Revenge, Inc. Part 21: A Short Story
Hello everyone and welcome back. As you can see, this is my 101st hub and I believe that it's fitting that it is. If you haven't already, please have a look at my 100th hub titled An Introduction to HubPages with Snoopy and Woodstock as doing so would mean the world to me. Thank you!
Looking back at some of my earlier serials/installments of Revenge, Inc. I realize now that a few changes and edits need to be made before I take the next step and submit this work to a literary agent (I might have to break out the katana to make such cuts). If you've been following me since Part One, you know better than anyone else that this is true. In time, I will go back to do such necessary editing, but not before I share with you the concluding installments to this Novel. By its end, I will have easily over 50,000 words which is the equivalent of a 200 page book. Later on, I may include some scenes in which I was meaning to add (but that's for another time!). I'd like to that my good friend Cris A for taking his time to develop such amazing images as you see below. In the concluding installments, I'll be adding a new image, so thanks Cris! As always, I thank you for your interest and readership. I hope you enjoy this installment.
Of course if you are new here, please read Part One. In either case, I hope you like what you read and so get interested enough to invest your time in reading this series as a whole! Thank you.
I Hear Voices
As with all places that are familiar to us in which we return after a long time away, Valhalla had changed yet stayed the same, as the saying goes. The scene was gray and unwelcoming, like food in the fridge that has spoiled after so much neglect. The people and places are still here as they were when I first left, just that they’re…Different. Things got dirtier and downtrodden. Valhalla had the look of an neglected house, where the furniture was caked with dust after being left unattended and long dormant. And with bits of food being left out, it had invited insects and varmint, the kind that feed, get comfortable and just as soon multiply. This was of course a problem.
But then there are familiar scents in the air, like the scent of wet autumn leaves after the rain and the warning of winter, of imminent change. Off in the distance, there is the Lake, where in the crevice of my memory, Haley was fished out, pale as a bone, dripping of lake water, and cold to touch. I feel the stab in my heart and it’s hard to keep still and maintain my balance. I know as I knew then that I had no other choice but to leave Valhalla suddenly and on a whim. I would’ve committed suicide or equally would’ve been reckless enough with myself so as to get myself killed, because I just didn't give a fuck anymore. I did the right thing by leaving and by of course meeting Master Akira. He had consequently saved my life, or gave me a new one with a new purpose. But many questions now loomed: Did Felix and his boys ever find Hailey's assailant? Did I still have my chance at revenge? I risked so much for leaving this place so many years ago, maybe too much…Was the nightmare finally over?
The answer was sudden and unexpected. It reverberated in the chamber of my mind and shook my entire body. It was a voice that I trusted. It was my inner voice, the voice of Marak and was uncompromising. I believed that it lived and breathed within me. It knew better than my conscious thoughts that thrived on my rationality, the other voice was the voice of reason. Neither was right or wrong. One was compassionate and the other was dispassionate and uninviting yet brutally honest. The voice of Marak was the voice of keen instinct, which Master Akira helped me to harvest and hone. It was very important that I knew how to tell each of them apart, as they constantly contradicted one another. In short, my life depended upon making the correct decision. And no, I'm not crazy, rather, I'm more sane than ever before.
Beyond the remnants of the once bustling City of Valhalla and the many negative changes that have come about in past few years, like the slums and crystal methamphetamine producing houses, there is no change as drastic as the change within me. Cody MacLaren is gone and Marak is here in his stead. I can separate the many sounds of the City of Valhalla; I can tell the difference between the sounds of child’s cap gun and the sounds of a drug deal gone wrong, the sound of domestic abuse in an apartment complex and the sound of someone being roughed up for some booze, the difference between the cries of a raving heroine addict and the cries of a baby left alone inside a dumpster to die…They were all different sounds, yet were all the same; They are the sounds of pain, of suffering, of selfishness, of lust and hatred and the omission of joy. It’s the sound the world makes when hope ceases to exist. And I can hear them all these sounds. It’s hard for me not to. At times I wish I were deaf so that I could no longer hear such awful sounds and be saved from being aware of such awfulness in this world…
It was him. It was me. It was the voice of Marak. His power to act and his refusal to stand still is unending and unyielding and the sounds around me is my impetus. Too long had I failed to act when I should've would've and could've. Too long had I shook my head in pity in reaction to the atrocities around me and so did nothing to help as the world around me continues to burn. Perhaps at one time I thought I lacked the strength or the ability or the balls to do something about it all. No longer is that the case.
I thought about why this was what it was; why it is that in many of us, we don't act when a wrong has been committed, why we stand by while the world around us is engulfed in flame. We read the newspapers. We watch the news. We're on the net. We are fully aware of all of these things, yet we continue to be idle and thank our lucky stars that it is not us or someone we know that had befallen such violence, such malice, such crimes against us. So we're detached and uninvolved. "It's not my problem" we say to quiet our conscience. "Besides, what can I possibly do to change any of this?" But that's where we're wrong. Any and all of us can make a change and take a stand if only we try to do what little we think we can't.
