Hey there,

I had all this stuff I was gonna talk about that just fell out of my head, which is fine because I really should be getting on with going over the latest editing from this haha. Not much has happened since now and tuesday haha, Oh yeah well I got banned on facebook again but that like happens too often to comment on. What was it this time? This might be the record for the longest time I’ve been on and that was only because I wasn’t using it much.

And it was for the stupidest shit, I made a silly gay joke, like something really harmless, I wasn’t mocking or bullying anyone or saying ‘banned words’ but some fucking asshole on my friends list flagged me for hatespeech for a joke and now I’m banned for thirty days for a post on my own profile. And the joke wasn’t particularly savage really. It was just silly but it seems like if you’re explicitly pro gay that counts as hate speech these days.

So your options are make a joke and then apologize profusely and kiss a rainbow flag saying three ‘hail Caitlynn’s’ or just never make a joke referencing gays in any shape or form or you’re banned for hate speech. 

And this time I actually took some time to read their hate speech rules and it’s so purposefully vague it would make George Orwell do backflips in his grave. Literally anything you say can be construed as hate speech and that’s exactly why it’s worded that way. They just want an excuse to remove opinions that they don’t like. It was never about offensive words or protecting minorities, its about creating a culture of complete mental hegemony. Facebook is quite literally 1984 on the internet, I’m not even being hyperbolic, that’s quite literally what they are. 

Can you imagine what it would be like if one of these corporations and their weird lizard people ceo’s had real political power or got elected president? it’s truly a terrifying thought for a now registered thought criminal such as myself. Look at what these “people”, these bugmen, these grown manchildren with a love for burning ants with a looking glass do with this modicum of internet power. Can you imagine what they would do if they had the codes to the nukes?
And their response would be “but what about blumpf??? He’s literally hitler and he has the nukes”. Which is not a terrible comparison but Trump might just be too stupid to use them really.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Trump, he is a living meme and he really hasn’t had that many missteps so far. He’s basically made peace with the two biggest threats to the world so far and people are still crying over it. But he really lacks the alien/robot intelligence and clarity of mind to do something really destructive or erect himself as a dictator.

He’s basically the fool king that’s done everything right and he’s not the candidate people wanted but he’s the one we really needed. Because he was the only one who could address (albeit indelicately) the real problems the US and the world is facing in a way only a populist could.
It took a big dumb guy to say what needed to be said and do what needed to be done.

I don’t think Trump is dumb but he doesn’t carry himself with this almost a feat dignity people expect of a President, which was epitomised to a point in Obama almost to a point of him being very aloof and feminine as a president. Capped off by the fact he really just rode the presidency and did nothing of note. Something his supporters use almost as positive note, citing his lack of scandals haha. Which I’d really have to say they weren’t looking hard enough.

I can’t really think of any scandals Trump has had other than pussygate but that was before he was even president so that doesn’t count haha. Everything else was just total nonsense cooked up by the press ‘oh Melania wore an offensive jacket’ boo fucking hoo.

How the hell did I get onto this subject???

Oh yeah internet censorship, what a load of bullshit, also I heard about Alex Jones being censored, it’s getting really ridiculous. There’s going to have to be a time where these social media sites are regulated like public utilities because it obviously can’t be left in the hands of these little progressive clicks who censor on a whim. It just can’t go on like that can it? You’d think we’d have an alternative to facebook by now that was actually viable. I mean gab and minds are great but facebook they will never be and I’m afraid if they did become the new facebook they might fall into the same traps with more scrutiny put on them by progressives who are minority of nutcases but a very loud and litigious one.

I could literally rant about this all day so I’m gonna nip it in the bud because I have editing to do. My legend won’t write itself after all haha.

On a completely different note I’m gradually working my way out of the debt these last few trips have put me in, but now I’m desperate to go away again, I just can’t live without that person. And if this book doesn’t actually make me some money I’m gonna have to get a real job, seeing them once or twice a year or on skype just wont do.

