Monday, January 1, 2007


Matt pressed the pedal down as far as it could go, doing what his father always said.

"Son, when you steal a car, be sure to find out what she can do as soon as possible. Eventually, the cops'll find you and you don't want the car's top end to be a surprise when they do."

Dad was full of good advice like that. Of course, none of it had done him any good when the Dark Ones broke into the house while Matt was away at the ritual that had changed his life. His mother and father both had been killed, sacrificed to some foul power to ensure the rite went the way the leaders of the DO wanted.

That was one disappointment Matt had been happy to hand to the Dark Ones. Of all his coven mates, only Roy had been prepared to kill a person when they were asked to do so. Brad, Jainy, Janet, Ariel and he had all been violently opposed to murdering someone just because some slick-talking wizard in a nice jacket and shades told them they should. Of course, that refusal had cost Janet and Brad their lives, sent Ariel and Jainy into permanent exile at Ravenhurst, and set him on this loner's path he now traveled.

How the mighty had fallen.

Of course, his innate inability to be pretentious to himself reared its ugly head at that concept. He'd never been mighty. He'd just been some clove cigarette smoking poser with a black wardrobe and a gother-than-thou attitude. It was a solid way to get through High School but this was the real world. Real world rules applied and out here, attitude was only good for fist fights and dental bills.

The only thing that kept him going now was the chase. Dad had a saying for that too.

"In the end, the race is won by the guy willing to run the farthest."

What he meant, of course, was that it didn't matter if you were caught. The secret was to never stop running. Even if you were in handcuffs and leg shackles, forward was the only way to go. Rommel had understood that and it was as true in life as it was in war. When in doubt, charge.

Of course, Matt's father's advice was a little different. His words were, "When in doubt, run. When you think you may be on the verge of getting caught, run. When people look at you too long, run. When you are feeling too comfortable, run. Just run. Never stop. If they catch you, make them pay for it in sweat and effort."

Good advice. More than enough for a man who spent more then twenty years evading prison, at least. It occurred to Matt for the first time in his life that his father had never said he was innocent. Maybe his death was karma finally getting even. Either way, he missed his old man.

He missed his mother too. She was quite a woman, always in his father's shadow and never ashamed of the fact. She'd done everything for him. Hid his dad when the cops came around, even used her looks and her body to distract people when they got too close. Nothing was too much when it came to keep her family safe. He'd hated her for being "weak"; now he realized she was anything but.

He really missed them both.

The car's gauges were hard to read, fuzzy and indistinct. Touching his face with one hand, he brought back wet fingers and stared at them in disbelief. Was he crying?!? He never cried.

Matt hadn't cried when his brother had died from drowning in a neighbor's pool while they smoked joints and laughed at the floating boy. He hadn't cried when he'd tried out for the football team in 9th Grade and three seniors jumped on him repeatedly, breaking both his legs. He hadn't even cried when his whole world fell apart the night of that terrible ritual and the hell surrounding it.

Hells, even Clyde hadn't made him cry. And if anyone deserved a few tears, it was that poor man. If the old Vet wasn't in Heaven right now, God needed a stiff kick in the holy balls.

Real hard.

With a steel toed boot.

Matt blinked away tears. There was no denying it; he was crying. His parents were dead, it was his fault, and there was no way to undo the damage. The only thing left, apparently, was to grieve. His school counselor, Mr. Braely, would have called "a natural part of the healing process" and encouraged him to "let it out".

Then again, Mr. Braely was a closet homosexual and privately voted Most Likely to Make a Catholic Priest Look Tame in Matt's homeroom class. No doubt the vote was right. Even now, the fruit loop out test driving an ice cream truck. Still, he wasn't entirely wrong.

These tears didn't feel bad. In fact, he found himself enjoying the memories of his parents. He hadn't thought about them since that night other than to reflect on his father's advice. Dad's anecdotes had been saving his life every day since he'd started his mess. The old man had the right to be mourned. So did his mother, damn it. They'd been good to him. A few tears were the least he could do.

Matt grabbed a road map from the glove box stuffed with cash. Just why the compartment was overflowing with bank-banded stacks of fifty dollar bills was anyone's guess, but Matt didn't care about those right now. He was only interested in one thing.

How far was it to Chattanooga?

He'd learned a bit about the DO in his days since running away from the Dark Ones. The DO, which alternately stood for Dark Ones and Dark Order, had safe houses scattered across the world. The nearest one was in Chattanooga, Tennessee. In fact, some of the people who'd killed his parent could very well be there right now.

Matt drove his stolen car as hard as she'd go. Screw the police. Screw the law and screw the speed limit. His senses were magically amped right now, his reaction time so sharp that he could avoid a dropped McDonall's cup if he had too. He wasn't a threat to anyone or anything, even at 130 miles an hour...

His parents deserved grief.

But they deserved vengeance even more.

1 comment:

Erisraven said...

Matt's going dark places... And the drug dealers who lost that money are gonna be ticked!
And yeah, that's a darned good question, just what DID Matt's father do? There isn't much they'll hound you for like that...