Monstrous Books > The Monstrous Library

Burn Horizon Burn (complete novel by David S. Partamyan, aka Devinoir)

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If there were gods above us, they'd all be wearing Roman togas and farking each other all day and night.
Almighty, omnipotent... If there's nothing you can't have, is there anything you can actually wish?
And immortality, doesn't it make you think of suicide?
And love makes you think of loss, and faith makes you think of ignorance.
If you're so dark and lonely and despair's your only friend, there is another thing that you might dare to feel. There's anger. Sadness always comes with anger.
What I'm trying to say is that I don't have a point. There are letters that make words and there are words that make sentences and there are sentences that make no sense.

Gold wasn't sure why he bought the gun he bought, and, frankly, after splitting up with Red, there was not a thing that he could be sure about.
Red was the link that kept Gold from falling apart.
The gun was cold, heavy, and unwelcoming somehow.
Gold sat in his room - motionless, sleepless, dead - looking at the huge .45.
It became the center of his universe. It was the crucifix of all the new beginnings and all the endings he craved for, if Gold were to crave at all.
For Black, Red was a dark blessing, but for Gold, she was a curse.
For days he stared at the gun.
He pictured the bliss of a gargantuan bullet to his head, and that made him think of Red's lips, how soft and red they were, how red her blood would be, if a chunk of her delicious body were to be torn away by a vicious shot.
Gold was half his weight now. The sudden gauntness gave his once-cheerful face the look of utter terror and desperation. His swollen bloodshot eyes rarely blinked, and for days they saw nothing but the nightmarish maze that revolved around Red's lips, her cunt, her smell and the gun.
Sometimes he thought he had the answer, sometimes he knew that he was doomed.
I do want you to notice -
He Took Comfort In That.
There was another, a more pleasant, if I dare to call it so, dream.
In it, she was the one who had the gun, and she was the one who pulled the trigger, and it was his blood spilled, his guts on the street, her smile as he died, with his agony reflected in her eyes (the way a mirror reflects our deepest wishes, remaining cold and distant and ironic) and her smile - so vile, so white, so free, so pagan somehow...
Love is death, and death is life, and algebra or Math, I think it's the same when you talk about equations, and of how A equals B, and B equals C, but in our case A did not equal C. It did not want to.
And doesn't life revolve around the things you want and those you don't, and what you hate and what you'll tolerate.
And all the while, people flashed around Gold. Someone dropped a package of cocaine and took some cash, someone took the cocaine and dropped a package of heroin, someone took some more cash and brought some pills and said that they were God come to life although what life is there in a pill Gold wondered.
And there was the question of who he loved, if anyone at all - himself? or Red?
Shapes flashed by. His father, some doctors, people whose names he used to know, and did not care to remember now, for they were colors, that's all they really were.
He was the center of a small, dying universe, the whole little world revolved around him, with all its secret wishes and thousands of hidden lives and hapless deaths, babies born and sold and love and hate and joy and grief... but the dying sun hardly noticed all that.

The last time he saw Red, she was even more beautiful, even more thrilling, tempting, than she'd been before.
She looked in his eyes and smiled.
The fur coat that he'd bought her was sprawled on the armchair.
It looked so vulgar, so obscene to Gold at that moment.
She smiled her heart-breaker smile, a pagan smile - full of passion, sorrow, beauty and duende.
This was a smile even Black had fallen in love with.
And she said it was over. There was no "us" anymore, the love (that'd never been there in the first place) was gone.
She shattered him with her smile, she destroyed him with the last kiss she ever gave him.
And after that - the streets, the wind, and the story known all too well.
Just another heartbreak story, as Violet would've said.
She used me up, she farked me up, she killed me, were all the thoughts he had.
So, the God is the pill that is sliding down the bloody tunnel of his throat, but in his head, there was another God, and she was not just, and she was cruel.
Gold had no idea if the dope worked. It was just a necessary procedure for what he was going through right now.
At some point a whore came up and said his father'd paid her to fark him, but if he wasn't, like, in the mood, she could just sit around for a while and leave, and that was what she did.
There were cockroaches in the corners, there were shadows and imps and demons and the like, with the devil himself looming behind.
Forgive me there is something wrong with me, I have a soul and it hurts, hurts, hurts like hell, he thought, he muttered, and he stared at the gun, the God he now obeyed, and if you think about it, this was Gold's own little Olympus, with Mars and Hades and the nameless, faceless Goddess of passion, heartache and defeat.
And after an eternity of longing and agony Gold got up and grabbed the gun and was out into the misty haze of the merciless city.

Blue sat by the window, distractedly playing with a lighter.
Fire twinkled for a moment, disappeared, reappeared again. There was music playing downstairs, and Blue was listening intently to it.
You may have the impression that he was thinking of something, and this something may even be of great importance... if so, you are wrong.
Blue's mind was blessedly blank.
The bluish fire blinked, the haze was softly hitting the window by Blue's face, for no reason at all he smiled to himself.
A trashcan down by the street was on fire. Hobos were gathered up around it, warming their rag-cladded bodies with newspapers saying that Apocalypse is coming. In the gray mist the fire both beckoned and warned.
Of how a man may fall Blue did not know, neither did he care, to say the truth. His fall was over for now, the decadence was far behind... and may still be far ahead.
A knock on the door.
Blue knew it was not locked, so he did not move.
White came in.
"Hey hun", she said.
He briefly looked at her, nodded and looked away.
She took off her coat and put it on the bed.
He did not look back. She approached him and put her hand on his shoulder.
"What's wrong?"
For no reason, Blue sighed.
He looked back, he looked at White, her beautiful little face, her small pursed lips.
"Nah... Nothing", he said and got up.
He embraced her gently, his fingers ran through her hair, their lips met, and all that ancient magic that is just a kiss that lasts for a moment, and for an eternity.
No secrets were left between Blue and White.
So, when he learnt about the little conversation that had happened between his babe and Black, Blue made sure he told White every little dirty thing he knew about his former friend - just in case.
Blue'd been searching for a girl like White ever since he'd lost Red. He knew exactly what Black had in mind, but Blue had no intention of losing White.
Blue was a blessed fool. He had no idea what his deed at the "Western Sunrise" had done to Black. He just remembered that Black pushed him aside and walked away, as drunk as ever. Nothing special.
"I love you, White", he muttered.
And it was true.
And again - the heaven of her soft lips, of her tiny fingers.
"I love you."
White insisted that Blue should cease his relationship with Red, and Blue obeyed without a single word.

