“I found another one.”
The hothead sighted, bidding goodbye to his until now undisturbed binge-watching of the latest wrestling season, and glanced lazily at his roomate. “Y’know Lino, you don’t have to tell me everytime one of your cockroaches dies. Living beings tend to do that –the dying thing–, so I’d suggest you get used to it or something.”
Angelino was standing in the kitchen, cradling in his hand the unmoving body of one of his bug friends, with a serious expression Vinz rarely saw on the young man’s face.
Or any face for that matter. No one else but Lino had a black bowling ball with huge eyes for a head.
Said eyes turned to look at the literal discount Ghost-Rider lookalike sprawled on the living room couch. He looked concerned. “You don’t get it. They don’t do that, they never let themselves die out on the open like that. This one fell right out of the fucking ceiling. I’m telling you man, shit’s not right.”
The skeleton rolled his eyes, bright yellow irises circling the pitch black sclarea. “Dude, seriously, they’re just dumb bugs. Let it go, I’m trying to watch the match.” he grumbled before turning back to the TV.
Angelino made a non-commital noise, an acid comment about how he had seen this one three times already, then by the sound of it left the apartment in a huff. Well, now at least he could watch the match in peace, Vinz thought.
Angelino was a simple-minded person. As long as he and Vinz were safe (well, as safe as one could be in DMC) and they managed to pay rent most of the time, he didn’t ask for much in life.
But something was out there killing his roaches. That, he knew he couldn’t accept.
He wasn’t sure where his fondness for the moving, squirming army of dark insects was from. Maybe they reminded him of himself, just kind of stumbling on an unsteady, precarious life, feeding of society’s scraps and being a general parasite. Also, pitch black skin and weird genetics, but he didn’t want to think about the cause of those. Nope. Not today, not ever.
In any case, he was pretty fucking pissed.
He went down the hallway, staying as quiet as he could to avoid confronting the other fascist fuck next door-
He blinked. No, that wasn’t right. The guy was dead. Had been for months now. He grunted, ignoring his brain’s tentative to make him think about the circumstances of that event, and pressed on. Maybe getting some fresh air would calm him down.
He snorted. Ha! Who was he kidding, nothing in this fucked up city was ever fresh.
But when he reached the top of the old and faded wooden stairs, he caught a whiff of something. Something unfamiliar. A grimace twisted his smooth features. Whatever that was, it smelled bitter and aggressive and wrong, and it burned its way into his throat. Using the hem of his El Tigre t-shirt as a makeshift mask (a gift from Vinz, this guy was all over the buff feline wrestler), the young deadbeat stomped over to the cracked back wall, where the pungent smell was definitely coming from.
He peered into a crack, craning his neck to get a glimpse of the wall’s innards. And oh, oh holy shit, yeah that was it.
The wall was stuffed with some kind of dark purple paste. Angelino stumbled back and resisted the urge to empty his stomach here and there: the stench was so strong he doubted he would smell anything else for the rest of the day.
Lino’s body was trembling in anger, static filling his head; someone had put this shit here, most likely the day before. When his cockroaches started to die en masse. He let out a growl and made a beeline for his apartment. He couldn’t take the stuff out of the wall, the thought alone made him gag and whatever fucker had done this could probably just do it again later. Closing up the hole would cut off the smell so he could cross the hallway again. But the bugs would still wander naively inside, unaware of the fate that awaited them. That couldn’t happen.
“It’s poison.” he snapped while kicking the door open. Vinz turned towards him as he made his way inside, the skeleton frowning at his friend’s agitation. “Wazzat?”
“Poison, Vinz. Some motherfucker put that shit in the hotel walls and it’s killing them and fuck I can still smell it-”
“Woh, Lino, calm down!” Vinz interrupted, lifting his hands up in a placating gesture. “What’re you talking about? I went out his morning for my shift at Pipo’s and didn’t smell anything.”
Oh yeah, that was a thing too: since the… incident a few months back, Lino often heard or smelled stuff that Vinz couldn’t for some reason. You know the reason, said his brain. Shut the fuck up, Lino replied, faceplanting on the couch next to his roomate. “Well,” he groaned, “there’s purple goo in the wall, so I’m going to seal up that shit before the smell kills me instead.”
“What about your dark army?”
“I’ll teach ‘em not to touch the stuff.”
Vinz just stared at him. He closed his eye sockets and took a deep breath, pinching the bridge of his nose cavity. “Lino. Buddy. Pal. Homie. They’re just bugs. You can’t teach them stuff.”
“They smart.” Angelino replied, voice muffled by the fabric of the couch. “They’ll figure it out.”
“So what, you’re just gonna start teaching them all what not to eat? God this conversation is so fucking stupid-”
“Nah, don’t need to. I’ll just tell Henry, he can tell the others.”
Vinz knew he shouldn’t ask. But he went and did it anyway. “Who’s Henry?”
Angelino lifted his head up with that shit-eating grin Vinz had learned to love. Hate. He meant hate.
“He’s the alpha. They’ll listen to him, they respect him a lot. Nice guy, great leadership.”
Aaaaaand he broke Vinz. Who knew a skeleton could emote the “completely giving up” emotion so well. “Welp,” the hothead stated, getting off the couch, “this shit just got way too weird, I’m out. Have fun talking to your army of darkness.”
Lino snickered, watching his best friend take his leave. What a drama queen. “Thanks, I will.”