25.1 || N A T U R E

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"You hear the voice too?" The boy choked

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"You hear the voice too?" The boy choked. "This whole time I thought I was alone."

Cadell and his long-lost brother sat side by side on the edge of a rooftop, their legs dangling. They overlooked the cursed city landscape ahead. The crimson sky glared at skyscrapers and sparkling artificial lights. Buildings and roads frequently shifted in colours, from bloody reds to ocean blues. A gentle howl of a plane soared past them.

Cadell took off a sweaty Psycho mask and put it to one side. Sadness and happiness overwhelmed him simultaneously. He had always assumed that the only person suffering from the rare form of schizophrenia was him, but now there was someone else enduring the same traumatic torments. He had always wanted a sibling but not like this.

"Yes, I hear it," Cadell said nodding. "The hallucinations too. Does the city look trippy for you?"

The boy nodded grimly. "They scared the crap out of me at first but, luckily, the first one I had seemed to be the worst of it."

"What was it?"

"Oh, you really want to hear? It sounds crazy."

"We passed that a long time ago, don't you think?"

"I guess you're right. It was of this woman. She cried actual blood from her eyes.

Cadell looked at this brother. "Lila."

The boy trembled at just the voice of the woman's name. He burst into tears. Blue paint began to spread across the roof.

Cadell's heart sunk to his stomach. "What did they do to you?"

The boy continued to weep for a while, and the chaotic mix of emotions within the boy almost made Cadell cry. He rested a hand on the boy's shoulder. "Start from the beginning. I'll listen."

The boy sniffed. "Okay. But it's grim, bro. The first memory I have from this world is of a machete being plunged through my body."

"Jesus," Cadell said.

The boy didn't pull back any punches, explaining Lila's torture regime in vivid detail. Cadell listened, absolutely horrified. Was this what Lila had in store for him all this time?

"How did you escape?" Cadell asked.

The boy spun a delirium knife between his fingers which almost made Cadell fall off the roof. "I killed them all of course," The boy said. "I finally got my first set of kills. Admittedly, it was nowhere near as agonizing as I would have liked. I got too excited. Cut off too many heads on impulse. Do you get that sometimes?"

The voice cackled as blood drained from Cadell's face. "No. Why now?"


"Why did you escape now?" Cadell whispered

The boy threw an arm around Cadell's shoulder. "I'm confused, Psycho. I thought you would be happy to see me."

"I am. I'm simply asking a question."

"Then why can I see your fears?"

Cadell tensed, unable to respond under the boy's piercing stare. Those dark purple eyes were not looking at him. They looked through him.

"MI0 security was tough," The boy continued. "I thought I would never be able to escape but with a little practice, I was able to embrace my true form. Our true nature, Psycho."

The boy's words were reminiscent of something, but Cadell couldn't make out what. "Listen, what you're experiencing right now is a seizure. You don't know what you're saying. Your mind is diseased, just like mine. You need to come with us, so we can help you."

"Us? You know we're not like them, right? We're meant to slaughter them all like pigs. We're killers. It's what we're meant to do.

The vigilante slipped on his mask, close to tears. "From now on, you're going to get the help you deserve. MI0 have clearly messed you up big time. You're coming with me."

The boy stood up laughing. His back arched as he staggered around the rooftop. He continued for a long time, wheezing periodically.

"What's so funny?" Cadell barked.

"I'm the one who needs help?" The boy boomed. "It seems to me you have an identity crisis! That voice in your head doesn't lie, Psycho. Your emotions don't lie, Psycho. How did that first kill feel to ya, huh? How many times have the voice's fantasies made you salivate? It's in our nature and—oh wait, holy shit! You never let me introduce myself!"

The boy bowed with a grin. "My name is Monster, and it's a pleasure to meet you brother. I had some neat plans for the both of us but it seems you've lost yourself. I'm not judging you though! It's okay. Sometimes life can be confusing. As soon as I gouge out the eyes of a certain woman­—Lila cough, cough­—I'll get you back on track, okay?"

Cadell rose to his feet. He tightly gripped the boy's arm. "You're coming with me."

Monster laughed in response and grabbed Cadell's shoulders, lifting him high into the air as if he was a bag of feathers. "I love you brother. See you around and, oh, quit the vigilante night job, will you? The suit doesn't suit you. See what I did there? Okay, bad joke, sorry, bye!"

Monster's pupils dilated and then Cadell was effortlessly tossed off the building, flying through the skies for hundreds of metres. The vigilante, however, was very used to hurtling through the air. He soared into a portal and skidded back on the rooftop.

Monster was nowhere to be found.

"One portal left," Elijah said. "Let's head back."

"Yeah, I know," Cadell said.

Warning. Shantel droned. 1 Portal remaining.

"I said I know!" Cadell shouted. "Goddamnit, woman."

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