“Renegade, wake up.” My eyes bounced open. Famine was standing over me, shaking my shoulder. “Oh, good. I was worried I’d have to do more to wake you up. You’re going to help me with a few things.” I sat up and tossed my legs over the side of the couch. Famine had made me a makeshift knee brace, and it did well enough for me to move around.
“We’re going to burn another building tonight. It’s going to send the police through hell trying to investigate two sites at the same time,” She handed me a pistol, “You’re going to keep watch. Consider this you’re initiation. You do good here, and the other horseman might keep you around.”
I stood up. Her windows were all covered by heavy curtains, so I didn’t know what time it was. Famine made me stand up, then handed me a granola bar. I opened it with my teeth and ate it with one hand. The other was carrying the gun.
Famine was already out the door before I even got a second bite. I rushed after her, limping. The cool air from outside blasted my face, and the my eyes adjusted slowly to the moon light. Street lights weren’t powered in the slums anymore, because no one could afford the luxury of it. Electricity in the home was getting close to being a commodity as well.
Famine walked quickly. She walked proudly. Looks like lighting fires has already filled her head with holy purpose. I almost chuckled. I forced myself to keep up.
We walked in silence for a few minutes before Famine couldn’t seem to handle it anymore. “Aren’t you going to ask whose house we’re burning?” I shook my head.
“I don’t care if we’re burning the president’s home. I just want to watch the police squabble as they try to stop our handiwork.” I checked the clip on the pistol. It was full.
“That’s right. You’re a psychopath. I tend to forget. It isn’t often that I have to deal with psychos. Well, if only for my own sake, we’re going to burn down the home of a Superior. He went on vacation yesterday, and isn’t supposed to be back in this state until next week. It’s bound to raise some hell.” Famine looked quite proud of herself. “I’ve been watching his house for a couple weeks. It’s good to see that my effort will finally pay off.”
I laughed. “Actually, I’m glad you told me whose house you’re burning. This makes it that much more entertaining.” I smiled as I turned the safety off of the pistol.
“You scare me, Ren. I don’t know if that says something about you or about me. There’s just something terrible about knowing your allegiance is owed to excitement.” Famine didn’t say anything the rest of the way to Superior’s house.
That reminded me of the first time I learned that harming others was a crime. I was glad it happened at a young age, otherwise, my life would have been quite a bit harder. I had learned while I was young to receive entertainment through means besides violence. Thus, I became much better at manipulating others and planning ahead.
About 100 meters away, lights began to adorn the streets. Famine furrowed her brow. “Here’s the fun part. Now we get to move through people’s backyards to get around.” She took a quick turn and climbed over a fence lying in the clearly defined slums. I followed her. My knee didn’t feel nearly as sore. Maybe it was some sort of adrenaline.
“Jackson, perfect. You know the route?” Famine was talking to a frail looking guy. He couldn’t have been older than twenty. “Like the back of my hand,” he replied.
We climbed more fences for about ten minutes. It would have been longer, but we were able to cut through an empty lot. We arrived near the back fence of a fairly grand looking home. It had a second floor, and likely a basement. It was much bigger than any one person needed. It would burn for at least a couple hours. That was too much time. The neighbors would certainly notice an entire building ablaze.
I grabbed Famine’s shoulder and whispered. “Famine, you’d better have something besides matches and gasoline if you want this place gone before it can be salvaged.”
She nodded. “Terry, come here.” An older woman approached. “Show my new friend our explosives.” Terry obliged, and pulled a backpack off of her back and opened it. It contained a number of C4 charges.
I nodded. That also explains how they managed to destroy the other building so well. I’m certain that if the police had questioned any nearby residents they would’ve known about the explosives. That means they only used fire to throw off the careless police.
Famine motioned toward a couple of people, and they walked towards us. “Meet Ren. He’ll be your leader this mission.” The two nodded at me. One was a man possibly in his early thirties, the other was another teenager. Famine turned toward me. “Consider this a first test. You’re going to break in and make sure Superior didn’t hire anyone to watch the place while he’s out. If there is, try to avoid killing them, but do what you must. Vince is the old one, and Claire is the younger one. I hope you don’t mind leading a woman.”
“I couldn’t care what pronouns they prefer. Let’s go.” Claire smiled at me. She probably thought I was being progressive rather than honest. It was all the same to me.
