Combustion Man
The Third
General information








Original run

July 26, 2013




Avatar: The Last Airbender


This is my entry to Ty's one-shot competition. It details Combustion Man (I prefer Sparky Sparky Boom Man myself)'s thoughts on his unique ability.

The Third

I don't think I'll ever get to sleep. Every time I close my eyes my forehead stings and my face feels like it is tearing in two. As if to remind me.

As I clench tighter the crying worsens. It is not my mother's - her wail as she discovers me in my room, unconscious in a pool of my own blood and a razor beside my head. Nor is it of the men I have killed; soldiers, fugitives, men who know too much, men who care too little. And the man in front of me is not uttering a sound.

Hot blood oozes from a gash above his eye and I can feel his stressed veins thud against my palm as I press harder against his throat. The only noise coming from him is a cough - probably his final because it dribbles out with no heart. No it's not him.

It's me. The screeches of my infant-self fill my head as I watch the man's eyes roll backwards. This happens with every kill. The crying scratches the inside of my head, and tears at my insides like a ravenous bear. I furrow my brow, and the burning pain that accompanies the action follows. His head bursts and I toss his remains aside like I did to used toys when I was young.

No. Sleep is not an option. Even if my eyes are shut, and I press my hands on them as hard as I can, the Third Eye will always remain awake. And I will always see them looking at me with sunken eyes; eyes filled and stained with tears.

I am condemned. For when my eyes are open they are searching for the next kill, and when they are closed the Third will be there to terrify me.

And furthermore, self-pity does not exist. How should it when it was me that was thirsty for knowledge? Me that defaced my own body and sacrificed my humanity for a taste of power. I made a deal with him and now must spend eternity paying my end of the bargain.

The Eye. It's hungrier than one would think.

I stop by a river, moonlight spilling in from thick clouds. A bullfrog croaks nearby, hidden - probably from me. It's funny. With three eyes you'd think it'd be made easier for one to see love in someone else's. But for the years I have spent walking the earth and fulfilling my promise I have only seen fear and anger returned in the eyes of others.

My mother did once - before she caught wind of my research and what I had done. Even at the face of death, staring steadfast at the Third - the demon that sent her boy to ruin, she still loved me.

I rinse my forsaken hands in the river. I try to wash her blood away. It doesn't leave, and I don't think it ever will. I suppose that was another part of the deal that was left unmentioned.

The Third's hunger is almost vanquished. Just a few more until I can be free. But as I dry my hands and rub my aching eyes I question such a word. I still will never sleep again, and forever see their faces splattered, saddened, across my eyes. I'll still hear the baby's screeches as it, with a once-had innocence, reaches out for its mother. And old blood will still spill between the cracks of my shaking fingers. The dreaded scar will always be with me to prove this. I will never really be free, will I? As much as I say it, speaking so does not make it true.

I would give anything, any amount of time or blood, to hear someone say my name tenderly. But at this point, as I crouch among the reeds and feel the warm tears come - and for the first time in a long while, I do not deserve a name.

I have heard the term 'Combustion Man' used for me. And I yearn for the day that I do catch alight. Finally burn away all the strife that has built up in my heart.

I look over at my shoulder. A large chunk of flesh is missing and crimson blood gushes out. I'll have to find some bandages. I've already lost too much, I should be less reckless. If I die before I fulfil my promise, my demise will be a thousand times worse than that of the people I have taken. My arm and leg; their absence is a cruel, yet deserving, reminder of the atrocities I have committed. Not yet, it says as I hold my wound, not just yet.

Only ten left. Ten more sorry victims and then I will be left alone to do what I please. Maybe I'll continue killing, it is all I know. Or perhaps I'll see love in someone's eyes...

I whisper my apologies to those ten unknown and unknowing people, head craned to the golden, rising sun. With aching eyes, ringing ears and a throbbing shoulder I get up and continue walking, as if I had not just then killed a man. As if nothing had ever happened.

One day I will meet my judgement - and when that day comes hopefully I'll be able to fathom words towards my crimes. And if not, I'll accept what comes; for there is still a bit of human left, a flustered baby with voice hoarse from regret. It's murderous hands reach out for something. Something I don't think I'll reach until I die. The Third knows, but does not tell.

As I continue along the river my walking takes an ominous rhythm, the metal limb echoing out like screams in the night. Only ten left - the chant falls on my breath - only ten left...Only ten left...Only ten left...

978 words.

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