In "The Broken Hearts Club" White sat in Blue's lap.
In "The Broken Hearts Club", Teal was on the verge of tears.
Heavens fall, and sand castles are blown away by the cold wind of reality, and towers made of cards are the ones that hold the power over us, the frail hope that is meant to be broken.
This was an hour of utter torment for Teal. As he watched them, his face turned more and more pale, his heartbeat grew louder and louder in his ears, there was no rock'n'roll playing for Teal, there were only the bumps his heart made, the blood it pumped into his head, his eyes...
Teal left without a word.
On his way out his eyes met with White's for a moment.
Shabby steps led him out to the empty boulevards, the desolate alleys, and all was White, and all was white.

Red gave Violet a special gift this night.
An exquisite coat of silver fur.
It was Gold's last gift to Red.
It was her last gift to Violet.


A car exploded, sending another politician to the heavens.
A crowd gathered up around the churned metallic remains of what once was a car, decorated with the blood and gore of the poor thing.
The police arrived. They pushed the crowd back, opening up the place for the firemen that did their job in a few minutes and left.
This was Crimson's father.
The case was never solved. The only suspect committed suicide while awaiting his trial.
This happened when Crimson was but an adolescent, and it did not much change his life on the outside - that is, till the real hardships came and his mother died of a sudden heart-attack. But on the inside, the very fact of his father's assassination shook the very foundation on which reality stood for Crimson.
For many nights he lay awake, and each and every night he relived the moment he was told that his father is no more. This cancelled all that would be, all that should be. For now there was no future. Nothing was certain. Things were changing fast, he heard his mother talk about debts on the telephone, they moved to a new apartment, and soon they moved to his aunt's house, he literally saw his mother growing old and sick in just a few weeks, he watched his world collapse. The sand castle was blown to bits, to the point of no return.
The first feeling was that this was unfair, this was unexpected (at least for Crimson), unpredictable, thus - unfair and untrue. He didn't much care about his father when he was alive - this was just the man who made decisions for him and who was pretty much in charge of the way his life went, but otherwise he was not a person Crimson could honestly say that he loved.
But now there was no certainty. There were no decisions being made for him, all the ones made in the past were forgotten.
People flashed by, some offering help and support, some offering friendship, some even more. But they were just faces, faces that had no faces, moments in life that went straight into the past, and for Crimson past was better left forgotten.

He met Yellow on a rock concert. Yellow was a long, sallow boy with long, dirty, brown hair, and bloodshot brown eyes that were set deep in his long pale face. This was a boy that believed he worshipped the devil and consoled Crimson with speeches that made no sense and so were far more acceptable than all the reasonable nonsense he dealt with nowadays. With Yellow was a girl.
Yellow soon became Crimson's friend. His best friend. His only friend.
And the girl was Shade.
Crimson and Yellow spent whole days together - hiding from reality, from the cruel world and the cold wind, and Shade was always with them. She was with Yellow, and Crimson was the third, and the fact that she loved his friend irritated him.
The cause of this irritation was unclear to Crimson. He tried to fight it, but to no avail. It persisted, only growing stronger with the time he spent with the couple.
None of them had any money, so they spent hours in a suburban park, filled with hobo nests and dirt and building rubble. They rarely talked, and if they did, it was usually Yellow addressing either Crimson or Shade.
Shade was just another teenage girl - she was pretty, she was tall, she smoked, she had brown eyes, blonde hair, when she laughed she either giggled or she smirked. Just a girl, but for Crimson, she soon became all that was lost since his father died. She was certainty, she was perfection, and she was the one.
So, a new stage began for Crimson when he realized what exactly he was going through, a stage of self-loathing, intense masturbation and hypocrisy.
He relished every second spent by Shade's side, and was on the verge of suicide every moment without her.
A few months later Yellow said that he was leaving. He said he'd be back soon, but it was clear to Crimson that another change was on its way.
It hurt Crimson to see how Shade reacted to this news, it hurt him to see her shedding tears for someone else, even Yellow, and believe me, Yellow was all he had at that time, but it hurt him deep, and for that, he hated his best friend, and loved Shade even more.
Yellow left, and a week later Crimson called Shade.
He said he missed his friend, and regretted that the good old times were over. He said he'd miss her too, especially how the three of them would spend whole days together. When he actually got to the point, when he said that they could still go out as friends, she agreed.
Without Yellow Crimson started discovering the only person he actually thought he loved - Shade. And days spent with her, nights spent in longing - this was the next stage, the unspoken friendship.
And then she said she didn't love Yellow any more, and wanted to break up with him as soon as he returned.
You can imagine Crimson's glee upon hearing that, but he had to hide that, for his feelings endangered his relationship with Shade, and this was one thing he just couldn't risk losing.
When Yellow came back, Shade broke up with him. Crimson was still Yellow's friend, and as Yellow's friend he asked her to give Yellow a chance - just a week, and this week was Crimson's week spent in hell.
The week passed, and still she said no.
So, Yellow and Shade broke up, and it was a clear winter morning and Crimson was wearing his heavy brown winter coat that was huge and ugly when he told Shade he loved her.
And still, Yellow was his friend, but the distance between them kept growing, until one day Crimson just lost track of Yellow. There were rumors that Yellow was found dead, with a bullet in his head and a gun in his hand.
Shade left Crimson two months later. He tried to get her back, but she said that everything she ever felt for him was an illusion.
Soon after that Crimson's mother died, and from the small gray town he moved to the big black city.

