Down in the dirt with your blood on my hands
I blacked out but now I do understand
That you were too good for this world so you left it
Everything turned red and then you made an exit
I don't even know if it was your time
But like all good things that pass you by
It’s like a lost soul in the time of need
It made me grow up fast and put some blood on my knees
And you don't even know what's beyond you
Thinking you could never die like you're bullet proof
So I guess you had to leave, you were born with wings
But you were never happy ‘til the angels sing
Coming Back Down – Hollywood Undead
"Dude! You did it!" I said, staring in awe at the dagger in Jack's hand. "And he didn't even notice... You got skills!"
"Thanks, I guess! Technically I still robbed someone, I'm not that proud of having skills like that... But it was necessary! And he's been a dick to us most of the time, so I don't really feel guilty now." Jack pondered, but with a smile on his face. "Now we're finally a step ahead of them! As long as Killjoy doesn't find out that his blade's missing we're probably fine, they have no reason to come in here except maybe to bring us something to drink... So we have lots of time to put our plan in action."
"You have a point there though, maybe we should wait until they've brought another jar of water before we start."
He nodded. "That's probably for the best, it'd be a shame if they catch us now that we've come this far."
Despite agreeing, I did see him glancing over at the metal cuffs around my wrists, and back at the dagger. Not gonna lie, I'd love to be rid of them, but the chances of getting busted were still too high to try it right away.
"Hey." I drew his attention. "We'll start as soon as someone's passed by, alright?"
A guilty smile appeared on his face. "Yeah, that's fine. I just want to get away from here, but more importantly, I want to get you away from here. Would be a shame if you'd forget how to fly after all this time on the ground, wouldn't it?" He joked, but I couldn't help but look at the tips of my wings laying on the floor, a couple of feet away from me.
I almost forgot how much I missed flying, the fresh air gushing past and filtering through the long, grey-tipped feathers, that nearly magical feeling... The feeling of being free.
Lifting my wings off the floor I stretched them out, the muscles by my shoulders stiff and sore from keeping them close to my back, and watched how they shook lightly. Soon I'll be flying again, I promised myself, the second I get the chance I'll grab a hold of Jack and fly away from here. This time I'd better warn him, to avoid almost giving him a heart attack again, but it's the fastest way to get away without them being able to follow us.
"Uh, I'm... I'm sorry man, I didn't mean to say it like that..." Jack spoke in a hushed tone. "I didn't think about how mean and sarcastic that sounded until after I said it. I really want you to fly again."
"Hey, no worries. I know you didn't say that to tease me, it's just... I didn't realise how much I missed being able to move my wings freely, until now..."
"I get that... It's kinda weird though, I know I've been flying before as well, but I can hardly imagine what it felt like. Well, to fly on my own of course, I do remember that evening you straight up abducted me off the surface, you douche." He snickered lightly.
"You can't remember?" I asked, a bit surprised and even a bit saddened. "I can tell you, it's the best feeling in the world. I'm not even sure if I can properly describe it! You feel like you're king of the world, like you can take on anything that comes your way, and at the same time you see how small you really are, compared to everything else. I don't think anything can get you to feel so absolutely free as soaring through the skies, carried by your own wings."
We both sat on the floor in silence for a moment, as I let my wings down again and folded them closer to my back. When I looked back at Jack I saw him looking at his hands, turning the blade around in his grip. This conversation took a very sombre turn very quickly, maybe I should change it up. Even if it's just to take our minds off of not being able to fly for a while, at least we'd be talking about something else.
"So... How're you feeling? Do those bruises still hurt?"
He looked up at me for a second and then at his chest, putting the dagger on the floor to unbutton his flannel. The bruises were still there, they seemed a bit less dark and purple by now but they stood out to me nevertheless.
A memory forced its way into my thoughts, and suddenly I realised that he looked like I did when I'd landed in his shed after my fall. Dishevelled, bruised, bleeding… You’d start to think he’d fallen from the sky if you saw him like that!
How did we get to this? Things started out miserably, and when they were finally getting better all of it turned to shit again. Everything had come full circle, we just changed up the roles.
"I'm fine, it looks worse than it is, honestly." He assured me. "Still a bit sore, yeah, but I'm not constantly in pain or anything."
