Skulls, Crosses, and Bones
For Andrew Ward, Life was all about second chances.
Andrew Vincent Ward was born in Northeastern Brooklyn in October of 1982. He didn’t excel at anything in life as a young child. He wasn’t the smartest, he wasn’t the biggest, he wasn’t the fastest, he wasn’t anything. He blended in, and , as so many youths lacking on individuality in big cities, he became part of a gang. He then found his niche. He became “the tough guy”. He couldn’t throw the hardest punch, but he was brutal, and could take a punch like a champ. He was brutally efficient-that’s how many describe him. Other times, it would seem like he lost his mind to a fit of rage, and would just decimate whomever he needed to.
Truth be told, Andrew liked this. He tried to move up in rank in the gang, but after setting up a coup that was not to be, was thrown out-violently. So he took his time, and got revenge on each and every gang member who turned their backs on him. So he went from being a tough guy on the streets to a tough guy in the school. He was feared by all, including many teachers, and deemed unteachable. But one person saw promise in him, hidden beneath the bloody wounds and black eyes.
His Junior year of high school, his guidance counselor, Marissa Hartigan, took a bold move in calling him into her office. She knew that he had potential, but to realize, it would take a choice, which is what she presented to him. Live on the streets for the rest of your life, which wouldn’t be too much longer given his current path, or act right, grow up, and hit the books, and maybe he could get into college. At first, Andrew blew her off. But slowly, he started looking at his life, realizing that it was shit. And so he made the change. He busted his ass, and when he graduated, he when to the University of Syracuse.
It was there that he took an interest in history, most notably, dead history- languages, cultures, and civilizations that had been wiped off the face of the earth. That is what made him tick. It was also there that he met the love of his life, Kierra Marie Foster. She was a history major, long dark hair, enchanting brown eyes, a body that most super models would envy, and a personality to match. While she was serious about her studies, she wasn’t miss goody two shoes. She loved to party as well.
It was at a fraternity party that they formally met. Andrew had seen her around some of his classes, and had decided now to make his move. And they were happy together. Kierra gave Andrew the intelligence and rationality to make him complete, and Andrew gave her a strong, loving embrace, allowing her to know that everything would be just fine.
Unfortunatly, Andrew’s Demon’s of the past would rear their ugly heads. After graduation, Andrew and Kierra moved to Brooklyn, where they lived in a fifth floor hole in the wall apartment. But it was enough to make them happy. People who weren’t happy however, were the gang that Andrew turned his back on. They spent years licking their wounds, looking for a chance to get even, and now they had it.
One July night in 2006, after seeing a movie, the gang made their move. They herded the couple into an ally and blocked their progress. They beat both of them, took them to an undisclosed location, proceeded to gang-rape Kierra forcing Andrew to watch, before finally busting her skull. They then tied her to Andrew, and fitted them for a pair of cement shoes. As life gushed away from Andrew, the last thing he saw was his beautiful fiancé, bleeding from the head, her hair flowing in the green briny water, her eyes cold, lifeless. He last thought was revenge.
But just when all was lost, he found a song in his heart, in his mind, in his soul. The song promised him what he sought the most: revenge on those who wronged him. The Siren Of Sorrow extended her pallid blue arm out and saved him. He burst from his aquatic prison, with renewed power. And as he shot out of the water, slowly he began to recollect everything. He looked into his arms, and saw his bride to be, choked with water, her beautiful face now blue. He stood up and as he stood there dripping, thunder threatened the summer sky. The siren appeared to him again, but this time in her more natural figure, that of a beautiful young lady- but a pale blue hue covered her skin, and her eyes seemed glazed yellow. Her black hair flowed behind her, as her exposed midriff seemed to glisten with water. She sang, leading Andrew to the Warehouse where the killers are.
He stood at the doorway- remembering the words of Ms. Hartigan. Remembering choice. Suddenly, he felt weak-unsure. But The Siren was sure to let him know that this was indeed the right course of action. Suddenly in his hands appeared a rusty scythe. The wooden handle had an ornate skeletal arm reaching towards the blade. He walked into the warehouse.
Fifteen minutes later, he stood, invigorated, covered in blood. He had loved what he just did. Or was that the Geist? No matter to him. But as he stood there, preparing to torch the warehouse, still covered in blood, he became dizzy…and the levity of the situation hit him. He realized what he had lost…what he had done…and as he looked up on the roof of the building and saw the Siren singing her irresistible song, he knew the deal he made.
He remembered back to when he had burst from the water (thanks to the Tear-Stained Key and Oracle manifestation). He remembered, before his flash of rage and anger, seeing Kierra. But not in her body. He remembered seeing her ghost, standing on the docks, shivering…looking at him…longingly. Looking at the Siren with disdain. He realized that he should be dead, making the trek to wherever he had to go with Kierra…but this being saved him for no other purpose than to kill the gang members. As he looked back on top of the building, he saw The Siren, smiling at him.
He took off running, down the dock. The cool night air filled his lungs, which already felt as if they were full of water. They probably were. He couldn’t run fast enough. He remembered Rachel’s ghost looking at the locket that he gave her when they graduated. He ran faster.
When he arrived at the body, the locket was gone, as was Rachel’s ghost. The Siren sang a bittersweet melody. She knew what he was thinking. Did she actually FEEL like he felt?
Andrew buried himself in lore of the occult, reading everything possible about ghosts…figuring out what happened to him, and how he could get Kierra back. He began to figure himself out too…with the help of the Siren. He normally gave in when she had something for him, save for one thing- she keeps telling him to forget about Kierra…to move on…to make love to other women….to hold them lovingly in his strong arms. He couldn’t-he wouldn’t. He began helping ghosts…trying to find out information about Kierra, and where she is.
The Siren continues to smile her coy smile anytime he inquires about Kierra. She knows something she isn’t telling him. Maybe it’s because she feels it would distract him from his work…maybe she wants to be the only woman in his life…or maybe she just wants to torture him, he isn’t sure. He does know it feels good when he kills…and when he helps ghosts. He knows that some people have to die sometimes…and that’s okay. But it feels like every step he makes, he becomes closer to Kierra. What then? He isn’t sure. He’ll take that as it comes.