Expo Murder Be Thy Name



Vincent shifted from one foot to another, he delicately wiped his brow with a silk handkerchief. It was a sweltering Tennessee day and Vincent had rung the doorbell about ten minutes ago. He knew his Pa was home, the old truck was still in the driveway. Elijah Russel had always made a point of making everyone wait on him like his was the only time that mattered.

Eventually he did open the door, but left the screen door firmly shut to divide the two. Really, he looked nothing like his son, who took after his late mother. Elijah Russel was a round man, all soft edges creased with signs of constant frowning and anger, and red from heavy drinking. He stood tall and straight, with thin black hair and a clean-shaven jaw. He peered down at his son with unimpressed grey eyes.

“Stand up straight, boy,” he said, and Vincent did so. “Did you shave this morning?”

“No, sir,” Vincent answered.

“I can tell,” Elijah said sternly. “It's unprofessional and sloppy looking, now what do you want?”

“Sir, I wanted to tell you I’ve enlisted.”


“No, sir.”

“Get the fuck off my porch.”

“Sir, it’s a special program, for… people like me.”

“For What? Freaks and R*****?”

“For metas, sir.”

“That's what I said,” Elijah said. “Boy, why are you tellin me this?”

“I...” Vincent wanted to say to make him proud. But he couldn’t.

“Vin, what have I always told you? Don’t do more than you’re worth, you ain’t built for service… unless this is some desk job.”

“It's not, sir… I can do this, I can contribute, I want to serve my country.”

“For each one will bear his own load.”

“Galatians Six-Five.”

“Good boy, now can you bear your load, son?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Don’t come back here until you’ve proven it.”

Six months later, Vincent found himself face down in the mud. Dirt and grit filled his mouth, he couldn’t breathe. He clawed at his chest, his chest squeezed in agony, his head spun, his stomach churched and acid stung his throat. Shadows claimed the edges of his vision until all the light was gone, he was floating, drifting into a sea of blood. Broken wings severed from his back. Until with a flash he as alive again, air being forced back into his lungs, someone's lips camped over his own in a life-giving kiss. They pulled back and Vincent spluttered and coughed, his chest burned, it felt like several ribs were broken.

“Easy, man, easy, just breath.”

Vincent opened his eyes and saw a fellow recruit, Ash was his name. He had a steadying hand on his shoulder.

“You just collapsed in the middle of the run, man, sergeants said just to leave you - they probably figured you were just exhausted - but I had a funny feeling it was worse.”

“Yeah, you got that right,” Vincent said. “Sorry about that.”

“The fuck you sorry about man? You had a heart attack.”

“I have ‘em all the damn time, since I was baby,” Vincent said, dismissively. Already the pain was receding. It felt like gravel was shifting throughout his body, he knew this meant he was healing by whatever damaged had occurred.

“Since you were a… man, no offence but what the fuck you doing here if that happens all the time,” Ash asked, his eyebrows were knit together in genuine concern. Vincent found the look annoying, he pushed himself to his feet. Ash tried to keep him down. “Man you need to take it easy!”

“Get off me, and ya’ll best stop calling me man, I ain’t your man,” Vincent sighed again. That sounded like his pa. “Sorry, let's just get back before we get in deeper shit than we probably already are.”

“Don’t be sorry but… alright man, whatever you say.”

They made it back to the little ramshackle barracks they kept them all in. Ash and Vincent received a chewing out, but they were allowed to return to their bunks after some push-ups. There were around twenty of them stuffed into a glorified cabin. A bigger menagerie of freaks and misfits Vincent had never seen; some of them looked normal like him or Ash. A lot of them looked barely human, extra eyes, extra limbs, shit poking out of them. Some couldn’t even talk. Vincent wished he wasn’t stuck looking at them, they made him angry for some reason, it was like they were mocking what he was and what he was trying to do. Fortunately, the last six months had weeded out the most offensive of the weirdos, the physical conditioning was specifically designed to push out anyone’s who physiology couldn’t handle being in the field. Vincent wasn’t about to let himself joint the washouts because his heart stopped beating.

Ash sat down in the bunk adjacent to him, his eyebrows were still knit in that stupid look of concern. Vincent resisted the urge to slap it off of him, he did just save his life after all, still he should know better than to waste energy giving a shit.

“Man, you really should go to the medbay.”

“I told ya I ain’t your man… listen it ain’t to bother, look…” Vincent rummaged around and found a razor blade he’d snuck in and stuffed in his pillow case. There weren’t allowed that sort of thing ‘cause they thought metas would off-themselves. Casually, Vincent pulled the blade across his arm. Blood spurted out aggressively. Ash jumped up in fright.


