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Diana After Dark Chapter 17 ‘Waltz me to the grave’

Ok so I’m kinda cheating today because I didn’t have time to proofread the next chapter for Cur despite promising one a week. But I’m going away for a bit and I’ve been busy packing and getting a haircut and waiting on hold with the bank all day so I haven’t had time. But I should have one out next week possibly and then I’ll be gone for a week and after that it’s back to normal for a hell of a long time haha.

Not much to comment on today, didn’t really bitch about the witcher because I’ve said all I have to say really. It’s uninspired and sort of boring with it’s good sections but there’s not really enough there to hold my interest.

On the other hand I started the next Parker book and was a little disappointed when this one again started with the heist. I like the planning and the build up. But it has this really cool element where he’s trying to hide the money and himself in an abandoned amusement park closed up for the winter from a bunch of dirty cops who want his heist money.

So it’s setting up to be like a lethal version of home alone and I really like it. So instead of having the heist set up you have like a siege set up which is just as fun.

It should be a good romp, didn’t have any time to read it today but I’ll find some time.

In the mean time you can read this chapter, ok well it’s not a chapter of Diana in the Dark, more of an epilogue. And yes I realise I use those titles interchangeably.

But yeah gotta do other things.

See you…

Epilogue Waltz me to the grave

“Oh Paul, oh Paul” I said pretending to weep as they lowered the coffin into the ground.

As fate would have it this was the first funeral I’d ever been to, although I sincerely doubted it would be my last. I actually kind of like it, there was a comfort in the routine of it, the ceremony was soothing. Everyone gathered together to think the nicest possible thoughts of the dearly departed wearing their nicest clothes. There was solemn dignity and lots of tears real or otherwise.

But it was a lovely service, flowers, tearful speeches from people I barely knew and the promise of cake in the near future.

“Oh Paul” I wept again into a balsam tissue.

“Shhh” he said as he patted my head, resting it on his shoulder.

Thankfully he remembered very little of our little midnight drive into the middle of nowhere. A combination of all the blows to the head and a cocktail of drugs concocted by my dear brother. My dear brother who was not yet dearly departed but still on the run. From what I couldn’t say because as far as the Orange County PD were concerned Antoine Ruez was and forever will be the Huntington Beach Headsman. A title far above his station. And as far as my brother had any say in it, Ruez would never be found and the myth, the meme, could live on forever. The evil slasher come to life to terrorize a group of innocent teens on prom night.

There was something about that the normies liked, a divine ritual fulfilled. Like Hollywood had been setting them up for this very occurrence and been vindicated in the best possible way. Slipped right in place into their cultural consciousness like it was another Friday night.

I continued to pretend to cry, just making the noise of crying and covering my face, constantly batting away fake tears, no one was watching.

“You need another tissue?” My Au-Sister Mary Anne said pulling a fresh pack out of her purse and giving me a tight restrained smile. I think we settled on my just calling her my Aunt, Aunt-sister was a bit of a mouthful and calling her by her name just felt weird. Plus I really didn’t want to get bogged down in explaining to people that she wasn’t actually my aunt. But in fact my estranged half-sister pretending to be my aunt because we watched our real aunt butchered before our eyes. And then put on display like a hunting trophy by our brother. That all seemed best tucked away for a rainy day.

“Thanks” I said as I took the tissues smiling a nice fake smile, far better than my Brother’s. My estimation of how deep the knife penetrated my aunt’s side was off by a wide margin. I would have assumed he didn’t want to kill her but necessity for his own life had forced him to act. Similarly the shot being off centre, it would have been nice to think she extended him the same courtesy but that might have been a stretch since she mostly carried really strong pepper spray giving out tickets in cycle shorts. Never the less her arm was in a fashionable sling or some reason. I never understood why they did that in movies, he didn’t stab her in the arm.

A sudden prodding feeling roused me from my daydream and I looked over at the grave and the nice picture they had over it. It was the one of the several taken at her sweet sixteen. Wendy did look nice in that one, so full of life. Who would suspect her of anything worse than forgetting to floss? That feeling again, like someone walking over my grave, someone drilling little hot holes in the back of my head.

I looked around at the crowd of her fake friends, the rest of the cheerleading squad, her many exes the last not withstanding and me, her best friend and then I saw her. She was hard to miss now that I noticed her. Dressed as she was in correctional facility orange chained to two cops looking up from the grave to send me icy daggers. Her hair long and greasy looking made curtains of a plain white flat unmade face. Prison make-unders are a real thing. What did they have against makeup in prison? It’s not like eyeliner was against the law. Conditioner even.

Wendy’s mother, the one currently on trial for the murder of her husband. Looking right at me. Not around, not past me but through me. Singled out.

She knew.

I could see it in her face.

I don’t know how she knew but I’d find out, when that happy vicious moon was smiling high in the sky again, D and I would ask nicely.

Waltz me to the grave

Diana After Dark Chapter 16 ‘Dark Descendants’

Yoyoyo- and that’s enough of that.
Gonna keep this one terse because I want to get right into more proofreading and editing, had a bit of a weird week. I dunno, I finally got all my day job work stuff and Diana editing out of the way and then I sat down to write Cur and I was just fucking braindead haha. Isn’t that always the way, fucking sods law. 

I dunno, I just felt sort of tired and run down and it was like getting blood out of a stone, nothing like the first week. Writing is weird like that, it’s like the weather, there are good days (in this case weeks) and bad. But I had to write something so I stayed the course telling myself that today I would fix all the lazy bullshit haha. I met a nice quota just barely hammering out the plot. I made a few hotfixes I think help the story a long and I’m feeling my villain. I’m worried he might be more sympathetic than my hero now but that might be exactly what I want haha.

So I’m gonna keep on trucking with that, I just sent out my mailing list newsletter with the freebies so that should find it’s way to you if you’re reading this. I meant to send it out last week but I was busy and it just fell out of my head, better late than never though. No updates really beside that I watched war for the planet of the apes and it really rustled me so I might do a review on that just to get it out haha.

That’s about all.

See you…

I just sat there for a moment looking down at it, turning it in my hand, getting a feel for the weight. The weight of his words swishing around in my head. I didn’t have to ask if they were true, it just made some sort of insane sense, a puzzle piece falling into place, this was what I waiting for.

“What do I do?”

“Whatever you want.” He smiled.

A lapping feeling of dark waves pouring over me, covering me, feet first. It was like a dream, like a wish. A whole dark world opened up before me, welcoming me in like some returning hero from long exile. I was home, whatever that meant. I went from a sad emo only child with a serial killer blog to Dark Diana mistress of the damned with not one but two siblings of the night at her side, more or less.

“Oh yeah” He said suddenly raising to a mid-crouch, the ceiling being far too low for his stature. He leaned over Wendy and opened each eye and then gave her a few little love taps to bring her just to the brink of consciousness. “I gave them just a little more than you to keep them under. I didn’t know whether you wanted them to talk, sometimes I like them to talk, confess, scream, spit.” He paused and looked down at her like she was Christmas ham and then looked back up at me and smiled that plastic smile. “It seems necessary sometimes but it’s up to you. I think she’s passed a confession at this point.”

“I know all I need to.” I said stonily.

“I figured as much.” He smirked.

Wendy’s head rolled back and forth and her eyes fluttered open and she looked around confused. Unable to move her head as it was pinned with plastic wrap across her forehead. She saw me and her eyes got hot and spicy, I could almost see blood squirting out of them.

I could feel it then, my heart pounding, the dark dancer gripping the knife, moving my hand, my feet moving on their own, letting go, letting it take me as it purred incessantly in my ears. I stood like someone yanked my strings and glided over by her side and looked down at her. She was beautiful, a perfect specimen really, it was a shame. A beautiful tragedy.

She was my friend, kind of. That’s what made it special I guess, the setting, the night, the company. She looked up at me with wide terrified eyes now, she saw the knife, she could feel the squashing pressure of it now. The helplessness, the hopelessness. The cornered animal anger leaving and being replaced with a dreadful solipsism. She could feel it now, see it in my empty eyes, she knew she was about to be swallowed, there was no other way. Not a muscle she could move, not a penny she could spend, not an eyelid she could flutter. Nothing would spare her this, this was fate, this was the end, her end and it was as beautiful and poetic one as I could ever hope to see.

Only one question savaged me; Where to start?

For the rest of the chapter and to read the others head on over to inkitt.
Dark Descendants

 

Diana After Dark Chapter 15 ‘The Build up’

Well here we are again, 

I’m gonna keep this brief because I woke up with a splitting eye strain headache and I’m so fucking close to finishing the chapter break down of the first of my fantasy books of which the title is fluxuating. I wanted to call them ‘Cur’ and the titular character as an homage to the character he’s based on, namely the Kurgan from highlander. 

But I was thinking because ‘the Kurgan’ isn’t actually his name, it’s his tribe and his name is never actually stated in the movie I might do a better homage just to call the book and the character by his dead tribe; ‘The Firbolg’. I’m just not so sure it has the same ring to it as the Kurgan.

It might just be me adding the extra meaning and when I write this, the name Firbolg will be steeped in meaning. I dunno, gonna have to think about it, test how it feels but right now it seems more organic than calling him ‘Cur’ since Cur was sort of the start of this project but it’s evolved so much from there I don’t see why the title should be immune from that evolution.

Also not a big fan of subtitles but I hate messy unconnected titles like the witcher, I can’t really decide. I might just call the first book ‘The Firbolg’ or ‘Firbolg – Blood and Soil’ or soil and blood, in reference to the meaning of their name and the legend of them bringing sacks of dirt over to ireland.

Still playing around with it, still storyboarding, still researching and I need to get back to it, planning to start this bad boy friday at the latest. Kinda feel like I should sacrifice a goat or something haha.

Am I worthy? Haha. I dunno, I guess I just have to get over that and get stuck in, if I doubt myself now I may never start and just get bogged down trying to make it perfect and never get anywhere.

See you…

Outside the air was hot, a tropical wind blowing a hair dryer in my face. Wendy’s caked make up melting like a wax mask off my face. Sirens in the distance creeping over the shoreline, a sudden feeling of impending brain fart looming.

What could I do except throw myself on the mercy of a barrage of police questions with only my cute girl routine to fall back on. ‘It wasn’t me Mr scary police man, it was the one armed man’. I don’t know what disgusted me more; the thought that I would actually have to resort to that or that it might actually work. Well good looks don’t last forever.

My number one priority right now was finding my aunt/sister and boyfriend and getting as far the hell away from here as possible. With Wendy more or less dealt with that only left her little commandment breaking brother, Denny. Although I struggled to think which if not all the commandments he’d broken, surely he didn’t honour his father nor his mother. Incest and drug taking were apparently just a given.

I thought it would be pretty slick to escape out of the back fire door since doubling back through the main hall might run me back into Wendy’s path. Considering she wasn’t buried under a tonne of chipboard, which seemed a likely resting place for the wicked witch of the west coast. Or even worse; an awkward conversation with my aunt/sister over a dead cop. Also I couldn’t pretend to hope Denny hadn’t heard the shots. Or for that matter seen the waves of startled human cattle stampeding into the parking lot and disappearing into the night.

It was a good bet that he thought he was well on his way to enacting some kind of bloody revenge on my hapless aunt/sister at home. For of course ruining what could have been a lovely evening for his demented sister and possible lover. Or option two he was waiting with his hand on a large knife or gun waiting for either me or his sister to come out. So they could then ship off to aspen in the middle of the night and blow Orange County a kiss from the slopes with new names and probably new noses.

This being in the front of my mind leaving through the rear exit was my best option. I opened the fire exit with a mechanical clunking noise followed by lots of banging and scraping and a distinct smell of week old garbage. The back of the lazer arcade was a tight and cluttered alley opening onto a strip mall behind the arcade. The sirens were getting louder, so if he was still there he’d have to be getting more nervous and trigger happy by the second.

I looked at down at myself, at the silly pink prom dress I was borrowing. What was it I was planning to do exactly? Teen movie him to death?

A grave scraping like death’s scythe in the dark around my feet sent icy shivers up my bare ankle. Followed by a bitter mocking chuckle from the dark back seat. I breathed out and reached down to pick up whatever the hell I’d almost tripped over. The moonlight lifting its lidded eyes a slant to shine down on this unholy implement. Ok it was just a pipe, some kind of gas pipe maybe, don’t ask me I’m not a plumber. All I knew is that it was heavy on one end with a gnarly looking gauge or something sticking out.

Clue it is.

Who did that make me? Miss Scarlett or Madame Peacock? Was there a pink clue character?

This will do nicely, the thing inside said not in so many words. It’s teeth bared behind its leathery wings sending a rush of blood through the tips of my fingers. Making me feel magnetized, electric, like I was sticking to the walls. Like I was Spiderman crawling unseen above everyone’s heads as I traced through the dark in my ridiculous pink dress- ruffles and all. Quietly, I worked my way along the side of the lazer arcade, back around to the front.

The alley leading onto the strip mall was cramped and smelled like old hamburger meat and was most likely filthy. But the darkness was kind to it and to me as well as I peeked around the side of the pastel coloured building at the now more or less vacant parking lot.

But for one stretch hummer.

The parking lot was pretty well lit but the moon had given me a few dark pools in which to wallow. There was a large billboard on wheels facing out towards the road and a few trucks dotted about. They probably belonged to the furniture store on the other side of the arcade.

With the pipe in hand I hiked up my skirt like lady Chatterley about to descend her carriage or walk over a puddle, skittering along the ground as low as possible. I came up behind the billboard and peeped out for a closer look.

There was no movement. Although the tinted glass and the inherent clash of the dark and the bright parking lot lights made it impossible to see inside. I smelled axel grease and looked down at my hands and dress to see that I was covered in it. Looking at the pipe, the obvious culprit making a silent yuck face and then slipping back into the dark mask.

My body was starting to feel loosely coiled, the feeling of letting go mashing against the rising tide of ultimate control. Dark powerful waves tossing tiny boats aside like they were in the bath tub of Cthulhu’s baby brother.

If you wanna read the rest, you know the drill.

The build up

 

 

 

 

 

Diana After Dark Chapter 14 ‘Two Way Street’

Herro seniors and seniorittas (I don’t care if that’s spelled right).

It’s been a very eventful week and by eventful I mean I did pretty much nothing but I feel good about it.

Yeah, well erm I didn’t do anything very constructive but the love life front magically out of nowhere seems to be wonderful again thankfully, like waking up from a bad dream almost. Or maybe it’s just a really good dream.

I watched Black Panther… and I fucking hated it haha. Well I was sort tossing between incredibly bored and just indifferent to it which translates to hate for me haha. If I don’t care about the story or characters and think the action is dull and uninspired with bad acting and storytelling and then think to myself; “Actually the early noughties fantastic 4 movies were pretty good” thats pretty bad to me haha. But I’ll probably do a more in depth review on it tomorrow.

As far as work is concerned (I mean real work not work work) I’ve been thinking about Cur the fantasy novel I’ve had on slow boil in my head and I think I finally cracked what I needed to get it off the ground in the old head oven, turn up the heat a little to a nice steady simmer haha. I was thinking about the witcher and the rich folklore it borrows from and I decided to go folklore shopping as you do and my babymama has always been a big fan of faeries and the fae and I thought that would be an interesting start.

So I started researching and I went through germanic and slavic folktales until I finally found my way to the celtic book of invasions and it just seemed to fit somehow. And on top of that it seemed fresh and good and it hasn’t been done before or at least done to death like the nordic and germanic folklore. 

I just started to look into it and it started to paint a picture in my head, to get back to the cooking analogy, it added a spice I was missing, it added a base to work from and it’s really coming together in my head and just thinking about it is really fun. Honestly pretty excited about it, I haven’t put much down on paper but it’s getting there in my head, momentum is building, I just need to keep working the steel a little.

Yeah a blacksmithing analogy is more manly than cooking, I should change to that haha. Can’t be bothered and go back and change my previous analogies, whatever.

