Of Gods and Madness: The Faithful

Chapter Fifteen

With his building behind him, Raine tried to think of where he could hide, escape, anything. Na Creidmhigh loomed in the distance, but the attackers would wait for him there. Even with Keir’s backing, he couldn’t risk it. Something had awakened inside him.

Something evil.

In a fresh suit, he tried to act casual with his broken hand at his side, though no one gave him a second look. The air clawed at his clothes, humid and lecherous, making him feel wholly inhuman.

Cutting into a closed alley as he moved northeast, he measured a glance around but shadows concealed little. He held his hand close to his body, pressed deeper into the alley. He pulled into a recessed doorway, then inspected his injury. Fresh blood coated the fingers, twisted wrong, dislocated. He closed his eyes, took two deep breaths, jerked on the first.

Pain sliced through his thoughts, a flash of bloody glass.

He yelled. The eruption echoed through the niche, brief but loud.

Breathing slower now, he pulled on the next.

White bone slicing into the fresh air on the docks.

Another scream, another quick movement.

Auburn tangled hair, a mess of flesh at his feet.

Raine opened his eyes, let out a ragged gasp. He stared down at his hand and attempted to flex his fingers. One after another, they crept back to life. The pain was almost unbearable, but it kept him on edge. He looked out across the ever stretching buildings. A dip between the structures denoted Liquor Row.

The Carnivorous Flamingo.

He couldn’t return to his normal life. If killing the girl hadn’t signed his death warrant, the corpses left behind at his loft fit the bill. Even with all of Keir’s accumulated favors, Raine had given the Officers an opening they couldn’t resist. He cursed. Leaving the security of the alcove, he limped toward the other end of the alley.

A figure leaned against the wall, gun in hand. Fucking Officer. Raine straightened as he approached, locking eyes with the figure.

The Officer studied him. “You’re up early, Morgan.”

Raine said nothing, kept walking.

The Officer’s arm shot out. He placed a steadying hand on Raine’s chest. His gun hand was out of reach, but still anxious, tapping at the Officer’s leg. “Thought I heard something.”

“No.” Raine clipped off his sentence before he lost control again.

“Sounded like a scream.”

“Must be your imagination.”

The gun tapped against him at an angle, digging into the vermilion vest. The Officer studied Raine, holstered his gun. “Get going, Morgan.”

Raine turned to leave.

“Wait.” The Officer stared at Raine’s misshapen fingers, at the blood coating them. “Against the wall.” The Officer shoved him, but Raine stood firm. The Officer shouted again, this time gripping his arm.

Raine jerked away.

The Officer pulled his gun. Raine struck the Officer’s hand. The revolver clattered against the wall. Raine looked up to see the Officer swing. Raine raised his hands, seizing the arm, redirecting the man into the wall. A dull thud filled Raine’s thoughts as he stepped back.

The Officer cradled his arm, backed away. He searched for an exit. His gaze shot past Raine, to the open street, and the realization spread across his face that it wasn’t an option. He darted for the firearm.

Raine surged forward, grabbing the Officer by the throat. Raine pressed against him, holding his arm outstretched. The Officer croaked out a garbled plea, eyes clouding with fear. His free arm worked at Raine’s shoulders, neck.

The urge to squeeze, to choke the life out of this man, this peon, filled Raine’s thoughts, clouding them with a warm buzzing. Even his fingers warmed with that familiar feeling of intoxication.

The Officer’s fingers clumsily clawed Raine’s face, slipping as they searched for purchase. They sunk into his left eye. Raine screamed as he tossed the Officer away. His arm erupted in a shower of pins and needles. The Officer hit the ground coughing, stumbled out of the alley, turned on his heel and fell backwards into the open street.

Raine shook his head. Pulses of light filled his vision. He stepped forward, banishing the pain, though it persisted behind his eye. At the lip of the alley, a small crowd had formed, eager to watch the moments leading to bloodshed. Despite their ravenous stares, he followed the Officer.

“Please, for the love of Oki, let me go,” the Officer croaked.

Raine towered over the man. His thoughts cleared for a split second, the warm feeling replaced with an icy clarity. He looked around, at the dozens of eyes locked on him, condemning, extolling him. He stared down at the frozen Officer. “Go.”

The Officer scrambled to his feet, bolted, hacking as he fled.

Raine turned from the center of the city. He straightened his suit, wiping off a bit of dust from his sleeve. He’d lost his home, he’d lost any clear sense of purpose, except for one brightly burning ember in the city’s heart.

Raine crossed the street, hunting those that had stolen his life from him.

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Justin D. Herd

Justin D. Herd is a purveyor of the weird and strange. He occasionally squawks at friends and family, but does so only under the cover of night. Okay, that's not true. He squawks in full daylight. Drinking games have been built around his peculiarities, but the truth of it is this: he is a loving husband, with two wonderful dem--children. One growls at things he likes, including pretty women. The other has started to learn hand-eye coordination. Neither had made it to the tender age of three. From there, things will only get more interesting. He spends most of his writing time either at a coffee shop or sitting at one of his many desks around his house. Any other place makes it nearly impossible for him to write. He uses horror movies and rock music to help get the juices flowing. His favorite authors are Jeremy Robert Johnson, Alan Campbell, Terry Pratchett, Justin Cronin, and Patrick Rothfuss. He consumes most of his books through audiobooks, but still loves his personal library and getting lost in the printed word.