Yeah more of these lazy stalling tactics haha. Well is it laziness or do I just want to take my time and make sure the proofreading of Cur is perfect before I put out another chapter, no you’re right it’s laziness.
But I felt like I’ve been putting off proofreading this pitch stuff, which is arguably more important. And I was for a good reason, I think it’s good to let something sit for awhile and then come back to it with fresh eyes. You find a lot more of the mistakes that way.
Still happily can say I’ve read no witcher in a couple of days and my polish friend who got me into the witcher told me the next book is the most boring of all so I can’t wait to slog through this to get to that… yay.
I dunno, I just feel like I have to do something to escape inevitable depression, I have to keep moving forward, to stop or slow is death.
I’m still rocking Cur, I’m about over the hump now working my way into the home stretch and into the real meat of the story, which I think is fucking epic but I’m biased haha.
Because up to this point it’s been pretty apocryphal, building my own story around a character that was meant to die in the original literature that I revived sort of creating an alternate timeline. So this is when we’re about to start getting into my dramatisation or interpretation of the actual mythology and it’s pretty awesome. I actually already started writing it awhile ago because I was gonna slot it in right at the start.
But then my buddy said I should move it to the end as like a reveal and a part of me thought it would be better at the part because it’s a little bit of an obvious twist in my opinion and I thought it might be cheesier than it would be epic. But now as I’ve built up to it in the story I think it will be really cool. If readers feel half as pumped as I did writing it it’ll hit the mark.
Yeah so here’s the next edited and double proof read chapter of Diana after dark, this should be what professional agents will read so if there are still mistakes I’m pretty much fucked. But I’m being a lot more patient and conscientious this time around. The last couple of times I jumped the gun a little bit and my content really wasn’t as good as this so I have high hopes for it. I mean fuck me it’s better than twilight.
Anyway gotta do something actually productive today, I’m back on facebook so I’m gonna do some spamming with this lovely little chapter people can’t complain about being unedited. Despite the fact people will just to be dicks haha.
Yeah so here’s that, now I have to get to proofreading and spamming and all that good stuff.
Paul drove his dad’s car when he was out in some Middle-Eastern hell hole doing what I could only dream about, literally. But in an altogether less neat and ritualistic way at the behest of his Uncle Sam.
That’s a level of trust you can’t kill for. His dad was obviously very confident in the offspring he’d carefully chiseled out of clay. That, or he was indelibly dim-witted, allowing his only child to drive around in his top-of-the-line vehicle. Having only met him a handful of times, I couldn’t say which was the case.
It was an older model olive drab Hummer, with leather interiors that smelled like discipline and spearmint gum. The thing ran like it was brand new, the old man kept it in peak condition, and his son took it just as seriously.
I opened a bag of chips in her once on the way to an Ariana Grande concert and he made me get out and finish them on the side of the freeway. That was fun.
Another thing I loved about Paul Alan Junior was, he rarely talked. There’s the strong silent types. Then there’s this type, the type that’s conditioned to ‘being seen and not heard,’ on levels that teeter on ‘culty’, if that’s a word. His father taught him well; sometimes I wondered if he wasn’t as damaged as I was. Instead of breaking the mold, he’d been hammered perfectly into it. A living Ken doll with no visible cracks or creases.
Thankfully, unlike a Ken Doll, they’d seen fit to leave the important places ‘unsmoothed,’—not that that really mattered to me.
Unlike most people, I’m a big fan of comfortable silence; sadly in Orange County, near the coast, it’s in short supply. Inside the sealed air conditioned mobile command center that was Paul’s dad’s car, it was preserved. Like some kind of orchid, hermetically sealed for freshness. I could almost taste it as I watched the anemic palm trees and midafternoon roller-skaters go by. Baking and cracking in the sun while I felt like a lizard on a cool dry rock; bliss.
With a full stomach, it was even better. He took me to this little taco place we like near the beach because it’s quiet and he knows that’s why I like it.
I had the vegan taco; not vegan but I like their food and for some strange reason I like animals. Not really people or kids. Of course, people are kids but there needed to be a distinction. Although, I don’t hate them.
