Anabelle, sitting on the porch and knitting. He couldn’t remember her face, only that she had fair skin and dark hair. She smelled like lemon because that’s what she used to keep the house clean. She smelled like tobacco from the cigarettes she would roll for his father, Arthur. Whenever he remembered his mother she was always wearing a plain white dress, but this time she was dressed in black and wore a mourner’s veil.

His brothers, Brandon and Paul stood beside her. He could remember their faces. They were tall, lean and handsome men. They, like their mother, had dark hair and fair skin. They too wore black. Their suits were clean, freshly starched and pressed. They stood straight and Brandon had a star pinned to his lapel. Glenn recognized it for the mark of the sheriff, and he realized the memory he was recalling.

Arthur’s funeral was a short, somber, and quiet affair. Few people in York spoke over Glenn’s late father, and even his mother could only ever muster up a few words about dedication and commitment and love of the family. Glenn remembered the rage he felt, sitting there on the porch after the service had finished. He hated her for lying like that. Arthur Douglas had never cared for his family, not really. He was a hard, distant man who cared only for the image they presented. If one of his children failed, they all were to blame. It had not endeared Glenn to him, nor him to Glenn. The two had always been at odds.

Arthur Douglas died at the age of forty-three, shot to death by a man named Robert Lincoln, who would soon be hung for murder. Glenn thought they should pin a medal to the man’s chest and send him on his way.

“****** hell,” Glenn said, reality coming back to him. “I wasn’t even at that **** funeral.”

He didn’t know where the memories came from. Maybe he’d seen something of it when he was floating on in the in-between, in the not-life after death.

His fingers brushed over the old leather covering of his great grandfather’s journal, they traced his initials and came to rest on the spine. He picked it up again, flipped through the pages, and stopped on an entry.

I came to York in 1753. I should never have come here, to this God forsaken place. I say God forsaken because there is a man here named Leo who is a priest, but he does not spread the word of God in any form I have ever heard before. He is a monster, a manipulator, and a servant of Lucifer if I ever saw one. I will have to kill this man, for the good of my family and all the men and women in York, but I cannot do it. If word gets out back east that a priest has been shot, a murder committed, and my name is found, then all will be lost.

I came here to get away from the trouble that I had caused. I came here to leave that behind, start a new, a fresh life.

But even here, I hear the coyotes. I cannot outrun them, or the darkness inside my heart. It is my greatest fear that I will pass that darkness on to my sons, and they will pass them on to their sons, like an inherited illness. A disease. It will chew up the Douglas family and spit them out, twisted and monstrous. I thought the fresh land, the hard work and the new faces would be enough, but with a man like Leo here, I’m afraid that I was dead wrong.

Leo has to die, because if he doesn’t, my family will never know rest.


Glenn snapped the journal shut and tossed it in the small trash bin in his room. He struck a match against the sole of his boot and dropped it in with the journal and watched as it began to catch fire. He breathed deep as thin wisps of smoke came curling up in the air, as though he could inhale all words and memories being burned out of those old, yellow pages.

He turned his back on the small fire and found his phone sitting on the dresser. He picked it up and looked for a number. His thumbs worked out a quick, short message to her. He didn’t press send, but instead locked and put the phone in his pocket.

“You were right, James Douglas,” he said. “That darkness ain’t never gone away.”

It was time he and Leo have a sit down.
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I go on journeys out of my body and look at my red hands and my mean face and I wonder about that man who's gone so wrong.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2016 8:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The manor was all class. Big, clean, pristine and rich. But all that richness, the gold and the marble came in small, easy to swallow doses. Like the owner was beyond wealthy but didn't want to rub anyone's face in it. It was beautiful, elegant, and surprisingly minimalist. There wasn't a lot to see that wasn't just part of the building's main architecture. That is, of course, excepting a small museum on an upper floor.

It was a large room lined from wall to wall with tapestries and glass display cases filled with various artifacts and treasures from empires come and gone and days long past. There were old weapons, jewelry, pottery, textiles, and everything in between. Glenn Douglas was walking around the room, ignoring the loud wailing of an alarm. He held his hands behind his back and was examining some of the pieces thoughtfully when he heard the doors to the private museum swing open. Three men walked into the room. Two of them were young men, broad shouldered and muscle bound. They were black on black on black, from head to toe, and had pistols drawn and raised. Behind them was a much older, kindly looking man in a gray shirt and khaki slacks. He smiled genially at Glenn when they saw each other and patted one of his guards on the shoulder.

"False alarm, boys," he said. "Go see to that alarm, I will deal with our guest."

The guards hesitated and exchanged looks before holstering the pistols and turning to leave. They closed the doors behind them.

Leo Ortiz smiled and clasped his hands together in front of him. He stood there for a few minutes, he and Glenn staring at one another, and then the alarm suddenly died.

"That's better," Leo said. He crossed the room and extended a hand to Glenn. "Glenn Douglas," he whispered the name. "We meet at last."

Glenn shook the old man's hand and immediately clenched his jaw at the burning that crawled down his arm and over the back of his own hand. He didn't look down, but he knew that when he left that old snake mark would come back. Once the men released hands he stepped back and turned to look at a display case again. Inside it was a necklace of stunning silver or white gold, Glenn couldn't tell the difference, set with many tiny diamonds and a single, enormous sapphire. He tapped the case with a finger and chewed on the inside of his cheek thoughtfully.

"I'm gonna kill you," Glenn said, his tone conversational.

"Is that right?"

"Yep. Only a matter of time. I'm gonna kill you or you're gonna kill me. But I got the advantage of havin' died already, so I ain't all too scared of goin' at it again."

Leo smiled. It was warm, friendly, and if Glenn had been looking, he would have punched the old man right in the nose for lying with that expression. He hated liars.

"We don't have to fight each other, Glenn," Leo said. He walked up beside the man and looked down at the same necklace. "Beautiful, isn't it?"

"Looks expensive."

The old man laughed. "It is."

Glenn nodded and drew his gun, smashing the glass case with the butt of the weapon. Leo didn't flinch or back away. Glenn hooked the necklace with his fingers and hoisted it up to inspect it.

