Title: Dagger of Damnation; Denizen of Decay
Featuring: "The Provocateur" Arthur Pleasant
Date: 01/31/2021
Location: Unknown; Somewhere Dark and Smelly


Arthur Pleasant stands in front of a bright red Piggly Wiggly© shopping cart, hands at twelve o’clock on the metal handlebar. It is filled to the brim with various weapons of (odd)choice. There’s a large pane of glass resting gleamingly underneath the basket on the bottom rack- an area usually reserved for those obnoxiously large bags of pet food. Sitting on the pane of glass is a carrying basket with metal rods, coat hangers, and a DEFIANCE Wrestling Ring edition of a LEGOs set (complete with little LEGO versions of the upper echelon DEFIANTS). In the main basket itself is a clothes iron, an old boxy rotary telephone, a wide metal snow shovel painted yellow with a bloody smiley face, an emptied porcelain toilet tank spray painted with the words “UPPER DECK”, and a humongous green netting of assorted jolly ranchers. Marked down from an after-holiday deal, of course.     

With one foot on the shin bar- an unintended torture device that has caused more unimaginable pain to countless shoppers than any Glaive Soldier could dream of over the entire Medieval Period- and another pushing the weighed down cart in circles around a rusty oil drum, Arthur whistles to the tune of the Judy Garland classic, “Over the Rainbow”, playing in a nearby radio speaker. Bright orange flames emerge tall and tempestuous from within the drum, rising nearly a foot above the opening. Reaching into the shopping cart, he pulls out a steel fireplace poker. Placing that between his teeth, he looks into the shopping cart and also pulls out a bag of jumbo sized campfire marshmallows. Grabbing a hold of the poker again, he rips open the bag with his jagged, yellow teeth, and pulls out a couple of those delicious fluffy bastards. Sticking them on the end of the poker, he holds them directly into the fire.   

Our camera shot widens a bit. Despite this, it is not any clearer where we are. Could be a back alley down on Bourbon Street. Could be an empty warehouse in Las Vegas. There’s really no telling the precise location of Arthur Pleasant at this time as the poor lighting diminishes the effect of any reasonable guesswork.

“Here we are, DEFIANCE. The Road looms. Finally. Wits are matched! Mettle is tested! Meanwhile, the staggeringly blinded sheep are all eating it up by the spoonful. Hehehe. Each one of those irreverent fucking sycophants who pose themselves as DEFIANTS are enjoying themselves with such blithe frivolity that it makes me want to puke.”

The Provocateur sneers at this notion. He then withdraws the poker and squeals with delight as he sees the marshmallows have quickly melted into sticky, black gobs. A small flame clings to the malformed confection as he purses his lips and carefully blows into the flame in order to cool it off enough to eat.

“Whose position on the battlefield will crystallize into legend? Whose will crumble like all those ashen shapes incinerated by the wrath and ruin of Pompeii? Ooooooo… ahhhhhhh.. these are the inane questions that everyone loves to ask themselves as they prepare to give it their SUNDAY BEST!’ for the unFaithful. Yet I, and the rest of the Scourge, could not give a hip-swiveling fuck about something as insignificant as one person’s legend. What I offer goes beyond the veil of self-importance and dives right into the realm of, stay with me now, empyrean athanasia.”

Arthur is mere inches from taking a bite of the marshmallow before he stops himself. Flinging the poker upwards, the remnants of the once perfectly shaped marshmallow disintegrates from the hot steel in a frothy, windswept spray of white.

“Theodore… Cain. I have a different question for you, my child. One that pertains to what we will both experience on this Road we’ve been traveling on since I first placed those tokens atop your mute brother’s eyelids. Have you ever… truly… seen... what blood looks like in the soft glow of the moonlight? I doubt you have. You and the rest of the Gulf Coast have sat there amongst yourselves, protected and unassailed for far too long to think of such things. So allow me to enlighten you, Teddy. Allow me to stick a needle in that career bubble of yours and shed some… light… on some finer things in life. It’s… black. It’s… alien. It’s... beautiful. And when I open you the fuck up in front of the entire world, I want you to think about that. I want you to ponder it. Visualize it, if you will. Take its unique artistry like you’ve never even imagined. This way, when the last drop drains from your emptied corpse, your last thoughts on Earth will be a… pleasant one.” 

He stops pushing the shopping cart and chuckles. He takes the poker and sticks it into the blazing inferno once again.

“Playtime’s over, friend. You may be the last great hope that the unFaithful have in someone carrying out vengeance for the… hahaha… heinous acts… I have carried out, but the truth is not as it seems. So please, allow me let you in on a little something friend: I am damnation’s dagger, and I have been sharpening my skills, honing my craft, and keeping my stabbing arm at the ready while you and the rest of the COMPLIANTS have doubted, and questioned, and trashed my fucking legitimacy.”

He cackles maniacally. Pulling out the poker, he immediately places it to the “X” in his own temple. He screams in pain, laughing in between bursts of agony. Tears well up in his eyes. Be it from the sense of betrayal from the COMPLIANTS and unFaithful, or the hot poker branding the layered scarring, one could not be certain. 

“You are but the blackening decay of a festering wound. Come this Road we both walk upon ... I will carve you out from the flesh of DEFIANCE. Limb from limb, like a lamb led to slaughter. You will know pain like your eyes know the back of your eyelids. And by the time the bell sounds, signifying the inevitable, bloody end everyone has begged for, the horrors of war will be exposed and the efficacy of the Scourge will be displayed in large, crimson brushstrokes across an ever shrinking canvas. People will look back on what I do to you in shock and disgust. Shocked not by the level of violence I will have committed, and disgusted not by the brand of morbidity you will endure, but by the hopelessness they feel as your shredded skin and oozing innards become the palette for which I’ll have painted my masterpiece.”

Pausing, Arthur sticks the hot poker into the fire once more before continuing.

“Look into my eyes. Look into these guiltless, black orbs as they stare back into the empty husk of your pitiful existence. You fucking weakling. You fucking disgrace.  My… GOD. I put all three of you through the crucible… and each one of you has failed in spectacular fashion. Aaron King— burned alive. Crescent City Kid— beaten to the brink of human recognition. And you, Theodore Cain— bloodied into an unrecognizable visage of deformity and despair.” 

Arthur places the hot poker in the center of the camera! A lone distorted dot projects snowy white noise as it becomes clear that Arthur melted the center most point of the camera lens that captures his every movement.

“Do your best. Do your worst. Try as you might. Sing your best song. Disburse all your anger, and all your indignation on me. Pop the crowd with a surfboard wrapped in barbed wire again, if you must. None of It will not matter one bit. NONE OF IT. Because on your best day, with your worst intentions, you are not prepared for the disturbing levels of brutality that I bring.”

Grabbing the camera with both hands, he RIPS it from the camera dolly. Seething with a rage few have seen before, Arthur’s lips quiver and quake, narrowing a smile into an emotionless, empty gaze that stares back into the great abyss that awaits him at DEFIANCE Road.

“Hail. Witness. Recognize. Imagine no longer! I am a denizen of decay, and you are but a mere guest in my world who has long overstayed his welcome. And now? The one who all shall know from now until eternity as the PROVOCATEUR… awaits to remove you from it.”

Without warning, he headbutts the camera, sending the camera into an instant effusion of static.


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