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Children are wicked and nasty things. They are considered the purest forms of innocence in this world, but people fail to see their real intelligence. Though their minds may not be as advanced as that of a grown person or young adult, they are still dreadfully complex. What happens when one of these complexities begins to understand itself, and the worlds beyond the world surrounding it, and the world's surrounding those? What happens when a child learns? What happens if that child does not care about anything? They rise, and they fall. And they will always take someone down with them.
Rory’s story begins with his birth, respectively. His father was a pale and thin man, with a wild head of red hair and a face full of constellations. His light green eyes were always jaded and his lips were awfully lacking in color. Rory’s mother on the other hand, was a striking woman. Rory’s mother had beautiful glossy hair and eyes of fiery amber. Her name was Aurora. But on the night of Rory’s birth, she was far from beautiful. She was a ghastly sight.
The date was July 29, 1891. The sky was painted with many shades of blue, and the stars shined yellow. It seemed as though Van Gogh had painted the sky himself that night, considering it had been an exact year since his death, a painting of the clouds to celebrate the anniversary of his death. One ginger asshole goes out, and another one comes in. Rory Isaac Pierce.
Aurora’s face was twisted in pain, misery, and possibly a hint of regret as her hips dislocated to make way for life. Oscar lost feeling in his fingers as she squeezed his hands, but he didn’t mind much. They expected a baby, but instead, the thing that finally came out was a blue blob with a mess of red hair. This was not satisfactory, to say the least.
“What’s wrong with him?” Oscar demanded from the doctor. The doctor gave him a disinterested look, not in a hurry to tell them what was wrong with their child.
“The umbilical cord wrapped around his neck. Cut off his oxygen supply. He’s dead,” the doctor said, before adding under his breath, “Obviously.”
“Fix him!” Oscar raged but his voice cracked like that of a young school girl.
“I can’t. He’s dead, Oscar,” the doctor said, seemingly having gained some empathy. Oscar looked as though he wanted to stomp and cry, to scream life back into his little blue baby.
“Give him to me,” Aurora managed in a weak whisper. Oscar grabbed the blob and handed it to his wife. The baby was cold to the touch. Oscar hated separating it from his fingertips. Aurora held her child to her face, warm cheek to cold cheek. Aurora had abilities that would have had her barbecued in a Puritan village. Magic lived right under the surface of her fingertips and within the rivers of her body. It wasn’t unusual for her to pick dead roses up and clasp them in her hands. When she’d open her hands again, the roses would be as vibrant red as they were upon blooming. She would take Oscar’s hands and implant visions of snow in his mind when he missed the winter. Her abilities were always used for good. And this, she thought, would be the greatest good she would ever do. Oscar watched his wife and his stillborn, heartbroken and clueless about what was really going on. Through her cheek, Aurora passed her very being into her baby. The blue was slowly replaced with pink flesh, scattered with freckles. His hair even seemed to come alive, like little bits of gold flowed through his locks. His cheeks blushed and his lips flushed with colour. His tiny nostrils flared repeatedly and his eyes fluttered open. Fiery cognac brown with tiny flecks of pale green. Oscar’s eyes shined at the miracle happening in front of him. His crinkly smile widened so much that it could have split his face in half. While watching the life return to his child, he noticed too late what was happening to his wife. The indigo hues spread across her face and her eyes emptied. All the stars that had been there before became casa novas for another. Blank. A mere shadow of the galaxies that had once inhabited them.
Oscar’s heart was damaged beyond repair that night. His heart resided in his rib cage, content with a pleasant home of bones, but had a very unpleasant visitor. Perpetual sorrow. It took the form of the silhouette of a man with a top hat. He walked right into Oscar’s rib cage and took a seat across from his heart. He poured a nice glass of tea for the pulsating organ and said, “Here. For the pain.” The sad heart drank it thirstily with such a fierce need that it never tasted the anthrax floating in the tea. It’s a fast acting disease. In short, Oscar’s heart shriveled up and died, becoming a pile of dark ash on his rib cage floor, never to love or function correctly again. Not even for his child, who looked up at him then, so much like his mother.
And in that moment, somewhere deep down, Oscar and Rory both knew Rory Isaac Pierce would never be forgiven.
