“I thought I had this on securely enough…” Horse-Face picked up the sheet that had ostensibly fallen off The Mother while he was gone. This time, he made sure it was better covering her.
Once she was covered again, he stepped back and sat down on his bed. He then slumped down and pressed his hands against his mask.
It seemed only now that he was recognizing the potential repercussions. He didn’t even know how he managed to get away with it. The Twin knew everything, and it was very likely they’d know what he did.
“I’m probably the biggest idiot on the planet,” he muttered. He then turned to look at the door to the hidden passage, as though The Twin could hear him:
“…But you already knew that, didn’t you?”
Once more, Horse-Face stood back up and left his room. This time, he entered The Builder’s room, and made his way to the headless corpse in the corner.
Amazingly, said corpse hadn’t began to rot even after all this time. Horse-Face sat down across from it, and nodded once.
“I don’t know if I ever told you this when you were alive, or ever really, but…Thanks for helping him.”
Everybody that was conscious and not Ox-Head looked dumbfounded at what Harwood just said.
Blaise was the first to actually question it. “Ya sure he told ya to kill ’em? Sounds pretty extreme to me.”
She then looked around at the rest of the tubes. “On the other hand, maybe he’s got his reasons.”
The Julian clone then resumed crawling, reaching out to Annette. He looked exhausted and defeated as he repeated his request, in a louder but very unsteady voice.
“Oh, Julian…” Just seeing him in this condition was enough to break Annette’s heart. She’d been a part of this child’s life since the day he was born. Now here he was, asking for an end to said life.
“That poor boy,” Dennis muttered. “I can hardly imagine the hell he’s been through…”
Marc just bit his lip, and leaned against Shark. Both of them were trying not to cry. They all watched as Julian then turned back to Harwood.
Now, the clone was unable to articulate his thoughts as he reached out to Harwood. All that Harwood did was let him touch his face, feeling his wet hand upon his skin.
Sagebear then trotted over and began licking Julian’s face, alternating between doing this and whimpering.
“What’s going on?” Ox-Head asked, breaking the silence. Annette just quietly shushed him.
The silence didn’t last long anyway. Above them, maniacal giggling could be heard. From the sound of it, it was getting closer.
Everyone else looked to try and detect the course of the laughing. Annette just made her way to the door leading to the cellar.
“How about we try not to wander around a musty series of hidden passages this time? Come on. I’ll show you where to hide in this room.”
She then motioned for everyone to go through. Once Shark had picked up Sinbad and slung him over his shoulder, they all quickly ran into the cellar.
Annette then looked back one more time, and frowned at the clone being left behind.
Not even The Builder themself understood just what could be so funny. Nevertheless, they sauntered down the hallway guffawing like a caffeinated hyena.
The noises were enough to get Horse-Face to come out and investigate. He checked to make sure his room was barred off, then stepped out.
“Builder?” He said in order to stop their peals of laughter. “What’s gotten into you?”
As though to spite him for asking this, The Builder then delved into hysterical sobbing. They didn’t seem to notice him otherwise.
Continuing on, The Builder practically fell down the stairs to the lower floor. Horse-Face walked over to peer down, and then walked away.
“They’re really starting to lose it now,” he mumbled as he re-entered his room. He then locked the door in case they came back.
The first thing Sinbad noticed upon returning to the waking world was the horrible, throbbing pain in his head.
He could barely get his mind to comprehend the change in setting. When he did, he was made more aware with hearing Shark’s voice, and feeling his fingers running through his hair.
“Are you all right, Sinbad?” Sinbad let out a long, low groan to answer at first, before he properly responded. By this point, he saw exactly where his head was now.
“Given my face is between your legs with everybody watching us,” he mumbled, “this is both a dream come true and my worst nightmare.”
Shark paused in his reaction before telling the others, “Yeah, he’s fine,” with a snort of amusement. He then frowned slightly as he told Sinbad, “I didn’t mean to hit you that hard.”
“It’s fine, man,” Sinbad responded as he reached up and stroked his cheek. “If anything, you didn’t punch me hard enough.”
Then, Sinbad was sat on by a very happy Sagebear. She lay on his chest as she vigorously sniffed and licked his face.
“Yes, dog! I’m happy to see you too,” he grunted out as Shark kept laughing, along with everyone else.
After a few moments of this, Sagebear stopped when Ox-Head began looming over them.
“What are you looking at, Twiggy?” Ox-Head simply looked closer, tilting his head as he bent down. He then sprung back up and pointed at him, while looking at Annette.
“Does he know the clones, Andromeda? Does he, does he, does he?”
Annette just tried to calm him down by waving him off. “Yes, Ox-Head. In some way, he does.”
A few minutes later, Sinbad was sitting up after he showed no lasting damage from what happened earlier. It still took him a bit to understand what happened while he was out.
“So…That kid in there wants to die?” Sinbad asked rather bluntly, vaguely noticing the way Annette flinched in the corner of his eye.
