Hallelujah [fic]

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Hallelujah [fic]

Postby Mr. Brightside » Thu Nov 03, 2011 6:19 pm

This idea (or rather, fusion of several ideas) has been bouncing around my head (and drive) for a long time; I meant to have it done by the end of "Last Summer," then by the end of the coda, then before QUILTBAG proper started, then for Halloween, then for All Saints' Day, then maybe All Souls' Day... but hey, the forum still hasn't been moved over, so I'm putting this one in the "win" column. Does not bode well for my Nano, though.

Before I get to the fic, I should probably post a bit of a WARNING. This is a lot darker than most of the fics posted to this board (I guess still kind of crackey, but crackey in a much different way), and bits might be somewhat controversial. In particular, parts are from the perspective of Charlotte's mother and a militant nihilist; certainly neither speaks for me, and I don't mean either to be representative of the majority of Christians or atheists, or even all fundamentalist Christians and nihilists, or any other -ist. There's also a bit from the perspective of a police officer, which I don't really see as anti-police, but might come off to others as unfairly critical. Finally violence and sadism (in both senses), including some edgeplay, which might bother especially anyone who was put off by the last P/A sex scene (although there's no question of consent), plus a very sideways allusion to the abuse Charlotte suffered (probably no worse than this paragraph itself, really).

So... yeah. I guess what I'm trying to say is... um... don't read it. Okay. So now read it.

"Are you detaining me, or can I leave?"

It was out of a categorical concern for the child that he'd come. They had been on the same side a few days prior, and they would be on the same side again one day. He knew this, and it was reflected in his demeanor; he was waiting for a response, a true response. For that reason, the dichotomy presented was only a show of strength, and not an ultimatum, and the response could be of a guiding nature. It was a great asset, and one he would have to maintain. He would have to take this from an angle of concern for the murderer before him.

"Duane... don't do anything rash. I'm not here to play the villain."
"Are you detaining me, or can I leave?"
"You know how bad this looks. We're talking about kidnapping and almost murder; this won't go well if you don't help me."
"Are you detaining me, or can I leave?"

It was clear that the child could no longer see anything but their adversity. Fair enough. The fact that he had only repeated his ultimatum, rather than pressing for an actual response, was proof enough that it was not meant sincerely, but as a learnt placeholder. This just presented a new tack for coaxing those answers from him.

"Giving her an alibi makes you an accessory."

At this, the child paused. His automatic, prepared response was tellingly no longer so automatic.

"Are you detaining me, or can I leave?"

The child should remember that before him stood the avatar of the greatest military power in the history of this rock, more fearful than any kidnapper or killer, capable unrestrained of reducing every square millimeter of human land to ash and glass, for his sake, or for Kristoffer's, or anyone else's. Protector, shepherd, country sung. The man narrowed his eyes, making his voice lightly sterner.

"You do know how much trouble you're in."
"And I got into that trouble by saying too much, saying things I thought couldn't possibly hurt - what incentive is that to say more?"

None, of course, but it had gotten the child talking nonetheless. Continuing along these lines maybe could get something usable, with a fair judge. All that was necessary was to give a plausible reason not to return to the mantra the child had never really felt anyway.

"What do you hope to accomplish through your silence? It's only going to make you look like you've something to hide."
"After what you managed to do with what I said, I can't see how much worse it could be."

It could be worse if he let slip something that implied collusion (even if it could already be useless with a bad judge). Of course, the man would never say that. As much as he hated to relay old myths, this "promising youth" had nearly tortured a schoolgirl to death over a teenage snit, and his heart and the law agreed that such petty deceptions could not incriminate the innocent. The lie, of course, was their parent nation's familiar truth: "...but it may harm your defence."

"If you keep going like this, your credibility will have been bombed to hell by the time you face a jury."
"I think it already is."
"It'll be better if you give me something that can explain what happened."
"Something you can't relay."