Anyway I really like the way its going and I’m so glad that it’s stoking a fire in me just to stop me from rushing into another Diana book before it’s properly formed. The timing is  just too perfect and I’m really excited. Before I was a little hesitant because I didn’t really know what direction I wanted to take it in or have any real narrative, now I have too many ways to go and I’m loving it. I have my cool names, I have my cool location, I have my cool characters and I didn’t just pull it out of my ass.

It’s not going to be about faeries but it’s going to be about the world before faeries, it’s faeries the prequel with all the dark gritty stuff left in, culminating in the death of the gods and magic and the birth of faeries, which are this diminished forms of these old gods.

Anyway wasted enough time today, I need to do some spamming maybe and maybe some more proof reading I guess if I have time. Also I need to go over the Diana pitch another time for good measure and absorb more celtic folklore.

Gone back to the excerpt style just for a more bite size blog, so click the link to read the full devilishly delicious chapter on inkitt.

See you…

Two Way Street

~

Whatever the esoteric message of the photocopy meant I didn’t have enough time to make any sense of it. As a tight popping cracking noise of a microphone being tapped and tested and then a nasally voice filled the whole room.

“Folks, can I have your attention please.” Principle Maria Petro said. She stood looking over us from the balcony dressed a little like a character from the fifth element in a leopard print onesie? Cat suit? What are those called? Which actually fit with the neon space jungle theme. She was a short stodgy woman with a nest of badly dyed hair that looked a little like ramen noodles. She stood in what looked like a brightly lit star gate or arch, her hair done up as high as it would go. Thankfully it was high ceiling without any fans or low hanging lights. Her face a perfect mask of confidence and years of stored up aggression from dealing with the most spoiled kids on earth. All the make up in the world couldn’t cover up those frown lines. “Ahem Good evening everybody, I hope you’re all having a great time.” Paused for effect. Looking down at her subjects expecting an answer or maybe an uproarious applause. She cleared her throat and continued on without it. “It’s my pleasure to announce this year’s senior prom queen and king.”

I made my way back over to Paul, strategically elbowing people in their solar plexuses. Solar plexi? Swimming through the crowd, only spilling about half the contents of each cup on other people’s rented shoes. I handed him one. “Thanks”. He smiled for a moment and then stood bolt upright and his eyes got a little wider.

“What is it?” I asked.

“Err”.

“Don’t say shit” A coiled voice hissed.

“Wendy?”

“No it’s the fucking tooth fairy”

“What are you?” Paul asked looking over his shoulder keeping his neck stiff.

Wendy moved out his large shadow and poked him in the side with that deadly DG purse, her hand inside it. I imagined not clasped around her lip gloss. Her hair was coming undone, rogue strands now sticking in places to her patchy fake tan, running from the sweat. “Brodie stood me up” She said shooting me a glare like it was my fault. “They’re about to announce it now and the queen needs a king comprende?” She spat through her expensive bridgework. “So I’m just gonna borrow yours, you got a problem with that?”

“Err-“ I said eloquent and loquacious as ever.

“It’s ok, it’s cool.” Paul said as he tried his best not to look as stiff as Frankenstein’s monster with a hand up his ass.

“Walk” She said still looking at me.

He resisted the urge to raise his hands like a hostage and started to pad slowly towards the stage stairs.

There was no direct access to the stage. Wendy poked him through a set of stage doors and they disappeared hopefully to reappear on the other side of the star gate in one piece. But there was an awfully long pause and silence that followed.

“I’m happy to announce” Principle Pietro unsealed a sparkly envelope, very glamorous. She unsheathed a gold piece of card. “This years prom king and queen are-“ A sudden interruption, a dull pop and then another and then a shrill scream.

The room froze trying to recognise the sound.

Wendy burst out onto the stage the small pistol in her hand. A ruby red stream of blood flowing from a broken nose but no Paul to be seen.

“Gimme that!” she said as she snatched the studded prom queen tiara from Principle Pietro’s hand shoving her out of the way. She tried to pin it to her head with gun still in her hand. Once it was level she scanned the room of all the faces still frozen in stunned silence. Her existence now a morbid curiosity, a downward spiral, a car crash happening in slow motion and then she saw me looking up at her. The part of me that was really me wondering if Paul was still alive, the other part that was distinctly darker and couldn’t keep the smirk off my face. Here I was, a peasant in the crowd watching a debutante fall face first in the mud and I couldn’t stop the muscles in my face tensing into something like a smile.

“Fucking bitch this is all your fault!” She screamed and started firing wildly into the crowd I happened to be mingled in. The tiara drooping down and getting tangled in her hair as she cried.

Luckily at this range that little gun was about as deadly as a spud gun and there was just far too much confusion to hit anyone in particular. The crowd predictably woke from their frozen morbidity. Erupting into a flurry of fight or flight lizard brain comprehension. Stampeding towards the nearest exit. Climbing all over each other so as not to become the lucky recipient of a nine millimetre kiss blown from a killer queen.

My first instinct unlike that of a mere prey species was not to fight or to flight but to hide and wait and watch and see. I told myself I couldn’t leave without knowing what happened to Paul. He wouldn’t abandon me and I couldn’t let my mask slip off completely without at least trying to save it. What kind of girlfriend would I be if I just ran and melted into the maddening crowd of lurching farm animals and left him to bleed to death?

The exits were currently expurgating a constant stream of furious humanity. The true meaning of an ancient roman vomitorium now fully realized. Another fortuitous exit was marked out for me with a sign above the alcove that read “The glow zone”.

I broke from the herd and darted for the exit looking up to make sure she noticed I was distinct from the throng. She cursed in spanish and fired a warning shot over the bow of the balcony missing and chipping the horsehead ice sculptor, “Go Trojans”.

 

 

Diana After Dark Chapter 13 ‘Daddy’s Little Darlings’

How do fine folk?

It’s your boi… *tries to think of a witty rap name and fails*

Err moving on. So yeah erm did a story about a clown samurai, that’s a thing, it was fun to write but it’s essentially a cool kung fu movie you can’t literally see with your eyes so that’s that I guess haha. Gotta get those old noggins joggin’ my dudes. I still think it’s bette than the first witcher book because it at least has the thread of a narrative running through it.
I will continue to rag on the first witcher book despite how excellent I think it’s written ad probably the reason I am shitting on it out of pure jealousy haha. It’s really effortlessly well written, it’s irritating haha. But yeah I thought back to even the witcher game and I was thinking there isn’t really a story here either. I mean it’s basically like this book, a series of vignettes, little fun well written stories that ultimately go nowhere but in the game those stories are loosely knitted together with the bread crumbs left behind by Ciri. So it’s less of a story and more of a Mario princess hunt.
Not begrudging it at all, I loved that game, I plan on playing the others. I mean I played 3 the popular on now I’m gonna play 2 the less popular one haha. But videogame stories are basically just there to get you from point a to point b and to make you forget you’re playing a videogame which some do really well and sometimes the skill in games is getting the story out of the way to let the player make his own story and those are games I think have a better grasp of what a game is.
I kind of always wanted to write stories for videogames but then as I played more and more games I realised that story in videogames is really just a means and not an end in itself and really story unless it’s really really good like last of us or something just tends to get in the way and hinder gameplay more than it helps it. That’s why I find myself drawn to games with only peripheral or no stories whatsoever like FarCry2 and Elite Dangerous, where the fun is found in the gameplay and exploring and making your own stories.

Anyway, back to 3 ring, so I’ve almost finished the first part, probably would have finished it earlier if I wasn’t struck down for two days by the spiciest vindaloo I’ve ever eaten *conjures feelings of the acidic alien blood*. What I tried to do with the first part is to have some fun with it and introduce Pookie as a character and have a good solid set of action set pieces with interesting villains all the while subtly lacing in an overarching story and some of the world building without it being too hamfisted.

Literally trying to do what the witcher is doing essentially haha. I want to create a story like a tv show, where you have these interconnected stories in relation to the overarching plot that carries them forward. I think due to the structure I had planned I could have rewritten it and shortened it to a book or a couple of books but I think I’m too lazy for that and I’m better maybe trying something new and just having it as a series of episodic novelettes.

I think it turned out ok, maybe a little too tongue in cheek but the witcher’s style and mine are pretty different. It has some humor but very different from my own. I am enjoying it but it’s a slog as to is the game I’m currently reviewing which should make for some cathartic savagery for tomorrow haha.

So today, I’m gonna keep plugging away with the edits for Diana After Dark, maybe do a bit of spamming and this time next week I should be back on facebook and my next newsletter is scheduled for the first with more free copies of TOTCB flying out to all of my subs which surprisingly were quite a bit the last couple of weeks.

Not much else is up except I’m watching the new season of Bosch trying to get my detective story juices flowing for Diana 2. I want to start that next but I really need to psych myself for that I think.

Anyway, enough time wasted.

See you…

Daddy’s little darlings

~

Darkness, and then an eye opens, I open my eyes and he’s there.

“Come on &&^%^$(*()*&

I wanna show you something”

A little boy with a bowl cut hairstyle is leading me down a tight white hallway.

There’s a door, he wants me to go through.

What’s on the other side?

The door is huge I can barely reach the handle, it’s turning red, the door, it’s melting. What’s in there?

“A surprise

I did it for you”

Shapes start to appear in the red goo the door is turning into. A face is pushing through the malleable door.

It’s my face, it’s a mirror.

A sudden jolting and my face hits something hard and flat and I’m thrust back into the land of the living rather unceremoniously.

My head hurts, I’m still seeing spots, but that’s all I see, there’s something over my eyes. I can almost feel all the veins in my neck, my brain feels like someone slam dunked it through a stained glass window.

I can feel something wet and warm on my face, getting colder, shit, blood, it has to be blood. “I’m bleeding” I cry out to the dark to no one in particular.

“Relax” A woman’s voice says “It’s just drool- you can wipe it off when we get there”

“Get where?” I ask stupidly.

“Prom, of course” Wendy said.

I try to move but my hands are strapped with ties to something at my side and I can’t move them. But I can feel the car plaining over wet roads, feel it turning, stopping, we’re moving.

“Don’t move, don’t be dumb” Her voice was tight, stern with a bitter frosty bite. “Don’t bother screaming, we’ll just crank the radio up, the windows are tinted no one can see us in here.” She said with a cool commanding calm in her voice.

“Wendy, what’s going on?”

She laughed and said “What’s going on? We’re going to prom, didn’t I just say that?” The car slowly ground to a halt and I heard the driver get out of the car. “Just gotta make a little stop along the way”

“Wendy I-“

“I should have known it was you. My mom warned me about you, you’ve always been jealous of me- how did you know?” I heard the jewellery on her arm jangling as she talked no doubt gesturing to someone blindfolded. “I bet you felt really fucking clever sending me those little notes- how clever do you feel now huh?”

The passenger side door to my left opened and something big and heavy was slung at my side.

“Don’t make a fucking noise puto, don’t make me shoot you!” A man’s voice said.

The door shut again and the large sack of potatoes started to writhe and make groaning grunting noises in the seat next to me.

“What the fuck Denny, I told you not to hurt him, he’s fucking bleeding”

“I had to hit him with the gun, big white boy wouldn’t come on his own, thought he was a tough guy”

“Now I’m gonna have to clean him up, you better not have got blood on his tux.” She screeched.

“What the hell’s going on? Is this- a prank? – It’s not very funny” The potato sack said in between pained groans.

“Paul!- Is that you?”

“Diana? – are you?” He said groggily.

“Just stay cool” I said.

“What the hell Di?” He groaned.

“What’s going on is I’m not going to let you white trash pieces of shit ruin my senior prom.” Her voice got fast and high pitch. “Already close to ruined it having it in that fucking lazer arcade. I wanted it at the beach club, but noooo that wasn’t cool enough for little miss ‘ooh look at me I’m so quirky and interesting’!” She made a clucking sound in her throat trying to get more spit in her mouth. “Me being the great friend I am let it slide, but no you gotta stab me in the back and try to ruin it”

“Wendy?” Paul said. “What’s she talking about, what’s going?”

“Would you just shut up you fucking meat head daddy’s boy retard.” She took a deep breath and filled herself with sweetness and light and said. “We’re gonna be there soon and we’re all gonna dance and have a great time and then me and Brody are going to be crowned prom king and queen and then-“

“Then what?” I said.

She laughed and I could feel her shifting closer to me, the leather creaking under her toned brown buns. She took the sleep mask off my face and put a small gun to my head, my small James Bond-type gun to be precise. She looked over at Paul and squeezed her thin drawn on eyebrows as tight as they would go. “Oh for fucks sake.” She tutted as she pulled out a tissue from her purse and spat in it rubbing furiously at the small nick at the side of Paul’s head where Denny had hit him.

She stepped back after she was done to get a good look at him. “There, you look great” She sat back in her seat in the front of the limo with the small purse pistol trained on us. Wendy was in a gold taffeta dress looking like a real princess. Paul was in the tux my aunt picked out for him tied to one of the arm rests with a plastic tie the same as I was. He was slowly, fading in and out of consciousness like he took a hit of Nyquil and whiskey.

The interior of the limo was huge. The ceiling was much higher than you would expect and coming in at a cool five three I was almost certain I could comfortably stand up in there. It was almost as a standard bus. It was wide with black leather couches on all sides and a large bar-like table with cushioned corners all the way around stretching out the length of the interior. To top it off there were blue strobe lights around the ceiling making it look almost like a mini travelling strip club. It was missing the stripper pole though. No fog machine either.

I looked down and I was wearing one of Wendy’s hand me down dresses she wore to the homecoming dance last year. The insult to injury received. Pretty in pink my ass.

“You two make such a cute couple” She smirked. She turned and tapped the glass between the passenger compartment and the drivers cab and said “Denny you’re driving like an old lady, are we there yet?”

“Couple more minutes” He shouted back “You know, we’ve got some time” He said, his voice taking on an odd tone.

Wendy turned a redder shade of gold and said “Not here dummy” She turned back to look at me, her eyes becoming sharp slits, making a sucking sound with her gums. “You think you’ve got it all figured out don’tchoo?” Her valley girl accent slipped a little, letting a little Cubano slide in. “I took a look through your littl kit, some sick shit in there, you got the letters, you were really gonna do me like that, after all I’ve done for you?”

She sighed and her and relaxed her muscles with the gun hanging languidly in her lap as she laid back in her seat spreading her legs. “What was the plan? Gonna blackmail me after I made you?” I had a feeling somebody made me but not her and not here. “No one in that school would even know who you were if it wasn’t for me. You’d just be a nobody.” That’s what she didn’t get, that’s what she could never get, I wanted to fade into the background, I didn’t ask to be popular, I wanted to be a nobody, I just wanted to fit in. “You wouldn’t have him for sure.” We both looked over at Paul as he dozed, very still slumped in the corner of the limo. “Shit I might have to cover the cut with some make up or something.” She tutted and looked back at me with half lidded almond eyes “Now you’re gonna lose it all”

She thought I just wanted to black mail her, that was a step up I guess from what I was actually planning. “You’re gonna kill us?” I said dim as ever.

“You see another way out of this, you promise not to come after me or squeal on me?” She laughed. “The funny thing is I probably would have just given you money if you asked.” She smiled sadly “What are friends for right?” She gritted her and made her eyebrows angular again pointing the gun at me “You think I’d let you ruin my prom? We’re going and you’re going to behave, because if you don’t I’ll put a bullet in both of you. Dump your bodies in a snow drift in aspen then I’ll pay a visit to your Aunt.” She looked left then right out the window like she was trying to see her reflection. “I mean you could have told her anything.”

“No- she doesn’t-“ Something bubbling up, something new. A whole world created and then destroyed. My aunt, my sister, she built a life for us and now as her reward she’d get a bullet in the head from her sister’s best friend. Bedded in an unmarked grave because I was too smart to just be normal.

“You read the letters, you think you know the truth, shit my mom doesn’t even know, they’ve got her so doped up she probably thinks she did kill the old man. She probably wanted to.”