“Calm down, look,” Vincent turned his arm, so the wound was facing downwards. As they watched, the blood that dripped down hit the ground not with a splat but with a clatter, as it had solidified into shining red crystals. These crystals already clogged up the wound, forming a sort of scab and stopping the bleeding. Vincent held it up for Ash to inspect, after a moment he picked away the scab and showed fresh skin where the cut used to be.

“That’s all on the inside too, you couldn’t really hurt me if you tried,”
Vincent shrugged. “So stop your yappin’ about it, ya hear? Anyway, we ain’t supposed to show each other our powers, so only fair you show me yours.”

“Well now I feel lame,”
Ash laughed. “Can’t really show you mine, unless you got a pet somewhere?”


“Animals, I can speak with animals well… it's more like I know their thoughts, can see what they see, we communicate sort of but not exactly talking.”

“How the hell is that gunna be useful in the field?”

“I can get info from animals! No one noticed a bird around, or I can work with trained police dogs, bomb sniffers and the like!”
Ash insisted, going red in the face. “Sorry, it’s not as cool as making fucking rock candy on command.”

“Rock candy!?” Vincent tried to sound outraged, but he couldn’t help but laugh.

Over the next few months the two of them would lean on each other more and more, encouraging each other, keeping each other on track. The other subjects would stumble and wash out, Ash and Vincent would stand out as perfect examples of what the program was trying to achieve.

Vincent now stood in a makeshift range, a target stood thirty feet away. At the instructor's prompting, he cut his wrist and blood flowed freely. With a flick of his wrist, it formed a pike-like shape. The spear then extended from his wrist towards the target as fast as an arrow, piercing right through the simulated flesh with a rewarding spurt of fake blood. He was waiting for them to set up a new target so he could demonstrate throwing the crystal spikes like knives when loud shouting reached his ears.

He looked over and saw Ash buckling under an officer shouting right in his face, Vincent felt himself tense instinctually; like it was happening to him. He wanted to run away, but years of discipline kept him rooted in place.

“I can’t make him do anything, sir, I can talk to him, but he doesn’t have to listen,” Ash was gesturing to a dog who was fighting against the leash of its handler.

“Then what fucking use are you!” the officer screamed.

Later, Vincent returned to the barracks, he found Ash laying on his bunk. His eyes were red and puffy.

“Ya’ll really got to shape up, they aren’t gunna tolerate slacking like that for much longer.”

“I’m not slacking!”
Ash snapped. “It's like I said I can’t make them do anything! They’re living like us, they can choose not to listen.”

]“Make ‘em listen then,” Vincent shrugged. “Find a way, c'mon you’re not gunna get this far and quit now are you?”

“I’m not quitting, I just can’t do what they’re asking me to do! I didn’t even want to do this in the first place.”

“What’re you talking about? This is how we can contribute, make a difference, serve our country,” Vincent said sternly, he sighed again. That was Pa again. He then knelt down next to Ash’s bed. “Look, this is our chance to have a place, be accepted, a purpose, you gotta find a way.”

“No, why don’t we just get out of here?”

“What are you talking about? There’s nothing else, ya hear me? Nothing else, this is all there is, this life, this place, outside there's nothin’ I couldn’t even get a job parkin’ cars, don’t throw away what we got like that.”

“Yeah, whatever you say, man,” Ash turned away.

Whatever camaraderie they had waned for the little time they had left, and when Vincent was called for his performance review; Ash didn’t even have the good graces to wish him luck. In fact, a week or so before reviews started, Ash had seemingly disappeared. Vincent figured he must have washed out.

So now he stood in from of a council of hush ranking officials, who's faces he could not see, they stared down at him from raised platforms. The dim light of the room his their features, but their ranks, stars, and medals still shone through; who they were didn’t matter. Only what they’d done, only what they’d contributed.

Vincent answered a few questions, but they mostly spoke as if he wasn’t there. Discussing his possible field applications, like he was a piece of military equipment. They pondered if he could be deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, they all agreed a proper field test would be needed before he could be sent to a proper combat zone if any.

That's when an aid handed Vincent a dossier, and the council informed him that he would have to hunt down and eliminate this traitor on American soil. Vincent opened the dossier and prayed to God that no one saw the pain that he felt when he saw what was in it.

It was Ash.

The dry season had set in, sucking all rain from the land. The crops had all turned yellow, the air was hot and the ground cracked when Vincent found ash at the edge of an old wood. He’d decided to stop running and waiting, leaning under an old peach tree, like he had no care in the wild.

“Weren’t you listening when I told you not to throw away that chance?” Vincent asked.

“Chance? What chance? You be a slave” Ash asked.

“It's not slavery, it's service.”

“Just because you call it something sweeter doesn’t mean I can’t see the chains.”

