Curse #2: 5k Years Later: Earth

Author’s Note:

Sylus really isn’t well in this version. He’s not well in any version, but in this one he’s a chronic smoker with undiagnosed lung cancer who can’t afford to see a doctor, gets laid off from his job and loses his apartment. Yeah… That’s a whole different kind of miserable and it makes him much more… Cynical and angry at the world. I kinda like that in some respect, and this will come out in other ways during the current run. Spoiler: Sylus does take up “smoking” ash in order to stay out of the Mist longer, but that’s a down-the-line-plot.

Also, met Lisette and Castor! An incredibly disfunctional couple with a son who’s patterned onto Sylus very badly! Castor was Sylus’ co-worker until they both lost their jobs. While Sylus went on an un-ending and unfulfilling hunt, Castor turned to drinking, a previous passtime of his before he had his son. He becomes beligerant and abusive when he’s drunk and everyone knows that, but when he found work, he quit drinking and was actually a really good person when he was sober. This is the only reason his wife stayed with him.

Lisette is a professional of some kind. I forget what exactly she does, but she’s the real bread-winner of the home allowing them to stay in their city-center skyline penthouse while Castor struggles to find work. The more abusive he gets, the less of his shit she’s willing to put up with.

Neither of them have strong feelings toward Daniel, their son, so it’s no surprise the boy stuck to Sylus more than them. Sylus was frequently in his life from a young age because he was his father’s best, and only, friend. A bit of resentment that lingers between all three of them is that Castor was too drunk to be there when Lisette was giving birth so he asked Sylus to go in his stead. This was much of Daniel’s life. His own father was largely absent or drunk beyond reason when he was home. Castor flips on his feelings about Daniel. Sometimes he sees him as a burden and a leech. Like if Daniel wasn’t there, he wouldn’t have to look so hard for work, as if Lisette would put up with a deadbeat. Similarly, Lisette just never formed a cohesive bond with her son. She went back to work shortly after giving birth and, until he found other work, Sylus was their go-to baby sitter.

In the end, Sylus was more a parent to Daniel than his own parents were.

As for their relationship with Sylus, they’re dismissive of his condition. They just refer to him however he wants even though they both think he’s a bit mental but apparently not mental enough to take care of their kid so… *shrug*

Anyway, enjoy this second entry to the “Cursed Run”!

Earth

In the shadow of the gaping maw be reborn

In the dusk before dawn be remade

Before the emerald sun be whole

Under the violet moon be one

Crumbling

Crumbling

Crumbling

All to dust

 

A match struck in darkness. Weary eyes gaze out through the falling rain. A few doors down he watched as a woman covered in fur slid out of a limousine and darted into one of the finer apartment buildings in town. A soaked doorman holding the way open for her with a smile plastered on his face. Once she was inside, he dropped the door shut and spat into the street. He leaned on the limousine window seemingly having a conversation with the driver. With a disgruntled laugh and a sigh, he walked away and the limousine left. A cough rattled tar-stained lungs. The doorman could hear it from down the street.

“You’re gonna die, kid,” he shouted in his direction over the falling rain, “That shit’s not good for ya.”

To which he replied by raising his middle finger.

“Suit yourself. Dead by thirty really is a way to live,” he laughed with a shrug.

“Excuse me?” the irritating sound of something whining came from the door beside him, “You can’t smoke that close to this building, sir.”

“I live here,” he muttered in return.

“Don’t care. You can’t be smoking this close.”

Her face matched her nasally whining voice. Hair done up with the power of a million perms. Lipstick smeared and eye shadow caked. A lifetime of fakery that would inevitably fade no matter how hard she fought time’s abrasion.

“Look, just walk away so I can’t see you and I’ll let it go,” she moaned.

With a grunt, he walked a bit down the street.

“Thank youuuuu,” she called after him in a forced sing-song tone.

“Fuck you,” he muttered as he dropped his now sopping cigarette down a street drain.

Knowing it would be futile to light another, he just stood there in the chilling dampness of night. His hands slid into his pockets to fumble with the carton and lighter.

It was 3am. The dream had hit again. He was growing tired of gaping maws and writhing tendrils. At first it had caused him levels of distress and anxiety he could hardly describe. Now? He spat into the street. A night without them didn’t exactly feel right.

Weary eyes looked up into the pitch black sky.

It always felt like something was calling him. Him… He scoffed at the idea of being important. Of mattering to anyone. He gave a heavy, defeated sigh. Pinching the bridge of his nose, he felt something sharp tugging on the sleeve of his long coat. He turned knowing what it was but no less please when his eyes settled on the same haggard woman who’d harried him over his smoking.