“Why did you-?”

“Do you actually care?” She looked at me with her head tilted, the gun at an angle like she was trying to see under a veil. “You don’t give a shit, just trying to buy yourself time” She sucked her gums.

“You know I hate awkward silences” I said.

She smiled. “I should kill you right here next to your boyfriend, but then I wouldn’t get to see your face when I’m crowned prom queen.”

“What about Brodie, when he sees this-“

She picked up her phone and looked at it “He already texted me, he’s meeting us there, had some family shit, ergh, like I care.” She said throwing the phone down on the leather couch.

“You’ve got your brother”

“Th-fuck that s’posed to mean?” She rattled the gun in her hand as the accent slipped again. “You have no idea what it’s like being the little rich spic in Orange County, surrounded by all these rich white people people”.

I rolled my eyes “I’m sure it was a nightmare.”

“Shut the fuck, what do you know? Denny was the only one who understood and it almost destroyed him. My dad found out and he was gonna send Denny away to a reform school, I couldn’t let that happen, I couldn’t live without him.”

“Stop, you’ll make my mascara run” I slipped a canine tooth out as I smiled, trying to break the ice.

She laughed and let out a little tear which she cauterized with her finger to stop her make up running. “Look in the mirror baby, nobody’s making dent in that shit” She chortled.

What did that mean. I looked in the reflection of the passenger window and saw a dim reflection of what looked like a Mexican clown but I knew unreservedly was me. “Oh goddamit, spray tan, really?”

“Better than your pale ass goth shit.” She said cocking her head. “Baby I made you look good.”

“You made me look like a clown whore, did you apply this with a shotgun?”

“We’re almost there” Denny called through the little PA system in the limo.

“Show time” She said smiling. She reached over me and cut the ties with a little fruit knife from the mini bar. I looked down at the gun and then up at her and over at Paul. “Don’t even think about it.” She spat.

She moved back, her head bowed for the lip of the door and signalled with the gun for me to get out. Denny got out the driver’s side and went around the side of the car to cut Paul free. I got out the car and stretched my legs. It was night again, I’d been out all day, she probably fed me Xanax to keep me pliable so she could dress me and do my makeup. My whole body felt and sore stiff like I was living doll rented out by a submarine full of sweaty otakus.

“Wake up pretty boy”. Denny was a tall lean Hispanic man dressed in a loosely fitting limo driver uniform with the top two buttons undone. I can see why she liked him, he was pretty much a male version of her, I wonder if they used the same eyebrow pencil. A chiselled jaw on a swarthy face and even darker hair and pencil thin moustache. He slapped Paul who was roused enough to indignantly stand, faltering a little before erecting to his full height of around six one.

“Remember my brother will be watching, so don’t try any clever shit or he’ll be paying your Aunt a little visit, got it?” She put the gun in her golden D&G purse and clipped it shut. “I still have this so if you fuck this up, all bets are off girlfriend.”

“Got it” I felt like a wrung out tube sock, I wanted to drop to my knees and just die right there. I slept but it was an unrestful semi-death like I’d been hung out to dry.

I looked up at the big black open empty sky, no moon, no light, just a blanket of dark sky lit up with the orange pollution of every damn light in the state.

We were in the parking lot of the lazertag place. I couldn’t tell the time, Wendy had taken any such devices used for such things away from me, which is understandable. But I assumed she would be fashionably late to her own funeral. Parking lot was littered with limos and rented sports cars. I then idly glanced back in my stupor at the vehicle we had arrived in seeing it for the first time from the outside. It was none other than a white stretch hummer. Classy.

“Subtle”

“I knew you’d like it” She said.

The front of the lazer arcade was a lit up like a movie theatre like it was some grand screening at Mans Chinese. Bright spots and strobes inside. A big stone awning with the Fuzion lazer tag sign on the front. I’d never actually been, it just kinda looked cool from the outside, driving past it with my Aunt/Sister. And I knew it would kind of piss off Wendy. I drilled into her the fact she chose the venue for the home coming dance, which was a golf club. I mean come on, how preppy is that? Plus it had the floor space and the lights and the food. The whole place was rented, no kids, did I mention I hate kids? I thought I’d get a kick out of watching all the people that pretended to be normal all day long chasing after eachother with toy guns, their hearts filled with playful virtual murder. But of course they weren’t actually pretending, like me.

I heard it’d been closed for a while. Some kid died here and they shut the whole thing down but with a little cutting of red tape it was under new management and back in business. Nothing stops the wheels of commerce in Orange County, not the living nor the dead. We passed the threshold which was carpeted like a theatre lobby, as in it was sticky, almost more gum than fabric. There were a few arcade machines and unmissable signs everywhere warning of impending epileptic fits.

As soon as I stepped foot inside I knew I picked the right place. The smell of popcorn and nachos the sound of shoes clipping and squeaking on linoleum floors. The pleasant cool darkness like the inside of a movie theatre. It was all black lights this and neon that, like the inside of Joel Schumacher’s sex dungeon. Obviously being on the prom committee meant I’d been in here before but all the times before it was in the day time with all the lights on. Tonight it was a completely different animal, just like me.

“Move” Wendy said through her teeth, poking me in the back with her DG purse. Those things are pointy.

She marched us past rows of foosball machines. People I barely recognised from school throwing the little balls in the holes in full prom regalia. Something about playing whack a mole in a prom dress made this whole thing seem worth it.

But I could tell Wendy hated it by the indignant sneer. “So fucking tacky” she mouthed as she watched Francine Hammond from my English lit class mount a ridge racer bike. No side saddle? Very unladylike.

Denny waited in the car, he was a few years older. He dropped out of high school to do little more than couch surf and sample a wide selection of drugs and likely crack house diseases so he wasn’t invited.

We reached the entrance to the main staging area. “Remember don’t fuck this up and I just might let you walk out of here- be cool.” She took out her hello kitty phone and pointed it at me. “If I don’t text Denny every half hour he’ll pay your Aunt a visit, got it?” She gesticulated a little more as if I might’ve forgotten what a phone looked like or maybe she thought her hello kitty phone case was intimidating. After she was done issuing threats she turned her phone over to read the screen. She opened her pursed lips and tutted. “Brodie’s running a little” She sighed as she started to text him back. “He’s gonna meet us in the main hall, come on.”

The main staging area was a large open bar and restaurant with a balcony hanging over it. Of course all the restaurant chairs and tables had been moved to sides to make way for a dance floor. Which was located under the balcony from which the prom king and queen would be announced.

The room with the main lights off was completely different. This time it literally looked like a set piece from a nineties batman movie. The one that Arnie hammed up. Strobe lights, and spotlights darted from corner to corner over a neon jungle. Complete with glowing tropical plants and monkeys hanging from pillars painted with neon paint to look like Florida palms. One almost seemed to be winking at me offering me a glowing banana.

No thanks.

I smirked because I knew on some level this had to disgust Wendy, it was tacky and kitschy and smelled like corn syrup and old beer. Cool and dark, not bright and sparkly like she dreamed. This was my world.

She turned to us both, her face agape with a wonderful disgust and then without flinching it turned into the most sugary sweet smile. I had to duck to avoid diabetic shock “Have fun you two- and remember, I’m always watching.” She said waving like a duchess.

She turned with a dramatic wafting of her poofy dress like the wicked witch of the west. Disappearing into the crowd of faceless seniors accumulating around a large ornate punch bowl, an ice sculpture in the shape of a horse’s head above it “go Trojans”, I whispered.

“What?” Paul said

I jumped almost forgetting he was here. “Oh nothing”.

“So what the hell is going on?” He whispered harshly taking me roughly by the upper arms as if he intended to shake the information out of me.

“What does it look like?” I ask as innocently as possible breaking away from his grip. Keeping my expression one of open optimism ready to mould myself to whatever situation he thought this was.

“Err well it looks like we just got kidnapped and taken to the prom by your best friend.” He said as he touched the nick on his head where he was struck.

“Yeah- I guess.” I said ditzily.

“So- what the hell are we gonna do about it?” He pouted.

“I dunno, call batman- I mean by the looks of this place he’s probably gonna be here for like a charity auction or something.”

“You think this is funny? We’re literally hostages.” He said turning to scowl at me, as if that would help.

“Thanks for noticing, wanna dance?-“

He furrowed his brow in response.

“What? She told us at gunpoint we need to have fun, so-“ Just as I said it the now iconic Simple minds – Don’t you forget about me, came on, thanks breakfast club. Yeah I know American pie already did this, how derivative.

There was already a sizeable crowd of seniors slow dancing to eighties synth wave. I dragged him into the middle of them and forced his hands around my waist and brought him close, resting my head on his shoulder rather mechanically.

“Diana, what are we doing?” He whispered into my ear.

“If we’re dancing she can’t see we’re talking and she can’t shoot through a crowd of people”.

“So?”

“So what?” I hissed.

“Do you have a plan?” He asked.

“I thought you’d have one”

“Why me?”

“You’re like- I dunno- an army guy, sorta.”

“My dad is in the army that doesn’t mean I know how to escape a hostage situation”

“Well it was worth a shot” I said sinking into the nook of his shoulder. It really did smell kind of nice. Comforting, like sandalwood or something, must have been his after shave.

“We need to find a way to signal to someone” He whispered.

I stirred from a moment of dozing on his shoulder. “She said if she didn’t text her brother every half hour he was going to kill my Aunt, we need to find a way to deal with Denny first.” I said brushing away a little drool and make up gunk from his shoulder.

“How? She’s not gonna let us leave the main hall.”

“We’ll wait until they crown the prom king and queen, she won’t be able to do anything and she’ll be too distracted with the lights to see us” I said.

“And then what?”

“We take out Denny”

“Take him out?” He said as we swayed.

“Yeah you know, punch him, knock him out, you can do that right?” I said yawning on his shoulder.

“Yeah- I guess, I mean yeah I can do that.” He was still a little groggy but my Paul was coming back hopefully bringing with him a little piss and vinegar. You’d think some help from a certain dark entity might be invaluable but this certainly wasn’t his scene, far too- neon and crowded. Tacky sure, but fun, there was no moon in here, no dark chorus, no flapping of devil or angel wings. My monster was a wall flower it seemed. Much happier in some dark corner licking dew off the neck off a virgin victim than cutting up a rug surrounded by chirpy yuppies. Maybe he’d show up fashionably late too, the night was still young after all.

We danced for a little longer waiting for them to announce the prom king and queen. Give us the distraction we needed to launch our ‘Plan’ if you can call it that. It wasn’t really much of a plan. Just wait til the backs are turned and punch someone in the face but this wasn’t exactly a spy novel. And I really didn’t need my Aunt/Sister to be butchered by some junkie she’d never met, that really would be tacky.

“Hey, I’m gonna get some punch, you want some?” I asked.

“Sure, just don’t go too far ok, I can’t see her. We have to assume she’s watching us.”

I sauntered over to the punch bowl trying not to trip over all the tassels and frilly things hanging off this ridiculous princess dress. I felt like some silly doll that was supposed to be sitting on a shelf or having a tea party with a stuffed bear not dancing and dodging bullets.

Some time had passed and the crowd around the punchbowl had dissipated and the puddle of punch had shrunk too. It was only about an inch deep of a cool looking pink liquid slowly getting room temperature under the spots.

That’s when I noticed the bowl full of cheese poofs and my stomach reminded me quite loudly that I’d been in a drug induced coma for about twelve hours and hadn’t eaten so much as a handful of lint lying on the floor of Wendy’s closet. So naturally like some half starved half crazy red squirrel (that’s the bad one right) I started grabbing literal handful of the disgusting puff balls. Filling my cheeks with the articial cheese flavoured corn starch balls of goodness. Caring not for the orange dust accumulating on my face and hands giving a sigh of relief when my stomach felt less inside out than it did a moment ago. Although lacking any actual nutritious content, they’d filled a hole and would have to do for now.

It was still pretty dark in the room so no one noticed me almost sticking my head in cheese poof bowl like a horse with a feed. I quickly used way too many napkins removing the orange dust from, well everywhere.

Why did I come over here again? Oh yeah punch.

As I said it was still pretty dark which made ladling the sweet smelling non-alcoholic liquid into the stereotypical red plastic cups much harder than it should have been. Nevertheless this slight challenge was nothing compared to my intellect and superb hand eye co-ordination. I almost patted myself on the back for pouring punch into a cup, it’s the small victories that count. I picked up the cups and was about to make my way triumphantly back to Paul when I noticed something. Something dark and oddly shaped at the bottom of the punch bowl hitting a bum note in the dark orchestra. The darkness giving me a little jab in the side to remind me it was still there waiting for its moment to bask in the spotlight. Better late than never.

Would he really pull the same trick twice? I thought as I put the cups down.

I picked up the ladle and did a quick one eighty to see if anyone was watching. But at that point everyone was either dancing or eating little wieners or starring into their cups thinking of something to talk about. I dipped the ladle in fishing for whatever the little surprise at the bottom of the punchbowl was, in the back of my head wondering where the little wieners had come from.

I moved it around, it was a large square piece of paper soaking up the punch. A moment of fumbling with the sticky sheet of paper and a happy spot light fell on me and it was lit up for a brief few seconds. Revealing what was a dark black and white photocopy of something that was a little too dark and wet to see. Further fishing bringing it closer to the surface got a reaction, a smirk, a happy sharp tooth glinting in the dark depths. I pulled it out of the sweet waters and let it drain and drip on the bottom of my faerie princes dress.

No doubt about it, it was a face, a face I recognised despite the fact it was smooshed into a copier. The likeness was uncanny, it was Ruez, what was left of him. I wasn’t dreaming, that was a Photostat of his head that had been polluting the punch for god knows how long and there was only one person who could have put it there.

The person who removed had his head of course. Now if I were still toying with the silly notion that that certain someone was me it would be a hell of a trick to have to keep that photocopy on me. Waiting for this moment only for it not to be found when I was stripped and dressed by Wendy. And then of course there was the task of taking a severed head to a copier which I didn’t own. So that meant going to a library which would go something like; “Oh hey Diana, what brings you here” – “Oh you know just gotta photocopy a severed of a gangbanger I may or may not have murdered. But it’s ok he liked to kill hookers, allegedly”. The idea alone got a chuckle from the dark backseat. It was a joke, a prank, one that only we would see the funny side of.

He/she/it was here, my plus one was sending me a message but what did it mean? “You forgot this”, “Heads up”?

Diana in the Dark Chapter 12 ‘Wandering Limbs’

Hello der, me again, your friendly psychopath leprechaun with a chainsaw wishing you all happy whatever it is today.

Ok so sleep experiment, I think my dreams of being an ubermench were a little too hasty, I just can’t do it right now. Like I’m trying it and I’m setting the alarms but my body is like ‘nah’. So doing the three hour sleep thing isn’t working because the alarms they do nothing and I either over sleep in the naps or just lie down for twenty minutes with my eyes clothed thinking happy thoughts. Neither are productive.

Although I did come up with two new ideas for short stories but I might have done that in the shower. Speaking of showers my fantasy story starting to take shape when I was washing my balls. I spend a lot of time doing that.

But I’m slowly getting more hyped for starting 3 ring samurai as a book. The reality of it as a comic was sort of underwhelming but as a book the possibilities are endless and I’m really looking forward to see how that shapes up.

So dialing back the sleep schedule to the biphasic model, so that’s five hours followed by a twenty minute nap in the afternoon which seems to fit me better because I ignored my alarm by exactly two hours this morning haha. Five hours seems like the magic hour for me although as I write this having skipped the first nap of the everyman schedule I feel zonked the fuck out haha. But I think I’ll get used to it, I hope so. I don’t wanna feel like this when it comes to writing again in earnest.

Anyway my brain has sharted and it’s time to do some sharing, social media wizardry or try to and I think I should over my Diana pitch document stuff and also maybe buff my Cur plan, that’s the name of my fantasy project I haven’t fully got my head around just yet.

