The jungle was dense, thick, and muggy. Zero could barely see forward through the thick, hot fog. He could hear buzzing and screaming, and the shifting landscape only led him into confusion. He was lost. He was desperately lost, looking for the heart of this place, and he could feel tree branches and vines reaching out, trying to grab him, trying to suck the blood out of him and leave a skeleton.
The loudness of the buzzing, the screaming, the creaking and chirping and growling of whatever may be here, was deafening. There were plenty who had come in here, Zero knew, and had lost their minds just due to the eerie sounds that came from all sides.
It was when silence settled in that he knew he was in trouble. And when he knew he was in trouble, he knew he was finally getting somewhere.
He hadn’t known what was different at first. He just knew that something was. He’d stopped on his path, eyes shifting as he tried to determine what had changed, what was off. That’s when he realized, slowly, that there were no screams anymore. Nothing was buzzing. There wasn’t a single sound.
Zero stiffened, shoulders straightening slightly. He listened closely, trying to hear through the silence. At first there was nothing, but then he heard it—felt the ground tremble with it—a low rumble coming from somewhere behind him.
Always There… In Our Hearts - The Flaming Lips
”Goodness. You don’t have to yell.”
Micah isn’t one for sympathy—there’s probably another trait for that, or something. Poor motherfucker. Anyway, Micah can’t seem to find it in himself to feel legitimate pity for Zero, he can’t find it in himself to sympathize with what Zero has been going through for…what? The past twenty years? Is that how many days have passed? Micah has no legitimate idea—he’s been more or less busy making deals with mobsters and working out money laundering agreements.
Though, he doesn’t empathize to an extent—he can understand Zero’s frustration, he can understand the anger that had been building up within Zero for the past couple of decades—so he’ll raise his gaze slowly, finding it in himself to accept that he’ll guide Zero and Abra out of this place if Zero makes his end of the deal—if Zero dismantles Julian, if Zero comes out on top. After all, Micah is only friends with winners. If he was friends with losers, his style would definitely be cramped. Once Zero calms, Micah strides over slowly, looking towards the burning horizon with a faint hum.
“Yes, well—seems like you need something of a saviour, right? I mean, you’ve been praying all this time—it’s about time that someone come to answer those prayers, isn’t it?” And a slow smiles works over his features, eyes flashing before he looks elsewhere. Ah, yes—implying that he himself was more of a God than God could ever be was quite nice, wasn’t it?
”There’s another jungle, venturing on—within that jungle is a creature that you would probably remember if you were actually sane still. The jabberwocky. Wild, right? Julian’s a crafty boy—his own realm is hidden within the heart, and is only accessible if you tear apart and devour the heart of said jabberwocky, according to research done by—hey, not me. But I’m not gonna cite my sources. Just trust me on this one—that’s how you get to her. You’ll probably come across some of his goons—but hey, you’ve been fighting them all along. He’s been sending them down to keep you away, but you just kept on keeping on.” A light laugh. He examines his nailbeds.
”She’s there, though. Potentially being raped. I haven’t checked—I mean, that was what was happening about an hour ago. So, you better get a move on.”
Zero doesn’t know why he ever made an alliance with this man to begin with. He doesn’t seem like the type of person that he would like to be seeing all that much of. Then again, though, Zero isn’t exactly sure of what type of person he would like anymore—he knows himself as well as he knows this Abra, this ghost he’s chasing after.
What he does know is that he feels his chest seize up at the thought of any unnecessary harm coming to her, and how little Micah seems to really care. All in all, though, who does? What difference does it make? There isn’t a soul in this place other than him who minds what happens to her. The delight and excitement everyone had at first when they found an angel was here has died into a murmur, a soft happy buzz.
It’s been so many years. Zero feels old. He thinks that he’s supposed to be young, but it doesn’t feel that way anymore—he feels old, tired, angry and sick, losing his mind. Even his anger at Micah’s seeming soullessness is short-lived, replaced with a dull despair and the faintest bit of hope.
Turning away from the other and looking towards the jungle, he raises a brow and lets out a breath. Jabberwocky. Nothing’s impossible in Hell.
“Curiouser and fucking curiouser.”
”—What do I want? No, the question is what do you want, Zero.”
This isn’t about Micah, not really—Micah supposes that he’ll get something out of this. After all, whoever ends up in the bottom level of Hell being prodded and pulled at by gimps with spears will be abandoned by Micah. The victor? Such a prize should speak for itself—Micah finds himself saddened at the fact that Zero might lose against Julian, as the trait always had a certain fondness for the hard-headed boy. Then again, maybe the sight of his trembling wife will give him some sort of newfound strength. Brushing nimble digits through coifed hair, eyes of flecked hazel glance towards Zero with a slight frown.
Julian had been alerted of Zero’s nearing presence, he assumed—having spoken with Estella, Micah found himself questioning his own agitation with Zero. Why did the slow pace of the boy leave him so unsettled? Perhaps he simply didn’t want Estella to win and get her greedy little hands on someone who should be under Micah’s mentorship. He doesn’t know, maybe he’ll add in some new rules to his game—whatever.
