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Chapter 5.5: Aftermath
That day would forever change the life of Eddie Toran. How could it not? After what he had seen in that gym, watching silently from the nearby weight room, there was just no way he could go back to living a normal, boring life. If he had power like Jessica or Seth, he would never be bullied again. He could take revenge. He would turn the tables, flip the script, change all the rules. The nerds would rule at this school, and the jocks could take a hike.
As he crept out from his hiding place, his imagination ran wild. He’d always had an active imagination, had always been plagued by fantasies, but been unable to make them come true. Until now, that is. Now, he could grab hold of those ever elusive dreams and rip them into reality. He could have true power, could have everything he ever wanted, and all he needed was a sword.
As it turned out, however, today was not his day to shine. Not quite. As he approached the injured Jessica, searching for her sword, he realized that it was gone. He knew that no one else had come into the gym since Seth and the others left, and he knew they hadn’t taken the sword with them, so where had it gone? He searched desperately, hoping that his eyes were deceiving him, but the longer he went without finding it, the more it started to sink in: if the swords could be made to appear from thin air, then they could likely disappear as well. As this realization hit him, so, too, did a wave of despair: he had missed his chance.
And that was when he heard it. Or he thought he did, anyway. A voice, so soft that he almost could not make out what it was saying, so soft that he almost wasn’t sure that even existed, and yet, the words it spoke were exactly what he wanted--no, needed!--to hear. He would have his time to shine yet, and it would be glorious.
Later that night, a woman marched through the halls of a largely empty complex. She was slightly lost, but she had enough of an idea where she was going that she knew she would make it there eventually. She still wasn’t sure what the five of them needed so much room for, but then again she didn’t know much about what their leader was planning. In fact, that was exactly why she was seeking him out this night: weeks had passed since they had stolen the zanpakuto, but their master still had not revealed his endgame. The more she thought about it, the more her anger built.
When she finally came across his chamber, she knocked hard on the door, then crossed her arms and waited. A few seconds later, a soft voice within said, “Come in,” and she obeyed the command, flinging open the door and stomping inside.
“Ah, Sparrow,” her master said, rising from his seat by the fire. He closed the book he had been reading moments before and set it on the small table by his chair. He also removed his reading glasses and placed them in the breast pocket of his tan blazer. “Why do I get the feeling this isn’t a… social visit?”
“Probably because I’m sleeping with someone else now, John,” Sparrow said, giving him a sardonic smile.
“Ah, yes, I had quite forgotten about that,” he replied, feigning discomfort even though Sparrow knew he didn’t feel it. Sometimes she wondered if he felt anything at all, or if he was just better at faking certain emotions. “So what can I do for you? You seem distressed.”
“I am. We all are, John. We all want to know what the next step is. We want to know why we gave so many of the zanpakuto away. We want answers, dammit!”
“Did you see the news today Sparrow?” John asked, seemingly ignoring her complaints.
Annoyed, she answered him, aware that the conversation would never go anywhere if she didn’t. “No, I didn’t watch the news, but I don’t see what that’s got to do with anything.”
“Something important happened today. Something that might shed some light on some things...” As he spoke, John walked over to a small cabinet near a large wooden desk and took out a couple of glasses and a bottle of scotch. He put a couple ice cubes in each glass, then poured the scotch. He handed her a glass, and she took it in spite of herself. She never could turn down alcohol.
“And that is…?” Sparrow prompted as she sipped the scotch.
“There was an incident in the city we took the zanpakuto from. What was it called, again?”
Sparrow was certain that John knew the name (he rarely forgot anything), but she obliged him nonetheless: “Whitecourt. The name was Whitecourt.”
“That’s right, Whitecourt. There was an incident in Whitecourt today: a bunch of high school boys went crazy, started running around the city looking for someone in the middle of the school day. One of them attacked a woman in her home, others tried to force their way into a hospital, and at that same hospital, a police officer shot a nurse. Also, in the school gym, a teenage girl was found severely injured. That girl happens to be one the sister of one of the people we gave a zanpakuto to. He died in a car accident recently, so clearly the zanpakuto fell into her hands.”
“So? What does that have to do with us and our plans?”
“Why, it’s the very reason I gave away so many zanpakuto in the first place. With so many zanpakuto scattered about the city, there are bound to be more incidents like this. While everyone’s attention is drawn to Whitecourt, we can operate anywhere else in the world with relative impunity.”
“Right, and when the public catches on to the existence of zanpakuto? You and I both know there will be hell to pay if that happens. Especially with that serial killer out there. I heard his latest victim’s zanpakuto has ended up in the hands of the police. It’s only a matter of time until one of them figures out what kind of abilities it has.”
