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Blood on the Ice (Hellbound's Friday the 13th Vignette)

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Camera crews recorded the entire, horrible encounter. Almost all of it, anyway. Everything that was really important, everything that mattered, managed to be broadcast to the people outside. It was a lousy day. I can say that, at least, it was probably the worst one of my life and it was all my fault.

 

Not entirely, I suppose. I can't be held completely responsible for what happens when I get cut, but I should have known better than to stick around in the first place. I should have gotten out when I could, before the panic and the stampedes settled into the crowd. But I was too into the fight, literally seeing the world with blood in my eyes.

 

Like I said, I can't be held completely responsible, but I still should have known better. If I want to keep doing this then I'll have to figure out how to BE better.

 

I still haven't even figured out who the guy was, the one I'd been fighting. Some pale, slim dude with a weird looking spear and a fetish for leather bondage gear. He was dressed from neck to ankles in black straps and gaudy looking pieces of dark fabric that flapped in the wind as he moved. It struck me as something half-way between some priest's cassock and a straight-jacket on steroids. Maybe something Keano Reaves would have worn in the Matrix if Neo shopped on Castro street. I don't know, it was weird, but so was the guy wearing it.

 

He had long white hair, like some spider had taken a dump on his head, and his skin was almost as pale. His eyes were the same silver as the blade on his spear and he wasn't wearing any shoes. I noticed that because he had claws coming out of his toes. Not just long, nasty toenails but actual claws. They looked dirty yellow in color and I don't think he kept them very clean. Fortunately he didn't manage to land a blow with those otherwise I'd probably be getting tetanus shots for the rest of my life.

 

There wasn't any explanation behind the attack, either. He didn't shout threats at me or grandstand like a proper villain should, he just claimed to be there to collect me and then we were rolling. The man used his spear like Jet-freaking-Li and it was like fighting an oversized sewing machine. I barely had time to breath while the damned thing kept darting at my head, my shoulders and my gut faster than I could think about it. 'Almost faster than I could even see it, but fortunately I don't worry about thinking too much when some joker tries to spill my guts on the ground.

 

We started out on some rooftop but it didn't take long to spill the fight out across a couple of neighborhoods. I was just watching the city from up there, wondering how I was really going to get my career started, when he came out of nowhere. I swear the shadows just vomited the freak up, spit him right at my head. He sure as hell didn't come up the fire escape and I doubt he dropped out of a hot-air balloon. No idea what other options there were, though. Maybe he's just really quiet when he wants to be, but he made enough noise during the fight.

 

Before long, we were falling on top of the ice arena. That's where things really started to go downhill. We both landed there after jumping off the edge of a nearby building, but I can't remember right now if he was chasing me or it was the other way around. Things were pretty chaotic right about then, and like I said, thinking's not my strong point. Not when I'm seriously ticked off, anyway.

 

I watched him skewer a few exhaust fans trying to fill me full of holes before we both headed into the building. In retrospect, I really shouldn't have let that happen and not just because of the innocent bystanders. The bastard loved the shadows, really faded into them like he lived there. While we were in the sun it was a lot easier to spot him, but once he had some cover it was like fighting a dozen guys all armed to the teeth.

 

I thought I was done for, but somehow we managed to find our way to the catwalk that runs over the ice rink for the lighting and sound systems. From there it was only a short time before we were falling onto the ice itself.

 

Of course, it had to be a Saturday and the whole rink was packed with kids and parents. 'Looked like a sunday-school outing or something, and apparently the press wanted to do one of those crappy human interest stories at the same time. At least one camera and a reporter dying to make her big break. Almost literally, given what came next...

 

See, after we hit the ice I noticed how badly I was bleeding. I'm not sure how much you've been following the Hellblog, but when I bleed my blood burns. That's burns as in bursts into flames, not burns as in I'm a freaking poet. I might be hot-blooded as well as hot-headed, but you could burn start a forest fire just from me cutting myself while shaving. Real nasty looking stuff, all smoky and it smells like brimstone and hot copper.

 

As I lay on the ice after the fall, figuring out what my next move was, I watched as little rivulets of my own blood etched scars into the ice. Thick, black vapors came off of it and started drifting towards the crowd. They'd been pretty close when we dropped, I'm surprised we didn't land on anyone, and a lot of people got some really good whiffs of the stuff. I could see the fear just erupt in their eyes, it's happened before.

 

The fire from my blood isn't really the bad part. Granted, I don't want to be standing in a pool of gas when it happens, but for the most part it's not that hot. Dry wood, paper and cloth might catch on fire, but I won't be melting holes in steel doors any time soon. Hell, I couldn't even slag a chain-link fence with the stuff, but then again fences don't have lungs. People do.

 

And when people inhale the fumes from my blood, it does very bad things to their mind. It triggers some kind of fear response, a bad one. I've never found out if they start seeing images of their worst fears or if it just activates their 'fight or flight' response, but that doesn't really matter when you have half a dozen standing next to you getting ready to hit the panic button.

 

It didn't stop there, either. Apparently we did take out the air-conditioning before we left the roof because nothing was moving the air around to clean the fumes away. They hung a little longer than I'm used to seeing and that just gave more people a chance to freak out. The more who sucked the crap in, the more chaotic it got. And the more chaotic it got, the more people panicked regardless of whether they'd been affected by my blood or not.

 

Don't forget, there were kids in the crowd. Apparently a lot of parents even forgot that because that's mainly who managed to get trampled in the stampede. Parents, visitors, kids practicing hockey and kids just wanting a morning out with their friends all rushed the exits at once and nobody waited until the way was clear, first. It was a mess, literally a bloody disaster and it all played out just fine for the cameras. I don't know how many times the coverage was ran that night, or the week or two that followed, but by the end even I was sick of seeing it.

 

Hopefully they won't really remember it all by the time I'm ready to make my name known. That was before any of them had ever heard of Hellbound, but I'm not sure I'll be able to keep them from remembering who's blood had been on the ice that night.

 

Eventually, I was able to put the punk down that started it. I ran him through with his own damn spear, took it away and put it through his gut. Ripped it up and down once or twice, too, just for good measure. He'd done a lot of damage that night; to me and to the people in the ice arena. I wanted to kill him two or three times over again after all of that, but unfortunately he only died once. Dissolved back into the smoke and shadows that apparently sent him after me, too. Just faded away, turned into puffs of vapor and was gone.

 

Weird bastard, he was. And I never even got his name.

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