"I'm gonna take this," he said. "Got a date comin' up. You understand."

"Of course," Leo said, unperturbed.

"Look," Glenn turned to face the man. "I don't know what your game is, what you really want. But you been *** with my family for too long, Leo. And it's gonna end with me, one way or the other. Since you're too much of a *** coward to come at me yourself, I decided I'd let you know that I'm comin' after you. And if you know half as much about me as I think you do, then you know that there ain't much in this world that will stop me. I'm like the coyote, gets his teeth into the bone and won't let go."

Glenn jabbed the old man in the chest with the barrel of his gun and sneered at him. He had a finger on the trigger.

"If I didn't know if you were human or not, I'd shoot you right here and now," he said, his voice low. "You and your *** guards hangin' outside the door. I'd kill every last person in this gaudy ass manor you got and then I'd burn it to the *** ground like you did York and Cossol. Yeah, I know you were involved in that. Bet it was you who razed Beaumont, too."

Leo looked down at the gun and seemed woefully unimpressed. He slowly lifted a hand and used it to push the barrel away.

"Glenn," he said. "Think about this for a moment. You're declaring war, son. War on me. Do you know what that means? I will come after you and every one you care about. Madison Rye, her children, her sweet, understanding husband. I will take everything before I take you, do you understand?"

Glenn jerked the gun back up and struck the old man in the jaw with the metal of the barrel. The old man staggered back and brought a hand up. His expression never changed. He was always smiling. Calmly, without haste or anger, he reached up and placed a hand on Glenn's chest. Then he pushed and Glenn was startled at the strength behind it, as it sent him hurtling across the room to crash into tall, glass display case. He dug himself out of it and searched for his fallen gun, ignoring the bits of glass that clung to the sleeves of his coat.

He found it and the necklace nearby and scooped down to scrape them up, but when he rose, Leo was coming at him with what looked like an old ceremonial dagger. He couldn't tell if it was made of bronze, wood, or gold, but it was ornately decorated and he thought it might have been Egyptian. Regardless, it was sharp and Leo was coming at him with it. He raised his gun and shot the man three times in the chest, but Leo kept on coming.

Glenn backpedaled and turned his gun toward the window nearby and fired off a few rounds to shatter glass, but Leo had reached him by then. Glenn let out a truly surprised gasp at the sudden pain in his side. He looked down to find his hand wrapped around Leo's wrist, and Leo's hand wrapped around the hilt of that dagger whose blade was know embedded deep into Glenn's side. He could feel warm blood spreading already and frowned, confused.

"How?"

"You aren't as invincible as you thin you are, Glenn Douglas," Leo said softly. "At the end of the day, a man is a man. And that's all you'll ever be."

Glenn frowned. This moment seemed separate from everything else, like he was viewing it not as himself, but as a third party participant. He didn't feel his arm rise up, or register putting the barrel of his gun right up against Leo's temple, or even pulling the trigger. He felt distantly the way the old man's blood splattered over his eyes and his face, the jerk of pain as Leo's grip tugged at the dagger before loosening. The old man fell and Glenn staggered back, clutching the knife in his side. He turned toward the window. The guards had been shooting at him but he ignored it and ran as fast as he could, which wasn't fast given the situation. He was struck by a bullet in the shoulder just before crashing through the window and plummeting to the grass below. The rest came to him in bits and pieces. He survived the fall and fled the manor with his gun, a necklace, and a knife stuck in his side.
_________________
I go on journeys out of my body and look at my red hands and my mean face and I wonder about that man who's gone so wrong.


Last edited by Glenn Douglas on Tue Oct 11, 2016 2:26 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2016 12:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The reflection in the mirror was unfamiliar. The man he saw had hollow eyes and a sunken face. He was pale and sweaty, his hair matted to his head. There was blood on that face, dark, drying streaks of it along the bridge of his nose and around his eyes. He had to blink through it to make out the details. His beard was darkened by it, but that was an easy enough fix. He’d shave later, it had been getting unkempt anyways. The sink was stained a pale pink, the blood from his mock up surgery diluted by the still running water. He left the tap on because he was afraid to be left alone in there with only his thoughts to keep him company. The water was something to focus on, a distraction. In the sink was a long, old dagger that he decided was not made of wood, after he’d tried to snap it in half when he’d pulled it from his side. He couldn’t tell why things happened the way they did, that knife seemed normal, if ornate. There was nothing about it to him that seemed out of place, but he didn’t know much about that spooky voodoo ****.

“****,” Glenn said. “The **** are you looking at?” he asked his reflection. Then he sneered at it and turned away. He winced, the movement had been too quick, and gingerly put a hand to his side. He’d sewn the wound shut as well as he could and hoped that he wasn’t bleeding internally, because he wasn’t sure if he could die of blood loss and he really, really didn’t want to find out. Then he’d wrapped it with some gauze and bandages he found in the hotel’s first aid kit. It wasn’t much, but he wasn’t dead and so that had to count for something.

He eased back into the room’s wicker chair and sighed. He found his bloodied pack of cigarettes and took out the one that had the least amount of red on it and struck a match. Like he had out at the pond, he stared at the cigarette rather than smoking it. The red on the end was eaten up by orange embers and it made him smile. Even blood burns. He stared at it for what seemed like hours, but it couldn’t have been more than a minute. Then he stuck it between his lips and breathed deep while reaching for the bottle of rye he’d grabbed on the way back. The encounter with the liquor store’s cashier had been an amusing one, he remembered.

“Thought I was a **** monster come to kill him,” he laughed hoarsely. That hurt, too, but the whiskey would cure that soon enough. He screwed the cap off and drank deep.

After that long swallow he set the bottle down and looked past it at the large, ornate necklace of silver or white gold (he still couldn’t tell) and diamonds, with its single, huge sapphire. It had to have been worth a fortune. He picked it up and admired the way the jewels glittered and caught and refracted the light.

“Somethin’ pretty. Alright.”