"And what about your head? How's that?"
He raised a hand to stroke along the bandage on his forehead, carefully tapping the fabric that covered the wound. Running his fingers over the edges he found where I'd tucked the end away and pulled it out gently, to unwrap his head and get to the cut itself.
"We'll have to take a look! I've had a headache, yeah, but I guess it's better to check anyway."
He began taking the bandage off, collecting the long strip in one hand and guiding it from around his head with the other. As he got close to the end there were vague red smudges on it, the last layer even stuck to the wound because of the dried blood. In his haste he just ripped the bandage off, causing his head to start bleeding again.
"Jack! Be careful, you don't have to hurry! You're only gonna end up hurting yourself more." I urged, watching small drops of blood form along the cut.
"It's fine, no need to worry." He replied calmly, and held a relatively clean part of the bandage against his forehead. "It's just a little bit of blood, it'll stop in no time."
"Still, I don't want to see a friend in pain... I want everything to be okay, for once."
Jack sighed, lowering the bandage now and then to check if he was still bleeding. "I know, but I don't want you to worry this much about me. I don't want to burden you with things that weren't your fault, or things you can't help me with... That would only make you even more unhappy. I could be sitting here with both of my legs broken, five shattered ribs and, I don't know, half of my fingers missing, and I still wouldn't want you to worry, because it's not your burden to carry."
He looked back at me with wide eyes. "I'm sorry?"
"That's bullshit." I repeated, crossing my arms. "As long as I'm here, you won't have to carry any burden completely on your own. I know that I can't heal broken bones or anything, but that doesn't mean that I'll stop caring about my friend whenever something bad happens to him!"
I looked at him knowingly, until he flicked his gaze to the wall to his right. He probably still thought that I didn't know there was more going on with him than bruises and headaches, but I'd suspected it since I saw him checking his ribs yesterday. Not only did I notice how he bit away the pain after pushing on that one rib, his right eye gave away what he really felt so there's no way he can lie to me.
"Come on Jack. You could've just told me your ribs hurt, I would've found out either way." I smiled softly, not wanting to sound accusatory or anything. "Tell me, how are you actually feeling?"
"Well... I have a fractured rib, most likely." He hesitantly admitted, gently putting a hand over his chest. "But apart from that and those bruises, I'm pretty good. Oh, and apart from this, as well." He quickly added, and pointed to the mess of dried blood near his hairline.
I lightly shook my head. He'd be the kind of guy to lose an arm and a leg and still say he's fine...
As I was about to say that thought out loud to him I heard footsteps in the hallway, and Jack quickly buttoned up his flannel again when he noticed it too. Merely seconds later the distinct sound of metal against metal echoed through our cell as someone unlocked the door and, as I expected, the same guy from yesterday appeared in the doorway, a new jar of water in his hand.
Jack looked at him and then at the floor in front of him, where the empty jar still stood. He picked it up, got to his knees and stood up, slowly enough as to not strain his ribs, and cautiously walked up to the man.
"Uh... Here you go..."
The dude seemed a bit sceptical, unsure about why he'd do that, but took the jar anyway and shoved the full one into Jack’s hands in its place. Without a reply, but with a short nod, he stepped back into the hallway and closed the door, locking it instantly. Jack shrugged and turned around to leisurely walk back to me, bringing the fresh delivery of water with him.
“Well, I tried!” He joked and sat down in front of me again. “Care for a drink?”
“Of course! Now we can toast on our impending victory!” I put my hands on my hips and stared off into the distance with a heroic expression, as if we would be going into an actual battle.
“We’ll have to toast separately though, we only have one jar… But yeah! Victory and stuff!”
He raised the jar like it was some kind of sacred chalice and I bowed my head in respect, until we both burst out laughing. Giving up the pompous act he lowered it and took a sip, after which he passed it onto me.
“Still…” I breathed, calming down from my short laughing fit. “We’re really going to do it. Today’s the day we get out of here!”
“Yeah! They won’t even know what happened until it’s too late!”
With those energizing thoughts in mind I drank some water myself, and I never felt so ready to do anything before in my life. We were escaping this place today, no matter how.
