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Wafflemancer Part 6

Updated on October 25, 2013

Previously

Last time John and Lilith arrived at his apartment to discover John's worst fear. Oh, and a cute little Asian assassin hell bent on fulfilling her contract. That is, until Lilith summons a creature with the body of a lion and the head of a man. Transforming itself into a regular enough looking guy in a suit, he proceeds to beat the crap out of the assassin. The assassin swears her revenge leaving John and Lilith alone in the wreckage with their loss.

Part 6

Present Day

It's only been a couple of days since the funeral of one of John's only friends. He and Ross may not have been very close, but John loved him just the same. John loved all of his friends, no matter how few. Maybe it was because there were so few. Ross had died in John's apartment at the hands of an otherworldly assassin that was meant for Lilith, for him. He hadn't stopped blaming himself for Ross' death. He barely ate, barely spoke. He was empty inside. Like a machine, he was just going through the motions. The police had found no evidence linking John to Ross' murder, but that didn't change how John felt. He felt like a murderer.


Lilith sits in her usual corner booth while John cooks up the meals of an elderly couple on the other side of the restaurant. Normally she took great joy in tormenting the boy while he worked. It just wasn't the same when he was already tormenting himself. Looking up at the clock, she realizes his shift ends soon. He gets off earlier tonight, only working until two am. When his replacement walks in the door and greets the waitress on shift, Lilith starts getting ready to leave. She heads out to John's car and decides to pack a bowl for him. She wonders if she can get him to forget about his troubles if it will be fun to mess with him again. She doubts it. There was a dynamic to the back and forth they had. She poked and prodded him, and he did so in return. She missed that.


Initially she hated being stuck with him, much as he did. But she had been alone for so long, on the run from her former employers. She hadn't realized just how nice it was to talk to someone. She contemplated the substance in her hand. She had never tried it before, never felt the need. She wondered if it worked for him, why not her? She fumbles through the car until she finds the lighter. Raising the glass piece up to her lips she prepares to light its contents.


“What are you doing?”


Lilith fumbles the bowl in surprise, spilling its contents onto the floorboard. With a sigh and a shrug of his shoulders, John climbs in the car without another word. Lilith hated this. He was supposed to get mad at her like he always did. He was supposed to yell at her for spilling his precious herb. Then she was supposed to strike back with something clever. Nothing too hurtful, just degrading enough to remind him who's in charge. How could she assert herself if she had nothing to assert against?


John pulls out of the parking lot and heads away from the abandoned house they had been staying in. It takes Lilith a few moments to realize it, but they are heading back to John's apartment. They hadn't been back there since Ross died. Lilith is curious, of course, but she knows better than to ask a direct question. In the state he was he wouldn't give a direct answer. At least, not the kind she's hoping for. So, she does the next best thing she can think of.


“Where are we going?” Sure, it's a simple question and one she already knows the answer to. But, she has to start somewhere. She thinks if she can just get him to talk, maybe she can work up to that direct question.


“The apartment.” There is no emotion in his tone, just a simple statement of fact. From the corner of his eye he can see that it's not enough to satisfy her curiosity. He doesn't want her prodding any deeper. “I have a few things I need to take care of there before we go home. Can you wait in the car?”


Home. It doesn't seem that John considers his apartment home anymore. Before we go home. Does that mean he now considers the not so abandoned house his home now? His home is with her? The questions pile up in her mind forcing her to shut them down. She can't get too attached. She won't. She was thinking too deeply about it, she decides.


“Yea, I think I can do that. Just don't leave me waiting too long or you'll regret it.” There. With that little bit of venom she feels better.


He pulls into the closest parking space to his door. He knows he can't get too far away from her. But, if he was safe with her in the parking lot at work, this should be sufficient he decides. The door creaks open as he steps inside. It reminds him of the last time he creaked that door open. He takes his work hat off and throws it up onto his empty coat rack. He takes a deep breath through his nose as he walks deeper inside. The smell of waffle batter and onions drifts up. An image of Ross laughing in the corner booth as John spills batter on his uniform flashes in his mind. He rushes to the laundry room and takes off his clothes.


Even as the cycle runs, he can still smell onions. He decides that he might as well take a shower since he's naked anyway. He turns the heat up on the water, hoping to rinse his dark thoughts away. Inside he stares up into the shower head with his eyes closed, letting the water course down his face. He remembers the heat from the power that Lilith sent into him before she summoned that thing. He tries to shake the memory away but when he opens his eyes, for a moment the water looks red. The red water drips from his hands as he remembers touching the blood on Ross' chest.