He unceremoniously tossed it onto the dresser as he stood. Glenn searched for his kit and found the small black box and put it on the table, then sat down in his wicker chair and pulled out his gun so he could begin to disassemble and clean it. He found the act of maintaining a firearm meditative. It was one of the few things in his life that remained constant. He knew what to do, always knew what to expect, no surprises. No twists, no turns. No death and undeath, broken hearts or broken promises. Guns were easy. They were mechanical, cold, and they never, ever lied to you. Glenn appreciated an honest thing when the rest of the world seemed anything but.

“Ain’t everyone gonna be like you, Douglas,” he said. “Thems liars outside these walls and you can’t trust a one of them. Not a god damned one.”

“You are many things,” he continued. “You kill, you steal, you cheat. You abuse and break everythin’ you can get your hands on. But you ain’t a liar, and that’s somethin’.”

His phone vibrated and he picked it up and checked. A cold smile crossed his face. He tapped out a message.

Meet me at Murphy’s. Bring the lieutenants or whatever the **** you call them, we got business, slick.

He waited, then a response came.

What business?

I’m takin’ over.

Like hell. The Irish ain’t giving you ****.

I’ll handle them. Just do it, get them rounded up. Don’t **** with me, Morgan.

Whatever you say. It’s your **** funeral.

Glenn dropped the phone and grabbed an old rag stained with oil that was wrapped around something cylindrical. He unwrapped it and placed the container standing up in front of him. Inside was a clear liquid and a single, brilliant blue eyeball.

“Hey Foley,” he said, dabbing the rag with oil. “You ain’t such hot **** anymore, are you?”

He laughed.
_________________
I go on journeys out of my body and look at my red hands and my mean face and I wonder about that man who's gone so wrong.


Last edited by Glenn Douglas on Mon Oct 10, 2016 11:17 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2016 9:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

He looked at the clock. Monday, three fifty-seven PM. He hadn't slept yet.

He'd spent some hours lying in bed trying to find sleep, then he drank a fifth of whiskey and that hadn't done it, so he'd gone out for a run and then drank some more and still couldn't keep his eyes shut. Whenever he closed them he saw things he didn't want to see. He saw the nothingness of death and the infinity of what came after. He saw Leo's kindly face as the old man stabbed him in the side with a ceremonial Egyptian knife. He saw a great bird soaring over the plains, larger than a car, and picking up coyotes and dashing them against the rocks of a cliff. He thought about the clearing and what happened and what didn't happen. That was the worst, he decided. Glenn was not that kind of man, he'd never been scared of anything in his life.

"Not a God damned thing," he told himself.

His phone buzzed. He looked at the message and replied.

What time?

Midnight.

I'll be there.

He tossed the phone onto the nightstand and tried to get some sleep.
_________________
I go on journeys out of my body and look at my red hands and my mean face and I wonder about that man who's gone so wrong.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2016 9:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Midnight came. Glenn's eyes were even more sunken in now than they had been in the morning. He stiill hadn't slept. It had been over two days since his last rest. Hopefully this would end soon. He felt bone weary but the briskness of the night air as he rolled down the streets on his motorcycle helped wake him up, made him more alert. Riding was not a pleasant experience, though. The vibration in the engine went up his legs and shook his body, it made that fresh wound cry out in throbs of sharp, piercing pain. He grit his teeth through it.

Murphy's was a *** hole of a bar. It was Irish beyond compare, Glenn thought maybe it had been decorated so to be ironic. If that was the case, it was a dumb *** joke. Just one more reason to celebrate Patrick Foley's death. No more *** like that. The neon sign flashed open but there were no cars or bikes out front and when Glenn glanced through the window the commons seemed empty. He tried the door, it was locked, and so he walked around back.

The back door was situated in an alleyway and on either side were a handful of other businesses, one of which was another bar. He could hear loud rock music being muffled by the walls. He didn't recognize the tune.

He knocked on the back door and it swung open. Morgan Wright greeted him.

"You look like ***."

"**** you, man."

Glenn shoved past him and stepped into the bar's small kitchen. There were six men there, they each eyed him warily. He could smell their trepidation, their anger, and their fear. Glenn reached into his coat and they all tensed, so he raised a hand.

"Relax," he said. "I ain't here to kill ya."

He removed the cylindrical container with Foley's eye and set it down on the counter.

"Let's talk business."

Everyone else in the room was staring at the eye. Everyone but Morgan, who was watching Glenn carefully.
_________________
I go on journeys out of my body and look at my red hands and my mean face and I wonder about that man who's gone so wrong.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2016 11:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"You know who I am," Glenn said. It wasn't a question. "And you know what happened to your old boss, Patrick Foley."

All eyes in the kitchen went to the container housing Foley's eye. Glenn watched each man's face, searching their expressions for tells and hints at where he stood with them. They were each hardened criminals in their own right, though some were better at hiding their thoughts than others. He saw rage in those eyes, he saw fear, and he saw greed. He could work with those emotions, they were human, flawed, and predictable. Glenn remembered his time with the Hexx, remembered when he'd first joined up. Josiah had been a terrible presence in his life. Terrifying, controlling, there had never been any doubt. That's what kept madmen like the Hexx in line.

"What is it y'want?" one of the men asked. Glenn looked at him, studied his wrinkling face. He was balding, his hair more gray than brown and thinning up top. He had brown eyes and they were water, either from drugs or lack of sleep. Glenn didn't know which.

"What's your name?"

"James," the man said.

"My great-grandfather was named James."

"So ***' what?"

Glenn pushed from his lean against the counter. He walked upright, stiff, and carefully. He didn't want anyone to know he was wounded, didn't want them to be made aware of his sudden weakness. He walked over to James and stepped close. His nose was just barely touching the older man's. He could smell whiskey on the man's breath and was sure James could smell the same on his. Glenn stared at the man, who stood stiff and uncomfortable. He was bristling, ready for a fight.

He got one.

Glenn rammed his forehead into the man's nose and then grabbed him by the scruff of his shirt. James cupped his nose with his hands and cried out, the sound made nasally by the cracked bone and blood clogging up the passageway. Glenn turned and hurled the man face-first into the counter and kicked him in the ribs to send him tumbling to the ground. Then, he stepped up and put a foot on the man's neck and he pushed down. He ground his heel onto James' neck, he put all his weight behind it, and he looked the other men in the eye, one at a time.