Sitting at my desk I stretched my arms above my head, feeling better already than I did half an hour ago. I'd been right, some rest and time to think really eased my mind after those... events, earlier this morning.
My eyes wandered around the room, over the books on my shelves and my vest hanging on the coat rack by the door, until I saw the wooden board lying on the left side of my desk. Almost immediately after I'd locked myself in here there had been a knock at the door, and it turned out to be my 'delivery'.
A wooden plaque, with the name and information for the green-haired figure, ready to be hung up on the outside of his cage.
I had very mixed feelings when I saw it, both excitement and, for the first time, doubt. Part of me was very pleased with adding him to the park, I had a spot close to the entrance where he'd be displayed, a brand new sign to go with it, but... There was still that tiny part of me that couldn't help but feel guilty for capturing them and splitting them up, putting them in cages on opposite sides of the park.
Maybe it wouldn't be that bad to give them a place closer by each other? It's not like they'd suddenly be able to break out when they could see each other from inside their enclosure... Perhaps I should grant them that much, so they could still have some contact even while imprisoned here. They've been behaving very well recently, I guess it would be only right to reward that...
I blindly reached for the stack of paper on my right, picked up the sheet on top and folded it open, showing a map of the park. Everything was noted on it, every building, path and cage drawn on the correct location and each occupied cage was coloured black, keeping track of how many spots were still available. I traced the path leading away from the building and stopped at the square representing the winged creature's enclosure.
The cage to the right of it was taken, but a bit further off to the left stood an empty one, close enough for him to see who's in there. If I'd do that, if I would leave them in each other's proximity, maybe then I can actually feel at peace again. These conflicted thoughts needed to go away, I just wanted things to go back to the way they were.
Everything used to be very simple, I was the boss, no discussion, and people listened to me without questioning. I wanted that back, and I was gonna make sure that I would regain my spotless image.
Even if this decision eventually doesn't work out, I would find another way to reach my goals. I was getting my life back today, no matter how.
"Okay, let's begin." I said decisively, and Mark nodded in approval as I set the half full jar of water down beside me.
"Yeah! Time for operation... Uh... What should we call this operation?"
"Mark, are you serious?" I chuckled, rolling my eyes at him.
"Of course! We need a code name for our miraculous escape!"
"Well, how about Operation Get-Out-Of-This-Cell-In-One-Piece-And-Then-Run-Like-Hell?"
"Wow, yes, great name for a secret escape plan! They'll never suspect a thing!" He replied sarcastically, but with a wide smile on his face. "Fine, if you want to be salty like that, I'll pick a name. Maybe... Operation Dumplings?"
"What? Why that name?"
"I don't know, I thought it sounded nice, it has a very nice ring to it, and it's been ages since I've had them, they're so delici-"
"Okay!" I loudly interrupted, putting up my hands in front of me. "Okay, jeez, we'll stick with Operation Dumplings. Can we actually begin now? We're kinda wasting precious daylight here."
"Oh! Of course, yeah..." He guiltily grinned. "Let's begin Operation Dumplings!"
Once again I rolled my eyes in exaggerated frustration, but without wasting any more of our time I pulled the dagger out of my boot again. I had put it there to remain hidden until we were certain we wouldn't get any visits anytime soon, but now came the moment to actually use it. Just for a second I stared at my morphed mirror image in the blade, seeing a pair of mismatched eyes look back up at me, and squeezed my fist tightly around the handle.
"Alright. Let's see if we can get those cuffs off of you first." I spoke and looked up at Mark. I hadn't missed those red marks along his wrists and throat, and I was determined to try my best to get him out of those metal restraints.
He nodded and raised his right arm closer to me, the chain rattling slightly every time he shifted. I turned his wrist a bit so I could get a clear sight of the small lock, holding the metal band closed almost seamlessly.
"Try not to move too much, okay? I don't want to accidentally cut you or anything."
"Will do!" He replied, and shuffled in place to get into a comfortable position he could hold long enough without moving, lowering his wings as well so he wouldn't have to keep those up the whole time. "I'm all set, go for it!"
