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Seven Eight Nine
Nine. Nine is a gentleman, tall and dark. But Nine has secrets.
Sparks in the dark.
A lighter. Nine flicks a lighter and the sparks catch. The flame wavers in his face. A tongue. Licking, licking the dark night air. Nine talks to Eight. They mutter about Seven.
“The f**8ing idiot.” Eight is a teenager, just beneath eighteen. Grunge tee-shirt and jeans. He takes the lighter. “Thinks he’s f***ing holy s*** like that, I don’t buy.”
“Relax, Eight.” Nine smiles and lights a cigarette. Eight holds the lighter. Holds on tight. “The time will come. The time will come.”
“The f*** it will. It better.”
“Oh it will,” Nine promised. Promises in the dark.
“I don’t know what’s going on.” A small voice. A drawl voice. The voice of a child, who doesn’t understand. But something does. The adult. Number Three. Three steps out of the dark: father, mother, and child, all wrapped up into One.
“Of course you don’t!” Eight snaps. Nine holds up a hand.
“Relax.” His eyes are dark. His suit is black. A specter. Skin pale; long smooth face. Eight doesn’t trust him.
“Seven is coming.” Three smiles with a child’s innocence, but in her eyes, the cynical humor of a world weary adult. “Seven Eight Nine. A grand party. Don’t you think?” Nine’s smile is gone. Nine is a gentleman, tall and dark. But his hands are cold clicking claws. He runs a tongue across his lips; a nervous tic. Eight laughs.
“I think,” Nine says softly, “that Seven has more to worry about from Six, and that I,” he smiled again, a cruel smile, a dark smile, “I will have taken care of this…business with Eight and then we shall be gone. And you, little Trinity, should best be going as well. Don’t you…think?”
“I don’t think,” Seven said softly. “I know.” Three stifled a giggle and Nine gasped. Eight snarled, spun, and grabbed Seven by the collar. Sparks flashed.
Confrontation in a dark place.
Seven smiled: a sinuous smooth smile. Seven is nothing like Nine. They aren’t brothers. Eight threw Seven to the ground, clutching his hand as though he had been burned.
Seven stood up, and the oil in his eyes was replaced by serenity. Seven is a merciful god: he drinks only the blood distilled from children; those who will never know suffering from the day they are born to the day that they die.
Seven Eight Nine.
Nine clicked his cold nails on colder stones. “Seven.”
“Eight.” Three snickered.
“Nine.” Seven smiled serenely. Nine staggered. His gentleman’s face grew lined; old. Nine is a gentleman, tall and dark. Nine is weathered, but he himself would say refined. Nine is old. Sparks die in the dark.
“How do you do, dear brother?”
“Three is just.” This from Eight.
“Just a child.” Seven smiled.
Nine swayed but remained on his feet, grimacing. “Seven cannot control her power.”
“Yes I can.” Seven’s smile was gone. “She doesn’t want it.” A hand on the child. Bodies tumbling in the dark. In a tumbler. Red wine. Red flows in the dark.
“She’s the only one who can take it.”
“You are right.” she smiled. “And I will.” A knife in her chest. Her hand on the knife. She cuts out her heart, and hands it to Seven. “I am tired.”
“Do you really want Seven ruling the universe?” Contempt from Eight.
Sparks in the dark. Falling. “No.” Her eyes darken. The heart is a metaphor. He can have her strength if she gives it to him, but not if she takes it back. And she will. He is a puppet: a means to an end. “Seven Eight Nine.” Nine falls to the ground. Eight lunges, but not soon enough. Seven hurls the knife. It pricks her little toe. Three runs off into the dark, crying: away into the dark.
“Just a child,” Seven whispers, and holds up the little girl’s heart. It turns into a scarf: a blindfold. Three is just. Justice is blind. The blindfold binds Seven forever.
“Well,” Nine remarks, “that took care of that.” He is breathing hard. Eight helps him to his feet. Eight’s hands are rough, calloused. But he is kind, here in the dark.
“Don’t tell anyone,” he mutters to Nine.
“No need.” There is a bridge. Eight grabs Nine by the collar. Nine doesn’t fight. Eight throws him over the bridge and watches the old man fall. Nine is limp: a cold lump in a colder river. The water spirals away, over the edge.
Don’t tell anyone. Eight broods on the bridge in the dark: brooding. Brooding, where no one can overhear.
“Grass grows.” The grass is wet with dew. Three is back, blood leaving perfect droplets in the cobwebs, circling her little toes. “Grass grows. Grass Grows.”
“Yes,” Eight whispers. “Grass does grow.”
“Thank you,” She whispers. The cobwebs form a silver mist that hugs the ground. “I must go.”
Eight nods. “I know.”
“Where is Nine?”
“I don’t know.” Eight doesn’t look at her.
Grass grows. Grass grows. Grass grows. The four of them turn to go.
“Wait.” Eight turns. His voice is ragged and his eyes are dark. “Don’t tell anyone.”
“We won’t.” she hugs him as long as she can. “Little brother.”
Sparks die in the dark. The child sheds its tears, shrugs on its cloak, and turns to go.