See you…

A steady metronome of waves gently beat the shore, but there was no shore, the smell of the spray but there was no spray.

I opened my eyes but it’s just blackness. Then a light came on but it wasn’t a light, it was a moon rising out of the sea.

The sea, was I on a boat? Then I felt it, the cold cloying embrace of the ocean in answer.

I kicked my legs but I don’t need to, I’m bobbing, cold and wet, just with my head floating above the surface of the water.

I couldn’t see the shore, the ocean seemed endless, and the only noise I heard was the waves parting and my heart beating.

A rising anxiety set my teeth on edge, and I could sense it all around me. Was this what it’s like inside? Was this, its world? A cold endless black ocean. I couldn’t see the bottom, why would it have a bottom?

I felt something, something moved, circled, something rising. Waves and bubbles rose to a crescendo peaked by an anticlimactic blub blub and something bobbing on the surface of the water.

Something floated toward me, and I knew what it was before the moon could cast its bright bitter smile down on it.

A head.

A perfectly separated head of a woman. It bobbed listlessly toward me and in the glare of the moon it rolled open. Its wet hair parted like a flower.

My dear old Aunt. I should’ve felt things, I should’ve felt the earth shaking, bone clattering terror and cold sweat but there was nothing, nothing but a joyful wonder.

A question answered, a life revealed, a lie told and taken away just as swiftly and my heart raced and in an instant. I’m surrounded by more perfectly lopped heads; bobbing like rubber ducks floating in crude.

I woke up in the same cold sweat as last night, no maybe even colder; as cold as that black ocean, or maybe I just left the fan on, yeah it’s the fan. I slopped the sheets off my damp body and go turned it off.

I need a shower, and maybe a ritualistic burning of my sheets.

The water washed over me and I expected revelations, a brief aside into Jungian psychology. Did I even care what the dream meant, if it meant a thing?

The sea, the darkness, fear of the unknown, the oldest fear, pretty standard.

If you’re not afraid of the unknown, you don’t have a very good imagination.

I have a great imagination.

The moon, well that was easy. I felt my teeth clicking thinking about it, getting responses up my legs and back as I just let the water flow over me.

The heads were a gift from my new and anonymous friend, but why did I recognize them, why her?

I often thought about my aunt, about how I would feel if she died. If I could love anyone, it would be her.

Her absence in my life would be the most notable. A sapping unavoidable emptiness that could be called loneliness or sadness. The only link I had to my phantom parents severed forever.

Something close to that, but sadness was a foreign concept to someone completely bereft of any feeling whatsoever. A blessing and a curse, a crisp clear almost chipper emptiness. Like a smile with shark teeth.

Where did that come from? I turned off the water and toweled of; it was a Saturday so much less care was taken in regard to time and form. As I dried my hair, I heard something like the door opening and whispering.

I cracked the door and looked down the hall, but all I could see was my aunt holding tight to the door chain and looking at whoever was there. I tried seeing past her but all that was visible were feet, well one foot, the other seemed to be…well not there. The stump was pressed against the stirrup of a wheelchair. The other foot didn’t appear much more useful next to it.

She whispered harshly and shut the door, latching and deadbolting it, pausing to stare at the closed door soundlessly before walking clumsily into the kitchen.

It took me a few minutes to get ready. I ran a comb through my hair and put on a loose T-shirt. Then a pair of jeans more holes than denim, and headed down the hall of the minimalist bungalow we shared.

She was waiting for me in the kitchen, nursing a mug of gourmet instant coffee and mumbling to herself as she tended to do when something was taxing her. Dressed in a neatly pressed blue short-sleeved shirt and bicycle shorts, with the Orange County PD emblem emblazed on them. The only get-up she seemed comfortable in. For her, it was either her over starched meter-maid outfit, or something long and flowing plucked out of a lost and found at Woodstock 1969. Neither costume seemed to suit her.