"So what happened after that?" asked Black, just for the sake of asking.
"Same thing that always happens to kids coming to this city."
Black nodded, broodingly looking at Crimson.
He just heard a version of his own story, told by a man he'd saved from suicide. Black was looking at himself a few years back. At what he'd be without Noire.
It was strange, finding a man so much like himself, and yet so different. And after so many years of utter solitude, he had found a true reflection of himself in this big black city.
What was, if any, the meaning of this? Was stumbling upon Crimson supposed to tell him something? Was this a kind of a sign? I'm becoming paranoid, Black thought.
And still, seeing that Crimson was so much like himself did not make him like Crimson any better. He pitied him, he understood him, but deep inside he disdained Crimson - in spite of their likeness, perhaps because of it.
For Crimson was just stepping on the path Black has long trodden on, the path Black loathed, the path that made him who he was, and now he knew, that even when he is no more, his show will still go on - with the likes of Crimson, with the likes of Red, with the likes of Noire, with the likes of himself. For Crimson was just a kid, hoping one day to become what Black hated most of all - him. And this was clear, and pitiful.
Crimson was always trying to prove something to Black. Perhaps that he was worthy of having by his side. Perhaps that he was worthy to be wasted time on. Black did not care to know, for the last thing he wanted to think about were the fools that wanted to be like him.

Days were rushing past, wasted with absynthe, whores and Crimson, with the company of Purple at times. These days were gray and bleak and lonesome, but pleasing in a way.
Black knew that the storm had passed. The old insomnia was back, so he lay awake at night, waiting for the sun to rise to live again, as he thought at times. For the night was losing its charm.
He lay awake at night, he tried to think of Red. Of what she had become. He could not. Funny how we find that we care no more about things we had once worshipped. And Black found he did not care to think of her.
Deep inside he still pictured himself tearing Blue to bits, but this was just an insomniac's lullaby.

Crimson admired Black. Not only did he admire Black and look up to him, he also thought of Black as of a higher being. This amused Black, especially the way Crimson paid attention to every word he said and every thought he expressed. Words... Crimson still thought they mattered. And so, Crimson started copying his idol. He dressed like Black, talked like Black, behaved like Black, drank like Black, he even started trying to think like Black.
One thing he wasn't ready for was actually being Black.
But Black knew that Crimson was on his way of becoming him. He was sorry for that, but there was nothing he could do about it.
So Black decided to leave the city for a while. Alone.

His train was scheduled on an early morning. It was headed to a neighboring country, that was beautiful once, and that was now torn by war, famine and disease. He was leaving without saying a word to Crimson... and who else did he actually have to say goodbye to?
Black was tired of the city. Again. He was tired of the black suit routine, he was tired of the black nights, black absynthe, whores and expensive cigarettes that felt like baby powder. He was tired of "The Red Cabaret", the Chancellor, "The Broken Heartz' Club", the "Western Sunrise", he was tired of the big black avenues and the small gray people filling the city with smoke, crowds, murder and noise. But most of all, he was tired of Crimson.
He arrived early. The railroad station was mostly filled with soldiers and their families. A young woman wearing a cheap coat and a colorless skirt was standing all alone in the middle of the crowd. A thin old woman with gray hair was weeping, holding a young man in uniform in the desperate embrace of her thin pale arms. The young man was feeling uneasy. He had the round bleak face of a murderer, but in his mother's arms it was easy to see the child he once was. Groups of soldiers were playing cards, swearing loudly, all of them had their heads shaved and so were almost identical. Black found himself a seat farthest from the crowd and took out a book from his only bag. Turning the last pages, he looked up and smiled. Just another heartbreak story. Aw god, just another heartbreak story.
Black grabbed his small sturdy bag and made his way through the crowd towards the train.
The cabin was small and dirty, but Black liked it. Every inch of it spoke of the thousands of lives that have met right here, within these brown metallic walls that had hundreds of names written, scratched and sprayed on them.
Over a brief course of time before the train took off a couple of soldiers joined him in the cabin, but soon left - perhaps to join their friends in another cabin. A few minutes later the young woman in the cheap coat entered the cabin and sat in front of Black. She had no baggage. And somehow, Black recognized her. She was the stripper, the metaphor.
Suddenly, Black found himself laughing. He just sat there on the brown metallic bench by the window, waiting for the train to take off, with a book in his hand, and laughed. He remembered the clear mornings he spent running, the look on the soldier's face in his mother's arms, the vulgar heartbreak story he just read. Black laughed.
"Excuse me?" the stripper who was not a stripper in the daytime and especially right now but a bleak human being, said, raising her thin eyebrows.
Black shook his head and looked at her with a warm smile on his face that, under the influence of these sudden, careless thoughts was beginning to look young again, and far more handsome.
She was tall, she was blonde, she had brown eyes, she smoked a lot, she spoke in a quiet, almost husky voice. A bit later she said her friends'd given her a special name that'd fully replaced the real one since her adolescence. She said she was Shade.
The barren urban landscape soon gave way to the countryside. And the train rushed by fields of rye, marked with farms and small towns, it rushed by rivers and lakes, all ghostly translucent in the gloomy sunlight.
But soon the sun broke free of the clouds. Of all that held it bleak and gray, and it seemed like it shone like it'd never shone before.
The conversation Black had with Shade was filled with all of this, it was filled with the senseless love of life, of freedom, of spring and the sun, of all that he was afraid of in the city.
But the city's far behind for now, he thought. There is no city now. There's just me, just who I really am.
It didn't matter who Shade was in the past, who she was now. She was here, to witness the change in Black, to see this other person hidden inside of him, one that finds his way out only outside his ordinary life, where there is no place for him.
Both of them were now unlike from what they usually seem to be. Black forgot about his past, and Shade forgot about hers. In the sun as bright as this there are no shadows. Time rushed by, but none of them noticed as the sunset came.
Burn horizon burn, the dying sun pledged as the world crawled off to sleep.
And as the world crawled off to sleep, Shade sat by Black, with her head on his shoulder, her eyes closed, and her pale face glowing with that secret smile of hers.
Black was looking out the window, all worries and fears forgotten, glancing down at Shade at times.
Black closed his eyes and slept.


