Posted on 6/25/13
Maybe this wouldn’t have happened had I listened to my father. He always told me not to converse with strange men, and above all else he taught me to never meddle in the affairs of the other people living in this town. He was a torn soul, broken and heartless ever since my mother left us when I was a child too young to even recall her face. He never much approved of anything if it did not reward him in some way or another, and he never went out of his way to help anyone aside from himself. Still, he was my father, the only one I would ever have, and though neglectful, he never laid a hand on me or scolded me in any such a way. Father was no saint, but it is also true that he was no scoundrel. He was a coward, but every day he still breathed and lived on; he did not die at the hands of his fellow man as I. As far as I was concerned, Father had never lost his blood in a quarrel against any opposing man either, he avoided conflict in his own ways and to the other men in town, that fact was nothing to be boastful of. He kept to himself and he survived, which I presume is the moral of his lessons to me. I have come to think that perhaps Father was right after all. If only I had listened to his cold words of advice, maybe, just maybe I might have lived to see if he was right.
As I lay in the alley, my body torn open and my life bleeding away, I wonder if it was worth it. Was one attempt at a good deed worth losing my life over? Is the world truly a cruel, desolate place with no goodwill or human decency left within it? No one ever offers anything but greed and selfishness, just as my father claimed, can it be true? Should I have just turned the other cheek and forgotten about hospitality for once in my miserable life? I haven’t even had the pleasure of seeing the world outside of our tiny town of Bristol, England, and I have not lived long enough to tell the difference between a man with virtue and the horrid men who acted like my father or worse.
It all seemed so long ago, but it was just this morning that I lived together with Father on a gloomy, rundown farm just outside of town; we made profit on the few eggs from the henhouse if we were lucky and we used that money to make a meager survival. I was supposed to sell our wares to a few regular buyers and nothing more; it was supposed to be just another simple run into town and if all went smoothly I would have returned home by dinner. I couldn’t help but keep thinking to myself how none of this madness was supposed to have happened to me. It was all so fast that it almost didn’t seem real, like it didn’t feel as though it actually happened.
I had collected a fair amount of shillings from our last buyer, and then I can remember it started to rain and the sky was darkening. I recall wanting to take a short cut so I could be home faster before the weather turned frightful. I rounded the corner which is where I saw a band of men harassing some defenseless woman; she was a small feme sole, as innocent as she could be. I thought it would be the Godly thing to help her escape those red faced dock workers; I believed that maybe if I had done this good deed then I would be rewarded in pleasant karma later on. Instead, I wound up in the gutters to my everlasting and ironic shame. I don’t think I was much help to anyone come to think of it.
Now, I was just lying in the rain, about to die of all things, and here I rest, nothing accomplished in my nineteen years. Father would perhaps wonder why I had not come back, and he might care for a brief instance when he realized that I did not have enough of a spine to run away from home. If he had half a mind at all, Father would have realized that I would be dead before I would even make the border out of the city, and really, what means had I to run away besides a monotonous feeling of existence? He might perhaps think such things, but there would be no tears from that man, and before long he would go on about his business, not even enough time in his day to mark a grave for his lost boy. My life before me in a blur of thought and I was astounded to realize that I had done absolutely nothing worth praise or nostalgia of any sort of fashion. I lived as nothing, and it seems I would die as nothing as well.
I prayed that things not end this way. I asked God for help when I was beaten; all of my life I thought as long as I was good, God would watch over me, but now when I needed Him most, He was nowhere to be heard. I only wonder why God has tormented me so; what had I done wrong to deserve such a death? It is ill fact to blame the Lord for such things and if this be a test, I fear I have failed miserably to His will. Where would I end up resting in eternity? Have I been enough of a saint to save my salvation in Heaven or was I far too corrupted with these thoughts against God? Would I be cast into Hell? The thought would have been enough to bring tears to my eyes if they had not already been there from the pain and fear of my coming demise. “I’m not ready to die yet…” my voice whispered. Only moments ago I could still hear my own voice screaming, begging for mercy from the other men as they grouped together in order to beat me mercilessly, callously to the ground. My mouth could barely make a sound now; not that speaking out had done my fate any kind of good a few moments ago. The men ignored my pleas and God ignored my prayers as they punched and stabbed at me with clenched fists and broken bottles. As for the woman I had tried to save, she dared not lift a finger to help, and instead, she took off soundlessly in the other direction. There was no salvation coming to me from her hand, but I cannot say that I blame her for being afraid and running away. Any wise soul might have done the very same in her position.