“Apparently.” Harwood was the one to answer him. “There aren’t that many in there, a lot of those tubes are broken and empty. It’s the moral conflict that’s keeping any of us from doing it, I suppose.”
Sinbad just gave a noise of acknowledgement, but said nothing. Registering the look on his face, Shark’s own expression turned grim.
“Oh…You want to be the one to do it, don’t you?”
Here came the answer in the form of a single nod. “You bet your ass I do.”
After he was told which tubes contained clones, Sinbad was now at the door to the clone room. Everyone but Shark had stepped back and watched as he prepared to go in.
“Do you really think you can do this, Sinbad?” Shark said to him.
“You mean physically or morally?” Sinbad didn’t even wait for an answer before explaining. “Because physically, I’ve taken out plenty of opponents bigger than him. And morally…Hey, he asked to be killed, right?”
Shark didn’t even say anything to this now. He just hugged him, and then turned him to face the clone room again. “I promise not to hit too hard this time.”
“Hit as hard as you want, man,” Sinbad whispered. “Given what’s going to be happening in there…”
Nodding again, Shark then smacked Sinbad in the designated spot. He stepped back as Sinbad entered that dreaded feral state.
The instant Sinbad had fully gone in, he sprinted into the clone room, clearly out for blood.
As a safety measure, Shark closed the door in case he tried to get back out.
No sooner Horse-Face had taken a seat on his bed, did he hear sounds coming from a room from downstairs. Groaning in frustration, he stood back up and proceeded to the hidden entrance.
“I’ll be back as soon as I can,” he said to The Mother, before heading in. He didn’t get in too far before his companion appeared and took him by the hand.
“What’s going on?” He whispered to him over the voracious howling. The young man just kept pulling him to another area.
Once they reached another spot to look through, Horse-Face was aghast at the scene unfolding before him.
“I don’t know why he’s doing that,” the companion said to him, “But I get the feeling we’re not meant to interfere…”
Within the span of a few short minutes, Sinbad had made short work of nearly every clone. Around him lay broken glass, puddles of water, and mutilated dead bodies.
There was only one left; the one that made the request.
Julian barely reacted when Sinbad grabbed him by the neck. Sinbad was snorting into his face, the adrenaline coursing through his body. Almost immediately, he began to constrict the poor clone’s neck.
“Daddy…!” Julian managed to croak out. This single word just managed to aggravate Sinbad even more.
“I’m not your fuckin’ daddy!” Sinbad roared at him, before impulsively sinking his teeth into Julian’s face.
After tearing a good chunk of the clone’s skin off, Sinbad then proceeded to maul him horrendously. By the time he was done, the Julian clone hung limply in his arms.
Sinbad dropped the corpse to the ground, as he felt his lucidity returning to him. He looked around him, seeing the result of his rampage.
Then, Sinbad turned, and limped back to the cellar.
Shark knew Sinbad wasn’t going to be happy when he returned. However, even then he was shocked to see the condition Sinbad was in.
He looked a most frightful mess, almost ghoulish. His hair was messy, and his skin was turning pale. Blood stained his mouth and chin, and a good portion of his shirt. His eyes seemed to be rather dull.
“Oh, Sinbad…” Shark whispered to him as he wrapped his arms around him. Sinbad didn’t lift his arms up to return the hug, but preferred to rest his head on his shoulder.
Nobody said anything. Then, after a few moments, Marc and Harwood went over and joined them. After them went Dennis and Blaise, and finally Sagebear. She just leaned up on Shark’s legs, trying to get her share of family hugs.
Annette and Ox-Head just stood a few feet away, stunned into silence. Then came the sound of hysterical sobbing, much closer than the earlier laughing.
“All right, now we go into the passageways,” she told them to get their attention. She then turned to look at Ox-Head. “Wanna lead the way this time?”
Ox-Head smiled and clapped his hands, hopping up and down like a giddy child. He then skittered over to the nearest passage and opened it, running inside.
Once Annette went in after him, the rest followed.
For whatever reason, The Builder hadn’t noticed their head was positioned wrong after falling down the stairs. Once they did, they immediately snapped it back into the right direction.
“Ugh. I’m gonna need something to dull this pain,” they said to themself as they reached their cellar. Going to the farthest side of the room, they pulled out a bottle of absinthe, and drank it straight out of said bottle.
The bottle was halfway empty when The Builder stopped to enter a hacking fit. They then stuck their tongue out and made a sound of disgust.
“Oh, yeah! That’s got wormwood in it, all right!” They were about to drink the rest of the absinthe, when they noticed water seeping out from under the clone room door. “Eh?”
The instant that the door was opened, The Builder saw the exact state their clone room was in: an irreparable mess.
“No…” Their reaction was delayed, before it properly hit:
“No! Who the fuck is responsible for all this?!” They bellowed. Dropping the liquor they were holding, The Builder took out their knife and hurriedly exited the room, intent on death towards whoever was to blame for this.