I could ask her what was wrong but Aunt Mary-Anne usually outright told me when something was bothering her. As I was the only one privy to her insular little world. She really needed to get out more, like me—at least in my dreams.

She wasn’t really a cop—that was a bit of an exaggeration. She was more or less a parking attendant who rode around on a bicycle and carried really strong pepper spray and a very offensive notepad and whistle. Before this, Aunt Mary-Anne had worked in some kind of crystal hoodoo voodoo shop in town run by a couple of old hippy boomers. She’d go visit occasionally, but most of the time she didn’t feel a need to go back. Especially not on weekends. The shop did okay, that kind of crap always did in California. Always some dumb tourist who wanted to buy a, ‘healing crystal skull,’ or something.

I sauntered into the kitchen with no small fanfare, and leaned on the sparkly faux marble breakfast bar; none of it was new. It’d all come with the house. It had a sort of flat-pack feel, like everything could be folded up and carried away at a moment’s notice.

Having no memory of when we’d moved in; it seemed most of my childhood was packed away somewhere and neatly discarded. Probably for the best. We’d lived here as long as I could remember, and nowhere else I couldn’t.

Putting some bread in the toaster I pressed the plunger and imagined it was some sort of small humanoid about to be browned.

“What did I say about carbs?” My aunt asked.

Looking over my shoulder I said. “That they’re delicious?” I pulled a face. She scoffed and went back to her coffee and air diet. She had a fat girl’s name, but maybe she knew it and that was why she always skipped breakfast.

“Who was that at the door?” I asked as I made satisfying scraping noises, adding generous globs of butter to my now cremated toast.

“Oh, just the mailman, you know how chatty I can get.” She took a sip, as if waiting for my reaction. “Poor guy couldn’t wait to get away.”

Not being an expert on the hiring process of the postal service. I could reasonably assume someone wheelchair bound and missing vital appendages might have trouble making up the required walking speed. So that guy being a “mailman” was either the result of liberal diversity policies running amok or a sweet little lie rolling off my aunt’s lips.

“What were you talking about?” I prodded, fighting a smile and squeezing the lid back on a jar of lime marmalade.

“Oh, you know, the usual stuff,” Mary-Anne said, tossing her long pony tail around in my face. She had it tied back with one of those seventies band things that gave it a little lift on the top. “So what are you doing today?” she asked, leaning on the counter, obviously trying to look casual and failing miserably; but skillfully changing the subject as she sipped her coffee. The wafting scent of her mug was driving me nuts. I loved the smell of coffee, not so much the taste. The smell was divine but it kind of tasted like dirt, not that I know what dirt tastes like.

“I was planning to go to the library and catch up on some studying.”  The subject matter was a need to know basis, of course.

We lived in a nice, but relatively secluded part of Orange County, called Turtle Rock. It was a picturesque little hamlet made up of cute matchstick houses. With street names that sounded like they’d come straight out of fairy tales. Sweetwater and Rainbow Falls, Morning Dew, Sandpebble, Gumdrop Lane. I made that last one up.

It was a good area, even if our house was a shack, compared to the homes around us. It had privacy and was incredibly secluded. One couldn’t get anywhere exciting without a car, that was what I sorely lacked.

“Okay.”

“Can you drive me there, and I could maybe get a ride back?”

Mary-Anne seemed to not be listening, and took another sip, her head bobbing, then caught, like she skipped a beat. “Sure,” giving me a labored smile. “Wait, the library? As in, at your school?” My aunt gaped like I just told her my room was on fire.

“Uh huh.” I took a bite of toast.

“It’s fifteen minute walk, versus a two minute car ride.” She paused, as if trying to register how much I cared about carbon emissions.

“Didn’t you hear? There’s a serial killer on the loose.” I tried my best not to seem ecstatic as I said it. I was probably glowing.

“I heard,” she said with a ringing in her voice like it’d jumped and fallen down a well.