"James Douglas was a rat bastard, a coward, a runaway, and a snitch. He died a coward's death, and I ain't gonna have none like him in my crew. You understand?"

The men were all reaching for weapons during the exchange. A couple of guns had been upholstered, but Morgan was there with him and he could feel a pulse in the air that suggested his old cellmate had something planned in case things spiraled out of control. He still didn't understand just what it was Morgan could do, but it had been enough to blow a hole out of a prison sell back in York and so he figured it was enough for these drunk Irish f****.

"Understand?" he asked again.

James stopped kicking. He stopped squirming, and soon, he stopped breathing. Glenn kicked him over onto his back and looked down at the lifeless bloody face with contempt. He spat on him.

"Just so we're clear. I'm not *** around here, fellas. Leo Ortiz is dead. I blew his *** brains out myself, watched him fall, saw him bleed with my own two eyes. But his crew's still out there stirring up *** and *** with the town. Everything connected to that *** has to die, has to burn. So that's what we're gonna do. Erase his legacy."

"Why?" one of the men asked.

"What's your name?"

"Franklin," he said.

"That's not very Irish."

"*** off. Why?"

"Because I said so, and because if you disagree, I'll kill you and grab the next highest piece of muscle on the food chain around here and give him a promotion. Because as bad as James Douglas was, Leo Ortiz was infinitely worse. Because with his crew still in town you're never gonna amount to anything, you don't have the manpower or the resources to survive an all-out turf war with them, and you sure as *** don't have the *** brains to outsmart them."

"And you do?"

Glenn scooped the vial of eyeball off the counter and tossed it to Franklin.

"I need numbers, boys," he said, not answering the question. "I need to know what we're workin' with. How many men, what kinda arms you fellas got stashed around. What's your racket? Where's the money comin' from? Who handles it?"

"If you give me what I want," Glenn said, "I'll give you West End."
_________________
I go on journeys out of my body and look at my red hands and my mean face and I wonder about that man who's gone so wrong.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 11, 2016 2:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The night had dragged on. The men had been resistant, understandably, to allowing Glenn control. But he'd killed James and Foley and, if he was to believed, Leo Ortiz.

That name meant a lot to the Irish. Leo Ortiz was the snake that roped their old boss in and lead him to his death. It was as much Leo's fault that they had lost Patrick as it was Glenn's. More than that, though, they were simply scared of him. He was dangerous. He seemed a madman, ready to claw out eyes and tear out throats with his teeth. At one point he threatened to do just that to Byrne and the man nearly pissed himself. They'd never seen him do that to a man, but each and every one of them believed he would if pushed.

The arrangements were made. Glenn Douglas would head the charge, they would systematically target Leo's operations and take them out, and then take over all the rackets. Each man had been designated a responsibility and was expected to begin working on it immediately. When the meeting ended the men all left and Glenn and Morgan went out into the bar. Glenn slumped onto a stool and put a hand to his side.

"You alright, slick?" Morgan asked.

"Yeah," Glenn said. "Long couple of days, you know?"

"Yeah," Morgan walked behind the bar and grabbed a bottle of Jameson. He poured two glasses, one for him and one for Glenn. Then he came to sit down next to Glenn and they clinked their glasses together.

"What's your plan for after?" he asked.

"I'm gonna dismantle the whole ***' show," Glenn said, sipping the whiskey. He grimaced. "The *** is this ***?"

"Jameson. It's Irish."

"Ain't all whiskey Irish?"

"No."

"Shows what I *** know," Glenn laughed.

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, I'm gonna kill all of them. Leo's men, the Irish, take them all down. Bust up the gang, that ***. These *** messed with me, too, remember? They came after me, after Madison Rye. Just 'cause Foley's dead don't mean they get a free pass."

"What about after?"

"I don't know. Go on a vacation, get wasted, get laid. Blow off some steam. Relax."

"Glenn Douglas, I ain't never known you to 'blow off some steam', or relax, ever."

"There's a first time for everything, partner."

The two men exchanged silent, amused grins, and they sipped their whiskey. The silence dragged on for many minutes and Glenn finished his whiskey before speaking again.

"This place is *** ugly," he said. "What's with all the green? The shamrocks?"

"Foley wasn't really Irish," Morgan explained. "I'm pretty sure Foley's not his real name."

"Really?"

"Yeah."

"Well *** me."
_________________
I go on journeys out of my body and look at my red hands and my mean face and I wonder about that man who's gone so wrong.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 11, 2016 2:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"How's Madison?"

"Jesus ****, why are you askin'?" Glenn said. He stood, moving back around the bar to find something that wasn't Jameson to drink.

"'Cause you two were close, weren't you?" Morgan watched him worriedly. He was staggering a little, but he knew Glenn wasn't drunk, not yet anyways.

"Were bein' the operative term here," Glenn said. "We were close."

"What happened?"

"I died, ****," Glenn said. "Or did you check out for that part of the show?"

"Yeah, I know that, jackass, I mean what changed?"

"She moved on, I was gone a while and when I was here I wasn't me. She moved on. I tried to fight it for a long time, but we're done and that's probably for the best."

"I'm sorry."

"**** you."

Morgan rolled his eyes. "Pass me the Jameson."

Glenn gave him the whiskey and found a bottle of another brand he'd never had and gave it a sniff. It smelled like whiskey, but then, so did Jameson. He tasted it straight from the bottle and decided it was good enough for what he intended to do, which was drink enough that he'd be forced to fall asleep.

"We're good," he told Morgan. "I'm good, anyways. Never could figure out that woman's head, but whatever. I got my own *** to worry about, anyhow."

"You don't sound or look good, slick."

"Yeah, well, I ain't slept in four days and I got stabbed by Leo Ortiz with a knife as long as my arm, for *** sake. That *** hurts, man."

"Why ain't you slept?"

"Head won't stop spinnin'."

"What's eatin' you?"

"Jesus *** Christ, Morgan. You charge by the hour or some ***?"
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 13, 2016 12:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

He came back to his motel room in the early hours of Wednesday morning, when the sky was a pale gray and the sun was still hiding behind a thick curtain of clouds. He thought this scenery appropriate for his mood, bits of golden light would poke through like the random shoots of positive thought that would occasionally break through the noise of confused, frustrated fear that roiled in his ever-turning mind. He stood out there in front of his room for a long, long time. The ground was littered around his feet with cigarette butts and he was halfway through smoking another.

