Rising from his torn blanket and makeshift leather pillow – made from a leather sofa and discarded cotton balls on the inside – Drake takes a walk to his designated toilet spot which is in the alleyway across the path from him on a rather quiet village road. When he arrives there he automatically holds his breath from the stench, before quickly relieving himself of worryingly dark urine. He zips back up his tattered cargo pants and turns back towards the road, but stops and looks questioningly at the floor, before raising an eyebrow with a smirk.
Three Years Old, Drake was in the car being taken to “Somewhere special” and he was extremely excitable and in turn began to annoy his parents. “Dad where are we going” Drake questioned his father whilst poking his neck.
“You’ll find out when we get there son, now get off me and sit back down, if we crash you’ll be very hurt ok?” Drake’s dad retorted calmly.
“Ok then” Sulking, Drake returned to his seat and crossed his arms, but promptly smiled and stood on the chair, blowing raspberries at his mother, who was driving, through the rear view mirror. At first she smiled at him, but then a stern look encumbered her face and she shook her head, but just as Drake began to sit down he noticed her wink at him with a smirk. He sat up with a grin on his face as he saw what was in front of them. LaZer Dome, the most amazing laser tag place ever. Thankfully, he had his dad’s height, and was a rather tall three year old, roughly three foot four inches, so could usually get into these places. “Hell yeah! I love you guys!” He exclaimed to his parents, as they both turned to him. Drake suddenly shuddered and went cold, but continued smiling.
Out of nowhere, a truck collided with the side of the car and rolled it over. Drake screamed and held on to his dad’s seat as hard as he could. The car was thrown around, yet Drake still held rigid in the same position. Suddenly the whole car lurched downward and Drake lost his hold on the seat and everything went dark with a crushing thud.
Looking up to the sky and smiling a rather menacing, yellow yet straight smile, Drake decided to turn around to come face to face with a ratty looking man in a torn and broken tuxedo. The man produced a completely shattered smile on his thinning, freckled face and a polite little wave accompanied by a small “’ello” Drake steps back half a step, clearly taken aback by the simplicity and weirdness of this guy and his introduction. “Who the fuck are you?” He retorted to the strange man.
“Who I am is of no concern to a man such as... yourself. What I do, on the other hand, IS.” The man smirked, looking proud of himself for such a line.
Drake took the pause in consideration but quickly passed it off as nothing important, “So what shit you pulling then?? Are you some recru-“
“Recruiting agency? No, what I do is: I find people who are in need, and offer them a new life.”
“You know how bollocks that sounds mate? What are you gonna do, take me to some safe haven for piss-heads, street urchins and recently converted protestants? Pfft, go spill your crap another place dickhead.” Drake spat and turned to walk out of the alleyway.
“You know what you strike me as sir? An arrogant son of a bitch, sorry, dead bitch, who doesn’t realize how much potential each person had.”
Drake didn’t even wait for the last few words before he had about turned and leaped at this man who saw it fit to insult another man’s dead mother. He threw his first punch and connected fully with the wall behind the man who was now behind him holding out a rather dirty handkerchief looking smug. “For your hands, and perhaps for that wall too, I think it hurts more than you.”
Twelve years old, it was Drake’s time to wash the dishes, the chore he least liked due to the heat of the water, and how it reminded him of the heat in the car on that day. One of the other kids came up behind him and attempted to grab his head to slam it into the hot water, but Drake had developed a sort of sixth sense for this sort of thing, and quickly ducked and swept his leg behind him in order for his assailant to trip head first into the water himself. The sound was like music to Drake, as the other boy crashed into the desk and his head went under the hot soapy water and it made a nice sploshing sound, accompanied by a slight singing sound. The boy lifted his head out of the washing bowl with his face red from anger, embarrassment, and heat, and swung for Drake but missed as Drake ducked underneath the fist and kicked his leg out at the boy from a crouching position. The kid lost his balance once again, and cracked his head against the work top with a deathly crunch. Drake laughed at his ability to flatten this boy, but quickly stopped once he saw the blood on the work top, and hopped down to the kid to check his pulse. Nothing. Drake slowly got up, eyes wide, but tumbled backwards a little before finding the desk behind him and leaning against it. He had killed another person. Suddenly images of his parents in the car on the way to the LaZer Dome flooded his mind and landed in front of his eyes. The images began to overlap and fragment into a kaleidoscope-like image. He began to scream and cry, unsure of what to do, but sure of what he had just done. He ran out of the side door, and out into the road before reaching an alleyway, the images still fresh in his mind. One final image flashed in front of his eyes, after a blinding white light… His bleeding parents hanging from their seatbelts upside down. Everything went black.