I just have a callous indifference for everything that doesn’t walk on four legs. There’s something about them I like, their raw natures, their lack of pretense, lack of a filter. Their natural instincts just accepted, not sanded away by school or television.
Sadly, the feeling is not mutual. Every cat or dog my aunt ever brought back would rather jump under a semi than let me pet them. I won a gold fish at a fair once, got it a bowl and a little castle, the whole bit. As soon as we put it in the bowl, it climbed those castle steps and was never seen again. It chose a life of solitude like some hunchback. It starved to death rather than see me for all of the five seconds it took for me to sprinkle food on the surface of the water.
Paul paid for the tacos, of course, perfect gentleman.
Feminism, what’s that?
“Are you mad at me?” he asked, as he kept his eyes straight, hands at ten and two.
I looked at him and sighed, and smiled with the corners of my mouth like a snake. “No.” suggesting it could’ve gone either way.
He looked good in profile, a strong chin, long straight nose, light dusting of designer stubble. The aviator sunglasses were probably also his dad’s. His hair was tight at the sides with a bit of gel assisted lift at the front.
“Is that a real ‘no’ or a woman’s ‘no’?” he asked, without taking his eyes off the road, just smiled out at nothing.
“No as in no.” I just couldn’t get those dreams out of my head. Picturing the city under the blanket of night and me stalking its street like some carrion bird picking off the weak and strong alike. It was a mix of horror and sheer splendor mixing in my chest. A feeling so unexplainable, to try seemed like blasphemy.
“You just seem—” The leather squeaked under him; his eyes remained forward, he poked his tongue into his cheek, as if looking for the right word. “Different”.
Should I tell him about my dream, maybe just to shut him up? I don’t have to tell him about the good bits, I can keep those to myself, locked away in Dear Diana’s vault of diabolical deeds.
I make a bit of a show of it, lick my lips so he can hear, maybe not over the air-conditioning. “I had this weird dream.” I shrugged and smiled again.
Paul readjusted the rearview mirror, still he wore that dumb smile. “What kind of dream?”
Two questions in one day. Aren’t we the inquisitive type today?
“I was walking…walking, at night.” I tapped my front teeth together anxiously. A creeping odd feeling of cold hit me and I rubbed my bare pale arms to warm them but my hands were just as cold.
“Like a vampire?”
“You really shouldn’t be walking alone at night Di—even in your dreams.” He made a hawing laugh sound in his throat, and turned that smile directly on me.
Paul unwrapped a stick of gum and popped it into his mouth, somehow without taking his hands off the wheel. “You haven’t heard?” He poked the gum packet in my general direction.
“Apparently not,” I said, losing a sliver of patience, as I politely batted away the offer of gum.
He lifted his aviators and looked into the rearview mirror, as he chewed loudly. “You haven’t been watching the news?”
“Not if I don’t have to, boring show.” There goes another one.
Paul took in a deep breath and continued to chew. “They found a couple’ a bodies washed up on Huntington Beach.” He said.
“Bodies?” Happens every other day here. Some fat tourist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania goes belly up in a rubber dingy and we have to pretend to care.
“Headless bodies.” He made a chopping motion at his neck, like I didn’t know what headless meant. “They think it’s a serial killer or something.”
Or something, something like a chip of ice broken off, a cold laughter in the dark, a tinny voice spoke a language only I could understand. Those words set my teeth on edge, my skin to a cool burn.
“Really?” I tried to sound like I wasn’t chomping at the bit to Google this on my phone right in front of him. I swallowed, trying to pretend it didn’t faze me at all; like it wasn’t the most rapturous news I’d heard in my life.
Like there weren’t alarm bells ringing all through Diana’s dark deep depths. Like a light didn’t go off in my head, telling me somewhere, somehow, this is what I’d been waiting for.
But what else? Of course I need to feign some sort of fear, some kind of concern, for the victims for their family’s maybe.
I realized suddenly, a whole minute had passed since I last spoke. I just threw out a stock, “That’s horrible, those poor people.” For effect. No tears, no screams? Too much.
“Don’t worry, I’ll protect you.” Paul smiled.
“Did they find them?”
“Did they find what?” he asked, tipping his sunglasses down.
“The heads.” I asked quietly, as I tried to restrain myself from biting my lip.