“Hold on a minute, Famine. What gives with the new kid? What makes you think she’ll be such a good leader?” Vince crossed his arms and glared at me.
Famine sighed. “Over here.” She’ll pulled Vince aside, whispered a few words to him, then came back. He still looked disdainful, but he made a nod of acceptance, and we we on our way.
I climbed the fence. Vince and Claire got over it faster than I did. By the time I had gotten over, Claire was already fiddling with the doorknob. It opened a couple moments later. Claire stood up and motioned into the house regally. “My job here is done. Don’t do anything dumb, Vince.” Vince nodded. I lowered my torso and snuck through the door. Vince followed suit.
“Claire was a thief before we found her. She had been robbing places all her life. One of our best scouts and lockpicks,” Vince informed me.
There weren’t any lights on inside, but there were a number of uncovered windows. I could see just fine. “Vince, you check downstairs. I’ll check the bedrooms upstairs. There isn’t anyone on the ground floor.” Vince acknowledged the order, then went down the stairs. It was more likely that there was someone upstairs than downstairs. I smirked at the thought.
There was only one closed door on the upper floor. I checked all of the open rooms first. They were empty. I made my path to the closed, and opened it without a sound. It was clearly the master bedroom. It was also empty.
I stood up straight and went downstairs. That was disappointing. Vince was waiting for me there. “The coast is clear. You?” I nodded. He pulled a walkie talkie out of his pocket and spoke into it, “Go get some rest, Claire. The house is empty”. Vince put the walkie talkie away. “I don’t trust you, Ren-”
I cut him off. “Good. You have no reason to trust me. Just know that I’m more experienced than you, and I can get a job like this done.”
Vince didn’t speak, and six other people poured into the house. There were three pairs of people: one pair wearing backpacks- presumably filled with explosives-, one pair with jerry cans, and one holding nothing. Their job was most likely just to hide the matchbooks. Either way, they all got to work very quickly. Gasoline was poured all over the house. The people with packs also had stud detectors and placed a small C4 charge on every other one. The other two dropped matchbooks underneath furniture, then left. Famine came in after those two left.
“Is everyone ready?” she asked. Someone else said that the jerry cans weren’t done. “Okay, they’ll tell me when they’re ready.”
A minute or two passed before the gasoline pourers came back to the ground floor. Famine asked if they were ready and they replied with a resounding yes. Famine ordered everybody to leave. Everyone obliged.
The two that had jerry cans were currently naked, and tossed their old clothing into the building. They put some other clothes on after they were done.
“Famine,” She turned me, “You can blow up the building after I’m done.” She shrugged. “Whatever, just hurry up.”
I strolled through the door. I reached into my pocket, and pulled the matchbook out of it. I stooped over, and lit one. I admired it for a moment, before dropping it onto a gasoline soaked carpet. I sauntered out of the building, hearing flames begin to crackle behind me. I marched through the backyard, and then climbed the fence. Famine and the rest had put some distance between themselves and the building. I jogged over to them. My knee had begun to hurt again.
“Are you satisfied, Ren?” I grinned. I could see light at my feet. She shook her head. “Blow the place, Jackson.” Everyone covered their ears and began to run away. Everyone except Famine, Jackson, and I. I covered my ears, then turned around and looked at the tall home. Jackson pressed the button, then there was a deafening sound. The roof collapsed into itself, falling just above our sight that wasn’t obscured by the fence. I roared with laughter.
I could feel the fear of everyone else around me. No one spoke a word as my laughter slowed to a halt. Famine shifted in place a few times over, and the other person just lit a homemade cigarette and smoked it.
Famine broke my silent admiration of the flames. “Let’s go, guys. We’ve already overstayed our welcome as it is.” Famine turned and hiked away from field. Jackson stomped out his cigarette and followed. I took a few steps backwards before turning myself.
Famine took a moment to wait for me. Jackson moved past her. “Ren, you have problems. I can’t have you just terrifying my people like that.”
I took a look at her. “Don’t worry yourself so much. It’s always the most thrilling the first time. It won’t be the same when it happens next.”
Famine scowled while she stared at me. “I shouldn’t have brought you. Damn it.” She walked away, mumbling to herself. I didn’t care. Their fear made me feel powerful, but I knew that if I kept causing it the Horsemen would try to get rid of me. I didn’t want that. I was going to be more controlled next time.