|20.20|21|22|22.2|22.22|22.222|23|24|25|Those Extra Four…|1|2|3|4|Back Cover|
Let’s Jump Off The Roof
“Hey buddy. How uh, how ya doin’?”
Ace says nothing, the being suspended in perfect stillness as he watches life happen around him in perfect harmony, a harmony that once made sense, that was once real; now, it’s nothing more than a veil, a shroud, an illusion to distract the fools oblivious enough to think they have a handle on it from the murky blackness that lies in wait underneath, salivating, hungry. ‘So voraciously, unstoppably hungry.’
“But you stopped it, though.”
Ace twitches. He does not like it when humans read his mind.
“Ace, listen to me. What happened in there… out here… it was real fucked up. I know because I watched it transpire, I sa–”
“You… what?” Ace mutters as he descends to the roof, his legs unfolding to catch his body on the ledge. He then spins and advances on
Sam, clutching him by the throat and flying him across the roof, slamming him down on the opposite edge, the human’s curly brown locks dangling freely off the ledge.
“You insolent little fucking termite, you parasite! You watched all that transpire and you didn’t intervene?! The
Zeroc are GODS to these lower creatures, you twit! You, you… I don’t even fucking know you!” as he lifts and bashes Sam’s skull against the concrete beneath him, causing the nanoconcrete ledge to crack. It repairs itself with a liquid haste. “But I can sense you, there’s a great power lying within you… an evidently fucking dormant power, but a power nonetheless, one that rivals my own, maybe even surpasses it… yet you dared to sit idly by on the sidelines, you befoul the strikethrough that separates you from the rest of these mere mortals and you have the audacity to come up here and say it to me?! To my fucking back no less?!” Sam attempts to speak but his words come out as wet gargles, so Ace slightly loosens his grip. Slightly.
“You were facing away from me, how else co–” choking noises.
“My fucking point exactly.”
As he spits the word exactly, Ace raises his free hand towards the heavens and a dark cloud forms in the otherwise clear sky. From this cloud a bolt of lightning strikes, drawn to Ace’s open palm as if it was a lightning rod and leaving an impossibly sharp and jagged dagger in the place of a burn mark. He spins the weapon and grips it by the handle, bringing the tip down and resting it on the middle of
Sam’s forehead, in the same spot that, on Fleurna’s head, a third eye opened.
“For all I know, you caused all this mayhem. Give me one reason I shouldn’t dig your pineal gland out and find out for myself what makes you tick, fiend. One fucking reason,” before loosening his stranglehold just enough for oxygen to pass through the human’s windpipe.
“Because… you… stopped it…”
Ace tightens his grip once more, scrutinizing the noises that he allowed passage through
“What do you mean?”
When Ace loosens his grip again,
Sam explains. “It wasn’t me Ace, I would never do something like that. Whatever it was inside Jack’s head that caused this Universe to tremble, you stopped it. It’s true, I sat on the sidelines and watched, but I was strapped into those sidelines. I was barred down, incapacitated, restrained by who even fucking knows what.”
‘A cold, dead hand.’
“I tried everything I know, everything you taught me, and more, to break in and save my little brother, whom I love more than he’s even capable of understanding, more than you’re even capable of understanding. But something stopped me. Something blocked me, and I don’t know what it was–”
‘That dreadful maw.’
“–but the thing knew I was coming, it expected me. Or, at least… something did. And that something was clearly on the side of… of… whatever you encountered in that most sacred dimension of reality.”
‘A golden, human-like face, gleaming in Jack’s light.’
The dagger disintegrates, mentally reduced to a fine dust before being swept away by a gust of wind on this otherwise still evening. Ace releases his grasp on
Sam’s throat, leaving visible ligature marks on the kid’s neck. Sam throws himself past Ace and lands in the middle of the roof where he begins to gasp for air, his lungs verbally berating him for allowing them to go so long without that goodgood. He thinks he hears Ace say something but it’s hard to be sure, what with all the struggling and flailing around he’s doing.
Finally, a few minutes later when he returns to balance,
Sam croaks, “What?”
“You said that you tried everything I taught you. This has been a… strange day, to say the least, and I’ve seen my share of strange days through my wide-open doors of perception. What I’m trying to say is… well, frankly, some off-ish timeline nonsense already happened today so… I suppose it’s possible that you’ve met me, but I have yet to meet you. I suppose.”
Sam, wobbling to a stand, brings his hands together repeatedly for a slow cap that does not help his cause right now.
“Sorry, but from my point of view you’re just catching up. Yes Ace, you’ll be meeting me soon. We share some crazy experiences together, I think, and you’re the closest thing to a father I’ve ever had. You always looked out for me, even when you were blinded.”
‘Blinded?!’ as Ace puts on a shocked face, to which
Sam replies, “Metaphorically speaking, sorry. But… yeah. You and I have a lot of shit to go through yet, said from your end of the table, and we aren’t going to be able to go through it if you don’t bring that shit to the table, or that table to the room that I assume the table is in, for that matter. Look Captain, something unexpected and impossible happened to my brother and you saved him; it may have caused a lot of damage to the city, but imagine if you didn’t intervene! That shit could have spread to more minds than just my brother’s… yanno, maybe. I’m not really sure how all this works, I just kind of appear and disappear to be honest. Everything I say just kind of pops into my head as I’m saying it, it’s sort of uncomfortable. What I do know, though, is that everything that happens happens because it’s supposed to happen, so why are we crying over spilled milk when a cat came and lapped it all up?”
“So what do I do then, Mister Guru?” Ace snaps. “The integrity of the Dee-eff-
Zee-Tee dimension is compromised, it’s not safe to trip there anymore. That’s all we have… it’s a fucking bottomless well, sure, but it’s all we have.”
“What do you mean it’s compromised? If that were true then we’d both be nonexistent, and so would Fleurna. It was breached, maybe, or maybe there’s been something living inside of it for a long time. Who knows? And who cares? The threat’s gone, you saved the day. And as a reward for doing so, you… what, sit alone on a roof, doubting your purpose? Oh, Existence threw us a curveball, let’s jump off the roof, durr-hurr. Like, really? Questioning your own existence? Man give me a break, that’s the weakest shit I’ve ever heard. And I’ve heard Zaxus’s comedy.”
A shiver runs down Ace’s spine at the mention of those last two words that shall never be repeated. And then, somehow, he smiles. “Fine, but what do I do now?”