Hel – Volume 2 (Part 2 & 3)
“Conscience is no more than the dead speaking to us.” Jim Carroll
Kyle had been rehearsing for days, and yet it still didn’t feel entirely natural, the way his service revolver felt as he pressed its cold barrel to the side of his warm head.
And it made him nervous, because he’d read about guys who had chickened out at the last second, guys who’d wound up blowing their jaws clean off – yet were still very much alive. Alive and unable to speak or chew solid food ever again.
For a quick moment he considered putting the barrel into his mouth instead – that way he’d be sure to get the brainstem too.
It was one of those wet nights when the air itself hung in ribbons around the stale room. But Kyle didn’t really notice the weather anymore. Nor the fact he’d let the cockroaches take over the takeout from the day before that had gone uneaten on the cheap motel room table.
You see Kyle didn’t want his family to be the ones to find his body. So instead, he had booked a seedy motel for the week. Of course, he didn’t reckon he’d be needing the room that long but figured the extra funds would cover any cleaning expenses.
With a sad smile he considered moving to the tub, as to make it that much easier for the cleaning lady who would no doubt have to clean up after him.
‘Cleaning man’ now that’s something you never hear… Kyle pondered, as he thought back on his own mama, and how hard she’d worked at her custodian job at a local elementary school. And how it hadn’t done her a bit of good when she’d gotten sick and had to retire early.
A lifetime of cleaning up after hers and everybody else’s kids, and she still didn’t have enough in savings to cover the meds, and the rent, and the food.
Kyle had wanted to help his mama, so he had joined the army. But after three tours he’d come home with nothing but a death wish and a college fund he’d never get to use cuz of the non-stop PTSD.
But nobody wanted to hear about that these days. Not even the folks down at the VA who had moved him from one understaffed clinic to the next, only to eventually tell him he would have to wait another six months to get the lumps in his throat looked at.
Now… it was all just too hard. Too hard to keep going without any hope at all.
“We can be together,” the voice had told him… as it had wound its way through his mind at night, when long stretches of insomnia had plagued him.
And at first he had known it for what it was, a siren, who was trying to lure him to his death.
Some buddies had warned him of it. How it hides until the darkest hours of night when it sings its sweet song of release… luring one into believing there is no hope left. No hope at all.
“Just do it,” the voice taunted him from the darkness.
“Stop him!” Gretchen screamed at the teenage ghost she was standing next to.
But the ghost just smiled a sad smile and waited.
“You have to stop him!” Gretchen begged, as she reached for the gun in his hand.
But she too was nothing more than a phantasm, so her hands just glided through him as though he were nothing but air.
“You can’t let him,” Gretchen moaned as if she felt every inch of the man’s anguish.
That’s when the beautiful phantom turned and said with a shrug, “free will is the ultimate bitch”.
A moment later Kyle Richard’s body slumped forward and fell lifelessly to the ground.
“She’s not for you,” the phantom at Gretchen’s side said then, as the man’s ghost drifted up and out of its body.
“Pardon?” the puzzled man’s ghost inquired.
“That voice you hear. It’s not for you,” the blonde in the pixie cut told the man in desert fatigues.
“I wasn’t sure,” he said rather confused.
“Who are you?” he asked then, as if he had been expecting someone else.
“We’re the brute squad,” the pixyish woman remarked with a wide grin.
“Pardon?” the polite soldier asked, the heaviness of hurt still very much evident in his voice.
“Too many folks are dying, Kyle. Too many by far. And I think you can help. I think you and others like you can make a difference. Will you come with us, Kyle? Will you help us fight the darkness that’s spreading?”
Sergeant Kyle Richards looked from the young woman who spoke to the middle-aged woman dressed only in a long T-shirt, a look of utter confusion marring his normally quite handsome face.
“But who are you?” he asked again, hoping this time to get a proper answer.
Hel leaned forward then and reaching up on her tiptoes whispered into his ear, “I’m the justice you prayed for every night before you fell asleep.”
And then she smiled a huge smile and planted a large kiss on his cheek.
“I’m building an army to help me save as many souls as I can. Will you help? Will you help me get justice for all of the soldiers they let die?”
Kyle thought about it for only a quick second before he snapped to attention and saluted the young woman.
“Ma’am, if your intentions are stopping what just happened to me from happening to anyone else – consider me in.”
(to be cont.)
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