I focused back on the metal cuff and held it with my left hand as I carefully set the point of the blade in the tiny opening, reluctant to use much force in fear of letting it slip away and hit either me or Mark. I wiggled the dagger to try and get it further in between the two halves, moving it back and forth, right and left, but it didn't seem to work very well. The sturdy cuff didn't budge, not even half a centimetre, no matter how much I tried.
Removing the blade I examined what extremely little effect my efforts had caused, but despite that I lifted the weapon back up to Mark's wrist to try again. He kept still, watching me fiddle with the cuffs and blade with just the tiniest hint of excitement in his eyes. After four more failed attempts though he lowered his arm, and I sat back with a frustrated look on my face.
"I don't think it's gonna work, Jack... " He stated. "We'll have to try another way."
"Wait, but... Maybe I can try to loosen the one around your neck? If I can get at least that one off of you, that would be a lot more comfortable, right?"
"Jack, it's fine, really. That would only waste even more of our time and it wouldn't free me, we can use that time a lot better!"
I didn't want to, but found myself agreeing with him. He actually had a good point, who knows when one if the employees or Killjoy himself decides to may us a visit? We needed to move over to plan B, and see if we can unlock the door. The mere idea of me having to sneak through the building without getting caught made me extremely anxious, but it was our best shot. It was still a way better option than... You know...
"You're right. It still sucks that I can't get you out now, but when I get outside I'll find the actual keys for you, alright?"
"Yeah, but... Just be careful, don't risk too much out there, these guys don't fuck around!" He warned me, the former spark of excitement lost in a pool of worrisome blue. I could tell he was very nervous about me going out there, but he wasn't going to stop me either.
With the knife in one hand I got up to my knees, then to my feet, and walked up to the door giving way to our freedom. I stood in front of it, quietly listening for anyone walking around on the other side, and when I couldn't hear any noise I moved to kneel down by the lock.
Lockpicking never was a specialty of mine, but I had done it once or twice in the past so I knew the basics of how to do it. It's a shame we didn't have a hairpin or a skewer, or something like that, those would be more likely to do the trick... Still, the dagger's worth a try!
As precisely as possible I angled the blade and wriggled it into the keyhole, trying to reach the first pin inside the lock. One decisive push gave me the rewarding 'click' sound I was looking for, and I waited another second to make sure no-one heard before I continued.
I pushed the blade as far as it would go into the keyhole, shifting it in every possible direction in search for the second pin, until another sharp click came from the lock. Cheering internally I held the dagger still again, barely able to keep my hands from shaking. We were so close! If I could just reach the one or two remaining pins, freedom would be within arm’s reach.
While keeping the two pins up I tried to jam the dagger even further, clenching my right hand around the weapon and holding onto the door with the other.
I should've known better than cheering this quickly.
I could only get the dagger this far in the keyhole, the blade got too wide to fit, and turning it would let the two first pins loose again...
"Dammit! Why can't things just work out for once?!" I yelled angrily, and yanked the dagger out of the lock. "It was too good to be true! Of course we can't do this the easy way, no!"
"Jack! Calm down! You're gonna alarm every single person working here if you go on!" Mark hissed, reaching one hand out in my direction.
I sighed in frustration, but refrained from shouting. No matter how much I'd like to, getting mad about it won't help us, if anything it would only make things worse. "It's fine, I'm fine..." I assured him, taking a deep breath and gently lowering the blade. "Let's just see how we can change the plan..."
After another calming breath I slowly stood up, walked back over to Mark and sat down on the floor in front of him. He was looking down at his hands, seemingly lost in thought for a moment, until he glanced up at me with a strange look on his face.
"Jack, I don't think we'll be able to leave this room by ourselves."
I was confused for just a split second, but quickly realised where he was going with this. He was right, we couldn't leave our cell without keys or help from an outsider, and still... I didn't want to believe that his original plan was the only way.
"You're... You want to use your plan?" It sounded like a question, even though I already knew the answer.
"You know I wouldn't make you do this if there was another way, but... I think that as of now, our best shot is to 'kill' me." He looked dead serious, he really did realise how serious this was. Still, even with him making the air quotations gesture, I felt a chill tumble down my spine at the words.
My gaze involuntarily fell to the dagger in my right hand, small glints of light reflecting off it. I couldn't imagine ever using it to hurt someone, especially a friend.
