The around him swam in ocean of cannibalistic color, shapes bending breaking like liquid thought, unbreakable steel world around him no longer so. It was his, this small peace he’d found and placed under his skin. He could feel his blood turning to radioactive plasma, feel it like magic through coursing through his fingers, seven knuckled wands capable of morphing and charging the world while three nursing phantoms suckled at the nubs they once called home. He glances down at them. He didn’t pity them, those banished and forgotten things. They took it too much too fast. Didn’t save and savor like the rest of them. Not his fault. They lost control. You can never lose control. It’s the line between addict and enthusiast.
He feels the dampness in the grotto he’s commandeered begin to melt to pillow softness.
Maybe it wasn’t the world, maybe it was his eyes that were melting, blurring as raw proton heat tore neurons to sludge.
He smiles, he thinks he does, feeling his cheeks burn with the stretching of the muscles in this face.
And what of it?
What of the clouds of steel dirt, and dreadnought poverty. The sky burned to smog and rain colored to the preference of the winds. No. He’d seen that. Seen enough.
He remembers his father.
We did it for you, he’d said. We’d lived as slaves, week to week filling the space so the world could sustain its own greed, he’d always tear up at this part. (Where was mom?) We thought the name would give you a chance to do at least a little better. A little—the last time he’d said this, his voice had choked on tears, or was it vomit? Phlegm? We couldn’t have known… There was more crying, coughing (blood?). Red has always believed that last part. But it didn’t change anything. He’d had to take the hits. He’d had to live off the bets his parents had signed his name to.
He banishes him, that piece of himself. He tries to smile again, but realizes he hasn’t stopped smiling from last time.
Thanks, dad. Always a pleasure.