Behind Closed Eyes Part II


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Also Featuring:

butch_icon.gif douglas_icon.gif khalid_icon.gif mona_icon.gif

Scene Title Behind Closed Eyes Part II
Synopsis When the Nightmare Man comes to visit Emile Danko, the violent leader of Humanis First finds more than just his past laid out bare in front of him.
Date October 7, 2009

Somewhere in the house, someone has turned a light on.

Shadows lick impossibly tall through an ambient blur of orange on grey; bare feet struggle against black shoes and strong hands where before only vague grunting could be distinguished amidst the sound of violence. His father is cursing as he watches, kicking, jarring a knee against the coffee table in his struggle to stay standing. Eye sockets sunk black, teeth bared white, thinning hair shaved down to near nothing, Jakob Danko wrests his shoulders against three men in suits while a forth drags his wife out from where she's fled back into the master bedroom.

That was when she started screaming again. He remembers it all more clearly than he probably should, but he was there, and he's had this dream before, so far as it could be argued to constitute dreaming.

He watches from the cloaked black of the hallway his bedroom branched off of, wide grey eyes and faded pajamas pale in the dark. Slighter then than he is now. He was twelve years old. Is twelve years old, and now there are two more men with guns headed his way, trying to be gentle and failing.

Their hands are rough on his shoulders, one still sore from yesterday; his father is shouting at him to fight as he's walked past, spittle thick on his chin. His mother wants him to hide. Call the police. He does neither, brown hair loose in his eyes when turns to look after them both and a pair of handcuffs are clamped cold 'round his narrow wrists.

This is how innocence is lost, how monsters are made. Tragedy, especially tragedy involving family can turn the kindest person into the most bloodthirsty monster. For all the thick shadows in the back of Emile Danko's young mind, he isn't the only monster in the ephemeral walls of the room. The handcuffs are cold against bare skin, and the hands on Emile's small shoulders feel larger than they should.

The screaming has a muffled quality to it, the kind that sound underwater takes a liking to. It's strange, how in the focus of a dream the smallest things take crystal clarity focus and others are muted out. Emile can more clearly see the way a tree scrapes against a window than he can hear his mother's own voice. He can feel the throbbing beat of his heart in his chest more than he can hear the protests of his father.

Though it takes no small miracle for him to be able to draw the lines between the wrinkles on his father's face and the ones on his own. Severity of all kinds, hereditary — even if he never did meet his father's stature.

It's a sudden bump that jostles Danko from the look of his mother's blurry face, the way her pleading voice sounds like some distant ghostly wail behind a wall of water. In that bump, the lighting and colors comes into sharp focus, but it's the rumble of the back of a truck that wakes him up. Wheels rumble hard down a rocky dirt road, and the diffuse gray light of a cloudy afternoon comes spilling through the back of the personnel caravan that he's being transported in. The hot stink of the jungle is something Danko hasn't missed much, and the drizzling rain falling out of the covered back of the truck leaves a heavy humidity in the air.

He recognizes this place he's seemingly woken up to, the M'Banza-Kongo on the northern edge of the Zaire province in Angola. Southern Africa is a horrible, treacherous place, made only worse by the separatist factions struggling during the Angolan civil war. "How many clicks out is this thing stopping before we hike it out to the cathedral?" The voice is barely audible on the edges of Danko's awkward perceptions, a man seated at his side with a rifle between his legs. But the voice of Khalid Sadaka returning an answer is one Danko hears far more clearly. "Three clicks, then we get to march thorugh the fucking jungle in the rain. Those fucking oil workers better be kissing our asses when we save them."

The first breath Emile drags in upon stirring back to consciousness isn't enough. The stink of jungle humidity paints itself dank through his sinuses and across his lungs, forcing him into a lengthier yawn through his nose once he's taken stock of the fact that no one particularly cares that he's been sleeping. It's more common now than it used to be — he's closing in on his 40s and already the circles around his eyes are bruised darker than the grey wash of light in here should allow for.