The room was dark, it smelled of vodka, cigarettes and cheap cologne. The windows hid behind heavy brown drapes, and a dim light broke through them to distinguish some hints of a bed, a table and a few chairs.
Black got up, took a cigarette out of the pack lying on the floor, and approached the window.
It was quiet, and even the steps of his bare feet sounded strident. He held the drape to a side and took a look out the window.
The streets were almost empty, most of the cars that drove by were military.
A warm breeze brushed his hair from his forehead, and threw it back in his eyes.
Black looked back at Shade who was still asleep. Her steady breath was all he was thinking about at this moment. It sounded like... life.
He went back to bed and lay beside her - carefully, so as not to bother her sleep, that was all that mattered right now. This was life. He was living. He was living again, and it felt strange. Now, when she was sleeping, he felt almost homesick for the city, for the night, for the cold wind and the echoes of Red. But he shut off that thoughts soon enough. For she was sleeping, Shade was sleeping, and all that mattered in this cruel, changing world was her steady breath and the dreams that she was having.
For what is reality but an endless dream, a dream where everything is logical just due to the fact that the voice of those who have awakened - or gone to an eternal sleep inside of this eternal sleep - is not heard. And what is a dream but a reality with its own logic, its own truths and rhythm and even its own God - you...
Shade woke to the sounds of gunshots down the block. She gasped and Black gently held her, and answered her worried look with a kiss. When she started coughing he held her till it passed. He told her to smoke less and she nodded, and her face was pale, but her eyes blazed like the sunset the day before.
"We'll see people killed today, Shade. And we will feel alive, because we will see them die."
"But why are they killed?"
"It's the price of the freedom. And we will see those who have chosen freedom over their own lives."
"Can't you help them?"
"Even if I could, why should I? Their lives mean much less than their deaths. They want revolution, and their deaths will be due to their cause. On the other hand, if they live, they'll be living just to die another day."
"Don't you care at all about the people who actually die?"
"I envy them. There's so much they know. "Black laughed for some reason, "I'll order us a breakfast, and we'll go out to explore - today we'll side up with the dictator, and tomorrow, well, we'll side up against him."
Black called the room service and ordered a breakfast. And this mundane action actually entertained him, the whole idea of a life, a real life - and no more sorrow, no more pity, no regrets and no remorse. A life in the broad daylight, with the background of the burning barricades, of the murdered rioters, a real life with pain and struggle, where he would care, actually care, about anything aside from Red...
Black laughed again, and took Shade's hand and kissed it. She looked at him with her big brown eyes and laughed, and Black laughed with her. The sound of his own laughter was alien and somewhat amusing to Black, and this made him laugh even harder. The fact that he'd forgotten how to laugh truly made his laughter sound peculiar, it sounded like a mix between barking and sobbing and hissing, and it got Shade laughing so hard that she was soon gasping for air.
Then the breakfast arrived. They ate in silence, interrupted by short outbursts of laughter. The food was tasteless, the coffee was sour, the bread was stale, but both of them hardly noticed that.
"Well, I don't exactly feel full, but I'm not sure if you should either, cause the chances of a puking sensation today are quite high", Black said.
"Like what?"
"You're going to see real people killed just for their struggle for freedom, happiness, et cetera, et cetera. You may think you're tough now, but wait till the real show starts."
"But why do we have to see this?"
"To know that we're the ones that'll keep on living when they are dead."
Then Black started laughing again, and oh my beauty, my little blonde, my naughty cat, come here and let me hold you and thrill you, enthrall you in the sounds of gunshots that have awaken you, yes, life is fear, and life is the heartbeat, and the faster it is, the fuller is life, and love is fear, so let me hold you, console you, for we'll see the barricades today, and we'll see men in uniforms smile at us and greet us and then load their guns and shoot some other men with faces just like them but without uniforms, and smile at us again, and wave to us as I'm taking you away from this center of hell, the only place where heaven can be seen, yes, take me away, you say, and he will, I will, I promise, I swear, but hell isn't a bad place to be, is it, Noire, but can you hear me now, in the city where you forever dwell, the city that you haunt, can you hear me, Noire?..
They got dressed. Black spent some time in front of the mirror, trying to recognize the man who looked back at him with smiling eyes. Those smiling, black eyes, and that young, handsome face, with no trace of Noire, if only hidden deep, very deep, buried within the traces of his scars.
And then, a knock on the door, and a man in a dark uniform entered their room. He checked their papers, and said:
"So you did not come alone as you said, my dear mister... It is nice to see you again, but I thought you traveled alone."
"That is usually so. But I don't think I remember you. Have we met before?"
"Oh yes, we have, we have. It's the uniform, mister. That is why you don't remember."
Black nodded. The man in uniform had a thin pale face with lively black eyes and bushy black eyebrows. Now a distant memory came of a man who'd bought him a drink in a local tavern.
"So, what's the situation like now?" Black asked him.
"Best to stay inside, mister. The streets are very dangerous now, not the best time to visit this country, to say the truth. The countryside is mostly quiet, but here, mister, the riot has grown to a civil war. You have probably heard the shots, and we are afraid that soon peacemakers from other countries will come, and use the opportunity to feast upon our misery", the man in uniform sighed, "So let me buy you and your lady a drink as a friend, and advise you to leave as soon as you are able. This is no time for tourism."
"That is why we are here." Black simply said, "We want to see what's going on. The barricades. The soldiers. The rioters. The fights. We're no tourists."
The man looked at Black, and suddenly a smile spread on his pale face:
"You know, mister, if you are not some kind of a reporter, just now I felt a huge respect for you."
"I sincerely hope we can put it to use." Black said, smiling himself, "Me and my lady want a tour around the hot spots. Can you organize that? The compensation will be worth the job."
The man smiled and nodded:
"I will take care of that, my dear mister Noire, of this you can be sure. I am still in debt for what you have done for me and my family during your previous visit."
Black ignored Shade's questioning look.
Black and The Officer discussed some details in private, they shook hands, and The Officer left, promising that some of his men would arrive for them shortly.

