Stand behind yer sheriff Circulation: 177,384,884 Issue: 315 | 26th day of Collecting, Y9
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Evil Death: Part One


by sirussblack

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I. Looking Back

“Next, please!” said the Kacheek, his marred face looking down from an oak desk. It had been his profession for quite some time now to solve any puzzle that came his way. Because of this, he had become somewhat of a tourist icon. Visitors brought multitudes of puzzles to him and he would answer them in a flash. The puzzles that were brought were, for the most part, very easy to figure out. He had, of course, a few difficult ones which perplexed him for quite a while, but the one he was about to receive was something he had never encountered – and it wasn’t on a slip of paper.

     A blue Bruce waddled up to his desk, his face barely reaching over the ledge. He had a weathered look about him and spectacles dangled on his nose, which just worsened his appearance. “Excuse me, sir?”

     Eliv peered over the desk. Something about this Bruce seemed very familiar. “What puzzle would you like me to solve today?” he asked, brushing off his feeling and putting on his very best tourism face.

     “Oh, no, no. A solution is not what I’ll be needing,” the Bruce said.

     “Do you need directions to the – ”

     The Bruce shook his head. “Actually, I’d like to speak to you in private, Marcus.”

     Eliv looked down. “Marcus? Listen, are you sure you're at the right place?”

     “Oh, I’m quite sure,” the Bruce said. “Your mother sent me. Well, sort of. But... well, can we please talk somewhere a little less... crowded?”

     The Kacheek looked at the long line of people holding pieces of paper or objects in their hands, waiting eagerly to come up and have their riddle solved by the famous puzzle master. His eyes then drifted back to the Bruce, who was standing there with a kind look in his eyes – and Eliv couldn’t get the thought out of his mind that he knew him from somewhere.

     But... his mother? The woman who hadn’t talked to him in over twenty years. The same mother who abandoned him to live out on the street. Alone...

     *

     The rain came down ever so slightly on his head. It was dark out – completely dark. He had never seen this side of town before. His mother clutched his hand, leading him along the sidewalk. In a few minutes, he was back into the light. Candles covered with glass lined the pathways. He could see his surroundings much better, yet they were all unfamiliar.

     His mother suddenly stopped and peered around. She muttered something under her breath and let go of Eliv’s hand. She bent down to his height and stared into his eyes. She then gave him a small bag, which she shoved into his hand discreetly. She gently kissed her son on the forehead and ran off.

     Eliv wasn’t sure what to do. He started to run after his mother but the woman seemed to disappear into thin air. He didn’t give up for a long while, though, and only did so when his lungs felt as if they were going to collapse. But she was gone. She had run away. Left him here alone. To die, perhaps.

     But no. He could survive on his own. “I don’t need her,” he muttered to himself. “I can do this by myself.”

     He hurried back in the direction he came from, aiming for the distant glowing lights of the street lamps. It took about fifteen minutes at a walking pace and, after doing so, he was so tired he could almost collapse on the path right there. But he knew he couldn’t do so. He took a few deep breaths and looked around. The street was completely empty. No candles flickered in anyone’s rooms. It was strangely settling, the feeling of him being absolutely alone.

     Eliv looked around, observing what was around him and trying to find some natural shelter. He saw it. In the back of an alleyway, behind a store. There was a large canopy connected to the roof. Under there he would be protected from the rain and would have a good source of shade in the day. He hurried over to the canopy and relaxed himself under it and felt himself drifting into sleep...

     *

     "I'm sorry, sir," Eliv quickly said. "There are too many people who have come to see me and I really don't know what you're talking about. I've been separated from my mother for quite some time now and, if it's true that you have contact with her, please tell her that she shouldn't have left me to die and... next customer."

     The Bruce wouldn't be pushed away that easily, however. He stood his ground, even when a tough looking Fire Draik was trying to push his way through to get to the puzzle master. "Your mother isn't well."

     Eliv scoffed. "She never exactly had her head screwed on correctly. Now, please, leave me alone."