"Come on, if we have to do it we might as well get over with it quickly." He pulled me from my thoughts, with a steeled expression and his fists balled on his knees. "You just gotta remember that you won't cause me any harm, not permanently at least. I promise I'll be fine, and as soon as I get back to my senses on the outside of this room I'm coming back for you, alright?"
"I... I'm not sure if I can do this..." I muttered to myself. We both went through murder before, and now I was about to commit one... Even if Mark doesn't actually die, I still stabbed him, I still caused him pain!
"Just... Try not to think too much. I know that's stupid advice for a situation like this, but... That's the best I got. It'll be over in a second, I might fall unconscious, but I'll make sure to return as fast as I can." Mark tried to reassure me, and crazily enough it worked to make me a slight bit less worried.
I've seen him breathing after falling all the way from the nebula, so a stab wound shouldn't prove him any difficulty, right? A part of me was astounded that I would even think that, but since this plan was our only option I kept myself to that statement. He'll get us through here, as soon as we're in the clear I could treat the cut, and then he'd be good as new.
"A-Alright... I'll do it. I don't want to, but you're right, this is the best shot we have."
"Okay, that's great. I'm not really looking forward to it either but it'll be our way out of this, and then we can do whatever the fuck we want!" He tried to lighten the mood. "Let's do this. You stab me, then you alert an employee or anyone close enough to hear, and you can tell them I did it myself or something. That earlier trick we pulled went amazingly smooth, so I don't think making up a little lie like that will cause you any trouble... Oh! Just try to aim the thing right here..."
He pressed a finger to his chest, before moving my lucky flannel down a bit so he could show me properly. I watched as he pointed at his heart, pushing down to show the ribs around it.
"... between these two ribs. It'll probably give the messiest, but the most convincing effect!"
"You've given this a lot of thought, haven't you..." I spoke, saddened and slightly shocked by the idea of him thinking about how I should jam a knife into his ribcage to make it look credible. "That's... pretty morbid, isn't it?"
"I know! It's weird for me to show you this as well, but I just really want this to work. I don't want all this to be in vain, so it has to turn out as best as we can manage."
He took the red and black flannel off entirely, and folded it messily to lay it on the floor next to him. His wings shook, he stretched his arms, and then looked back at me.
He was ready, I wasn't. Not by far.
Still, I had to push through this for the greater good, for the sweet taste of freedom and victory over Killjoy we'd get afterwards.
Things would calm down again, we wouldn't have to worry about getting imprisoned or gawked at... We would live normal lives again, no matter how.
I looked him in the eyes and nodded decisively. "Let's do this. Sorry for the pain though, I'll make sure to take the first chance we get to fix you up, okay?"
"That's great, thanks." He smiled. "But now it's time for our most realistic act yet!"
I gave him one more short nod, and strengthened my grip on the dagger's handle again. Mark just shifted in place some more and closed his eyes, which I greatly appreciated. I really didn't want him to look at me while I do this.
In my mind I marked the spot he pointed to earlier, and gently put my left hand on his right shoulder to steady myself. He flinched slightly but did the best he could to stay perfectly still, and I figured that making him wait would be even more cruel.
Tuning out all of the thoughts shouting at me not to do it I lifted the blade up to his chest, aimed it right and gave a forceful push forward, lodging the dagger in between two of his ribs with ease.
He didn't scream, he didn't move, only a choked gasp escaped him. I looked up at him and he was staring back with wide eyes, shining a fluorescent purple.
"I'm s-so sorry..." I brought out, and held his shoulder tighter as I let go of the blade. It stayed where it was, with just the handle sticking out of his chest, blood running down from around it in large streams.
He moved his shaking hands to his torso, getting dark red stains on his fingers and the metal cuffs when he reached for the harshly bleeding wound, and looked at them in disbelief. I hadn't noticed I started crying, until I tasted salt on my lips. Putting my other hand on his shoulder as well I tried to... comfort him? I wasn't sure what to do, my brain was working overtime trying to process what was happening.
"J-Ja-ck..." He spluttered, a couple of small drops of blood leaking from the corner of his mouth. "Som-ething-g isn't r-rig-ght..."