"Why did he call you Noire?"
Black was smoking beside the window, waiting for The Officer's men to arrive. In answer to Shade's question he just shook his head.
"Pass me a cigarette", she said a few minutes later.
Lung cancer. Heart attacks. Even impotency. They don't stop us from smoking, do they? Fear of death doesn't make us stop living, and the same thing goes for alcohol, drugs, all those wonderful things that make the bittersweet symphony of life even more lively, colorful, full of mystery and magic and riddles that have no clues, that have no meanings. Life is worthless, death is hard, and vice versa.
Black passed Shade a cigarette, and at that moment he noticed a couple of black military cars stop by their hotel.
"They're here", he said.

When they got into the backseat of the car the driver briefly greeted them. The man who sat beside him stayed silent, a cigarette was held unlit in his hand.
The car took off. The old town soon gave way to some new ruins, most of them were smoking and some of them were burning still. In the translucent light of the early afternoon the war zone looked surreal, it reminded Black of Violet for some reason. Perhaps these ashes would represent what he'd left behind in the shape of Violet.
Some children were playing football in the street. They ran away as soon as they saw the car. One of them had blood on his white T-shirt, another had bandages all over his head.
The man beside the driver finally lit his cigarette. He said something to the driver in his low husky voice, and by the sound of it, he was speaking a foreign language. He never looked back, for now this was a man who had no face but who had a very short haircut and broad shoulders.
They stopped by a huge gray building that stood untouched amidst the ruins and the ashes.
Suddenly it all blurred out.
Black stood in a small empty room. In the corner of it sat a naked man with a huge, pale, muscular body. The man was shaking badly and had his face hidden in his palms. From the messy long white hair Black recognized this man as Noire.
Noire was sobbing, occasionally breaking into senseless mutters.
Black called him, and Noire looked up, and looked right through him, obviously seeing no one.
A door shut behind Black. It sounded like a heavy metallic door, one that would be in place in an old-fashioned asylum or a prison.
Black looked back and saw Red.
She was pale and bleak, an echo of herself. Still, seeing her made Black's heart race madly, made his legs tremble and his breath stop.
He wondered how drunk he should've been back at the "Western Sunrise", how drunk he should've been for not reacting to her presence the way he usually did.
And he recalled the days when she used to be as usual and ordinary as Violet or Purple was now. These days seemed unreal at that moment.
"Why'd you leave me like that, Red?"
Black wasn't sure who said that - Noire or himself.
"I didn't want to cause you pain. You've suffered enough because of me. You'll get over me sooner or later."
Noire let out a howl - there was no other word for it.
"You think that neglecting me like that would stop my suffering? Do you really think that a life without you is worth living for me?"
She didn't answer. She smiled her smile, and offered her hand.
When Black tried to take it, the vision disappeared.
He was lying beside Shade in their hotel room.
"What happened today?", he asked.
Shade let out a laugh.
"Is that a joke?", she asked.
"No, I really want to know. It's all a kind of a blur for me now."
"Get back to sleep, Black. It was a long day."
Sure it was.
It started returning as suddenly as that vision of Red and Noire occurred. Parts of it were obscured with scenes with Red and Noire farking, but Black disregarded them as products of his sick and tired imagination, and recalled the office of the secret police, where The Officer showed them some of the oppositional leaders they held and explained the daily procedure for every one of them.
He recalled the dark-skinned thin man inside a cell who saw his son tortured every day. The Officer was optimistic about him, he was sure he'd break in a maximum of two days.
There was a man in a cage that held Black close to him for a few seconds and showed that he had no fingernails left. Only now Black realized he had his eyelids cut.
There was a skinny naked woman in her fifties that lay on the floor of her cell, looking forsaken and desecrated. The Officer said that she was unbreakable, so he'd let the soldiers rape her as a reward for their deeds.
Then they watched a public execution of a dozen of political prisoners. One of them tried to run away, so they had to shoot him twice - once in the leg and once in the head. When he got shot in the leg, the crowd roared, and the man let out the most desperate and enraged howl that Black'd ever heard.
The Officer shrugged and said that this is his job, and he's paid to do it. He said he'd quit, and that he'd tried to quit, but there was no line forming to do his dirty job.
And after that they went to a local tavern with a fat blonde girl as a waitress that had her ass grabbed every time she approached a customer. Black wondered what she felt when that happened. They drank wine and when The Officer got drunk he told them about a time when he'd caught a kid with anti-government posters and had just let him go, giving him a quarter to catch a bus home. And then there was the time when he'd shot his own soldier when he was about to rape a girl they'd arrested during yet another protest.
The Officer hoped his regime would lose. With tears on his face he laughed and said he'd be relieved to be executed on a bright sunny day, when all the atrocities he'd committed would be far behind, and the people would be preparing to meet a bright new day.
"In this country, mister Noire, you can actually see good and evil, you can actually see them fighting against each other. And I hope that the good guys win. God knows they're trying, God knows they've suffered a lot, but I hope that all their sacrifices will not be in vain."

