Welcome to my serial science-fiction/fantasy adventure, The Only City Left. This is the story of Allin Arcady and his adventures through a dying, planet-sized city called Earth. (Click here for the Table of Contents.)
At the end of Part 83, Allin was dismayed to find that Doyle survived the last-ditch assault by the ghosts.
The Only City Left: Part 84
Doyle ran his hands over his body as if he himself couldn’t believe he was physical once more. Then he looked at me and said, “Damn, but it feels good to feel. Although I wasn’t expecting to see you when I returned, other than in a mirror.”
I stood up and faced him from across the room. “Sorry to ruin your plans.”
But it wasn’t me who had done that: it was the ghosts. Xerxes and the others had given Doyle what he wanted, to be physical again, but they had sacrificed themselves so that I wouldn’t die in the process. They could have simply waited until Doyle had taken me over and then killed me like they had Matthias and the henchwolves by the bar. Instead, they had taken a chance and let me survive, at the cost of whatever was left of their own lives. Their memories, emotions, and ties to the past were all gone now. I wouldn’t let their sacrifice go to waste.
“Ruin my plans? This is perfect,” Doyle said. “I’m alive again and I get to beat you to within an inch of your life before bringing you back to the Garden with me. I’ll lock you up, let you heal, and have a replacement body on hand that much sooner.”
My blood ran cold through my veins. I’d be damned before I let him use me as part of his plans for eternal life.
“Just try it,” I said, and leaped straight at him.
He leaped at me in turn and we met in mid-air. I tried to gouge his newly-formed flesh, but he blocked my blow with one arm, grabbed me with his free hand, and flung me behind him. As I flew upside-down across the room and smacked into the clear wall, I saw him land lightly on his feet. I picked myself up and Xerxes’ last words drifted into my head: If you fight on the level of beasts…
He was right. Doyle had the clear advantage in a contest of strength and savagery. But Xerxes hadn’t made any suggestion about how I should fight Doyle, and I didn’t have time to come up with a plan before he was after me again, bounding across the room in a flash. I dodged away from him at the last instant and he slammed into the wall.
He pushed away from it with a laugh and said, “First blood.”
I looked down and realized I hadn’t quite gotten away in time, as attested to by my tattered shirt and the four bleeding lines that ran from my chest to my hip. It wasn’t until I saw them that I felt the pain. I clutched at my wounds and growled at Doyle.
“Run, little Allin. It’s more fun that way,” Doyle said, standing before the clear glass wall.
Beyond him, the Roof of the World glistened in the moonlight, its metal peaks and valleys mimicking, perhaps, the original landscape that the city had covered and consumed. Above it all, the moon hung almost directly above our little bubble of life atop the city. How long until it sets? I wondered. Maybe I’d have a better chance against Doyle if we were both human again.
Still clutching my stinging wounds, I scrambled across the room and away from Doyle. I might be doing exactly what he wanted, giving him a good chase, but any time I could buy would also be in my favor.
“That’s better,” he said, and stalked after me.
I jumped over a plastic-enshrined couch in the sunken portion of the room and turned to see how close Doyle was behind me. The bastard stood right on the other side of the couch. He smiled and made a shooing gesture.
“Hey Doyle, how did it feel when Mom chose both of your brothers rather than have to look at your fugly face every day?” I asked, backing away from him.
The smug smirk disappeared from his face. My words had hit home where my claws could not.
Doyle growled low in his throat, bent over to grab hold of the couch, and lifted the entire thing above his head. How strong is he? I marveled before I turned and ran.
I heard the flipflapflip of the plastic covering the couch as it soared through the air, the telltale sound alerting me to drop to the floor a moment before the couch would have crashed into me. It soared over my head and smashed into the far wall, where it splintered inside of its plastic cocoon and slid to the floor. It left a spiderweb of cracked glass at the point of impact.
Very strong, I decided, peering up at the window. That could have been my spine. I’ve got to put some distance between us.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t possible inside the confines of the penthouse, but I had an idea of how I could fix that.
I turned over so that I faced Doyle and then I crab-walked backwards as quickly as I could. Doyle sneered and followed me.
“You’re garbage, Allin, like your mom and dad before you. I’ll tear those filthy lies out of your throat even if it means I have to wait years for a replacement body. After all, now that I’m back, I’m not planning on losing this one anytime soon.”
Yeah, keep talking, I willed him as I climbed over the remains of the couch and got to my feet, my back against the wall. And keep thinking like a big, dumb wolf.
“You had to know you were never good enough for her,” I said. “You’re a just a loser who borrowed someone else’s power.”
He was in front of me then, his left arm pressed against my chest, pinning me in place.
He pulled back his right arm and punched at my head, but I wrenched to the side and he ended up hitting the glass wall behind me.
“Did you have to beg the Fifth House to help you?” I asked, bringing my head back up so that I could look him in the eyes.
“Shut up,” he said, and threw another punch.
I threw myself the other way this time and again he punched the wall instead of me. The glass crunched and crackled under the blow. Almost there.
“I bet they helped you out of pity. Sad sack like you couldn’t wipe your own butt without—”
Doyle moved his arm from my chest to my neck, choking off my insult. I sputtered and gasped while he opened his mouth wide and snapped his jaws shut an inch before my snout.
“I said shut your mouth, but you didn’t listen, so I’ll shut it for you.”
He wrapped his free hand around my snout, pulled my head toward him, and smashed it into the glass wall with all his might. I heard a cracking sound that might have been the glass or my aching skull. Black spots filled my vision and jagged pain lanced from behind my eyes to the tips of my toes.
He leaned in to one side of my head and whispered, “Do you know how many times I raped your mother before she ran away with Dylan? I’d tell you but I lost count.”
He pulled my snout toward him and slammed me into the glass a second time before leaning in again.
“Why, we were doing it right before Dylan came in and killed me. How soon were you born after they ran away? I could be your daddy. Yeah. Let that be your last thought, son.”
“How could you be my dad?” I asked. “Mom said you couldn’t even get it—”
He roared over my words, pulled me toward him a final time, and drove me into the glass wall with all of his strength.
This final assault shattered the already-damaged wall, and we fell out of the room together amidst a rush of air and bits of broken couch. The black spots swimming before my eyes multiplied until all was darkness.
* * *
9/22/13 News: Late post is late. But sleeping in felt good, especially as the entire family is at various stages of recovering from a cold. Speaking of cold, does Allin know what the heck he’s doing? It must be freezing out there!
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Logo Credit:The TOCL logo is courtesy of Jande Rowe of the webcomic Aedre’s Firefly. If you haven’t already read AF, I encourage you to go check it out. Not only does Jande produce the comic, she reviews other long-form webcomics, gives tips and instructions on creating a comic, and is endlessly supportive of other creators. For a great review that will bring you up to speed on Aedre’s Firefly, check out this page at Webcomic Alliance.