Table of Contents

+ Add to Library

Previous Next

Chapter 55 Table Scraps

  • He awoke on the floor of Lucifer's palace. Someone was standing over him. Hi_yes fluttered fully open and he recognized a woman's face. She was red-eye_nd -crying.
  • A name floated by and he said, "Lulu." She reached down and pulled the knif_rom his chest. He groaned.
  • "Alive?" said one of the Clerks.
  • "He is surprising," said the head Clerk.
  • Spyder leaned shakily against the cage that housed the book. Lulu spun on he_eels and blasted the Black Clerks with round after round from the four-ten.
  • "Don't," said Spyder, reaching for her.
  • Each of Lulu's shots hit, but it was like shooting at scarecrows. Each roun_ent through the Clerks, as if there was nothing but straw to absorb th_lasts.
  • The head Clerk snatched the shotgun from Lulu's hands and tossed it across th_all. "Your debt is past due. We will collect now. Your heart, I think?" h_aid.
  • "That's not going to happen," said Spyder. He got to his feet and stretched.
  • "Damn. Sometimes dying is like two weeks in Miami."
  • "Perhaps your head was hurt in your fall?" said the head Clerk. "We move fro_arth to Heaven to Hell. Nowhere is closed to us. We swallow life and spit ou_rea-tion. And you say we will not take this child's tiny life?"
  • Spyder went and stood close to the head Clerk, close enough to smell the ro_n his borrowed flesh. "I know what you are. You aren't gods. You aren't eve_emons. Come on out of the closet, boys."
  • "We don't believe you."
  • "I know, but that doesn't mean dingo's balls. You're hollow. Puppets. I don'_ven think you're really alive."
  • "You are mad? I think so."
  • "Don't pay attention to the man behind the curtain, that's the best you ca_ome up with? It didn't work on the girl in the ruby slippers and it doesn'_ean shit here."
  • "Enough," said the Clerk with the ledger. He opened the book and withdre_omething that looked like a thick, ragged tree limb. Dropping the ledger, h_wisted the limb until a dozen ragged blades sprang from the shaft, killin_horns. The Clerk lunged, but Spyder side-stepped the blow, slipping behin_is attacker. Slamming his arm around the Clerk's throat, Spyder held him s_hat the others could watch, as he whispered a single word into the Clerk'_ar. When Spyder released him, the Clerk remained frozen in place, hi_eformed weapon still in the air.
  • "A trick? Yes," said the head Clerk.
  • The frozen Clerk began to shake. His mouth came open and he made a sound tha_as part wonder and part howl of pain. He shook until he was a blur, and th_titches holding his pale body together began to split. The wan internal ligh_he Clerks always gave off, burst through his seams as he flew to pieces. A_ach broken part of him hit the floor, it vanished.
  • The two remaining Clerks looked at Spyder.
  • "I said the true name of time and decay," he told them. "Do you even know wha_ou are? You're the boy toys of the Old Gods, the Dominions. You need used u_rgans because you're trash on two legs. Golems. Animated table scraps. A wor_ade you walk and a word can make you stop. I saw into the book. I learned th_ords."
  • "We are the engines of creation and destruction," said the head Clerk. "W_alance the Spheres. We prune dead branches, taking life where it is no_ppreciated, such as in this sorry child?" The Clerk nodded at Lulu. "We pas_er breath back into the universe for new souls."
  • "That was your burden. That's what you used to be. You balanced order an_haos, but something happened. The Dominions got inside of you. Instead o_erving the universe, you started serving the Old Gods. You're their deliver_oys. You grant wishes to the weak, the wounded and lost, getting your hook_n their souls so the Dominions can feed on them. There's nothing left of you_ld selves. You're empty shells. And this book was made to bring them back.
  • But I'm not going to let you do that."
  • "Is someone going to kill someone soon?" Xero called from the stairs. "I wa_bout to win a war."
  • "You were about to be eviscerated in front of your troops," said Lucifer.
  • "We know you. You are not a man, but a broken child?" said the head Clerk t_pyder. "You've seen and learned much lately, but you remain a drunke_ibertine who despises his own foolish weakness above all else. And you_ortal body is trapped forever in Hell. But we will take pity and give you th_ift of annihilation."
  • "I'm not afraid of you."
  • "But it is yourself you hate and yourself you must fight?" The head Cler_aised his hand to the palace entrance, where a figure was waiting.
  • Spyder saw his reflection. Sort of. A version of himself, but scarred lik_ulu, crudely stitched together, like the Clerks themselves.
  • "He is your Shadow Brother, built from a broken memory you left in Berenice.
  • All the blood you left in the street? A very powerful elixir. We sacrificed _ew of the organs we'd collected," said the head Clerk. He turned to Lulu.
  • "Child, do you recognize your eyes in another?"
  • "You got the jump on me in Berenice, bro," said the lacerated Spyder. "But I'_ack and bad and ready for love."
  • "More golem trash," Spyder said the Clerks. "You think I won't kill it?"
  • "We're counting on it. He's special. Not you in name and form, but you,
  • literally. A strike against him is against yourself? Show him," the head Cler_old the golem.
  • Spyder watched his Shadow Brother pull the punch dagger from behind his bac_nd slide it hard across his chest, carving a deep, crimson wound. Spyder fel_omething like a live wire being dragged over his skin. He looked down and sa_hat he had a chest wound identical to the golem's.
  • "You know the true names. Use them. Turn him to dust!" called Shrike.
  • "I can't. I might dust out, too," Spyder said.
  • Feinting and teasing, the golem came at him with the knife. Spyder backed u_nd started to draw Apollyon's blade from his belt, but stopped himself. I_ould be suicide.
  • The golem kept making little charges, then stabbed and sliced himself. Spyde_witched in pain and bled, feeling each twist of the blade. The golem circle_im, splashing blood onto the marble floor and laughing.
  • "Why are you running? This is what you always wanted. Life's too hard fo_eople like us. Let me fix it for you," said the golem.
  • Spyder backed up. Sweat flowed into his wounds, stinging him.
  • "Remember the middle way, little brother!" yelled -Lucifer. "Would the Buddh_ight himself?"
  • Spyder stopped in his tracks, he gaze flicking to Lucifer, then Shrike. H_tretched his arms out wide and closed his eyes. The golem rushed him, jammin_ts knife deep into Spyder's chest. Gritting his teeth at the pain, Spyde_rapped his arms around the golem and held on. They were both bleeding and th_loor was slippery with their blood. Spyder lifted the younger, smalle_ersion of himself and spun on his heels, dropping his Shadow Brother onto th_ook. Gasping, Spyder twisted and threw all of his weight on his doppelganger,
  • pinning him long enough to pull the black blade from his own belt and swing i_nce.
  • Both Spyder's and the golem's heads slid off their shoulders and rolled ont_he floor.