The man sighed. Banking on the child's credulity to undo what was done at this point would just be insulting his intelligence - always a winning strategy with teenagers.

"...that's true."

He should not have put his hand up this soon. He made a show of being lost in thought, hoping the boy would think it to be consideration of his guilt. Of course, there could be little doubt of the guilt of the direct source of the girl's alibi, but it would lend credence to ostensible counsel on hiding his guilt if he could be convinced that the man honestly could entertain his "idiot defense."

"Look, kid. If it wasn't a phone conversation, recant - don't dig yourself in deeper. If it was, why did you think it would work as an alibi in the first case?"

At this, the boy just looked him in the eye, to transmit to the man that his question had made no impact at all.

"Are you detaining me, or can I leave?"

The alibi alone could probably get an arrest and an indictment, but that would only be counterproductive if he couldn't make it hold up in court. The man could see in the boy's eyes the unrepentance of a sociopath. No. The girl was a fanatic - a being of passion above reason, perhaps even a kind of honor, and the boy had only cold nihilism. She would be an easier target, if she survived. And the father was not his son; the boy could be trusted to be in Belleville when the girl's fate should become clear.

"I'm not detaining you."
"Then goodbye."

The boy went to the door, and the man took comfort in the thought that such a monster could only destroy himself.

Elsewhere in Belleville, some time later, Simms gave a hard look to the man who'd been entrusted with the well-being of her daughter. His fair hair and youthful face stood in contrast to the eyes of an angel. She met those eyes with a piercing stare.

"You look young to be a doctor."
He smiled. "God's seen fit to bless me."
What... what. Such a casual... what! "So you know the will of God! Tell me what He would here."

From the policeman, stood where he'd been since before she'd arrived, Simms could feel a glare reminding of the strife of her arrival. If she hadn't been the girl's mother, she'd have been escorted out on the spot the way she'd stormed in, and even now she felt he'd been looking for an excuse the past hour. The doctor gave a soft smile - a smile at this? His tone became softer - disarming? Condescending?

"I can't speak for Him."

She met his gaze, trying to figure out what to make of that sentence. An insult to her arrogance? Perhaps that she deserved. No... she certainly did. Letting her attachment to her daughter turn her against the Lord, even for a moment, was a sense she had to crush. In the warmth of his stare, then, lay a deposition against her, as though the angel she thought she'd seen in his eyes had pronounced her guilty. She looked across at the policeman with a slight nod - no more trouble - and turned back to the doctor.

"They say my daughter is going to prison," she said stepping back.
"I am sorry for that, but you must have heard what she did by now."
"What she did to a monster. You'd arrest her for killing a rabid dog! Haven't you heard what that girl did? What she was?"
"That's not really my purview."
At that she accosted him, grabbing his coat. "I tried! I tried so hard!"
The policeman pulled his club, but the doctor put up a hand to dissuade him and for himself turned back to Simms. "I'm here to tend to your daughter's physical well-being. I can't speak for her soul," he said, his tone and eyes now stern.

She realized again how deep her sin ran, threatening to destroy her in this world as well as the next. With a glance to the officer, she fell to her knees, opening her mind to the Lord.

My daughter can yet be saved. The torment that girl has wrought will one day be upon her. She's beyond hope. But my daughter can be saved. My daughter will be saved.

The thought shocked her as it came to her: beyond hope; will be saved? Hubris. No. No one is beyond hope but those who have blasphemed the Holy Spirit, and it is as much hubris for men to assert who have in good faith done so as it is to say who, not having done so, is to be saved. Lord - if you would - save her. And - if you would - help me save my daughter.

Before her closed eyes, an angel appeared. The hospital was soon to become an abattoir, as it had really always been, the dying to rise as they fell, as outside the long-dead rose from their graves to face His majesty. The doctor before her was rent in two, Satan's promises fading from his eyes as his flesh fell to the ground before her, and she could hear his very soul screaming in eternal anguish as the sulphurous flames from its burning licked her face - to her - harmlessly. The day she should have known. The pagans had known the season - fifty years from the Whore's blood sacrifice, from the city on the hill. Her eyes both open and closed, she looked up.

