Saturday, 15 February 2014

Deleted Scene

There are no such things as heroes or villains in this world, his father had once told him. Just people. Tony realises this is true as he watches the smoke, watches as it rises upon its haunches like some terrible thing about to swallow him whole, watches as it rubs its grey-wolf muzzle against the windowpane.

Spidey isn’t going to come crashing through that glass to save him. Superman isn’t going to appear either, blowing out the flames as if they were nothing more than candles on a birthday cake.

His heroes don’t exist anymore; they’ve died in his head.

No, if Tony wants to escape—if he wants to fucking live—it’s up to him. Only him.
Twelve-year-old and here he is making life-or-death decisions. Tony’s brain is transmitting his father’s voice again, telling him to run for all his miserable little hide is worth, but Tony’s feet have fused with the floor.

The heat is building up, and Tony wishes that Gregory was here. Gregory would know what to do because he knows just about everything.

Then again, it’s not like he cares about Tony anymore.

It’s not like anyone does.

The smoke is making Tony’s eyes sting and water so he closes them as he fumbles about, trying to find something—anything—to smash the tiny, too-high-up window. And then he hears something: a distinct thudda-thud, thudda-thud. For a second he thinks it’s his heart, thumping so fast that it’s going to come bursting right out of his chest. But then he realises that it’s just the rag-and-bone man, the village’s very own bogeyman.

Tony opens his eyes a fraction and sees this grimy, desperate figure pounding on the door of the cabin, trying to get out. It’s in this moment that Tony sees the rag-and-bone man for what he truly is: human.

Maybe that’s the most frightening thing of all.

The rag-and-bone man starts to scream. Tony can smell something through the smoke now, something akin to burning hair.

And just when he thinks it’s all over—just when Tony can imagine his skin sizzling and his insides boiling and spitting like a pot of soup—a set of thick fingers form around his wrist and he’s pulled to the ground and dragged forward.

Fresh air. Fresh air rushes towards him and Tony gulps it down greedily, choking on it. And then he weeps, burying his face against the ground, trying to stifle the sobs. He’s dimly aware of the heat, the crackle of the fire behind him, the groans as the bones of the building give way, collapsing in upon itself.

Wiping away the tears with the sleeve of his costume, Tony looks up. The other boys are standing around him, Halloween masks in hand. Tony shouldn’t worry about crying; they’re all watching the cabin burn, flames flickering in their wide eyes, faces devoid of everything apart from shock. Tony is about to say something and then he feels a hand on his shoulder.


His face is blackened and his hair and clothes are singed. He smiles a little, says something which Tony doesn’t make out. But Tony nods feverishly all the same, not giving a shit about the tears now falling freely down his cheeks.

Maybe heroes do exist.

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