     The Bruce stopped speaking for a moment and simply stared at Eliv. His brow furrowed and he asked, “When is your break?”

     “Whenever I choose. This isn’t a business. It’s a challenge.”

     “Then come with me now. We can go to a café and have a cup of coffee and I can tell you everything,” he said and paused. “Please. It would be much easier this way. It would save me from chasing you around until I keel over.”

     Eliv shook his head. “No. You can’t just pull me from this. Don’t march in here and tell me what to do. Now get out. Or I’ll have to force you out.”

     The Bruce raised his eyebrows. “Marcus... ” he said and trailed off, seeing the look in the Kacheek’s face. “Eliv. Mr. Thade. Whatever pseudonym you’ve put yourself under. I beg you to come with me.”

     Eliv took a deep breath and released it slowly. “Fine. Give me fifteen minutes.”

     *

     He was awoken by a hard kick to the stomach. His eyes opened wide and he was looking upwards. A Bruce was standing there in a black suit with a vibrant orange tie. “Hey, kid, you all right down there?”

     Eliv was still half-asleep and couldn’t really comprehend what he was saying.

     “Are you okay?”

     Again, the shouting. It took a minute to click and Eliv looked up again at the Bruce. “No... not really,” was all he could muster. For some reason, he was extremely tired and groggy.

     The Bruce kneeled down on the pavement and looked at the Kacheek. “What happened to you? You look like you were robbed.”

     Then, it came back to him. During the night. Someone woke him with a kick to the head. He still had the headache. He had been robbed. They took the bag his mother had gave him when she ran away the past night. Abandoned. Abandoned last night.

     “I... I was. I... do you have a place I could sleep?” Eliv asked.

     The Bruce nodded. “Yeah, yeah. Sure. Come on, now, get up. You look like you could use some food – maybe a nice bath.”

     All Eliv could do was nod as he was helped up by the Bruce and assisted in walking out into the bright sunshine of the town street.

     “So, how long have you been living out here?” the Bruce asked, a deep concern in his voice.

     “Only a night,” Eliv responded.

     “How did you get there? I mean, that wasn’t exactly an ideal living space. Are your parents around here?”

     “My... parents... uhm... I really don’t want to talk about... anything right now. I’m still... really groggy,” Eliv said, though it was obvious he was trying to avoid explaining what had happened.

     This was apparent to the Bruce. “That’s okay, kid. You don’t have to tell me nothing. Now, come on, support your own weight a little. I’m getting old here.”

     Eliv smiled. Maybe he wasn’t so alone...

     *

     The café was quiet and calm, a perfect place to have a life-changing conversation. When a weathered Bruce and a marred Kacheek walked in and sat down at two plush chairs no one thought anything of it. The workers were sitting idly behind a counter, exchanging gestures as to who would go over to the customers who had just arrived.

     A tired-looking Aisha walked steadily over to them. “What can I get you two today?” she said with a feigned smile on.

     The Bruce smiled. “Black coffee, please.”

     “And you?” the waitress asked the unsettled Kacheek.

     “Water.”

     The Aisha paused for a moment and nodded. “I’ll be right out with that.”

     Nothing was said between the two until the waitress returned with the orders. “Everything okay?” she asked, placing the coffee and bottled water down on the table.

     “Just fine,” Eliv weakly smiled. “Thank you.”

     “No problem,” the Aisha awkwardly turned around and headed back into the counter.

     Eliv opened his water and took a long sip. The Bruce let the coffee sit there while he looked at the Kacheek. “What happened to you?”

     “That’s not exactly how I expected this conversation to start off,” Eliv commented slyly. “Maybe an introduction would be proper. Or telling me why you pulled me away from my pleasure to have this important conversation.”

     The Bruce nodded. “Okay, an introduction would indeed be proper. Didn’t take you for a proper kind of person, though. You appear as if you’re a rebel, against all the rules.”

     Eliv gave him a sarcastic look and didn’t justify his comment with an answer.

     “Well, then. Hello, I’m Henry and I’m your father.”

     Eliv’s eyes opened wide.

To be continued...

 
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