“You’ve made two key miscalculations, Sparrow,” John said, relishing the chance to show off his intellect. Sparrow rolled her eyes. “First, you’ve underestimated the ability of the public to explain inexplicable phenomena. Everything needs to fit into the world that they have constructed for themselves, and magical swords do not. Even with an extremely public event like this one, they have a need to concoct a so-called rational explanation. ‘Mass hysteria’ is a much more believable explanation to them than ‘mind control,’ and so they will write this event off and forget about it.
“As for the serial killer, you’ve forgotten just how powerful a zanpakuto without a master can be. Somehow, they will always make their way to their rightful owner. Just look at the first two kills. One zanpakuto ended up in the hands of the fencing instructor that witnessed the attack, and the other found its way to a downtrodden gay man. If the third one has been picked up by the police, I’m sure there is a reason for it.”
“Do ever worry about anything?” Sparrow fumed.
“Not about things that are currently out of my control.” John finished his drink, and proceeded to pour himself another. “Would you like another as well?” he asked Sparrow. She handed him her glass, and he poured out a shot and handed it back. She threw it back immediately, then slammed her glass down for another. He poured her a double this time, and she promptly pounded that one as well. John laughed. “You must be pretty angry with me. You only drink like that when you’re mad.”
“What can I say John, you have that effect on me,” she said, grabbing the whole bottle from him and taking a big swig. As she wiped her mouth, she said, ”You’ve only answered one question, John. I get why you gave away those other zanpakuto, I guess, but what is our plan? What are we going to do now?”
“Plan? There is no plan, per say,” John said, and Sparrow, who was greedily chugging from the bottle of scotch, practically did a spit take.
“What do you mean there’s no plan?! We’ve stayed with you this whole time because you said you had a plan, John! If there’s no plan, then why did we do all this?”
“The plan was to steal the zanpakuto. After that, there was no need for a plan. Now, we can make a plan together, the five of us. The world is our oyster. We can take whatever we want. We can amass riches the likes of which you could have only dreamed of before. We can live a life of luxury, hire underlings to do our every bidding, travel around the world. We have a power greater than any normal human could ever hope to combat, and as such, we can achieve anything we set our minds to.”
Sparrow was stunned. She wasn’t sure what exactly she had expected him to say, but this just seemed so… mundane. However, she did like the sound of it. She, like almost everyone, had always dreamed of being rich, and now it was within her grasp. She smiled, then turned to leave. John caught her by the arm.
“Are you sure you have to go?” he asked. She looked at him and saw, written in his face, compassion and longing, but beneath that, hidden in his eyes, she saw only hunger, and knew that was the only thing driving him. However, she, too, had a hunger, and so she let the scotch drop to the ground, it’s contents pouring out over the hardwood floor, and fell into his embrace.
“It’s a perfect time for dealings such as these, wouldn’t ya say boys?” Michael Trembley said as he slipped into the dark alleyway occupied by two of his former colleagues. George Kaliro and Harry Newman eyed him nervously, unsure of what to say.
“If anyone finds out about this Mike…” Harry started.
“Yeah, yeah, you both will lose your jobs, blah, blah, blah. Trust me guys, I don’t plan on telling anyone, so as long as you don’t, we’ll be fine,” Mike responded.
“But we’re stealing from police! It’s their job to find out who did stuff like this…” George chimed in.
“Yeah, and you two are police as well, so I trust you know how to cover your tracks. As long as you were careful, you’ll be fine. You were careful, right?”
“Of course, boss, but…”
“Look, it doesn’t matter, if they figure it out, just tell them I made you do it. Say I threatened your family or something. I’m sure they’ll believe it since they already think I killed that nurse.”
“Remind me again why you need the thing,” George said, wringing his hands nervously.
“That girl that mind controlled me had one just like it. I need it to try and make sense of things. If I can figure out exactly what it is, maybe that will get me a step closer to proving my name.”
“Right…” Harry looked at the ground uncertainly.
Mike sighed. “If you guys don’t want to help me, then don’t. I thought you guys were friends, my I guess not. Man, and I was going to suggest that the captain promote the two of you when I got back in the force’s good graces. If I go to jail, though…”
“You really think of us as friends Mike?” George asked.
“Of course. Did you ever doubt it?”
“Well,” Harry started. “To be honest, we kind of got the feeling that you didn’t like us. You’ve always been our hero on the force, but you barely even gave us the time of day.”
“Do you wanna know the truth?” Mike asked. The two rookie officers nodded eagerly. “You two have always been my favorites, but it wouldn’t do to go around letting everyone know that. The other rookies might get jealous. I had to keep it low-key. Now, however, with no one else around, I don’t see any harm in telling you. Trust me, I know how huge a favor this is, and I always remember who my friends are.”
“Don’t worry, Mike, we got your back,” Harry said, presenting the sword to him. Mike could not help but smile as he took it from them. Soon, this thing was going to help him clear his name, and he knew just where to start: as soon as that girl Jessica woke up in the hospital, he’d be there to greet her.
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?
Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.