”You look horrible.” He comments, lifting a brow and soon standing upright, smoothing down his blazer and glancing towards the horizon that hummed with reds and purples.
”You’re close, though I’m sure you had no idea about that. You don’t even remember me, do you? I see that you’ve kept Abra in your head—nice thinking with those carvings. Either way, you’re close to where she is—you can’t feel her, she’s been in here too long. But she’s around, I guess. Do you want to know how to reach her?”
He locks eyes with the boy—he has the face of a monster, dog teeth hidden behind plump, dry lips, inky gaze animal and feral.
“Do I?” Zero asks flatly, rubbing a hand over tired eyes. “Your face annoys me. Your cleanliness sickens me. You sound pretentious and you don’t belong here. You look horrible.”
But he knows Zero, apparently, and he knows something. The childe doesn’t have the option of being so prideful as to turn away the only help he could get, so he stops himself there and listens, gritting his teeth, as the more powerful of the two offhandedly summarizes what he’s been working on for what seems like centuries.
Abra. That’s right. Abra.
Letting out a breath, he does his best to stand up a little straighter once the other meets his eyes. Raising his head, he keeps as much wariness as he can, focusing entirely on the other and ignoring the sound of distant hisses and growls. He doesn’t know whether they’re just in his head or not anymore.
It does seem to cause him to crack briefly, though, for a moment. He breaks eye contact with a laugh, shaking his head and rubbing his eyes once more.
“No. No, not at all! Not in the slightest bit. I’ve only been down here for—for… I’ve only been down here for ages trying to find her, getting my jugular torn out repeatedly, ripping out as many throats as possible without collapsing and giving up. All for her. All for her! Losing my mind, fighting on and on, praying to whoever, really, in hopes that maybe, just maybe, someone will be on my side, and that I’ll be able to find her and get out of here, and go… go back… to… to… home. Did you know—did—you—know! I don’t even—remember—who I am anymore! Isn’t that cool? Isn’t that fucking cool? They say I’ve gotten out before. They say. A big deal, a big fucking deal. And here I am, the guy who has gotten out before, going deeper, and forgetting everything, to find—Abra. So, no, I have no idea what would give you the motherfucking impression that I would like to know how to FUCKING REACH HER!"
He shuts his eyes. One. Calm. Two. Calm. Three. Calm. This isn’t the first time a lapse has happened, and truthfully, that wasn’t the worst.
“I’m sorry. Yes. I would… I would.”
It wasn’t that he declared Zero as useless. But he was taking a long time, wasn’t he? Micah had peered into the fate of the young man quite a few times, and found himself to be almost disappointed with the fact that Zero was taking such a long time. And what made things worse? The fact that Micah had done so much for this little mutt only to stumble around the levels of hell, nearly forgetting about the reason he was there to begin with.
Either way, Micah hates these trips to hell—he hates feeling the souls of the damned clinging onto his flesh, the only thing that seems to benefit Micah personally is the fact that these particular souls did their best to cringe back and fall to their knees to him, hailing him as a sort of deity that Micah could very much get behind. He doesn’t blame them—he was more or less the god of the damned. He and a few other traits—wrath, envy, etc etc.
Ah, well—he really could do without being down here.
This particular realm is shrouded by jagged fissures of black stone—cold, desolate, with a bruised sky and a jungle within the horizon. He’s close, he’s close—and that’s why Micah’s here today. (The idiot wouldn’t be able to figure out how to tap into Julian’s realm).
He sends a pulse to the childe—a pulse that alerts Zero of his presence, a pulse that Zero will feel deep within his bones—he’ll come soon. Of course he’ll come soon.
It nearly knocks Zero off his feet, that dizzying pulse. His entire body is wracked, and he stumbles, nearly collapsing into the acidic, swampy mud-like substance in front of him. A hand goes to his forehead and he rubs his eyes, knowing it’s a signal of some sort, something that he’s meant to follow back to its source.
There’s an echo. An echo of a memory, faint familiarity acquainted with the energy of the pulse. He can’t place the name, he can’t place who or what it is, the most he can do is turn and slither backward, trying to find who or whatever it may be. It signaled him out, it must know him, and maybe—and he’s clinging on to the last bit of hope he has left inside him—help can be offered.
He hears a murmur, a damned soul murmuring to another about Indulgence, Indulgence itself, the patron saint—if such a word can be uttered here—of greed, of desire, temptation; he goes by Miko now.
Micah, Zero corrects.
—How do you know that?
I don’t know.
But at least he knows who he’s looking for. And it doesn’t take much longer until he’s found, clearly out of place in this landscape. For one, he holds himself with a regal way nobody can muster here. Secondly, he’s clean. So clean Zero wants to wipe blood on his smug face. Outsider.
“What do you want?” he asks, voice cracked and dry. He does his best to hide the lack of recognition in his gaze, knowing how it can be interpreted into weakness—and that’s something he can’t afford, not now. He feels he’s getting relatively close to his goal. The wife. Her name is lost to him again—he’ll look at his arm later, he knows it’s etched there.
It’s how I make my living and it really pisses me off how you think you’re better than that.
I hate how if a woman has sex with a bunch of guys she’s considered a slut, but if a guy does the exact same thing, he’s ‘gay’