Oh, I can still see them all so clearly as the events played over in my fading mind. The pit of hopelessness I saw from the woman’s eyes as she fled, the ale soiled cackles coming from the murderous men who flashed their yellow teeth at me in sinister smiles, and the mischievous storm in the sky, taunting me as the heavens appeared so clouded as England, blind to help me and mocking me with the irony of a scene of rainy death. As I took in these final thoughts now, I had come over cross, hating that the last feelings that I would ever know in this world would be something so pathetic as anger and regret. Thunder struck from the clouds above when suddenly my blood grew cold and my skin started to crawl. This was it, I thought. This is the end of me. I shall die as nothing but a pathetic boy, woe to everything that was the wretchedness of this cadaver’s pity life. I prayed soundlessly in my own head as the blood rose up through my throat and filled my mouth with the awful taste of rusty water. I coughed up the red as it filled my lungs; the taste blending with tears as it ran across my dry lips. Shaking, I could feel the cold desire of death creeping in on me as blood drained from my wounds and tongue. Truly I do not wish to die a wretch such as this; I thought it over and over again until the thunder clashed once more and the stinging pang of rainwater forced my eyes into darkness.
My body stiff and cold, a sharp wariness stung through the air and purged the veins near my heart. The sensation was unnerving, the thought that insects were trailing my arms and legs and the great Winter himself had teamed together with Death to breathe chills down my neck. There was an emptiness suddenly gone when the alley shifted. I could not see it, nor feel it physically, but I could hear his breathing and simply sense the presence around me.
A malicious voice had started to cackle from the shadows, his tone lowly and full of mockery as he said, “I have heard your prayers young man, and such, I am here with---let us say, a solution?”
I was not mad, there was a voice near, regardless if I could see him or not. I tried to ask who and where they were, but my vocals refused to give out words. As the storm raining down on me from above shook the skies, I could only see the distant flashes of lightning and hear my own slowing heartbeats drowning out the thunder. The figure though, this man or monster who had spoken towards me, his voice was so clear, so vivid; it was almost as if he had been the voice inside my head. It was so close to me as he spoke that I thought perhaps he might have been my conscience, had he not sounded so vindictive and cold. He claimed to have heard my prayers, but I had not given any to speak of in the time it had taken for him to make his presence known. Whoever he was, the man continued as the rain unremittingly pierced my skin like tiny splinters from the clouds. His tone like the smoke itself, he unraveled his offer to me further…
“I can give you the time you seek, boy,” He said, dissonant as a whisper, “Granted you do me a favor in return.”
I wondered, was he an angel, or perhaps God or Satan come to me? I could not have known, but with anything I could muster, my brain only screamed out a reply of yes. Yes! I truly did not wish to die this day, not like this, and definitely no time soon. My dull life nothing to be grateful for, I realized that I wanted more than anything else to live and simply stay living until I had something memorable that I could die for. Here this person came with such an offer that would make me well again, and God as my witness I wasn’t about to pass up his generous opportunity.
“Very well,” He laughed a low and shallow sound that seemed to humble me before adding in amusement, “It shall be done my lad, but know this---” He paused and hummed a bit of a pleasurable laugh to himself as his cold voice bounced across the walls of the alley. There was a pressure wringing suddenly across my throat as it became even harder to breathe now than before. He said, “There will be no going back.”
I couldn’t hear what he had said to me, but it was as though he had heard my own agreement because the sharp senses came flowing back into me as soon as I had time to think about the word of approval. First it was a rushing sensation of blackness, followed by the burning sting of a thousand nails poking into my neck; later the pound of adrenalin that made my limbs twist around out of my own control, mending my bones and biting the wounds of my gashes together like a swarm of needles digging against the flesh. Finally the never resting sight, the booming sounds, and that unfamiliar scorching hunger---it came at me like being bucked by a stable horse. This feeling was stronger than one man could handle, and the new senses that had warped me were overwhelming in levels of which I did not know I could withstand.
My once tired eyes, opened wide to the world again, I could see the raindrops individually as they crashed down from the black clouds above. A breath of air, a fresh rush of cold wind through my lungs, it was delightful. For only a moment there was a ringing in my ears that made my body feel out of place, as though somehow I did not belong to the world anymore, but still I lay watching it through some sort of dreamlike state. I took another breath, but my throat denied the air and instead I folded over and coughed up more of my own blood, vomiting until I noticed there was something rather odd about my blood more so now than before.
