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Concrit wanted please!

Author: Willow
Story: Blue Boys
Title: Kill 'Em Bit By Bit

Rating: PG
Words: 1,113
Challenge: Honey-Nut #28 (only death will cure a fool)
Topping: Whipped Cream
Summary: When Joshua stumbles in, delirious with grief, America sees her chance to bend another lackey into serving her desire for revenge.
Help! If you read this, there are some questions I really want to know the answers to:  Is this excerpt too confusing? If this was the first chapter of a novel, would you want to read more? Is this boring? Is there enough information to spark your interest about the characters? Thank you! I'd love to hear some honest feedback from you guys. There's no community quite like this one.

"'E killed 'er. 'E's onto us. 'E killed 'er!" Joshua stumbled into her dingy drawing-room like a bricked old man. His lean, ratty face shimmered with a second-skin of tears and the city stink clung to his clothes: a chill from the air, coal smog and sewer grunge.

Calm as a button, America set down her pepperbox revolver and the rag she'd been using to clean the barrel .

"Emma..." croaked Joshua.

With a spluttery cough, he collapsed into the faded, red velvet chair by one of the windows. Its ill-treated legs creaked in protest. For a 'fine piece of crafting', it hadn't proved worthy of stealing. At least it now matched the pealing floral wallpaper and moth-eaten curtains.

America wrinkled her nose at Joshua; watching, waiting.

Eyes glazed and blubbering like a kicked mutt, he said, "They've gone killed my sister."

"Whotever do you mean, Joshua?"

He saw the flash of anger in her eyes and shook his head. "Whot I'm tellin' you. They knows what she done! It's us next. They've gone done 'er in. She was on the mend! There ain't no way she'd drop down stony. They ain't - they ain't even letting me see 'er body, nor the baby."

Joshua began wheezing, his yellow teeth barred like a moony jailer.

"'Ow do you know she's pushin' daises, then?"

America leant forward on the desk, staring him down. In all truths laid open, Joshua Darvill disgusted her. His sniffing hooked nose and greasy little tricks rankled her opinion of doing the job right - clean shot, quick stab. None of his fog-bombs or tricky poison pills; because oh, did Joshua know a slippery trick or two about that.

Tonight, America hoped to wheedle out his weaknesses. She hoped his sister was eating dirt.

"Because 'e told me," said Joshua, swallowing hard and nose twitching. "'E wrote me a letter. No, not 'er husband. That fucker wouldn't know such decency."

America curled her fingers around the pepperbox, tempted to smash it down upon her cheap, iron typewriter. If the girl's husband hadn't written the news of her death, there could only be one other man who involved.

Joshua had the sense to stop snivelling.

"An' whot," America said slowly, "did this letter say, Joshua?"

"Condolences, nuffin' more, but there's a double meanin' in it. I can tell. America, we gotta snuff 'im. We gotta back away. Screw the machine - let's jus' kill 'em. Let's jus' take the Goddamn underground!"

"An' wiv whot fire power are you gonna do that?"

When he didn't reply America stood and went to the other floor-to-ceiling window, not wanting to stand too close to him. She peeked behind the dusty curtain and stared into the dark, sleeping house opposite. Above the shingle rooftops she could just about see the cathedral and the city train snaking between the buildings. It was suspended off the ground on mighty steel viaducts, chuffing out steam into another starless night.

Behind her, in one of the desk drawers, America felt the presence of the rio in her lock-box. Money was power. Soon she'd want for nothing. They had the funding now and all the plans laid out. Just as she'd had wealth and land ripped out from under her, so would the blackguard who she knew was responsible.

If America closed her eyes she could see his black, shining face, and how he smiled at her. How he lorded over her, pretending they were equals.

But now she had a way of ripping apart his world, friend by friend; brick by tunnel by pipe.

"So, 'e done away wiv your little sweetheart, 'as 'e?"

Joshua glared at her, his grubby habits an easy weapon to wield against him.

"Whot are you gonna do about it?" she sneered.

"I'm gonna choke 'im. Stuff 'is throat with rag after rag."

She smirked despite herself. "You could, but 'e wouldn't suffer long, would 'e? Not long enough."

"Then I guess I'll let 'im breathe now an' again."

His irritation fed her excitement. The blockhead couldn't see the obvious.

With a little skip, America moved to the mantelpiece, its mouth filled with rubble. She touched the one photo on the stone sill and caressed its gilded frame. In the fading greyscale image her parents stood behind her shoulders, grim faced and proud; their eyes touched with a hint of content; while America, eleven years old, was grinning like a cat. In the background stood a tall, bald man. A servant.

He never used to smile at her. Not like he did now with those white, leering teeth.

"You ain't gonna kill 'im, Joshua. Oh, no, no, no." America turned to face him, noticing the sweat-patches under his arms and the twitch in his neck. "You're gonna dice apart 'is best friend an' send 'im back the pieces."

"Emma's husband..."

"Yes. Emma's husband," she repeated. "Didn't you 'ate 'is guts anyway? But, then again, you don't got the brass to do it, do you?" Her voice turned to a hiss and Joshua pushed back into the squeaking chair. America had him by the clappers, all she had to do now was squeeze.

Preparations to infiltrate the underground and then find the God machine were in motion. All that needed doing was to harden belly-achers like Joshua to the cause.

Her employers thought she was a lackey who only wanted money but, while money gave her power, it couldn't buy her the right kind of punishment she had in mind for the man who burned her family.

"It's your sister's husband who should bleed. 'E let 'er die," she said, crossing the room with deliberate steps. "'E fed 'er to the mincer when 'e should 'ave kept 'er safe. Don't you see? 'E used 'er. They all did. Maybe they knew whot she was all along. We ain't done nuffin', yet. We're clean. An' I'll bet you two pennies, they didn't have a lick of evidence against her, neither. What can they prove? If she really was a spy, Joshua, who was she workin' for?"

They both knew exactly who she worked for.

"I - I dunno," he said.

"Of course you don't."

America saw the makings of hatred form in Joshua's eyes. It contorted his face and shivered in his limbs. She placed her hands on the armrests of the velvet chair, her corset tightening around her chest as she bent close to his pointed nose. Outside, the distant shriek of a train reached their ears.

"If you gonna hurt them, do it good. And don't be snivelling."

With a final glance at his patchwork countenance, America returned to her desk. "Now get out," she said, "and tell Lucius to pick up the designs from Mr. Babbage. They're ready."

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