Destroyer of worlds, p.1
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       Destroyer of Worlds, p.1

           Dennis Sharpe
 
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Destroyer of Worlds


  DESTROYER

  OF WORLDS

  DENNIS SHARPE

  Booktrope Editions

  Seattle, WA 2015

  COPYRIGHT 2013, 2015 DENNIS SHARPE

  This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

  Attribution — You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).

  Noncommercial — You may not use this work for commercial purposes.

  No Derivative Works — You may not alter, transform, or build upon this work.

  Inquiries about additional permissions

  should be directed to: [email protected]

  Cover Design by Shari Ryan

  Cover Concept by S.K. Whiteside

  Previously published as Destroyer of Worlds,

  2013, Self published

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to similarly named places or to persons living or deceased is unintentional.

  PRINT ISBN 978-1-62015-691-9

  EPUB ISBN 978-1-62015-702-2

  TABLE OF CONTENTS

  COVER

  TITLE PAGE

  COPYRIGHT PAGE

  DESTROYER OF WORLDS

  PREVIEW OF BLOOD AND SPIRITS

  MORE FROM DENNIS SHARPE & BOOKTROPE

  LIKE ALMOST EVERY TRULY HORRIBLE thing that has ever happened in the history of our world, the end also began with a kiss.

  There was nothing now, only a dark, vast absence. An hour ago there were stars, and a sky. There was a planet revolving around a star people called the sun. An hour ago there was life; for better or worse there was a "civilization." People laughed, cried, slept, and loved.

  Yesterday morning, David Adams had been just another out of work housepainter doing odd jobs around his small hometown for enough money to keep his electricity on. Floating on the edge of society suited him well as he rotted in his personal failures. He had long ago given up on his dreams of being the next big discovery in the art world. In fact, nothing had brought the creative sparkle out in his dull blue eyes for almost fifteen years. Then he met her.

  She was sitting on the hood of his faded blue and rust Detroit relic when he came out of the gas station. He stopped, gaze locked on her, packing his cigarettes for a small eternity before approaching her. Her dirty blonde hair framed her face like wild vines. She was slight and lovely, smelling lightly of vanilla - exquisitely charming for a destroyer of worlds.

  She never told him her name, but he’d felt drawn to her nonetheless. Funny, he thought now, how sometimes we’re attracted to the mysterious and dangerous as though we have no self-preservation instinct.

  All of these things bounced around in his head like a pinball as he floated in the darkness. It occurred to him that he shouldn’t be alive. Looking down, or what he guessed must be down, he couldn’t tell if his body was damaged. It wasn’t immediately apparent to him if he even still had a body, outside of his conscious awareness.

  The terrible force he remembered on his body had passed, along with the deafening sound. The Earth was gone. Now, all he was absolutely sure of was the blackness and a vaguely antiseptic smell. Why was he still alive? Was he even still alive?

  "How long are you going to wait?" Her familiar lilt seemed both amused and eager.

  Just the presence of the words took him aback. Was he actually hearing them? The voice was most definitely female – her voice – but was it in his mind or was it actually spoken aloud?

  Panic jolted him. Confronted with thoughts he was in no way comfortable having, he asked, "Where am I?"

  "Nowhere." She answered calmly as though she were telling him what he should already know.

  "What?" a shriek as much as question.

  "Well, where do you want to be?" There was an invitation in her tone. Could he simply be out of his mind?

  "I’m…I’m not sure I understand."

  "Right now you’re nowhere. But from here, you can go anywhere. Where do you want to be?"

  "Did… Didn’t everything just end? I mean…the world, everything, it all just…it…" The words left the taste of old pennies in his mouth.

  "Yes." Her voice now carried all the impatience of a parent on a cross-country car trip. "You don’t think this is the first time the world’s ended, do you?"

  "I… what? How? I mean how did I get here?"

  "There is no here. You just are. We just are. Now stop asking questions and make a decision. Where?"

  Exasperated and overwhelmed, David said the only thing that he could reconcile comfortably in his mind. "I want to go home."

  He could swear he could hear the smile in her reply. "Why didn’t you just say so?"

  ***

  David sat bolt upright on the green threadbare couch, startled awake by the blaring rhythmic bass of Tool coming from the oversized speakers of Destiny’s home stereo.

  "So you’re finally awake, huh?"

  A dream. It had only been a dream. The dirty room came into focus slowly. Reality seemed somehow less real than it had when he’d passed out on the couch.

  "You gonna get your ass off my couch? You’re sweaty and you smell."

  Like the initial burn of a shot of whiskey, the vivid intensity of the dream ripped at his mind, but faded quickly as he focused on the room around him.

  "Sorry Des, I guess I just had a few too many."

  He shook his mop of black curls in a subconscious attempt to dislodge any remnants of the nightmare from his waking mind.

  "Every night you have too many. She’s gone, Dave. Dead. You have to accept it sooner or later. I still miss her. I always will, but I don’t drink myself to oblivion. You’ve got to keep living."

  "Oblivion." The word had too ominous and familiar a sound.

