The Daimler had been a great idea, its drive was as sure as its ultimate destination. Liam had taken it in a moment of outrageous inspiration. A hearse to cart away his dead self.
After the attempted assassination, with the thrill of the fight still surging through his veins, Liam had an epiphany. This was what he had been born to do. His entire history had brought him to this point where his skills, his gifts and his passion would make him into a person who would be feared and respected in equal measures. In reality, fear and respect were the same concepts for Liam, but this new thing, this power thing, this mantle of responsibility was weighing his spirits down. Liam Flowers, not yet sixteen yet looking as if approaching thirty, had stopped enjoying life. Life was, after all, concerned with triumph, conquest, in fact the whole gamut that followed the infliction of pain upon other human beings. This was what he had been born for.
His ankle itched with the flute-shaped birthmark. It was an itch that he now intended to scratch. He wished to scratch it so much that he would draw blood. Some time during his education, his interest had been roused by a topic that was touched upon in religious education. Penitents, blokes who inflicted pain upon themselves in their worship of their god, blood streaming ceaselessly from open wounds, life fluids that leapt the metaphorical chasm between ideas and actions, penitents he admired. They cropped up in many religions and were mainly left alone, curios in a society that had forgotten the true meaning of anything. Liam Flowers, a prophet for this new age, would bury any vestige of his old self. He would go into the wilderness in the same way that Jesus had. Forty days and forty nights, that’s all that he could take. Liam could double that, quadruple it even. Liam was, after all, the chosen one.
As he drove through the city streets, mainly deserted, often littered with the detritus of the madhouse, he felt no regret for what he was doing. The Leatherman, the one that had been the most loyal, was sleeping (if that was what leathers did when they were not walking) in the casket. A grand affair, hewn from the hardest and oldest wood, it provided him with a rather belated bed. This way they could travel as far away from the city as their desires could take them. Although Liam had no definite destination, he wished to find those wastes, now frozen, into which a soul could lose itself and from where it might then find that which could usurp it. After all, why should a soul remain unchanged when everything else around it was able to alter so much?
He was heading north, following an internal star, making his way into the open country where the Resistors had fled. This was also the land into which Hope had disappeared. Hope the schemer, Hope the plotter, Hope who had failed in his attempt to remove him. During his conversations with his would be assassin, Liam had discovered that ‘the children of Hope’ were as numerous as the armies of rats that had swept the world clean. Indeed, many of the rats were his children. They were the result of centuries of experimentation. In other times they would have called it magic, but the ‘good Doctor’ had developed it into a science. And Hope wanted it all.
Some day, they would meet again.
The hearse ran smoothly, its engine not even a hum, the outside noise a mere whisper.
So quiet that it would not disturb the living let alone the dead.