What is this? I wondered, Is this ink?
I hugged my aching ribs and let the excretes of carnage pour over my hand just before the rainwater washed the evidence away. Still, there was no mistaking it, this substance was no longer human, it wasn’t what it was just moments ago and this body was somehow rejecting it whenever I tried to inhale a breath of air; no longer the dark shade of claret life, this blood was nothing more than a somber and sickly shade of black. My blood was black.
I started to gain composure as soon as the retching had subsided, and within seconds I was able to rise. Now, standing on my own feet again, strength had begun pounding through my legs as I got an uncontrollable need to run, though I stood frozen regardless when I caught scent of the trail of alcohol in the air. I caught whiffs of the pavement, the dirt, and the overwhelming stench of petrichor all around. My nose burning and ears bleating as the new surroundings crashed at me like a wave, I could do nothing more but succumb to the new sounds and smells. My bones felt like iron and my skin as durable as brick; my mouth was carving itself apart, each of my teeth were pounding to no cease, and my tongue slicing as if I were chewing on a razor blade. I was on fire, my flesh felt like it was roasting over a fire! I choked back air and heaved to the ground once more as a poisonous feeling stole the might right out of my hands. The pain was enough to bring a scream or two back into my dry and burning throat and I crashed into the brick walls around me, leaving the impact like fragile eggshells as the bricks crumbled by my touch.
I took in a few more cold breaths to cease the fire in my chest, when I caught whiff of that smell again. The alcohol that loomed so heavily around this area, the trail of it lead right to scents of the men who had beat me, I could not get the stench out of my nose and it consumed me so that I thought I might vomit from it, or else be smothered by this inescapable torture of their stink. Finally, I saw them, my eyes enhanced in vision somehow, they cut through the blackness, through the rain, and the miles between us, following that horrendous trail of odor; I had found the men who had killed me, and they were laughing, reveling at the blood on their hands and drinking that ghastly smelling liquor to no cease. Had alcohol always smelled so revolting before?
I took a step, but the speed and adrenalin was incredibly overpowering; I found myself by their side in a matter of seconds. The lightning flashed, and it was almost like a whip being cracked against my ear, I could see it from the moment it left the heavens to the very place in the valley where it struck the earth. Even though the pain I felt was unbearably strange, there was this new feeling, a feeling of pure right, this burning need and desire to act, to fight. I heard a low rumbling surface in my chest and I realized that the sounds were coming out of me, the growling shallow and blood chilling, but they would not cease. The drunken men who heard such a noise, each of them jumped as they saw me through the brief flashes of light that had electrified the sky. They screamed as though the Devil himself were stalking behind them in the shadows. All I could think about when I saw the look of fear in their eyes was that feeling of hopelessness as they left me in the alley to die. I wanted to rip them apart for their sins, and the worst thing was I could smell the blood on their hands, their clothes; I could even smell it in their veins---my blood---their blood---and the stench of it was enough to purge my lips into a smile. The growl in my stomach reveling louder as my happiness brought the men to screams of terror. There was blood in the air, and for reasons unknown to me at the time, it smelled palatable. I wanted it all for myself.
A frenzy caught hold of me like a possession, and within seconds the men were a pile of limbs against the bricks, my body drenched in the scent of their ichor and tears. I enjoyed mutilating them, and I did so with only my hands and my teeth. I got pleasure from tearing their throats out and tasting their blood running down my neck. God, what was happening to me? The adrenalin struck me like a match, there and then gone a moment later, and when it had vanished all I could feel was the trembling guilt of what I had done. What had I done? I had just murdered three men in cold blood! Me, a simple farm boy who had no less slaughtered one of his father’s hens, let alone ripped men twice his own build into tattered shreds against the cobblestone walkway. The thought of blood sickened me before, but now the taste of it sent chills down my spine as though it were not enough, I needed more of it, and I wanted to kill again to get it. The bodies had no recognizable features left to them, yet I still craved their essence, I wanted their blood---more than blood, I wanted everything, I craved the leftover piles of flesh and yearned to consume the very souls resting in the marrow beneath their bones; I wanted to pick my teeth with them and the disgusting thought even seemed pleasurable enough to make me smile before my morals restrained the killer inside. I wanted to devour every last scrap of them, yet I had regained a sense of control with enough sense to fight back the urge. Still---wouldn’t it just be so easy to rid Bristol of this gore ridden evidence forever and tame this sensational starvation?
