Will you say, "It is the effect of everlasting laws
Which necessitates this choice by a free and good God"?
Will you say, seeing this heap of victims:
"God is avenged, their death is the payment of their crimes"?

-François Marie Arouet de Voltaire


Prologue

LosDel Rio, Mexico 1998

The branches of the trees overhead patterned the ground with dappled sun. Skeletons of golden light lit the baked ground, forming lacy designs with the blood that poured in a sluggish trail from Miguel's body, dripping down and falling from his fingertips. There was little life left in his body, and what there was he used to drag himself forward, staggering as he moved through the sweltering heat.

Help me, please.

His car was only feet away, and one hand grasped the handle of the old Impala's back door to wrench it open. Released from the torture of movement, he allowed his body to collapse onto the seat. Sluggish limbs clawed at the seat as he pulled himself into the car completely and lay across fitfully across the black leather upholstery, facing up toward the roof. As he stared into the gray expanse above him, he knew vaguely that beyond that there was the brilliant azure of the summer sky. Good people ended up in that sky, his grandmother had told him once, long ago. He squeezed his eyes shut as bitterness rushed through him at the thought that he was no longer among them.

I know you can hear me. Help me. Please help me.

Miguel raised one hand to his chest, pressing it into the dull throb of his heartbeat. It was steady, though it had become frighteningly slow. A jolt of fear ran through him, cold and sour. There it was, the slowing of his heart, the consequences of his actions. It made him feel vaguely sick. The world around him blurred and he had to shut his eyes again as he coughed violently, dredging up a sickly mixture of blood and bile that foamed past his lips and wet his already bloodstained shirt. God, it hurt. It seemed every inch of his body was ragged with the pain of the bullets and stab wounds that drew blood from his veins in a sickening rhythm. He knew by now it was as good as over. The local police were alerted, the mob that had inflicted his wounds was on the hunt for him, and if they didn't find him he would die right here. The thought of dying in a musty car filled him with despair.

Slowly, slowly he lay and felt his heartbeat's strength ebb. It was like watching a sunset; the night would inevitably come. All that was left was these few final moments of light. Here was the end, he was sure, and the fact that it was so bland and ironic made it all the worse. It was not supposed to end this way. Where was the victory? Where was the triumph? Where was the power that had so intoxicated him? All gone. Now there was little more than blood and silence, the only sound in the car the soft dripping of his own blood as it ran from the seat and to the floor.

His heart had slowed to a horrific pace by now, and fear had him tightly in its grip. He turned his head slightly to vomit, the contents of his stomach joining the growing puddle of blood on the floor. The action weakened him, and he lay back, his body shaking softly with sobs that took even more of his energy but were impossible to stop. He was going to die. It was going to end right here, and he was powerless to stop it. Slowly, he turned his eyes out the window, into the bright, sunny world he would leave behind. It was then that his vision met a pair of familiar violet eyes, cold and unfeeling as they watched him through the glass, burning through to his soul. His free hand clutched the ornate golden cross around his neck, and it burned him as though it was made of white-hot steel. Still, he clutched at it desperately, wantingly.

"I don't want to die," he whispered with the last of his strength, his own brown eyes pleading silently with the figure's violet ones. The gaunt blond man raised a finger to his own lips mockingly, shushing him. And slowly, though he still stared into the soulless eyes the best he good, Miguel's vision began to fade. There was cold that encased his body as he struggled to keep breathing, as the hand that was pressed against his heart went slack. "Help me…"

And then there was only darkness.

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Hooray for the seemingly pointless prologue. In the next chapter we'll jump forward to the future and the story will begin. The prologue will be relevant eventually, I swear.

So coming up we've got serial killers, rock stars, fluffy pop divas and… Phantom of the Opera? All in the next chapter, hopefully, unless it ends up stretching beyond my word count quota…

Feedback is much appreciated. :hides: