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Surviving My Life



"Surviving My Life"



Surviving My Life


“Get back in there until next time,” Jacob’s father said as he gently pushed his son into a small room that had a mattress on the floor and no windows. Jacob did his best to suppress his tears as he once more glanced at his surroundings. He looked hopefully into his father’s brown eyes, but all his father did was smile and shut the door which was then followed by several “clinks” and “clanks” as the door was locked and bolted. Jacob shivered as the vivid picture of his father’s smile haunted his mind. He did what he could to shake the feeling away, but he felt so filthy. He desperately desired to take a shower and rip his clothes off, but he was only allowed to bathe once every three days and clean clothes were brought to him in the mornings. Another set of images rushed through his mind and soon he couldn’t help himself and he broke down into a bucketful of tears.

Jacob collapsed on his bedraggled looking mattress and crawled up into a ball weeping without relent. His father had been…playing with him, as was put to Jacob, for about five months now. At first everything seemed really gentle and delicate to Jacob, even though something about it felt wrong, but his father treated him relatively well. However, in two months things changed and his father became crueler and shortly after that his mother got involved as well. Jacob wanted them to stop, but they refused and if he screamed they punished him severely. He had received at least two black eyes from his parents and countless bruises all over his body. He pleaded and pleaded with them to stop, but they wouldn’t. They kept him locked up whenever they weren’t having their way with him and he remained there until they wanted to play with him again.

Now, Jacob had completely given up resisting or fighting his parents and only wanted to make it through their “playtime.” He even stopped crying, at least until he was able to retreat back to his room where he let it all out. Cooperating with his parents gave him some perks; his parents allowed him to keep a few stacks of books and comic books in the room. By now he had read most of them, and would often try to get more but to do that he would have feign enjoyment with his parents during “playtime” in order to get what he wanted. He hated it, but he figured he had to survive somehow. The most recent book that his parents gave him was The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli. It was a very old book that didn’t make a whole lot of sense to him, but he read it anyways. He tried to use his imagination to make it more interesting. Also in his stacks were Superman and Batman comic books and other superhero types. He also had a lot of books on history and science which interested him a lot. He personally considered himself a very intelligent ten year old.

Jacob had a very strange upbringing. His parents married when they were very young, and at one point he had an older sister, but she died when he was five years old. He had also had a younger brother, but he died too when he was eight. He was sad when all of his siblings died, but he never understood or knew why they even died. His parents had forbidden him to ever speak of them. He had gone to school up until his parents took him out and not too soon after his father began “playtime” with him. Jacob missed his friends, missed playing with them, and missed school but he couldn’t persuade his parents to let him go back. He had given up on trying to attain that and instead now focused on surviving. This however was difficult at best most of the times.

He was fed once a day and that was usually a dry sandwich and stale chips with a small glass of water, although sometimes they included a real treat and gave him a shiny red apple. His father told him that they wanted to keep him nice and thin because that made him perfect for “playtime,” and if he became fat then they’d have to stop playing and Jacob would have to disappear. In order to survive, Jacob did what he had to without complaining as he knew that his parents would kill him if he became too fat. Sometimes to prevent this from happening he wouldn’t even eat the food provided so that he could be absolutely certain that he’d never get fat. Another thing that made surviving difficult was what he had for a toilet in the room. It was big, orange, five gallon bucket. His parents wouldn’t empty it for days at times and the stench would become so rancid that he would vomit on occasion. This would make the stench worse of course and Jacob would then just dry heave.

Drying the tears from his eyes, Jacob went over to the stack of books and pulled out a large book that was titled Nature and its Order. He began to flip through the vividly colored pages of trees, animals, and flowers. He then came across a picture of the sun and stared longingly at it. It had been at least five months since Jacob last saw the sun and felt the warmth on his face. He recalled now faint memories of him playing soccer on the soft green grass with the wind gently blowing through his hair. He missed it very much and yearned to experience it again, but how was he going to? No one had apparently missed him since his departure from school, not even his so called friends had even cared to see what had happened to him. No one but his parents knew that he was essentially even alive; no one cared. He had been abandoned by every living being and would therefore have to fend for himself.

Hours passed by as Jacob read the science book and then he eventually fell asleep. He suddenly awoke though to the “clanging” sounds of the door being unlocked. He set the book aside as his body began to shake. Beads of perspiration began to drip from his head as he anxiously awaited for the door to be opened. After all of lock had been undone, the door creaked opened and Jacob closed his eyes. Moments passed and nothing happened, and it became eerily quiet. Jacob slowly opened his eyes and to his surprise standing in front of him were two large and rusty robots. Jacob felt his breathing stop and his heart plummet into his stomach. The two metallic beings gazed at him with their bright green eyes. Both of them clamped their four hands with a crushing sound and then something like the sound of static radio being tuned began to whistle from their mouths. Eventually the static ended and their voices became clear.

“You must come with us, The Prince and Princess are expecting your company.” The robots declared. Jacob nodded his head and began to walk out of the room. He hadn’t gotten far beyond the threshold that he gasped in astonishment. Instead of the house that he was use to seeing, instead he saw a vast and barren landscape. It was cluttered with piles of junk (old cars, tanks, jets, and nuclear submarines) and yet there were patches of green gardens with trees covered in shiny red apples. In some regards it was an amazing sight, and in some others it was rather terrifying. The sky had a reddish hue and the sun was orange. The breeze was hot and the air smelled of burnt metal.

“Get moving,” the other robot said. Jacob moved just as one of the metal hands tried to slap his face.

“Where are we going?” Jacob asked uneasily. The robots both pointed beyond their near surroundings to and island that was shaped like a boot. Jacob gazed at it clearly perplexed as he knew that it wasn’t Italy but it appeared exactly like it. He began to wonder where he was and what was going on. “Where am I and who are you?”

“We were not programmed to answer questions but merely to take you to The Prince and The Princess; you will come with us, or we will begin cleansing procedures.” The robot finished saying as an electric saw replace one of the arms and whirled to life. Jacob gulped and nodded his head. The robot paused for a moment and then the saw was retracted. Jacob sighed and began following the two robots down the street. He glanced to his left and saw a rabbit dressed in combat camos armed with two heavy machine guns trying to kill a cat that was running away from it. It was the strangest sight and neither of the robots even flinched. Jacob shook his head and then glanced to his right and saw a large rat strangling a snake. He shivered as the rat choked the last of the breath out of the snake and then began leaping around for joy. He then heard chirping above him and looked up to see a giant sparrow attacking a hawk. Where am I, Jacob asked himself silently.

The road that he and the two robots were traveling on was cracked and broken. All three of them hadn’t gone too much farther when suddenly leaping up from behind a pile of junk was a man covered in guns, knives, bullets and army regalia.

“Die you soulless slaves!” The man screamed as he began to fill each of the robots with bullets from the two machine guns he was holding. The robots were caught off guard and were unable to use their guns due their heads being riddled with bullets. Jacob suddenly became aware that the man shooting the robots looked a lot like Bloodsport from one of his “Superman” comic books. There were some major differences, but for the most part he looked like the villain that attacked one of the greatest comic book heroes of all time. Once there was nothing left of the robots but scrapped metal smoking away, the man stopped. He slung his weapons over his shoulders and pulled out a cigar. He took a shiny lighter and began to smoke. He noticed Jacob’s gaze.

“How’d a kid like you end up with a bunch of smoking scrappies like them?” The man asked gruffly, but Jacob didn’t immediately answer; he was far too stunned. “They cut out your tongue or something kid, or are you just shy? You won’t survive in these parts being shy I’ll tell you that much. In order to live, you have to fight, kill, maim, and drink lots of vodka otherwise you’ll just crawl up under a bed and weep until you haven’t any eyes left.”

“Where am I?” Jacob managed to stammer out. The man looked at him incredulously.

“Poor devil, they wiped your memory clean too, what a shame.” The man said. He puffed a large cloud of smoke before answering Jacob. “In short, kid, this place reminds everyone so much of hell that is what we called it. Welcome to the land of Hell.” The man said as he spread his arms out and went in a circle displaying the barren landscape. “Here the weak must be strong to survive, and the strong perish or become even stronger unless the weak rise up and keep them in check. Take that lamb over there.” The man said as he pointed behind Jacob who turned around to see a lone lamb that wasn’t white but covered in brownish stains. It was an unusually large lamb too. The creature was pulling a man that was tied up with ropes and chains trying to break free.

“That lamb over there is leading that man over there to that chopping block, because you see, kid, if that lamb doesn’t do it to that man, that man will do it to him and that lamb desperately wants to live.” The armed man said finishing with a small chuckle. “Kind of ironic isn’t it?”

“It’s kind of weird. Where I come from sheep don’t do things like that.” Jacob mentioned.

“Well they do that all of the time around here.” The man said. He then threw his cigar into a metal bucket filled with some kind of liquid which then ignited into a brief firestorm before dying out. “If you plan on sticking around here, you’ll need to get a lot of weapons and learn how to aim to kill first. Asking questions to potential enemies will get you killed, so remember to never ask questions; that’s a stalling tactic that they’ll use to distract and then kill you.”

“Who are you?” Jacob asked the big burly man.

“I have a lot of different names, but the one that I prefer being called is Teacher; because I teach those damn machines lessons every time they try to kill me, or some other poor soul. What’s your name kid?”

“I’m Jacob,” Jacob answered nervously as he looked from the ground and then back up at Teacher, trying not to have continuous eye contact.

“Kid, you’re going to have to have a better name if you expect to come even close to surviving out here. We’ll have to work on that, but for now I’ll call ya J; Jacob is really wussy. Who gave you that name?” Teacher asked as he motioned for Jacob to follow him.

“Um…my parents called me that,” Jacob answered as he crawled over a small pile of junk being careful to avoid all of the fires.

“That figures; they must not have cared that much for you.” Teacher answered with a slight snarl.

“Why do you say that?” Jacob asked curiously. The thought never occurred to him before that his parents didn’t care for him. Teacher stopped and glared at Jacob for a few moments and then motioned to the landscape around.

“Look where you are, J; this is a barren wasteland, you are in Hell right now. If your parents really cared about you, you’d have never ended up here.” Teacher said and then continued moving on ahead; Jacob quickly followed him. “This is the place where people and things go when they are no longer cared about by anyone; so congratulations, no one loves or cares about you.”

Jacob found that statement to be a little harsh, but was Teacher right, did anybody care for or about him? He supposed that his parents didn’t care about him and…well now that he thought about it there wasn’t anyone else that he’d really met in his entire life. From what his parents had said, they refused to have contact with any of his grandparents, aunts, uncles, or even cousins. His family and him live an isolated life, and he hadn’t a clue why. Jacob soon became filled with hungry curiosity as to why his parents did all of the things that they did to him.

“So is that why you’re here, Teacher, because nobody cares for you?” Jacob asked curiously as his fear of the man began to wash away, but he quickly changed his mind as Teacher abruptly stopped and turned glaring fiercely at Jacob.

“It’s none of your business why I’m here.” Teacher growled. Jacob looked on in fear as Teacher continued to glare. After a few moment’s the gruff man loosened his expression and turned away to keep walking on. “You see, J, that’s your problem right there; people see the fear in your eyes before you even know that you are afraid yourself. People that love and hate you will use that to their advantage to get whatever they want from you, and after they have that then they’ll toss you aside.”

“But…why would someone who loves you do such a horrible thing?” Jacob inquired curiously as he hurried after Teacher who sighed.

“J, you have a lot to learn before we’re done here.” Teacher began saying. “Why do people love you?” He asked Jacob who shook his head. “Don’t know, well neither do most people. People like your parents, friends, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and even pets love you because they get something out of it; your attention, gratitude, praise, indebted sense of servitude, and whatever other god damned things you can think of. People only love you so that they can take what they want without putting anything back in.”

“That’s not true; not everyone is like that.” Jacob emphatically stated. “God and Jesus aren’t like that, both of them are kind, generous, and all forgiving.” Teacher looked back at Jacob and grinned.

“Kid, God is about the most jealous son of a bitch in the universe; he killed people merely for touching the wrong instrument, and wiped out countless peoples just because he didn’t like how they were behaving. And as for selfless,” Teacher chuckled loudly. “What do you do when you sin? You get on your hands and knees and beg God for forgiveness and promise Him that you’ll never do it again. You pray to Him for everything, you behave nicely so that he’ll give you nice things and not ruin your life, and you promise to only serve Him and nobody else. God is the epitome of selfishness, but since the brooding tyrant is all powerful and supposedly the source of everything, I guess he can be that way. It sucks for us low life humans though, especially the ones that don’t have the rosy and perfect lives.”

After Teacher finished speaking Jacob thought heavily about the man’s ideas. They were very unconventional and resembled nothing that he had been taught about God and Jesus, but he wondered if Teacher was right. What if he was right about everything, especially people who apparently loved him? He knew that his parents had a unique perspective about how to show and demonstrate their love and care for him so much so that they wanted to keep it hidden from the world so that it would remain special as their little secret. At first this made Jacob feel special, as if he was the only boy in the world that had parents who would treat him like that. After while though it didn’t matter and all he could think about was getting away from his parents and hiding forever. No they hadn’t loved him, but now that he thought about it what did actual love look like? How did he not know that his parents weren’t showing him real love and he was merely not enjoying it like they were?

“What’s love, Teacher?” Jacob asked befuddled.

“Don’t know myself,” Teacher answered quickly. “I gave up searching for the answer a long time ago. You could say that love became useless to me. You see, love gets in the way of survival. Love is a luxury for people who have perfect lives that are all together and live in neat little white houses and come home to see family after a long day’s work. Love is what happens when you sleep with a beautiful woman in our case, or a man in a woman’s case. As they say down at the opera house, love is casualty of survival; you can’t love and survive at the same time.”

“How do people love you if everyone is only out to get what they want and don’t care about you?” Jacob asked. Teacher thought for a few moments before answering.

“Say you’re a stinking, wretched bastard of a child that shouts, screams, steals, and lies; why would anyone want to love you?” Teacher asked. Jacob thought about it and shrugged his shoulders. “That is precisely the point, J, people get nothing out if it but trouble and most “good natured” people don’t want to deal with crap like that. You find people who put up with damned behavior like that and still treat you better than you deserve, then perhaps you may have found genuine love. It’s hard to know though, humans are such sneaky bastards and do everything they can to manipulate weak and hopeful minds.”

“How do you know all of this stuff, Teacher?” Jacob asked suspiciously. Teacher immediately began laughing.

“Good, very good; you’re beginning to catch on. Never trust people, rule number one. Rule number two, rely on only the most reliable person which is yourself; people will fail and disappoint you most likely every time.” Teacher said. He then tossed Jacob a small handgun.

“What’s this for?” Jacob asked as he uneasily inspected the weapon.

“You’ll either learn to protect yourself or die; the choice is yours. Remember this though, if you die in Hell, what do you think the afterlife will be like. Never die, that’s rule number three.” Teacher answered as he began rapidly descending a hill that led down into a ravine that was covered in red sludge.

“When do I get a bigger gun?” Jacob shouted back as he tried not to trip and fall. He had never seen sludge, or whatever it was, like that before. It was thick and sticky, but the weird thing was that it was going upwards instead of downwards. For Jacob it felt as if he was fighting against a strong current of water.

“When you learn more, you’ll get a bigger gun, but for now kill the bad guys with that and you’ll do just fine.” Teacher shouted back as he neared the bottom of the steep hillside.

“How do I know if someone’s a bad guy or not.” Jacob answered back louder before Teacher got farther away and accumulated more speed. It was obvious that he had done this a numerous amount of times since he was going so fast and able to maintain his balance without plummeting forward into the red sludge.

“Usually those are the people that are trying to harm you, but always be safe and shoot first; asking questions from potential enemies will get you killed down here, so always protect yourself and kill not maim and that’s rule number four.” Teacher said as he reached the bottom of the ravine and waited for Jacob who was about to answer but he lost his balance and tumbled down the ravine getting red sludge all over him. He reached the bottom unharmed, but he felt all queasy inside and as he tried to stand up he couldn’t steady himself. The whole world seemed to be dancing around him as his vision came back together he was able to focus and saw Teacher chuckling loudly at him with a huge smile on his face.

“Usually everyone falls a lot sooner then when you did, that’s a good sign; I think you have a great deal of potential, J. Come on, it’s not much further from here.” Teacher said as he started moving down the ravine. Jacob sighed as he attempted to stand to his feet, but the red sludge was making it difficult.

“Could you please help me?” 襘;Jacob asked loudly. Teacher stopped and regarded him with a firm gaze.

“No one down here is going to really help you, so help yourself and that’s rule number five.” Teacher said and then went back to his quick pace. Jacob growled in frustration and with great difficulty pulled himself off of the ground and stood to his feet and began hastening after Teacher.

“Where exactly are we going?” Jacob asked almost breathlessly.

“The opera house,” Teacher answered. Jacob was about to ask why they were going to an opera house but as the ravine opened widely there was a gargantuan structure made of ruined stones that resembled something like a megalithic cathedral and a medieval castle. It was gigantic, but dilapidated as if it had been shelled by cannons repeatedly over a span of a hundred centuries. In the background were mountains with green tops while the lower parts were burnt orange. The ground before the opera house was nothing but flat. Various kinds of antennas, satellite dishes, electrical towers, and wind mills in all varied shapes and sizes were sticking up from the ground, like flowers. Jacob thought it was odd and that there wasn’t a single tree or shrub anywhere to be seen; all he saw was metal, and even the air still smelled like burnt metal.

The closer they got to the opera house the darker everything seemed to become. Jacob figured this was because the opera house was in the shadow of the mountains, but somehow he felt as if that was not the only reason. After running a little, Jacob was able to catch up to Teacher who was jogging briskly. There was a long broken down wall that surrounded the perimeter of the opera house that they passed by. Teacher slowed down to a slow walk, Jacob did the same and pulled out his weapon when he saw Teacher pull a machine gun from off his back. Together they moved into the structure; the front set of doors were hanging off their hinges and creaking noisily in the wind as they swayed back and forth.

The inside of the opera house was nothing special, Jacob thought, as he looked upon the remains of what could have been considered to be the foyer, but when they emerged into the theater room itself, now that was a different story. It seemed like this was the only part of the building that was in good condition. All of the seats were worn, but appeared to be comfortable with their royal blue cushions. There were also box seats high above with scarlet red curtains blowing in the breeze. Around the stage was the orchestra pit which was clean, neat, and tidy as if ready for an immediate performance. The stage had a finely polished cherry wood floor and long thick black curtains that hung from high above. All over the walls were paintings of angels battling demons and gargoyle statues eerily smiling. For Jacob, it was an exciting if at times creepy sight to behold.

Teacher carefully moved down towards the orchestra pit and pointed the machine gun around him various times before seeming satisfied that all was secure. He sat down and set all of his weapons aside. Jacob did likewise and waited. Within moments a crackling sound of a record being played could be loudly heard echoing throughout the theater room. Next came loud trumpets and drums playing to a grand crescendo. The curtains then were pulled aside and revealed a gigantic background of red, green, and blue spatters of paint. A loud voice that sounded male and then female spoke.

“Presenting the worst of us and the best of them; terrible and pathetic, but fascinating to keep us all coming back. I give you…….That!” Immediately a man dressed in tattered clown clothes came prancing onto the stage. His white face was severely scarred and his boots were bright red, but the oddest thing was that string was tied connecting his arms to his shoulders and legs to his abdomen. He resembled a large puppet on strings.

“Oh gently we go screaming, up and down we go. Though try we not our heart is breaking as we are tossed to and fro. We laugh, we rant, we hope, we pray….what happens next, well, none dare say.” The puppet sang and then begun dancing. Jacob looked upon the man in confusion, although when he glanced at Teacher he noticed the man was smiling and enjoying himself. Jacob returned his attention to the man on strings and hoped that he could be similarly humored. “Upon the books we pour our looks, though to the trash we all get thrashed, and frighten Miss Muffet away. Light does shine with some wine, and through the dark ah, yes we do see a lark and frighten Miss Muffet away again. Too sad this tale, but yet I try to find a rhyme with too little time. So here I end this tale, which if I continued would all make us bale. Thank you one and all for your support, that without we would all die of warts.” The puppet man finished singing and then stood still. The music stopped and Teacher clapped as the puppet man bowed.

“Another fine performance, That,” Teacher said as applause broke out from all over the opera house from wherever the record player was coming from. Jacob clapped, but he didn’t know why; the song the puppet man had sung was weird and boring, he definitely didn’t like it but considered it would be best to be polite and clap.

“You are hatefully kind, Teacher,” That said as he began to walk down the stage. “It was the worst of my performances yet this day, and no one has once had the common decency to tell me that it was terrible. All of my critics are fans, and none of my fans are critics; how can I grow if everything that I do is good?” That stated sounding very much like a prima donna. He then noticed that Jacob was there and his eyes became filled with rage. He then pulled out a machete and leapt on top of Jacob and put the blade up against Jacob’s throat.

“What is this bastard doing here?” That asked as he gazed hatefully into Jacob’s fearful eyes, who was also breathing laboriously and carefully watching the blade pushing into his skin. Teacher meanwhile watched with mere curiosity.

“He’s just a boy that I found a bunch of scrappies trying to take to the Prince and Princess, so if you kill him then it’s on your head.” Teacher said very calmly. He then yawned and took out shiny pocket watch. “Besides, it’s past the killing hour anyways; we better start drinking if we don’t want to be drunk tomorrow.”

“Fine,” That said as he withdrew his machete and stood to his feet. “He’s your problem though; if he turns, then I’ll cut his head off and smash it into a fine pulp with a hammer. I’ll be in the grand salon when you want to join me for some drinking.” That said coldly and then stalked out of the theater room and vanished from sight. Jacob was still breathing furiously and he glared at Teacher who had pulled out a cigar and was smoking.

“You were going to just sit there and let him kill me!” Jacob shouted angrily as he stood to his feet. “And he didn’t kill me why? Because you both have to drink early so you can be sober for tomorrow.” Teacher inhaled some smoke and then blew it out on Jacob’s face.

“J, you forgot about rule number five; even though I like you, I ain’t ever going to help you. You get in a bind you get yourself out or die; like I said, no one is as reliable as yourself. And by the way, when all you have is tomorrow the best way to survive it is by drinking yourself into a numb stupor, and since we’re hunted during the day we have to be careful when we drink.” Teacher stated as he stood to his feet and tossed Jacob a cigar and then the lighter. “Come on, I’ll think you’ll enjoy yourself.”

“What was all of that about it being after the killing hour?” Jacob asked curiously as he began to feel much more calm which even to him was odd considering he just had a sharp object held against his throat.

“Oh that, well let’s just say that, That, only kills and becomes enraged during specific times. Fortunately for you, you came around just after when this usually happens, or he wouldn’t have been able to stop and your head would be a small pile of mush.” Teacher said in a manner as if it was common knowledge and something that happens constantly. Jacob gazed at Teacher profoundly horrified as he followed him where That had disappeared to. It was a hall, dimly lit with candles that went down into what seemed like the basement he guessed. There were some stairs and eventually they ended up where there were a bunch of scratchy looking wooden doors, but Teacher chose the one at the end of the hall. Without hesitation Teacher pushed the door open and Jacob was greeted by the noxious fumes of smoke and alcohol.

The room was decadently filled with paintings, gold jewelry, intricately detailed mirrors, and the largest couches and padded chairs he had ever seen. Laying sprawled all over the largest couch was That drinking a bottle of whiskey. All around him though was candy: Laffy Taffy, chocolates, lollipops, licorice, Jollyranchers, and so much more that Jacob couldn’t see rightly. His mouth began to water and he soon forgot about the smoke and the smell of alcohol. Teacher tossed his weapons aside and plopped down on the nearest couch. He popped open a bottle of rum and drank a long swig from the bottle before setting it down and throwing a couple pieces of chocolate into his mouth.

“I see you got the really good stuff out tonight.” Teacher said as he looked at the label on the bottle of his rum before taking another long drink. “And the food as well,” He quickly added as he gazed happily upon the mounds of candy.

“I thought it would be fitting and proper considering that we had a guest with us.” That replied as he glared at Jacob, who in return felt distinctly out of place suddenly and was trying to retreat back to the door.

“Hey where do you think you’re going?” Teacher demanded and Jacob stopped abruptly where he was and looked confused. “Have a seat, have a drink and eat some candy for tomorrow we may die or we may live.” Teacher said as he held out a brown bottle to Jacob and motioned to the couch across from him. Jacob took the bottle and hesitantly sat down.

“What’s in it?” Jacob asked suspiciously as he jostled the liquid around and inspected it.

“Don’t be so stupidly suspicious, J, it’s merely a bottle of tequila. So drink some and eat some candy.” Teacher replied on the edge of exasperation.

“I don’t think I’m suppose to drink because of my age, and mother…” Jacob was arguing but Teacher cut him off.

“Your mother ain’t here, J, so drink; you’re what…ten or eleven; I first got drunk when I was nine, knew how to properly smoke a cigar by age ten, and had my first whore by thirteen. You’ll be fine, and you might find it even enjoyable.” Teacher added with a smile. Jacob reluctantly tipped the bottle back and sipped some of the liquid and about almost gagged.

“It’s disgusting, I’m not going to drink that!” Jacob exclaimed and was about to throw the bottle on the ground when That pulled out a pistol and aimed it at his head.

“No one, throws away liquor in the opera house, or anywhere near me.” That growled at his eyes bore deeply into Jacob’s frightened eyes. Teacher rolled his eyes and shook his head. “Now little whelp, you’re going to drink that bottle now, or I’m going to blow your head off your body.” That said. Jacob gulped and looked at Teacher who was merely laying on the couch waiting to see what would happen next. Very carefully Jacob put the bottle by his lips and even though the smell made his stomach blanch he drank, and drank, and drank, and drank until he thought he was going to pass out. He threw the empty bottle on the floor and collapsed back into couch. He felt like he was going to vomit and he seemed scarcely aware that there was clapping occurring. As he was lying on the couch he suddenly began to realize how soft and comfortable the red velvet cushions were. He closed his eyes and felt good for the first time in the longest that he could remember.

