Chapter Ten, by Jennifer L. Stevenson
It’s said that if a man is lucky, he might be offered salvation once in his life — but revenge is his own, a wild justice he can choose every day.
The boy tasted both in the searing of remembrance.
His sobbing ceasing, the power came on. Muscles hard, bones grown strong, eyes like shining amber. He could stand upright – with Father’s venom coursing through his veins once more.
Yes – he remembered.
“Menos, my son, you are mine.”
Atonement complete, Menos cried out.
“The code is my vengeance,” he howled. “You will suffer the price!”
“Menos,” Mala shrieked. “My son, my son, you are back from time.”
“You are damned! You are damned!” the preacher chanted. “I see Satan like lightning. You are damned.”
Towering in the room that once held him, Menos wheeled around with thunder.
“False prophet, fallen man!” Menos shouted. “You have betrayed believers with deception.” Snatching up a knife from the bloody floor, he came upon the preacher in two long strides.
“Did you worship the Code? Our True Soul? No – you worshiped your own fetid soul with your own foul words.”
Menos held the blade close to the Preacher’s throat.
“Get thee back, Demon,” the preacher gasped. “Kill me, but not my master. I’ll never repent. I’ll worship him forever.”
“Yes – Rady has his minions. Falsely led – one and all. And Father says one and the many are traitors alike. “Die knowing that your crime has only one cost. ”
Menos thrust the blade into the preacher’s throat, and with one swift motion, sliced off his head. It fell to the floor, rolling until it came to rest at Rady’s side, the lips still moving in a final prayer.
Rady snatched the head up, immediately gouging out the eyes. He gorged upon them.
“Thank you, brother,” Rady gurgled. “A tasty treat.”
Menos turned to Rady. The years of bitter servitude to the beast came to him, as he recalled his time like an animal caught in a trap. His forever fears fell away like dust from a grave.
“You are no brother of mine,” Menos said in a menacing low voice. Mala stepped between the brothers.
“Menos! I birthed you both,” Mala said. “You share a bond of the true soul.”
“Silence, whore! Your time will come,” Menos said. “My brother?! This wretch isn’t fit to dwell in one of Father’s dungeons.”
Rady hunkered on the floor, covered in blood and intestines. Thunder and lightning again rocked the room.
“He’s no better than a serpent,” Menos roared. “I’m wrong … a serpent is all the better.”
Menos extended his right arm, pointing to Rady. Immediately, the floor came alive with great writhing.
Mala strained to see. No! The long ropes of gray intestines now roiled as giant snakes slithering over Rady’s body. He screamed as they bit him and contorted around him.
Poised, fangs dripping, one lunged and swallowed Rady’s head.
Rady’s screams could still be heard as the giant viper devoured him.
Menos laughed harshly. “Ah, behold the wonder of the greedy meeting the greedier,” Menos said. “This day is proving to be the best in memory. And, Mala, you know about my many, many lost memories, my lost days. They come with a price that must be paid… by you.”
“Menos, I am your mother,” Mala said.
“And it’s your great misfortune that I’m loyal only to my Father,” Menos replied. “I’ve born the burden of your sin, your wanton coupling at our conception. You know that Father decreed that one son must be banished. You convinced him that Rady should carry out the code on earth. Rady failed. And I am free once more.”
“Menos, I have taken many forms to watch over and protect you,” Mala said, crying. “I suckled you with my own soul.” She sobbed, her words incomprehensible. “I’m the Queen… our planet …our blood power …”
“Are delusions of the deranged,” Menos interrupted. “These are your insane babblings.”
Menos grabbed Mala’s wing, breaking it. He threw her to the floor
“Please do not kill me,” she begged.
Menos kneeled down, laying a hand on Mala’s soul center. He could feel her soul-strivings hammering. “Never,” he whispered.
Mala’s eyes widened in terror, but she lay helpless. Her wings rustled feebly.
“Dear mother – you’ll seek the sweet comfort of death and never find it…
Menos whispered a final time: “Be silent. Be still. Be here. Forever.”
Mala’s soul-strivings started to slow, then almost – but not quite – they ceased. Mala’s form collapsed into space.
“Farewell,” Menos said. He stood and surveyed the destruction. Outside, Menos could hear the sound of night birds. He stepped onto the porch. The great storm had passed, but he could see clouds gathering in the distance, starting to obscure a slivered moon. Menos gazed upward.
“Father, “He called to the sky. “I am ready.”
A bolt of the lightning hit the farmhouse with an explosion. Silently, Menos made his way across the dirt yard, never glancing back at the farmhouse, now engulfed in flames. The smell of singed flesh permeated the air.
Menos slipped into the Preacher’s battered pick-up truck, picking up a bible and tossing it to the floor. He started the engine, eased the truck into gear and into the rutted drive leading to the road into town.
Menos slowed at the fence, the property line of the place that once held him captive.
Time to move on. The Code of Moror could be carried out.
Nobody would wonder at a new man, one bearing little resemblance to the scared child who cowered here. They would welcome him; a tall man with amber eyes, so friendly, so willing to belong .
A moth, drawn in by the headlights, beat, beat, beat her wings against the windshield. Menos smiled. He started the car again and rolled on to the main road.
At last, he could stalk the days – and nights – of man.