His shirt was soft and ash gray. His jeans were a little stiff from water that had been soaking them all night, but he'd wear that out of them before the day's end. There was a lot to do and he didn't have all the time in the world. It was then that he fired off his quick text messages to Madison Rye, saying that they needed to talk. He did his best not to get angry at her, but she always knew how to draw his ire and so he threw his phone against the motel room door and let it clatter noisily to the dirty ground. There was a chair out there and he sat in it and thought for a long time about the journey called life.

He thought about his brothers and his sister, all of them now long since passed, and about his father and mother. He thought about York, now nothing more than a few old buildings still struggling to not be toppled over by the wind. The rest was all ash or bullet holes, destroyed by the Hexx and some greater, greedier evil thing that made all things out west tick at a pace slower than time. He remembered the Parnells and how he had shot Randall and his wife (he never learned her name) and that boy Jack, who had never come after him. He was grateful for that. Glenn had never killed a child before and he wasn't sure if he could. He'd always been willing to get dirty, to taste blood and bathe in it if necessary, but there were some evils no one could ever come back from and he knew that he was no different.

His life was one long sordid affair. Slight after slight, crimes petty and large. He'd killed many and though he remembered each and every one, save the Hexx who fell with him at the bell tower, he did not regret it. He'd only ever regretted shooting Mrs. Parnell, that poor woman whose husband he had just killed. There was no reason behind it. It was the first and last time he'd ever killed so senselessly. At least, he thought so.

He wondered at Cossol and why he kept going back there whenever he suffered a crisis of identity. There was nothing to go back to, now. Somehow, Leo had lain waste to the city that never dies. It was gone now and so his sanctuary went with it. Instead he could only sit there out in front of his motel room and think long and hard about where his life had taken him. How had he arrived to this particular moment in time?

"Sign of age," he said to himself. "Start reflectin' on lives lived and lost. You're too young to be old, Douglas."

He laughed and flicked the latest cigarette away and stood. The world came into contrast and he saw it for what it truly was. He was glad to be alive, though that had not always been the case. Death has a way of messing with the brain, messing with the sense of self and hope. But he'd reined that in and when he dug deep down past all of that fear and insecurity he found himself again. It was a him not wholly different but certainly not the same as the one who had died at the tower, who had shot the stars with his gun and been shot back. He spit in the dirt and opened the door to his motel room.

He found a box that he wasn't using and he put three items inside: a container with a single blue eye, a bronze pendant shaped like an acorn, and a revolver older than anything he'd ever owned. The only bit of legible script read J. A. D. He wrote a note about each piece, and then he wrote a second and packed it all up. He picked up his phone and made a call.

"Hey Bobby," he said. "I need you to make a delivery. I need it done in an hour, no less. You free?"

"Sure, boss," Bobby said. "What and where?"

"Come to my motel, I'll hand the package over. I'll tell you the where when you get here."

Glenn hung up the phone and walked back outside to sit in that chair. He closed his eyes and let his head rest against the wall behind him and he waited.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 13, 2016 1:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bobby arrived twenty minutes later. He rolled up in an old beater of a car that sputtered and groaned when he killed the engine. He could hear the metal expanding and settling, the clinks of bits and pieces turning off and heat disappating. Glenn still preferred horses, he always would. Bobby walked up and filled his view of the sky with his pudgy, freckled face. He was close to the same height as Glenn but he was easily twice as wide, if not more. His hair was dark and wild and he kept it tied back instead of cutting it. He was young, maybe eighteen, Glenn didn't know for sure.

He liked the kid and was sad that he'd have to kill him one day.

"Here," he said, holding the box out to Bobby.

"Where am I going?" Bobby asked.

Glenn handed him a strip of paper with an address on it.

"You got forty minutes, kiddo," Glenn said. "Don't open the package. If you do, I'll know, and I'll smash your face into the dirt and grind the life from you with the heel of my boot."

He spoke calmly, his tone was almost light-hearted, as if catching up with a friend and discussing the pleasant change in the weather. Glenn liked this cold front that had come on through the city. Whenever it got hot it made him think of the great plains running with the packs of coyotes and the way they would swarm into little towns and homes and cool themselves off with the blood of the innocent.

Bobby was pale faced. He'd heard about what Glenn had done to James, and in between now and then he'd also heard that Glenn had nearly beat Murphy to death, too. He wasn't about to provoke such a response from the volatile gunslinger.

"Sure thing, boss," he said, trying to sound calm. "I'll get it there, don't you worry. Don't care what's inside. Just delivering the package, that's my job."

"Good kid," Glenn said, and he shifted and reached into his back pocket for his wallet. He pulled out a small roll of bills and handed it over. "And thanks. Go on now."

He kicked lightly at Bobby's shin and the young man jumped, turned, and hobbled back to his car as quickly as he could without looking scared. He still had to save face. Glenn liked that, too. Once again he was saddened by the thought of the young man's inevitable death. Glenn would make sure to put him down quick. He liked the kid.

Bobby drove off and left Glenn alone there in front of his motel. He stretched his arms out wide and sighed. He was relaxed, and finally, he wasn't completely exhausted.

"Good time to be alive," he said, and he laughed the kind of laugh a madman laughs. An elderly couple came out of the room next to his and the woman eyed him warily. He tipped an imaginary hat to them.

"Ma'am," he said, using the drawl of his voice to its full effect. His smile was disarming and they nodded pleasantly back to him. They'd heard too much of his conversation with Bobby to fully be at ease. "Have a pleasant day, folks," he stood and went back into his room to find his gun and gather his things. There was still a lot of blood to be shed before he could try and find a new way of doing things.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 13, 2016 3:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The day dragged on. Glenn, despite the urgency of his business, had hardly moved. Guests at the motel had come and gone but he just sat there idly, doodling away on a small notepad resting in his lap. Glenn had a surprising artistic knack, though very few people had ever been made aware of it. He read poetry, had learned to play the piano, and he could always make something out of nothing with a pencil and a scrap of something to draw on. He was no great artist, but his works were all comprehensive and meditative. They were insights to what was going on behind the surface of his mind and he would, very rarely, indulge in one of his artistic leanings to parse through the what was and what was not, to center his thoughts and draw reality into perspective.

