“Loriel?” says the bartender. “The naked man? Was he not dead?”
“Bullshit!” the woman pretends to sneeze from the jukebox.
“Who’s Loriel?” Adam asks.
“Yeah,” Fiasco nods, ignoring the others. “I was pretty damn sure he was, what with all that time I spent burying his ass. I mean, that took hours! But there he was, just as healthy and nude as the moment we met. Needless to say, I wanted answers. So, I stepped up, stared him straight in the eyes, and said….”
Loriel looks confused. “I am sorry, I do not understand.”
“I… buried you,” Fiasco blinks.
The winds pick up as heavy rain starts to fall, filling the room with a dull tapping sound. On the ground, Gina writhes, breathing heavily. She looks up, sees Loriel, and gives a hint of that smile of her’s. ”Ah…ah…” she whispers.
Loriel ignores her, saying, “Yes. And I thank you for your troubles, Lucious Fiasco. But I have arisen once more, for now is the time that you must…what are you doing?”
“Turning on my phone,” Fiasco says.
There’s a loud beep as Sherlock comes awake, followed immediately by a “Mmmm… woah! What the shiiiiit, doctor? I don’t swiiiiiiiing that way.”
“Ah…er…” Gina moans, reaching for the nude man.
“Time is short, Seer,” Hasubu says from behind. A heavy thunder cracks outside, as if proving her point.
“Indeed,” Loriel says, stepping closer. “Lucious Fiasco, you have done well, as I have foreseen, yet now is the moment to–”
“Mmmm… Doctor, whooooo’s this douchebag?”
“The naked guy I told you about.” Fiasco scratches his head.
“Mmmm… the oooooone you buried?”
“Mmmm… really? Whaaaaat a jackass, digging himself up after you did allllllll that work.”
“I know, right?”
“Lucious Fiasco,” Loriel rubs his temples, talking faster now, “I have come once more, and now you must–”
“I’m not doing it again,” Fiasco mutters to Sherlock. “Fuck that. This time, he stays on the floor.”
Loriel stiffens, crooking a brow. “Are you drunk?”
“No!” Fiasco says, indignantly. Then, “Why? Did you want a drink? ’cause I might still have some left in this bottle…”
“Seer!” Hasubu rasps.
“For fuck’s sake,” Loriel bursts. “Lucious Fiasco, this girl is going to die if you do nothing to save her!”
Fiasco looks at Gina, who’s still reaching for Loriel, still saying something. He thinks of her touch, the smell of her skin, and anger wells. ”What the hell can I do? That bitch poisoned her,” he throws a thumb back toward Hasubu, “and you’re the one that told me to come here in the first place. From where I’m standing, this is your fault, and I’m out of options.”
“Yes,” Loriel smiles. “But you can save her! You must give her Panacea.”
Fiasco falls back a step. He gives a glance over at the old woman sitting near the fireplace. Her face is cold, void of expression.
Reaching into his pocket, he feels the small vial twist between his fingers, thinking, the shadow of doubt drifting over his mind.
“No,” Fiasco shakes his head. “Something’s not right here. You told me Hasubu would help, and then here you are? You…”
“Ah…ex…” Gina says again.
“I only told you what you needed to hear,” Loriel says, his voice calm. “Panacea was always as it needed to be, yet you feared using it. You needed the correct motivation. I created that motivation.”
Turning, toiling, his fingers nervously shuffle the vial in his pocket, while the gears of his mind grind in battle with that fear. Fiasco knows it’s true, he never would’ve used Panacea, not as it was. But should he now? He looks down at the girl on the floor, the way she’s staring at Loriel. Suddenly his fingers stop. It hits him, what Gina’s been trying to say.
“Alexander,” he says, looking up at Loriel. “You’re Alexander. You’re the seer. It’s always been you, setting up the pieces, pushing each player into action. You’ve been at this since she was a kid. You’ve known all of this was going to happen. But why?”
“The Dark Lord has a plan,” Loriel says. “But you have the power now, Lucious Fiasco. You must save this girl.”
Clutching the vial in a fist now, he pulls it out and holds the liquid up to the light. “It’s not ready.”
“If it is not,” the nude man says. “what do you stand to lose?”
Glancing down into Gina’s fluttering eyes, Fiasco gives a long, hard sigh. Loriel led him to this point. Everything he said, he’s done, has brought Panacea to this very moment. Making up his mind, he unscrews the bottle and pours it into her mouth. But by the time the bottle is emptied, she’s already dead.
Silence fills the bar. There’s no music playing. Say what she will, even the woman can’t help but listen.
“That is a shame,” the bartender says, pouring him another shot. “This one is on the house.”
“Yeah,” Fiasco nods, taking the glass.