“Fuck you, don’t talk about my mum like that again alright?” He said, calming down slightly, taking the handkerchief and dabbing his knuckles. Every dab he did though he seemed to feel something strange, as if there was something that perhaps shouldn’t be on the handkerchief that was now flowing through him. “What was on that?” He dropped it and backed up against the wall for stability.
“Oh nothing, just a little bit of decisiveness.”
“And I’m meant to understand what that means?”
Rubbing his hands together the man bent down to Drake’s level before continuing, “The concept of this decisiveness contains the few things that are lost in this world, but what I have done is I have given you a choice... well, more like a helping hand in an unconscious decision in which will decide your future and perhaps even change your own outlook on the way in which you live your life, I mean in some cases people have been known to do such things that are unimaginable to the norm… but alas I digress. What I am trying to say is that, in simple terms, you will wake up one day either feeling as though you can fly across the world, or you will just find a direction to go and head in in that way – whether literal or just an implied direction, such as a job. Now according to my last fifty years of this, your first question will be,” he begins to imitate a small child, “‘but sir why can’t I choose for myself, rather than just leaving it to fate? Boo hoo.’” The sudden amount of personality to this strange man startled Drake a little and he tilted his head a little. He decided in his mind that it was time he got some answers, “So who exactly are you and why did you give me this… thing?” Drake rose from the wall he had collapsed against and leaned on the wall to his side.
Sixteen Years old, sprinting, Drake was literally running for his life whilst chasing down the man who had taken his bag and ran with it. Drake was gaining on the man quickly, he’d dealt with this before. He came roughly five meters behind him and picked up pace a little more, before lunging straight at the man’s legs and tripping him up. Drake skid across the gravel before picking himself up and jumping on top of the man and continued to hold a jagged rock up to his neck. “How about you drop that bag, and you get to keep the majority of your blood.” It was an empty threat, but Drake made it sound very real.
“Ok, ok man… I... I just needed some food.” The man stuttered back, whilst trying to free himself from Drake’s grip.
“You really think I would keep food on me at this time? It’s nearly midnight, I’ve already stashed it. It’s not like I would carry around the whole goose I killed yesterday.” He chuckles, “No, no, but if you really are… desperate, I’m sure I could perhaps serve up a meal for two.” Drake studies the man’s face a little further, trying to see any indication of a ruse but failing to see anything but fright and the looming sensation of starvation. “Right, so what is your name then?”
The man tilted his head a little whilst regaining his breath and began to calm down a little. “Well my name is Caimanareen, but people just call me Cain. Mind if I ask yours?”
Drake had loosened up by this point, and sat down next to Cain, “My name is Drake, nice to meet you my friend. So now, let us go to my place and we can talk a little more, yeah?” He smiled warmly at Cain. Returning the kind smile Cain nodded and followed in step with Drake as they headed west along the pavement towards Drake’s hideout. Once they arrived, Drake threw his bag down next to a rock and pointed at a slightly tattered tent, next to a large wooden shed. “That’s yours if you want to stay” Drake pointed out. Cain looked over towards the shed instead, and his jaw went slightly slack.
“Did you build this yourself?” He questioned, speeding up and walking around the outside of the shed.
“Yes? Is there something wrong with it? I mean I tried my best to make it look good from all of the trees I had available to me…” Drake replied, puzzled.