Before her stood an angel, its sword forged of love and hate, the size and shape of a man, a thousand miles high in spirit. Its sword was stained with the doctor's blood - no, something thicker than blood, something like... ichor? Such an ugly word, but the nearest to what it was - ichor, slowly burnt from the swords by the sheer force of the echoing screams. Across the room, the officer screamed, as another angel, equal in terror and majesty, chopped him to pieces.

She looked to the ground. It was not flesh at her knees - indeed, they were not even her knees? No, there was nothing around her, not a hospital, not the damned or the saved, only the angels. She looked up - this angel was not human at all, was it? It had no height, or shape, nor even a sword, really, only the love and hate from which it had been forged. All she could see through her eyelids was what had been, come to resemble what would be. The truth, she could glimpse behind the lies she'd always known, but only glimpse. It eluded her.

I can't... I can't see it... what... does that mean? The escape of the Word from her filled her with fear. Have I been trapped, trapped in the world of the Accuser? Has the Accuser won? She looked up at the angel, its cold eyes - or whatever they were - looking straight at her, into her, expressionless. For just that moment, Heaven or Hell, it didn't matter. Charlotte... and, yes, Kristoffer, and... and everyone else... they don't matter. Not anymore; not yet. She stood to face the messenger of the Lord.

Simms opened her eyes; it had been all of half a second since she'd closed them. "Use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do... for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him." The doctor looked down on her in... amusement? Incredulity? The officer's stare... was much easier to read. She rose to her feet in reality and, without a word, went to sit down.


Well... the God-freak's daughter is mine now.

This doctor had learned at a young age that where there were gods, there must be monsters. In this more enlightened age, fantastic promises from the days when Hell might have been at the end of the Silk Road had been forgotten. Just as the element of society that sought such frontiers replaced the fair folk of old with extraterrestrials, the rest of them had replaced the demons of their heretic-killing forefathers with demons of flesh and blood. This girl had been killed by such a demon. No - rather, she'd killed herself, but they chose to blame such a demon. "Devil made her do it." He might well have been that demon. If she died, perhaps he would still be.

The doctor still remembered, still relished, the feelings he had had as a youth, seeing the bodies of men torn to shreds. Even then he had known their souls were not even to be afforded that dignity; first, he felt they would be (nearly all) forever tortured, then, forever erased. That feeling, to that boy, had been a joy unlike any he'd ever thought he could know. He was fortunate to be born after the time when such feelings would have seen him locked up, not because he was watching them torn to shreds, but because they weren't women. No, a quick look at the average cop show would demonstrate that a fetish for violence, in and of itself, was clearly no problem.

That's one place where the Christians and the pagans agreed: Sophia, or Gaia, or what one would, was the spirit men were to worship, body and soul. The raw, animal urges of their progenitors had become unquestionable dogma, and any alternative remained raw, animal urges. And so, as the bestial defined the bestial, he had become the bestial, armed only with the knowledge that he was wrong, told at every turn how wrong he was. If there had been anyone to thank, he'd have thanked Her for the time he'd been born into, when he was taught the nature of violence qua violence, and not gone mad from Dante's claims that sodomy and murder were neighbors in Hell.

No, he had become a doctor, a force for creation rather than destruction, like one of Fourier's little hordes sorting through their element, the childlike glee of destruction channeled into duty. Unlike those hordes, however, he was a man, capable of thinking of consequences and life paths, understanding that by the destruction of his element of destruction, he could perpetuate it in his own life. Yes, he was a man, and by working in good faith to destroy his element, and he knew that to save as many lives as he could kept him with those he couldn't. It was no sport, in any case, to kill when fate had dropped the opportunity to kill into his lap, he'd found.