I didn’t bother asking her for clarification. I doubted she knew anything, or even cared to.

The only way it could even enter her realm at all would be if they found the heads in a meat packing truck that was double parked.

“You sure you don’t want to go the mall or something? All that work on the prom and you haven’t bugged me for a dress or shoes.”

“I still have time.” I shrugged as I picked up another slice of bread to torture.

“Okay.” Mary-Anne picked up her unwieldly collection of keys off the kitchen counter with a clattering noise. Various useless keyrings like peace symbols and weed leaves. Cool aunt persona mastered. “Shouldn’t you be out with your friends? It’s a weekend.” She clapped the keys in her hands.

She almost sounded hurt, like I wasn’t fitting into the fantasy she had for a kid my age. Frolicking through piles of maple leaves, and having water fights with the local street urchins. Taking breaks in between licking giant circular lollipops. Braiding my hair.

Maybe her childhood was on rainbow falls, but mine fell somewhere a lot darker on the map and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Who says my friends won’t all be in the library?” They wouldn’t be. Paul was at basketball practice and Wendy was probably at a salon somewhere getting her nails ‘did’.

“Okay sure, I can take the long way to work and drop you off on the way I guess, then pick you up on my break.”

“I was planning on staying late; I’ll just get a ride or catch a cab or something.”

“How late?”

“As long as it takes, I don’t know. Are you gonna take me or not?”

“Fine.” She rolled her eyes.

“Thanks,” I said in my most chipper getting-my-way voice.

When we left the house, it was still early afternoon; I’d slept until about twelve, which was odd. I usually didn’t need much sleep, but these dreams seemed to leave me feeling drained and sluggish. The sun was hanging lazily in the sky and the birds saw fit to fill the silence of Turtle Rock with incessant happy chirping.

Most people here didn’t stay in on the weekends, so the place was deserted. Although, the sound of sprinklers hissing persisted. They were probably all out on the beach with their jet skis making lots of noise and having too much fun.

We lived on the tip of a little cul-de-sac called Whitewater, probably the least fairy-tale sounding name in the area. It had a mini garden in the center of what was supposed to be a roundabout, but was a tad too small.

It also didn’t help that my boyfriend had left huge divots in it with his daddy’s monster truck. I suppose it was a blessing he didn’t just plow right over it. But it left more than enough room to allow whatever bike or hybrid running shoe the neighbors were packing; not my boyfriend’s dad’s gas guzzling monstrosity.

The place was a little too metropolitan to have front lawns opting more for the European- chalet feel. Little neatly formed shrubberies and trees sticking out of perfectly shaped garden strips, hemmed in by the bricked driveways. Their mail boxes all nicely shaded by God knows what trees. I’m a tree surgeon.

The houses all looked similar. The same matchstick-wood with sandy-colored tiles matching the tone almost perfectly. They looked almost like unpainted monopoly houses in their uniformity.

Little balconies on top for relaxing, two car garages that seemed to take up most of the space in the house.

Aunt Mary-Anne opened the garage and drove her little roller-skate car out of the needlessly huge garage. She’d seen fit to fill it with useless knickknacks, a foosball table on it’s side we never used, and some piece of ethnic art she’d picked up in a flea market downtown.

The car was so small it was basically a motorized rickshaw. Complaining would be pointless, and eat up too much air in the car. I was getting a free ride after all. A chance I sorely needed to get a leg up on whoever was lurking in the shadows of the internet, so interested in little old me.

I opened the door with care, afraid I’d break it, and settled in the front passenger seat, sans legroom. Still, no complaints uttered.

My aunt started the engine and the dull hum of the electric motor made my fillings ache.

The tiny car sputtered along like a milk float down the end of the drive, and we turned right on Sweetwater. A left onto Sycamore Creek, then another left and a straight shot onto Turtle Rock Drive.