..."Why did you come here in the first place, Shade?"
Four in the morning. Too late to fall asleep now, too early to get up, and far too cold.
"My brother's getting married; he invited me to his wedding. I didn't want to go, but I was tired of the clubs, I was tired of my job, so I decided I'd go anyway. And then I met you. You changed everything, did you know that?"
Black smirked.
"Something funny?", Shade asked with a bit of embarrassment.
"You make it sound so simple, Shade. You make it all plain and understandable. You're unlike anyone I know."
"I take that as a compliment", she said with a smile that lit her face in the sunrise fighting its way through the drapes.
"You should."
"I'll still try to get some sleep."
"You do that. You sound really tired. Sorry for tonight... Lust took over me", Black said with a smile, “I’ll try to get some sleep as well."
When he was sure she was asleep he carefully got up. There was a bottle of wine on the table by the window. Black took a gulp right from the bottle and laid it down. He blindly searched for a cigarette pack and found it on the same table. He took one and silently smoked, taking an occasional gulp of sour wine from the bottle. It felt somehow dead, and it felt surreal - like the touch of a ghost its taste lingered on his tongue and in his throat, making his heart beat slower and slower. On the verge of his thoughts was Red, but that was a line he was not yet ready to cross.
He gave the watch a brief glance. The deepest night spread outside, unperturbed by city lights. He could clearly see the stars from the window. It was a relief to know they’re still there.
Black quickly got dressed and went out. A walk, he thought. Just a walk. Perhaps I’ll have something better to drink on my way back. Perhaps not. Either way, it’s just a walk. And I have a home I can go back to. Well, okay, it’s a hotel, but still - it’s a home, and one where my woman is waiting for me - however ever-changing she is, she’s my woman now.
There were small lanterns on either side of the street. They beckoned, they twinkled, one of them went dark in front of Black.  The street was empty, and as Black walked, he saw no one - it was just him and the night now.
He thought of Noire. He thought of the deal they had, and how pointless it all was - bringing Noire forth in the first place. And now Noire left him to deal with a broken life. A broken life he’d chosen to mend with his newly found woman, a broken life he’d chosen to mend in a city torn by civil war.
As if a proof to his words, the night was torn by gunshots like the night before. Another execution, Black thought. He thought of Shade who must’ve been awakened by this sound…
…Shade was awakened by the sudden gunshots. Even before she opened her eyes and her heart had calmed down, she realized Black no longer lay beside her. She got off the bed with a sigh. It felt right. She knew Black’d keep the distance that she now felt between them for as long as they were in for it. The distance was who he truly was, she knew. She remembered a guy who was almost like him - and this was a dusty record of a memory, a guy from her teens. And she could do nothing to reduce the distance, for she was just Shade, a girl who never got smarter, and has most of her income from her hips and her tits.
She went to the kitchen for a glass of water. Crimson, that’s who that guy was. Crimson. She smiled to herself for some reason.
She loved Black, like most of those before her did. And she knew for a fact that he would never love her. Like most of those before her did.
But she was prepared for it. Her brother’s marriage was a lie she’d planned to tell him the day before. She’d come here to die anyways. She’d planned to rent a room and have her veins slit to keep the bastards searching for her for a long while.
She stood by the window. She was all patience now. She was waiting for her last remaining light to return…
…He’d crossed a few parks, one covered with building rubble and the others devastated and burnt and pillaged, as most of the city was.
It took him two hours to cross most of the remaining districts of the city.
A pub he passed by seemed strangely familiar. After giving it a second thought, he went in.
It was empty save for a bartender who just stood by his stand and watched one of the upper lights flicker. It was pretty dark, and the musky smell of alcohol filled the place.
Black greeted him, the bartender just nodded. And now Black was sure he’d been here before.
He sat at a stool and the bartender looked at him for the first time. He was thin, he was bald, and his eyes were sharp and blue. He could be thirty or sixty, for all Black knew. Grim patience was etched on his stature.
He addressed him in his language. Black shook his head. Without changing his expression, he repeated:
“What would you like to drink… sir?”
“I’m not sure. What’s your favorite drink?”
“There are many. See, I spend my whole days in this bar, and most of the time I am alone. When I get tired of jerking off to the same old Playboy that’d been here for about two decades, I drink. So I’ve tried it all. And I can’t say I give that much of a crap what I drink, sir. People come here to get drunk, and most of the drinks do that simple trick. Some of them don’t. So tell me if you want to get drunk or not, and I will make a choice accordingly.”
“I guess I wanna get drunk, then.”
“Well, I’ll make it as simple as it gets.”, he said and slapped a glass of vodka in front of Black.
“What about absynthe?”, Black asked.
“Absynthe?” the bartender smirked, “I don’t like absynthe. It makes you a whole other man. No, I definitely don’t like absynthe. It’s not about getting drunk, it’s about getting yourself changed… that’s what I think. I can sell you my last bottle if you want - if you’re interested.”
He got the dusty bottle from the bar. It bore a red sticker that had NOIRE written upon it.
Black bought the bottle. He knew exactly what it meant. He smiled to himself. Such a wonderful feeling - having a secret from yourself. Makes you feel so secure.
He suddenly missed Noire. He knew there would be a choice to make, and he suddenly realized that his days with Shade are numbered.
He got back home and put the bottle on the table. Shade lay sleeping, and he carefully lay beside her, taking in deep breaths, managing not to think at all. Thoughts actually hurt now. The hoax of Noire. The loss of Red. And what of Blue? What of him? Where’s his only friend? He’d lost him too. But Black managed not to think. There was a bottle of absynthe on the table that had NOIRE written on it, but Black managed not to think about it too.

He got up early to find Shade awake. She was having a smoke by the window, staring at him, occasionally glancing out the window.
“We’ve got the rioters enclave to see today, Shade”, Black said in a husky voice and broke into a coughing fit.
“Do you want to go there? After yesterday?”, she asked. She was calm. She was cold. She was distant. As though an echo of Black’s plan to leave her had slipped into her mind as well.
“Especially after yesterday. It’s gonna be pretty easy - getting there.”
“They want outsiders to see how pretty and innocent they are. That goes for both sides. You’ve seen the upper levels of the Inner Forces Enclave. All white and clean, a few cells with prisoners looking as if they were on vacation and jailors as cheerful as fark. It’s all a charade. If I hadn’t  known The Officer, we’d never see the real thing. And still, it took some persuasion.”
He got up and got dressed. He waited for Shade to get ready. He called The Officer and had a talk with him that made The Officer slightly richer and one of the prisoners freed as a guide for them for the mutinous underground.
A couple of black cars drove by their hotel and left a short gray man behind.
They quickly got down to meet him. He never said his name, he preferred silence. He was dressed in gray, he had scars all over him, his eyes were light brown and animal in a way. He showed them the way to a tunnel that led to an old railroad station that was out of use now. They had a long walk in the long, long tunnel - surrounded only by darkness and the booming echoes of their footsteps. Coughing sounded like thunder.
The tunnel got them to the station that also had a few nearby buildings - meant for temporary keeping and as supply stations for trains. It was all in the past now, and all of those buildings were filled by people - all somehow bruised, determined, hard and depraved.
“They put a bug in your coat, chief”, Black told the guy in gray, “Better get it out before late.”
“They’ll make me pay when I get back.”
“You’re not going back.”
Black went around the camp for a while, trying to find someone in charge. It was depressing - the picture of that camp, and especially the looks they gave each other - the suspicious looks, as if one was sure that the other was the traitor.
“Did you ever have a kind of a leader, someone to make plans for you or something?” he asked the guy in gray.
He shrugged and said that their leader was imprisoned for a few years now, and no one seems ready to take his place. There were some who tried, they too were arrested, most were shot.
“You know where the leader’s held?” Black asked the guy in gray.
“The Tower, it’s where they keep most of the really dangerous people, whose deaths may be even more dangerous than their lives. Right where I’m kept… Or was kept. What’s the plan?”
The Tower… So that’s what they call that building. He just noticed Shade beside him.
“You must stay here. You, take her to a safe place, give her something to drink.”
Black could feel blood pulsing in his temples. He knew he was about to do something huge, and he knew he’d need Noire with him for it… but Noire was back in the city. He still had his gun in his coat. Money talks at the customs office. Especially if you’re armed and scarred and Black.
“If you want something done right, you’d better do it yourself”, he said quietly.
Now he had his cool back. He walked back, through the tunnel and all. There was brisk determination in his stride, and in the breaking sun it all seemed red, but he did not think of Red, he felt blood, and he knew he’d see blood soon.