Rory grew into a dashing young boy, his reddish brown hair curly as could be. His amber eyes sparkled. His tiny baby teeth had little spaces between all of them, and he smiled with a crinkly smile like his father. His father did his best to raise him the way Aurora would have wanted to. Oscar was quiet and resigned, and he usually let his wife do all the talking. He knew he wanted Rory to be more outspoken like her, and so that is what he taught his son. Only, this was the seed that grew a rotting plant in the young boy. He became charming. And not only that, he knew he was charming. At the ripe age of 4, he could talk old ladies into giving him a piece of their pie that sat on their window sills. He would smile and ask politely, and if the answer was still no, he knew exactly what to do. He would let all the boyish charm drop from his face, and he would avert his eyes, just like his father. He would chew on his bottom lip, and lean his head down towards his left foot, and say in the smallest voice he could manage, “Well... Okay, thank you anyway.” He would drop his shoulders and turn around, and walk away. He always knew that it would only be a minute or two before the old hags would call out, “Okay, okay. Come get a piece.” He would let a sly smile slip before he turned around to retrieve his prize.
He saw everything as a game. He was much more intelligent than his father gave him credit for, but then again, Oscar was not very intelligent himself nor did he take much of an active role in the boy’s life. As a result, he never did notice what his son was becoming.
Rory often dressed impeccably. Rory fit into the sailor boy theme of his time like most of the other young boys. He wore a lavish navy blue reefer jacket with large buttons and a white vest and shirt underneath it. The only thing Oscar could not get Rory to do was stuff his mop of curls into a hat like everyone else. Having anything cover his head made his brain feel fuzzy, he told his father.
Rory spent a lot of time outside and away from home. Rory loved to walk alongside Exeter river. One day, the little tyke came across a dead bird by the river. Death was not a thing that was talked about in Rory’s life. He understood his mother was dead, but he was not sure what that meant exactly, not until he came across the little sparrow lying and decaying. He understood there was some sort of permanence in its hollow, black eyes that reminded him of little stones. Staring at the bird, he felt something like cold water flush into his palms. His hands seemed to whisper, “Use us, Rory.” He brought the tip of his index finger to the space between the sparrow’s eyes. It felt as though little flowers were growing in his arm, beneath his skin. He watched as the bird’s feathers fluffed and its beak opened and closed slightly.
When it started moving its eyes, Rory felt a strong sense of disturbance at what he had done. He began retching and his body contorted until he vomited. The bird fluttered to life, and an unspeakable rage filled Rory’s tiny body as sickness protruded from it. He grabbed the sparrow in both of his hands and he squeezed. And squeezed. He squeezed until he felt its ribcage crack under the force. He watched it struggle desperately in his grip. When the thing finally went limp, he held it by its little foot and threw it into the river. That was that, he thought. It was done. He turned around and he went home.
The sparrow floated, alone and mangled. The cold water ran over its feathers. It made its lonely journey down the river for a while until a large chain pickerel fish swam up to the surface and dragged the bird down into the depths of the water. Rory gave it life only to rip it away again. It died alone. Most things do.
Rory developed an obsession with his hands after he discovered his magic with the bird. Rory never felt compelled to tell his father what he could do, but he never considered it a secret either. Rory really just couldn’t care less about telling his father things. Oscar never really said much about them anyway.
Rory held a mix of fascination and fear of what he could do. He knew it wasn’t normal. He stared at his hands for days and nights after bringing the bird back to life, but didn’t know what to do with them now. He was only 4, and he had the world at his fingertips. What was a child to do with this power. He decided the only way to figure out what he could do would be to try something on his father. He waited for his father to get back from the newspaper office, where he was an editor. Oscar did the same thing every day. He woke up at 6, dressed himself in sophisticated threads, walked to work, and then came home and fell asleep on the couch. He would wake up an hour later to cook, and that was the cycle. His father was a bore, and what angered Rory the most was that he was very reluctant to talk about his mother. Rory decided he was going to know about her, one way or the other.
When Oscar Pierce collapsed lazily onto the couch and slipped into a casual slumber, Rory approached him. He looked at the sleeping specimen with a slight curiosity, tilting his head to the left. A moment passed and he became overall disinterested with the man, and more interested in what his head held about his mother. Aurora.
Rory prepared his index and middle finger and brought it to his father’s forehead hesitantly. He pressed them slowly against Oscar’s freckled skin. His hands felt like the blood beneath them was cold, rushing water again. He closed his eyes and thought about his mother. Suddenly, he was plunged into a memory.
He watched as his father delivered newspapers on a bike in his youth, much more handsome than he was now. He wore a townie cap and suspenders, and had a strong throwing arm. He became distracted by an auburn-haired girl on her porch, and stared at her with his mouth hanging open while the bike kept cascading down the street. Suddenly, Rory’s point of view was his father’s. He watched his mother through his father’s eyes. Her hair shined in the morning sun, and her amber eyes radiated almost golden. She was looking at him in a way no one had ever looked at him before. With interest. Her lips parted subtly as they pulled into a smile. Next thing he knew, he rode his bike into a bush. Hot embarrassment rushed through his face as he tried to untangle the bike from the leaves. The girl walked toward him with such ease, like she was floating. The white dress she had on swayed loosely around her thighs and Oscar gulped. She stopped in front of him and cocked her head to the left, curiously. She smiled again, this time narrowing her eyes at him as though she knew all of his secrets. She reached her hand out at him, and his heart stopped. She pulled a leaf out of his hair, and picked up his townie cap off of the ground. She handed it to him.
