Of Gods and Madness: The Faithful

Chapter Ten

Raine knelt by the water, rolling a chunk of splintered wood between his fingers, and weighed his options. With no sign of Jaiden, he resented Keir’s orders. He should’ve been out at the bars, tracking those lushes down. Perhaps they’d hung back, nursing their wounds after their last run-in.

He didn’t buy it, though. If he’d learned one thing, you can’t keep a good dissenter down. They’d be out tonight, stitches, bruises, and all. With the night stretching, his alternatives had withered.

He arched his arm back and let the wood fly. The lighthouse lit it for a second before it disappeared into the inky blackness of the sea.

The wind howled, catching the waves and splashing him. A loud crack followed by an ear-shattering scream sent him spinning around. A voice far beyond anything human echoed down the shipyard.

His eyes cut across the docks, settling on a hollowed container. He laughed at his stupidity.

“What was that?” A female voice pierced the silence. He tensed, straining to catch it again.

“Just the wind, Cyra.” A second voice, male, stronger in its conviction, rang out.

“Are you sure? It sounded ali—”

A second male’s voice jumped in. “It’s okay, babe. We’re here to protect you.” His words slurred. He laughed then yelled, “We’ll take on anyone!”

“Shut it,” the first man said, his words quick, impatient.

“I don’t like it here, Jaiden.”

Raine could almost hear Jaiden smiling.

“That’s all right. We’ll be here for just a min—” The voices dimmed as they walked out of earshot. The light rolled over the docks, striking the two men and the young woman they had with them.

Furrowing his brow as he stood, Raine’s muscles ached. He waited, trying to figure out how to capture the men without getting the woman involved. Despite his best intentions, she’d get caught in the violence.

A cry sliced through the air. Raine shot forward. The waves arched against the dock, masking his pounding steps. He drew closer, veins pulsing with anticipation.

Whispers came in loose phrases, indistinguishable from the splashing water. Static filled his thoughts. Heat poured down his neck, his vision focused, tunneled. His hands ached.

Raine spotted an indistinct shape on the ground, twisting, violent. Muffled shouts came from the mass.

The lighthouse’s eye revealed the chaos of the scene.

Clothes torn, breasts exposed, snot ran from her nose, tears spilled down her face. On top of her, Jaiden leaned into the woman’s writhing body, his belt askew. Turrell’s hand latched onto her mouth, keeping her head from thrashing about. She tried to buck Jaiden off, but he used the movement to his advantage. Her eyes locked onto Raine, then she disappeared in shadow as the lighthouse’s gaze moved on.

Enveloped in darkness, Raine attacked.

Time stretched as he slammed into the kneeling silhouette. A shout filled the air as Turrell sprawled. The woman screamed but it cut off abruptly.

Raine shifted to the right. The whispers tore at the base of his skull, directing him, fueling his rage. A heavy mass shoved him. He slid across the wood. Splinters scrapped along his flesh, embedding deep into his arm. The pain didn’t hit him, just the feeling of something more.

The light bore down on them, then swathed them in shadow once more.

Turrell launched himself at Raine, twisted as they struck. Their bodies pressed together as Turrell slid behind him, seizing his arms in the process. “Got you, you little bitch.” Heavy rasps filled Raine’s ears. With a grunt, he threw his head back, striking Turrell in the face. Reflexively, Turrell let go and grabbed his face. Raine’s legs came out from under him and he collapsed. He clawed at the dock, dragging himself to a nearby crate. 

He pushed against the metal, stood. Jaiden was on him in a flash. Raine raised an arm to deflect his punch, but instead received a blow to the ribs. He leaned in, drawing fists close, but was slammed against the container again. Jaiden didn’t have half of Turrell’s mass, but he compensated by being quicker. Raine grabbed his jacket as Jaiden threw himself forward, twisted, throwing Jaiden over his body, face first into the metal container. Agony sliced through Raine’s knee as it buckled. A knife struck the ground and clattered away.

The light lingered for a moment before moving on.

An angry grunt came from behind Raine as Turrell rose. Raine scrambled after the blade, ignoring his throbbing knee. He grabbed the handle of the weapon. He ground his teeth and clambered to his feet, breathless.

The light sliced across the scene.

The girl let out a panicked cry as she scrambled away.

The light crawled over them.

Blinded by the darkness, Raine reached out. The buzzing whispers coalesced into an inhuman chorus filling his ears, slipping into his vision. The stink of sweat and sex filled his nostrils, so strong he tasted it in the back of his throat. Something brushed his cheek, coarse, wet, but he shoved it away, exposing raw skin.

The light stared.

He pulled the body close to his, dug the blade deep. Flesh hissed as it parted, blood spilling, striking Raine’s face, and he smiled. Ripping it free, he plunged the blade in, time after time after time, losing himself in the movement. A hard snap filled his thoughts as bone split. His arm screamed, the muscle gone to a dull ache. He released the body, it fell hard, limp to the wet wood.

The heavy clatter of retreating steps filled his ears as his vision expanded. Two men bolted, disappearing into the twisting labyrinth of containers. Confusion crept in as Raine looked at the mass of flesh below him.

He only recognized the mess of her tangled auburn hair.

 

Theon emerged from the shadows, lightly stepping up to his handiwork. He’d been following Raine since the tram station. Raine had fled the scene, but Theon needed to make sure it was worthy of his name.

A sacrifice to the Trickster.

He retrieved the knife from beside her body, balancing it as he stared down its bloodstained blade. He savored the way the crimson captured the light. He leaned in, running his tongue up the blade’s length. His smile spread as he turned back to the task at hand. Theon knelt beside the mutilated corpse and began to carve.

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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.