Previously: A Rooftop Confession, Part Two
Sky Lord held up a finger. “Oh, come on. I can hear a feather touch a cotton ball in a pillow-fight half a world away. I can see through walls. I can read souls. I can smell your breath. I can taste your guilt. I can hear you screaming about it every time you walk into a room, even though you don’t know you are screaming. There’s really nothing you can hide from me. Like, ever. Silly old bear.”
The Great Hunter felt empty and angry and cold. Never mind that he had planned to confess. This was a violation.
“It’s not a big deal,” said Sky Lord, putting his arm around the stricken hero. “As long as you keep your, ah, activities quiet, and limit yourself to villains and henchpeople … I’ll never stand in the way of that. I fully approve, as a matter of fact. But I need to know you know the difference. I need to know you can control yourself.” He flicked his eyes over to the Snake-Boy. “I need you to show me.”
“The others. They’re not coming, are they?”
“I asked them not to, yes.” Asked, of course, meaning told.
“I couldn’t let you ruin your life over this silly little vampire thing you’ve got going on. As long as you don’t talk to them about it, nobody cares. Even the ones who know — yes, okay, I’m not the only one, whatever, get over it — don’t really, you know, care to know. You talk to them about it, you blow everything. Then they have to respond. Don’t make them respond. Okay? Don’t rub it in their noses. So to speak.”
“Who else knows?” said the Great Hunter. For some reason, this part of it seemed more important than any of the rest.
“You’ve got a nice life,” said Sky Lord, floating away, on his shoulder, with one arm crooked in the air like a kid in the ocean trying to scare his younger siblings by imitating a shark.
“Yes. I was thinking the same thing, just before you arrived,” said the Great Hunter, deflating. “I do have a nice life.”
“You’ll do it then! Great!” said Sky Lord, slapping the Great Hunter on the back, sending him sprawling across the rooftop. He landed beside the prone bodies of the boys. “The snake-boy will make you an excellent sidekick, just you wait.” Sky Lord strode over, picked up the carcass of his son, slung it over his shoulder. He took Sky Prince’s face in his hand, squeezed the cheeks together so that the mouth seemed to move. “Say goodnight son!”
And then he laughed and laughed and laughed.
Then, just like that, Sky Lord was gone.
The Great Hunter walked, with more dignity than he had any right to muster, to the edge of the rooftop. He screwed his monocle into his left eye-socket. He watched Sky Lord fly away in the bright blue afternoon sky. He felt like nothing. Sky Lord had placed him under a complete, mercilessly casual, control. It was the casualness of it, really, that burned the most. “Who else knows?” he said, knowing that Sky Lord could hear him, no matter where he happened to have gone to on the planet. Knowing that Sky Lord would not answer. “How did they find out? Did you tell them? Why? Why are you doing this to me?”
Just like Sky Lord to miss the joke, thought The Great Hunter, who had known George and Gracie personally. You’re supposed to say, ‘Say goodnight, son,” and then your son would say — or you’d mime your son’s mouth saying, anyway, ‘Goodnight son.’ Idiot.
Hours later, he was still staring. A calmness had come over him, though. He didn’t know yet what he was going to do, but he knew one thing. It was all that he knew anymore. It was all that he cared to know. He knew that Sky Lord was too powerful to be allowed to continue living. He knew that he was going to have to take him down. Maybe that was two things.
He walked over to the snake-boy, still flat on his belly where Sky Lord had dumped him.
“Did you hear any of that?” He started to kick the thing, but then thought better of it. “I know you’re awake. Answer me.” He squatted down, gently slapped the snake-boy’s face.
Snake-Boy opened his eyes. “He is the SerpenTerrorist,” he sang. “He is the rightful ruler of the Solar System. He is the rightful mayor of Bledsoe City. He is handsomer than God.”