(Black. 1.)

I had quite the walk. It was starting to rain. It didn’t matter to me. I felt the old wind whipping at my back as I stood facing The Tower. It was nice to have the old buddy back, and the cold steel of my gun kept me at bay. I felt charged. I felt alive. I craved for murder, I craved for revenge - for now I was wide awake, after all I’ve seen, I’d finally had enough. fark it all, I thought. I’m going to war.
I went in, someone came up to me and asked about the scum in gray I’d left back at the s**tty camp. I got my gun and shot the farker dead. There was dead silence for a while. I looked around and found that I was in the foyer, surrounded by guards and some farkers in suits - clerks, as I thought of them.
“Good night, motherfarkers”, I said, and I shot the first two ladyes to reach towards their guns,
This triggered a mechanism of mass destruction. Alarms went roaring all through the universe, and gunshots - tearing through everything, eating through metal, through stone, through wood. The same bullets they’d used to shoot down the poor ladyes the day before.
One of those bullets got me in the arm. I dropped the gun, only to pick it up with my left. I shot my way to the stairway, and there the massacre started. I caught a clerk and broke his neck and held him as a shield with my bleeding arm, the pain was ice-hot, but I didn’t give a damn. Bullets were literally tearing his body apart, and I went forward - holding him in front of me the whole time. When the remainder of that scum became useless, I turned a table down in this wide gray corridor that was now a peculiar shade of crimson, and shot about half a dozen of those farkers that were running towards me. I needed a reload. Instead, I dropped my gun and picked one of those lying on the floor in the huge puddle of blood.
I could smell gore, blood, metal and the rain. I got up and got another bullet in my shoulder. I wasn’t sure at that time, though. I just knew that I was full of anger and hatred, and that I had a gun that could shoot, so I shot one of them  bastards right between the eyes, and dropped as I saw one with a machinegun. When he started shooting at my table, it felt like thousands of fists beating at my door. One. Two. Three. I got up and put a bullet in his balls, I shot two or three of them, now there were only about six or seven, but I knew they’d keep on coming, and that I’d be having a fight with the whole national army if I didn’t get down to the cellblocks fast. So I checked my clip, and it was almost full. I got up fast and shot them down in calm determination. That’s the way it’s done - cold and precise, no emotions, if only hatred. And hell, hatred was one thing I’d been quite generous about.
I ran. It was painful and I had fire gusting in my lungs, but in spite of it I ran fast. And down the stairs, past corridors and corridors, and down, shooting down occasional guards - I was obsessed with murder, I felt my old love for death creep back into me.
I had one of the guards unlock the door to the detainee area. I shot him down as soon as he was done. My mind kept racing in colors and schemes and it did not quite manage to acknowledge my sudden lapse into primitive massacre, so my good old instincts kicked in. And that’s exactly what you need when you have no ammo left and find yourself trapped on enemy territory.
The next door I opened led me to a cellblocks corridor. I knew he wouldn’t be here. He’d be way down there, way down the tunnel to hell.
A couple of guards came up to me. They said something. One of them was holding up a gun at me, the other one had a knife.
They were shouting at me, and it amused me in a way, because I had no idea what they were saying. Kill me. Kill me. You should. I dodged the shot, grabbed the guard’s knife and thrust it in his buddy’s face. I broke the knifeman’s arm and wrought his neck. I took the gun, and hid the knife in my coat.
I closed my eyes and tried to remember. I had no recollection of a stairway to go that deep down the cellar blocks. But I had one of a cargo elevator, one of the old ones, that made all that rusty noise.
I was in this maze of broken doorways and glimpses of Noire and flashes of blood that was as red as it gets, until I finally found the elevator. It all was blurring again, but I just couldn’t fade off now, I had to keep going, no matter how blood-soaked my clothes may be, and no matter how feeble I feel.
I pushed the button that marked the 6th basement level. The doors grudgingly slid shut.
This marked my slow descent towards hell.
The elevator made a loud bang to warn me it had reached its destination. Or I have, at least.
I went forward, and there a whole squad stood waiting for me.
They were lined up for an execution - the whole farking bunch of them. They had their aim on me, and an execution is all it actually summed up to.
They started shooting. I felt bullets riddle my body, break through my ribs, my guts, my chest, bite into my skin and find their way out, excruciating me, bringing me the exquisite taste of my own death and pain and s**t on my lips.
I fell to the ground, the innumerable holes in my body still smoking with lead.

...(Black. 2.)