“You not answering your phone, mister Synclaire?” she handed him a piece of lined yellow paper torn from a notebook.

“What the hell do you want now?”

“Call for ya. Took a name, uh,” she turned the paper in an attempt to read her own chicken scratch, “Gizelle? Pazel? I do love pazels…” her gaze drifted off into nothing.

He pinched the bridge of his nose as he searched through his limited lexicon of relationships until it hit him.

“Lysette?!” he barked.

The woman shrugged, “Yeah sure. She seemed hurried…”

“Is she still on the line?!”

The woman shrugged again, “I told her to hold.”

Rolling his eyes into the back of his head, he ran into the apartment building only to pull on a locked office door.

“Hold ya horses,” she coughed as she slowly followed behind him, “Security and whatever…”

She pulled a key from somewhere within her shirt. He was on the verge of screaming at her as she took her sweet time opening the door.

“Wait here,” she muttered before finally shuffling into the office. He glanced in to find a lewd magazine face down on her desk.

“You still there, ma’am?” she practically moaned into the phone, “Yeah he…” she scoffed, “He’s here…” She made her way to the acrylic window that allowed her to see into the entrance that was lined with tiny mail boxes. “Sir?” she audibly cringed, “Your call?”

Darting to the window, he found she had left the corded receiver just lying on the other side of small opening at the bottom of the pane.

“Goddammit,” he muttered as he picked up the phone, “Lysette?”

“Sylus?”

He pinched the bridge of his nose, “Why are you calling the front desk?”

“Y-you weren’t… answering…” she paused a brief moment, “Look I’m sorry… you know I wouldn’t do this if it wasn’t important…”

“Emergency,” Sylus struggled to hide his exasperation.

“Listen,” she sighed, “Castor hasn’t come home yet. I’m worried about him. Please… Sy…” the voice on the other end of the line was shaking. Was it rage? Sadness? Frustration? Knowing Lysette, there was definitely a hint of defeat.

“Lyz…”

“Sy, you’re the only one he listens to. He won’t listen to me and he can’t even consider the wellbeing of his own fucking child!” she cut her screams off short.

“Mom?”

He could her the child on the other side of the call.

“Go back to sleep, Dan,” she sighed, “I’m sorry I woke you up.”

“Dad’s not home… is he?”

She gasped into the receiver, “I can’t do this much longer, Sy… Please… Tell him that…”

“Lyz… It’s your relationship…”

“Then bring him home so I can tell him myself. For the millionth time. And he won’t listen. He’ll just wave it off and wander away and I can’t do this anymore Sy…” she sobbed.

A thud marked the sound of the phone hitting the floor. Sylus sighed to himself. It really wasn’t his business to get involved with their relationship, but Castor… He had always been a friend. A friend he watched helplessly drift back into his old destructive ways. What more can you say to someone when everything’s already been said?

“Sy?” a boy’s voice picked up the phone.

“Hey, Dan,” he replied, trying his hardest to bury his own weariness.

“I know you’re tired of this…”

“Dan… Don’t say that…”

“But can you please bring Dad home?” his mother was sobbing behind his every word.

“Of course, Dan. I’ll be there in a bit. With your father in tow,” he smiled.

“Thank you, Sy.”

The call finally ended.

Lingering a moment with his phone still pressed to his ear, he felt a cold sense of disconnection washing over him.

“Castor…” he sighed as slammed the phone down on the counter, “What the fuck are ya doin’, mate…”

“Hey!” the woman behind the desk cried out as she lowered her pornography, “Ya break it ya buy me one of those shiny new ones that show you who’s calling.”

He barely stuck around long enough to hear her complaining about the state of her office

Hailing a cab wasn’t the easiest thing to do at 3am, so he began making his way toward the dive he knew his friend was accustomed to. He used to drink there himself until a certain event pretty much made it impossible for him to ever be drunk again. He shuddered at the thought of the memory forcing itself forwards.

“Nope,” he growled as he forced it back down.

Soon enough his meandering lead him to that darkened doorstep. He wasn’t sure if it was legal, but this place sold alcohol at every hour of every day. Served with the seediest smile you could imagine. Banging fish and chips though.

The Salty Shillelagh.

The neon sign struggled to stay lit.

Scoffing and taking the deepest breath he could muster with his nicotine ravaged lungs, he walked into the bar. Sparse, but not empty. Drunkards littered the seating. Heads in hands. Heads on tables. Hands in pants. The usual low life routine. Smoke hung low in the dimly lit room. Sylus felt like he probably belonged here, but alas, he really didn’t. It didn’t take long to spot the yellow leather jacket leaning on the bar. Taking the empty stool beside him, Sylus sat down heavily.