“Now, that’s the spirit,” That shouted. “Take it like a man boy, and perhaps there’ll be some hope for you yet.” That finished saying and then returned to his bottle and shoved candy down his throat. Jacob began feeling all tingly and warm and the room began to get fuzzier, blurrier, and slower; like slow motion in the comic books and films, but he thought it was cool.

“Here try one of these,” Teacher suggested as he tossed Jacob a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. “I started with em, so they should be good enough for you.” Jacob clumsily picked up the cigarettes and pulled one out and lit it like he had seen the grown ups at school and on television. He breathed in the smoke and then let it out, but he did something wrong because soon he was coughing his head off, but smiling at the same time. Soon Jacob was laughing, something he hadn’t done in an extremely long time. Teacher and That were also laughing.

“It tastes bad, but I feel so good.” Jacob said with a wide smile and then hiccupped which made him and the others laugh even harder.

“Perhaps he’ll be alright, Teach; hey perhaps you stumbled onto my comedy routine that I’ve been missing for so long.” That thought aloud and then began laughing again and in doing so accidentally got liquor all over himself which made him begin to laugh hysterically.

“Don’t flatter yourself,” Teacher said as he calmed himself down from laughing so much; tears were in his eyes. “Rule number six around here, J; eat and drink until your body can’t take no more.”

“Right, Teacher,” Jacob responded as he continued smoking the cigarette, but he wasn’t coughing as much. He then picked up another bottle and forced the top off and began drinking it as much as he could. He stopped for some air and then took a puff of smoke. Teacher and That were talking to each other while also laughing their heads off; Jacob was smiling widely even as things began to get slower, and slower. Soon he had this urge in his stomach, but he didn’t want to move he just wanted another drink and wanted to continue smoking. However, this urge wouldn’t relent and soon he found himself facing the floor as vomit came out of his mouth and landed with a resounding “splat” on the floor.

“Oh!!!! Look at him now!” That exclaimed and began laughing so hard that he fell off of the couch and was pounding his fists on the floor hysterically. Teacher was merely laughing while he smoked his cigar and drank his rum. Jacob kept vomiting, and vomiting until there was nothing left. He then looked up when there was a lull in the vomiting and held up his hand for quiet. Both That and Teacher waited in anticipation to see what he would do.

“Can someone get me another bottle of this stuff!” Jacob shouted before he bent his head back towards the floor and vomited some more. That and Teacher both this time were equally laughing hysterically. Jacob finished vomiting and had a big smile on his face and laid his head down on the couch. The world around him became slower. He moved his hand in front of him and it seemed magical how he was able to move his hand and see its wake as he moved it left to right. The room began to darken and soon there was nothing but darkness.

襘;

*襘; *襘; *

襘;

Jacob awoke with a splitting headache. He rubbed his eyes and stared up at the ceiling and saw in big numbers spread across the ceiling that it was eight o’clock in the morning. He very slowly sat up but every time he moved his head no matter how the slight the motion, his vision spun and he felt faint. He had never drunk alcohol before that very night and now he knew why. If he had it his way, he’d never drink again. He looked over and saw That was snoring peacefully away with multiple empty bottles of alcohol all around him and two that he was cradling in his arms. Teacher was also snoring, quite loudly, but he instead had two large machine guns between him. Aside from the snoring the room was quiet but was drenched with the acrid stenches of vomit, sweat, and alcohol; simply breathing in the air made Jacob want to vomit.

Standing up, Jacob began to search for some water but could find nothing but candy and various bottles of alcohol. Not willing to give up despite how he currently felt, he left the room and began to search everywhere, but there was no water to be found. Suddenly he began to panic about something he had always taken for granted; what if he was unable to find any water? What if he died from dehydration? Each room that he went into though was empty, and aside from specks of dust nothing else was present. Jacob continued his search until he was back into the theatre room. He breathed in the fresh clean air and felt the warmth of sunlight as the rays came down through the cracks and gaps of the opera house. There was a cool breeze and as he stepped out and onto the front steps he gazed across the fields of junk and antennas, and although it was messy and dreadful to look upon it felt beautiful somehow. He sat down and watched as a hummingbird flew past him and over to a large bunch of roses that glowed turquoise blue.

Never before had Jacob ever felt this…safe before in his entire life. It was as if he was finally at peace and everything was going to be alright; nothing would ever harm him again. He was smiling when suddenly he heard the scraping of metal and felt the sharp edge of cold steel pressed against his throat. Hesitantly, Jacob turned to see who it was and to his relief it was Teacher gazing down at him with his usual admonishing glare.

“Rule number six, always be prepared to die.” Teacher said and then pulled the knife away from Jacob’s throat and sat down. “You keep up with this ridiculous behavior of yours then you’ll never survive here.”

“I’m only a kid, I don’t know why you’re expecting me to act like you, an adult who has been one for a long time. It’s not fair to ask me to be able to do the things that you and That do so well so quickly.” Jacob retorted angrily but with an air of confidence that he didn’t have before. Teacher grinned at him.

“Good, you’re getting some backbone, that’ll definitely help. Don’t expect me to feel sorry for you though just because mommy and daddy didn’t want you, and it doesn’t matter if you’re a kid or not. The scrappies will kill you regardless, and the Prince and Princess will kill you if you’re old and use you if you’re really young. Therefore if you wish to survive and remain free then you have to act like an adult, and if you don’t know then you’ll have to learn quickly or die trying. It sucks either way, but then that’s what the booze and candy is for; without it, we’d all go mad.”

“What happened to…” Jacob began to say but a loud explosion shook them from where they were sitting and threw them to the ground. Teacher was up in an instant with his monstrous machine gun pointed where the source of the explosion emanated from. Jacob’s ears were ringing but he sluggishly stood to his feet and reached for his handgun but couldn’t find it. Thinking what he seemed to be thinking, Teacher tossed Jacob a small machine gun. Jacob caught it with surprise and looked at Teacher expectantly.

“Aim and shoot; kill anything that tries to kill you.” Teacher said and then fired at an incoming line of scrappies. Behind the infantry were larger versions of the scrappies except on wheels and treads mounting large cannons. Jacob watched in stunned amazement as Teacher fired fearlessly and relentlessly at the incoming robots who didn’t seem to mind the bullets at all. As if coming out of a trance, Jacob began to fire as well at anything that appeared robotic. Both of them took cover behind a large stone pillar that was lying sideways on the ground. Jacob pulled the trigger and didn’t let go and then suddenly his machine gun stopped firing.

“It’s stopped shooting bullets,” Jacob declared panicky. “What do I do?”

“Eject the magazine and get a spare one from behind my pack!” Teacher shouted as he continued to fire at the incoming column of robots. Jacob very quickly began to look over his machine gun to try and figure out how to accomplish what Teacher had told him to do. He clicked some metal button thing which released the empty magazine, and then he grabbed what looked like a similar magazine from behind Teacher and pushed it in until it “clicked” and then he remembered watching a movie about how a soldier cocked something and then began shooting.襘; Jacob did the same thing and then aimed at the robots and holding his breath pulled the trigger and the machine gun began spitting out bullets. Jacob suddenly felt an overwhelming sense of pride as he knocked down one robot after the other. However he began to realize something; no matter how many they destroyed more kept coming and the bullets had no effect on the larger ones.

“What are we going to do?” Jacob shouted as he and Teacher ducked for cover as a mortar hit near them.

“When we get the chance, we make a run for it and hope that we live!” Teacher shouted back. “And that’s rule number seven; never fight a battle that you can run away from.” Teacher said as a couple of mortars barely missed them and hit a part of the opera house which came crumbling down. “How we’re going to get out alive though with those monster scrappies bearing down on us though is beyond me at the moment.” Both of them then heard a loud shout followed by two “whooshing” sounds and both of them saw two rockets fly by and hit two of the larger robotic machines. Teacher and Jacob turned around to see That reloading two RPG launchers and he was covered with warheads.

“Run for it boys, I’ll cover our retreat and make these scrappies regret ever coming to the opera house for today’s performance!” That shouted and then launched two more rockets causing further chaos to the robotic column. Teacher grabbed on Jacob’s shirt and pulled him away from the opera house. The two of them then ran as fast as they could for the terrain ahead of them which was full of thick bushes and green trees. Teacher would stop occasionally and shoot at the robots, but soon both he and Jacob were out of range; they continued running into the forest until they had gone far enough in that the foliage would hide them. Both of them stopped to breathe.

“Is That going to follow us?” Jacob asked curiously but Teacher shook his head.

“Nope,” Teacher said as his breathing began to slow down and he began to regain his composure. “That never runs from a scrappy line until the absolute last moment, and he’ll run back into the opera house and hide; he knows that place better than any living thing around and they’ll never find him.”

“What about us?” Jacob asked as he slumped down against a tree.

“Well, we keep going into the mountains and lie low for a while and hopefully we’ll meet some old friends of mine.” Teacher said as he tried to look through the thick canopy of leaves and trees to get a bearing on where they were. He then looked down at Jacob who was cradling the machine gun comfortably in his lap and grinned. “Not too bad, J, and you even took a number of them out to boot without shooting yourself or me. Are you sure you haven’t had survival training or anything like that before?”

“Not at all,” Jacob responded breathlessly. “Although, I’ve read several books about wars, history, science, and superheroes; those ones tend to have pictures that detail all of the action.”

“You can read books?” Teacher asked incredulously and Jacob nodded his head. Teacher thought for a moment and nodded his head. “Alright, I know where we’re headed. Pick yourself up, J; those scrappies will be hot on our asses soon enough and we want to reach the base of the mountains before sunset.” Teacher said and then began hustling through the forest dodging branches and vines here and there as he went. Jacob sighed, but he leapt to his feet and hurried after Teacher.

襘;

*襘; *襘; *

襘;

The forest hadn’t gotten any thinner and the sun was getting lower. Jacob felt very tense and he was exhausted. Teacher hadn’t let him rest for very long each time that they had stopped; he kept stressing how urgent it was for them to reach the base of the mountains. Even though he didn’t appear to be worried, Jacob knew that he was even more worried than he was about them not reaching their destination in time. The air was beginning to get colder, which despite his jean pants and long sleeved flannel shirt he also was getting colder. Teacher didn’t seem fazed by the chilly air at all, in fact Jacob noticed that the man seemed to thrive in situations where the odds were totally against him.

“Are you sure we can’t stop, make a fire, and call it a night?” Jacob posed as he hefted the machine gun he was carrying over his already aching and tired shoulder. Teacher glanced over his shoulder momentarily and right then and there Jacob knew what his response would be.

“You go right on ahead and light a fire and may all of the luck that exists in Hell be with ya, but I’m going to keep on going.” Teacher responded with simple frankness. Jacob sighed and trudged on.

“Why is it so important to get to this place of…wherever we are going?” Jacob asked annoyed, which is what happened to him when he was tired and under a great deal of stress.

“You might say that it’s not real safe to be caught outdoors after it has gone dark. Shelter is always best to be had when the sun has gone down; I’ve heard a lot of strange and weird stories about individuals who were caught out in the darkness, and none of them are pretty to tell.” Teacher responded.

“You didn’t answer my question.” Jacob retorted quickly. Teacher looked over his shoulder briefly with a slight grin on his face.

“That spine is finally beginning to appear I see. You’re right, J, I haven’t answered you, nor do I intend to. You can ask me all of the questions that your little heart desires, but I will decided which ones to answer if I answer any of them at all.” Teacher finished saying. Jacob looked upon his compatriot with disdain.

“You’re really mean, you know; you’re just like my parents!” Jacob said loudly with his tone layered in ferocious hate. Teacher stopped and turned to face Jacob; his expression was unreadable, but Jacob continued. “When I asked them questions they never told me anything, but only said that it was going to be good for me. The both of them kept me in the dark constantly, never treating me like I had a reason to know anything but what they wanted me to know. Well, I’m tired of being treated ignorantly, I’m tired of things being kept hidden from me, and I am sick of being told that I don’t need to know something!” Jacob shouted as he pointed at Teacher who merely gazed at him. “I have a right to know what I am getting into! So stop treating me like a damn child!”

For a few moments Teacher and Jacob looked upon each other; Jacob’s gaze was full of anger and malice while Teacher looked upon him neutrally. On Jacob’s part, he felt better after shouting at Teacher and telling the man what was on his mind, and at that moment he didn’t care what the consequence of his behavior was. He had said it, and he meant every word of it. After thinking that he caused his companion to go mute, Teacher began to slowly clap his hands which echoed eerily in the darkened forest.

