“Having fun yet?” Rani couldn't see the speaker in the dark; he didn't need to.
“If you're going to kill me again, hurry up and do it. It beats watching her die.” Rani was surprised how clear his voice was; he expected it to be little more than a hoarse rattle. How long had he been stranded in nothingness?
“That was my first choice: killing you before you could cobble together some clumsy wrench to throw into the plans. My partners, on the other hand, thought a slower and more thorough destruction was in order. That means watching your friends die one by one, after they've all abandoned you.” Rani didn't recall his murderer being quite so chatty the last time they met. Then again, the swift nature of his execution left little time for conversation. A quick death was certainly starting to look like a gift if it meant not having to listen to the fiend.
But, he couldn't help his friends while dead.
“Amd of they refuse to abandon me?” Rani had to keep him talking long enough to figure out a way to get back in the fight. He was useless now; he couldn't help anyone from the dark zone.
“Most of them have already left you. Ray's just too slow progressing this little story. Hell, even the friends he was adding to the fray will be long gone before they're officially part of this tale of your downfall. In the end, all you'll have left is me. Then, once you've hit rock bottom, I will kill you. And you'll have nothing left to come back to.” How he could deliver such a melodramatic threat with a monotone, Rani had no idea. This guy was over the top on the villain scale of wickedness. Then again, the story had always been a parody composed of caricatures.
“What if I die of boredom?” Rani couldn't let his weakening resolve seep into his voice and betray him. He couldn't let the stranger know that he felt the cold sting of the truth. His friends had either left him behind or were in the process of doing so. The story was meant to be about his team, and they were all gone or leaving. Some team he put together; he was the de facto leader of no one.
“No need to worry about that. Things are just getting interesting. Let's see how your old buddy Salem is doing. He must be going through such hell right now.”
Mr. Salem Norongachi
Salem was in heaven, or he would be if he though such nancy nonsense existed. His situation was as close as he would ever get to the magic bollocks land in the sky. It was the version of heaven that wasn't fiction – and had adult content.
He had everything: a cushy gig running the Nerd Addiction website, a girlfriend that fancied Jessica Rabbit in all the right ways(which was all of them), and all the alcohol his battle scarred liver could take. If this was a dream, he didn't want to wake up. The groove in the couch fit his arse perfectly, and the groove in the bed fit her back perfectly, he had no intention of going anywhere else.
So, of course, the bloody fecking phone would start ringing from somewhere in the cavernous depths of his luxurious shag pad.
“Feck 'em, if it's an emergency they can call Scotland Yard.” Did he really just say Scotland Yard? Ray had heard him say 'cops' and 'police' numerous times; there was no excuse for such blatantly ignorant writing.
Wait, why was he thinking about that lousy dole signer?
“It's Rani calling. Do you want me to pick up?” oh he wanted her to pick up something, but it wasn't the stupid phone. And not with her hands.
Why had he thought about Ray while Rani was calling? He hadn't thought about him in ages. Not since that incident at the farm. Not that he could remember what happened that day. Booze and memory have a funny way of not seeing eye to eye on anything.
This was starting to damage to damage his calm.
“Hell with Raniboy. If he wanted to talk to me, he would've called sooner.” It was too late to mend that bridge; it had been too long without contact. Rani was dead to him.
“That must have hurt.” They were out of Salem's head and back into the emptiness. “After all you've been through together, all those years you two were thick as thieves, and now he's gone. Just like all the others. They all leave you.”
“They always come back.” Rani knew he sounded weak. He was losing and he knew it. Losing to an enemy he couldn't see or fight.
“Except when they don't. They don't care anymore. Maybe they never did.”
Maybe they never did.