I couldn’t help but notice how much the neighborhood looked like a cult compound from the outside. Trees planted like it was a model of some Swedish fishing village, and the grass cut so fine it looked like it was just papier-mâché painted green.

We drove for what felt like miles of neatly topiaried bushes, pointing up at the bright clear pale blue sky. Were there any clouds in Orange County?

I couldn’t bear to look at their near perfection anymore, instead choosing to just follow the bumps of the dry dusty hills on the other side, reminding us all that in fact we live in a giant desert.

I opened my window, because of course, the a/c was broken in the boxy excuse for a car— lucky the window still worked. I poked my head out for some fresh air, taking in the smell of chlorine as we passed a walled off little compound. The tops of a slide poked over the high walls. Probably owned by some cartel money man that liked quiet Swedish fishing villages and indoor pools.

After about a minute of watching the shadows of palm trees slide over the almost non-existent crumple zone of the car, we pulled into the flat patch of concrete that made up the campus parking lot. It was nice and empty since it wasn’t a school day. Every other day, it was filled with little European cars fighting for elbow room with beaten up American muscle monsters.

Despite all the space, my aunt parked at a jaunty angle, trying to take up three spaces LARPing as a real cop who didn’t ride a bike with a cute little bell.

Getting out, I rounded the car to peck her on the cheek, narrowly missing her pair of fake DG sunglasses. I planted a bird-like peck on her freckled, sun-kissed cheek.

“Don’t work too hard,” she called as I walked into the shade of the foyer.

“I won’t, thanks for the ride!” I waved through the glare of the sun, covering my eyes with my forearm.

The halls were empty and pleasantly cool, like some underground catacomb, sending shivers up my arms, making each mousey hair stand up. The school’s color was almost everywhere. Blue, for those of short memories. Go Trojans. The blue horsehead was our team’s mascot.

I found myself almost marching to the library, past the banks of lockers and the sullen empty classrooms. My feet screeched out a coffin din on the polished linoleum. For some odd reason it popped in my head that I completely forgot to pick up those flyers. I blamed the headless bodies.

Really, it’s no excuse to lose your own head Diana.

Stopped at my locker out of habit alone, opening it and looking at the half-deflated volleyball on the top shelf. Why hadn’t I thrown it away?

Picked up a pad and pen—I might want to take notes, but I doubted it. Anything I learned, I’d remember vividly and probably wouldn’t want to leave evidence of lying around for my aunt to get an opportunity to meet the real me.

The library was quaint, very homey. A leather couch in the center and hexagonal tables, surrounded by wooden chairs with gray cushions. Giving it the ‘hip eclectic google office space’ look they were going for, without resorting to bean bag chairs, haki saks, or the smell of hemp oil and overpriced coffee.

There was a woman working the desk, who occasionally glanced up from her copy of Fifty Shades Blacker, as she heard the squeaking of shoe rubber.

The place was relatively antiquated despite the hipster aesthetic, but it’d served me well enough in the past. The books were old and tiresome; really aimed at a younger age range. The décor was much the same, lots of bright colors and team banners hanging from the ceiling.

There were only eight computers in the whole place in a tight row with small wooden partitions between them.

Lucky I only needed one.

The library was almost deserted, with it being Saturday and all. The ‘cool kids’ were probably all off playing volleyball on the beach, or posing for obnoxious calendars and saying ‘brah’ and ‘dude’ a lot. There was one Asian kid, who probably kept his backpack on even in the shower sitting at one of the computers, playing starcraft 2.

What was I doing here?

What was I doing here? Surely not to learn any more than I could at home without the safety filter.

No, I wasn’t expecting miracles, but I was expecting some form of order and silence I couldn’t find at home. There was something peaceful about being almost surrounded by people who were compelled into silence. Like being in a monastery.

The library got my juices flowing, like only a Zen garden could. The cool bitter un-awkward raw silence punctuated only by slight coughs behind hands; maybe a sneeze or slurp from a soda can, or a loud conversation in Mandarin, which I found soothing.