He started chewing out of the other side of his mouth. “Now that you mention it, I don’t think they said.”
“Oh, terrible, I’m so scared!” I muttered almost shaking with excitement. What could it mean, why take the heads? Was it just a gang thing? Maybe the cartel. They love murdering random people and scattering them all over the place. Maybe some kind of Santeria voodoo hoodoo thing. But what happened to the heads?
Maybe they washed away and became a house for a family of California Dungeness crabs.
But not to find one, that stood out to me. It could’ve just been Paul forgot, but it seemed to strike a chord with Diana’s Dark Double. A shrill laughter, a tingle, a shiver up my spine, electricity on my fingertips. Every hair on the back of my neck stood up to salute the day, I had to check my lip to make sure I wasn’t drooling. Something seemed so right about it, something I had no idea I was waiting for.
I had to find out.
The moment he stopped the car, I bound out of the door like a dog seeing another passing car full of burning cats. I tossed back a feeble kissing noise and something like “Bye, babe, see you tomorrow!”
He said something equally as vapid back and swung a wide U-turn around the tiny roundabout at the end of the cul-de-sac I lived in, and drove off in a cloud of diesel smoke. The maneuver was something akin to the Titanic trying to do a Mexican Hat Dance around the iceberg.
Paul almost always just drove over it, leaving muddy tire tracks and crushed flowers in his wake, which seemed to really piss off my neighbors for some reason.
I quickstepped to the door of our ‘reasonably’ priced Orange County bungalow that looked like a little beach hut. Complete with beach towels drying on a spinner in the tiny front yard.
I was trying not to break into a full-scale sprint. I managed to keep my hand loose enough so I didn’t break the key off in the lock. Just to avoid any unnecessary time wasting conversations with my aunt. I wanted to be free to sit down at my computer as quick as humanly possible.
The keys on my chain rattled and it took me too long to find the right one and keep it still long enough to get it to go in the lock.
I turned the key, flinging the door open, closed it behind me and strode through the hall. I passed the living room, which I followed with my eyes.
The TV was on, the news, something about the killings. What a coincidence, but something in me told me this had to be a private moment, shared with no one.
Not even my own flesh and blood, and I also didn’t want any spoilers, no fluff, or padding. Just raw stark reality, no artist’s impression for Diana of the Dark.
I hurried past, slurring my words. “Hey, I’m home, had a great day, not hungry, kinda tired, going to my room, kthanksbye!”
Bustled past what felt like a crowd in a train station, but was just a bunch of squash equipment occupying the hall for some reason. I got in my room, pulled the door shut and had a fight with a wooden hat rack I’d thought was cute on Amazon, but had yet to buy a hat for.
My room was a hovel. Clothes, clean and dirty in piles throughout the room and on my bed. Posters of bands I didn’t listen to anymore, if I ever did in the first place, peeled off the walls and ceiling. Containers of soft drinks and burgers—I’m not a vegetarian. I like animals, big difference. They could have been vegie burgers, I don’t remember.
The curtains were drawn and the room was dark and humid. I put on the fan, and it started to cough and move warm air around my small room.
My laptop sat atop a throne of dirty clothes on my bed, half open like a clamshell.
I snatched it up and almost tossed it onto my dresser/desk/landfill. I turned it on and found a swivel chair with a sock wrapped tightly around one of the wheels. Its swiveling days were over, as the sock had lodged itself deep in one of the wheels. I parked my butt down and waited for my laptop to boot up, which seemed to be taking much longer than usual.
Punching it wouldn’t make it go any faster. So I didn’t do that.
It finally booted up, and I quickly logged in. My fingers almost tripped over themselves to type in my password, Dahmer7.
I opened a browser and typed, “Headless bodies, Huntington beach.”
There were a lot of results, but the top results seemed to be the most recent.
The Beachcomber had the juiciest title. The bodies had been found on the beach after all. So it seemed fitting.
‘Is there a head-hunter in Orange County?’ Jess Wode of The Beachcomber asked
I hope so Jess, I do hope so.
It was apparent from the outset, this person had no idea what was actually going on. They were reading a police report, and adding their own ‘unique spin’. Or more likely, recycling a headline from another newspaper that also knew nothing.