Spine straightened stiff against the canvas at his back, he lifts a hand to push absently at an itch burrowed in somewhere under the snug fit of his helmet, eyes the color of industry and cement still bleary when they trace after rainwater braiding itself into streams across the transport's open rear. I guess that's why they call it a rainforest.

"They won't," is what he says instead, voice dry in his throat and hoarse in his ears despite moisture's density in the air all around him. A hard blink and a knit at his brow finally taper over into a look at the marines he's sharing space with, but it takes another steep breath to drag them all into focus.

"If you ask me" a voice comes from Danko's other side, a familiar and younger man with the same buzzcut scalp and deep set eyes, "I think they won't be the ones that're gonna be doing any begging." The only thing that doesn't quite fit in to Emile's remembrance of Douglas' younger self, is that he's relatively certain Douglas didn't have a gaping hole in the back of his skull when they were in Angola. This horrible revelation comes as the bloody-mouthed man turns towards Emile, one thin brow raised as he offers a smile that allow the light out the hole in the back of his head to the seen, one eye completely crimson from the burst capillary that came after eating his own handgun.

Leaning closer to Emile, Douglas wraps one arm around the smaller man's shoulders, rising up from his seat as a drooling line of salive and gore drips off of his lower lip, "How long do you think it's going to take to make you beg, Emile?" This is a whisper, intimate and hushed, wet lips pressed up against the side of Danko's head as Douglas' lanky form looms over the smaller man. "When was the last time you begged?"

Either realization is slow to take hold or reaction is. Either way, Danko's eyes have plenty of time to register the filter of red reflected light past chipped teeth. His own mouth slacks open before thoughts that don't manage to resolve themselves into speech, and brows hooded dark over his stare, he finds himself adopting an automatic lean away into Khalid, wiry shoulder to shoulder.

But there's no avoiding contact in such close quarters. Douglas is there, the hot stink of him around his shoulders and sloppy at his temple until he seizes to his feet in a viper strike streak of movement, rifle in hand and boots braced wide against the rock and jostle of the truck bed underfoot.

"What is this?" is a demand made at riflepoint — not a polite request for information. Make no mistake, even if there is a hint of a waver to his voice that can't be blamed solely upon the setting.

"Me?" Douglas answers with a doglike quirk of his head, "just me…" says the man drooling blood out one side of his mouth. It's obvious in the lack of reactions from the other Marines in the back of the truck that something is terrible wrong. Khalid, when jostled by Danko's movement slouches to the side and them slumps to the floor, landing on his back with a bullet hole in the middle of his forehead. He looks like he's been dead for days, skin puffy and blanches pale, bruising behind his ears and eyes gray-white and without focus as they stare up at the ceiling. The other marines are simply gone. Just Danko and two corpses left, an the truck is still driving on.

"You know— " Douglas says with a crooked smile, "I dunno, but— " he steps forward, letting the butt of the rifle press against the center of his chest. "Why don't you ask them?" A jerk of Douglas' head comes, and he moves to the side to reveal other bloodied forms rushing towards the back of the truck, pale flesh and sunken eyes, bulging veins and viscera dangling from their bodies. Men, women, children, trying to chase the truck down a bumpy mountain road through the jungle— their faces etched from that day into the back of Emile's mind.

One of them, a young boy missing his entire lower jaw climbs up into the back of the truck, tongue wagging like a tail down by his throat, a dark brown spear of blood from mouth to chest and down between his legs, perforated bullet holes up one side of his torso that squirm with fat maggots. "It's like a party!" Douglas adds enthusiastically.

Gun light in his hands, Danko fumbles back into a tripping step over Khalid's rot-blotched corpse, boot heel catching solid again just in time to keep him up on his feet while his eyes rake shrill around the transport benches to find — no one. There's an uncharacteristically reclusive hunch about his posture when Douglas steps forward and he draws back in on himself in the deeper shadow of the truck's rattling fore. This isn't how it happened. This isn't how anything happened.

