Post by Lab Rat King on Nov 20, 2020 17:45:42 GMT -5
A little black notebook.
It was a simple thing, but well-made; bound in black leather with a brass snap on the end of a short strap to keep it closed. The lined pages were off-white like eggshell, with a similar subtle tooth. He found it pleasant to rub his printless fingertips against the paper when he held the book open in both hands.
The notebook was found at a streetside market, lit up with warm, amber lanterns to combat the early dusk of the late fall. It wasn’t the first time he’d passed through this particular market. There was a stall here that sold locally-made jerky of all types, and the owner had taken quite a liking to him when he’d started a habit of spending most of his earnings there (despite his appearance and demeanor). Since he needed to eat more or less all the time, it was a convenient, high-protein, and frankly delicious option to keep on him. It didn’t spoil, either.
He’d been gnawing on a piece of said jerky when he came across the book. Something about it intrigued him… it was a feeling almost edging on familiarity, which was a remarkable thing for him to feel. Nothing really spoke to him as being ‘familiar’, unless he’d encountered it within the last few months, but he couldn’t think of any recent reason for it. When he’d picked it up, the cover felt soft and forgiving in his grip.
He only realized the poor, petrified stall keeper was staring at him when they’d timidly asked if he was interested in buying it. He’d grunted, handed them a few bills, taken a huge bite of the jerky and walked away.
Now he was sitting on the sinking sofa in Silvio Leon’s apartment, the notebook open on his lap. He could hear Silvio tinkering around in the kitchen and could catch a flash of dark hair and tattooed skin in the corner of his eye every few moments--more than enough to keep the big Guy subdued and his thoughts centered.
He held a pencil in one calloused hand, roughly sharpened and smeared with graphite. Silent except for his soft, raspy breath, he stared at the empty lined pages, almost as though he expected something to leap from the flattened pulp.
Familiar. This was all so familiar.
For a moment, Zane closed his eyes, taking a deep breath.
So much of his recent life had been lived through instinct. Starting from so far away, it had been instinct that had gotten him out of that place alive; it had been instinct that put him on those trains, rushing him across the country to a place that sang of Carnage and Chaos and Havoc. A place he would thrive not as he might have been, but as he was now. It had been instinct that told him to take this little book home.
It was instinct that he now allowed to take him, beginning to write as though simply obeying muscle memory.
It started with a fire Searing hot against the dark. No,
It started with a spark That caught the tinder that chased the oil so burning flames began to roil, And from that ashen, molten coil It ended with a fire.
The charred remains still stood; A man once known, but known no more. Yes,
Born from pain and war He fought forsaken in the deep That would have driven most to weep, And in that hell, deprived of sleep The man became a beast.
What answer to a splitting skull Could there be, but a bestial crown? But gnashing teeth of iron grown? A monster who made his own throne?
What answer but a Rat King; A creature of tangled tails, of fangs Above the pit of writhing wraiths Inside the bloodied cage?
The fragile heart in bars of bones Protected by his rage.
Zane stopped writing, staring at the words on the page; his handwriting was slanted, crooked, imperfect. It shook a little here and there, as though the grip guiding it had twitched or shivered.
So much of his recent life had been lived through instinct.
This was not an instinct that he knew he had.
There was too much he didn’t know about himself… too much locked away so deeply in the depths of his mind that he had no way of knowing how to find the keys. Every new thing he uncovered felt like an ever-expanding puzzle with a bewildering dichotomy of colour. He’d been riding on a hope for a long time now that he’d come out here for a reason… that somehow he’d known the next thing to do. He had to trust that his violent defender had brought him down the right road. The Big Guy wasn’t an easy one to trust, but…
… Silvio could do it. Adrienne. Mitch.
So it wasn’t impossible. It just took kindness… patience… strength.
He hoped he was deserving of such things.
Zane gently closed the cover of the book over his scrawled poem, keeping the new key to his past truth safe, and secret. For now.
For now, in the ring, he had a different role to play… one that felt as natural to him as the pencil scrawling on the page.