I needed to clear my head and be alone, but I needed the anonymity of a near crowd, to slip beneath a steady ebb of near silent chatter. Like white noise. A slow rumbling murmur of foot screeching and nose wiping that was just right.

Something about it cleared my head and allowed things that seemed obtuse to fall into place.

Let all those wasps under the lampshade calm down so I could see things clearly.

Mainly I just needed to get out of the house and that sink of time and effort that was my ever growing landfill of a bedroom. Who could really think clearly with all that clutter?

Using Wendy’s password; I logged on. The girl talked a lot, and I liked to let people who like to talk do their thing. Good listener, and all that.

‘Smoochie,’ the name of her annoying little dog she’d have buried with her if she could, in that obnoxious little carry purse and all.

There was no real worry of being caught looking at anything untoward. No one here seemed interested in my affairs. It just made me feel sly and quick and shaded. Covered, calm, invisible.

In the first search engine convenient, I did something very narcissistic. Googled my own name, ‘Diana Harrison’.

Nothing really about me, I kept a very neat internet footprint. The only thing that came up was old newspaper articles about the car accident that’d killed my parents. Some drunk driver on the wrong side of the road, driving a refrigerated truck full of cow halves.

It didn’t really say much, and the pictures of us together were alien to me; the originals long-shoved in a cardboard box in a storage unit somewhere.

My aunt and I weren’t the nostalgic type. One of the few traits in common we shared.

I typed their names in separately, Derek and Ronda Harrison. Nothing, just an endless stream of LinkedIn profiles and social media nonsense that had nothing to do with them. It was almost comforting; they were as lost in the crowd as I was. Swallowed up by the world like they never existed.

I Googled the Headhunter murders again, narrowing my search this time. Any record of this outing would be traced back to an actual murderer, my ‘bestie,’ the immutable Wendy Vargas. Did I actually want her to get caught? Did I really have any sense of justice? The idea faded as my results populated. It was mostly more of the same stuff, a few more details. They didn’t mention if the heads were found, a detail it would make sense to put right at the top.

The police had a made a statement already, and of course, they believed the heads were removed by the cartel to hamper identification of the bodies.

In that case why not remove the hands too? Were they illegals?

Maybe their prints weren’t on file. Then why hide their identities at all? Surely their dental records wouldn’t be on file if they were illegals.

Idenifications had only been made on two bodies, both citizens. One guy named Benjamin Barrow had done some time in juvie for stealing medical supplies from a free clinic. His prints were on file. The other, Hector Viejas, was another juvie bird. He’d gotten a few months for a Breaking and Entering, only because he didn’t steal anything.

The others must’ve had clean records.

How nice for them.

Juvie records were usually sealed, but since they were dead they couldn’t mind if I took a little back door peak. Stating I was good with computers was an understatement. We weren’t in DC; the school’s firewall wasn’t fort Knox. If I got busted, Wendy’s sheer charm and obliviousness would get her a slap on the wrist. Far less than she most likely deserved.

The bodies were all male but one, all similar heights, but that was it, nothing else linked them. Different ages, hair colors, ethnicities, jobs, sexes.

Why would height be significant? If only I could see a medical examiners report. I should take note of that for future career paths. Why couldn’t I use my ‘Leet’ hacker ‘skillz’ to find that out?

A juvie record was one thing, but a Medical Examiner’s report was a bit out of my scope. Getting caught with that would warrant a little more than a slap on the wrist. What good would it do me anyway, one season of CSI an expert, it does not make me. I probably couldn’t make heads or tails of the real thing.

That was it, all I’d gleamed from the official statement and the victims’ names; I still had nothing. To anyone else, this would scream random. But…a bad little birdy had told me it was the exact opposite.

If only I had something I could use, something that would tell me how they’d died. If it was cartel, maybe it was all done at the same time, or maybe there was some guy living in Huntington Beach with a freezer full of heads. Maybe he was making a necklace of ears and pukka shells.