Yeah so that’s about it. Hopefully you all got a copy of The One That Came Back in your inboxes and you’re reading it as we speak, if not I’ll keep on the newsletter thing, the first tuesday of the month and send out more copies then.

See you..

~

“You can’t do that to me I was worried sick.” My ‘Aunt’ said as she squeezed the cheap plastic steering wheel of her overgrown roller-skate car. Shouting but in a hushed voice like we were in a crowded place. “You can’t stay out late like that without telling me, I must have called you a hundred times”. I counted twenty two missed calls actually.

Believe me I would much rather not be having this one way conversation right now. And I definitely would much rather not have had to wait the four or five hours it took for Wendy to go to sleep before I could slip out and get on a bus home. And I would much rather have avoided the various California natives who frequented the late night buses. Talk about dick pics. It’s surely not as distressing as seeing them in person urinating on the floor of a moving bus while singing waltzing Mathilda in a sequin dress.

“I’m sorry” I said, not really meaning it. I find the word ‘sorry’ sort of meaningless if someone were truly sorry they’d never do what they were sorry for ever again or in the first place for that matter. And I surely knew that wasn’t possible. But it was a ritual that was obviously necessary for polite society to function. Despite the fact it seemed completely ineffectual, on women especially. I found the word ‘sorry’ was never enough, to be sorry and to say sorry are two different things.

“I was sure- I was so worried.” See no effect, she was still just as miserable as she was a moment ago, no magic word was going to change that, no vague promises I couldn’t keep. “Did you-?”

There was a moment that passed of stunned silence. Maybe I should have said I was sorry again, maybe I should just repeat it over and over again until she just stops talking. We were on our way to pick up my dress and shoes for the prom which seemed fast approaching. I’d soon have to get my hair done and put on lots of makeup and pretend to be having the time of my life dancing to eighties music and drinking cool aid. When I’d much rather be out in the dim darkness making other people drink cool aid, bit of an out there reference.

“I could have said I was your mother” She blurted out.

“You could have lied to me but instead you lied to me.” I said feigning indignation, honestly my capacity for disdain for lies and half-truths was very little. You really need a soul to feel pangs of sorrow and betrayal. And considering most of what made up my ‘normal’ existence was a lie it seemed petty by comparison “What difference does it make?” Teenage aloofness was my staple.

“I just thought I could help you” Her face contorted into something like a grim mask that might summon tears but none came.

“Help me?” I said, almost to myself, I didn’t even know I needed help.

“Guide you, give you a normal life, I thought you forgot. I tried so hard to forget, everything-.” She cut herself off, stuttering, making a wry almost wrenching noise like she wanted to cry but nobody taught her how.

“Forget? Forget what?” I looked at her with my wide empty blue green eyes, not sure what I was looking at anymore. Quite honestly if she told me she had had three heads I would have believed her.

“He promised he would guide us, he promised, but he, never got around to it.“ She shrugged with a little ‘that’s life’ sad smile.

“And then what?” I said looking forward as we stopped to let a couple of meth heads cross the street. For a moment I thought I recognised one of them from the bus last night, but I couldn’t tell because he was wearing pants.

“He was gone” She said it like she was talking about the phantom of the opera or something.

“Tell me- about him- Dad” I said as I looked out at the palm trees swiping past the window.

“He was – special. He was going to help us get ‘squared away’ that’s what he said.” Her eyes got a little misty and her face slackened like she was reading me a bedtime story. “His father did the same for him.”

“Get squared away?” I was looking out the window, watching the scenery fly by, the small sad houses of Santa Ana baking. A couple of Hispanic women rolled past with double strollers with gold wheels.

“We weren’t born like this. When he was gone and there was no one. No one to keep us on the straight path.“ Her face became a confusion of worry lines like she was trying to unravel a ball of headphone wires with can openers for hands.

“What aren’t you telling me?”

“We’re here” She said as she parked outside the dress shop into Santa Ana where I was measured and ambushed all in the same day.

“Is that why you sicked captain claw on me?” I called after her as she hopped out. –“To get me squared away?”

The prom was the day after so if I was going to get out of going and kill Wendy this was the best time to do it. Yeah I said kill; kill, slay, destroy, annihilate. I think I preferred kill. A part of me thought it was sort of catty to kill her before the prom she worked so hard to create. But the other half knew that it would be too difficult to kill her after. After prom she was going on vacation to aspen and would most likely be surrounded by planners and other such entourage from then until her trip. After that it would be off to college and I had it in good confidence she was going farther afield than I was. The night before was the only way I could catch her unaware and of course give me a great reason not to go to the prom.

Two birds with one stone. I get Brodsky off my back and I don’t have to take part in a great big hollow pantomime.

But was that the real reason? Of course not, a hoarse whisper sailed through my mind and told me the moon would be perfect. Round hollow ground down teeth gnashing over my head, waiting hopeful manic round eyes staring down at me. Beaming down at me filling me with that pure white light. That thick tropical night air brushing my skin and filling my lungs, lifting me like I was Marilyn Monroe and tonight maybe I was.

I’d be a passenger, watching through a rain slicked car window as my dark double took the wheel of my ‘Aunt’s’ car. Wendy’s house was a thirty minute drive north and I was suddenly feeling the benefits of driving this electric hair dryer. The ride was very quiet and smooth and at times with the cool night air flowing through the open window I almost felt like a shark. Sailing with the current of the north Atlantic up towards where the big juicy fish slumbered. Waiting for my teeth to probe their soft fatty tissues.

Oh I so wanted to probe their fatty tissues. I felt a shiver travel all the way up my spine and had it been me at the wheel I would have jerked and hit a passing minivan full of drunken teens so unlike myself. But it wasn’t me, so the car glided by, like it was an elaborate bumper car on some railed attraction heading to a certain end. Like some kind of reverse haunted ghost ride but the ghosts are the ones on the ride and everyone else is just part of the attraction.

I pulled up along the east side of the ‘compound’ as I was referring to it now, that being Wendy’s gated community. I took the long way so I didn’t have to drive past the gate. The guards might have questions for a young girl driving alone at this time of night wearing skimpy compression gear and black yoga pants. I kind of looked like a hipster cat burglar, if only my intentions were that innocent. I really didn’t need them getting some magical itch at the back of their necks, some call back to their long gone cop careers. Some mystical shaman hunch that would tell them to record the license plate of this weird but cute night prowler. Unlikely of course but why take the chance at all?

The initial plan for the prom dirge was for me to get my hair and makeup done, which wouldn’t take that long having little in the way of makeup and hair. The limo Wendy hired was then set to come pick me and Paul up respectively, obviously that plan was going to have to be put on an indefinite hold. No Wendy no limo, no prom.

I suppose I should have been a little bit let down, I did put a lot of work into the prom too, I must have folded a million napkins, I could fold a napkin in my sleep. But it was all camouflage, a necessary syncing of my outer and internal logic. A sad repetition of real life drudgery, the perfect mask was just to be average, and as uniform as those hundreds of neatly folded napkins.

I traced along the outer limits of the compound before I reached the spot I marked with a broken branch.

On my way out the other night I’d had to improvise. As the same trick that got me in wouldn’t get me out until the following morning when people were heading to work. I rummaged as quietly as possible through her kitchen drawers until I found a set of steel wire cutters. Keeping as low and looking as normal as possible ‘Oh just taking a moonlit stroll through my extremely well-lit gated community’. I crossed over from her side of the street and dipped out of the pool of streetlights and into the dark shadow it caste along the outer edges. I traced across until I found a portion of exposed fencing.

The fence at the front was mostly wrought iron and unfortunately without a file and a few more years I wasn’t getting out that way. Least of all because of the armed guards who would happily taze me just so they could stretch their legs.

But the rest of the fence was just a wire façade shielded by a thick wall of high spruce trees. Creating a sort of grotto or grove feel to the little patch of heaven up in the Orange county hills. It really was quite intimidating from the outside, especially in the dark. Like some sacred spot only for druids to make sour lemonade. Totally different feel from the front gate which was very open aside from the fence and the guards. Dotted with healthy chipper palms, ‘no really this is paradise, you didn’t take a wrong turn’.

I cut myself a small opening which I could seal back up again easy enough and then cover with a broken branch. So no eager beaver patrolman would notice it and put a claymore in front of it. That would be hard to explain but it’d still get me out of prom ‘I’m sorry Diana can’t go with you to prom. She’s had her arms and legs blown off by an improvised explosive device’.

I pulled the car over onto the grass under the outcroppings of spruce trees. I got out and it almost seemed like the little plastic car was being overgrown. It looked like a toy car someone forgot to wrap under a series of stern Christmas trees.

A warm wind blew in my face and I breathed it in, a kiss from a devil moon surely. I laughed to myself gritting my teeth, why was I laughing to myself? A manic giddiness took my knees and I felt weak for a moment like someone ripped all my bones out at once. Then suddenly I was walking to the other side of the car, a strong purposeful brisk walk. A thousand fingers manipulating my tendons and jaunts, whispering, telling me where to go, surfing on their raw intent.

I took the messenger bag out of the passenger side foot well, camouflaged as it was under a copy of teen vogue. This issue garnering much controversy of its article teaching their core audience of fourteen year olds the joys of anal sex. They grow up so fast.

I tossed the magazine in the back having next to no intention on wasting any brain cells reading it. But also having no intention of littering by throwing it out of the car. Curiosity and credulity might garner it a read if only for the dark thing inside to chuckle at the descent of modern pop culture.

I picked up the messenger bag and did a quick inventory, I tried to keep it as simple as possible, a portable murder kit. It might have been more preferable to take her some place I’d already prepared but as things stood her house was probably the place we’d get the most privacy. What’s more private than in a gated community guarded by its own small army. Surely there’d be no curious patrol cars to climb the hanging garden and shine a flash light through a second story window.

In the bag were a few things I could scramble together to get some likeness of the perfection I’d seen performed right before my eyes at Ruez’s house.

I had a few rolls of plastic wrap to keep her in place. I didn’t plan for her to put up much of a fight as I noted her bedtime routine involved a gauntlet of sleeping pills. Her medicine cabinet had enough Xanax to start her own retirement village.

I couldn’t quite place exactly how I was going to do it but I had a rough idea. I knew it’d fall into place as soon as I was there, as soon as I knew no one was watching as soon as I knew this was our time to share. Just me and my best bud Wendy.

The ‘tools’ I’d picked were simple yet effective ones; A fillet knife from the kitchen and a larger butcher knife cleaver type thing I pulled from the block at home. Accompanying the knives was a couple of long rolls of heavy duty electrical tape and a stapler with a few pictures I’d borrowed from the day before. And the little James Bond type gun Paul had so kindly leant me for ‘self-defence’. I didn’t really plan on using it but I figured this was a one of those ‘better have it and not need’ type of situations.

I cut a sheet of the plastic wrap off and poked a few holes in it to fashion a crude mask wrapping it tightly around my face to smoosh my features. It didn’t occur to me to buy one and it didn’t seem all that necessary as a precaution. Someone could see me but I also didn’t want her to know it was me, odd I know. I was going to watch the light fade from her eyes but I didn’t want her to know it was me sending her off. She was about to know me better than anyone ever had and she would have no idea. Not to mention her best friend buying a ski mask the day before her murder would look a little suspicious on my amazon order history.

I looked down at the knives twisting in the bag free, little slivers of moonlight dancing on them and reflecting its manic glee. I could almost hear the roar of the ocean like someone held two conch shells to my ears. I could feel the rush of it, the spray and I asked myself if I was really going to do this and before I could answer I could hear a voice hissing in the affirmative. I had to, the necessity of it was implacable.

It was as certain as the sun rising the next day. Her cold body, lying on her space age mattress, her head removed. Another victim of the Huntington Beach head-hunter. So sad.

But I was sad, a little fleck of sadness swallowed by that dark ocean inside me. I was about to say farewell to the only human part of me, the only person who called me friend…

Eh. I can make more friends, I slammed the car door shut and started to make my way to my little entry way.

I made it in the dark, nevertheless it was still hard to pick out, which was obviously the point. I moved some of the shrubbery as much as I could without making it sound like big foot was taking a bathroom break. Eventually I found my own handiwork cunningly hidden behind the broken branches.

I twisted the opening I had snipped back on itself remaking the little hole I exited from the previous night. I tossed the bag through first and then eased myself through the tight gap, remarking that it seemed a lot easier the night before. Probably because I spent something like five hours under her bed without food or water.

I had crossed my mind to do it then and there when she fell asleep, what was to stop me but a growling in my stomach and a weakness in the knees? That sort of thing didn’t matter to the darkness, it would still get its fill. I remember standing over her and it didn’t feel right, to rush something so perfect, so important, so poignant, my first.

It needed to be planned, it needed to be a special night, one that I and my partner would never forget. That was tonight, the moon and the dark double told me so. A whispered agreement, applauding my divine realisation that their wicked logic was true and precise. I could feel the levers of fate shifting and cogs turning. Driving me forward like some deadly Elizabethan steam train. Look out world, prepare for some second hand coal fumes.

I knew the dark thing inside didn’t truly care about my plans. Whatever shape my mayhem would take would please it. Whatever monster I would become they would welcome. But tonight I decreed, I would be a neat monster.

I would make tidy little packages of those who were just as broken as I was. Something inside me seemed to resonate with that, some stranger voice in the crowd of them deep inside the black depths. To someone somewhere that made some cruel efficient sense.

Brodsky too seemed pleased if a little morose, when I called him and told him about the letters. I told him I could send them to him but he didn’t need to see them, he heard it in my voice. I think it scared him honestly, to hear the viscous glee in my voice. Like it wasn’t even my voice, but a borrowed one from a long time ago, a snake tongue used to convince people to eat apples.

He was sure enough, he knew what I wanted and I knew he’d tacitly given his permission. Wasn’t that something, a rubber stamp, a red seal from Washington no less. For Diana of the Dark to go out and do what she thought she did best. We’ll just have to see about that.

He said something like “You’re sure? – Ok.” A sound almost like a sigh, or the rattle of a dying animal, a swallowing of pride and duty and all that’s right that he swore to uphold, but why? Did it really bother me, not knowing or did it excite me? I was freed, allowed to run free that’s all that mattered now. My mind only filled with the movement of the knife, conducting the moonlight orchestra. Making all those pieces come together and stand still, make some kind of order out of the beautiful chaos of her life.

Before I knew it, I was slinking out of the light of the bright street lamps and hugging close to the darkness of Wendy’s condo. The darkness was refreshing, comforting, the thing inside feeding off it and growing stronger and more bold.

Her door would be locked this time for sure, if not then she really did deserve to die just for sheer carelessness.

Was it time for Diana to put her YouTube learned lock picking skills to the test or did she pick up a spare key on her moonlight exit the night before. If you guessed the latter you would be correct. I circled around the back this time where the darkness would gather and hopefully the eyes would not.

I hopped a small raised wall that made up the back patio and unlocked the glass sliding door. Opening onto the living room and closing it with a muffled humming noise behind me. I crouched low on the soft cream carpet.

The darkness inside was crisp and sharp almost taking on a monotone grey. I felt like I was seeing from someone else’s eyes now and everything was clear and more defined. I saw particles in the air, I felt like I could see the sound of my footsteps fading, moving the dust, I could almost smell her. It was almost like being some cheesy TV vampire.

I felt a surge from the deep darkness, it was so strong now, the feeling of letting go. It felt like years almost, I was bobbing on the surface of that black water. Some little castaway on a raft made of childhood dreams of a husband and a house. Now it was just me, giving myself to the crushing blackness. Sinking further, letting it suck me down, letting it take control and it felt so good I could taste the blood in my lip as I bit down.

Electric shocks shooting up and down my back and coming down through my fingers grounding through my feet. I felt like I could see through the walls, feel her heartbeat feel the vibration in the ground hear the rats in the walls the ants in the grass outside. My senses pawing every flat inch of the walls floors and ceilings, hungrily stalking and licking its lips. A furious chorus of dark angels swooning and cooing as I got deeper into the house.