The world does not have to be the way it is.
No, it does not. By believing that the world is what it is and refusing to act is the worst thing each of us could do or not do. There is a "me" and a "we." Realizing that there is in fact a "we" changes everything. We're all in this together and I'll be damned if I don't do my part. I have taken arms and maybe you can too, only in a different sense entirely. I only give mercy to the merciful and so am merciless to those who show no mercy. My road is different from your road, but I assure you, if you do act, each our roads will lead to the very same destination.
I hope to see you there.
When thinking back of my earliest childhood memories, I remember St. Augustine’s Cathedral as brooding structure of magnificence amidst a sleepy town before it became a city. I used to carry the candles to the altar for the Father Cunningham during Sunday mass with my father and mother in the audience. Father Cunningham preached to a packed house one Sunday after the next—the attendees were so numerous that those that came later stood in the aisles and against its walls with their families. No one wanted to miss Father Cunningham’s sermon. His words were like music, like ointment to the ears. The light through the stained-glass windows in itself were a wonder to behold. It seems there was so much more sunshine back then.
Now, things were different. The shingles that prevented the rain from getting in were coming loose and damp air brought mold and mildew which my father could not do enough from preventing. It was the air of the outside world making its way in. But that was only the beginning. Less and less of the faithful were turning out for his sermons in which Father Cunningham so many years prior had instilled and bestowed upon him. It was, after my mother, Gwyneth passed away after losing her fight to breast cancer did my father join the parish but not after a bout of drinking and a long spell in which he questioned his faith in God, in which he did find an Answer.
“Is this not the House of God, father?” I said out loud to the almost empty Cathedral. He was lighting candles at the altar. He let out a chuckle. It was something my father used to say always whenever I had a question for him concerning Him, since I was knee-high to him.
“You know it is, Cody. I wondered when it would be that you and I would see each other again. It’s good to see you.” He turned to me and he and I exchanged a greeting. I was surprised how he had aged. The crow’s feet around his eyes became more pronounced and his thinning hair, once salt and pepper was now almost completely silver. However, the one thing that did not change was the tinge of hope in his eyes. That had always been there for as long as I knew him. He stared at me for some time.
“What is it?”
“I’m not certain. You look much younger—almost as young as you looked when I married you and Adrianna…”
“And you, you look…”
“No need. Things have not been well here to say the least. Just as quick as a donation is made is it freely given right back to those on the streets. If St. Augustine’s was a business, it’s failing miserably.”
“What I was going to say is that you look thin, dad. Are you eating?”
“I eat just enough. There really is no need to indulge ourselves now is there? I have enough and that is enough.”
“And Peter, what about him? Has he helped you at all?”
“Yes, yes, Peter has been a blessing. He’s given more than anyone else in Valhalla. He’s been keeping tabs on me. His assistant will sometimes come by to make sure that I’m okay. He’s even given me money to fix the roof, but…”
“Let me guess, you’ve given it away to help the needy?” He nodded his head. “Isn’t that just like you, dad? What if this roof falls and kills you? What then?”
“If that is His will…”
“Oh, please! This is not about His will! It’s pure common sense. This place is a shadow of what it once was. Do you still hold Sunday mass?”
“Yes, I do…Sometimes to empty pews.”
“Then why even bother?”
“You know why.”
Remember the Rain
After some time, I left my dad and St. Augustine's Cathedral, promising I'd return. Next was Haley and Adrianna. I had to see them. Perhaps it will be tonight when I will be wholly reunited with them, perhaps twenty years from now. That much I’m not sure. If I’m to involve myself filtering out the scum that walks this earth day-in and day-out, then there is a chance that I will be killed—that much is certain and as the saying goes, if you live by the sword than so should you die by the sword. I realize this and am in full acceptance of such. Nowadays, I’m always ready to die. But not before I find some answers if time will allow. I kneel before my family.
“Hello, Adrianna. Hello Haley. I’m sorry that I’ve been away for so long. I hope that you understand. I may not be who you once remember. This life I have now belongs to the both of you, in memory of the both of you, in which I honor and cherish. Never before had I been more certain of what I have to do in this world. I’m fighting for you, Haley and you, Adrianna and for the voices that are too weak to cry for help, who are too broken to defend themselves, whose prayers have gone unheeded…You may not agree with my tactics and for that, I apologize, but I hope you agree with my intentions. My only hope is that you can forgive me for what I’m about to do. I love the both of you dearly and miss both of you so very much…” Amidst the thunder, rain and wind, I lean over and kiss the Adrianna and Haley. My hands on each of them to hold them, to hold myself and keep myself from drowning in the oncoming deluge.
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