The Red and Yellow voices were arguing again, as always. Blue was staying quiet at least, not adding to the din. Rage had long since grown tired of hearing them, but he couldn’t force them to be quiet and leave him to his own thoughts. Perhaps they were his own thoughts. Rage couldn’t remember a time when a voice in his head didn’t have a colour. The brilliant stare of the sun was blinding overheard, casting the whole pitch around him in sickly orange. At the corners of his vision, wherever he stared, he could see the shadows forming. They looked like congealed blood, rich and crimson red.
‘Killhimkillhimkillhim!’ Red was as characteristically direct as always.
‘No! The others will not stand for it! They won’t follow you; they’ll leave you to your fate! You’ll be all alone!’ Yellow was always craven. Its broken tone betrayed the sincerity of any wisdom imparted by the words.
‘Kill them next, kill until they understand! We must rule!’
‘Blackheart is too strong. We are too weak. Much safer to follow him, not to resist-’
Rage had listened enough. He was already sprinting towards Blackheart; Red’s excited shouting in his ears. The voice eclipsed all other sounds: Yellow’s shrill pleading, the roar of the crowd, his own thundering footsteps.
‘Killhimkillhimkillhimkillhim!’ The chant was reaching a deafening crescendo in Rage’s head, his lips moving now as he silently mouthed the words. His vision turned the same ruddy hue as the shadows he saw everywhere. White knuckled fingers gripped his cleaver and knife harder. At the last moment, three paces away, just as Rage’s left arm began to rise, he hesitated. The red mist cleared suddenly. Was this really what he wanted?
‘Snivelling runt. Better we just do the deed and worry later.’ Purple, one of the rarer voices. It had a deep, gravelly, commanding tone. It spoke across the others and drowned them out. Rage felt his arm fly up into the air as of its own accord. His legs suddenly lurched forward even faster. Indecision passed and a smile broke out across Rage’s face.
Blackheart looked round in time to take the cleaver cleanly to the temple, the momentum of the brutal strike whipping his head around again. The blade carved a huge chunk of his flesh away, lumps of splintered bone joining the burst of bright blood that exploded from the pirate’s face. Rage followed with a vicious upward stab from the knife in his right hand. The blade scraped slightly as it met the leather of Blackheart’s reinforced tunic, before the sheer power of the thrust tore through, sinking the knife deep into the flesh beneath.
‘YES! Moremoremoremore!’ Red’s words were dripping with a sweet, honeyed glee.
The Union – 119
The cleaver came down again, this time on top of Blackheart’s head, steel sinking an inch into his skull and severing his ponytail. Hand slippery with blood, Rage tore the knife out of the pirate as the man began to pitch forward, then planted a heavy boot into the small of Blackheart’s back.
Rage dropped down on top of Blackheart as his former captain fell. His knife flashed out to any exposed area of skin or soft clothing, cutting, ripping, and slashing the soft flesh into gory ribbons. The body began to twitch, spasm, convulse violently, until Rage used his boots to break the limbs, heavy, brutal kicks to exposed fingers and joints.
The voices in his head had mercifully stopped, giving him a moment of peace. Rage realised that the crowd too had quieted, their voices dry in their throats. He surveyed the nearest stand through narrowed eyes, daring even one of them to meet his gaze. None did.
He stood over his prey; a victorious, exultant predator.
‘Go find the snake. And then the bitch too. They cannot be allowed to live.’ Blue, coldly logical as always.
Rage sighted Coin, several yards away, slithering its ungainly bulk through the grass. He smiled as Red resumed its chilling monologue in his head.