“She sent you, huh?” Castor scoffed, “Of course she did.” He turned away from Sylus.

“Mate, you have to go home,” Sylus sighed.

“Like this?” he turned to face him. His eyes were dark and worn.

“How much have you had?” Sylus leaned into the bar.

“Not enough,” Castor muttered as he took another shot of something.

“Go home, Cast…”

“And what? Hm? Get yelled at? Get torn down? Fuck you, Sy. Fuck you. You know I can’t go home…” he clasped his hands over his face, “I can’t take it anymore.” He sobbed into his hands. “No job… No money… What kind of man am I that I can’t support my family…”

“Cast, there’s always a chance to find new work, but ya can’t find it if ya wander around like a soggy loon. Clean up, dammit. You know she’s patient if you put the effort in, but y’ain’t even trying!”

“Patient?” Castor scoffed, “Patient?! It’s been, what, almost ten years? That I… I go in and out of work? Fall… Fall in and out of thi-this cycle…”

The barkeep approached with a bottle, ready to refill Castor’s glass.

“Get the fuck out of here,” Sylus hissed.

“I even have a kid now… a KID… A CHILD! Depending on me!” he cried out to the empty void around them. No life seemed to stir in response and the barkeep was already busying himself with pushing some other drunkard over the edge. “I can’t have a kid, Sy!” Castor turned to him. Eyes wet and red. “I can’t! Jesus Christ until Lysette, I lived on instant noodles… And that was fine! For me!”

“Cast…”

“And now I’m a fucking father?! What the fuck?! I can’t even… Even… I can’t…” he placed his head in his hands again, “Sy… I’m not dad material… I never was… And… I… I…” he choked a bit on his own saliva, “I never wanted to be…”

“Seven years is a bit too late for that regret,” Sylus groaned as he leaned away.

“Seven years?” Castor scoffed, “I’ve regretted it since the day she declare we were keeping him! Look, I was on board when she said she didn’t want an abortion. That’s fine. But right up until the end I thought we were gonna put him up for adoption! That’s what we talked about! Why is he still here?!” Castor groaned.

“You don’t mean any of this, Cast,” Sylus pinched the bridge of his nose, “I know you’re frustrated and upset and hurt, but I know you love your son…”

“That’s the worst part!” Castor lunged at him suddenly grabbing him by the collar of his coat, “I fucking love that kid! But look at me! Look at me, Sy! I. Am. Not. A. Father!”

Sylus sagged heavily on his stool. This wasn’t his fight, but he knew he had to fight it anyway.

“Have you spoken to Lysette about this?” he sighed.

“Spoken? Spoken?” his tone shifted between the same two words, “I can’t speak to her anymore… All we do is yell and scream and fight and cry and say ‘Oh we’ll figure this out. It’ll be okay.’ But it won’t be. It’ll never be okay. All the while my fucking SON is sitting in his room probably wondering what the FUCK is wrong with his parents… Oh don’t worry kiddo, you’ve got the dysfunctional family of the century. The scarring we give you might get you some kind of mental health scholarship or something…”

Sylus squeezed his eyes shut, “As an outsider, if you give a shit, you both have the same feelings, but are failing to communicate it in the same way,” here he went, acting the therapeutic support. Why did he ever bother? It’d never be repaid… “You two need to sit down without Daniel around and really actually talk. This is ridiculous how similar your complaints sound…”

“What do you know?” Castor’s demeanor had turned sour, “What do you know about our relationship? What does she tell you?”

Sylus shrugged, knowing he was about to be on the defensive end of some kind of verbal or physical onslaught, “No more than what you tell me. She just says it a bit differently.”

“That I’m the bad guy, right? That I’m the one tearing the family apart?” Castor had slid off his stool to stand mere inches away from Sylus’ face, “Maybe if she actually gave a flying fuck about anyone else but herself she’d know that things need to fucking change. But no,” their noses were nearly touching, “She has to keep the fancy city apartment. She has to stay near her BOHO friends are. She has to live the high life, while I work in a FUCKING MINE!” he slammed his hand down on the bar.

“The mine shutting down hurt a lot of us and you know that, Cast… Lysette works. Don’t act like you’re the only one employed. She pulls her weight,” Sylus sneered.

“Of course you’d say that,” Castor turned away from him, “Team Cunt, am I right?”