The drawings were small and numerous. Sketches of coyotes, of Hexx, of a dead man lying on the ground with his head missing. A gun and an eyeball in a cylindrical vial. A dark haired woman with eyes that never looked right at you. He spent more time watching the small road in front of the hotel than he did watching the pencil dance across the page. The act was more important than the content of the picture.

He paused when his phone buzzed and he reached into his pocket to check it. It was a message from Bobby.

hey boss package delivered. murphys in the hospital and asking for you. what do you want me to tell him?

Glenn replied: I'll stop by tonight.

Then he put the phone away and looked at his notepad. The latest page was fresh, he'd only put one image to its smooth, pale surface. It was a crude drawing of a young girl with wispy hair sitting down and staring up at him with wide open eyes. She looked familiar but also wrong, like the memory of a person not seen in many years and so her features were all mostly right but also skewed in so severe a way that there was no mistaking the inaccuracy. He scribbled the name "Maida" beside the drawing and frowned at the tightness in his chest.

"Lettin' you down, too, kid," he said.

Someone was approaching and he wiped at the corner of his eye with a thumb. He looked up at the man and flew out of his chair. The notepad fell and landed in the dirt. Glenn drew his gun and pointed it at the man in front of him, who was giving him a sad smile.

"Hey Glenn," Brandon Douglas said. "Long time no see."

"The *** are doing here? How are you here?" Glenn demanded, his body was shaking. He wasn't sure he could hit Brandon, not from here. "You're dead, Brandon."

"So were you," Brandon said. "I guess us Douglas boys don't keep to stayin' dead too well, huh?"

"You been dead for nearly four years now," Glenn reminded him. "Four *** years. Is this Leo? He's dead, too, son of a ***, so why is he still *** with me?"

"Leo's not dead, brother," Brandon reached up and put a hand on the gun and slowly, carefully, pushed it away from him. "You think a bullet to the brain is enough for someone like him?"

Glenn was easy to manipulate after the shock of seeing his brother, a man whom Glenn had shot and killed himself, standing there as though he hadn't lost half his skull in that fight. He lowered the gun but his whole body was visibly tense, on edge, and he seemed ready to strike.

"Easy, Glenn," he said. "I ain't here to fight you. Just here to talk. Can we go inside?"

Brandon paused and bent down to pick up the notepad. The image drawn there struck him and he looked up at Glenn. He'd never known his brother to be an artist to any degree.

"Who's this?" he asked, and he started flipping through the pages.

"No one," Glenn snapped and he took the notepad away and turned to step into the motel room. "Just a girl who's long gone. Come in before I shoot you out here on the street."

"That's more like the Glenn I know," Brandon's laugh was calm, easy, and startlingly similar to Glenn's. The two looked an awful lot alike, but Brandon's hair and eyes came from their mother whereas Glenn's came from their father.

"*** off with that familial bull ***, Brandon. You don't die and come back and act like it ain't nothin'. Not to the man who killed you, anyhow."

"Alright, Glenn. No bull ***. You *** up. Leo's mad, and, I'm pretty sure he's about to up the stakes."
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2016 7:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Brandon left. Glenn was alone in his motel room. It was late and he was tired. He glanced at his phone and sent off a short text to someone, then he started digging through his older messages with a handful of people and hurled it across the room again. This time it broke, shattering against the wall in fragments of plastic, glass, and metal. Someone in the neighboring room knocked on the wall and asked for quiet and Glenn growled dangerously, though the other person couldn't hear him. He turned around and set both hands on his dresser and gripped its edges to stop them from shaking.

His knuckles were bone-white with tension.

He ripped at the wood like it was flesh and half of him wished it was. Coyotes' lives were simpler, he thought.

"You eat, you sleep, you ***, and you kill," he said. "Ain't so bad when you think about it."

Leo was not dead. He had to rein his thoughts in. Forget about her, forget about the showdown happening that he knew next to nothing about. He could only hope that he'd given her something useful for the coming confrontation. In the meantime, he'd have his hands full with the Irish and Leo. He wasn't going to have an easy time convincing them to stay loyal, to keep moving against Leo's crew, if the old bastard was still alive as Brandon had claimed. Glenn believed him. Not because they were brothers, but because the dead don't lie.

He let out a stream of curses and turned to sink to the floor, hands in his face and rubbing at his eyes.

He remembered something Salome had told him. He should learn what it was that made Leo so dangerous to him, since he was the only man who'd been able to hurt him since he came back. He'd need to get a new phone, but for now, he wrote his letters the old fashioned way. Each was short, each was abrupt and to the point.

He used the motel room's phone to call Bobby. The kid came and picked up the letters and would deliver each of them personally. Glenn was doing his best to keep the young man out of the rest of the game. He thought, somewhere in the back of his mind, that if he kept Bobby removed from the underbelly of the operation that he might not have to kill the kid.

He knew that this was a lie, but it was one he had to keep telling himself.

Because at that point, Glenn didn't know if he could pull the trigger.

"Gettiin' soft," he said aloud as Bobby drove off. He patted his gun holstered at his belt, hidden by the leather jacket he was wearing. Glenn turned around to lock the door to his room and went over to his motorcycle and drove off to the bar to meet the Irish.
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2016 7:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Way

The bar is packed. Patrons and staff mill about like happy, thoughtless drones. Some nondescript rock song with a faintly Irish leaning is playing over the stereo system, but most of the patrons are invested in the television displaying some game that Glenn isn't familiar with. He walks in through the front door and looks around at all the faces. He recognizes some, but most are new to him. Bobby is there and Glenn beckons the young man over.

"Hey, boss," Bobby says amicably.

"How many folks here are with the crew?"

Bobby pauses to look around. "Connor's here," Bobby says. "And there's some boys having a game of poker in the back room. The rest're just looking for a drink and a game."

Glenn nods and pats the boy on the shoulder. "Go into the back room, Bobby. Tell the boys I'll be there in a second. Get Connor to go with you."

