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Atlas Park: The War - Issue Nine

Judgement Day

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Wrait walks through the wide hospital door to Dae's room as soon as he sees the guard leave for a cup of coffee. Blebbeh is already perched on the windowsill in the form of a raven. Dae looks rather pitiful, handcuffed to a bed with a hospital gown on. Without his trenchcoat on and his .44 on his side, he is like anyone else. Still, he doesn't need a gun to be dangerous.

Wrait keeps his distance when he starts talking. "I expected this moment to be more rewarding that this."

"I know you did, Wrait." Dae turns to the bird. "Blebbeh, do you mind if we have the room?"

A cloud of illusory smoke masks a quick tranformation as Blebbeh turns into her regular self. Wrait jumps and barely stops himself from brandishing his pistols.

"Absolutely." Blebbeh walks out and closes the door behind her.

"Your friend is a friggin' crow?!"

"Raven, actually. She is a skinwalker."

"Well, that's fucking reassuring. This day just gets weirder and weirder."

"It isn't over yet."

"Look, Dae, I managed to put all of our shit behind us to help you out. I came, like you asked, but you haven't told me what you want yet."

"All of it, you said?"

"Sure, all of it, yeah, yeah."

"Good. I need to know I can trust you again."

"You never could."

"You underestimate yourself, Wrait. I just need to know you haven't changed for the worst over the last five years."

"I was always an alcoholic, I guess the problem didn't exactly fix itself, but-"

"Good. I need you to find Proc."

"Proc? That bastard who worked for tree? He is a fucking bomb-maker, Dae. A murderer!"

"Tell me someone you know who isn't, Wrait. We've all killed."

"You know what I mean."

"I know that you used to work for tree too, Wrait, and you were never a saint yourself. We'll need him. I can feel it."

"Okay, then tell me why your bird friend can't do it?"

"She didn't know him. He won't trust her."

"We weren't exactly pals, Proc and I. What makes you think he'll trust me?"

"You're persuasive."

"Okay... Proc. Got it. What else?"

"Loki."

"Am I supposed to know who he is?"

"A troll. A powerful one. I barely survived him and it was his lackeys that eviscerated me."

"What do you want me to do about him."

"Find him. Kill him. He was leading an army to this city, and they are still out there."

"Wait, slow down. Army?"

"Trolls, thousands of them, in the forests. Some of them were killed in the blast, but I get the feeling he wasn't a casualty."

"Blast?"

Dae tilts his head at Wrait, almost awestruck by his ignorance. "Have you looked at a TV lately?"

"I only woke up half an hour ago-"

The door creaks open. Wrait instinctively backs into the bathroom.

An elderly lady in a Mod uniform walks past and to Dae's bed.

She speaks and her voice is filled with love and atonement. "Dae, I brought you a soda and snacks from the machines. It isn't exactly gourmet but this is a hospital and I only had a few bucks in my wallet."

"It's alright, Mom. Thank you. Although, I don't need special treatment. I don't deserve it." He deliberately clinks his handcuffs against the bedrail.

"You don't deserve the waste they serve in here either. I am only being considerate."

"You're being a mom, and you are a cop. I am a criminal."

"You are still my child, and I will do everything I can to get you out of this."

Wrait quietly sneaks out, shaking off his confusion. He has a job to do.

Three weeks later...

It took quite a while for Dae to recover, and he still had trouble walking without passing out when they labeled him ready for trial.

He is locked in a holding cell, along with a dozen other murderers and maniacs. He is the only one standing up. All the seats are taken.

Dae picks out the kindest looking one, an old man dressed all in black, top hat adorned and grey beard masking the lower portion of his face. It is nearly eighty degrees in the facility, yet he burrows himself in a thick feather coat, dark as oil, and rests his eyes. His left hand opens and closes at the rate of his own breathing, but gropes only air.

"Sir, do you mind moving over? I just got out of the hospital." Dae asks with genuine kindness. His stomach is aching and his head is swimming.

"I know, Dae." The man look up at him and smiles.

"Have we met?"

"Once, in another life."

Dae is quiet.

The man is patient for a reply, when none come, he continues. "You died in the life. As did I. As did everyone else you've ever met. The world was perched on your shoulder, and you didn't catch it when it fell." 

Dae looks at him quizzically.

The man leans in and whispers. "It shattered like glass."

He moves back and closes his eyes again.

Dae turns away, looking for someone else who appears friendly enough to make room. He nearly steps on a rat that easily scurries through the bars and to freedom.

When he looks back to see where the rat came from, the man is gone.

He takes the seat without hesitation.

The room, in his eyes, dances back and forth as if it is a pendulum. The light that hangs from the ceiling is the malevolent glowing eye of a demon. It burns into his skull like a hot brand. When he shuts his eyes in defense, he finds that they won't open.

His head becomes the weight of a cinderblock. His body becomes a useless shell, unmoving.

He falls against another prisoner, who is easily twice his size.

The prisoner stands up and cracks his knuckles. Not a person in the room acknowledges it. They are all either crazy or more concerned with their own devices. The man draws back his fist, completely prepared to pound Dae's seizing body to a pulp, when Dae's eyes throw themselves open.

The space is blurry, but he can make out the figure of the brute and his blood-thirsty eyes.

Another person appears behind him, clad all in black, and snaps the fat neck of the malicious man.

His vision slowly returns and he can see the old man from a minute before in front of him, looming over the limp body of the attacker with a polite grin on his face.

He looks Dae dead in the eyes and disappears in a cloud of smoke. It is familiar to Dae, but takes a moment to register to him. This man is a skinwalker.

A rat scurries away.

No one acknowledges any of the action.

The body of the assailant is dragged by an unspeaking and slightly off inmate into a corner, where he hides it for his own suspicious purposes.

The cell door slides open, and a guard walks in.

The officer looks around for a moment, and then fixes onto Dae. "Judgement day inmate. Shouldn't take an hour."

To be continued...

(Next Issue)

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