Sylus slid off his stool and took Castor by the neck, “Ye forget last time we rumbled I won, Castor. Want me to be throwin the first punch, eh? So ya feel better about yerself? Fuck you, you bloody bellend. I ain’t fueling your bullshit.”

In an instant, Sylus felt a searing pain in his nose as his vision was momentarily reduced to black static. He staggered backwards tripping over a stool. Next thing he knew, Castor was on top of him. Punching him repeatedly.

“Team, Cunt, ye?” Sylus laughed between blows, “Ya like hittin ladies?”

Castor froze.

Sylus took the opportunity to sit up. Spitting blood onto the floor, he decked his friend square in the jaw.

“Fucking a…” he sighed as he stood up to find Castor out cold on the wooden floor.

“You, uh, gonna get that corpse out of here? Or do I really have to call the cops?” the barkeep was suddenly on their side of the bar.

“I’ll get ‘em,” Sylus groaned as he leaned down to put Castor’s limp arm over his shoulders.

“Bastard…” Castor groaned.

“That’s better,” Sylus grunted as he dragged him out the door.

Sylus was able to hail a cab outside the seedy bar. It seemed like there was an abundance of them waiting for bewildered drunkards to come stumbling out onto the pavement. They circled the place like yellow vultures.

Shoving Castor into the back seat, Sylus slid in beside him. The entirety of the ride was spent in dead silence. Not even the cabby spoke a word.

Once they reached Castor’s apartment building, Sylus paid the fare and dragged him out of the car. Throwing him down on the pavement, he knelt down and slapped him in the face. Castor sputtered awake.

“At least try to stand up on your own two feet,” Sylus sighed as he stood up from the pavement, offering Castor a hand to help himself up.

Castor muttered something unintelligible as he took his hand.

The elevator ride up to his penthouse was spent, once more, in complete silence. Between the two of them, Lysette being some kind of government official and Castor being in construction, much like Sylus had been, the cost of the penthouse was chump change. Sylus couldn’t help but envy them a bit. As Castor kept nodding off, Sylus kept shaking him awake.

“We’re here,” Sylus groaned as he dragged Castor out of the elevator, “Stand up, dammit!”

Castor’s head rolled on his shoulders.

“Fucking hell,” Sylus muttered as he knocked on the penthouse door.

There was a long silence before Sylus knocked again.

“S-Sy?” a tired voice came from the other side of the door.

“Lyz? It’s me, please open up,” he grunted as he tried to lift Castor upright again.

The door slowly opened.

There stood Lysette in her nightgown. A disgusted look slowly overtaking her features.

“Is he alive?” her tone became stern.

Sylus shook him upright again, “As far as I can tell.”

Lysette shook her head, “Put him on the couch.” She stepped aside to let Sylus drag her husband into their home.

Sylus unceremoniously dropped Castor onto the couch. As he propped Castor’s legs up, he found Lysette standing uncomfortably close to him.

“I’m lucky you can carry him,” she sighed, her hand brushing his.

Sylus turned to her, “Don’t.” he spat.

Her eyes darted around a bit before she folded her arms across her chest.

“Lysette…” Sylus sighed, “You two need to talk. Please. I’ll take Daniel for a bit. You really need to talk…”

“Talk?” she scoffed, “To that belligerent asshole?”

Sylus shut his eyes and shook his head, “You’re both pretty damn belligerent if you were to ask me.”

Lysette balked.

“Stubborn and short sighted, the both of ya,” he added.

“Short sighted?!” Lysette hissed, “At least I know there’s a child here that needs to be taken care of! At least I’m not the one who runs off to booze himself into oblivion!”

“No,” Sylus cocked his head to one side, “But you do have the shortest fuse for a woman who has everything.”

She stared at him, her mouth agape. “How dare you,” she hissed.

“Funny, that,” Sylus shrugged, “Seems I’m wrong to both of you. Mayhaps that could be a point of conversation?” he chuckled.

Lysette shoved him with all her strength.

“Get out of here,” she spat, “Get out!” she growled, “GET OUT!” she screamed.

Sylus shook his head as he turned to leave. Glancing back, he could see Daniel leaning out of his bedroom. He gave a short nod to the boy, who vanished before his mother turned around.

“Ya both claim to care so much about that kid, yet all ya do is bicker over yerselves,” Sylus sneered as he stepped out of the room, “What’ll it take for ya ta finally see eye to eye? Hm? When’ll ya end this fucking insanity? Even if it isn’t the ending ya want, ya can’t keep goin on like this. Don’t let it come to somethin ye’ll both regret.” With that, he slammed the door behind him.

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