T H E Q U E S T I O N
T H E Q U E S T I O N
I S S U E # 2
I S S U E # 2
. . . L I K E A B E E
. . . L I K E A B E E
My eyes shoot open at the sound of an engine revving up outside and headlights beaming in through the window, illuminating the room. Blearily, I sit up in bed and take a glance at the clock on the wall: 4:43 AM. I get out of bed and stumble over to the window, setting a hand on the windowsill to lean on, before setting my gaze outside. What I see is a black pickup truck parked a few yards away from the house, four men climbing out of it with guns in hand. Two have hunting rifles, one carries a double barrel shotgun, and the fourth carries a revolver. The one with the shotgun takes the lead, stopping a few feet away from the front porch and shouting, "WALTSON! COME ON OUT YOU OLD FUCK!"
I tighten my grip on the windowsill at that. Something tells me they're not here for a nice early morning visit.
I pull my clothes on as quickly as I can and throw myself through the bedroom door, nearly crashing right into George who's still in a pair of long johns. The old man steadies me with a pair of hands on my shoulders, then looks me in the eyes. His expression is stony and grim but I can see the fear behind his eyes. "Vic, go back to bed. I'll handle this,"
I shake my head. "No. I'm going out there."
He scowls at that. "I've dealt with these little fools before. They'll go running as soon as I head out there with my gun.""Have they brought guns before?"
I ask. George freezes at that."... No.""All four of them are packing heat. I don't think they're playing this time,"
I say, casting my gaze down the stairs before turning back to George. "Stay here. I can handle this.""Neither of us should go out there. Let's call the cops and stay inside, they won't try coming in.""You really think that? And you're so sure the cops will be able to make it in time? You live, what, an hour away from the nearest town? I don't think our friends,"
I gesture downstairs, "are inclined to sit outside waiting for us to come out for an hour. They'll break in eventually."
George looks unsure at that. I shake his hands off me and start to walk downstairs. "Victor,"
he calls after me. I stop halfway down the stairs and glance over my shoulder at him and watch as his expression goes through a range of emotions before settling on resolution. He gives a grim nod and follows after me. We continue down the stairs, stopping at the front door where George grabs his shotgun while I stand ready to open the door."I'll head out first. If you hear me shout, then you come out,"
I say, my grip on the doorknob tightening.
He nods grimly. "... Don't get killed."
I nod, then open the door and step out.
The headlights nearly blind me. I raise a hand to shield my eyes, slowly lowering it as my eyes adjust to the brightness. I can see the four men more clearly: they look a bit younger than me, early 20s at most, all white with shaved heads, bulky builds and leather jackets. Skinheads, it seems like. These the "no good sons of a gun" that George talked about?
The leader looks me over and laughs, looking over his shoulder at his buddies. "Ha, look, the old man's got a new boy toy,"
he says and they all chuckle. He turns back to me. "Was planning on just putting down one homo today but I guess two is a pleasant surprise.""You might want to reevaluate your expectations,"
I say, walking forward with a glare.
He raises the shotgun and points it right at me. "Back off! I'll blow you away, motherfucker!"
I continue my stride, stopping just an inch from the barrel leveled at my heart."Will you?"
The man within me is filled with rage, ready to bubble over and let it out in a violent explosion. Break their knees. Crack their skulls. Bust their noses. He has no fear of death, he's faced these odds before and every time he's come out on top. For once, the butterfly is in agreement with the man's assessment, but he holds no rage. These men have accumulated bad karma their whole lives and now the butterfly is ready to inflict it on them. Make them pay for their crimes.
Right now, it feels less like a butterfly and more like a bee.
I grab the shotgun by the barrel and divert its aim into the ground. He fires, the shot blowing apart the turf, and I swing an open palm into his nose once, twice, three times. His grip on the gun goes loose and I pry it from his hands, swinging the stock of the gun into his head and knocking him out cold where he stands. The man hasn't even hit the ground before I swiftly jump over him and send the shotgun flying at one of the riflemen, the weapon nailing him in the face and sending him to the ground.