He lifted his bloodied hands to my upper arms and gripped them, leaning forward slightly. His wings were drooping, his right wing seemingly struggling to keep itself upright, his left one already lying limply onto his back.
Confused I looked him back in the eyes, my own ones widening when I saw his pale, pastel yellow and purple irises. They shouldn't get any lighter than this, right?
"What's wrong? What do you mean?!" I questioned, my panic rising every second he had to take to pull himself together.
"I f-feel... wro-ong-gh..." He managed to bring out, the tight grip on my arms softening more and more, the strange shade of yellow and purple in his eyes turning more and more towards a pure white.
"No! No no no... You're gonna be fine, remember? You promised! You c-can't die, you're..." I shook his shoulders, wincing when the movement made even more blood spill from the deep wound, so I opted for keeping him in place instead.
He looked a lot paler than just half a minute ago, he was starting to lose his hold on me entirely and he had difficulty focusing his gaze on me. He was blinking more frequently, but each time he closed his eyes it took him longer to open them again.
"Mark! Just look here, look at me! I got you, you're not going to die! It's... That's impossible!"
Weakly he lifted his head to try and look me in the eyes, but it seemed like he didn't even see me. His gaze was set to infinity, hazily staring without really seeing anything, and I desperately tried to keep him conscious. I patted his shoulders, called his name, begged him to listen to me, but he only reacted by taking ragged breaths or by slowly blinking.
My own shoulders were shaking and my heart was racing, tears were falling down my face as I kept him upright, even though he was leaning forward heavily in my hold. By now his wings were just hanging from his back like dead weight, not even twitching anymore... They looked fake, almost, as if he was only pretending to be a daemon.
"I... I th-ink I'm d-dying..." He managed to whisper hoarsely. "I rem-member this-s feel-ing-gh..."
"No! I'm not gonna let you go!" The sound of my voice bounced off the walls. "I'm not gonna be t-the one to... to k-kill you!"
I saw he was trying his best to stay awake but he slumped forward anyway, his head leaning against my shoulder and the blade's handle poking my side. A warm, sickening sensation spread from that spot as his blood kept spilling, staining my own shirt and skin. It made me want to vomit, the sticky feeling and the strong coppery scent making my head swim despite my best efforts to ignore it.
His shallow breaths sounded right by my ear, until I pushed him back slightly to make him sit up some more again. I desperately stared at my friend, I didn't know what to do, what to say...
He barely seemed to notice anymore as his breathing slowed down, and after another moment his body stopped moving altogether.
I clamped onto his shoulders, looking at him in shock.
His chest didn't rise or fall anymore, his hands had stopped shaking, and his irises were entirely white.
For a long moment everything seemed frozen in time, as if I was looking at a picture instead of an actual situation. The tremble in my shoulders worsened and my knuckles turned white, until I finally let it out.
“N-No! Mark! MARK!”
I cried out in sorrow and rage, holding onto him for dear life even though I knew it was too late. I didn't even know what to feel, I just sobbed and cried my lungs out, almost enjoying the burn in my throat and sharp pain in my ribs as I did so. I deserved worse, I deserved to be in pain, I was no better than whoever killed Mark the first time...
I fully forgot about the plan, that cursed plan that had been doomed to fail in the worst way possible. Escaping meant nothing to me anymore, how could I ever go out there and live a life knowing I did this?
I took a couple of deep, shuddery breaths, slowly let his back rest against the wall again and let go of his shoulders. I reached a hand up to his face and closed his eyes, I couldn’t take having his gaze locked on me like that anymore. With both hands free I still didn’t know what to do, I almost subconsciously reached for my hair and grasped it harshly, as if it would help me clear my head.
I hadn’t stopped crying, but felt like I didn’t have any tears left to shed. My eyes hurt, my chest hurt, every part of me I could think of was hurting, and I just wanted to disappear. I didn’t even pay attention to the nearing footsteps outside, I had no reason to care.
I'd almost dozed off, getting lured into sleep by my comfy chair, until an awful noise startled me awake again. Bewildered I looked around my office, thinking something had snuck in here for a split second, until I realised it came from further away.
