Of Gods and Madness: The Faithful

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Shouts filled Urban’s ears as he lurched up. A hollow pound echoed through the cramped space. His thoughts spiraled as he retreated, struck the opposing wall. He fought the need to flee, tried to quell the claustrophobia seizing his throat. Barely any light filtered in, leaving the room a menagerie of confusion. He laid on his side, managed to stare at the boot heels of a guard.

Muffled speech came from the other side. Quick, subservient conversation that ended as swiftly as it’d begun.

The lock clicked open.

Light flooded the room. A silhouetted figure pulled him out, drove him to his knees. As he acclimated to the light, his gaze turned from bewilderment to fear.

“Good morning,” Carrick said, words dripping with acid. With his hair bound, he appeared entirely different. The high collar of his best suit framed his face. He tapped his gun against his thigh.

The bastard looked like a rabid priest.

Urban gawked at five of his men from the night before, their faces worse for the wear after savage beatings. They dared not look at him, eyes planted on the floor. A pang of regret struck him as it dawned on him that they might blame him.

Carrick pulled a cigarette from his jacket pocket, lighting in a smooth motion. He took a long drag as he paced. “We know you worked with Raine to kill Keir.” Slipping behind the kneeling men, he pressed the gun to the first of Urban’s followers.

Carrick squeezed the trigger. His arm shot back. The cigarette fell from his mouth.

The sickening odor of burning flesh filled the air as the first body pitched forward. His eyes, trained on the ground before, now stared at Urban. A gaping hole had opened where the right half of his jaw had been. Urban started to dry heave as he forced his gaze from his friends as he realized what would follow.

Carrick stepped to the side, resting the barrel against the next in the line. “I will not—”

Another explosion, another body.

“—have a—”

Blood splattered Urban’s face.

“—rebellion—”

Another corpse struck the concrete.

“—on my hands.”

The last man in the line had twitched with each preceding shot, his eyes searching the floor. As Carrick pulled up behind him, he threw his body back in an attempt to hit Carrick, missed.

“Nice try, Andrews.” Carrick laughed. Andrews’s face caved in. Flecks of brain covered Urban.

Carrick grabbed Urban by the nape, digging into the flesh with his nails. He drove him face down, letting the fluids of his compatriots soak into his pores. Carrick pressed close in, whispering, “Are you happy?”

Urban choked out a response, coughing against blood pressing against his lips. “Why are you doing this?”

“You may be safe for now. Your boys . . . not so much.”

Carrick jerked Urban upright. Blood coated the left side of his body. It slid down his flesh, tinting it red, and dripped onto the ground at his knees.

Carrick motioned and his lackeys dragged the bodies away. Urban’s gaze followed the trail of blood, settling on shapes just outside the ring of light. The darkness coated his friends, his followers. He closed his eyes, fighting against the wave of sickness. A fresh pain blossomed in his head. Vision swimming, he recognized Carrick hovering over him, revolver held above.

“No, you watch.” Carrick dropped the used casing and replaced the bullets. He looked down at the burning butt at his heels, tainted by the blood of the slain. He picked it up, took one last drag before putting it out in the expanding pool. “How about let’s bring in a few more of your compatriots? I’m sure they’d love to see you.”

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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.