With Roaches

With Roaches

Jack woke up tied to a chair, a hood over his head and his arms cuffed to a metal table. The taste of copper flooded his mouth. Feeling around with his tongue, he could tell that he had bit his cheek hard and deep when the taser hit him. Jack silently cursed the new popularity of tasers with law enforcement. Tasers shorted out his cybernetic arm. They also hurt like hell.

“So you’re Jack the assassin,” said a deep baritone voice. “You’re shorter than I thought you’d be.”

A man in a dark suit yanked the hood off Jack’s head and walked around the table. Looking around the room, Jack knew immediately that he was in the custody of Americans. There were a stack of folders jammed full of papers on the table in front of him, and the man who circled the table was holding a manilla envelope. Americans loved papers, forms, folders and red tape. If he were captured by the Italians they would be beating him already, but Americans always had to fill out some form before they kicked the shit out of you.

The man in the dark suit didn’t sit, but paced in front of the table, caressing his envelope. The room was entirely grey; grey ceiling, grey floor, grey table and a grey mirror through which Jack was sure other Americans were watching them. Jack tried to move his cybernetic arm, but it was unresponsive. The trouble with getting a design from an immortal superhuman was that they were never concerned with device failure.

“Jack, I hope you understand that this,” the man motioned indistinctly to the room around him, “isn’t personal.”

Jack shrugged as much as he could with the ropes around his chest.

The man stroked the folders on the desk, “this really isn’t about you at all. In fact, you haven’t even broken any laws that we’re interested in prosecuting.”

“Right,” said Jack, activating a silent reboot of his robotic arm. “What do you want?”

He leaned over the table. “Mercury, Jack. We want Mercury.”

Jack laughed, a hard, sharp sound. The American slapped opened a folder in front of him, “We know you associate with her, Jack,” his finger pounded down on the pages. “We know she gave you that arm. You help us apprehend her,  and you could walk out of here today.”

Jack shook his head. “It’s hilarious that you actually believe that I could help you capture her. Even if I wanted to, which I don’t, but even if I did, nothing I could say to you could help you take her.” Behind Jack’s eyes a little power node flicked from red to yellow.

The man in the dark suit shook his head and opened the manilla folder, pulling out three 8×10 photographs.  “You know your woman sleeps with the roaches,” said the man in the suit, slapping a photos down on the metal desk.

Jack looked a the spread of photos and raised an eyebrow appreciatively. It wouldn’t have been a flattering angle for most, but the Starchild could make anything look good. The guy she was with was in a very impressive spandex suit. It was ruined, of course, ripped to tatters. Jack recognized the claw marks.

The man in the suit leaned over the table. “That’s gotta be rough, seeing something like that, seeing your woman fuck another man.”

Jack felt the power flow back into his cybernetic fingers.  “It’s gotta be rough, thinking you can own a woman, or worse, being with a woman who thinks you own her.” Jack cracked the bones in his neck.”You think it bothers me to see her fuck a man?” He chuckled. “As if she could ever be confined to just one person.”

He leaned back in the chair he was tied to. “She’s as close as we’ve got to a God,” he said, “Jealousy just doesn’t apply.” Then Jacks arm came back online.


Illustration by Jennifer Rodgers

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