A scream sounded from somewhere outside my door, heavily muffled but still easily recognisable. I quickly got up and opened the door, sticking my head out into the hallway to listen for the source of the noise, until I heard another drawn out cry, coming from the far end of the corridor.
"You got to be kidding me." I muttered to myself. There's only one place that could be coming from, and this would be the second time today! What was wrong with those two? Still, the agonized screams didn't predict anything good, and I silently cursed the fact that I was getting worried again.
I fully stepped out of my office and closed the door, contemplating whether I should take an employee with me as some kind of backup, but even more to act as a reassurance, to make sure I won't do or say anything stupid like last time.
"No." I decided, fixing my jacket and button-up shirt before heading towards their cell. "I can do this by myself, all I need to do is put an end to this nonsense, after all."
Determined to solve this I paced towards the door, even though every outbreak sounding from behind that locked door made a dent in my confidence. Again I recognized the green-haired male's voice, but this time he wasn't calling or asking for help, only crying out loud. Steeling myself I unlocked the door and swung it open, getting a view of the cell behind it.
The winged one was sitting against the wall with his eyes closed, his friend sat on his knees in front of him, back turned towards me. His whole body trembled, his fingers were strangling themselves in his bright green hair and rough sobs tore through the otherwise silent room.
After closing the door behind me I cleared my throat to get their attention, but neither of them reacted or even acknowledged my presence.
"What is going on here?" I asked sternly, crossing my arms in front of my chest.
Slowly, the green-haired figure turned his head to look at me, and I took a shocked step backwards. His eye gleamed an eerie purple, his hands and sleeves were stained with blood, and as he turned his upper body further I saw where that blood came from.
A dagger stuck into the redhead's chest, dark red streaks running down from around it. He was dead...
"What... W-What did you do?!" I yelled at the twitching man, taking another fearful step away from him.
"I k-killed him..." He stammered, lowering his bloodied hands and looking at them with an unreadable expression. It almost seemed like he was talking to himself rather than answering me, as if he just now realised what he'd done.
"Why-... Where did y-you get that da-" I began, but stopped and moved a hand over to my belt.
My blade was gone.
I had nothing to defend myself with, and as of now I was in the same room as the guy who murdered his friend for god knows what reason.
"I killed him..." Tears ran down his face as he repeated himself. "It's... It's all bec-cause of you..."
His expression changed, the sorrow slowly making way for anger. Even from this distance I could see his right iris darken as he balled his hands into fists, and I knew I was in big trouble.
"YOU made me do this!!" He screeched, going as far as baring his teeth to me.
I backed even further away, horrified, until my back hit the door. Startled I looked behind me and immediately back at him, watching him get up from the floor slowly. As he stood upright he was about to come closer, until he froze in place and glanced at the body by the wall.
With wide eyes I watched him bend down and grab a hold of the dagger, taking it out before turning back towards me.
"J-Jack..." I held my hands up, trying to talk some sense into him. "Stay calm n-now, you d-don't want to do this..."
"Oh, I'm pretty sure I do." He replied lowly, his whole right eye turning black as he menacingly stepped closer. The blade was still dripping with blood, running down his fingers and onto the stone floor.
"I never wanted him dead!" I started panicking, blindly reaching one hand to the door's handle only to realise I locked it earlier. "I-I never wanted a-any of you dead!"
"You left me no ch-... c-choice! He wanted to leave, he h-had to fly again... I had to set him free..." He stood only a couple of feet away from me now, a mix of rage and despair in his voice as he kept talking. "...and now he's gone. He's gone... And that's YOUR FAULT!"
With two leaping steps he charged at me, slashing the knife which I could just barely duck under. Terrified I ran to the side, never letting the madman out of my sights. Screaming in anger he turned and came after me, grabbing my arm to hold me in place as he lifted the blade. I moved so I could hold onto his wrists, keeping the dagger as far away as possible with him being this close to me. With all my strength I tried to push him away but he pushed back with even more force, until he had me cornered against the cell's back wall. Breathing heavily I stared back at the two different eyes right in front of me, still holding his wrists to keep him from stabbing me.
"Please!" I shouted, squeezing my eyes shut and focusing on fighting back. "I-I'm sorry! I don't want to di- AAGH!"