Nothing more than headless bodies were found on the beach. That sells newspapers.
I was grinding my teeth, considering the prospects of a journalism degree. How much easier it would be to get access to all the morbid tripe I could get my hands on, if only I were a cop or a forensic tech or something.
The article was trite speculation and useless filler and what’s more, no pictures. What a waste of time.
I went through a few more sites. before I realized the police must be keeping a really tight lid on this one. No leaks, no cracks, no crevices, not even a video on someone’s phone, a selfie of a morbid dog walker, nothing.
Well that was disappointing. Even more so realizing that I would have to do the exact same thing as in my blog.
I opened another window and clicked on the bookmark tab for my blog. It wasn’t very fancy, I’m okay with computers, what kid born post y2k isn’t?
A super script kiddy hacker, I am not, but I’m getting there. The blog was just a standard WordPress blog dolled up with emo fonts and cheesy blood spatter effects as a background.
Mostly a serial killer fansite, where I documented murders and weird goings-on in the world at large. I ran it anonymously, obviously for the same reason I didn’t collect knives or listen to death metal.
Not that there’s anything right with that, but the connotations are the problem. People’s impressions really are everything.
If I do go on a killing spree out of the blue, I’d make it way too easy on them. They could blame reality TV, or Marilyn Manson or videogames instead of the harsh reality they’re hiding from.
Which is, Diana of the Dark Descent?
A shiver up my spine and that mocking chortle; the word I’m looking for is banal at best. ‘Evil’ doesn’t really cover it.
When I think evil, it’s more twirling moustaches and girls tied to train tracks. Some brawny hero coming to the rescue. This wasn’t so simple, it was never truly that simple.
Besides, how selfish would I have to be to let my ‘appetites’ harm the good name of videogames and death metal?
I logged in and tried to compose something, anything.
No pictures, maybe I should’ve just Googled ‘headless bodies’ in images. What kind of ‘leet’ hacker would I be if I didn’t figure out how to turn off my aunt’s safe search—in the fourth grade no less?
I felt dumb and dithering, as I looked at that blank text box I was about to fill with smoke, definitively from my ass. This must be what it feels like to be a real journalist.
My eyes wandered from the blank text box to my notifications. There was one. I clicked it, pretending I wasn’t mildly excited. Almost an addiction, checking notifications, expecting some great revelation. Some invisible backslap from a stranger or shit slung from some obtuse basement dweller, or maybe even a picture of a dick.
Other women complain about this constantly, I don’t get the fuss. It’s just a dick. I get the distinct feeling they’d be more miserable if the conveyer belt of phallic imagery would ebb. Maybe around their mid to late thirties.
It was a comment from one of the handfuls of subs to this small corner of the internet I call my own.
Spoopyshadowguy666 writes, ‘Check your inbox’.
This guy again, he subbed to me maybe a month or two ago, and he’s always sending me these weird cryptic emails. Like puzzles or riddles, games, and no pictures of his penis, woe is me.
Okay, I’ll bite.
I opened my inbox and it was empty, funny, my room looked like a homeless shelter, but I like to keep a tidy inbox.
I check the spam folder and waded through all the phishing emails and things trying to sell me Viagra and dildos and wart remover. A combination I can’t recommend.
His emails in the past didn’t really seem all that interesting. Mostly pictures of people, their names and addresses. Odd things, like their habits and work schedules, where they like to hang out.
It was weird but it didn’t cross the boundaries of being really strange. Seemed like the random fixations of a professional stalker. The standard fare for any fan of a serial killer page.
None of the people in the pictures seemed to be connected in anyway, different races, ages, jobs, sexes. If there was a pattern I didn’t pick it up, so into the spam folder it went.
Today I was feeling ready for a distraction. Anything that would save me from the blank text box, and raking the bottom of my own skull for inane bullshit.
There it was, the subject of the email read ‘Do you see what I see?’ There were some attachments.
Here we go, finally the validation of seeing a nice hard cock of a stranger, can’t wait.
Clicking on the email revealed that it was pretty much the same as before. Pictures of seemingly random people, with little to no correlation in the way they looked.