Once out of the shower, after shaving and putting on a pair of shorts, he still doesn't feel clean. He paces for a minute or two before he realizes that it's not him that feels dirty, it's this place. There's an unseen layer of filth that wasn't stripped away when it was put back in order after the battle. It has been tainted. He decides that he needs to clean it himself and sets upon every house chore he can think of. At the end of it all he finds himself sitting on the edge of his bed. Just like she was when she saw him crouch down next to Ross' body. The assassin that was meant to kill him.


He sighs to himself and reaches underneath his bed for an old shoe box. He glances out the window and something catches his eye. He walks up to the window with the shoe box still in his hand. Resting the box on the window sill, he stares up at the moon. It's bright, full and sporting a red haze around its edges. John laughs softly to himself, remembering how Lilith explained the omen to him.


"Ain't that about right." He murmurs to himself before lifting the lid to his shoe box. He returns his gaze to the moon, taking in its beauty. He sighs one last time before raising his .45 caliber pistol out of the box and up to his temple.


After sitting outside for what felt like forever, Lilith takes the ear buds to a stolen MP3 player out of her ears and looks towards the apartment door. Something doesn't feel right to her. John was taking an awfully long time and she warned him not to leave her too long. She decides to investigate. She walks up to the door and knocks softly.


“John?” When he doesn't answer she lets herself in. As soon as the door opens she smells it. The familiar scent of blood is thick in the air. She finds John's remains in his bedroom next to the window. Without her in close proximity his ability to heal was greatly diminished, allowing for his suicide attempt. She sighs as she crouches down next to him.


“Oh John, John. You can't escape me that easily.” She whispers. She raises her hand and rests her index finger on his back, between his shoulder blades. A circle of ancient symbols rises up from under his skin where her finger rests.


“You belong to me, my dear sweet John. My familiar.”


The symbols of their bond glow a fierce red on his skin. She removes her finger from his back and steam rises from the spot it held. The blood coating the wall and floor creeps back to its owner. His flesh knits itself back together after the last drop makes its way home and his chest rises with a single breath. That last gasp of the dying. He rolls over to look up at Lilith.


“Oh Shit. It's you.” His voice is low and strained. His body isn't quite used to being alive again. That is, if you can consider him alive.


“Of course it's me you retard! What did you think was gonna happen?” Her voice is angry but her eyes are not.


“I don't want to be a part of it anymore, Lilith. Any of this.” He gestures to the rest of the room. “Ross died. Here. In this apartment. Because of this.” He points to his temple which just moments ago was splattered all over the wall.


“There's no getting out. I told you that the night you first woke up.”


“I was dead. I can feel it. You could have let me stay that way. You should have let me stay dead.” He casts his gaze down at the floor.


“And for what? I hate to break it to you, but people die. People die all the time and taking your own life won't change that. You can't bring him back. I can't bring him back.”


“You didn't even try!” His voice is choked with tears as he throws the angry accusation at her.


“After the assassin left and you begged me to bring him back, I told you then. He's gone. His soul wasn't here anymore when we got here and I couldn't sense him in the afterlife. It's not like the place is fuckin' small you know.” She looks down at John while he sobs and she feels something so rare for her that it's almost alien. She feels sorry for him. “Listen, You can't die. I won't let you. But, you can't live in the past like this anymore. You've got to get your shit together.”


“Or what?” He mocks. “You gonna kill me?” She hides the sympathy from her face and hardens her gaze into what she hopes looks threatening.


“If you couldn't protect him when you had your wits, or lack thereof, about you, how can you protect who you've got left if you're like this?” His tears stop as he registers the threat.


“You wouldn't.” He starts to say.


“I don't have to do nothin'.” She senses that she's starting to get somewhere. “You heard the girl as she left. She'll be back. It won't be long now. I can feel it.” Sure, it was a lie. But, she needed to get him out of here, away from this place. She couldn't take seeing him like this.


“You feel it? Like your magic is telling you she's coming?” He asks with a sense of horror. Evidently she had made an impression on him. Instantly Lilith felt bad about using that to lie to him. She decided she would dwell on that alien feeling later.


Yes. Now we need to get out of here.” She helps him to his feet and leads him to the door.


“But, where can we go? What place is safe?” She pauses just outside the apartment and looks back to him.


“Safe? Only one place is truly safe for people like us. We're going to the Mad Maenad.”

To Be Continued

Wafflemancer is currently on a brief Hiatus while I gather my thoughts and put in some work on my other projects.

In the meantime, check out Age of Vengeance, an action series set in the distant past of this same universe. It focuses on the Viking mage Rodin, and his vendettas against the Holy Roman Empire, the Knights Templar, and a particular Templar named Nathaniel.

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