I ascended the stairs, slow and low, stalking like some predator escaped from the zoo. A naked slick shark moving upstream in a clear water stream on some prissy golf course, ready to bite. I crossed the hall to her room with an inhumane speed and silence. Drifting almost weightlessly, like a ghost, a petty avenging phantom for the love lost and thrown away.

A hand, I was sure it was my own pushed her door open a jar and let the darkness in. I was dragged into the room, pushed onto the stage my knees shaking but also firm and strong and rooted.

My wrist limp yet cut from granite, my eyes moist yet harsh and cruel and cold. Pushed along, puppeted by some unseen force.

I stood just inside her door letting it swing quietly open. Looking at the mound of covers and pillows she burrowed under, the chorus of devil wings beating. The thing inside stirring from memetic slumber. Kept at bay through years of conditioning, childhood drudgery and routine now standing where I stood. Seeing through my eyes living in the goose bumps and the saliva building, and the cold pallid drawn skin of my brow.

Reaching out now, letting go, letting it off the leash to eat and be full just this once and maybe a few more times after that. A cycle of anticipation, of deferred gratification and then boundless feeding, just over the horizon.

There was a hot sweet smell, not perfume, just the smell of warm pressed flesh, the little hairs standing up, the sound of flesh sliding over flesh.

The need rising, biting hard, clamping down on that soft warm flesh. No, neat, clean perfect.

I have to be a neat monster.

It has to be perfect.

I glide to her bedside, oh my sleeping beauty, a kiss I offer you. I took a knife out of the tote bag I was carrying at my hip. The nice small sharp fillet knife like the long tooth of a sabretooth tiger ready to put it to her throat. Let her know she was mine now, see the hope spark and die in her eyes. Watch her give herself to me and only me. The last, the only.

I got closer, I felt unnatural and robotic, my body moving on its own. I leant forward like nosferatu to put a hand on her mound of covers and I felt…

nothing.

Expecting to feel her warm sleeping frame, firm under the sheets I felt only a mound of covers.

A screeching inside and rustle of dark leathery wings, a warning from the dark sea, a crushing foam building. An eye watching.

The door to the bathroom creaked and I was frozen as a quick beam of light shot across my path. All the darkness shrinking and falling off of me like flakes of ash, revealed naked, weak and flaccid. Unluck, caught by a fateful bathroom break, left on stage with my yoga pants around my ankles. The thing inside shrieked and I clung to the walls and the shadow, reeling like a cockroach into the dark dank of her huge closet.

My heart racing as I watched her yawn and turn off the bathroom light and stumble back in amongst the covers. Sitting up and then collapsing back down into restful unconsciousness. So close. I was too hasty, almost ruined everything.

I waited for my heart rate to steady, for the black cloak to come back over me. The night to pull me back into her the womb, the moon to fill me with its pure carving knife of light. To feel it take over.

But something was wrong now, she shifted and writhed in bed and I turned the knife over in my hand, knowing what needed to be done and knowing who needed to do it. The darkness spurring me on, pushing me onto the stage like some pushy dance mom. The need rising again but then something else, some other voice, another hissing coiling thing hiding it’s stench downwind. Slowing it’s breathing, lying in wait. Trying not to look so I couldn’t feel its eyes on me but now it was looking at me from its dark corner and I froze like a rabbit in a trap. Hello stranger.

I flipped the knife and started to turn slowly, fast, it was fast. It leapt out of the corner of the closet and wrapped a sinewy arm around my neck breathing hard and frantic. It squeezed hard, the grip was solid and almost slippery with sweat to the touch. The knife getting heavier in my hand, I tried to- feeling light headed. My fingers dancing on the edge of the blade and then it hit the carpeted closet floor with a sad flodding sound. What a joke, my eyes were rolling back in my head and I couldn’t feel my feet anymore. My fingers felt dull like five hotdogs as they pinched at the arm stopping the blood flow to my brain. It didn’t seem to do anything, he, I assume it was he, just gripped tighter and I started to feel and empty and like I wanted to throw up, feeling all the veins popping in my forehead.

Spots, and an echoing in my head as I shrank further back into the darkness, a voice calling to me, one I recognised and then nothing but falling.

Diana in the Dark Chapter 11 ‘Dark Lines’

Hello again,

Don’t really have much to update from yesterday so brevity is the brother of victory or some other such quote I just made up. Still trucking along with editing this beauty, with the help of the wonderful Chrissy Szarek, my polish friend told me her name is pronounced ‘Sharek’. Makes her sound like some kind of bond villain but she’s a nice lady, a published indie author and a great, prompt and reasonably priced editor.

This is my official recommendation of her, if you just type her name into facebook I’m sure you’ll find her and her work and you’ll be glad you did. It’s been a very pleasant and easy process working with and she’s very hands on and attentive. My last editor I literally had to email them three times each time ramping up the passive aggression before they’d even respond, with Chrissy it’s literally the other way around but without the passive aggression haha. I haven’t had to chase her up once, she’s constantly emailing me with updates on her progress, it’s really a refreshing change and she’s been really good with flexibility in terms of payment processes.

So that’s going on and speaking of my last editor, I’ll still be working through The One That Came Back today, hopefully in time for the folks on my mailing list, but I won’t send it out until I’m 100% happy with it. I’m not even going to give away something I think is a pile of shit haha. But I’m sure if anyone is looking forward to getting it by now they have the patience of a saint haha.

Ok so that’s about the skinny of it, off to editing and spamming I go.

See you…

Of course if you want to read the previous chapters head on over to inkitt where they’re all neatly collated.

Diana in the Dark

~

I guess locking doors was for poor people who weren’t literally encircled by a small army of trigger happy ex-cops. I knew because she was out prepping for the prom she wouldn’t be here. I also knew she had a brother but he was rarely home in the day, myths of an expensive heroine habit abound. So I was guessing he’d stumble home much later if at all. The house should be empty possibly but for an annoying little yappy dog she was banned from taking into school in her purse. Hopefully since the prom wasn’t at school that meant she’d probably have the annoying little rat with her. And I wouldn’t be tempted to pulp its head into an eight hundred dollar Persian rug.

I did say I loved animals but not that particular one.

I took a quick precautionairy glance across the street but thankfully aside from a team of illegals gardening two houses over they were quiet. I guessed everyone was out living the good life, lounging around a golf course or a yacht or something.

When I was sure no one was looking I slipped into the house and closed the door firmly behind me. As I stood in the cool sweet smelling entryway I felt ok. I was just a pretty rich white girl coming home from yogalates, walking into her own home no big deal. Nobody could call the cops over that. It’s not like I used a grappling hook and scaled the wall garden.

The interior was fresh and clean, cream interior walls with off white, I guess eggshell tiles on the floor. A stair case carpeted in a darker cream snaking off from the oddly angled front door up to the bedrooms on the right as you entered. A big curtain-less window at the turn of the stairs letting in lots of light. I stopped in the entryway and just listened to the steady creak of silence. When I was sure the house was empty I let go of my breath and began to pad the tiles and dust off this new set of leathery predator wings.

The entryway opened up into a huge but very minimalist carpeted living room which seemed to take up a whole corner of the house. It was very eighties deco, devoid of colour with a high ceiling that spanned both floors cut off by a balcony onto the second floor. A door off to the left lead into a relatively small galley kitchen which was nevertheless very nice.

But needless to say I wasn’t here for the tour. I doubled back to the front door and started a slow ascent up the stairs. Looking outside the huge window at the turn hoping not to see some nosey old woman staring at me and memorizing my face for a sketch artist to reproduce.

I figured if I was going to find any evidence at all of her guilt it wouldn’t be lying between the pages of a copy of teen vogue on the coffee table. “Hey remember when I poisoned my dad and framed my mom for the money lol smiley face smile face xoxox”. It wasn’t out of the realm of possibilities but it seemed unlikely. But who knows. She wasn’t like me, not the same kind of monster, a normal killer for a normal reason, a sane reason to do something insane, money was the root of all this. So there was a chance she wasn’t like me at all, there was a chance she had emotions. One of those possibly being guilt and if that was true she would leave some trace of it behind.

I figured my best bet was finding her computer and working a little slack hack magic on it, basically shake it and see what fell out.

I turned the corner checking the window but it was just the bare windowless face of the neighbouring house staring back at me. I continued on up the second flight noting an open bathroom off the stairs, seemed an odd place to put a bathroom but ok.

The second floor split off in two directions leading to the bedrooms. As far as I could remember her bedroom was off to the left and her parents ensuite was off to the right. But considering her parents weren’t in the picture anymore it made little sense to not occupy the empty ensuite. It’s what I would do, you’d have to be crazy to let all that closet space go to waste because of what? Sentimentality? Ghosts maybe?

I padded the carpeted floor delicately, hoping my light frame wouldn’t leave any telling footprints. Thankfully I’d remembered to not wear heels and opted for a set of flat tread-less pumps.

Taking the right looking over the second floor balcony down at the living room and the large windows. It seemed like an average sleepy day in this neighbourhood, not a curious dog walker in sight. Just sun shining and birds chirping. Oh how I longed for the huge savage moon and that black canvas of night to paint red, ‘soon’ it hissed and I knew it was right. Soon I’d have my starry night and my bloody moon.

Really there was no rush, I’d started as early as I could. Depending on the schedule they’d be at the preparations until late into the afternoon. Factoring in frappachino and pastelito breaks, maybe some California tuna rolls, suddenly realising skipping breakfast was a mistake. New rule; never break and enter on an empty stomach.

The hallway got a little narrower, I passed an airing cupboard and I could distinctly smell signs of a lived in nature. More specifically Wendy’s perfume, it seemed my estimation of her and our shared desire for closet space was on point.

I opened the door and was sort of surprised that the room was so small then I turned my head and realised that I’d stepped into her closet, oh.

I opened the door to her actual room and was instantly taken aback.

It was so… so-

Neat.

Horrifying, truly horrifying.

I knew she was sort of anal and a bit of a control freak. But beside from the smell and the obvious personal effects the room seemed like a movie set or a window onto a dolls house. The bed perfectly made, almost creaseless, like it had been ironed, big and fluffy with pillows that seemed to go on for days. Not a sock on the floor not a sagging poster, the walls were bare and smooth. No litter, not even a bin with litter in it. Her dresser was immaculate, the mirror looked like it was brand new and all her makeup was neatly arranged almost seemingly with a ruler.

It was for lack of a better word; ‘creepy’ even for me.

The room was large and the closet was basically a room on its own. It wasn’t even a walk in closet it was just a room the size of an average bedroom only a little smaller than my actual bedroom, turned into a closet filled to the brim with clothes and shelves full of shoes hanging over my head.

The room like all the others in the house was sort of an odd asymmetrical shape. The ensuite was on the right wall at something like forty five degree angle from the rest of the room. And of course it too was spotless and it seemed pointless rooting around for clues in there.

I was hoping her online activity was a little less neat.

Walking around the room with a spectral lightness of foot. I opened a few draws on her dresser until, oh you’ve got to be kidding me, could it really be that easy? I started to get a little nervous, first the door and now this. Her diary was lying right at the top of the first draw down. On top of a stack of neatly pressed pink panties that smelled like lavender and dollar store candy.

I picked it up carefully and thumbed through it, sadly it was putridly average. Vomit inducingly so, saccharine and pointless and banal. So much so I felt myself slipping into bored unconsciousness as I scanned it. I hardly expected to just stumble upon…”Dear diary today I was thinking about how I poisoned my dear papa for cash, oh how silly of me”.

I clapped the little purple book shut and put it back in the drawer just as I found it. Feeling slightly deflated, nothing, not a chuckle not a whisper from the darkness below, just dull ringing silence.

There has to be something, I looked about the room planning to save the laptop sitting on the desk by the window for last.

I had some time to soak the room in, it was pretty, like a little girls room honestly, lots of pastel colours and stuffed animals. It was a fairy princess room for a little latina fairy princess. Maybe I was jealous, there was a picture on her side table. The whole family, her mom and dad and their little princess in the middle with the toothy grin missing the two front teeth. She must have been around six or seven. Maybe I was jealous of her, she had everything I could only dream of, and to my estimation she’d tossed it down the dark well. Only to live a long and empty existence here in this castle alone. Or that’s what I assumed. I found myself staring into the black gap of her tooth and hearing some building scratching in the dark back seat. I flipped the picture over and there was a small pieces of paper hidden in the frame. They wouldn’t have even been noticeable if there weren’t so many of them.

Check stubs, made out to Denny Vargas, Her brother, the amounts seemed to fluctuate, growing larger by increment. My guess was because of his little habit Wendy was put in charge of the estate and was dolling him out an allowance. Hmm. A small tick coming from the dark well, a drip.

Was it blackmail I was smelling, was I in some noir mystery? Still not nearly enough, no telling the amount of scandals a girl her age with her money could get into besides murdering her father. A tiny blip on the dark radar.

Ok time to skip to the good bit.

I strode across the room starting to feel a little rushed. I needed to find something good enough to justify a house invasion at the very least or I would feel very silly. And would have to reconsider a great many things about myself.

I sat at a white wicker chair she had at her clear desk, her laptop positioned perfectly central to the desks edges. I opened it and let it boot up, it was password locked but it wasn’t too hard to crack. Went through her parents’ names, her birthday, ‘Smoochie’ the name of her annoying little dog, of course it was the same as her password at school, let no one accuse her of being an original thinker.

I was in, no notes on the desktop, no elaborate confessions or future suicide notes stored away for good measure and her wallpaper was a pink glass slipper with pink fluffy trim.

I opened up a browser and started looking into her history. I wasn’t expecting to find much on the surface, after all, this all transpired what, a year ago, maybe two. So I wouldn’t even expect this to be the same laptop let alone that she didn’t delete all her search history. But considering how neat her room was I expected she was the kind of person who took care of her toys. So there was a chance this was the same computer she used back then, or at the very least it was backed up with files from her previous computer.

Despite the fact she probably deleted her search history, it’s never really gone, nothing deleted ever truly stays deleted. It’s always there in some form or another, waiting for some clever little nerd to pick up and dust off.

It didn’t take too long because I had a rough idea of what I was looking for, key words; ‘poison’, ‘murder’, ‘getting away with murder’. Ethylene glycol, that was anti-freeze to the uninitiated. A perfect household poison, colourless and odourless and with a sweet taste that allowed it to be ingested rather easily. But resulted in a slow painful death after consuming very little. When broken down in the blood stream it was almost impossible to detect unless you knew exactly what you were looking for. And most hospitals didn’t even have the facilities to test for ethelyne glycol. According to Wikipedia.

A dull humming laughter sent ripples through the dark water. A suspenseful breathing from the dark watcher, it was enough, more than enough for him. But this was nowhere near enough for Brodsky. I’d need something hard, some proof he couldn’t deny.

Bending a knee I probed under the bed, the wide window giving me ample light to see all the nothing underneath. No dust or cobwebs or bloodied baseball bats to be found. I took a closer look and ran my fingers underneath the frame of the big white bed. My fingers coming to rest on something that felt jagged and creased and out of place. Stuffed between the mattress and the frame of the bed were what appeared to be wads of paper. As I pulled them out I saw them to be what they were, opened lettered with a women’s central jail postmark. They were from her now convict mother, no doubt she was still awaiting arraignment before sentencing. The wheels of justice turn so slowly here in this laid back state. It was not uncommon for someone to be warehoused in a jail awaiting trial for years at a time.

They were carefully opened but not so carefully pressed under the mattress so I didn’t see the need to put on gloves and a hazmat suit.

I just opened them and eased the paper out of the first letter and allowed it to unfold. The first letter was fairly average, talking about her trial sprinkled with general niceties, ‘how do you dos’, stuff normal people say. No damning Shakespearean pros or accusations, no hamlet uttered at all but as I scanned on I noticed some parts were for lack of a better word ‘Redacted’. That is some parts were scribbled over with a black marker. Not unlike you would with a yellow marker if you highlighting a portion of text but instead they were blotted out. Conjuring a wry chuckle from the dark watcher.