A loud yawn rolled into an even louder sigh. Loud enough to break through the quiet din of the K-pop playing in the Beats sitting next to me, feeling stupid despite my Russian hacker ‘skillz’. I shoved my chair backwards, planning to pace and drink soda.

Decided to get a can of Mountain Dew from the vending machine in the hall and locked eyes with a particularly mean-looking prawn cocktail sandwich in the adjacent vending machine. I could swear I felt a flutter, some murderous intent, leathery wings, maybe. Attack of the killer sandwich.

Reseated in my little cubby with my soda, I took tactical slurps feeling no more enlightened than before but very comfortable. Just sipping the syrupy mixture of liquid carbs, and trying to imagine the heads bobbing in the black water.

It was ridiculous; I was playing games, driving some narcissistic fantasy. The heads were probably in the belly of a great white or getting balanced on the nose of Flipper. Maybe some fisherman caught the whole bunch with a school of grouper.

Then why couldn’t I stop thinking about them? I didn’t even know what the other three looked like.

Having worked myself into an almost trance-like state with the slurping and morbid introspection I felt almost feint as the spell was broken by an odd tone from the gray box in front of me.

A message beeped from the internal email server. I glanced at Mr. K-pop; he was very much engaged in a game of Dota2. There were only the exchange students and a few others milling about on their phones.

The email was some sort of video message. I’d learned my lesson about this sort of thing long ago, turns out ISIS videos on Liveleak could get pretty loud. So I dug out some headphones from my purse. A rush of blood made my pulse thunder as electric static started filling my ears, dancing on the hair around my head.

My mouth filled with liquid and I swallowed hot gobs. Why was I having some Pavlovian response? Was someone playing a dinner bell?

My hand hovered over the mouse, fingers tiptoed lightly like devils dancing. How could anyone know I was here? Why would they care? Why here?

One click would reveal all. It was indeed some sort of short video, the thumbnail showing what looked like a gray concrete floor in a poorly lit room.

Something deep inside was sending blood to all the places that ran hot. My heart was pounding like a steel drum and I was almost panting,  my lungs heaving, warming against the beat of the air conditioning.

A whisper of something, a shrill hiss and a mocking ephemeral laughter.

Trembling digits hit play by accident. The camera was a dead weight pointed at the floor, and there was no sound but I kept the headphones in anyway. Something about it made the moment seem private, as if beamed directly into my head. Creating a sanctified bubble.

Someone out of shot repositioned the camera, and angled it low at a row of things that were hard to make out in the dark.

There was a heartbeat of a pause, and more light, revealing what the row of things was in such theatrical splendor it sent shivers to my fingertips almost shooting sparks and a lot more spittle into my mouth.

My eyes started to water, I didn’t want to close them. Inside, there was the rapturous flutter of dark wings, of black feathers falling from the sky and burning right in front of me.

Of the future and the past crashing together and bringing forth Ragnarok. The drums of war and love and all things fair.

Knees.

I could hardly believe it. A row of perfectly lined knees on the concrete floors. Two pairs of Jeans, a set of cargo shorts, a set of chinos, and a skirt lined up kneeling, with their hands tied behind their backs.

The camera panned up again and I could see them, five of them lined up kneeling. Still and quiet like chickens in a battery farm with the lights off. Facing the camera with dark hoods over their heads.

Only slight twitching and harsh rasping breathing translated into a spasmodic shaking.

The hoods sucked in and out faster and faster.

I wished I could hear them.

Wait, what was this? What was I watching?

This can’t be real, this has to be a joke, a prank.

There was someone filming wasn’t there? I had to be on America’s Funniest Serial Killers. Maybe a really fucked up version of Jersey Shore.

The headphones came out and I paused the video like I’d been caught watching porn. I wanted to stand up and shout. Look around the room and toss people out of their seats like I was in some Wes Craven movie. Taking a breath, I calmly, mechanically, put the buds back in my ears.