“What the fuck you think you’ll be out here, huh? Some damn tree hunger? Gunna go be a damn park ranger? Protect the rainforest? Brother, we ain’t normal, no one will ever accept us unless we can actually give them somethin’ in return,” Vincent spat. “And if we can’t given nothin’ we ain’t worth the damn trouble!”

“How could you say that? Everyone else lives how they want, why not us? Why do we have to be different? Why do we have to suffer!” Ash shouted, tears stung his eyes. “Do it then, if that's what you want, get rid of me if I’m too much trouble!”

“Damn you!” Vincent snapped, he didn’t even bother to cut his wrists. Forcing his blood into spears, they broke forth out of his flesh, severing tendons and spilling open. They shot force and pierced Ash through his stomach. Vincent twisted his arms, grinding his spear through his enemy. Why, why did he have to throw all this away? Why couldn’t he just toe the line, why.

“Why did you make me do this!?” Vincent shouted, tears strung his eyes. He broke the crystals at his wrists, he then began flinging dart after dart into Ash, pinning him into the tree until nothing but his face remains. How whole body, a bleeding mess of blood and ruby gems. “What are you now, huh? What will you be when you’re fucking worm food, when ya’ll dead and gone and no one remembers your name!”

Vincent stood now, grasping Ash’s face in his hands. Shouting at him, as the last wisps of breath left him.

“Free,” he said before he died.

They were more than pleased with Vincent’s performance, praising him as a perfect example of what the meta could achieve when given the proper direction and training. So for the first time in almost two years, Vincent was allowed to take a leave of absence. He would return when called for his first assignment, his only instructions were to give some thought to a call sign as they’d figured he’d earned the right to chose one.

That’s how Vincent found himself standing on his Pa’s porch again, waiting. It had been nearly fifteen minutes, before he figured he didn’t care enough to wait, and walked right in. The door wasn’t locked.

“I don’t remember inviting you in, boy,” Elijah Russel said, he was sat in a plush chair faced away from where his son stood. A beer in his hand, he was watching the television, some preacher man there yelling at the crowd.

“Sir, I wanted to tell you I’ve gotten through training.”

“Come back when you’ve deployed.”

Vincent’s fist clenched, wasn’t it enough, would it ever be enough?

“Training was hard,” he said through clenched teeth.

“Like hell, you ain’t no marine, get out of my house before I kick your ass.”

“Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it!” the preacher on the television shouted.​

“I’m stronger than you,” Vincent said quietly, his whole body was shaking. His heart was thumping. He was terrified.

“What was that, boy?” Elijah finally turned around and glared drunkenly at his son.

“I’m stronger than you,” Vincent forced himself to look at him, he was crying, he hated that he was crying. “I’ve always been stronger than you, you’re nothing, you’ll always be nothing!”

“Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me!”

Elijah stood up, and Vincent instinctually winced. “You ungrateful little-” he crossed the distance and struck his son across the face with a right hook, but Vincent didn’t move. In fact, it didn’t seem to do anything. Elijah followed up with a punch to Vincent’s stomach, but this was like hitting solid iron, and he cried out in pain. Stumbling away, before he was forced to look up at his son by Vincent’s hand roughly grabbing his face and holding it up.

“Do you feel how weak you are?” Vincent said, his face wasn’t angry. He was calm. He placed his palm on his father’s shoulder, and a spear shot out, piercing his flesh right through. Elijah cried out in pain. “Your blood is weak.”

“You’re nothin’ but a fucking freak!” Elijah snapped. “Hellspawn!”

“The wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him,” Vincent said. “What verse, Pa?”

Before Elijah could answer, Vincent shoved his hand into his mouth. Elijah tried to bite down, but the hand was as hard as iron, teardrops of crimsons rolled down his throat. From his son’s hand grew roots of red crystal, which inched their way into him. Elijah screamed against the red hand, clawing at his son’s flesh, who did not flinch. Spikes of crystal pokes out of Elijah’s neck, and Vincent carefully directed his spear to pierce the flesh of his father all along his arms, his legs, his nerves. Thorns of blood rakes their way across his most sensitive flesh, and Elijah cried, cried out, begged, he begged for mercy.

“--Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him!”

When no more pain could be drawn, when all flesh had been marred and non spared, when Elijah hung in a heap. Still barely alive, cocooned in a cloak of thorns, embraced by the blood of his son. Only then did Cain kill his father.

He let the body hit the ground, and he considered it only for a moment. Before he made short work finding a karosene lamp to set alight and through into the back of the old wooden house, with Cain taking only his fathers old gambler hat. The flames took the house quickly, and would spread to the dry fields just as much. Cain walked away, leaving nothing but fire and blood in his wake.
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