A piece of shit wrapped in gold foil best described the motel. From the outside, it glittered with a new, vibrate, clean look. Inside, however, couldn't have been more opposite. The owner had never heard of a cleaning service, or maybe was just too cheap to buy one.
Jesse stood at the end of the "bed" and glared. It was nothing more than broken down mattress with a couple of springs poking through the surface tossed on the floor.
Instead of sitting, or even thinking about sleep, he glanced at his watch. Malcolm left to find that Phoenix chick a little over an hour ago. Terrible idea going alone--rule number one in the order was never go alone. In the couple of years that Jesse worked with Malcolm, he realized fast the rules didn't mean squat to the man.
A knock on the door--rapid, panicked--drew Jesse to the door.
"Come quick," Lacy said when he opened it.
In the next room over, Jesse spotted the cause for alarm.
Vince Raines stood in the corner of the filthy room arguing with the peeling paint on the wall.
"Dude! Been like that long?"
Lacy looked on with concern, shaking her head. "Ten minutes or so, I guess." In a whisper, she said, "What did your friend do to him?"
"Showed him the truth--I'm thinking this is not good. Malcolm said to keep an eye on him in case the voices in his head overwhelmed him. You think this counts as overwhelming?"
Lacy's eyes widen a bit. Another one of Malcolm's less favorable traits--he didn't bother giving a kill order in private; he said it right in front of these two.
"I'm not going to kill either of you. But I may have to bring him in if this gets too out of control."
"No!" Vince shouted. "I can't. I don't care what--what? No! This is preposterous! There is absolutely no way--aeeeeee!"
Jesse's eyebrows scrunched together. Too many crazies in his line of work for this to bother him--this particular crazy, however, might be a more formidable opponent should the need to fight come up. While not impressively athletic, Vince here surely had an adrenaline rush pouring through him right about now. All those demons whispering to him--that's enough to drive anyone bonkers.
"Can they help him?" Lacy said.
"Who? The voices? No--"
"Your people. The ones you might have to bring him to?"
"Oh, yep. They can help him. Knock him out colder than a witch's tit." Does that even make sense, stupid? Jesse hrmphed at himself.
Lacy wrinkled her nose. "Uh huh," she said.
Jesse, embarrassed, glanced out the door at the bright, twinkling lights that surrounded the sign proudly proclaiming this to be the best darn motel in the state.
A sharp pain shot through his left side, knocking the air from his lungs and his feet out from under him. His shoulder cracked against the doorframe, his body twisting, tumbling to the ground. Vince Raines stood above him, practically foaming at the mouth. Jesse thought he might have heard Lacy scream, "Look out!" but he couldn't be entirely sure, it all happened so fast.
"I have to go," Vince said. "I have to go, go, go. They won't stop till I go. I need to find the Phoenix."
The pain wracking Jesse's body said yes; Jesse's voice, however, said, "No. Gotta stay put, dude." He wrapped a hand around Vince's foot--the only part of the man he could reach--and thought it was pretty clever. Until Vince knocked Jesse's hand away, kicking him square in the jaw. Jesse's head bounced off the concrete sidewalk outside the door. The lights dimmed and then went out.
When Jesse next opened his eyes, he found himself staring up at Lacy. Below him, the ground lightly bounced up and down.
"Get out of the way you piece of shit!" That would be Vince's voice, Jesse noted.
He tried to sit up. Lacy, however, held him down. "Don't do anything heroic and get yourself killed."
Instead, he leaned his head back and spotted the land moving past the window. Jesse found himself in the back of a car, his head in Lacy's lap.
"Bit hungry," he said. "We stopping for burgers on the way?"
The entire back of Jesse's head burned with fire. His brain felt mashed up against his eyes. The throbbing pain in his ribs where Vince struck him didn't seem to bother him so much anymore--most likely do to the ten-times more painful head wound he'd suffered.
"I'm going--I'm going," Vince grumbled. "Will you please shut up? I'm going al-freaking-ready! Just shut up and let me drive. Won't do you any good if I plow into a ditch, now will it? I'll never get to her!"