No! I thought, my mind screaming, as I stumbled backwards, I should not think such horrible things! I shouldn’t!
Though, as I looked to the pile of bodies next to me, that notion of humanity turned once again into an insidious desire to kill. I could hear the sounds coming from the city, the clatter of a horse drawn carriage, the laughter of women, and the soft snores of children asleep in their homes. I stood and even attempted to walk towards them, before I slapped myself and fell to my knees into the wet street, the blood dripping from every inch of my body as it mixed with the rain water beneath my hands. I shouted to the thunder, my confusion wrapped around the vicious feeling of pleasure that I could not shake from my subconscious. I slammed my fists into the road and watched as my newfound strength shattered the pavement beneath my blow as though it were nothing more than a thin layer of ice.
“What is happening to me?” I asked again in tears now as I looked to my own monstrous hands in remorse. “What have I done? What sort of Devil’s deal is this!? What am I?”
“You are my new apprentice,” that sinister snarl replied.
I could not see him before, but now it was as though he had been stomping behind me every moment; his movements were now so vivid and traceable to my enhanced ears and eyes. I spun right around to see him sitting on the wall as though gravity had no apply to him. The Devil I believed, but not as I was raised to picture.
He was pale and lowdown looking, his hair red and long to his shoulders, his clothes dark and wet from rain. The appearance of a common man, an unkempt man, but he dressed almost like a mortician in the purest of black. He walked down the bricks with ease and then onto the horizontal floor of the street, his teeth white and sharp as a wolf’s and his eyes red as Hell, shining through his small spectacles like beams of sunlight. Why he wore such on a dark night such as this was beyond me, but the dark visors barely dimmed that Hellish red glow in his eyes and it was enough to get me to feel fear again. I felt so strong before but now it was as if I was stunned helpless against such an evil presence before me. This monster was no good, and what was worse was what he called me, an apprentice, he said. I wonder regrettably what exact deal had I made with this man in exchange for life?
“What---” I gasped, “What kind of monster are you?” I looked to my own bloodstained hands and trembled, “What did you do to me!?”
He gave me a pat on the shoulder, a touch that sent a gut-wrenching chill of horror through my every muscle and vein. He seemed to flicker in amusement at my trembling and he said to me, “You are now in my debt and you will do whatever I say in exchange for this new power I’ve bestowed upon you. That was our deal after all, was it not?” He dropped a cloth in my face and he turned his back to me and asked in a calm smile, “What is your name?”
“Miccam---M-Miccam Ballison,” I quivered and began wiping the blood off of my face with the handkerchief. It took all I had to restrain myself at the sight of the delectable blood, but I swallowed and looked up to the demon in wonder. “What of this power? What have I accepted? What exactly is it that you have done?” I asked.
“I have given you immortality,” he cackled, “Now, try not to cause a scene and I suggest you flee town---start fresh elsewhere before anyone wakes to realize the massacre you have wrought. When I need of you again, I shall call to summon you.”
He turned with a smile and started to walk away when I stumbled after him, tripping over myself like a newborn calf just learning how to stand. “Wait!” I shouted, “Please, help me! I don’t understand this…”
He did not turn back; his black cloak drenched in rain water drug heavily against the ground as he disappeared into the shadows with one tip of his hat; his words striking me like a dagger to the heart as he left with only one simple phrase that to this very day can achieve sending a chill up my spine.
“Oh you will…”
I looked back to the puddle at my knees and when I lifted my head, the man was gone. I could not see nor smell any trace of him, it was as though he had simply vanished into thin air. I could still feel the soaking rain drowning through my tattered clothes. I slid my hand across the firm skin that had once been impaled, but I felt no scars to speak of. With the dominant pressure of the demon now gone, I found enough strength again to stand and I studied the cloth token he had given me. It had gold thread bordering the edges and a monogram stitched on the lower corner that read the letters: B.P.
His name perhaps? I wondered, but I stuffed the cloth back into my pocket and looked back at the disembodied pile of men behind me. That growling smile crept back into me and without another thought, I found myself wandering towards it once more, my stomach growling and throat longing for a quenching taste of blood. From that night forth, my life had changed forever. From that moment I officially died as Miccam Ballison the human farm boy who had once lived with his cowardly father in Bristol, England. Now I was something different, something stronger, a monster. My new life on this earth was dedicated to one who I would later know as master, and through him, I would forever be labeled throughout the world of devils as a force just as frightening as judgment day itself. From then on I became a hitman.