24 July 2024

Winter Hope County – NO

Suggested background music : Eminem – Go to Sleep

As soon as Dep uttered the fateful word, John’s face darkened.

The bad vibes of their answer went through his mind and spread throughout his body, as if carried by the boiling blood that ran through his veins. His heart had almost stopped as his brain absorbed the information. For a split second, he had thought he had misheard and had still hoped they had said yes. But now he fully realized the consequences of that wrong answer.

Anger was rising in him. The word out of Rook’s mouth had caused him untold pain. Old Man Seed’s belt beatings, Duncan’s whippings and the mental pain he had endured up to that point were nothing compared to the pain he was now enduring.

When he had woken up at the ranch, Dep snuggled up to him, he had felt a comforting human warmth that no one had offered him before. They had given him the impression that they really cared about him, offering him a shoulder to cry on the night before and a listening ear, even though he had not wanted to confide in them. He couldn’t stop his heart from hoping that they would want him and give him more. He was used to easily seducing men as well as women, but it was different for them. He had done nothing to please them, quite the opposite. He had done everything possible to make them hate him, and despite this, they had given him false hope.

Now they were making a fool of him, and he could not tolerate that. Rage made him reconsider his thinking. He had said yes all his life and had intended to continue that way. But this time it was too much. He would no longer accept the suffering, his heart could no longer be trampled. He was tired of saying yes to his brothers, of crushing himself, of trying in vain to save all the sinners who did not even listen to the sermons he took the trouble to recite to them.

He looked the deputy straight in the eyes, as if searching their soul, before unleashing his venom.

— I knew you wouldn’t accept. All along, you’ve been faking it to trick me and my brothers. I’m not fooled, deputy. That was my last offer. Now you and everyone in this damn county will suffer the consequences of your actions and words.

He grabbed their throat. Panic seized Dep, they felt the breath of death approaching. They articulated with difficulty, breath cut off :

— If you kill me, Joseph will take care of you in turn.

— I don’t give a fuck about Joseph. I don’t care about ” Eden’s gate that will be closed to me”. I don’t give a shit about all that fucking bullshit.

— Go to hell !

— You’ll burn before I do. Save me a warm place !

He tightened his grip to completely cut off the small amount of air that remained in deputy’s throat. He watched their eyes roll back, a Machiavellian smile on his face.

— Die, you sinner ! Pay for all your sins. Pay for all the evil you’ve done.

He could literally see Rook’s soul leaving their body. He reveled in the moment of ecstasy, admiring the white complexion of his victim and their lips turning blue. His hands squeezing the delicate throat with all his strength gave him more pleasure than anything else. The pleasures of his past life were only a pale ersatz of the feeling of this life that was slowly fading away.

His moment of pleasure was interrupted by the stern voice of Joseph who stood behind him and ordered him to let go of the deputy.

Despite this, his fingers did not loosen until Jacob, who had joined the father, fired a shotgun into the air. The baptist reluctantly let go of his prey, his knuckles aching.

Joseph pushed past him to kneel beside Rook and take their pulse.

— They’re alive.

He stood up to face his two brothers. The people of Fall’s End had come running at the sound of the gunshot. They were now crowded behind Jacob.

— Obviously, I was sorely mistaken in thinking that a truce and the holiday atmosphere would bring our factions together. My brother John has some faults, as we all do, but I have the vanity to think that if he has come to this, your deputy must have done something very unpleasant.

The baptist opened his mouth to reply, but Joseph interrupted him before any words could come out.

— That’s enough. I don’t want to hear your reasons. Let’s go home.

He directed his gaze to the stunned and silently grouped inhabitants who were moving aside to let the elder Seed pass.

— Truce is over, the reaping will resume now. I trusted you, but you betrayed me. The Lord will punish you all. Pick up your recruit. We will be ready to welcome them and anyone who attacks Eden’s Gate.

Members of the resistance stared at each other. No one was armed. And even so, all were incredulous. What had Dep made to provoke the ire of the cadet of Seed ? Weren’t they supposed to play by the rules and keep their nose clean during the truce ? Because of them, the fight would now resume as if nothing had changed.

They stepped aside again to let Joseph pass, followed by John, who was wicked looking and sneering. He was more than satisfied, although he would have preferred to finish off this sinner. This time Jacob and Joseph knew he wasn’t kidding. He had not given in to his elder’s threat, and Joseph had even come to his defense.

His eyes met Nick Rye’s. He calmly held out his hand in his direction and mimed firing a shot at him, before turning and following his brothers out of town.

* * *

Now it was as if nothing had changed since Dep’s arrival. The fight quickly resumed, and the truce was completely forgotten, except for the disappointments that had accumulated for some during this period.

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