Yesterday, there was a bomb threat. The authorities ended up having to evacuate the campus.
While I was evacuating, I saw Jester. He was standing in the doorway of one of the class buildings, just watching me, and when he knew I'd seen him, he turned around and walked inside.
I don't know why I did it. Maybe I was just desperate to end this all one way or another. Maybe the ink in my blood had finally driven me insane. Whatever the reason, I followed him.
He was waiting for me in the middle of the hall. His hands were in the pockets of his hoodie, and that grinning half-face on his mask stared at me with its perpetual amusement. He didn't move. Didn't speak. Just stood there, watching me.
I heard footsteps behind me, and spun around, wondering if this was another of Jester's "jokes." Roxas was there. Or at least, his body was. His eyes were fixed firmly on Jester as he approached us, and it wasn't until he was right beside me that I noticed the gun in his hand.
Roxas raised the gun and took aim.
Jester stood silently and watched.
Something was wrong. This wasn't the "troll blogs and throw frogs at people" Jester I'd come to expect. This Jester was too calm, too reserved. No, that wasn't quite right. If I looked, really looked, I could see it. The shaking. Jester wasn't perfectly still. He was trembling.
It was as if a door opened in my mind. As soon as I recognized the shaking I saw other signs as well. The hoodie and the pants masked it well, but I saw the subtlest signs that this was not Jester's physique. It wasn't even a man's physique.
In that instant, panic gripped me, and without even realizing what I was doing, I shoved myself against Roxas. The gun fell from his hand and he slammed against the wall.
And then he pushed back.
He was so strong. Stronger than he had any right to be. Roxas fixed his gaze upon me. There was no malice. No frustration. There wasn't anything. Not even the slightest hint of emotion in his face of voice. "You are a failed experiment," he said. "The detriment you give us has begun to outweigh the benefits. There is no more us we have for you." And he launched himself at me, tackling me to the ground, wrapping his fingers around me, tightening his grip.
My hands grasped the air, grasped the ground, searching for anything I could use to save myself. At last they found something. Something cold, hard, metallic. I grabbed it and brought it to Roxas's head, and I fired.
He was my friend. And I blew his brains all over the wall.
I pushed Roxas's corpse off me. Something like blood was flowing from his head. It looked like human blood, but as it flowed across the ground and spread itself out, it became more and more transparent and watery. Ink.
I took a minute to catch my breath and recover from the shock. The sound of gunshot had deafened the world to me, and all I could hear was ringing.
Slowly, I became aware that someone was clapping. Laughing.
I turned to look back at Jester, and saw two of him. One still stood still, while the other was practically in hysterics. It wasn't a cruel laugh. It was the laugh of a child watching a funny movie. Completely innocent and free from any malice. I shuddered.
"I was certainly not expecting that," Jester managed to wheeze out between his laughter. "But that's good! Predictable punchlines are the worst." He reached over and pulled the mask off the woman next to him. Marl's face looked back me, her eyes wide with fear, her mouth struggling to form words, her body desperately trying to move on its own and escape the invisible strings that ensnared it.
"I know," Jester said. He'd finally calmed down. "You suspected, didn't you? That's why you stopped Campy over there. You've managed to outdo me in the comedic arena. I am shamed!" He punctuated that last sentence with an overly dramatic gesture, bringing the back of his hand up to his forehead.
I raised the gun again, and aimed it at Jester.
In in an instant, he was on top of me. He kicked in the face, hard, and wrestled the gun from my hand. All I could see was lights, and pain flooded through me. By the time I'd come back to reality, he was already back beside Marl.
"None of that now," he said. "Today's the first time you've ever fired a gun after all. I doubt your aim is very good. It's very likely you would have missed, especially holding it with one hand, lying down like that. Then who knows might have happened?"
And then Jester pressed the gun against Marl's stomach and fired.
I screamed, and Marl clutched her wound and fell to the ground. Jester threw his head back and laughed.
"And now she's fucking bleeding to death! Didn't see that coming, did you?" He started walking toward me. Slowly. Deliberately slowly, savoring each second. "And now, Johnny, this is the end. The bloodline ends with you. I wish it didn't have to be like this, but my Empress is getting impatient and who knows what other holes the Ichor will decide to stick it into?" He was about a yard away now. He stopped walking. "Go on," he said. "Beg."
And I did.
I begged. I pleaded. I tried to bargain. I told him I wouldn't have any kids. I'd do anything. I'd make sure my family never grew again. Just so long as he didn't kill me.
And then Jester took aim.
And he lifted the gun away from and said: "bang."
There was silence for a moment, and I just stared at him, dumbstruck. And then he started laughing again. "Oh, you should have seen the look on your face! You thought you were gonna die! Hilarious!" He kept laughing, and eventually he calmed himself down enough to continue. "Johnny, didn't I just explain to you? Comedy is an art form. The best comedy is unexpected, and the worst is predictable. If I killed you, it simply wouldn't have been entertaining."
I nodded. Hope suddenly filled me. Then Jester raised a finger in a gesture of silence.
"However, I have obligations more important than comedy, so I can't simply let you go free, now can I? The art must be sacrificed, if sacrificing it pleases my Empress. So here's the deal: You ever donate blood, I'll kill you and burn the blood bank to the ground. You ever register as an organ donor, I'll make sure your organs to useless to everybody. You ever get a girl pregnant, I'll castrate you and thank you for the opportunity to practice my abortion skills. I rarely get a chance like that, and I fear I'm not very good at it. The woman's not supposed to explode at the end of procedure, right?" He giggled a bit. "Make no mistake, Johnny. I'll be keeping an eye on you. The bloodline will end, for my Empress desires that it does, and she always gets what she wants. Understand?"
I found myself nodding again.
"Good boy. Now I suggest you dial 911. You got a corpse next to you. And I'm not sure how long your girlfriend has before her intestines bleed out completely."
With that said, Jester turned around, and left us.