It was for a similar reason he'd given up pathology: just those sterile bricks of rotting meat before him, no different than the fresh meat nightly on his plate. No, it was the feeling of life departing a body, of suffering and of its end, that he needed. He needed to see the brain's circuitry collapse in on itself, every nat of what humanity had come to call "humanity" vanishing irrevocably into the ether, like taking a magnet to a computer, forever putting paid to the ancient lie of the ghost in the machine.

O exalted configuration! Yea, glorious datum! Ever in flux, an unenumerable continuum of incalculable states (...assuming that was what it was). Who would profane the eternal number with that kind of mystical hogwash? Dupin had been onto something after all: from cyamophobic Pythagoras to Newton's transmutative sungazing, number's emergence in magic's domain was unmistakeable.

The children of the past had sought to understand their reality, and had found in it, as should a child, magic and spirits. The fairies in the garden were themselves to be worshipped and understood in the context of one another, not worshipped as aspects of some pantheistic orthodoxy. No, rather, exploration would become ritual, and ritual would approach understanding, and as with the mad Samian and his carnivorous successors, understanding escape magic. But one day, some exiled Egyptian brigands had dropped shrooms in the Levant, and things had rather gone to shit.

The nephilim could withstand the deluge, but the pagans couldn't withstand the power of state monotheism, not in Judah, Rome, or Hijaz. Now, they only survived in the West in a form diluted, informed by Christianity as much as the modern Austrian school by Marx and Keynes. As the humanists of the Renaissance were nothing like the Iron Age's Stoics, neither had the movement that had almost seduced him in his younger years been that of the Bronze. His twin interests in first the undeniable realities of present suffering and future oblivion and second the intolerability of the dogmata of Caesar's blood-soaked centurions, however, had led him to his own interest in "darkness."

If someone were to mention to this doctor a word like "goth," "chain," the inconvenient "morbid," or even (in testament to our brains' transcendentally poor design) "asterisk," there was a single night that would immediately be called to his mind. In his undergraduate years, he remembered, surrounding him, whips, chains, studs - artifacts of his virgin dreams, decorating, accentuating the imposingly perfect bodies before him. He himself stood with the strobe lights setting aflame his golden hair, white shirt, and quite natural pallor, turning him into an awkward human beacon for all to see. For all the impact it had made, however, it hadn't really been much of a night. Two hours nursing a single drink, and he'd gone home.

In time, he would realize his fantasies. As he loved the destruction of life as spectacle, so there were those who loved to tear down a figure like him, even for it to be built up the next day. A handful of nights he would dress in the finest, most expensive clothes the doctor could spare for the RACK, loosely bound at the center of the room. A small mob would then excoriate his body, tearing his clothes and skin alike until he would fall to the floor, naked and oozing blood, and then do what they liked with one another. They wouldn't touch him, of course, but to be the centerpiece was enough. Surrounded by the scent of blood and semen, he had no need to be touched, or to move, or even to come. It was enough to feel. There had been much more conventional play, of course, but that, those raw false starts of the urge to reproduce, paled in comparison.

Since the day Papa Demiurge kept the promise hellbound Papa Brigand had broken two millennia earlier, there had been a sin above all others, and beneath all others, attacked alike by Jesus, Muhammad, and Baha'u'llah, and this doctor was guilty: he had saved himself. "Hubris," they'd say, what he'd call acknowledging one's power over oneself, and one's ability to define the conception of humanity. There was no sin, however, in responsibility, and no virtue in dependence in heaven or earth. In his own flesh, he had found salvation.

Some would call the flesh itself antithetical to salvation. Those people... could go get fucked. His spirit, as every other "spirit," was entirely of the flesh, the stimulation of the spirit no better or worse than any other. When Pascal had given up his carnal indulgences, he had inadvertently belied his own proposition. There was no pleasure in the flesh to be gained directly from mathematics, so what was sensual in it? The answer was in the lack of a dichotomy. The mind was as much a part of the body as any other, to be stimulated as any other.

