Author: Jealous Rage PM
When the music stops, you do what you have to do to hear it again. /Entry for the Review Game's July 2012 WCCRated: Fiction M - English - Words: 1,296 - Reviews: 5 - Favs: 4 - Follows: 2 - Published: 07-01-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3037797
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"What the fuck happened to you, man?"
It's a good question. I've heard it before, and every time, my answer changes. Sometimes it's 'I got tired', sometimes 'people change'. I'm a fan of the old clichés, the false responses that pretend to say everything while actually telling you nothing at all.
But this time is different. This time, I can tell the truth. I know my answer won't get past the door.
"Do you remember that summer we went to the Maiden concert?"
My question catches him off-guard. He slumps in his seat—as much as the ropes allow him to, anyway. "Yeah, of course. How could I forget? Our first concert, man." He smiles, recalling memories of a better time. "I got so wasted, I'm pretty sure my hangover didn't clear up until we'd been back home for a fucking week. But I don't—"
"That was the first time I felt alive." I reach into my jacket pocket and withdraw a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. "I'd heard music before, obviously, but nothing like that." I light up and inhale deeply, enjoying the burn of the smoke as it heads for my lungs. "After that night, I could always hear it, you know? Just there, in my head, like it was on auto play or some shit."
He looks bemused. "I'm not really seeing the relevance here, man."
"Did you know I had a different song for every single event that's happened in my life?" He shakes his head. "I did. The first time I drove, my first job interview, my mom's funeral, your wedding. I had songs for every time I've fucked, been broken up with, broken up with someone. Hell, I even had a song for that time I got mugged."
"Okay. Still not seeing what that has to do with you turning into the king of all cocksuckers here, buddy." He leans forward, pulls against his restraints. "Or why the fuck I'm tied to a fucking chair!"
"Why you're tied to a chair has nothing to do with any of this." I stub out what's left of my cigarette on the arm of the chair and drop it on the floor. "You're in that chair because you're a fucking idiot. You pissed off the wrong people. Now you're going to have to pay for it. You know that. You knew when you did whatever the fuck it was you did. Don't play dumb now."
Slowly, I get to my feet and start toward him. There's a bit of ash clinging to my leg; I pause to brush it off, before continuing.
"As for the whole blast from the past…" I come to a stop in front of him and shrug. "We've been friends for a long time. I figured I owed you the truth. Before I kill you."
His face registers no surprise. He knew what was coming the second he woke up and saw me sitting across from him. I've never made any attempt to hide what I do from him. Like I said, we've been friends for a long time; I knew I could trust him.
"So this is how it ends, huh?" He sighs heavily, shakes his head. "Who would've thought? We were brothers once. Now what am I? Just another job?"
"No," I reply. "Not just another job. If you were just another job, I wouldn't be here. Let's be honest; you're not much of a threat. Any hired thug could have come here and put a bullet in your brain. I volunteered. If anyone was going to kill you, I wanted it to be me."
He smiles again, but it's completely without humour. I've seen that expression before. "Come on, man; I know you better than that. Don't feed me bullshit and tell me it's steak. Why are you really here? Why did you really take this job?"
"You're right." My eyes are locked on his. "I can't hear the music anymore." He opens his mouth to respond—probably to ask what that has to do with anything—but I cut him off. "I woke up one morning, two years ago, and I couldn't hear it. It was just gone. And that's when I realized… music is life. Music is emotion. And without the music, I've got nothing."
I lapse into silence. He watches me for a minute. I can read the emotions on his face as they pass through his mind. To my surprise, I see sympathy.
"Two years, huh?" I nod. "That's when you started... killing people, right?"
"Yes. I was heading home from the bar one night, about two weeks after the music stopped. Some guy tried to mug me." I shake my head. "I don't know what I was expecting. The first time I was mugged, I was so scared. I thought about it a million times afterwards; what would I do if it ever happened again? I always assumed things would play out the same. But I was wrong."
He frowns, tilts his head to the right. "What happened?"
"I felt nothing. There was a gun in my face, and there was just nothing. My heartbeat didn't even go up." I shrug. "I must've freaked the guy out. He tried to run, tripped over the curb, and cracked his skull on the sidewalk. I just stood there, looking at him. And that's when it happened." I smile. "The music came back."
"Just for a second," I say. "I walked over to him, and with every step, the music got louder. I raised my foot over his head, and it hit its peak. And I realized then what I needed to do. If I wanted to hear the music, I had to kill people. Because in the last seconds of a person's life, it all comes back to me. And then I kill them, and it's on to the next one."
He quiet for a moment. Then, "Can you hear it now?"
"Not yet. But soon." Reaching out, I put my hand under his chin and force his head up, force him to look at me. "That's why it had to be me. I need to know what song plays when it's someone I care about."
He holds my eye for a second, then nods. "I really hope it's worth it."
I say nothing and pull back my hand. There's a small table beside my chair; turning my back on him, I make my way over to it. My gun is sitting on it. I stare down at it for a moment, memories of my friend, my brother running through my mind. Then I pick it up and turn back to him.
I bring the gun up slowly. As soon as the barrel lines up with his forehead, it starts. It's low, almost indistinguishable, but it's there. I take a step, then another, and another, and as I do, the music gets louder and louder. I recognize it now, and it's not what I expected. But what plays, plays. I have no control over it.
I pause directly in front of him, press the tip of the barrel to his forehead.
He stares at me, eyes locked on mine. There's no fear in them, no accusation, nothing you might expect. Nothing but acceptance. Then, he winks. "What's the song?"
I smile. "You don't want to know."
I pull the trigger.
The music stops.