They sit that way for a moment, until Adam says, “So, what happened then?”
“Well,” the doctor says, lifting up the glass, his eyes lost in the light reflected within the brown drink. “I think it’s safe to say I was a bit pissed off.”
“Mmmm… duuuuude. I really thought that was goooooing to work.” Sherlock says.
But Fiasco doesn’t hear him. He just slaps Gina’s face, calling her name, “Gina? Gina! C’mon dammit!”
Loriel walks past him, over to Hasubu. Fiasco looks up in time to see them exchange a smile.
“You!” he sneers, standing. “You said this would save her!”
“You know,” Loriel says, turning back to the doctor. “Faith is truly an under rated trait, Lucious fiasco.”
“Fuck faith! You did this! You said it’d work.”
“Hasn’t it?” Hasubu smirks.
“…D…doctor?” comes Gina’s voice.
He turns, sees her standing now, her face a bit sweaty, her eyes wide and scared.
“Gina?” he half smiles, reaching out.
Suddenly, Luis busts in.
“I can’t take it any longer, Hasubu! I’m leaving! We’re leaving! What I did…it…it killed a part of me!”
Hasubu chuckles with a grotesque lick of her lips.
Just then, Gina reaches out and grabs Luis. Snarling like a rabid dog, she tears the supple flesh of his neck with her teeth. Half screaming, half crying, Luis rips himself from her, gives the room a panicked, hurtful look, then runs back out into the storm.
“Mmmm… okay. That waaaaas weird…”
Gina looks at fiasco, her eyes even more scared now, her lips stained and chunky as if they’d gorged a pile of lush strawberries. “D…doctor…?” she whimpers.
But Fiasco can’t say a thing.
“I…I didn’t…I didn’t mean to…” she whispers. “Oh my God, Luis!” she cries, running out after him into the raging night.
“What the fuck was that?” Fiasco turns, but Loriel and Hasubu are laughing.
“That, Lucious Fiasco, is a good plan coming together,” Loriel grins.
But Loriel just reaches down and kisses Hasubu.
“Mmmm… Gah! Duuuude!” Sherlock moans.
“You know, she was right.” he says, pulling away; a string of saliva stretching out between their lips. “The things that tongue will do, it has made me blush.”
“What?” Fiasco says again.
“You still don’t get it, do you? I duped you. It was I that had you fired. It was I that feigned a friend in order to play out this little drama. Without my intervention, Lucious Fiasco, you would have gone on to cure cancer with that little tincture. But I set forth events that would put it to a much greater purpose!”
Thoughts flood his mind; words, happenings, each clicking together like puzzle pieces. He thinks of Loriel, telling him about the Dark Lord: “It wants you to complete a role in its grand scheme,” he said, ”and if it cannot achieve that, it will settle with your head.”
The hounds killed Loriel. Or did they?
“The Dark Lord has a plan…”
“Yes, I go by many names. My favorite being Moe.” Then, to Hasubu, he says, “No one ever calls me that anymore.”
“Shame.” She says dryly.
“But the hounds! I saw them kill you!”
“My hounds, Lucious Fiasco. And you saw what you needed to see.”
“But…why? What could possibly be a purpose greater than curing cancer?”
“Awaking The Architect!” Loriel cries theatrically, arms outstretched. Hasubu cackles and the world rumbles as somewhere close, lightning strikes a tree.
“You… wait, what?”
“Soon, Panacea will infect the world, and the Architect will rise form his slumber. Then, it will have no choice but to bring to an end this perversion of its gift. We are coming into a new year, Doctor. The year of death!”
“What the fuck are you blabbering about? What do you mean ‘infect the world’?”
“I’ve seen your end, Doctor Frankenstein.” Loriel says, giving a strange look to Fiasco’s phone. “And I must admit, you are getting the worst part of this deal. For that, and your vastly appreciated assistance in my scheme, I will give you this: soon, the Architect will regain control of my hounds, and It will wish to see you dead for your part in this.”
“My part? Bullshit! I was dragged into this!”
“The Architect never cared much for finer details. Seriously, have you ever read the bible? You humans are more to blame for me than I am. But it will not be long before it discovers your…trick.” he gives the kittens a glance. “It will design a new threat that will kill you, even more deadly than my hounds. An they shall, unless, you do exactly as I say.”
“How can I possibly trust you?” Fiasco spits.
“Mmmm… does this iiiiiinclude any hot chicks?” Sherlock says.
“As a matter of fact, it does,” Loriel grins.
“Mmmm… there you haaaaaaave it, doctor, all the reason yoooou need.”
Glancing back where Gina laid not minutes before, Fiasco shakes his head and says: “Goddammit. How long do I have?”
© 2012 J. Chris Lawrence