So, for himself, he found his pleasure immersed in death and suffering. His fetishization of suffering had a sexual element, to be sure, but was that what he held here? Pressed, he would argue that the question had no answer, the question itself nonsense borne of modern self-deception. What mattered was that, one way or another, he enjoyed his element, and in his enjoyment, he eased suffering, saved lives. After all, hadn't the theists' darling Teresa been the same way?

The girl was stable by the end of the night. She'd have some trouble talking for a bit, but in a few days, nothing but a scar would be left to remind her. The doctor smiled in pride on seeing that the little zealot would be fine.


"You're a good man, Duane. Go find a good girl."

Penny and Aggie met with Duane and his father outside the jail. Even from the sidewalk, Penny could see the tears in his eyes. He took a few cautious steps down the stairs toward her and Aggie, and at the landing turned to Aggie; Penny watched him lose composure and fall into her arms. She herself reached out and ran a hand across his face, not really sure what else to do. She pulled her hand away and took a step back.

Penny looked up at Duane's father, every bit as dorky as she'd remembered. His face was a picture of stunned inaction in this bizarre scenario as he watched Aggie hold Duane; she could almost have laughed. Duane's father turned and walked down to the sidewalk.

Duane looked up and turned to Penny. She thought back to sophomore year, Duane's stunted sense of "romance" with her, the excited way she'd leapt at him when he became president. They had lurved each other. Now up there in a cell was his new true lurve, and God-knew-where the bitch who'd made her slit her throat. With a pitying expression, she looked into his eyes with pity as Aggie turned as well. She turned her head.

Duane and Aggie held each other tightly as Penny sat down on the step. Duane's father began to pace, and Penny did nothing but stare. It must have been about ten minutes before Duane's father finally broke the silence: "well." All three turned to him. "Bad day."

After a moment's stare, they turned. Aggie let Duane go, and he sat down next to Penny. She felt it was her turn to speak. "Duane... we love you. Jesus loves you." She wasn't looking at Aggie then, but would swear she could hear her rolling her eyes. What she did hear was a slight grunt of assent from Duane's father. She continued. "It... it's not.... There's...."
Aggie piped in. "Duane, let's go somewhere else."
Penny nodded and moved to set off. "Yeah... they'll probably kick us off if we stay..."
"Yeah... yeah, that..."

Penny helped him up. "Will you be all right?"
"Yeah. Yeah."
She found she couldn't get a read from his face. His tears had dried, at least. Good. "Okay." She sighed. "We should probably all go..." ...to a neutral space together; the mall? Seems kind of belittling...
Goddammit, Aggie, if you're going to finish my sentences, do it right. Still, she nodded.
"Yeah, she's right," said Duane's father. "Let's go."

Still, they stayed put for a bit. A slight smile crossed Duane's face and Penny's, and disappeared just as quickly. Duane and his father went off in their direction, and Penny and Aggie in theirs. Penny looked back at Duane, feeling something much stronger than she ever had when they'd dated.

She glanced at Aggie. The dreams were getting more frequent. She sighed a bit, it being clear by then that, at least in her case, Sara had been right after all (and would be absolutely insufferable when she found out). Penny had thought lately that she could see something in Aggie's eyes - projection? Not unlikely. With the company she kept, wouldn't she be out already? she thought. She had to fight back a chuckle as her mind responded to itself: with the company you keep, shouldn't you?

One thing, however, was certain. What Duane had had with Charlotte was stronger than what she'd had even with Rich, able to move her even from her distant vantage point. But forty-eight hours before Charlotte had lain dying, having cut her own throat. Charlotte was lucky to be alive; whatever had been between them hadn't been so lucky. That bitch had wanted to kill them all, they said. There but for the grace of God, a single question ran through the mind of able, attractive, athletic, aesthetic, assured, audacious, alluring, adorable, aphrodisiacal, Aggie's Penny.

What am I waiting for?
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Mr. Brightside
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