“Spoken, like a true child of Hell.” Teacher said with a surprisingly proud smile on his face. Jacob was suddenly taken aback by the comment, for to him that immediately sounded like a negative declaration. “Don’t be hateful or upset, it’s actually a compliment. You found your voice buried under all of the helplessness that you learned while suffering at the hands of your parents. This is something many newcomers to this place take a very long time to discover, but you, J, you are very different from anyone I’ve ever met. This is why I am so insistent that we reach the mountains before nightfall; there is a very…unique individual I’d like you to meet.” Teacher finished saying with a faint smile upon his face before turning and continuing to walk.

Jacob couldn’t move for a few moments, but then something inside of him seemed to nudge his feet and he began to walk. He was stunned by Teacher’s response; the man hadn’t yelled at him, hadn’t belittled or laughed at his complaints or minimized what he was feeling. His parents had always turned him aside when he was trying to tell them how he felt when they were…showing him love, but he distinctly remembered them smiling and snickering as if he Jacob had no feelings or intelligence to be concerned about. Another thing that he found interesting was Teacher’s encouragement of the attitude and behavior that he displayed when speaking with him about his thoughts. His parents had always discouraged any thinking that wasn’t aligned with their own and chastised him and his brothers whenever they questioned anything contrary to what their parents taught and or believed. Teacher was different though; it was like he wanted Jacob to think for himself, and to have his own ideas about life and what he did with it.

“Thank you, Teacher,” Jacob stated softly. Teacher looked over his shoulder confused.

“And why are you so generously thanking me?” Teacher inquired.

“You…have been helping me find my way through this place; without your assistance and guidance, I’d most likely be dead or in the hands of the Prince and Princess. Oh, and I’m sorry for shouting at you.” Jacob said with a slight look of guilt on his face.

“Rule number eight; don’t ever be sorry for anything that you do or say, it makes you weak, but worse it makes you look weak to others which can wind up getting you killed. As for helping you out, I did nothing really; you followed the rules and helped yourself out, all I did was make introductions and show you the way. You need to give yourself more credit than you think you deserve, J. Ah look we’ve finally arrived.” Teacher stated cheerily as he and Jacob emerged out of the trees and stood before the indomitable rugged mountain range. The rocky surface stretched high above them both and on other side was a deep ravine which led into the mountain range, leaving behind all manner of green shrubbery exchanging it for the gray and red rocks. Jacob carefully followed Teacher as they entered the wide ravine, which had very steep inclined walls on either side.

Over his shoulder, Jacob could see that the glimmers of sunlight were quickly fading yet Teacher didn’t appear stressed whatsoever. Jacob began feeling prickly all up and down his spine and small beads of perspiration were building along the edge of his forehead. The path they were treading was rocky and unstable but their determination pushed them forward without fear or hesitation. On and on they walked as the sun got lower and lower. Jacob continued to look over his shoulder and check on the status of how much light they had left. When he kept seeing their time was growing short, the pit in his stomach continued to grow larger and larger.

“Hey, Teacher, we’re about to lose all of our sunlight; how close are we to this place that you’re speaking of?” Jacob asked, but as he was balancing himself on some shifty rocks he hadn’t noticed that Teacher had stopped and was pointing up the ravine. Jacob stopped just in time before he rammed into Teacher. He looked up to where his compatriot was pointing and sighed. Their destination was a ledge that they virtually had to climb up the ravine face to get to, and it didn’t look that easy. Without hesitation, Teacher began to climb effortlessly up the steep ravine face and soon after Jacob was able to psych himself up, he followed. Even though Jacob had a good deal of determination, he did not have a lot of strength. He struggled to steady his balance and maintain his grip as Teacher sped up to the ledge. Snarling with frustration, Jacob redoubled his efforts and climbed.

Despite having bloody hands and a scratched up face, Jacob made it to the ledge though he was completely out of breath. Teacher was waiting patiently with a bottle of water drinking it as if he had gone out for his morning walk. After taking a couple of swigs he handed the bottle to Jacob who downed a good deal of the clear liquid.

“Not bad, J, you’re keeping up and not dying still, that’s good.” Teacher said with a small laugh as he gave Jacob a firm pat on the back, who looked less then pleased or enthused.

“So what’s in there?” Jacob motioned to the hole that went deep into the mountain from the looks of it. The sunlight was almost gone. Walking up to the entrance, Teacher took two rocks and clapped them loudly together and then did something quite strangely.

“I come for shelter, let us in or we will shoot you.” Teacher sang, in an almost operatic voice, although to Jacob it might have also seemed like it was something out of a musical.

“Fine, fine, get in before you lose all of your sunlight!” A man barked out loud suddenly appearing at the door and motioning for them to enter with a rather long whip in his right hand. Without another word Teacher entered and Jacob hurried behind him. The cave passage was dark and damp. The path seemed to go downwards but then it would sharply go up and more than once Jacob hit his head on the cave ceiling and had to bend down low. Eventually he saw faint glimmers of light and then he and Teacher emerged into a rather large room which was well lit and furnished with desks, beds, chairs, bookshelves, and a rather crude sort of kitchen.

“Well sit down before you die of exhaustion,” the man said as he came up from behind Jacob, who he gruffly pushed past and had a seat on a rocking chair. “You interrupted me while I was drinking and having the most wondrous thoughts.” The man said as he tipped a bottle back and drank the whole thing before tossing it aside and drinking another.襘; Suddenly, Jacob began to notice that their host appeared to be quite handsome, at least from popular culture standards. He had short, messy brown hair and green eyes. He was slender, but appeared to be quite muscular. His face was smooth and his skin seemingly perfect without any blemishes.

“What’s your name?” Jacob asked curiously as he took a seat from their host. The man looked at Jacob as if both irritated but intrigued.

“I’m called Gorgon, and you are?” Gorgon asked as he downed another bottle of alcohol before tossing it to the ground with a “crash” and getting another.

“My name is Jacob, but everyone call me J. You got a nice place here.” Jacob said looking around trying to be polite. Gorgon smiled at him.

“Young boy, you are a terrible liar; you’re going to have to do better than that if want to avoid getting shot between those naïve eyes of yours.” Gorgon said as he pulled out a handgun and aimed it at Jacob and fired. Jacob ducked out of the way but there wasn’t a need; Gorgon was aiming for a portrait behind him. Jacob looked at the man incredulously who began laughing hysterically. “That was a warning boy, next time I shoot you between the eyes. Where did you dig up this load of crap, Teach?” Gorgon asked with a sneer as he threw his empty bottle to the ground and grabbed another one.

“I killed a couple of scrappies and he’s been tagging along with me ever since; I’ve been sharing with him the ropes about how to survive, and although he’s a got a while to go, he’s learning pretty quickly.” Teacher said as he sat down and popped open a bottle of whiskey.

“I’m assuming the scrappies were taking him to see the Prince and Princess of Hell.” Gorgon declared as he spat on the ground.

“Most likely,” Teacher said as he set his bottle down and lit a cigar. He tossed one to Jacob along with the lighter. Jacob took the cigar, lit it, and began smoking; he had remembered his lesson and was having a much easier time with this one.

“Have you explained to him what they do to little boys like him?” Gorgon motioned. Teacher shook his head.

“I didn’t have to; the boy seemed to know for himself what they do for pleasure.” Teacher said as he reached for another bottle of whiskey.

“So other than being on the run like you usually are, Teacher, why come here for shelter?” Gorgon asked. It became silent for a few brief moments as Teacher finished his drink and both Gorgon and Jacob curiously waited for what Teacher was going to say.

“I suppose you could say I was feeling nostalgic partly, but the other is that J here can read and write, and he is a damn fast learner. Remind you of anyone in particular?” Teacher posed as he blew a puff of smoke in Gorgon’s direction. The room became even more silent than before. Gorgon looked pensively at Teacher who stared right back at him just as intensely, and then he regarded Jacob who appeared ignorant and innocent.

“It’s possible I suppose, Teacher, but the last time he was here he failed and brought more misery and shame on all of us who were young and full of hope. What makes you so certain that this time will be any different?” Gorgon asked. Teacher shrugged his shoulders.

“We aren’t getting any younger looking, although you always have looked handsome and young…” Teacher said

“Traits that I will never hold in high regard for as long as I live; I’m not sure why people value such things.” Gorgon interrupted appearing most anxious at Teacher’s words.

“…Well, the point is, Gorgon, that we aren’t what we were then and now we are much wiser and much older; call it a fifth sense, but I feel really lucky about this young boy here succeeding where the other failed.” Teacher stated confidently as he pointed his cigar to Jacob. Clearly confused, Jacob was about to ask what they were talking about, but Gorgon was already speaking.

“What do you plan to do?” Gorgon asked simply.

“I brought him here for you to inspect and give me your judgment call, and then the two of us will go to the palace; you’ll pass the word along and everyone will join up and attack the palace with you and That leading the charge. It’s as good of a plan that we’ll ever have, and those two dunderheads will never be expecting it.” Teacher stated with a wide smile.

“Let’s see where this takes us then,” Gorgon replied with his own smile and the two raised their bottles to each other. As Gorgon as about to drink out of his own bottle there was a big “bang” and his bottle broke into millions of shards of glass. He looked up and saw that Jacob was pointing a gun at him, but then he pointed it at Teacher.

“I am tired of people treating me like I’m not here and not worth considering when planning something. My parents treated me like an ignorant toy, neither one of you will get the opportunity to do the same thing. Now listen up, Teach, I better get some answers really quick or I’m going to shoot you first in your privates, then your chest, and if you’re lucky then I’ll kill you.” Jacob said very quietly as he aimed the gun at Teacher’s lower extremities. Teacher grinned.

“You made it, J, you have what it takes to survive…”

“I don’t give a damn about your stupid philosophy, Teach; tell me what I want to know without the lecture or I’ll pop one right now.” Jacob said as he pointed his gun a little lower. Teacher cleared his throat before speaking.

“When Gorgon, myself, and many others were young as you now are, we found ourselves in this place in a similar position such as yourself. A boy came who was smarter, quicker, and braver than all of us; he led an attack against the Prince and Princess. It failed though, but he was able to get out of Hell somehow. Before the assault he had told a select few of us that if he died or vanished he would return again how ever many times it would take to get rid of the Prince and Princess forever. I think that some part of you is him, and that whether or not you’re conscious of it, you are here to kill the Prince and Princess.” Teacher finished saying. The silence that ensued was stifling. Very slowly Jacob lowered his gun and pointed it at Gorgon’s face.

“Is what he said true?” Jacob asked Gorgon who quickly nodded his head.

“Every word of it, I swear.” Gorgon said. Jacob loosened his grip on the gun and set it on a table next to him and popped open a bottle of whiskey and began to drink it down. Once he was finished he tossed it to the ground and grabbed two more bottles, his gun and stood up from his chair.

“Excuse me gentlemen, while I drink myself into a crazed stupor,” Jacob declared and sauntered out of the room and into another part of the cave. He had grabbed a nearby lantern for light; he didn’t fancy drinking in the dark. He found a comfortable niche that seemed secluded and far away enough from Teacher and Gorgon. He took a long drink of whiskey and collapsed up against the cold wall of the cave. He felt numb all over both physically and mentally. He didn’t know what all of the crap about him being here before and leading people to kill or stop this Prince and Princess was, but he wasn’t fulfilling any circle of life prophecy gig no matter what anyone said. He finished the first bottle and began drinking the second one and then everything began swirling, and upon feeling very warm he closed his eyes.

襘;

With a jerk, Jacob awakened. He heard screaming and shouting from down the cave. He pulled out his pistol, grabbed the lantern and began to follow the sounds. As he got nearer to the source of the screaming it sounded like a small child, a boy. When the screams became so loud that they were pounding in his ears, he turned a bend and there at the entrance of the cave where he and Teacher and entered was a small boy convulsing and screaming. The boy was frantically trying to get something off of him but there was nothing there. Jacob set the lantern down and tried to figure out how he could help the young boy. He heard footsteps behind him and was relieved to see Gorgon standing there.

“It’s about time one of you showed up, help me with him.” Jacob asked, but Gorgon didn’t move. “Help me,” Jacob pleaded but yet Gorgon didn’t budge. “HELP ME!” Jacob screamed and then Gorgon took out his pistol and shot the boy in the head. The screaming stopped, but the boy was dead; his lifeless body hung limp cradled in Jacob’s arms. Jacob looked down at the helpless corpse and tears welled up in his eyes as he set the body down and then looked upon Gorgon fiercely drawing his own sidearm and pointing it at Gorgon’s face.

“You wicked bastard, I asked you to help me, not to kill him!” Jacob shouted, but Gorgon didn’t flinch at all.

“You don’t understand, J, I did help him; look and see how peaceful he is.” Gorgon pointed to the expression on the corpse’s face. Jacob looked and the expression actually looked quite peaceful. “This boy somehow was able to escape the clutches of the Prince and Princess; this is what happens to every boy that crosses the threshold of their palace doors. This is what could have happened to you if Teacher hadn’t destroyed those scrappies…” Gorgon said heatedly and then stopped. He gazed down at the small corpse and kneeled beside it. Jacob lowered his gun.