The letters seemed to be kept in the order they were received. As I got further along the lettered got a little juicier a little more frantic and raw needing a lot more redacting. Whole paragraphs were taken out of this to a point where I wondered why even keep them at all?

I really doubted these were admissible in court since I assumed prisons read the letters of inmates coming and going.

Some terminal sentimentality I could never understand. Some piece of the puzzle I thankfully lacked.

There were small portions that had been drying out for so long I could read in the light, “I understand, he was…” The letter was written in an odd way too. It didn’t seem like a mother writing to a daughter it felt more like a student writing to a teacher. It was laced with a manic devotion, an obsessive maternal bond. I felt like I was reading a fan letter to the night stalker. “I love you, I’ll do anything to protect you-anything”.

A flutter, a swift uplift of dark wings and I knew it was satisfied a while ago but this might be enough for Brodsky. Scribbling out a sentence with a black marker I was sure was not enough to hide the truth. Some lab geek with a laminate at Brodsky’s behest in Washington undoubtedly could cast some sort of forensic wizardry on it. And that would be the tip of the iceberg of circumstantial evidence to sink Wendy. Although how well it would hold up in court would be anyone’s guess and I would assume Wendy wouldn’t go down without a fight.

She’d hire the best lawyers available and she’d probably beat it.

None of this would hold up in court of course, but there was a totally different court we were arranging for Wendy with a very different type of judge and the sentences were a lot more creative to say the least.

The last letter was thicker and although I thought I would have enough I could see no harm in probing further.

I gently removed the letter and tipped the rest the content of the envelope onto the soft carpeted floor. A few pictures came tumbling out, little passport photos of them together as a family when she was a baby, cute couple. There were a few more shots of her as a baby forming a little pile on the cream carpet.

I gave a dry breathy chuckle as I saw the letter was merely one page of entirely blacked out letters. Maybe I should buy her a shredder for her birthday.

There was a standard high gloss photo of Wendy in a diamond tiara at her sweet sixteen, her hair done up like a princess. I was pretty sure I went to that. I remember wearing some hand-me-down dress that looked like a black vacuum bag. She had a professional photographer take our pictures like this in front of a painted screen made up to look like a tropical sunset. It wasn’t too dissimilar to the one that would be at the prom.

I turned the picture over and there was no secret esoteric message written on the back with blood just a regular photo.

There was another from that day but it was a little different. It was her in her brother’s lap but there was something strange about it, something in the way she was smiling. His faced was turned into her neck with his arms around her waist and hers around his head. There was just something off about it, her eyes shut like that, her smile not of happiness but of almost. I wanted to say ‘shame’ or something like that, she looked almost like she was being tickled and she liked it, a little too much. But not being an expert on human emotions I didn’t put too much stock in my evaluation. But it garnered some attention from the dark backseat, some probing question, some lingering intrigue. A dark smirk projected onto the inside of my skull.

I idly flipped it over like the picture before, not sure what I was expecting but it seemed vital in the moment and I wasn’t disappointed. I froze, spittle welling up in my mouth and I suddenly felt very small and very thirsty, my heart tightening with a vice grip in my chest. Written on the back in pencil were the words ‘DO YOU SEE?’

I had no time to think how he knew or how he got in here but I knew it wasn’t a coincidence.

A car horn outside, shit. Calm down Diana, this isn’t some shitty rear window knock off. She isn’t coming home in the middle of your little fishing expedition. She isn’t putting her key in the lock and she isn’t talking loudly in the hall on her cell phone. Or loudly walking up the stairs as we speak and I’m definitely not frantically stuffing the letters back under the bed and hiding there myself.

This was not how I expected today to go.

She came in and sat on the bed and I could do nothing but admire the excellent spring retention, you really get what you pay for. I guess guilty consciences are no match for space age mattresses.

She was talking on her cell phone, to whom I couldn’t fathom as I was desperately trying to remember if I’d left anything out of place in her room. I was sure I closed the computer, I put the check stubs back. I hoped.

I mean, I guess I could have played this off “Oh hey this isn’t my house, my bad”. But that was really a longshot. And I was already in the doghouse for missing the set up, I didn’t really want to add breaking and entering to that list of friendship testing events.

She didn’t seem too pre-occupied with searching her room. She was having what could have been described as a ‘heated discussion’ with someone on her cell phone. The doubt came from the fact she was talking in fast fire Cuban which was like Spanish which remember I suck at but working against an imaginary clock. It was pretty much completely beyond me.

So it was hard to tell if she was actually anxious or was having a perfectly normal conversation about sandwiches. It was only when she broke into a few sentences of rushed English that I picked up the reason she was home.

“I got another one”

“Another what?” The small voice on the other end said. I could barely make it out over the sound of her breathing, evidently speaking Cuban didn’t allow for breathing pauses.

“Another one of those fucking notes, someone knows Denny, someone fucking knows!” She said in a harsh whisper.

“You’re talking crazy” Denny said.

“I got one in my locker the other day and now I found one in Smoochie’s basket, someone knows and I have no idea what to do” She sounded frantic and teary eyed.

“Ok calm down, I’ll come over in a day or two and we’ll figure something out. If someone does know they would have gone to cops, this is just straight up blackmail, we can make that go away.”

How would they make me go away I wondered. He was so sure he could. Almost like he’d done it before. But then something stuck out at me.

I didn’t write a second note.

And I certainly didn’t put it in her dog basket while prepping for the prom since I was here. And as far as I know didn’t have a clone and thus could not be in two places at once.

I had been very busy but not that busy. I left the first note just to gauge her response, see a flicker of something certain and deadly behind those eyes, some glimmer of guilt and fear. I wanted her to see the slowly descending guillotine, just for a split second, just enough to know she did but so little that she could tell herself she didn’t. But that was all, I had what I needed, a second note would just be more of the same. Psychological torture sending her into this messy flurry of emotions and planning and readying. I wanted to nudge her not send her over the edge like this.

So then who sent the second note and why?

I had a rough idea but it seemed petty and silly and childish almost like a deadly prank. Someone wanted to see her rushing around like a headless chicken for their amusement. They wound her up like a toy and sent her reeling at me. It didn’t seem like something a cold blooded killer would do. Someone circling, waiting for the right time to strike making me feel like he was god’s hand. Everywhere, always watching, knowing my every move before I made it. Knowing that at any moment he could reach down and snuff me out.

It felt almost like a game.

Diana After Dark – Chapter 10 ‘I call him D’

Gonna keep this real short and sweet today, I woke up feeling like amy schumer fell on me. It must just be a mix of pushing myself really hard with the weight lifting and maybe too much staring at screens or not drinking enough. But I don’t see how it could not be not drinking enough because I literally drank three whole litres of green tea yesterday, don’t ask me how I know that but I did.

So yeah I feel like the inside of amy schumer’s toilet bowl today. Maybe not that bad, maybe the rim of of her biddy. Which is worse, I don’t know. Too shitty feeling for jokes, I just want to retire to the dark with my protein shake and silence.

But I bring updates, I was supposed to be writing but I had no idea what, got talking to another south african lovecraft fan recently and I really should get back to writing that but I felt a real urgency to keep the Diana train rolling because I think she has a real shot.

So instead of writing lovecraftian stuff I decided to do the pitch doc and query letter drafts for Diana After Dark. A lot more effort went into this and I’m pretty pleased with it and the blurb I think is probably the best I’ve ever done. You be the judge, I’ll leave it below for your viewing pleasure.

That’s pretty much it, I went over the editing Chrissy did up to now and I’ll wait for her to get enough done so I can make a complete pitch and then start sending it out to agents, see if I can’t get this thing off the ground. Although I think even if this book doesn’t get me attention from an agent I might just do another one and try to get that picked up as a series because I have some really good ideas for a second and third and even a fourth instalment.

That’s about it, 

See you…

Diana Harrison is the girl next door but be thankful she doesn’t live next door to you.

 Under her shy pretty girl exterior lives something a lot darker.

 

On the surface Diana is a happy go lucky senior at university high California. smart, funny and will laugh at all your bad jokes. She has a strapping boyfriend and a terrific grade point average. she seemed to have everything going for her. But her bold future is tested by a dark fascination with serial killers that borders on obsession.

Although some might find that strange and may not want to invite to their house party or to the prom she manages to keep her desires a secret.

However, when a real killer moves to town her inner and outer worlds begin to collide. A series of strange dreams and some haphazard internet snooping has landed Ditzy Diana in between the sights of the real thing and now she has no choice but to ‘come and see’…

 

~

Cutting out a lot of walking through bland bleached white halls. Not too dissimilar from the inside of a hospital complete with the smell of death and cleaning products. Here I was waiting in an ‘interview room’. It was sort of a bland egg shelled colour and it smelled vaguely of crayons.

It was just a square room that could have been an empty storage closet but for the table and chairs. There was no long two way mirror, just a camera, I was sure was on. But they would see nothing of interest, no tell or wink or talking to myself. I was without guilt of any kind, incapable of feeling it in fact and as far as I knew actually innocent of any crime larger than an overdue library book. My fantasies aside I was a pretty solid citizen, on paper. That was as far as I knew. Two or probably thirty minutes from now a detective could walk in here with a video of me robbing a jewellery store wearing the barmaids head as a hat.

I’m sure I’d look quite surprised, then again maybe not. I had dwelled on the possibility that the dark back seat driver might have been taking me around for a spin in the wee hours of the night. Slipping his driving gloves on and sidling over into the front seat while I was away with the faeries. But it seemed fanciful even for me. Although it would explain why I feel so rundown recently, I could just be getting my period.

I was about to delve deeper into another dark daydream when the seal on the door behind me was broken. I turned awkwardly to watch detective Cartwell saunter in looking down at a bland manila folder as if I hadn’t been waiting at least an hour at this point. Sipping a hot cup of coffee probably one of many. Our tax dollars at work.

There was something I liked about this place though. There was something beautifully impersonal about everything I saw. Men and women in and out of uniform shuffling about in a trance pretending they belonged, all separated out in little cubicles and cubies. The smell of justice a dank bitter smell like burnt coffee and cigarette butts. People brought together working towards something that could never truly be but was worth their time anyway. Like a maid constantly making a bed for others to sleep in only to have to make it again the next day. Making order from so much chaos, what a daunting task, I liked it.

He looked up at me like he didn’t expect me to be in here causing deep creases to form on his smooth chocolatey forehead. He then proceeded to slap the folder on the table as if it had pictures of the Kennedy assassination from an until now unseen new angle. My money was on Jackie this time around. Maybe it was the butler with the candle stick.

He took a sip of his coffee, waiting to say something, this whole thing I guess was to soften me up, let me stew, all protocol I was sure.

I could have said something, that was sort of the point of me being here. But I felt it impertinent to be the first one to talk in this situation, surely that would break some sort of criminal code. At least let the cop ask a question before you spill the beans entirely.

So I sat, adjusted myself in my seat a little bit and looked at him as he continued to look down and sip his coffee. I cleared my throat quietly, readying myself.

“Do you know why you’re here” He asked some, I was assuming, very guilty looking coffee granules at the bottom of his cup.

“Err” Eloquent as always. “Something to do with the heads in the lockers?” I asked myself, the words tiptoeing out playfully. The heads seemed like a distant memory now, a memento from a special day I never got to keep, I didn’t even keep the ball. Maybe I could still get it out of the trash.

He made a face at his coffee like he got all the way to the bottom only to discover the body of a fly in a set of tiny Bermuda shorts.

He looked up at me with half lidded eyes and made a sucking noise with his teeth before setting the empty cup down. The sound of the empty cup touching down on the table echoing went right through me. We had so much in common.

He then readjusted himself in his seat and made a sighing noise like he was about to open some grand grimoire of Diana’s mistakes past and present. A catalogue of all my thought crimes recorded for all to see. Probably even had my tween fascination with Justin Bieber and Edward from twilight in there too. That would have been truly incriminating. Especially if he found my adolescent fan fic shipping the two. My mind was wondering trying to distract from the dark hissing noise. A black punctured tire whispering to me in that mock reflection of my own inner voice.

A quiet siren ripping through the dark foggy depths of the ghost town called Diana.

He opened the file and split his lips as he looked at me, flipping a Photostat copy of a picture over in my direction.

In it; a blurry night still from a security camera, the vague outline of a hummer pulling out into the night.

“That picture was taken from a gas station security camera of a car fleeing the scene of the latest Headsman murder.” I don’t know what was more shocking, the picture or the fact not even the police could decide on a definitive name for him, Head-hunter, headsman, pick one.

I looked up at him and gave him my best teenage ‘so what’ face. Trying both not to look completely blindsided and also trying not to open my eyes wide enough for him to see that there was nothing behind them. Too much emotion, and too little would both be mistakes, what a tight rope I walk, how I envied Manson. He’d just make a funny face and say something vaguely intelligible.

“I- err” Great work Diana, you’ve got him eating out of the palm of your hand.

“Now what would be the chances that you would be the one to find those heads.” He sat back in his chair laying out some figurative diorama of events with his hands on the table separating us. “And only a day later photographed leaving the scene of another murder in your boyfriends car- and that is your boyfriends car isn’t it?” The question was mute, devoid of any inclination of doubt. He slid a few more pictures across the desk, these ones were less blurry. Different angles of the car even a nice shot from the front, my ghostly white face projecting through the tinted glass windshield. So alien looking, that whole night slid past me, I didn’t remember any of the drive back, just got filed away, burnt in a fire. He could show me cell phone footage of me drinking someone’s blood and flying away on a broomstick next and I would have shrugged. My heart was pounding now, jumping up and down. I could feel something rising, but it was slow and pleasant like the steady beat of Wagner through paper thin apartment walls.

Termites crawling through drywall, making a steady humming sound of tiny feet.

“You want me to believe this is a coincidence?”

That would be helpful. But neither of us were that dumb. I started to feel small and put upon like I was sitting in the principal’s office and I was about to be ambushed by my parents. Who would inevitably take the side of law and order and all things good and abandon poor Desecrated Diana.

I didn’t say anything, they can’t give you the electric chair if all you do is nod and drool. Was there a precedent for that?

“That’s you on those tapes.” He said it defiantly almost as a question. But there was something in his voice and the way he pointed and moved his head. Pointing at an imaginary VCR that made me think he didn’t really want to believe it. He didn’t want evil to be this cute. Something about that really troubled him.

I shrunk a little more away from him into my own little world.

He readjusted and sighed making some exaggerated face wiping gesture with both hands. As if he’d been the one waiting in here all this time to be accused of multiple murder that you probably didn’t actually do. “Look-

I don’t think a teenage girl is capable of all- that.” He said now with an air of divine leniency, a saint ready to let the sinner have a quick and merciful death instead of a long awkward one sitting atop a dull pike lathered in goose fat. “But I think you know something, I think it could even be someone at your school- your boyfriend maybe?” He nodded at me he was fishing now, the fight he had a moment ago, the hot spark of discovery was gone. He must have thought I would throw up or burst into tears when I saw the photos, not stare blankly at them hiding the rising tide of- something.

An air of almost perfectly crafted indifference. “I was just-“ Yes? “My boyfriend was taking me for a driving lesson” Weak Diana, that is terrible.

“At two O’clock in the morning, through central city?” He scoffed.

Oh Jesus, I was better off as the strong silent type, I should have asked for a lawyer, no that would have made me look ten times guiltier, don’t you watch TV?

Just as the silence between us had elongated to an incredibly unpleasant cacophony. The door opened again with the sound of Tupperware popping and the head of a tiny red-haired woman poked around it.

“Cartwell, captain Hughes wants to see you in his office”.

“I’m in the middle of an interrogation”

I thought this was the ‘interview room’ that’s false advertising!

“He says it can’t wait” The woman said.