“I’ll take my paper now, if you don’t mind.” She held out her hand, and he placed a rolled newspaper in it. When they both had their hand on the paper, Oscar felt something like fire spreading through his arm. Little did he know, that was all Aurora’s doing.
The memory changed, and Rory watched from afar as Oscar struggled to pedal his bike while Aurora struggled to sit on his handlebars. Oscar was dressed in a suit and he pedaled her to a restaurant. The memories were playing now like a movie screen. He saw his father gifting his mother roses and saw her kissing him and smiling. He saw his mother when she was pregnant. For him. He saw his mother, and he loved her. Rory took his fingers off of his father’s head.
Oscar’s eyes shot open. “What did you just do?” he demanded. Rory looked at him, startled by his sudden fierceness. Oscar snatched his son’s hand.
“What have you been doing?” he screamed as he crushed Rory’s hand in his. Rory reacted the only way he knew how. He used his other hand and pressed it to his father's head and implanted a thought.
Oscar’s head was filled with the illusion of having his hand broken and mangled. He cried out in pain and let go of his son.
“Make it stop!” he screamed, clutching his hand, even though there was visibly nothing wrong with it. Rory pressed his fingers harder and his father screamed louder. Once Rory was satisfied, he took his fingers back.
From that moment on, Oscar feared his son. Consequently, he always let him get his way. From the beginning, there was something rotting in Rory’s soul, and Oscar only added to the poison.
Rory grew older and he got worse and worse with his magic. All it took was one minor inconvenience from his father and with just the swipe of his hand, not even having to touch his father anymore, he could implant anything into Oscar’s mind. By the time Rory was 9-years-old, Oscar had been stabbed, burned, and drowned multiple times, but only in his head. It was when Rory took his sight for weeks at a time that Oscar lost all hope of ever fighting back. Oscar could not see, and he could not work. Rory would not talk to him and he was alone. Rory left him to face the ceiling and stare, hoping that his vision would return. It never did. Everything was as black for Oscar Pierce as it was for the sparrow.
But Oscar was not the only one subject to Rory’s torment. Animals suffered too—anything Rory could get his hands on. The orange Tabby cat he found in the street got the worst of it all, mostly because he became fond of it. Rory appropriately named the orange tabby, Pumpkin. Pumpkin became his sort of lab rat. He would make the cat see beautiful things like landscapes and oceans. He’d watch the cat’s eyes get wide and bright with wonder, the gold flecks in them resembling fireflies. Then, he’d ruin it. He’d make the cat feel pain, making it feel as though its arms were twisted and broken. He’d make it feel things like fire, and any other painful event he could imagine. Which was fine, he’d take the memories away after that. He had much more mercy for the cat than he ever had for his father. It was when Rory wanted to re-experience what he had done with the bird that the cat suffered the most. Rory didn’t use his magic. He just used the strength he had in his hands and arms. He grabbed the cat around its throat and constricted. The poor thing tried to fight but Rory enjoyed the feeling of it clawing at him. He found it amusing that the cat thought it had a chance. Killing it? He wanted to feel that. He wanted to feel himself rip the life away, to feel it go limp in his hands and stop fighting. And it did. It was almost exhilarating enough to kill it that he didn’t know if he even wanted to resurrect it. But then he remembered. He could kill it over and over and over if he just brought it back to life. But he didn’t know what was in store for himself.
He touched the feline’s forehead with his index and middle finger and sank his life source into it. The cat’s fur began to glow and come to life, and when its ribs started moving up and down, Rory felt that same disturbance he had gotten from the bird. He didn’t know why it was so violent this time. And then he couldn’t breathe. His throat felt constricted and he lungs burned for air. He was sure he heard his windpipe shatter in his head.
He gasped and gasped for air. His face turned blue and all of the muscles in his abdomen constricted. Black dots filled his vision, and he collapsed.
The bird was one thing—it was small. Rory didn’t know that when he gave something life, he invited a little of its death into his body. But this cat was bigger than a sparrow.
Rory was sprawled on the floor, his face blue and his lips a strange shade of purple. His eyes were just as vacant as Aurora’s were, as starless and empty as the void. There were bruises around his throat. The boy died the same way he came in, blue and swollen.
Pumpkin got up and shook his head. He crawled right over onto Rory’s belly and curled into a ball. One ginger asshole goes out, and another one comes in. Pumpkin Pierce.