One more week...
A Story Across Years
Chapter Twelve: Confrontations
A man was standing in front of him, a man with a gun. A newspaper clipping had been dropped beside him, left to lie on the asphalt beneath their feet, amid the puddles of this evening's storm.
JOHN DOE CORPSE DECLARED TO BE SKELETON SCOTT
Police have announced that the corpse found in Charles River most probably belongs to the third and last bearer of the Skeleton Scott mantle, as numbered by most authorities. While decay and physical trauma made the body unrecognizable, DNA matched a sample found the year before, leading police to conclude that the two were the same. As closely as can be verified the corpse matches Skeleton Scott III's physical profile in every other way as well. Authorities are unsure what this means for the future of the Skeleton Scott legacy, noting that a significant gap existed between I and II and caution. Continued on A3, SKELETON SCOTT
"Skeleton Scott died," the man said. "The city exploded. Richie died. And Allison denied life itself." His voice was flat, masked by electronic device. His face was bone-white, the wood mask of Skeleton Scott.
But this… this fake was not him. The article in the imposter's hand was proof that even he knew that. So why put on the act? Did he think that he would fool the Spook? Idiot. The Spook had made sure that there would be none to take up the mantle again. His victory was total and complete, and this imposter… This imposter would be shown for what he was. The Spook would make sure of it.
But why did he make such references? "Allison," the fake Scott said. He motioned with his gun, almost enough for the Spook to jump him. But not enough. No matter. He could bide his time. "You know the name? I'm sure you do." Altered by the voice changer, his laughter was dark. It crackled like static.
The Scott coughed, and his body shook. "Dammit. Hurts…"
The Spook waited. He needed only to keep this imposter talking until his arm dropped. "I'm familiar with it. I studied Skeleton Scott's family extensively."
"I'm sure you did. Watched them from out of somebody else's eyes, yeah?" The Scott stepped back to lean against the wall, careful to keep his gun trained on the Spook as he adjusted himself. On his side, beneath the fingers pressed against his body, his coat began to redden. "Somebody else's eyes. You're a b***. A nothing. A ghost, a… a spook for real."
The Spook adjusted his head to face the newspaper clipping on the floor. His eyes, however, were kept trained on the imposter and his gun. "I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't make aspersions on my family. You know nothing about it."
"You know nothing about it," the Scott echoed. "Yeah. Right. Neither of us do, maybe? I dunno." He sighed. "But I know your birth. Yeah. I know that. Richie."
The Spook's head whipped back. "James," he said.
The imposter… No. It was Scott. Skeleton Scott, and he nodded. Slowly, and just once. The Spook barely saw it. "You were the Spook, always the Spook. Didn't know for a long time. Thought was I going to avenge you Richie, going to kill him for you." He cursed again, at the Spook or at his wound's pain. "You got to like the freedom, didn't you? You didn't just want to be Scott. You were eager. Eager."
Skeleton Scott coughed.
"So you killed him. No. Killed me. Is that how it goes?"
"I… suppose it could be seen that way," the Spook answered. He held his arms out. "I'm sorry for hurting you, James. Let me take a look at that wound. We can talk about this like brothers."
"Brothers? We thought that you had died. Died! Killed and gutted like a fish and thrown into the river to rot. But that wasn't how it went down. At least you waited until Mom died. You had the decency for that, I'll give you." Skeleton Scott shook his head. "I wonder who you killed. I guess we'll always wonder."
"I could tell you," the Spook offered.
"I don't really care. Don't care about any of it. Just want… want this to end." Skeleton Scott let his other arm drop to his side. The Spook didn't take advantage. This wasn't about that anymore.
Why hadn't he just said something from the start? "I'm not going to kill you."
Skeleton Scott seemed to shrug. "Makes talking easier, I guess. Yeah. I want to see your face." He coughed. "Thanks for the break."
The Spook complied, and James saw his brother's face again for the first time in years. "Please. Let's get you some help. We can figure out everything else later. I… I thought that this would be easier." The Spook looked away. "I'm sorry."
"It won't kill me. Just…" He groaned. "Just hurts. A lot. I'll be fine. There's enough time for this. Enough time."
The Spook was going to ask "Enough time for what?" but Skeleton Scott raised his gun again. "James… What are you doing? I'm sorry. I—"
"No. Not for me. For them. You're just a killer. At least… At least Skeleton Scott tried. But for you it was just an excuse. So you left that identity behind, killed it to give yourself credibility. The man who killed Skeleton Scott. Killing. All you ever did. Keeping the gangs in line too boring for you?"
"I'm your brother, James. Doesn't that count for anything?"
"My brother's dead," he said flatly. "Skeleton Scott killed him, like some sort of Darth Vader and Anakin Skywalker jumbo. Turned him into something that my brother, my real brother, would have hated. And you killed Skeleton Scott. Killed my brother again." Skeleton Scott swallowed. He leveled the gun at the Spook's forehead. "My brother isn't a mass murderer. And this… this has got to stop."
"You're going to stop the killing with killing? Please, come on, what kind of sense does that make?"
"Killers, killers, killers. We're all killers. One of us. You went too far. Innocents, some of them. Did you ever know that? Did you ever read the paper? Reckless psychopath…"
The Spook tried to respond, but the gun fired and his world ended in a blast of sound and burning metal flying through his skull.
Carefully, Skeleton Scott let himself slide to the ground. He took his mask off and threw it to his left without a thought. It hit a dumpster. He looked at the Spook's c***, then at himself, at his bloodstained coat, and dropped his gun.
He pulled a phone out of his pocket and began to dial. It picked up almost immediately.
"Officer, I need to report a murder…"
Before he passed out, he could hear sirens in the distance. He tried to kick the gun out of his reach, and then pain and the darkness took him.