Rather than go out when Doug steps aside, the hunted light in his eyes rings bright against the onslaught revealed at its onset — and one's already in with him. Heart staggered behind his sternum, he rips his glare away from Douglas long enough to pull the trigger on the kid, and —


The magazine drops out empty before he can even reach to drag calloused fingers across the release, and breath fogged out into a ragged huff of dismayed exasperation, he swings the brunt of the stock around to bear blunt between the little boy's black eyes.

The truck hits a bump as Danko lunges forward, the rifle butt slamming into the child's head, but the jostling of the truck sends him tumbling head over heels out the back of the vehicle. In those horrifyingly helpless moments of weightlessness, Danko cannot find purchase on anything to prevent his somersault to the rock and mud below. Landing wet and hard on his back in the rain, he stares up at the slate gray skies overhead, wind knocked out of him and the noise of the truck roaring further down the road. The boy, however, the boy came with Danko out of the truck from the force of the blow.

He scrambles up, straddling the older man, small hands reaching and pawing at the cadaverous features of Danko's skull, dirty nails digging and pulling to find purchase on skin. Manhandled by someone older and — for this instance — larger, he is pushed back and away, even as wet gurgling in the back of his throat brings up some kind of cry of pain or anger. It's only with the boy held out at arm's length that he sees — or sees anew — what he's struggling with.

The child has that familiar mop of brown hair, those tired and sunken eyes and thin wrists. He has those small shoulders that looked more like a young girl's frame, and despite his missing jaw, Emile Danko knows when he is staring into his own eyes; the eyes of his dead youth.

But the noises drawing closer, multiple feet and hissing breaths, other figures in the downpour of rain are lurching out of the treeline. Half-recognized forms, faces Emile knows only from the way they looked after death. A particular revenant with a missing arm still carries a noose around her neck, shambling out of the wet foliage with sunken eyes still bulged at the edges from her hanging death.

"God damn it," forced out a gasping rasp, Emile hardly has time to discern which direction is up before the thing's on him, cracked nails splintering against the sunken cling of skin to skull while mud clags in his ears and fills his collar. His fingers brush past the lop of disembodied tongue on their way to finding purchase at what's left of the neck, and for the first time in years, nausea pushes bile warm up the back of his throat. Meanwhile, coagulated gore and saliva flops cold against his face — mingles slick with the rain soaking in through his uniform while his exhausted brain struggles to clear the blurring of sensation through each of his senses. By the time the his assailant's face clears back out into familiar relief, he has no strength in his hands to squeeze with.

There's a twist at his brows, earnest bafflement and horror creased into furrows etched terse across his blanched forehead. Still not enough to slow him down. Not really. After a beat's uneasy pause, he pushes off his elbow, paws a second hand up into brown hair gone lank with moisture and twists until there's a wet pop and space enough for him to sling the boy — himself — aside.

The ground's too slick for getting up to be easy even without the added weight and he slides around on his way up, boot treads stirring muck while his eyes track inevitably back to the small body next to him and his right hand grasps after the semiautomatic strapped solid to his side.

"Go ahead." Mona's strangled corpse gurgles out, "shoot." Beginning to lurch forward, the one-armed revenant reaches outwards in a grasping motion several feet away, her fingers curling in a beckoning gesture towards Emile. Others are moving faster, less like the shambling dead and more like normal people. Some are actually backing away in confusion, one of the corpses falls down to the ground, scrambling back on hands and heels while others come lunging forward, grabbing at arms and shoulders, trying to wrestle Danko back to the slippery mud underfoot.