He got up without saying another word, just a gasp or another sigh and a quick searching glance in my eyes, he’d find nothing and that’s what scared me the most. An odd expression crossed his face like he’d suddenly realised he’d been talking to a Burmese python this entire time. And I was just waiting for him to lie down and stop wriggling so I could unhinge my jaw and fit him footways into my mouth.

“Excuse me for a minute” He said before awkwardly angling himself around the desk, almost like he was trying to jump over it.

“Err” I said.

I waited for another ten or twenty minutes, trying not to look up at the camera or blurt out anything incriminating. Now that I thought about it I couldn’t even muster a confession. All the events leading up to this point were so disjointed. Despite actually being there, I doubted I could relay it in any particular order that made any sense. Not without needing to talk to a priest first.

I sighed, saddened by the fact even if he did rake me over the coals for hours and break me I wouldn’t even make enough sense to muster an insanity defence. Despite the fact I technically didn’t do anything but I had nothing really to bargain with either, no names to give no hard evidence. It crossed my mind to throw them Wendy like some sad tired over made up life preserver. Then remembering I still didn’t have any of that evidence they loved so much. It would just be a pathetic witch hunt spurred by a false confession based on ‘women’s intuition’.

Just as I was starting to feel sorry for myself and think of ways I could maybe accessorize or dye my hair in a toilet to go with an orange jump suit. Cartwell came bounding in looking a little flustered. He looked stolid, hiding a streak of glacial anger, like he’d received a swirly for good behaviour and was now looking to take it out on someone small and cute.

He stood aside from the door and made a flat dull donkey-like face. “You’re free to go”

“Err, whu-?” Kill me now.

“Word from on high is you’re a state case, I can’t touch you” He said it like I was covered in bugs or something to that effect.

A shard of glass came off my back and I felt a distinct shiver, what did that mean? Was I supposed to know? Was it the FBI? I just did a little harmless amateur hacking I swear, it’s not like I back doored the pentagon.

He cocked his head to the side motioning to the door and I got up awkwardly picking my heart up off the floor. Bundling out of the opening brushing past him as he held it open.

Something like a restrained growl coming from inside. A hushed pained yelping from a wounded dog was there something sharing space inside the good detective? Probably not, not everyone is a nutty serial killer Diana, get over yourself already.

I breezed down the hall finding some air in my lungs and some blood in my legs, it felt like I hadn’t used them in hours. I walked up and down feeling a little lost. I remember there being a bunch of surfer dudes busted for partying too hard. Trying to start the party all over again in the hallway cuffed to a bench. They were gone and the hallway was empty and samey looking, a graveyard quietus holding me in place.

An alien noise erupted from my purse and I jumped like an idiot in a slasher movie, it’s just your phone Diana.

I closed my eyes smoothing out my shirt and taking a deep calming yoga breath putting the phone to my ear.

“Diana?” The rugged voice said.

“You called me” I answered.

“You see you do need me after al.l” Brodsky croaked, a hoarse hissing laughter eking out like the sound of two planks rubbing together.

“You got me out of there?”

“What, don’t want to know how some OC detective who couldn’t find his ass with two hands and a Sherpa got his mitts on that footage. And only a few days after the incident in question?” He cleared his throat, it needed a lot of clearing “Warrants have to be issued subpoenas given out, it can take weeks. How would he even know to look at that stretch of road or that gas station in particular? He’d have to look at the security footage of a five block radius of the house. And why would he even bother for some low life gangbanger?”

“So it was you, you’ve been shadowing me?”

“Not me personally, I don’t get around so good anymore. I can help you or I can bury you under so much red tape you’ll wish you were dead. Do we understand each other?”

“You brought me here”

“I brought you here and with one phone call I can keep you here for as long as I want.”

“What do you want?”

“You know what I want and I think I know what you want.”

“I’m working on it” I said.

“Good”.

A few days of inaction passed, school, home, sleep. That process continued on for a short time until the weekend got the better of me. I realised procrastination was getting me nowhere and prom was getting ever closer. So now, as fortunes would have it Dumb Dawdling Diana found herself snugly entombed in the cool dank dark of the fairly roomy trunk of a Lincoln town car. Black as far as I can remember, terrible for this heat.

Maybe I should have been more alarmed but I was too busy listening for the turn and feeling the speed bumps to think about my immediate future. Muffled voices of inane pleasantries exchanged, you’re regular ‘How do you do’s’ and all that, ‘isn’t the weather lovely, what a nice day for a vivisection’. And then a mechanical noise of a gate rising, engine biting and rising and nosing through the gate.

I waited for a moment for them to clear the checkpoint. It was a five mile zone in this neighbourhood so I opened the trunk and stepped out quick and low and braced into a walk as casual as Larry, whomever Larry was. ‘Yeah I live here, just an average girl walking her- nothing.’ Shit should have brought a leash or something, maybe a clip board and stick on tie to look official, life a teenage garden inspector.

Oh you thought? Dashing dark lit Diana trapped in a trunk by some dastardly dude? Nay, I mean no, not yet anyway. Not if I had anything to say about it.

It was just the slickest way I could think of breaking into a gated community unannounced.

I’m getting ahead of myself, what am I doing? I asked myself as I started to feel like I was walking aimlessly as my eyes adjusted to blaring mid-morning L.A sun. Forgot my sunglasses, who does that? Oh how I pity you, ditzy deadly Diana.

I felt pressed, moulded, pushed along by hands seen and unseen and possibly one cold claw. A little field trip was of vital import.

Wendy Vargas, my dear old pal and for all intents and purposes; blood sister, lived in a nice little three bed three bath Condo in the Anaheim hills. About a thirty minute drive from school in a gated community known as ‘Viewpointe north’. Very glitzy, I must say.

It was a Saturday, of course it was, you wouldn’t expect a solid citizen, model pupil like me to skip class to do what exactly? A drop of home invasion, some measured manslaughter perhaps? I could be so lucky.

I picked this day for two reasons, school being the latter. The former was that today I knew exactly where Wendy was going to be because I was meant to be there with her. Today was supposed to be early prep work for the senior prom which was only a couple of days away, now I thought about it. Doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun?

Just benign things like hanging up streamers and sticking up posters, she had the whole committee helping I’m sure she wouldn’t miss me. I already called in sick ahead of time and subsequently turned off my phone. Promising her I would be buried under a mound of sheets and clothes sweating out some summer cold. Hoping to be rid of it before the ‘really like seriously important dance’. If I had had a conscience this is the moment it would popping up like that little Microsoft paper clip; “It looks like you’re trying to break into your best friend’s house to look for evidence implicating her in a murder”.

Of course lacking any of those oh so human draw backs I walked the streets without a care. Almost considering whistling a happy tune as I strolled the carefully pruned lawns and shrubberies of the block looking for her house in particular.

It was a very nice neighbourhood, reserved only for state senators, criminal attorneys and, I guess one ex-sandwich shop magnate.

I had been to her house before of course, being best buds and all. I could probably make some excuse with the gate keeper guard guy, say I forgot my iPod or whatever at her house. ‘Oh please mister guard could I go get it?’ Batting an eyelid or even two. But then there’s the problem of signing in and out. There’d be a record of my coming and going and although I didn’t plan on leaving any evidence there was a good chance she’d be told that I was here. And that was something I was willing to climb into the trunk of strangers car to avoid. In case you were wondering how I knew where the car was heading, they all have these stickers on them. Sort of a sign of status but helps easily identify peoples cars at a distance. So then the guards can decide when walking up whether to put on the fake shit eating grin. ‘Good morning Mr rich asshole’ or the stern Pitbull scowl ‘fuck off Mr nobody guy, no one’s buying bibles today!’.

Even their mail must have been sorted through that booth. I wandered if they filtered their internet too, maybe they warmed their toilets seats before they sat down. Who was I kidding? Of course they had heated toilet seats, goes without saying.

Actually now that I thinking about it, it had been a while since I’d visited her, maybe as far back as middle school play dates. But even then I think that was just an excuse for my ‘Aunt’ to see how rich people lived. Larp as one for an afternoon while Wendy showed me her collection of ethnic Barbie’s from around the world. Even then I found that tiresome and I could only dream of sticking all the heads of her Barbie’s on the gate surrounding Casa de Barbie’s dream villa. Complete with a real working hot tub and sauna.

In all honesty she didn’t really interest me back then, we’d stayed in contact, this was all before the ‘unpleasantness’ that befell her father. After that quite coincidentally we reconnected in high school. No one really interested me if I was being ‘really’ honest, not any further than I wondered what their insides looked like. Even then I felt like a shaved fox walking the cramped halls of a battery farm chicken coop licking my lips and asking only ‘when?’

The answer to that question always a shrill and chilling ‘Soon’.

Always soon, never now.

I had of course tried to get the area up on google so I could ‘walk the streets’ so to speak but even my digital footprint was denied access. I guess google wasn’t even good enough to set foot on these hallowed grounds, how privileged I felt even breathing their air. It was sort of heady and crisp, maybe they had it pumped in from aspen. It wouldn’t surprise me.

The houses of course were all perfectly breath taking. Smooth and gorgeous like they’d all been cut from one piece of stone, just giant liveable sculptures, little Mount Rushmore’s. Each distinctly wonderful and in keeping with the high end aesthetic. Without falling into the trap of being carbon copies of the other, wouldn’t dream of it.

Sprawling but perfectly modest two story buildings with beautiful well-kept lawns on all sides. Without any fences or gates surrounding them. Why bother when all the riff raff are kept out by armed guards and probably dogs, lots of angry dogs.

Finally after a couple of minutes of half purposeful walking. That’s half ‘I belong here’ confident, a little arm swing, fleet of foot, ‘I have somewhere to be, don’t stand in my way’ and half ‘shit, I’m lost’, have you seen fluffy? Is this my house or? Have you been drinking in the morning again?’ I came across a house I was sure I recognised.

It was a large two story condo, a sandy almost salmon pink colour, something like lime sandstone maybe I dunno, I’m not an architect. High school kid remember.

A huge almost church window on the front of the second floor and a giant white garage door below it. Tastefully dusted with trees and shrubs with some spikey looking desert plants put in for good measure. Gave it an overall atmosphere of look but don’t touch, sadly I could not comply.

The front door was for some odd design choice not actually at the front but sort of tucked at an odd angle almost in the house’s elbow. With raised partition of walls on one side and the full structure of the house on the other. Which was decidedly to my advantage as it would hide my advance around the house. To anyone given to an idle glance it would just look like a little rich white girl walking to her front door and then disappearing into the splendour she so rightfully deserved.

I know what you’re thinking; ’really you’re going to break into a probably nearing five hundred thousand dollar house in the middle of the day. Guarded by a team of armed ex-army and moonlighting cops? Yes, yes I was. I was that stupid, that desperate.

Really, honestly, you think I wouldn’t think of a way round this? Ok yeah you’d be right. I was just hoping something would come to me in the time it took for me to walk up the drive and open the unlocked door. Holy crap, you have to be kidding me?

DDD Chapter 8 ‘Love in High Places’

Hows it going bros?

Felt like copying pewdiepie since I’ve taken up a new hobby of watching people play walking simulator games, saving me time and money haha. People who pay for that shit are retarded, Outlast is basically condemned without any gameplay or worthwhile story at all. You just run around and hide and look for maguffins until something kills you and rinse and repeat. So I’ll happily watch someone else do that while I play something worth my time like Kingdom Come which I plan to review and Elite Dangerous which I plan to play into my eighties, if I live that long.

Feeling a little low energy this morning because I started lifting weights again and it feels like my body is trying to eat itself. I ate my body weight in meat and eggs this morning and I still feel lethargic as fuck. Gonna invest in some whey protein powder see if I can perk myself up a little and chase dem gains bruh.

On top of that I got banned on facebook again this time for a spongebob gas chamber meme haha. Pictured below.

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I don’t even remember what it was in response to, some poz shit I saw on facebook, I mean it’s so full of poz shit. You can’t turn your head on fb without seeing a little boy wearing make up or becoming a drag queen or some heartfelt appeal to let migrants crawl inside your body and take your guns haha.

I really just hope facebook crashes and burns I mean I know I was trying to be offensive with the meme but seriously, this is just ridiculous. Eventually facebook is just gonna go full 1984 and ban any words even remotely connoting negativity and people will end up saying “minus good, ungood, double plus good”. All they do is shrink the ways we can express ourselves about gas chambers until we can’t even think about gas chambers and then we find all we want to think about is gas chambers and then we’re in the gas chambers haha!

Makes perfect sense haha.

Censorship is fucking bullshit, unless it’s to keep like poz away from kids, kids should not know what drag queens or know anything about gay stuff until they’re old enough to understand it. It’s just messed up man, I didn’t even know what drag queens were when I was a kid. How can a kid be something he doesn’t even know exists? There’s a reason we don’t tell kids about this stuff, because they’re impressionable and they don’t know what’s best for them.

That’s why it’s so subversive to have these shows that are about low level degeneracy like that drag race show, because you’ve got like these weird liberal parents letting their kids watch it. And kids just wanna emulate everything their parents like. We really need to have some standard of decency when it comes to kids and adults.

Kinda just rambling because my brain feels like pancake batter right now.

A little bummed out because it seems to be really over for me and my babymama, I guess we just turned a corner in our loathing for eachother, and in a way I don’t feel sad because if it can break so easily, without even trying is it really worth having? Is something so fragile really worth being so broken up about?

I dunno, I just miss the little one, really badly.

Maybe I should kill myself haha.

See you…

Diana After Dark

~

I did as I was told. What else could I do? I don’t seem to remember a montage of ninja training in my backstory, no secret swat teams backing me up, rappelling down the roof as we speak. My one and only knight in shining armour was probably on the other side of town with a hangover. And here I was making little jokes to myself when my head was probably going to be decorating my own mantle in a matter of minutes. Goodbye cruel world, we were going to have so much fun together.

 

I walked gingerly into the living room with the air of someone who’s hand was permanently glued into the cookie jar. The proverbial curious cat about to meet a sticky end.

 

It was dark, because of course it was, how else to set a mood. I couldn’t see a thing, completely pitch. But I felt a wave come over me, a sibilant ring from the dark back seat driver. A cold feeling at the back of my neck I assumed wasn’t the kiss of a channel number five lipstick but the barrel of a gun.

 

A hushed voice with a slight Latin twang told me to walk closer and as my eye adjusted I saw my aunt. Silent and solemn on her knees in front of the couch in our living room. She wasn’t making a noise. Her head hung like she was Marie Antoinette awaiting the headman’s axe with a cloistered dignity as if she were about to let her captures eat cake. I hope they choke on it.

 

‘They’?

 

Then it struck me, the gun at my neck was still there and there was another, a knife, a knife at my aunts neck. There were two of them, two killers. That made it a lot easier to lug all those parts I imagined.

 

“What now Cuz?” The gun at my neck croaked with a boyish whisper.

 

“We do them here, no witnesses, the older bitch is yours, I’m gonna take my time with this one”. The voice I recognised said.

 

Hi Antoine, great party last night.

 

He dropped my aunt, the knife coming away from her neck, something deep inside told me that was good. She was still and stoic, taking on the doer nature of a good martyr, no tears just a distant and tacit acceptance. A cold detachment to the earthly realm.

 

The gun at my neck came around my side and Ruez got close enough so I could smell his breathe.

 

“I bet you thought that was pretty funny, me all tied up like that, naked. I bet it made you feel really –  powerful.” He smiled in the dark but I could see the odd white tooth and feel the knife twist under my chin but I wasn’t afraid, there was something else. A shiver of cool excitement rising up from the darkness. The black gently shifting building silently beneath the waves trying to tell me what? ‘I told you so’. “How do you feel now uh?”

 

“I-“ I was rudely interrupted by a crash of glass. The room almost turned red with their fear, their shock. Their perfect bubble burst by some idle cat burglar or maybe my neighbour Gary got carried away showing someone his backswing.

 

“Go check it out” Ruez whispered.

 

“Why me?” The younger boy croaked.

 

“Because I said so” Ruez hissed. Turning his head to spit on our nice carpet, yuck.