I pivot into a side kick aimed at the second rifleman's chin, snapping his head back and giving me an opportunity to grapple him and throw him at the only man still standing, the one with the revolver who's taking aim at me. A shot fires from the revolver, the bullet whizzing right past my head, but he doesn't get a chance to fire again as his friend crashes into him. They both groan in a heap as they attempt to untangle themselves and stand.
The first rifleman is standing again, his nose twisted and bloodied. He snarls at me, baring his chipped and bloody teeth, while raising his rifle. I crouch down and dart forward, zigging and zagging so he can't maintain a bead on me. The gun goes off anyways, a bullet clipping my shoulder, but the adrenaline flowing through me keeps me from feeling it. I spring forward and upward the last few feet, sending an uppercut into his throat. He gets sent stumbling back and onto his ass, gasping for a breath. A quick stomp on his face and he goes silent.
I twist back around. The gunslinger and the other rifleman are standing now, rifleman missing his gun but gunslinger with revolver in hand. I pick up the rifle at my feet and quickly set my sights on the gunslinger, firing; the shot tears through his calf and he falls to the ground, screaming in pain. I twist the gun in my hand around to use it as a club as I sprint at the final man, who stands with readied fists and terrified eyes. Once close, I swing, and he brings up his forearms to block the hit. The force of the impact staggers him but he remains standing, so I duck into a sweeping kick and knock him onto the ground. One hand holds him down by the shoulder while the other brings the butt of the rifle down onto his face. And then I do it again.
I toss the rifle away, forcing myself to stop.
His features are distorted, twisted in ways they shouldn't be. Nose folded against left cheek, eyes swollen shut, lips split open, gashes and welts all over the rest of the face. His fair skin isn't even recognizable as skin anymore, more just one giant black and blue bruise. He gurgles up a glob of blood and broken teeth as he tries to breathe. I turn him onto his side and a spew of vomit, saliva and blood spills out of his mouth. Then he can breathe again.
I stand up, my whole body shuddering as I take in deep breaths. The man's bloodlust is crying out for more, more
, but the butterfly must contain him, tell him that they have gone far enough. This has been enough to ensure the man will never hurt anyone again. There's no need to kill him.
No need to kill him.
No need to kill.
I snap back around to see George standing there, shotgun in hand. He examines the scene on his front lawn with wide eyes, taking in the carnage I had dealt onto these men. Blood has splattered onto the grass which still blows softly in the breeze, unaffected by the battle that had just occurred. George brings his eyes to mine and I can see the fear in them."How the hell did you..."
his voice trails off but I already know the question he's asking.
I don't answer. Instead, I start walking towards the truck. I open the driver's door, about to get in when- "Victor!"
A hand on my shoulder. I twist around, snarling, seeing George's worried face quickly morph into shock.
The man is in control right now with all his feral, violent tendencies. He holds no love for anything, no care, no tenderness. All he knows, all he is
, is pain. But the butterfly is greater than him, and it exerts its power over him, sending him away for the time to take over with its bliss. I let the tension leave my shoulders and give a sigh. I look at George with a soft gaze. "... I'm sorry. I can't stay any longer. Have to go before the cops get here.""Why?""I need to get to Hub City as soon as possible. I'm needed there. I can't spend all day talking to the cops and then keep making court appearances for the next few months."
I turn back around and climb into the truck."Victor."
I turn to him. George looks at me with a conflicted expression. Fear. Concern. Apprehension. Finally, his expression morphs into a smile, not too sure of itself but standing on that uneasy ground confidently anyways. "... Godspeed. And take care,"
he says. I give him the slightest upturn of my lips and a nod, before I close the door and take hold of the steering wheel. George backs up as I back out of his yard and onto the dirt road, heading back through the way I entered this serene little field he calls a home.
I gaze into the rearview mirror and see George standing, watching me. I can't make out his expression from this far away. Can't imagine what it could be either.
I set my eyes back onto the road, intent on reaching Hub City.