“No no, no definitely not, it’s fricken’ amazing man. Hold up, hold up… by yourself you said?” Cain gawped, returning to Drake now – who hadn’t moved, but was nodding slowly. “Wow man, and how old are you now? You can’t be older than me, I’m turning 25 next week… I think. So you’re definitely younger, but how much younger?”
“Well, I guess somewhere around 13? It sure does feel like longer though.” He solemnly said. “So how about you? Where have you lived for the years you have had on the street?”
“Is everywhere a valid answer?” Cain said, winking at Drake and clearly loosening up around him. “Because there hasn’t really been anywhere that I have ‘settled down’ as such.”
Drake looked a little surprised at this, but carried on questioning. “So if you haven’t had a place to settle down, then how long have you been homeless for?”
Well, I think around eight years now…” Cain paused “Wait no, a little less. After my parents decided I wasn’t worth the trouble, and the rest of my family are already… gone, the only place I could live was the streets.”
“And did you meet any other homeless people? Or perhaps anyone that helped a little? Because I’ve had a few weirdos try and help me, but I just find myself not trusting them.”
“Well actually, there was this one person… Lou.” Cain looked down and looked to be on the brink of tears, but none fell, instead he let out a weak chuckle, “She was great, she owned a little café on the edge of the street where I tried to take your bag earlier.”
Taking note of the past tense that Cain was using, Drake wanted to find out a little more on what happened and invited him inside to talk a little more. Once inside, drake lit the gas lantern on the on the small table next to a deer skin sleeping bag of sorts, and beckoned Cain over to a couple of roughly made chairs with some worn leather strapped over the seat. They took a seat and continued from where they left off. “So this Lou person, she was special to you, correct? Did something happen?” Drake questioned cautiously.
“Well… yeah, I mean she was the only one who tried to help me without any conditions, but that part comes in later, so yeah, she was special to me. Sadly, she… um she was… killed, and it was my fault.” Cain stared at the gas lamp, almost as if he was trying to see inside of the flame.
“How was it your fault? I’m going to assume you didn’t kill her directly, but…. Was it the others? The ones who gave you conditions? You took them up on their options because you became so desperate for food, but you didn’t know who they were, nor what they did…” Drake shook his head, “We all make mistakes man, it’s just a shame that people are fucked up enough to bring other people into someone else’s mess.” Cain was dumbfounded at this point, and just simply zoned out completely, nodding slowly as if to confirm the truth of everything Drake just stated. Suddenly sounding seriously angry and annoyed, Drake asked through gritted teeth; “Who was it?”
“What?” Cain half-heartedly replied.
“Who took that innocent woman’s life?” Drake repeated, still gritting his teeth together.
“I dunno exactly, but I think they call themselves ‘The Jackals’ or something? Perhaps they should rename themselves to ‘The Vultures’ because they seem to feed off of vulnerable people like us.”
“Where can I find those bastards?” Drake repeated, sounding more and more unstable.
Cain suspiciously answered “I’m not sure, but they come see me every Tuesday it seems.”
“How do they know where you are?” Drake jumped up quickly, “Do they know we are here now?” Drake looked outside the shed frantically.
“Look man, I dunno if they know where I am all the time, but maybe. Have you run into them before?”
“Yes, and let’s just say that if they are here now, I’m very much improved since they last found me.” Drake calmed down a bit and smoothed his top down. “You know what, let them come. Let’s take a walk outside Cain. Have you had any experience fighting?”
Cain, looking worried stood up slowly, “If it’s fighting these assholes, then I’m sure I can find it within me to stand my ground and hit twice as hard back.” Cain smirked, showing just a hint of worry.