“…This is what happened to me,” Gorgon said as a tear fell down from his eye. Jacob felt confused.

“But…you’re alive, Gorgon, you didn’t get shot in the head…” Jacob began saying but Gorgon shook his head.

“No that isn’t what I was referring to. I was once a…captive of the Prince and Princess, but I was able to escape and run into the mountains and avoid the detection of the scrappies. I cried day and night for weeks and weeks hoping that something would find me and put me out of my misery. I came across Teacher though, and another who called himself Bub, he was the one that Teacher and I were referring to when he was telling you of our attempt to get rid of the Prince and Princess. Somehow they were able to help me without killing me, and I was eventually able to learn all of the rules of survival and the three of us made quite a trio. I have never forgotten what the Prince and Princess did to me when I was a boy, and I seemed cursed forever as I remain young and handsome just the way they…well let’s just say that all of their prey have that in common.” Gorgon finished saying as he closed the eyes of the corpse and crossed the arms.

“Couldn’t you have tried to help the boy, like Teacher and Bub helped you though; did you really have to kill him?” Jacob asked. Gorgon stood to his feet and gazed solemnly at Jacob.

“It is better to give peace than help, rule number nine. If Teacher is correct about you, J, then you can put a stop to all of this if you wish.” Gorgon said and then turned to leave. Jacob quietly gazed at the corpse. “Oh by the way,” Gorgon said as he turned back to face Jacob who looked at him. “This boy is one of hundreds that are usually kept within the palace; some nights there are parties and the boys are handed…well, they get to know the other guests quite well. Keep that in mind as you make your decision.” Gorgon then returned to the room. Jacob knelt by the corpse and did nothing but gaze upon the peaceful face for a few moments, and then with all of his strength he pushed the corpse out of the entrance of the cave and watched as it plunged down into the ravine.

“I hope you found peace,” Jacob said quietly before retreating back into the cave.

襘;

襘;

Jacob had awakened early in the morning and was sitting at the mouth of the cave staring absent mindedly across the ravine. Blood had stained the stone where the young corpse had been late that night; Jacob sat next to the spot. The lifeless body could not be seen below anywhere in the area where Jacob had pushed it off. He only could surmise that something had eaten it, or taken it away for whatever purpose. Despite all of the alcohol and candy he had eaten that past night, he felt fine unlike the first night that he had tried all of that. He pulled out a pack of cigarettes and began to smoke one; he never realized how much whatever was wrapped up inside of the paper could calm one down. All he had ever heard was that cigarettes were bad for you, but he reasoned that seeing a young boy get shot was bad, and that people hunting you down too was bad. Smoking seemed so trivial when compared to those kinds of things as did the consumption of alcohol. Suddenly, a new way of thinking entered Jacob’s mind and he felt so…so…liberated.

“Not a spectacular view, but one worth at least waking up alive to see.” Teacher said as he stretched behind Jacob and took a seat beside him and looked across the ravine as well. Both of them were silent and peacefully gazing at the dull view. “Once, from what I’m told, this valley use to be green and full of life, but then there was an accident and something annihilated all of the foliage and animal life that dwelt here. It’s a real shame, but at least we’re still here.”

“We aint living much of a life though,” Jacob said glumly as he tossed a rock out into the ravine.

“Gorgon told me about the boy last night, J; there’s nothing to be angry or upset about. I’ve killed many who were experiencing the same thing and I never looked back on it, not once.” Teacher said plainly. Jacob gazed at him piercingly.

“Were the same things done to you that were done to Gorgon?” Jacob asked with tears beginning to well up in his eyes. For a moment Teacher just looked at Jacob, but then he sighed and nodded his head.

“I was one of their favorites actually, and the only benefit of that was that they wouldn’t hand me around to others they would just keep me for themselves. Not much of a consolation prize, but you have to find something positive or go mad. I was able to escape with great difficulty and made my way in the wastelands. After a number of escapees got away we began to form a group and all of us managed to evade the forces of the Prince and Princess. Some got recaptured, many died though rather than go back. I’ve done a number of things which civilization would consider horrible, but I’ve never looked back; not dwelling on the past in rule number ten.” Teacher finished with a smile, but Jacob wasn’t grinning. He felt as if he was about to explode with emotion.

“How did you survive, how could you with what they did to you?” Jacob pleaded desperately.

“I made a choice every day to live and forget the past; everyone has to make that choice, me, Gorgon, even you…” Teacher was saying.

“But, that’s…that’s…so…very…hard,” Jacob sputtered as tears began to drop from his face although he tried his best to stop them. He pushed on his forehead strongly as if to somehow force the images out of his mind. “I tried to get away from my parents, I tried to get my mind and thoughts away from them but…I couldn’t. Everything I read, everything I heard, everything I looked at I saw something in it about what they did to me and how they did it. When I flipped through a book about animals, there was a picture of two lions pouncing on a gazelle and a picture of them jumping on me while I was laying naked in bed flashed through my mind. A comic book hero that hugs his sweetheart, I imagine my parents hugging me while…” but Jacob couldn’t finish the sentence and he collapsed into tears. Teacher watched him for a few moments before he took both of Jacob’s shoulder’s and gazed right into his red eyes.

“Now listen to me, J, what happened to you was worse than monstrous and it sucks that it was your parents that did it to you, but here are the facts; you aren’t with your parents any more. You don’t have to live in fear anymore, you don’t have to be near them anymore, you don’t have to do anything that you don’t want to do. Living a life not full of regret and guilt is a choice you’re going to have to make each day. You can feel sorry for yourself as much as you want and try to get people to also feel bad for you, but ultimately dude you are all you have. Living and thinking that way will hurt yourself and nobody else, so stop wasting all of your energy on it. Okay?” Teacher finished saying firmly as he patted Jacob hard on the back. Jacob choked momentarily on his tears but then stopped and calmed himself back down and he was able to muster a grin.

“I thought you weren’t supposed to help anyone?” Jacob asked with a faint smile. Teacher shrugged his shoulders.

“I only gave you some advice, now you have to make up your own damn mind about what you’re going to do.” Teacher said and then he took a cigarette and lighter from Jacob. “I was wondering where these disappeared to,” he said with a smile as he stuffed them back inside Jacob’s jacket pocket once he had lit one. “So what are you going to do?”

“Well,” Jacob said as he dried his face and took a deep breath. “I want to kill the Prince and Princess,” he finished with firm resolve. Teacher’s eyes got a little big but then he snickered. “First though, I think we need to have a couple of drinks and get some bigger guns.”

“I thought you might say all of that, and I know the perfect individual to go to concerning these matters.” Teacher said as he stood up and turned to walk back inside of the cave.

“He won’t shoot me point blank if I leave a drop of whiskey in the bottle will he?” Jacob asked sarcastically as he blew a puff of smoke towards Teacher, who turned around with a faint grin on his face.

“No, I don’t think she will.” Teacher responded back and then disappeared into the shadows. It took Jacob a few seconds to process what Teacher had just said.

“Hey wait!” Jacob said as he stood to his feet in bewildered surprise and went after Teacher.

襘;

襘;

Jacob carefully walked around the glowing pink pools of oozing liquid that bubbled. The air was filled with the stench of rotten cotton candy, and the sky was thick with black clouds that thundered loudly and every now and then flashes of red lightning would burst across the skies. He and Teacher had left the comforts of Gorgon’s cave, who had promised to spread the word far and wide to prepare one and all to assault the palace. Jacob though was pointing a gun at Gorgon’s head when he made this promise, and Jacob also swore that if Gorgon didn’t do what he pledged to do, that he would personally hunt him down and chop him into fine dust. With that said, Teacher and Jacob descended down into the ravine and passed through the mountain pass. After they had emerged from the mountains, new terrain appeared. It was marshy, with water seemingly in each step and the air thick of moisture.

Eventually after treading through the marsh for a while they passed through a forest of trees that had black bark, black leaves, but oddly enough there were pink flowers on the trees. And they even once came across a large moose chasing a gigantic brown bear, which caused quite a ruckus. For Jacob, seeing such odd things was beginning to become normal for him as he knew full well that where he was before a brown bear would never run from a moose. The closer they got to the edge of the forest Jacob began to notice an acrid stench that turned his stomach. He smoked some cigarettes to distract himself from the noxious smell, but it was to no avail so he did his best to ignore it. Once they were through the black forest they stood before perhaps one the oddest sights Jacob had seen yet.

It appeared that the vast ground before them had been some sort of lake but had long ago dried up. Instead of water, there were pools, large and small, of oozing pink liquid and right up close the stench was even fouler. The perimeter of the old lake was marked by a high mountain wall with a gap for what appeared to be a river of the oozing pink liquid. In the center of the noxious pink ooze was a large house but it looked like it was a factory, or rather very industrial like. There were massive steel chimneys all over the roof spitting out an abundance of steam and green smoke. Every now and then from the sides of the house there were be sudden roars and great bursts of fire. The house itself was made out of red brick and the windows had steel bars to block anyone from getting in or out. Jacob wasn’t too eager to go inside, but he followed Teacher anyways; he thought since he had gotten this far without dying it was unlikely that death would be coming for him anytime soon.

“Hey, Teacher, why does this person live in this stinking and festering place?” Jacob asked as he carefully walked on a narrow piece of rock between two of the pools of the pink ooze. “And what is this stuff?”

“No one rightly knows what this pink crap is or where it came from, but one thing is for sure you never want to touch it with your naked skin. As for why she lives here, I guess she likes it; I’ve never asked her why she lives here. It might be a good question to ask her; I highly doubt she’s had any company for a long time.” Teacher replied with a smile as he effortlessly weaved himself around the pink pools of ooze. Jacob followed his path but with great difficulty.

“How do you know this woman?” Jacob asked almost losing his balance and plummeting face forward into some of the pink ooze, but he caught himself just in time and tried to calm his beating heart.

“I would hardly call her a woman, but she is the finest weapons forger around these parts and makes the fiercest whiskey. Aside from myself, she has a hell of an aim with any gun and can take out scrappies with simple ease. I think you’ll like her.” Teacher said as they got closer to the house.

“Just like That and Gorgon right? I don’t know about your friends, Teach, a lot of them seem sketchy to me.” Jacob said with sarcasm, but Teacher didn’t respond as he was standing in front of the massive two steel doors to the entrance of the house. With one last hop, Jacob made it to the landing and stood beside Teacher waiting. With a deep breath Teacher rapped on the door with the small knocker which echoed thunderously within the house. After a few moments Jacob heard some clamor within the house and then loud footsteps coming closer to them. The doors were yanked open as if they were made of paper and standing in front of them was a rather tall woman with black smudges all over her face and wearing a gray jumpsuit. She had a mechanical eye on her right side, and on the other wore an eye patch. She had long blonde hair that was tied up in a pony tail. She didn’t look too pleased.

“What the hell do you want, Teacher, and who’s the whelp?” The woman asked gruffly.

“You certainly haven’t acquired any charm since we last saw each other, Rosie, perhaps you shouldn’t stick your head up those yellow smoke pipes all of the time.” Teacher said with a wry smile, but Rosie didn’t look amused.

“Get your head out of your ass, Teacher, and tell me what you want; I’m busy working and don’t have time for small talk.” Rosie replied irritably as she checked her left arm which was covered in old and scratched up watches.

“This is, J, and he’s going to take out the Prince and Princess and to do that he’s going to need some weapons and while he’s doing that I’m going to be killing as many scrappies as I can and therefore I’ll need some weapons as well. Savvy?” Teacher said as he gazed at Rosie who softened her gaze and nodded her head.

“That’s the most sense you’ve made since I’ve known you, Teacher, yeah I got some stuff for you and the boy so you both can come in, but don’t touch anything. I have a lot of weapons in progress and the last thing I need is to have a couple of idiotic crusaders mess it all up.” Rosie said as she stood aside and motioned for them to enter.

“Yeah whatever,” Teacher said casually as he crossed the threshold with Jacob right behind him. “That’s what you said last time when I knocked over that vat of smelted iron ore, and all you did was try to blow my head off with a sawed off shot gun.”

“It could have been worse; I could have actually blown that saggy globe of yours into fine particles of dust, but that’s what happens when I get mad, my shooting is terrible.” Rosie said as she began to lead them through the house. The interior fortunately didn’t smell like the outside, but there was a metallic taste in the air and it smelled of sulfur and smoke. There was metal of some kind wherever Jacob looked and the floor was covered in dust and fine shavings of metal. Hanging on the walls were various tools on shelves or just outright hanging. There was a blow torch hanging by its cord still lit, knives that had been simply stuck into the wall, and odd looking tools that Jacob had never seen before. Guns of all kind were also everywhere hanging on the walls carelessly or lying on the ground in small or large piles.

“You have a lot of guns, Rosie.” Jacob said as he glanced from the walls to the floors.