  She was still in her work uniform, and normally staring at her in those tight black pants was enough to take his mind off anything bothering him. But even as he sat and watched her cleaning the living room around him, the memory of his "dream" weighed heavy in his mind.

  "What happened to us, Des? We loved each other, didn’t we?"

  That was enough to stop her in her tracks. She looked over her shoulder with a raised eyebrow before continuing her cleaning. "You did have too much to drink last night, didn’t you? We usually don’t have to have this talk until the holidays."

  She stopped and stood in front of him, taking him by the hands. "What we had was kid’s stuff, Dave. Life’s about more than that. It’s about paying the bills and keeping a roof over your head. It’s hard work, and it’s everyday."

  She hoisted him to his feet and straightened his shirt before pushing him out of her way to fluff the pillows on her couch. As he stepped out of her way, he came face to face with the photo of their daughter on the wall. She’d only been four years old when she went.

  The doctors had tried to explain it with mouthfuls of fifty-cent words. They said it was like Progeria, but far more aggressive. On his best day, David couldn’t have understood all they told them. She just got old too fast. Her body couldn’t handle it.

  She’d been so brave, their little Mireille – their perfect little angel. She seemed to understand better than her parents what was happening to her. She’d even told them both goodbye and kissed them just before her heart gave out. It had ultimately been too much for he and Destiny to face as teen parents.

  "You need to get moving, Dave. I’ve got company coming over." She didn’t bother to look at him as she spoke, continuing to clean.

  The thought of another man being here with her cut him. He gr
abbed his dirty shirt off the floor and gathered up his things spread out on the coffee table. The scratched silver Zippo Destiny had given him a lifetime ago rolled over a few times in his hand before finding its way into his shirt pocket. Their eyes didn’t meet again.

  This place held so many memories for him, good and bad, even if it wasn’t really his anymore. He’d moved out after the divorce and gotten his own little efficiency apartment on South Grand, but this still felt like home to him. Waiting in the open doorway, he stared at her until she finally acknowledged him with a brief glance and a wave. The door closed behind him with a solid thud that almost hurt to hear.

  ***

  The street in front of the apartment building was almost heartbreaking. At first glance, it was nearly the same as he remembered it, but on closer inspection, it seemed far more worn and ugly. Decay had been given free run of the place. To make matters worse, he had no idea where he had parked.

  With his car keys in his hand, David paced up and down the street then around the block for about half an hour. He ended up on the corner of East 23rd and MLK. He hadn’t actually stood on this corner since the divorce.

  He got lost for a moment in nauseous nostalgia as he gazed longingly at the corner gas station where he used to buy a sixer of Budweiser and a pack of Parliaments on his way home from work. From here he could also see an all-too-familiar oasis that seemed to call out to him, beckoning – Murphy’s Pub.

  ***

  As he entered the dimly lit, wood paneled watering hole, he swore to himself that nothing had changed since his last visit. It had been an age since then, but the déjà vu almost gave him vertigo.

  He remembered bumping into a dirty lump of a man he had assumed to be a mechanic, almost at the same time he did it. The man worked at Carl’s Garage two blocks down. He knew it like they’d talked about it, but it felt like that happened later. Or was it before?

  The name on his oil and grease stained work shirt was Steve, but he appeared to David a lot more like a Raoul or Julio. The dark skin of his arms and face were covered with prison tattoos, and his unkempt dreadlocks were a refuge camp for all species of parasite. How was this man, who he only saw fleetingly, burned into his mind in such vivid detail?

  Everything was just too surreal. David stood still blinking for a moment before a familiar voice called to him from the back of the long, narrow room.

  Roger was a tall blonde man, whose Norse roots were clearly showing. He raised his hand to motion David over. The two of them had been high school friends and since then often ran into each other in the oddest places. Neither of them had made any real effort to keep in touch over the years, but they rarely went more than a few months without accidently running across each other.

  Their lives had taken very different paths, but David couldn’t deny that Roger usually had the best advice for nearly every situation. He’d seen the divorce coming a good six months before the reality of it crashed in on David.

  David couldn’t help but laugh a little to himself, seeing a DeLorean crashing into a blue police call box on Roger’s T-shirt. How he felt would make more sense, were time travel actually an option.

  "I think I’m losing my mind." David said as he sank into the booth across from his friend.

  "Okay." Roger said looking at him over his laptop, "Anything new?"

  "Funny." He said it deadpan. "You always were a comedian."

  Roger retuned attention to his laptop as the waitress stopped to drop off his Guinness and ask if they wanted to eat today. Murphy’s had the best greasy burger and pub fries he’d ever tasted, and now that he thought about it, he was hungry.

  Roger finished ordering and looked expectantly at David, lost in the moment again. A quick head shake and he looked up to see the waitress’ eyebrows raised at him.

  "Uh, give me just a second." The menu was opened and quickly thumbed through, before he looked back at her.

  He knew her name tag read "TJ" before he saw it. He knew her black thong would be visible when she turned to pick up Roger’s menu, and that she’d catch him admiring her, but he looked anyway.