Bobby gives him a puzzled look but does as he is told. He meets Connor at the bar, who shifts his gaze uneasily toward Glenn, and then follows the young man through a door beside the bar that leads past the kitchen and into the back of the bar. Glenn steps up and slips behind the bar, patting the bartender on the shoulder as he moves past him. He reaches up to turn off the lone television and when the crowd lets out a collection of groans and insults, he turns to face them.

"Sorry to interrupt your evenin', folks," he says. "But all of you best be gettin' now. Bar's closed."

They begin to filter out but some stragglers remain and so he and the bartender, who asks no questions, forcibly remove them. Then Glenn hands the bartender a stack of bills and says to take the night off, and so he does. Glenn goes into the kitchen and sends the staff there running with a similar offer, and when all are gone, he closes the door and locks it. Then he goes into the back room.

The men are still playing poker. There are six of them. Three of them are lieutenants. Then there is Connor and Bobby, who are sitting on an old couch and drinking beer while they watch the game and wait for Glenn.

Glenn pulls his gun and shoots the six people at the table with a rapid release of gunfire and bullets. The flashes are bright and the bangs are loud and his ears are ringing when all is said and done. These new guns don't put off much smoke, but a rapport like that sends thin, gray curls of it into the air. Bobby is mortified and Connor is struggling to stand after jumping so bad he fell out of the couch. He's reaching for a gun and Glenn kicks him in the shoulder and then he puts a foot on his back and shoots him in the back of the head.

He looks at Bobby, who is whimpering. He's pissed himself.

He grabs the young man by the scruff of his shirt and hoists him bodily from the couch. His gun is hot and tastes like gunpowder and he shoves the barrel into Bobby's mouth. The young man is crying and Glenn sneers at him.

"Sorry, kid," Glenn says. "You shoulda never gotten mixed up in all this ***."

The kid is whimpering, he's trying to beg and plead and Glenn isn't having it. His finger tightens on the trigger and just before it reaches that point of no return, right when he can feel the pressure so tense that it is about to snap, he lets go and shoves the boy toward the door. His hands are shaking and he has to clench them to stop it. Bobby scrambles away and Glenn kicks a chair toward him, shouting.

"You better leave this ***' city, Bobby," he shouts. "I swear to God or whatever sick *** you pray to that if I ever see you again I'm blowin' a hole out the back of your ***' head, kid!"

Bobby doesn't need further convincing. He is gone.

Glenn starts to pick through the body with shaking hands. It took him exactly seven shots to kill. One for each man. Part of him knew he should be pleased with himself. No matter what happens, he's never lost his edge. He takes their guns and their money and their phones. Then he sinks onto that couch in that room full of dead and starts rifling through their messages, figuring out where the rest are. He knows he's doing this too soon. He can't take on Foley's gang with just the Irish. But if he doesn't do this now, then Foley will turn the Irish back on him, and he can't fight two armies at once.

Not alone.

Glenn shoots of texts to different people from different phones. He has them all coming to the bar at different times throughout the night. He knows eventually word will get out and they'll stop responding, but he thinks he has enough time to kill the lieutenants and a few underbosses. After that it was hunting as per usual. Glenn's good at hunting man.

He tosses the phones into a pile beside Connor's body and sinks back into the couch. He ejects the magazine of his gun to load in seven individual cartridges and re-inserts it into the weapon. He's thinking about all he can think about it, which is anything but the letter he'd left early in the morning or the package he'd had delivered. He's trying to keep the scent of something out of his mind, something that belonged and something that did not. As he sits and waits he remembers a great deal from the last few days but his mind keeps glossing over the parts where he can't sleep or he's in pain and keeps coming to the thing that's hurt him the most, and he can't explain why.

He has no right to feel the way he does, he thinks. And he has something bigger to worry about.

He hears the back door open and close.

"In here!" he shouts.

A man walks through and is shot.
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2016 6:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Morgan Wright walks into the back room of the bar and his nose wrinkles at the stench of blood and gunpowder that permeates the room. He steps over the bodies of the dead gangsters, most of whom were not actually Irish, and comes to stand in front of Glenn Douglas who is sitting on that old couch with his head bowed and his arms up with his hands covering the back of his neck. He is holding a gun and breathing slow, ragged breaths.

"What do you want?" he asks.

"I heard some *** went down, wanted to make sure you were alright," Morgan answers.

"Yeah," Glenn sits up and looks at Morgan. He is a wreck. His hands are shaking and Morgan thinks it's a wonder he's been able to shoot anyone. His eyes have that distant, far-away look to them that he remembers from their time in prison when he had lost himself yet again and went running with the pack, that look of self-despair and disgust. Those were the eyes of a man who could not root himself in the present because if he did, it would tear him to shreds and leave nothing standing. He cannot stand to look at himself, not yet.

"You should get outta here," Glenn says. "But leave me a gun if you have one on you. More will be coming soon, but this time they'll arrive in numbers. Ain't so dumb, these Irish, as to keep walkin' into my little trap here."

Glenn stands and Morgan shakes his head.

"I'll stay, Douglas," Morgan says. "I got your back."

Glenn doesn't argue. He just nods and checks his magazine and then pats the man on the shoulder.

"When this is all said and done," he says, "I want you to kill me."

"What?"

"Leo's the only one who's been able to hurt me. I need to know how, I need to know why. He's sure as *** not gonna tell me, so I need to die and see the truth again. I need to walk the in-between."

"Are you *** kidding me, Glenn? You're just now getting back to your old self. Who knows how different you'll be if you come back a second time?"

"Who says I want to be that man anymore?"

This strikes Morgan and he feels a deep pang of sympathy for his old friend, who is standing there looking as miserable as any man ever has. Morgan nods and draws his pistol, handing it over to Glenn.

"Give 'em Hell, slick. I'll be picking them off from the outside. You know I don't like to get my hands dirty if I can avoid it."