“It’s my hobby; the only sad thing is I don’t get to use them as frequently as I’d like. I haven’t gone scrappie hunting in such a long time, but I guess you both will even up the score for me a little. Just through this door right here,” Rosie motioned as she opened a rusty metal door that creaked. Jacob and Teacher stepped in and their eyes grew wide.

“Those damn scrappies won’t know what hit them by the time I get finished with them.” Teacher said smiling widely as he gazed at the immense cache of weapons. There were assault rifles, machine guns, rocket launchers, flame throwers, hand guns, experimental laser guns, various kinds of explosive ordinance, knives and swords, and some rather interesting looking bow weaponry. Jacob too was glowing with eagerness and excitement. He began picking up the various assault rifles and trying the weight out and how it felt in his hands; it was as if he was in a candy shop.

“I thought you boys might enjoy this room, although, Teacher, you know that I need payment.” Rosie said as she took a cigar from her pocket and stuck it in her mouth before grabbing a nearby blow torch and lighting it. Teacher paused for a moment and thought.

“You still accepting sex as payment for your weapons?” Teacher asked lifting his left eyebrow; Rosie rolled her eyes.

“Not from you, Teach; you exhausted that payment method long ago. No I need something much more valuable than that, and I think I know what you can give me.” Rosie said with a conniving expression on her face. Teacher regarded her warily.

“What can I get for you then?” Teacher asked.

“The Prince and Princess have in their possession the largest reserve of metals so they can build all of their scrappies. These materials tend to be the finest, and they keep them in a storeroom far below their palace. Get them to me after you kick their asses and we’ll consider the deal square.” Rosie stated as she blew a cloud of smoke towards Teacher. Jacob watched as Teacher thought heavily on the matter and then nodded his head.

“I believe we have a deal, just as long as the weapons work.” Teacher warned.

“Feel free to test as many as you desire; the next room is equipped for shooting and blowing stuff up; just remember not to kill each other.” Rosie said as she pointed to the adjoining room before getting up and leaving.

“Oh, I’ll try not to scratch him too much,” Jacob said with a devious smile as he picked up two rapid fire sub machine guns. Teacher smiled and tipped his hat to him.

襘;

襘;

For hours and hours Teacher and Jacob tried out a number of weapons until their minds were satiated with destruction. After that they had their fill of candy and tasted Rosie’s finest whiskey; although Jacob was young and inexperienced at drinking alcohol, he knew that it was the good stuff. However during their merriment in one of the larger salons, Rosie was nowhere to be found. Jacob found this to be quite odd as he understood it that everyone drank alcohol together until they passed out or stuffed themselves voraciously with candy until they couldn’t get anymore inside of their stomachs. He almost asked Teacher about it, but felt wiser that it wouldn’t be such a great idea. Eventually the two of them drifted to sleep; Teacher on the couch surrounded by empty bottles and Jacob on a sofa on his stomach with a half empty bottle in one hand and candy wrappers littered everywhere.

Hours later Jacob jerked awake when he heard something “clink” to the ground. He moved his head to the left and saw the bottle that was in his spinning around. He sat up and massaged his aching head; he didn’t know if he’d ever get used to the after affects of being drunk. Brushing aside all of the candy wrappers, Jacob sat up and stretched. He was a little tired, but he also was a little hungry. Eagerly he looked for some more candy but apparently he and Teacher had consumed the lot they had obtained from Rosie. He wondered where she kept it. He put his boots on and left the room; Teacher was snoring sound asleep. The house seemed empty and eerie as there was the constant sound of steam hissing and every now and then a “clank” “clank” which made Jacob pause before continuing on once again. He had no idea where he was going but knew that there had to be a kitchen somewhere where he could get some chocolate milk, cheese pretzels or something that was tasty. He was about to open a door to peek in and see if it was the kitchen or a food storeroom, but something caught his ear and he turned his head down the dimly lit hall. It was…music, piano music for that matter. Jacob slowly began to follow the faint sound, which led him down the dimly lit hall.

At the end of the hall, Jacob could see where two large doors were opened and the piano music became louder with each step that he took. The music sounded like nothing he had ever heard of before; beautiful, peaceful yet sad. He strode through the doors cautiously and glanced around a rather large and empty room for the most part. Framed pictures of various splatters of paint were hanging on the wall. The floor was metal but a large and thick rug covered most of the room. The outside wall was made completely of glass doors and windows all of which were opened; white sheer curtains were hanging over them gently blowing in the wind. There on the piano playing gently, yet passionately was Rosie; all cleaned up and looking quite lovely. Even her eye patch and mechanical eye were gone. Jacob sat down on a nearby stool and listened.

Rosie played, seemingly not even aware that Jacob was listening. Jacob, not wanting to disturb her, said nothing and quietly sat entranced by the blissful sounds with each note that she gently played. With a quiet finish the piece came to an end and the music stopped. For a moment the sounds of the breeze blowing through the curtains seemed to have created their own music. Rosie then looked up from the keyboard to where Jacob was sitting. She smiled at him and he managed to put a grin on his face.

“That was very nice,” Jacob said trying not to sound sheepishly.

“You’re an easy critic, J, come on over and have a drink; all of the company that Teacher usually brings are snoring soundly from all of the alcohol and consumption of candy.” Rosie suggested pointing to a cushiony chair nearby. Jacob didn’t hesitate but exchanged the rather uncomfortable stool for something much easier on the ass. Rosie poured him something the looked like wine in a goblet that was made out of glass or crystal.

“You’re a very gracious host,” Jacob stated as he took the goblet and smelled the wine, which was different than what he was getting use to. “What is it?” Jacob asked trying to hide his disdain for the stench that was pouring into his nostrils.

“The men around here prefer to douse and drench themselves in whiskey, beer, and other such alcohol; I prefer wine though, I think you’ll actually like it, especially with some chocolate.” Rosie said with a smile as she pulled a large box of various shapes of chocolate from behind her. Jacob’s eyes grew big and he went right for the milk chocolate truffles. He bit into them, and he was in bliss; he had them once before when his mother let him try some from a present that he and his father had gotten her for mother’s day. Suddenly something flashed in Jacob’s mind; screaming, crying and pain, such pain and then embarrassment. He choked on the truffle and had to cough it out.

“That isn’t usually what people do when offered chocolate, but then again you are only a boy.” Rosie said as she leaned back in the chair and began sipping on her wine. She gazed upon Jacob as if she were the scientist and him the curious artifact. Jacob drank the wine and eventually he was able to stop coughing and shift his mind to other things, because for a moment there everything had become fuzzy and white.

“I guess, that’s what happens when you have too much candy and fine whiskey together.” Jacob said with a wry smile on his face, and immediately he knew that she could see through him and sense his pain. Feeling suddenly uncomfortable he tried to talk, as he had seen…others do. “Ah…that was a great song, where’d you learn how to play?”

“My mother taught me,” Rosie responded after a moment of silence. “Then after the lessons she would hand me off to her male customers who liked to feel up little girls. I think I was six years old when a man first had me, and after that all mother’s customers wanted to keep trying new things with me, and by the time I was eleven I was considered an expert in pleasing men of all ages. I was making my mother more money then she got teaching piano, and soon she became so rich that she wanted to get more girls. By this time I was fourteen and had enough, so I had one of my mother’s customers take me away, because I gave him the illusion that I would be his. After I got all of his money and what not, I ran away and ended up here. Now I build weapons and machines to destroy those bastards that robbed me of everything.”

“Wow,” was all that Jacob could manage to say, and he didn’t mean it in a casual or disrespectful way, but he hadn’t a clue what else to say. Rosie grinned at him, but for all her looks to Jacob she appeared so callous and void of…anything really happy. “Why do you play the piano if it reminds you something painful?” Rosie set her wine glass down and sat back on the piano bench brushing her fingers against the keys.

“When I was there with my mother, all I had was the piano and the music of the all the different artists that had written the sheet music that I had been given; there was nothing else. The piano and the music it made became a…sort of comfort, something that I could go to when I was happy or sad, angry or passionate; it was the only consistent and reliable thing in my life. Although my mother taught me so much, the piano gave me something my mother never could or would.” Rosie stated sadly, although her expression remained firm as steel; it was in her tone that a hint of sadness could be detected.

“What couldn’t your mother give you?” Jacob asked curiously. Rosie sighed.

“You should know the answer to that one, J,” Rosie began as she glanced at Jacob. “What didn’t you get from your mother?” The question made Jacob’s heart sink to his stomach, and despite his best efforts more images began racing through his head. He stood up and turned his back towards Rosie and let a few tears fall from his eyes. He then breathed in deeply and turned to face her making certain his face was clear with a smile on it.

“How should I know, but I do know that Teacher and I have to leave early, so thanks for the wine, chocolates and the music. Have a good rest of the night.” Jacob said awkwardly and then hurried off. More images began to flash through his head, and then there was screaming and lots of crying. Tears began to flow from Jacob’s eyes and he covered his ears as if that would blot out the sounds, but they wouldn’t stop. He pushed open the door to where he and Teacher were staying and found three bottles of whiskey. He began drinking one immediately and didn’t stop until it was all gone, he then began drinking the next one until that one was finished, and while he was drinking the third one he passed out.

襘;

“Wake up you stupid son of bitch,” Jacob heard a voice say loudly before he felt something wet fall on his face. He sat bolt upright in bed wiping the liquid from his face, which happened to be beer. He then felt two hands grab him and then throw him against the wall. When he adjusted his eyes he saw that Teacher was the one who was forcing him up against the wall and he didn’t look very happy.

“What the hell is wrong with you?” Jacob shouted as he tried to force Teacher off of him, but his compatriot was far too strong for that.

“I shouldn’t have to wake you up from a deep slumber so that we can get going; damn, I’d shoot you now if you weren’t so useful to me, you worthless bastard!” Teacher shouted right in his ear. Jacob wanted to cry at first, but he began to feel intense anger rising up inside of him.

“What did I do to you, what did I say?” Jacob demanded as he glared at Teacher who remained infuriated still.

“You had more to drink in the early morning hours didn’t you? And not just one a little drink, you drank close to three bottles!” Teacher screamed and then threw Jacob on the floor. After he balanced himself out he pulled out a hand gun and aimed it at Teacher’s head and pulled back the trigger. Teacher didn’t even seem to notice. “That is why we drink late at night, J, so we don’t have problems like this in morning, so that we can move out if necessary. Your damn stupidity could have cost us our lives!”

“I couldn’t help myself, I needed to forget!” Jacob shouted back angrily. On the outside he was furious and seemed like he could shoot, but on the inside he was ready to burst into tears; he desperately wanted to hug somebody who truly loved and cared for him. Someone who wouldn’t hurt him, someone who would protect and watch out for him. Teacher looked at Jacob incredulously.

“And what pray tell did you want to forget about that you endangered both our lives for?” Teacher asked still glaring at Jacob who didn’t budge.

“I don’t want to talk about it.” Jacob said plainly.

“What was it?” Teacher responded in frustration.

“I said let it be!” Jacob shouted back louder, but Teacher wouldn’t stop.

“Nightmares, memories, your parents, this whole fucking world!”

“I said I DIDN’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT!”

“TELL ME!” Teacher shouted back even louder than Jacob who cowered back a little upon seeing Teacher’s face and hearing his voice.

“I wanted to forget the things that my parents did to me, okay!” Jacob shouted back and then took the gun, cocked it, and fired at the couches. He drained the gun of bullets and then picked up a machine gun and riddled the couch with more bullets until they were gone. He was screaming hysterically by now and then he picked up a flame thrower and set the couch ablaze. He was about to pull the pin out of a grenade when Teacher stopped him.

“Jacob!” Teacher shouted, and reflexively Jacob stopped. He looked at Teacher, his eyes all red and his face seemingly distorted, and then burst into tears and let himself collapse face first onto the floor. For a moment Teacher stood completely still as he listened to the uncontrollable sobs of Jacob, but he then hesitantly knelt down beside Jacob and put his hand gently on Jacob’s back. Within seconds, Jacob was leaning up against Teacher who had his arm around him, still crying though but for the time being he felt safe. It was the use of his entire name by Teacher, and at that moment Jacob knew that beyond all of the survival skills, lessons and rules that he had taught him, the man cared for him.

“All of us here have things we long to forget, that’s why we all drink and do other things so that we can forget and try to live; it isn’t easy, J, but if we can’t control our pain then it will take over our minds. A mind overrun with pain is useless, and that’s how we can get killed.” Teacher said and then he gently took both hands and held Jacob’s face in front of his. “Never again let your pain take you over, never again, J.” Teacher said softly.

“Okay,” was all that Jacob could manage to say. His eyes were bloodshot and his voice a little hoarse sounding from all of the shouting. “I swear I won’t ever let it happen again.”

“We’d best be on our way then,” Teacher stated as he stood up abruptly. Jacob dried his eyes and took a couple of deep long breaths.

“I’ll get all of the weapons we need,” Jacob stated and went about collecting the firearms that he and Teacher had agreed upon, although Teacher also collected a number of weapons to put on his own person and carry. Rosie appeared, standing in the doorway, in her overalls and sooty face once again; the beauty that Jacob had seen appeared to have been all a faced or maybe it was the other way around.