The rain comes down harder now, driven by the wind against the tangle of limbs and flesh. One of the bloated corpses lets out a hissing sound, fingers squeezing firm against Danko's forearm as he tries to pull him to the floor, their voices little more than pleading groans. Nearby, that boy's mangled body rises up to its knees, dark and hollow sockets staring up with a pleading expression, small hands grasping at the pantleg of Danko's BDUs.

A peal of thunder rolls across the heavens, sounding louder and more in focus than anything else so far here in this horrible place. From the treeline, eyes reflect light like animals, and more of the villagers that were gunned down that day at the cathedral step one by one from the darkened corners of the mountain jungle. "Shoot, Emile." Mona's rain soaked hair hangs in her face as she takes another step forward, "shoot."

They're all dead by his hand already. No amount of blunt trauma or neck breaking or hot lead is going to slow them down and Danko's fresh out've chainsaws. He has to work not to look down and see himself grasping, hardly much of a head left at all — and maybe that's how the muzzle of his gun winds up at the damp join of his own neck and jaw, black composite warm to wiry old muscle and loose skin.

Tension quivers through the back of his hand and strains taut at tendons wound stiff up the back of is arm; the gun rattles in his grip like a set of chattery teeth in a spasmodic jerk for his temple. His left hand pushes splayed through the squelch of mud between his fingers, seeking a firm hold on something, anything, and finding none between ragged breaths and blood hammering thick in his ears. He twitches his thumb over the hammer. There's a tell-tale double click.

"— op!"

The sound is drowned out by the thunder as the hammer clicks back. One of the shambling corpses trying to wrest the gun away from his hand, fingers pulling at palm and knuckles. Another sharp scream, this time closer, "Sir stop!" Then, with a crack of thunder, Emile Danko feels the jolt of electricity crackling through his body. His muscles tense, the gun is pried away from waiting fingers, and he feels his word shifting even as the wet of the rain is replaced by sweat on his brow.

The screaming now echoes around, something is wet on the floor, warm not cold, and Danko's hands are being wrenched behind his back. "Danko! For fuck's sake what's wrong with you!?" It's Butch. One knee in the small of his superior's back, other voices of confusion and shock fill the air around Emile. He can feel, now, the cold touch of concrete against his cheek and the coppery taste of blood in his mouth, along with the traumatic feeling of being violently roused from a dream.

A nightmare.

From his position, wrestled to the floor as he is, Danko can see one of his own men laying sprawled out on the ground from a gunshot wound to the head. A glittering brass casing lays a few feet away, and Emile can feel the muzzle burn from the hot barrel that he had placed under his jaw. This— here— this feels more real than anything had. And As Butch struggles to try and get a better look at the man he's pinning down, another is holding the pistol that almost took his life in shaky hands.

Laid out flat on his belly under Butch's weight, ribs driven down into cold hard concrete through the warmth of another man's blood clinging at his shirt, Danko splutters against blood thick in his throat, chokes and coughs. Every muscle in his fucking body aches — everything in his skull — and he still finds it in himself to wrestle against the force at his back.

…Up until the time he's able to twist his head around to the opposite direction and his lifeless eyes catch blank upon the still sprawl of one of his own men. The harsh rack of his breath stifles into a shuddery pause, pupils swollen wide against slivered silver. If he notices Butch's inspection, he doesn't care enough to bother pretending to look sane.

The murmur of voices around the circle of men comes with hushed uncertainty, a hard rain patters down against high warehouse windows, and a low rumble of thunder now strikes as so much more familiar here than it was the jungle. There's no cloudiness in Butch's eyes as he eases back, feeling the struggling easing up. The man holding the gun looks to Butch, then down to Danko and back again, and the silent tension in the room is likened to a rubber band being pulled to its absolute maximum and held there.

When Butch finally releases that knee from Danko's back, he rises up slowly and takes a few cautious steps away. "Sir?" This time it's quieter than before, hushed in the uncertainty that the answer for what he's about to ask next won't be what he wants to hear. "Sir, what happened?"

That question, for Emile Danko, is going to have a very difficult answer.

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