  She smiled as she took his order, but he knew she had nothing but contempt for him. She dressed to be seen and noticed, but not by the likes of him. As she left, he caught himself staring again. Shaking his head, he tried to clear the fog of repetition. Everything today was a surreal echo.

  "Roger," David was taken aback by how gravely serious his own voice sounded. "I need to ask you a question and I need you to really think about it before you answer."

  Roger leaned back in his seat and stared at him blankly for a moment before his face brightened with a wide grin. "What if I don’t really feel like thinking?"

  "Seriously, man. Have you ever had déjà vu? Epic déjà vu? Like hours of it?" He couldn’t believe he was asking the question out loud, but it was the first thing he’d done that didn’t crawl seconds behind its own memory.

  "As in, ‘Your life is crap today. It was crap yesterday. It was crap the day before that?’"

  "No," Dave snapped, then realized this would only take them further from where he wanted to go. "I mean, yes, that’s true. But, no. That wasn’t what I was asking about."

  "Have you done anything that we could call productive, so far this year? Keep in mind now, that this is already August." Roger asked the question with a grin, but his tone was biting. He was the kind of friend who said what was on his mind, and never pulled punches. That was one reason David valued him so much.

  "I had a civil conversation with Des. Does that count?"

  "Did it change the fact that she remains your ex?" David’s blank expression just kept Roger fueled. "Did it make you any money? Did it do anything to make your life better or easier to live?"

  "I do okay!" David could hear how obvious the lie was in his voice, and he knew anyone listening could too. Deception was never his strong suit.

  Roger raised an eyebrow and slowly looked from side to side, as though he were checking to see who else was in on the joke. Finally, he punctuated his silence with a sniff. "Look, Dave, you are a mooch. A talented mooch, I’ll give you, but a mooch nonetheless. When was the last time you paid all your bills in one month without someone else’s money?"

  He had a burning desire to retort. He desperately wanted to tell Roger he was wrong, and where he could stick his assessment. At his core he was an honest person and he knew that no defense he could try would ring true.

  "Your life," Roger continued, "your choices. You have to live with it. Sadly, you seem okay with living in the toilet, happy to drink yourself to death. Pleased as punch to drown in self-pity."

  As TJ put plates on the table in front of them, a sudden eerie hush fell over the other patrons. From the large plasma screen above the bar, a nervous looking, obviously unprepared reporter addressed the room.

  "…Long time believers in ‘Planet X’ or ‘Nibiru,’ a many-times-over debunked internet hoax, are calling the discovery of this phenomenon vindication. NASA scientists have yet to address these claims, dwelling instead on the very real and immediate threat this celestial body’s imminent collision with Earth constitutes. All life as we know it…"

  A ripple of raised voices and agitated motion spread through the pub patrons like an impromptu wave. Everyone understood what the reporter wasn’t actually coming out and saying. Life on Earth was over, or would be soon.

  The circumstances of the news seemed odd to him. The reality of an approaching doomsday and the panic it inspired in everyone were so familiar to him that it was hard to get caught up in the mob panic going on around him. Why wasn’t he in a panic too?

  Roger rose from his seat, eyes fixed on the screen for a moment. He slowly walked to the door without a word, and David made no attempt to stop or address him. In the whirlwind around him he felt strangely detached, nothing new for him; he always felt detached. David took it all as a sign that he should be somewhere else.

  ***

  The scuffing noises his boots mad
e on the sidewalk were enough to keep his mind off the hysteria that was spreading out of control like a California wild fire. He watched his feet carefully all the way to the end of the block where he stopped to make sure he avoided traffic.

  He took out his last cigarette and tossed the pack on the ground. If the world was ending, then nobody should mind him littering.

  Back on this corner and out of smokes, he found himself stuck. His feet took over where his mind had lapsed, guiding him across to the gas station. As he got closer, he could see his car parked on the far side. It must have been there before, but he hadn’t been close enough to see it. He’d always parked it on that side, but he was sure he hadn’t been here in forever.

  As he entered the store, the electronic sound of the door sensor took him by surprise. It should have been a bell, not a tone. Little things – tiny differences seemed to stand out more and more.

  Behind the counter two Pakistani clerks he assumed to be husband and wife screamed at each other in Urdu, not that David recognized their words as anything more than comical noises. They both gestured pointedly at the TV, completely oblivious to anything outside their conversation.

  He stood patiently at the counter and asked four times for a pack of smokes. Tired of being ignored, he dropped cash on the counter, grabbed a pack of smokes, and ambled absently for the exit. Pushing the door open, he looked back at the counter. No one had noticed he’d been there. He found it a fitting metaphor for his life. He shook his head and stepped back out into the madness.

  Turning the corner, he could see his car, and the scene was just as he had known it would be. Precognition or insanity? Either way, something was incredibly wrong, and it was more than just the end of the world.

  He stood packing his cigarettes, unwillingly stopped in his tracks. The sensation of pushing against an invisible wall in front of him when he tried to move forward was maddening, and yet he kept his eyes locked exactly where he knew they should be.

 
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