“Just remember our deal, Teach; and if you forget or don’t come through then I’m going to put such a bounty on your head that even the scrappies will leave the service of the Prince and Princess to hunt you down.” Rosie stated with her usual tone of sarcasm and seriousness.

“You don’t have that much to worry about, Rosie. If this doesn’t work out then I’ll be dead, and if it does then you’ll definitely get your materials; after all with your weapons, my brains, and his stupid sense of destiny we can’t fail.” Teacher declared with a big old grin on his face.

“You just kept telling yourself that, Teach,” Rosie said with a faint smile on her face before vanishing to one of the many corridors of her house.

“Let’s get the hell out of here, J, before she changes her mind.” Teacher said as he picked up one last weapons and then walked out of the room. Jacob was right behind him towing all of the weapons that he could carry. They hadn’t gotten too far outside of the building when something occurred to Jacob.

“Hey, Teacher, how are we going to get around all of this bubbling pink slime?” Jacob asked as the smell once again assaulted his nostrils. Teacher pointed a strange looking boat that was docked next to the house.

“Well, I don’t want to haul these things all the way over to the realm of the Prince and Princess from here. Come on, load up the boat.” Teacher said as he tossed his bundle of weapons to Jacob who almost toppled with the weight but he carried them over to the rather large boat and dropped them in. It was made out of metal and had a large amount of space on the deck; it reminded Jacob of some of the speed boats that he had seen in some of the geographical magazines his parents had given him. This boat however was uglier, and he couldn’t for the life of him see where the motor was. Once everything was loaded up, Teacher took a seat by the captain’s wheel and lit a cigarette; Jacob sat across from him in the co-pilot’s seat.

“So, how are we going to get this thing moving without an engine?” Jacob asked, but Teacher didn’t look that concerned. Finally, after Jacob coughed to make certain that Teacher heard him his compatriot merely shrugged his shoulders.

“Eh, don’t worry about it; we should be under way in a moment or two.” Teacher answered casually and then leaned back and closed his eyes. Jacob was about to ask him how they were going to go anywhere without a motor, but suddenly they were propelled forward and Jacob fell backwards off his seat. The boat lurched away from Rosie’s place and in seconds they were speeding away through the big lake of pinke ooze. Jacob managed to pull himself up and sat back on the chair, he then looked over at Teacher who was still relaxing.

“How are me moving without a motor?” Jacob asked loudly over the noise of the splashing of the pink ooze.

“Hamsters,” Teacher replied plainly. Jacob arched his eyebrows at Teacher. “On steroids probably knowing how fast we’re going; Rosie is a very impatient woman, never enjoys a nice luxurious voyage.” Teacher said. Jacob thought about it and chuckled to himself, and the more he thought about the ludicrous notion, the more it amused him. Eventually he kicked back his feet as well and relaxed; he even pulled out a cigar and began to quietly smoke as Teacher was. The two of them journeyed in silence for hours and hours. The scenery wasn’t much; everything was dead or at least had the appearance of being dead. And very soon, despite the noise and the stench of the pink ooze, Jacob fell asleep.

襘;

襘;

Jacob awoke when he felt a gentle slap against his head. He yanked out his pistol, cocked it, and leapt to his feet. He looked around and could see nothing that indicated an imminent threat. Teacher was lighting a cigar and steering the boat through a narrow valley; there was still pink ooze everywhere but he had either gotten used to the stench or the smell was gone. The sun was low in the sky and there was a chilly breeze blowing through the air. Jacob put his gun away and noticed something. There was a kind of foreboding about in the chilly air, a sense that made him think of the comic books where at the end of a set the villain and hero would have an epic final battle.

“Have a nice little nap?” Teacher asked with his usual knack for pleasantness.

“I guess,” Jacob responded with equal amiability. He looked down the river of pink ooze and saw that they were approaching a cave which the pink ooze flowed through. “Hey, are we going into that cave?”

“Yep,” Teacher responded simply.

“Are we going to stay there for the night?” Jacob asked curiously as he glanced up at the sun.

“Nope,” Teacher answered quickly.

“What do you mean?” Jacob interjected worriedly. “What about the sun light? If we get caught out in it then we’ll be…”

“There is no sleep for us tonight, J. That cave right there in front of us leads underneath the palace of the Prince and Princess. We should without any difficulty be able to infiltrate the palace and kill them while all of the decent citizens of Hell create a distraction for us.” Teacher stated without much hesitation. Jacob looked at him and suddenly felt very cold inside as his heart collapsed into his stomach. Even after all of the talking and planning they had actually come to the place where it all began.

“Oh, okay,” Jacob feigned in cool confidence, but he knew that Teacher would be able to see through his weak faced. That however wasn’t the point; if he had panicked and showed weakness then he would be far worse off. By pretending that he had everything under control he remained in control of himself and that was how it should be, at least that is what Teacher had taught him. As they passed into the cave leaving the light of the sun behind them, Jacob felt a damp shiver pass over him. It was weird but it was as if he could…sense that the Prince and Princess were near. He looked up and knew that high above them at this very moment the two of them were doing…something. Suddenly Jacob felt something uncontrollable in his stomach and he leaned over the boat and vomited.

The lurching and retching lasted almost a couple minutes and then stopped. Jacob let his bodyweight fall up against the hull of the boat and he pulled out a small bottle of Rosie’s whiskey. After he took a couple of swigs he relaxed and closed his eyes. He didn’t know why he had the sudden urge to vomit, but he knew it had something to do with the Prince and Princess.

“I certainly hope that isn’t your primary fighting skill, or I’ll just shoot you in the head now and get it over with.” Teacher stated with a wry smile on his face. Jacob rolled his eyes.

“If you haven’t noticed, the pink ooze kind of stinks, and I only have the stomach of ten year old boy, not the experienced iron stomach of a man despite what I tell my brain.” Jacob retorted swiftly. Teacher nodded his head satisfyingly and smiled largely.

“Very good, J, your lying is getting much, much better; soon you’ll be able to fool anyone into believing what you want them to believe. You’ve come such a long way since when I first found you; I am very impressed.” Teacher said with the smile still on his face, and Jacob couldn’t help but notice that there was some warmth in his mentor’s expression. It was as if Teacher was genuinely proud of Jacob and what he had become, and something happened inside of Jacob; he felt…good, something he had never felt before in his life. He hadn’t a clue what this feeling was, but all he knew was it felt good and he felt so very content.

“You’re just getting easier to fool because you’re getting old.” Jacob stated as he didn’t want to show weakness by being all emotional like. Teacher chuckled to himself.

“Perhaps I taught you a little too well, but we’ll see how everything goes tonight.” Teacher said as the sound of a muffled explosion reverberated in the cave, followed by another, and then one that wasn’t quite so muffled and shook the cave. “And there’s our distraction. Hopefully that will draw the majority of the scrappies away from the interior of the palace, and then we should have very little difficulty eliminating anything remaining in our way. It shouldn’t even be that hard to kill the Prince and Princess, that is if you can keep yourself from vomiting in front of them.”

“Hah, hah,” Jacob said as he pulled out a pair of hand guns and loaded them both. He then let out a huge breath and closed his eyes. I am ready for this, I can do this; I can kill the Prince and the Princess.

Teacher tied the boat up at a nearby jagged rock, where he and Jacob got off at. There was a small passage that led away from the river of bubbling pink stuff; he and Teacher moved forward into it. It was dark, so very dark. Jacob began to feel his heart beat faster, and faster; his breath was beginning to become more laborious. Even though Teacher had a small flashlight that shone green, there still wasn’t enough light. Suddenly he felt as if all of the air was closing in and pressing down on him and that there was nowhere to go. He then felt a tender hand on his shoulder and then met Teacher’s confident gaze.

“Think of peace, J, think of what you desire most that you lack…” Teacher said and then paused as Jacob focused his breathing and cleared his mind. “Think of safety, and you will always find it. Let’s go, I think we’re very close now.” Teacher said as he pulled his machine gun off from around his shoulder. The smothering feeling vanished from Jacob and oddly enough the reverse happened; he felt a steady calm, a calm that seemed to indicate cool confidence. Taking a deep breath he pulled out two automatic handguns and followed Teacher on a path that led them on an upward incline.

After traveling through twisting and turning passages for about ten minutes, the vibrations from the explosions were becoming more prominent and clear. Now both Teacher and Jacob could see the foundations of the palace, and Jacob in particular could once more feel the presence of the Prince and Princess. Then oddly enough Jacob could hear something odd, something he wouldn’t have expected to find under the foundations of a palace; running water, and quite a bit of it. He and Teacher rounded a corner and there at the end of the crudely cut out cave passage was a thin blanket of water gently flowing. Jacob thought it was odd and that it was a dead end but Teacher kept on going.

“How are we going to get passed that?” Jacob posed as he stopped in bewilderment, but Teacher didn’t say anything and he didn’t stop; he passed right through the water and off to the left side. Jacob frowned and quickly followed after his associate imitating the same maneuver. He got wet but he was swift enough to keep himself from getting completely drenched. After he emerged away from the water he looked and saw that the water fell down into a large pit which then filtered out down into a river he supposed. The rest of the room was filled with wooden casks of wine and beer he figured, and it was a very large room most likely their wine cellar.

“How’d you know about this place and how to get in it?” Jacob asked Teacher who was carefully making his way towards the stairs.

“I remember it very well from the time when I used it escape this place, several years ago, although I did almost take a wrong turn a couple twists ago, now that would have been bad.” Teacher said with a full smile, but Jacob could tell as they both began to ascend the stairs that the man had so much sadness and pain buried in his voice. Jacob knew all about that pain, and knew why it was never spoken about and ignored. The person would have to admit to themselves that the two people who should give their own lives to protect that which was entrusted to them, ended up being two people who destroyed those lives for their own simple pleasure. That would make anyone feel…well less than valuable.

“Well thank goodness you remembered it all, otherwise this whole party would have been for nothing.” Jacob responded now sounding more and more like Teacher with each passing moment. They reached the top of the stairs, Teacher slowly opened the door and cursed under his breath when it creaked loudly, but there was nothing for it. Jacob hoped that while Teacher was peering out of it that he wouldn’t see anything that would sound an alarm. He then nodded for Jacob to follow him as he exited the door. Both of them emerged into a rather odd looking hallway, Jacob noted as he gently closed the door behind him.

The floor was checkered black and white (polished very, very well), and the walls were made of mirror. Gas lamps brightly lit the hall so there didn’t seem to be a speck of darkness despite there being any windows present. The whole area was overwhelming for Jacob who hadn’t a clue how anyone possibly navigated around if this is what the entire palace looked like.

“How the hell are we going to know which way to go?” Jacob whispered forcibly as he glanced around. Teacher looked down at him with a grin and then appeared hurt.

“Why, J, I do believe you are doubting my skills, and my remarkable memory. I walked these halls enough times to find their private chambers in my sleep, not to mention there are a network of secret passages that they used to get around and meet with their special children without anyone noticing. Our first stop is this way.” Teacher motioned as he led the way to the right of the cellar. Jacob hustled after him and the pair came to a flight of stairs with the same pattern as the floor. Teacher motioned for them both to carefully go up the stairs, which step by step they did. There was a large door made of red, polished wood that Teacher eased opened a little and peered through. Just through the crack in the door Jacob could hear a cacophony of sounds seeming to indicate that people were panicky and scurrying around in a disorganized fashion. Teacher turned around and nodded his head to the left.

“Follow me, J, and whatever you do, don’t discharge a single bullet otherwise the whole palace guard will be on top of us; just blend in with the chaos and nobody will notice us.” Teacher said taking a deep breath and then he shoved the door open and charged over to the left grabbing a stack of books and papers in his arms as he went; Jacob immediately grabbed a couple of lamps and followed Teacher. Jacob tried to focus only on where Teacher was going, but his eyes quickly glanced around and he could see that people were running and carrying stuff everywhere. Some of those people were well dressed, some of them were dressed like peddlers, and some of them were dressed like Nazis from World War II. When Jacob noticed that he did a double take to make certain he was correct, but there they were; men dressed in the black SS Nazi uniforms. He shook his head a little and noticed that everything grew hazy and white for a moment but then he focused and everything became clear again.

Teacher led the way through the chaotic room safely and to a secluded nestled corner of the room which was surrounded with bookshelves. Teacher dropped the stuff he had been carrying and Jacob did likewise, who then pulled out his automatic hand guns and waited for Teacher. As if he were searching for a book, Teacher was thumbing through all of the shelves.

“Ah Moby Dick, never liked that one,” Teacher said as he tossed the book aside. Jacob arched his eyebrows curiously as he watched the book “plop” to the shiny checkered floor. “Of Human Bondage, she always was a sucker for the depressing stories.” Teacher commented once more as he tossed the book. Jacob was becoming a little impatient.