Drake studied Cain, up and down, and shrugged. “I’m sure you’ll do fine. Now come here, let us hug before we fight.” Cain looked at Drake and tilted his head, but saw a glint in Drake’s eye and embraced him. Drake then proceeded to slip a small knife into Cain’s pocket, and before they parted Drake whispered in Cain’s ear, “When I say switch, throw me the knife, don’t worry how you throw it, I’ll catch it.” Drake then winked and kicked backwards just as a man came flying towards them with a crowbar in hand. His foot collided with the man’s chest with a sickening crunch, and the man fell backwards with a grunt before his head collided with a rock and he was knocked out. Drake turned and picked up the crowbar and systematically swung right then left out the door way, two people were hit and fell backwards with a thump and a moan. Drake rushed out and kicked left as a man came rushing towards him with a large carving knife, swinging it wildly towards Drake. His foot connected with the man’s wrist, flicking the knife up in the air as Drake continued his attack by punching the man in the side, reaching up to catch the knife and bringing it down to slash the man’s face, continuing downwards toward his leg, slicing the muscle and arteries on his right side. Suddenly Drake heard a yelp and turned to see a man with a hatchet and a gun walking slowly, menacingly towards Cain. He pulled the trigger and hit Cain in the arm, Cain cried out in agony. Drake focussed on the noise that came out of Cain and noticed something other than agony, rage. As if responding to Drake’s thoughts, Cain rushed towards the man with the gun and hatchet, grabbed the hatchet and spun, ripping it from the shooter’s grip and finishing his spin by burying the hatchet in the man’s head. Drake stared with wide eyes as Cain moved to the next man, throwing the hatchet at him, but alas this guy was quick and caught the hatchet by the handle and launched it back at Cain.
Cain was too surprised to react as the hatchet hit him square in the chest and he spat out blood. He looked down at the hatchet, then back towards Drake with confusion and helplessness. Drake sprinted towards Cain, but sunk to his knees at the same time as he did, staring blankly at the ground beating himself up on the inside, telling himself he could have done more. He stood up, ripped the hatchet from Cain’s chest, and continued to kick, slash and embed the hatchet into the remaining men. With one guy left, Drake looked at him. They were the same age. Drake looked at the guilty innocence within the boy’s eyes and offered a hand to him, after helping him up, he punched him in the face and told him to run back to his boss and tell him bloodshed for bloodshed, exactly what happened. Turning to Cain’s body, he knew it was too late for him, he went inside and grabbed his shovel. The end of his one friend had come so soon to the start of their relationship. He dug a hole just next to where Cain had been felled, and lowered his friend’s body into the hole, covered it up, and left the hatchet on top. Drake stood up suddenly from his crouched position, looked around a bit and shook his head, he could feel someone watching him, but couldn’t see them anywhere. He shrugged, and headed back into his shack, and just slept…
The man sniggered and clapped his hands together, creating a spark somehow. “Well boy, this is where we shall begin” The man said, gesturing at his body “This is my body”
“Oh really?” Drake sarcastically snorted.
“Ah, you see now that is where the fun begins, you see this is not MY body” The man makes a mocking shocked face.
With almost an exact replica of the man’s face, Drake asks, “How… what? How can you be… in someone else’s body?”
“Firstly I would like to commend you on your ability not to swear for more than 5 minutes. Now for your answers, my name is Klareem Anhoi Peretumarl, and I am simply a messenger and supplier of candidates. The reason I have given you this ‘thing’ is because you were chosen.”
“Chosen for what exactly? If didn’t catch my drift, that’s the main fucking thing that I am asking you for” Drake questioned bitterly.
“Well, this is the confusing part… You were chosen to choose the choice of your own choosing.” Just as Drake was about to butt in, Klareem held up a hand to stop him. “Now, what I can do is give you a small taster of one of these choices, but choose wisely, I will pick the second choice out of the list after you choose one you wish to try out. Do you understand?”
“So what you are saying is that I get one shot at testing one of these choices, whatever they consist of, and then you choose a second one for me to choose between as my final decision, but I can’t have a taster of the second one, right?” Drake scratched his head a little and proceeded to crack his neck.
“Correct! So what you need to do, is take a look at this list and decide exactly which one you would like to try. Obviously this is all up to you, and you can choose whether or not you even want to participate in this.” Klareem hands Drake a relatively small piece of paper with fancy writing on the face of it. It read: “Your fate awaits”.