Get up.
Why? I’m dead. This time I really am.
You can’t die until I let you.
I opened my eyes to the familiar chamber of my old friend. The ceiling was unnaturally low, although the chamber itself stretched almost endless, its corners were lost in the traces of the horizon the color of forsaken gold.
He had his hands on my shoulders. They hurt. My whole blood-soaked riddled body hurt. I felt blood pouring through me.
“Who are you to decide, anyways?” I asked. I knew this fight was lost even before I started it.
“I own you, kid. I own you, your life, and I will choose the way you die. All your thoughts, your reasons - they’re mine, kid, and you’re mine to the bone, to the last drop of blood, to the last half-crazed dream, to the last haze you see, to the last lady you fark - you’re mine…”
“I thought I’d never see you again. I hoped. You have no right…”
“Who is there to judge me, kid? Who is there to decide what I can and what I cannot do? I know no such creature, do you? For I am puzzled, Black. Not only you disregard my gifts, you seek death, don’t you?”
He knew the answer. He was acting as a cat would, knowing the mouse is in his total, merciless control.
“You will die when I want. Perhaps you did not know this when you tried to reach to me, when you were just a little desperate fool trying to follow some long-untrodden and forgotten path. I found you. I gave you exactly what you wanted. I know you asked for something else, but I know the way you humans are - lips speak one thing, the heart speaks another, and a soul is sold for yet another petty reason.”
“I regret…”
“Then you’re a fool!” he yelled. The devil has a funny way yelling - it makes you want to simultaneously want to shoot and s**t yourself.
He was slowly pacing next to his throne of nude bodies sewn together to make a comfortable seat for the evil lord. He was naked himself, and when I looked at his face, I felt my heart go racing somewhere uptown. How it was still beating I’ll never know. It was a familiar face. And he was, actually, quite huge, to say the least. His shoulder blades bore the puny remains of his wings, and he had jewelry all over his body –  necklaces, medallions, bracelets, amulets, rings, and even crowns – they twinkled in the dusky light of hell, but one black stone stood out especially – it seemed to take up forms of different masks and symbols, shifting constantly.
He spoke in a quiet, menacing voice:
“Regret. Should I regret also, Black? I was there to witness the greatness of the mighty lord of hypocrisy. I could have been his slave. I could have still had my wings, Black. But I chose to rebel. I wanted freedom, Black. But I was born as a slave. I was created to serve - first the mighty lord, and then - the likes of you, the corrupted, petty creatures - the humans. I couldn’t take it, Black. I’d rather be exiled, be the scapegoat, the bad guy, but to be free, and not be a slave. Now I’m the master, and the likes of you are my slaves. And that big boss up there can eat s**t and moan, cause he can’t do a damn thing about it. And you can eat s**t and moan too, because the good guys up there don’t give, huh, literally, a flying fark about you.”
It all comes down to the things you’d do for love. I loved Red enough to offer my soul to this gloating creature in front of me. For her. And that was how Noire was born. Bound to the city. Bound to my trail. Bound to find me wherever I am. I never quite figured who or what he actually was. For me he was just Noire, the devil in me.
“What now, fallen angel? Are you really going to send me back to this rumbling body of mine? It has more bullets than blood now.”
“What if I do, Black? Nothing you can do about it. Just watch, act and enjoy.”
I felt some kind of a whirlwind sucking into my guts.
“Yeah, and by the way, kid. I’ll see you soon. We’ll talk then.”
“Is that a promise or a threat?”
“I usually have ‘em together. Bang. The show must go on.”
The light started to flicker. I heard metallic clinks of bullets that rumbled inside of me.
The show must go on.
He’s not done yet.

(Black. 3.)

Pain bit deep and ravaged me. A whisper in my subconscious told me I’m alive again.
I got up. I was shaking bad. I felt heavier - it must’ve been the bullets. The pain was growing stronger but it was somehow growing more bearable as well, as though my body no longer gave a fark of what hit it.
The soldiers stared in disbelief. With some effort, I lifted the gun clutched in my hand and put a bullet in one of their faces.
This triggered another massive block of firepower aimed at my poor body that seemed to hold on only due to dark magic.
I felt invincible. Hell, I was invincible. Having a VIP pass in hell actually pays off at times.
I was making the slow, dead man’s steps towards them. At last they started running. I was making some kind of a gurgling sound. I guess I was laughing.
And now I knew exactly who I was looking for. I remembered him, though I knew who helped me to it. I remembered the man in the cage. No eyelids. No fingernails. I live in a world of beasts. I am one, too.
And so I walked. Every step I took made the bullets rumble inside of me, and at times when I looked back I could see the broad bloody track I was leaving behind me.
So much for a covert operation.
I picked up a machinegun from the floor. It felt welcome in my grip. I took off my coat that was no more than a blood-soaked rag by then. It dropped to the floor with a quiet thud. A few bullets fell out of it.
“Stop! Stop now!”
I looked back and saw The Officer with a heavily armed squad. He stared at me with disbelief. I was the last person he was expecting to see.
I didn’t stop for negotiations, or for one of those gloating speeches. I pushed the trigger of the machinegun and let it riddle all the living things in front of it. The heavy thunderous sound of the shots couldn’t hide the ripping sound of the bodies that were soldiers once.
When I was out of bullets, I dropped the machinegun. The silence was excruciating, it was fundamental. The corridor was covered in smoke, and through it I could see the crimson clouds of blood that still lingered in the air.
That’s why he wanted me to go back. I was his hound. I was the one to raise hell on earth.
Then it all just blurred out. I found the guy. He was alive, but if that sort of existence is called life, I’d prefer death.
At first he was gibberish. When I was dragging him to the elevator, and then carrying through the endless corridors, he was trying to resist, he was shouting. When I put a gun to his head and asked him to stay silent, he started crying.
I came out, holding him like a child. He was tattered, small, but I could feel some sort of a spirit, a destination about him, a cause, as though he no longer belonged to himself, but to the ideas he served, and his body that was ravaged and tortured did not seem to matter to him.
They were waiting for me. A kind of an army. They had their aim on the doors, but when I came out with the rebel no one saw me. I was shielded from their eyes, a demonic illusion allured them as I walked away, and took an unguarded car from the street, and drove off. They started shooting at last. At thin air.


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