“I’m glad that you have excellent taste in books, Teach, but now isn’t really the time to get all literary critic like; we have to go now before someone discovers that we are armed to the teeth.” Jacob stated nervously as he glanced over his shoulder and then looked back at Teacher who was still perusing as if he hadn’t heard a word of what was just said.

“After all of these years, they let their collection get out of alphabetical order; how very disappointing.” Teacher commented with a tisk-tisk. Jacob was again about to remind him of what was at stake, but then Teacher exclaimed in wonderful jubilation, “ah-hah.” He then pulled out one last book holding it in front of Jacob. “Last but not least, The Scarlet Letter, he always had wished the ending was different; he wanted the woman to die, not the man.” Teacher said with a sigh as Jacob jumped back a little when he heard some “clicking” and “clanging” emanating from the bookshelf which then slid over to reveal a narrow stairwell. “Shall we go meet the stewards of Hell?” Teacher posed with a fierce grin and he began to ascend the stairs. Jacob followed after him once he made certain no one was behind them.

Once they had gone up a few stairs, Teacher pulled a lever and the bookshelf closed behind them and once more Jacob and his new mentor began to ascend the stairs. Jacob was very glad that he was still so young as the stairwell was so small and he could see that Teacher was annoyed with the tight space. There was very little light coming from the delicately small soft glowing lamps, but it was enough for Jacob to see his assorted arsenal. When he touched his weapons he felt assured, and even though they were getting closer to the Prince and Princess, he didn’t feel nervous or scared. He was unusually calm. Yet with each passing step they took, he could feel the presence of the Prince and Princess getting stronger. After a while the feeling became so powerful that it was as if it was a pungent stench that hovered above a rotten corpse. When Teacher and Jacob had gone up countless flights of steps, Jacob was beginning to get tired but he didn’t ask Teacher to slow down. He didn’t want to show weakness now of all times, when it was about to be finished.

“One more flight of stairs to go, J, so don’t collapse on me now.” Teacher said almost reading Jacob’s mind, but the words encouraged Jacob and he knew that he could push himself on. So on both of them went through the last flight of stairs that stopped in front of a rather odd looking door. It was very pink, and hanging outside of it was a purple ribbon bow. Teacher pulled down his machine gun and took a deep breath. “No matter what happens, or what you see, J, remember why you decided to do all of this.”

“It’s seared into my mind forever, Teacher; I’ll never forget it.” Jacob responded coldly. Teacher nodded his head and counted down with his fingers; ONE, TWO, THREE and then he and Jacob burst through the door and emerged into what could be considered a nursery for a three year old child. Both of them immediately noticed an adult male dressed in royal clothes from the eighteenth century about ready to get on top of a small boy dressed similarly, but very frightened. Without thinking Jacob scowled vehemently at the man, aimed his gun, and shot the man in the head as he put his hands up and began to plead for his life. As the bullets riddled his head, blood spattered the wall behind him soiling the perfect baby blue wallpaper. The boy looked up at Teacher and Jacob in shock and quickly moved over to the corner huddling in fear. Jacob was about to give the boy some comfort but Teacher pointed to the door leading out of the room.

“Let him be, J, there’ll be time for that later.” Teacher said as he kicked open the door and jumped into the room. Jacob followed him out and laid his eyes on something that made him yearn to vomit, and it was only because he was able to force himself to suppress it that he didn’t vomit. Food and drink was everywhere on tables that stood low to the ground. The room was sumptuously decorated in silks of red, purple, white, blue, and green. What was most disturbing was seeing all of the men and women getting up hastily from their positions on the floor and dressing themselves as dozens of boys tried to cover themselves up with whatever they could find. Jacob felt something cruel rise up in him. He holstered one of his automatic pistols and took out something with more precision.

“You dirty bastards,” Jacob whispered under his breath as he began to pick off the adults one at a time as quickly as he could. He tried to shoot them all in the head, but sometimes he missed and had to shoot them multiple times wherever he could. Teacher joined in, but he used his machine gun because he had much better aim than Jacob did. After a matter of seconds all of the adults in the room were dead, or either bleeding to death. Both Teacher and Jacob lowered their weapons and looked upon the bleeding corpses with delight, but their joy melted when they saw the many young boys scattered amongst the corpses. “Lead on,” Jacob motioned. Teacher nodded his head and swiftly ran across the room to a large set of doors. Jacob followed Teacher and as he was about to exit the room he felt a tug on his pant leg. He looked down at a rather handsome young boy covered up in a white silken blanket.

“Thank you,” the young boy said with tears in his eyes and then looked down at the floor and pulled the blanket around him even tighter. Jacob nodded his head reluctantly and then exited the room with Teacher. He wished that there was more that he could do for the boys, but they had to help themselves just as he did and learn what he learned to survive. The two of them emerged into a long hall next which several scrappies seemed to be guarding. Both Teacher and Jacob immediately opened fire and quickly dispatched all of the guards with little difficulty.

“Better hurry up before they send their elite guard up here to save them from death.” Teacher said as he rushed towards the single door at the end of the hall which was pure white with golden door handles. Teacher kicked the doors open and aimed both of his machine guns throughout the room; Jacob came up behind him. The room was huge and had ten grand looking beds in it. Their attention was drawn to a single bed where a very well dressed man was attempting to drag a young boy over to the massive window. He stopped however when he saw Teacher and Jacob pointing their guns at him. It was the Prince with another one of his play partners.

“You worthless son of a bitch,” Teacher said and just as he was about to shoot the Prince, from behind him the Princess came out from her hiding place and stabbed him in the back. Jacob quickly shot her in the head and she dropped down in front of him. The Prince then got a gun in his hand, but Jacob filled his arm and hand with bullets and then stopped. He stood still like a statue, holding the gun at the Prince who was kneeling on the floor panting and looking somewhat defeated. Teacher had crawled out of the way and had propped himself against the wall. For a moment there was silence, except for hoarse breathing.

“It’s good to see you again, Jacob; I thought you were dead.” The Prince said as he looked up and smiled warmly at Jacob who suddenly noticed his insides felt like jello. “I’ve missed you so much and all of the fun times we’ve had together, why did you run away from us? We love you so much, and you are so precious to us. She was devastated when she had learned that you ran away; she mourned for days and days that she could no longer care for you as we both had done. How could you do that to her, to us; your family? How could you abandon us?”

“I…um…” Jacob stammered and soon his hand was trembling. He tried to focus his gun on the Prince’s head and pull the trigger, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. The Prince smiled warmly and shook his head.

“You don’t have to do this, Jacob, my son; I will love you despite what you’ve done and forget your sins if you put the gun down and come over here and embrace me as your father. Do you hear me, Jacob, I love you!” The Prince said as tears began to trickle down from his eyes.

“Jacob,” Teacher said gently from up against the wall. Jacob glanced over and saw his friend cradling the knife wound and looking rather pale. “Remember the rules I taught you?”

“Please lower your gun, Jacob; you don’t want to kill your own father.” The Prince urged with still more tears pouring down his face.

“There is one rule left for you to learn.”

“Listen to me, Jacob, I’m your father I love you, I’ve protected, I’ve raised you and given you the love you need.”

“Rule number eleven is…forget all of the rules and you’ll be free; free yourself, Jacob.” Teacher said as he coughed up some blood. Jacob looked at Teacher and then looked at the Prince, and then back at Teacher. He then dropped his weapons and ran towards the Prince.

“Father!” Jacob exclaimed with tears in his eyes as he embraced the Prince who wrapped his arms around him. “I love you so much, and I’ve missed you.”

“Oh my precious, precious son of course you have.” The Prince declared as he stroked Jacob’s hair. He then looked into Jacob’s face and smiled. “We will have more fun ahead of us and you can rule with me. You see, Teacher, I have them all under control ultimately; none of them can resist me.” The Prince declared with a wide smile but then he grimaced when Jacob took a four inch blade and stuck it through his throat.

“You fucking pig, do you think you’re the only one who can lie and put on a great performance? I hope you and that bitch rot in the depths of darkness and fire for all of eternity!” Jacob whispered into the Prince’s ear and then yanked out the knife and stood to is feet slowly as he watched the Prince collapse to the ground choking on his own blood. Jacob felt nothing, not happiness nor joy; he felt peace. He turned around and walked over to Teacher who didn’t look so good.

“Not bad, J, you really are free now.” Teacher said as he looked into Jacob’s eyes. Jacob knelt down and grinned at Teacher.

“I am free, Teacher, thanks to your guidance. I wouldn’t have been able to come this far without you, and now you’re going to die and I’m going to be left alone all over again.” Jacob said sadly. Teacher shook his head.

“You were always alone, J, and you will always be alone; nobody will ever understand what you have done, and nobody will ever care enough to try and figure it out. Remember the rules, and they will protect you; remember most of all though that being free doesn’t mean anything.” Teacher finished saying and then his body convulsed and then went still. Jacob gazed at the corpse of his friend and teacher and sighed. A part of him wanted to cry, but a larger portion dismissed the feeling. He let his body collapse against the wall next to Teacher and sat calm and still for what seemed like hours. He heard footsteps and thought that it was either the scrappies or part of the resistance against the Prince and Princess.

Jacob blinked his eyes and looked at the door to see police officers, detectives, and other emergency personnel rush through his parent’s front door. He looked down in front of him and saw his mother in a pool of blood; he looked to his right and saw his father lying prostrate also in a huge pool of blood. He looked to his left though and saw no sign of Teacher, and then he noticed that the room he was in was the living room at his parent’s house, not the palace of the Prince and Princess. Was it all a dream, Jacob thought to himself. He shook his head, it was too real to be a dream; Hell was a real place, a place that he would return to and finish setting things right. A police officer approached him and knelt down in front of him with a kind expression.

“Hello there son, my name is Officer Mitchell, what’s your name?” Officer Mitchell asked politely. Jacob exhaled deeply before answering.

“My name’s, J, and I’ve been in Hell for a long time; how are you doing?” Jacob asked with his eyebrows raised.

襘;

*襘; *襘; *

襘;

Two months later, Jacob was packing his clothes from a psychiatric facility that he had spent time at after he had killed his parents. At first he was under arrest for killing his parents, but then they dismissed the charges on the basis of severe emotional distress when the authorities had discovered the sexual abuse by his parents and several of their friends. He had named the friends that had sexually abused him and they were all on their way to prison for multiple charges. He remembered what he had overheard the psychiatrist say to his uncle who was taking him in. He had told everyone about his adventures in Hell, and even though everyone found them interesting and insightful none of them truly believed that he had been at this place.

Therefore the psychiatrist told Jacob’s uncle that because of the severe sexual abuse his brain had disassociated so severely that Jacob had actually believed that he was in a real place with real characters. Apparently the psychiatrist hadn’t a solid explanation why the disassociation had lasted so long, but with Jacob emerging from it after he killed his parents that was the goal of the disassociation; to protect him from his parents. Since his parents were dead there was no longer any need for the dissociation and thus he returned to reality. Jacob didn’t believe any of this, but he stopped trying to make people believe him and what he experienced. He instead stuck to Teacher’s rules and knew that with them he would be free despite what everyone said or did. He just wished that he knew what Teacher’s last words meant; they had confused him every day since he had heard them. He had to get back to Hell and find out. How would he do that though? He didn’t know how he got there in the first place. Ideas flooded through his mind as his uncle drove him to his family’s house, endlessly yacking merrily about how fun it was going to be for Jacob to live with them, but he didn’t care and wasn’t paying close attention.

As Jacob stepped out of the pristine looking mini-van and gazed upon the beautiful white house with a breathtaking garden around it, and the family eagerly awaiting him on the porch, he knew he had to get back to Hell as soon as possible. He began trying things, anything he could; alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, speed, crystal meth. At age fifteen he had been to drug and alcohol rehab seventeen times. Then he tried something different; he hired himself out to pedophiles for sex, thinking that is what would trigger the event to lead him back to Hell. It didn’t work despite the amount of money he made and all of the sex he had. When he was twenty-one he almost raped a young boy hoping that would send him to Hell, but he stopped as he couldn’t bring himself to even begin the act. He fled the scene of his ultimate shame and drove, and drove until he realized something; he was never going to be able to return to Hell.

The realization weighed heavily on Jacob, and soon tears were falling from his eyes. He would never be able to return to the place where he felt whole, where he felt peace, where he felt he fit in and could call it home. In the world he was in currently, he felt people looked at him as if he were a monstrous creature and yet he couldn’t shoot them for their cruelty as he would have been able to do in Hell. The only person he’d ever felt attached to he couldn’t return and seek out or the wisdom of Teacher’s old friends. Then it hit him, the words that Teacher spoke as he died; “being free doesn’t mean anything.” And Jacob knew he was right, he didn’t feel anything and he didn’t have anything which meant he had one last option and hoped that it would take him to Hell. He took a deep breath and slammed on the accelerator and steered his car straight off the bridge. As his car plunged towards the canyon floor, a smile came to his face as he thought about Rosie’s workshop and Gorgon’s cave hideout, and how could he forget That’s performances. But when the car impacted on the ground and he died, he woke up to something he would have never imagined possible.