He'd managed to flick the dagger along my scarred forearm and a sharp pain spread like lightning from the wound. Out of reflex I shoved him harshly, making him stagger backwards just a bit, but that was all I needed.
Quickly I stepped away from the wall, rushed up to him and jammed a knee into his side. He cried out in pain, doubling over and clutching his chest as the dagger clattered to the floor, wheezing with every breath he took. This time, I pushed aside my guilt upon seeing him like this and snatched the blade from the ground, ignoring the ache in my arm while holding the weapon in front of me as defence.
Slowly he rose to his feet, one arm still wrapped around himself but the enraged look on his face hadn't diminished, if anything I only made it worse.
"O-Okay, okay..." I stammered. "This ends now. J-Just step back and let me leave, and no-one will have to get hurt..."
"You..." He breathed, chest heaving and hands shaking. "You're not getting out of here. You don't deserve it!"
Once again he dashed forward and went to grab me by the throat, I closed my eyes out of fear and blindly jabbed the dagger with no hope of surviving this. For a couple of seconds my mind went completely blank, I barely felt my own body as I stood frozen against the wall, waiting for my doom. I felt his weight lean into me and his touch on my skin, but he stilled right as his hand rested at my collar.
Confused I opened my eyes and flinched at seeing his face so close to mine. The rage had drained from his features, his eyes were blown wide, and the inky black taking up one of them faded away to show a bright purple. Only now I realised what my own hands were doing, how the left had a firm grip on the flannel over his shoulder, and how the right one tightly held onto the knife in his stomach.
His legs gave in and he fell to his knees, even more blood staining his shirt where I'd buried the blade in his abdomen, and I could only watch the scene in horror. Slowly he looked at the wound and back up to me, almost dumbfounded, the purple in his iris changing to lighter shades of the same colour.
"No... I'm-... I'm so sorry f-for..." I uttered, unable to find anything sensible to say. My brain took the advantage to prove how the stern side of me had been right all along, how I never should've shown my weakness to them. It ruined everything, and now...
A soft touch to my left hand snapped me out of my mind’s bittersweet ‘I told you so’-moment and I looked down, seeing him reach out to me before setting both hands on the floor to keep himself from falling over.
"You w-win..." He hoarsely whispered. "Cong-gratula..." A dry cough kept him from continuing, and he made no attempt to try again. Carefully he let his upper body down to the floor and went to lay on his side, closing his eyes for a long second.
"Jack?" I silently asked, suddenly a lot calmer than before. The realisation from before seemed to sink in, and my distress faded away more and more.
Maybe... Maybe this wasn't so bad after all? With both of them out of the picture, everything could go back to the way it was and nobody would know about my breakdown here...
He didn't react when I called his name again, though his chest was still sporadically rising and falling as he held one arm over the bleeding wound. The sound of short, heavy breaths echoed throughout the room, the only evidence to show he was still alive, and even that started to waver. His struggle didn't last long, soon his green and pale purple eyes slipped closed and his body stopped moving, as if it was a marble figure instead of a man.
The room was suddenly very quiet, and a shiver rode its way down my spine. It almost made me want to start talking to myself, to break this maddening silence in any way possible, but I kept my composure even when there was nobody who'd be able to hear. This peaceful feeling that had washed over me remained, strangely enough. Even when I looked over the two figures laying still in the room, it was suddenly easier to... not care so much, to keep myself from losing my cool about this. The caring part of my mind was screaming out at me, demanding to do something about this, but I found little to no difficulty in ignoring it for now.
Still, I'd have to explain these two deaths to the employees, but a small little twist to the truth would probably do the trick. I can tell them they stole my dagger from me and eventually killed themselves, it's not even that far from what actually happened... I'd get someone to leave them somewhere, a place where no-one can accidentally stumble upon the bodies, and we'd never have to worry about it again.
Wiping the sheen of sweat from my forehead and fixing my shirt I stepped away from the figures and walked up to the door, only a small tremble left in my fingers when I unlocked the door. With my injured arm close to my chest I went to search for any employee, hoping to find one quickly.
The sooner we can put a definitive end to this, the better.