"Just like old times," Glenn takes the gun and tucks it into the waist of his jeans. He wipes at his face and smears a little not-yet-dried blood. He has a knife that he's stolen from one of the dead men tucked into his belt and its white-bone handle is stained red from the number of times he's stabbed someone with it today. Morgan sees this man standing before him completely drenched in it, he realizes, and it strikes him just how dangerous a man can be when he does not fear death. Even Morgan, who has his own unique and death-defying condition, fears the man in front of him. It is in spite of everything that they have shared, all the hours in that prison cell, the escape, and the countless helping hands they have offered one another.

He leaves that room thinking that his friend may have died for good when the tower fell on him, because the man he is helping now is a shadow. He is the darkness of the west come to life.

He is drawn out of his thoughts by the sound of gunfire. He sees through the window in the kitchen door that the front of the bar is ablaze with flashes of light. The windows are shattering and glasses is falling to the floor like great and sharp drops of ice and water. It crashes and showers and the whole room glitters and seems brighter for it. He can see the men out on the street standing behind cars as they unload their automatic weapons into the bar. The neon lights explode in a shower of sparks and all the bottles of drink behind the bar spray and splash as they erupt.

He heads out the back door in no particular rush, just as he hears the sound of boots crunching over broken glass as men come swarming into the building.

He can feel a stirring in the air like a storm is about to pass over, but when he looks up at the dusky sky he sees that the clouds have parted and it is clear for a time. Gunfire continues to echo into the alleyway as he makes his way around the building and he comes behind the swarming Irishmen who aren't all Irish at all, and opens himself to the presence that is ever lurking at the back of his mind.

Burn them?

"Be mindful of the back room," he warns.

Of course.

Fire erupts and men howl in terror and pain.
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2016 6:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glenn hears the hail of gunfire and the shattering glass and the sound of men moving in on him. He also hears their howls of terror and pain as Morgan unleashes that evil that has taken purchase inside of his soul. He expects the front of the bar to be ablaze in hellfire now, and he is sure that the rest of the building will go down, too. This is good, he thinks. Means less cleanup work for him. He makes a mental note to thank Morgan, when all is said and done, and then he exits the back room.

Men are flooding through the door. They want him dead, but they also want to escape the fires raging behind them. He shoots until he runs out of ammo, and then he loads another magazine and continues. They keep coming. Some have gone around the back way and are coming in through the rear entrance, and he shoots at them too. He drops his gun and takes out the one Morgan gave him and empties another fifteen rounds. Then he draws the knife and dives headlong into the throng of raging bodies. He can feel them clawing at him, feel the metal of guns against his flesh and he can feel their disbelief when he does not bleed after they pull the trigger.

He can taste, above the smoke and the sweat and the blood, their fear, and he uses it. He slashes and kicks and punches. He tears with fingers and teeth alike and does not care or balk at the taste of another man's blood in his mouth. And he continues like this until he has spilled out into the alleyway with a man dying in his clutches. And he throws the man at the others, who are hesitant to follow after the violent display of ferocity.

Glenn stares at them and waits, but they do not come. The fires burn higher behind them and he knows that those flames have made their way into the kitchen. One man goes to run and Glenn throws his knife and hits him in the chest. He falls.

"Any man who comes out of that kitchen is dead," he promises. "I will swallow you whole and spit you back out."

They believe him, but the fires are creeping ever closer.

He sees amongst the men a familiar, youthful face, and frowns.

"Bobby, get out of there," he commands the young man.

Bobby hesitates.

"Bobby get out of there, now, or I will come in there and drag you out."

Glenn takes a step forward and someone shoves Bobby toward him. Glenn catches the stumbling, rotund man and steadies him.

"I told you to leave," Glenn says.

"After what you did? I couldn't go. I got brothers in this crew, boss. Friends, family. Am I supposed to let you kill them?" Bobby is shaking, he is pale and sweaty, but his voice is strong and Glenn respects him for that.

"Aww, hell," Glenn sighs. "I guess not. I'd have done the same in your shoes."

Glenn pats Bobby on the shoulder. "You're a good kid. Good man. Loyal. I'm sorry that you had to get wrapped up in all this, honest."

Morgan comes around to the back of the building then and sees Glenn standing there with Bobby and a small gathering of still living men huddled by the back door.

Glenn looks at Morgan.

He squeezes his hands over Bobby's throat and the boy starts to kick and claw at him. He's trying to pull away but his bravery does not conjure up strength that isn't there, and Glenn is like a rabid dog. He gets a hold and he doesn't let go until the game goes limp. He squeezes and looks Bobby straight in his bulging eyes. His lips and face turn blue and purple. He tries to shove Glenn off balance but the man is like a wall of iron. Slowly, the young man sinks to his knees and he loses his will to fight. Glenn lets go of him then.

He is gasping, clutching his throat and drawing in harsh breaths. He rolls onto his side and curls up into a ball. Glenn walks over him and up to the back door. One of the men standing there raises his gun to shoot but Glenn takes it from him, and he gives it over without fighting. They all stand, transfixed and horrified, as Glenn turns around and puts a bullet into the back of Bobby's skull. Then he turns that gun on the remaining men and shoots the five of them. He tosses the gun onto their bodies and walks over to Morgan, who is regarding him with a blank expression that Glenn knows to mean that the man is masking his judgment. He knows what he is, though, and in that moment is not ashamed at the evils he has committed.

Then, he catches a scent in the wind and it reminds him of something else and he has to close his eyes and squeeze them to stop from collapsing from the anguish that hits him like a truck out of nowhere. He staggers and puts a hand on Morgan's shoulder to steady himself.

"Can you burn it?" he asks.

"If that's what you want, slick," Morgan says.

"It is."

Morgan nods and Glenn steadies himself. He puts the memory out of his mind and does his best not to think of anything but the goal. There is a reason for this carnage, he reminds himself. You are not evil, you are not wrong to kill these men. They were each and every one of them wicked and corrupt and they would have turned on you the moment they knew Leo was still alive. You had to get rid of them, and there are still others out there who you must hunt down.

"Meet me at the Ugly Piper when you're done," Glenn says. "I need a drink, and someone to stop me from doing something stupid."

"Sure, slick. I'll be your chaperone."

Glenn leaves Morgan to the task.
_________________
I go on journeys out of my body and look at my red hands and my mean face and I wonder about that man who's gone so wrong.
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