Hux took a deep breath and inhaled the smoke of his cigarette. Ash and tar gathered in his lungs, relaxing him more than the nicotine ever could.
He felt alone. It wasn’t a new feeling, but it was particularly strong tonight. The air and ground were damp from an afternoon rain, a gentle breeze spread a chill through the back alleys he walked through, and the moonlight glared down oppressively from above – like a watching eye.
Hux’s skin was dry, rough, and warm. Hux’s gait was slow and long, each step heavy. The light of his cigarette was overshadowed by the darkness, and swallowed by the brilliant moonlight. As if the weather itself was rejecting him.
A flier advertising one of the local church’s charity drives landed in a puddle in front of Hux. Instinctively, he stomped on it, rubbing it into the grime of the city sidewalk. The steeple, the cross, the little drawings of children… proud and hopeful… it all pissed him off. Not because he hated the local church – quite the opposite, in fact. Their priest was a good man. He didn’t judge people, and spent all his time and money helping others with an honest smile on his face.
A twinge of guilt flickered in the back of Hux’s mind. He hadn’t actually hurt anyone by bullying the flier, but he hated how other people’s kindness and success upset him. If he had any cash left after tonight, he should donate it. Anonymously, so that he wouldn’t have to deal with any of those goody-two-shoes when he did.
Hux stopped, a weak smile creeping up his face. The quiet hum of a near-broken neon sign told him he was there, the one place he felt like he could almost taste happiness. A roughed up back-alley bar called “Sweet Sin.” The booze there was clear, cheap, and strong. The alcohol made it hard to think and easy to feel, which suited Hux just fine – his emotions were on his side, it was his thoughts that kept him miserable. Plus, the patrons and the barkeep here always minded their own damn business, which was nice.
Well, maybe the patrons didn’t always keep to themselves.
“Hey… c’mon, don’t be like that. I just wanna have a quick drink with a cutie…” A voice like slime trying to pass off as butter came from inside the bar.
Much to no one’s surprise, a quick look inside revealed to Hux a sleazy looking man hitting on a woman who was clearly just trying to have a drink.
“Hey.” Hux walked up to the sleaze bag and put a hand on his shoulder. He needed to stop this before things got out of hand… again. “Cut it out.”
The man shrugged off Hux’s hand and gestured for him to shoo. “Screw off, shrimpdick.”
Hux growled. “I said…” He grabbed the sleazebag’s shoulder. “Cut it out.”
“And I said -” The walking slime spun around and clocked Hux in the face. “Screw off!”
Hux staggered backward and massaged his jaw, turning to look at an empty glass on a nearby table.
“C’mon.” The human shaped feces grabbed the woman he’d been harassing by the arm. “Let’s go somewhere he won’t bother -”
Hux cut the man off by grabbing his head and slamming it into the glass on the nearby table. Shards stuck into his face, dripping blood all over when Hux threw him across the room. The scumbag tried to stand up, but was cut off again when Hux kicked him hard in the ribs, pinned him to the ground, and put out his cigarette in the one eye that hadn’t been cut by glass shards.
Slowly, Hux got off his opponent and stood up. He let his fists unclench and his breathing steady, he was calming down now. He turned to the woman. “Hey, are you…” She’d pushed herself up against the wall, quivering with terror. “Okay?” What was her prob… lem…
Hux caught a glance of his reflection in a mirror. His horns were showing, the pupils of his eyes had narrowed into vertical slits, and his sclera had turned yellow-orange. Oh. Hux turned to look at his victim, a thinking, feeling, human being that was lying on the ground in the fetal position – shedding tears and blood. Oh.
Things had gotten out of hand.
A note from the
Huxley’s world is a gloomy one, but not one completely without hope or light.
If you haven’t read the Disclaimer, I recommend you do.