I scrolled through them aimlessly, feeling silly for wasting my time. Then I saw a face that sent a little sliver of ice into the dark well. I felt it stir.
A small flap of leathery wings, a tail uncoiling.
The face seemed oddly familiar. It was a Hispanic guy, maybe in his late twenties-early thirties, curly brown hair, small almond eyes, a flat nose and wide lips. The name on the image was Antoine Ruiz.
Ruiz, that name also seems familiar but it’s a Hispanic name and I go to a school that has a sizeable population. I think I sat behind a Ruiz in calculus.
I decided I was being silly, it was meaningless. I was making a big deal over nothing. I could have seen this guy while I was eating tacos an hour ago. He could have been staring right at me while he was grating vegan cheese and I wouldn’t have noticed.
There was something odd about these photos, though. They seemed different. The ones before were almost stock images pulled straight from Facebook or Twitter. Selfies, pictures taken by friends of them standing with surf board or in front of lobster dinners or on vacation.
These pictures seemed more intrusive, and increasingly so, as I cycled through them. Pictures from a distance, with their faces turned away from the camera, as if they had no idea they were being taken.
There were no smirks of the impending picture taking, no glib grins of people trying to show themselves at their bests. Instead it was the harsh glare of the camera’s eye revealing them in their natural state, completely unaware.
The first pictures of this Ruiz character made it obvious he was some kind of small time drug pusher or pimp. At night, with girls. Clandestine exchanges with people in cars with tinted windows. Moving his gun around the waistband of his Jordans.
Quite a character. Another small tingle was conjured as the next image was that of a small single story house, not mine. That would have been really ‘spoopy’.
No, it was a lot more ‘low-key’. Wider but with an unkempt, dried out lawn, and some desert plants in front. He’s really going to be hearing from the homeowners’ society.
The pictures got closer, looking through the windows at Ruiz. There was some kind of party going on, armed bouncers at the doors, people going in and out at all hours. The time stamps said as much.
Girls of the paid variety hanging around.
Quite the operation he has going on there.
Then more, after the party was over and people were leaving. It could have been just my imagination, but on a headcount it seemed like they were one girl short.
Then the next morning. Ruiz appeared, pulling heavy duty black trash bags to the boot of his car.
I clicked back and forth through the pictures like I was watching a video. Trying to separate reality from some daytime TV show with a cheesy title. ‘Appointment for murder’. Waiting for the other shoe to truly drop.
Was this a joke? A prank? Was someone playing a trick on poor delusional Diana? A trap? It didn’t seem to want to go in my brain, make the jump from pictures on a screen to actual things happening in real living color.
Something inside told me it was very real, hyper real, and right in front of my eyes. My teeth clenched, wishing there were some pictures inside the trash bags but that’s where the pictures ended.
What a tease.
I didn’t get it, who was this guy? A cop? Was it some kind of message? A warning? Was I being investigated? It looked like surveillance footage, and it looked like Antoine Ruiz was the type that needed to be ‘surveilled’.
Why send these pictures to Dainty Diana? Was it a mistake? It made no sense, and the more sense I tried to make out of it, I realized there was no sense to be made.
There was a puzzle piece missing, deliberately so and there was no way I was going to find it here.
The email itself was blank, but I scrolled down to the bottom.
If I sent a response, what do I say?
‘Do you see what I see?’ I see it, I think I do.
If ‘it’ was what I thought it was. I see it like no one else can see it.
There was something more than that, something deeper. Something that spoke directly to that part no one else should know about. What was it saying?
What would I want to say? What would I want?
To feel in control, to feel a step ahead of the person getting the email. To let them know I know them and they know nothing about me and I’m watching and waiting for what, for me?
To do what? Who am I? I’m no one, less than no one.
A high school senior with a tiny blog and a love for comfortable silences and Mexican food and occasionally living vicariously through famous serial killers.
Now I’m rolling my eyes back in my skull, looking into that pure clear darkness. The blackboard where truth is written by my dark professor.
It laughed, a cold mirthless laughter that shakes flecks of cool sea water off its irreverent scales.
What was it teaching me? What does he want from me? What does he want me to do with Antoine Ruiz?
What would I want it to say, not just, ‘Do you see what I see?’ But; ‘I see you.’
He sees me.