A chorus of dark angels sang in my ears; sending black harp music to my bitter heart, telling me this was too good to be true.

The cameraman stepped into shot, but never turned. He had some sort of white silk sack on his head. There was no doubt in my mind it was indeed a ‘He’. He was broad and filled his dark long sleeve shirt with what might be described as ‘Prison muscle’.

He approached the row of people almost too slowly. Like he was walking through water, taking all the time in the world, soaking in it.

Their fear built silently.

Maybe it was me; maybe I was just watching it in slow motion.

Counting the seconds as he walked toward them, the epitome of nonchalance.

Despite the no-sound, I could almost hear his cargo pants making rustling noises as he breezed behind the kneeling figures. He was wearing a slim fitting long-sleeved shirt with buttons around the neck, revealing only a tiny sliver of tanned white flesh.

He started from right to left.

That was exactly how I would do it. The thought graced my brain. I almost coughed; a tickly feeling in my chest.

I looked over at K-pop; he was still fighting some sort of gargoyle, laying down buffs like a man possessed, and seemed to be in a state of deep concentration.

The man on the video rounded the five, cool and calm.

I could almost feel his easy smile, even though his eyes were shaded by the mask. Somehow, instinct told me he was looking right at me.

The girl was on the far right—ladies first after all. What a gentleman.

He took her hood off fast, and she gasped as if she was yanked out of the ocean. The bag’s drawstrings had been pulled tight, obviously to keep them docile.

She opened her eyes, wide and terrified, her face flushed pink. She was youngish, probably mid-thirties, pale complexion with egg yolk-yellow hair. Her face was dumpy, sort of square. She had a boxy firm figure. Like an ugly German barmaid working in a death camp cantina, slinging bratwurst with her fat arms to the camp guards. Her sullen downturned eyes wore a delicious ‘why me?’ expression.

He must’ve been eating it up.

She tried to turn her head and look at him but he took hold and kept it straight. Kept her looking at the camera. Her eyes were so wide and wet, I could see them shake in her head. Bulging out of her skull.

He showed her the knife, as if by magic it appeared and he ran it through the small window of her vision he’d allowed, all nine or ten inches of it to pass her by.

Big boy.

As the blade crept over her line of sight, you could see her hope slipping away.

She sagged onto her knees like she was melting or pretending to pass out.

But he had her by the nape of the neck, then yanked her up by her hair and made her look.

Her eyes lolled into her head like a dolls eyes and she stared at the camera long and hard. She blubbered, spittle dribbling down her chin. Looked as if she tried to cry, but couldn’t, her doughy face scrunching up and turning red.

He let her go, and stepped out of frame. The camera zoomed in on the woman, who tried to look straight. Her terrified eyes still watching him, never taking them off him. She screamed a hoarse silent scream all the veins raised on her neck. She could feel it coming, the inevitability, the pointlessness of fighting the coming waves. The rising tide of visceral impending release, like falling. Like a comet plummeting to earth.

She saw it.

In an instant, the time it took for a camera lens to close and open again, her head was loped off with a perfect downward strike.

He stepped in and stepped out again, and her head tumbled to the ground. There was no dramatic geyser of blood, no brutal Jihadi-style sawing, just one clean, perfect, cut.

One minute her head was there, then it was gone, shazam.

It was beautiful, perfect, like something from an old Samurai movie. A singular moment distilled into one swift action. It wasn’t the cold completion of an execution, or the dull satisfaction of a cattle culling. It was the loving kiss from a happy thankful knife turning dirty wet flesh into pure and simple doll parts.

There was something so… right, about it, so poetic, short and sweet, like a Haiku in blood.

Her body fell backward and he walked behind the camera again. His hand came into shot. He held perfectly cut blonde hair he’d separated in his gloved hand, and blew it away like the petals of a dandelion.

And that was it.

What a tease.