"He's getting worse," Lacy said softly. "What about you? There's no blood. That's a good sign, right?"
Jesse had to chuckle. "Sure, long as that doesn't mean all the blood is leaking into my brain instead of onto your pants. How long I been out?"
Jesse gazed out the window as rundown buildings warped by and the occasional star peeked out from behind the rising frames. "We need to stop--"
"Holy shit!" Vince and Lacy both said at once.
The car swerved an instant later, tires squealing as the breaks slammed on. Before the car even came to a stop, Vince had the door open and was gone.
Jesse struggled to sit up, this time meeting no resisted from the now stunned Lacy. As the front window came into view, he gaped. "Holy Swiss cheese."
Malcolm Xavier stood on the edge of the nearest building, lit only by the pale glow of the moon--and inhuman red eyes. For a split second, those brightly glowing eyes locked onto Jesse's eyes. A wave of nausea flowed over him; his hands trembled. He didn't want to believe his eyes. The head wound, hallucinations--that had to explain it.
As he watched, mystified, believing yet not believing, his partner held the young woman called Phoenix up by her neck, dangling her over the edge of the building. His red eyes gazed into the woman's glowing blue eyes. A power struggle ensued. Both combatants staring each other down as the light from their eyes mingled, wrestling for supremacy.
Then Jesse spotted Vince Raines attempting to scale the rusted, broken down fire escape that crawled up the side of the building. Pushing aside his misgivings, his disbelief, he popped open the door and scooted out of the car.
His first few steps were nearly deadly. Had Lacy not followed him out, grabbing his arm and supporting him, he would have ended up nose first in a pile of discarded junk.
"No idea," he said to Lacy's questioning expression. "But we gotta stop Raines."
His eyes locked on Lacy's eyes. "We must stop him," Jesse said. He wanted her to understand. He wanted her to tell him it was okay. She didn't. She merely looked away.
Jesse leaned back against the car and slipped a gun out from a holster under his arm.
The voices in Vince's head were overrunning him. Jesse didn't want to kill the man--it wasn't his fault. His eyes darted toward the battle above. To his surprise, the roles were reversed from the last time he looked up. Now Malcolm was the one dangling over the edge, being held only by a hand around his throat. Absurd--the whole scene was absurd. The young woman, half Malcolm's size, couldn't possibly have the strength to do that. Yet there it was right before Jesse's eyes. The red and blue lights emitting from their eyes seemed to have taken a more solid form. Thick streams of fluid-like light weaved and tugged and pushed and pulled in an attempt to reach the eyes of the other.
Jerking his eyes away, Jesse spotted Vince halfway up the fire escape. Why did Vince Raines have to die if he became unstable? He didn't know. Malcolm gave the order. Malcolm knew. Jesse learned very fast not to question Malcolm. Malcolm didn't give unjust orders. Malcolm didn't make rash decisions. When Malcolm gave an order, you followed it or else bad shit happened.
As Vince jumped up and grabbed a crooked pipe jutting out of the fire escape, Jesse lifted his gun and pulled the trigger twice--once for each hand. Had Lacy not been standing next to him, he would have went for the head.
Instead of his head, the bullets ripped through Vince's hands--probably just the same, in the end. Vince's grip on the pipe vanished, his body tumbled through the air and impacted with the ground.
Next to Jesse, Lacy let out a soft cry.
For a while, Jesse just stared at the fallen body of Vince Raines. Unable as he was to take his eyes away, he eventually did when a blinding red light drew his attention upward.
Malcolm's stretching red-eyed light finally reached Phoenix's eyes. The blue had all disappeared. The young woman's body turned translucent, bone showing through as if the skin and muscle had been completely ripped away. Red light poured out of her moments before she let out a blood-curdling scream and vanished.
Jesse yelped in surprise for Malcolm plummeted to the ground, now free of the hand around his throat. Unable to look away as a second body was soon to meet it's end, Jesse watched, blinking in shock when Malcolm landed on his feet.
Then, as if nothing had just happened, he walked toward Jesse. His eyes, now normal in appearance, would never be normal again to Jesse.
"Jesse," Malcolm said. "We need to talk."
To be continued...