 

“Fuck me man” The younger voice said as he tiptoed out of the room.

 

He got close again, his breathing rising and falling on my face. “I bet you’re wondering how I found you. It wasn’t the phone-“ He stopped, breathing heavily as if he wanted me to ask. Wanted me to play some guessing game. I just looked at my aunt. There was something strange about her, something unsettling. She said nothing, looked at nothing, like she expected this, like she was already dead. Like she’d been waiting for this the whole time. “My cousin Emillio, he goes to your school, aint that a trip? I described you and he knew right away who you were, I think he must have some kind of crush on you.” He laughed. “Maybe I should let him drill you when he comes back, maybe we’ll take turns before we mount your head like you did my boys.”

 

School, it didn’t even cross my mind. All the faces in the crowd, blending together. So hard to pick one out, one looking at me, seeing me, waiting, watching. That was the last place I should have let my guard down but I did. Probably sat behind me for years and we wouldn’t have exchanged a Qué pasa? I guess my Spanish is getting better.

 

I was surprised, no silent alarm from the dark watcher, no ring on the black bat phone? A distant sibilant chuckle fading in and out. An unintelligible whisper, a game of hide and seek. Oh you were playing possum. I’m being punished, for what? What did I do? Dreadfully dim Diana didn’t do anything wrong. That was exactly the point. I was being punished for being a goodie two shoes.

 

What now?

 

“I know you didn’t do all that alone, little girl like you had help.” He was breathing heavily now, looking around, feeling darkness coming soaking into his flesh, getting closer. He got close, putting the knife against my throat “Who you working for huh? The Diaz brothers? They closing in on my turf? Tell and I’ll only cut off on ear and leave your pretty face alone, how bout that?”

 

Another crashing noise coming from the kitchen, the sound of a muffled breath and a deeply disconcerting thud.

 

“Hey Emillio, hurry your ass up!” He whispered harshly into the dark empty hallway.

 

“Maybe he tripped, it’s pretty dark”

 

“Shut up!”

 

“You should go check on it, maybe he grazed his knee”

 

“I said shut up” He hit me with the base of the knife and the room shook, a pulse of pain radiating down through my neck and shoulders. I felt my knees buckle and I started to feel nauseous almost instantly.

 

My vision fading in and out and I see something, I feel something, I can see right through him, the animal roar. The shrill cry of whatever it is inside him, that’s like me but not like me. Sending vicious feral war cries out in answer.

 

Two shadows stretch and cross but then another, deeper darkness swallows them both. Eclipses them, blots them out, fills the room with a deep impenetrably darkness thicker than ink and tar and I feel my knees wobble and he feels it too.

 

“Emillio, what took you so long man?”

 

Emillio stands in the door way, doing the strong silent type thing as I feel the room shaking around me, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home. The eye of the hurricane tossing my little world up into the stars as I try to hold on for dear life. I’m falling pulling at Ruez, trying to stop the room spinning, just keep still, can he feel it?

 

“Talk to me man – get off me, crazy bitch” He throws me to the ground.

 

I spread my fingers out on the carpet praying for this feeling to stop, the pressure inside building. The cry of the dark thing inside growing louder and louder, telling me to watch.

 

“What the fuck, say something, you’re freakin’ me out, man”

 

He strides to the door and then he feels it, the pressure, the animal fear, the dagger intent, the murder dripping from the walls, but it’s too late. I hear the rustling of dark wings unfurling, spreading across the walls casting a shadow darker than pitch. The thing inside Ruez, I see spark for a moment, turning its ears up like a mouse just before the owl swoops.

 

I can see it in the corner of my eye but moreover I feel it, I have sonar, echo location. I can see the whole room like it was a water colour, every pixel laid out in front of me in stark detail. The darkness like a piece of pin art, it’s solid, I can touch it.

 

I’m crawling, I see the knife. The figure at the door is slow, like he’s moving in water, but I can’t seem to get out of the way, Ruez is frozen, the knife in his hand at the end of a long tunnel. It takes forever for the signal in his brain to cross the lake of circling sharks and tell him that’s exactly what he needs. His movements slow and shambolic. He lifts the knife as if he were conducting an orchestra raising the point not knowing where exactly he wants to put it or if there is even a place for it. The shadows surround the man at the door, bind him, make an armour, a shield. He’s riding them, flowing on them, I want to cover my eyes and ears, if I could, if I thought it would keep the screaming out. The dark fires lapping at me, the blinding black light.

 

The man at the door was a dark god cutting through the air. His movements slow and powerful, uncaring, unfeeling, unwavering. He passes Ruez like he was made of spider webs. Passes through him like he wasn’t even there, like he was a memory, a ghost, a far gone conclusion, a sentence waiting for a full stop. Cutting him once across the neck with an effortless flourish, an afterthought someone else’s mess cleaned up, my mess.

 

His head drops to the floor and rolls towards me and I see nothing in his eyes. A voided emptiness, a perfect mirror of my own.

 

I look up, I try to look at him but his face is blank, a mask or something else. I feel it rising, the part of me deep down, screaming and laughing, I can’t tell if this is the end or the beginning. A triumphant cavalry cry or the last gasp of a dying lizard about to have its head crushed under a desert rock.

 

I can’t take it anymore, the crushing pressure, the blackness folding over me, getting heavier and heavier. I feel myself letting go, a giddiness and a drowsiness, I can’t keep my eyes open. The rattling thing inside tells me it’s ok that I can sleep.

 

I hear a muffled scratching noise and a voice too close to my ear say “You see it now?”

 

A sharp scratching sensation and then at my neck, and then nothing but sweet black nothingness.

 

-A sound like dripping water, things coming into focus.

 

“Wake up wake up”. A little boys voice says.

 

A little girls voice says “Look what you did”.

 

“It wasn’t my fault, he made me do it,”

 

“Made you do what?” A low hushed voice said.

 

I felt a swimming heady feeling and my eyes roll back in my skull, I felt groggy, my head full of silt and naughty pictures of what could and what had been. The light was on and it peaked through the crack in my eye. It was bright and burned.

 

“Diana?” The voice said again. Then I felt it on my skin, that cold implement pressed unfeeling, clamped on my wrist. Completely alien, unaware entirely of its own weight and the pressure it applied, or the shock it delivered. Every trip to the gynaecologist thrust back into my mind.

 

I hissed away from the shock of the cold and the static and the fear of familiarity. Freddy Krueger leaping out of my dream about to give me a shiatsu with a happy ending.

 

I crawled into a corner of the couch I’d been laid on and looked around like a cornered animal. Hiding my eyes from the harsh light, trying to catch glimpses of the person talking. Of course I knew who it was but my brain seems to like surprises.

 

“What are you doing here? Where’s my aunt?” I croaked out.

 

“Your aunt is in the kitchen- she’s alright” The man said with the cool brisk calm of an EMT. As if holding the good news hostage for greater effect. A scary feeling a pause can make, the power it can hold.

 

It was the man from the Starbucks, in what I could only assume was my living room bleached almost white from the morning OC sun and every light in the house. I couldn’t see his face, the light was too bright but who else could it be?

 

The wheelchair and the cold metal grip.

 

“Are you alright?” He spoke softly this time, like he was talking to a child. His whiskey scarred throat made his words sound like they passed through a dirty coffee filter to get to my nice clean ears.

 

Good question, am I alright? I looked about myself, everything seemed to be attached. I wasn’t looking at the inside of a burlap sack, I got the crap stung out of me by mosquitos though, California man.

 

But other than feeling like an inside out gym sock I was ok, a little muggy, a little fragile but I was all there. As all there as an amateur teen psycho can get.

 

There was something else though, something missing.

 

I looked about my living room slowly moving my head with a deliberate painful tossing of heavy wet sand in my skull. Like some kid on Christmas morning with an eggnog hangover.

 

“What are you looking for?”

 

Why the ‘parts’ of course. “Err nothing, I dropped my phone, I guess.” Some blood, some sign that it wasn’t all some euphoric fever dream. The hand of god come down to swat me on the butt and then tiptoe off back into the clouds.

 

Anything would have been good, a toe, a blood trail, a bloody handprint on the wall. Some Poe maybe written in brains on the mirror above the TV.

 

But there was nothing, not a trace, not a fingernail, not a hair, not even a pillow out of place. The living room was how it always looked, unlived in and boxy in the same sandy colours as the outside of the house. A dark old TV in the corner reflected the room at an odd bevelled angle in black. Only a feint smell of cleaning products remained.

 

Was it all a dream? A twisted fantasy of a twisted fantasist? I wanted so badly to be in the middle of this, did I just dreamed it into existence. Created my own boogieman to toy with myself?

 

So then what was all this, why was he here? “Can I see my aunt?” Posed as a question it sounded strange like I was a prisoner. But I knew she would hold some shred of it if it was real. Some shard of it would be in her eyes even if she lied. There was something there I could hold onto, but maybe I wanted to believe enough that I would just see it regardless.

 

“Not just yet, I wanted to talk to you.” He really did sound like a councillor now. His voice was softer and his face hidden by the light made him look far less like some Halloween mask come to life on a broken scarecrow.

 

“Shoot” I said, probably a poor choice of words.

 

“Tell me what you remember about your parents” He asked like he could cross his legs and he had a clipboard.

 

But the question seemed to linger and suddenly I could hear a tingle of bells ringing on a line. An intruder stepping over the dark divide from the happy preppy sunshine world of Diana the day dreamer into Diana the dweller of the dark. I could hear myself swallowing, the unknowing of things suddenly a weight across my shoulders.

 

“They died in a car crash” Something said using my lips.

 

“Who told you that? Your aunt?” He asked, now intently listening behind the light. I couldn’t tell if his eyes were even open, it was just one bright blank canvas, shadow pooling in the crags and scars on his face. “Do you want to know how they really died?”

 

“Do I want to know?” I asked myself out loud. A sudden bobbing sinking feeling gripping me like headlights in the bright deep darkness lunging at me.

 

“Your father was a very- neat, man, but he got involved with a lot of – messy people” He stopped to take in a wheezing breath through his scarred nose.

 

“…”

 

“Needless to say it ended badly”

 

“Badly”

 

“Yes, as in your mother got her skull caved in with a baseball bat and your father drowned somewhere off the coast of Biscayne Bay, his body was never found.” I didn’t say anything but I could hear my breathing like I was in a dark tunnel alone and my pupils must have shrank. Everything thereafter sounded like I was a in a deep long empty hall. “But that’s not what made you the way you are, no that came later”

 

“The way I am?” My voice echoed down that long white hall.

 

“Don’t fuck with me, the time to fuck with me is over” He said softly like he meant it.

 

“Why are you telling me this? How do I know you’re-?”

 

“That I’m telling the truth? You don’t, you won’t ever know, not for sure but I came to you.” He was smooth and diplomatic now.

 

“Was it him?” There I was being dumb again.

 

“Wouldn’t that be nice and simple? A neat little ball” He cleared his throat and jangled around in his chair, moving the bulk of his large torso around. “No, this is a lot more –complicated.”

 

“Complicated” I felt like a child now, small, cradling my knees like he was some old relative about to tell me about the birds and the bees. Very very awkward.

 

“He was- different, neat, clean, sharp but he got careless, too caught up in himself. I helped him with a few of his ‘messes’ and he helped get me out of a few of mine – he was a good guy, when you stripped him down.” He said making a croaking noise in his throat as if unsure himself.

 

“I. Err”

 

“All said and done he would have been a good father- but it just wasn’t meant to be.” He made a sucking sound in his mouth and got lost somewhere and came back.

 

“My aunt, I-” I was sounder dumber by the minute, starting sentences I couldn’t finish.

 

“She’s not your aunt, you can stop calling her that”

 

“She’s not?”

 

“No, she’s not, it was very fuzzy after what happened, a lot of courts, a lot of foster homes a great big chuckle clusterfuck-

Your aunt, your real aunt” His face suddenly got more lines, shadow forming in the cracks, he touched his face as something like pain from an old wound danced like a devil in the cold moonlight in his mind “She’s dead.”

“When my parents died?”

 

“No, this came later, like I said.” He made a noise in his throat like he was getting tired of explaining something so obvious and flat to a complete dullard, Diana the dullard. He sighed “Look, I’m not doing this well, explaining it. I guess she wanted to be the ‘cool aunt’ instead of the dead eyed older sister” He said with a little mirthless chuckle. “She wanted to protect you.”

 

“Sister” I have a sister. What came later? “Protect me from what?”

 

“Half-sister on your mother’s side.” He cleared his throat and worked the ants out of his ancient pants. “After what happened I managed to pull a few strings and I buried the both of you six feet under a mountain of paperwork. No one could find you, you could be whoever you wanted to be, make a fresh start in a new town. Get away from all this mess and have a chance at something close to normal. I felt like I owed it to your father, but there was one thing I didn’t account for.”

 

I knew exactly what he was going to say, the little lithe fingers at the back of my neck told me, the whispering thing, the dark dancer snickered.

 

“You” He said pointing a shiny claw at me. “I’m not a tech savvy guy as you might expect. Not my generation. I prefer the kind of tech that needs to be oiled and cleaned every day, all this computer crap just goes over my head but not over his.” He cleared his rattle snake throat. You didn’t know it, you couldn’t know it but every blog, every post, every tweet was a red flag to someone who was looking, a bread crumb leading him closer to you.”

 

“Does he want to kill me?” I asked.

 

“If only it were that simple.” He sighed.

 

The next day after school instead of taking me home Paul and I had planned a little trip up into the chino hills, about a half hour drive from school. A spur of the moment kind of thing for me but something he’d apparently been eagerly awaiting to do that didn’t involve putting anything in my butt. We had everything we needed packed up into the back of his dad’s hummer.

 

The sun was still where it ought to be, just hanging in there, tired but ready to give us enough rope to hang ourselves with this warm afternoon.

 

We took the state highway through Anaheim, the traffic was delightfully manic, no one took a shot at us but no one dared. Paul’s dad’s mobile fortress of solitude could part the waves with ease. Only a semi had the chance to come out of a head on collision with anything less than a broken axle. It rocked like a boat as he over took the angry Orange county drivers on their way home from a busy day of working in paradise or just surfing. His driving was precise but with a necessary measured violence, each turn, each gear change was a tactical strike. It was really the only way to survive California traffic, squash or be squashed, of course it helped to be the biggest dog on the road.

 

But all the carnage outside the bottled aggression pent up from hours of staring at computer monitors. Or talking about air conditioning parts released on the commute home from the good people of Orange County wasn’t enough of a distraction for me. My head resting on one side looking out the window but not really looking at anyone. Maybe idly flipping people off as we passed which was a custom, a learned response, like an ok sign.

 

My mind drifting to the couch and the words of the strange old man in the wheelchair. Stored and kept and remixed a little in my head, distilling it, boiling it down to its most sweet base elements. My eyes opening and closing as the scenery drifted by through carbon canyon. The dry dusty hill covered in anaemic greenery drying out in the noonday sun.

 

“Your blog, or whatever it is, why did you make it?” The old man asked me.

 

“I don’t know, it’s just something- I needed a way-.” I stumbled, it started to feel like I was describing rubbing up against a washer dryer.

 

“To talk about it?” His voice was harsh and scratchy and getting scratchier. This wasn’t how I pictured telling anyone about this, had I thought about telling anyone at all. I think everyone does, everyone wants to tell eventually, they want people to see them, the real them, one way or the other.

 

“…”

 

“Why serial killers?” He asked, as if it wasn’t obvious

 

“I-“

 

“I almost didn’t want it to be true, you’re the same as him.” He got uncomfortable for a second, I almost felt like I should blush. “Something inside you” He pointed the claw at his chest and said “It talks to you?”

 

“…”

 

“What does it say?”

 

“I doesn’t say anything”

 

“Well then what does it do?”

 

“He, it, it just makes it seem like a good idea.”

 

“Killing?”

 

“…”

 

“Have you ever?”

 

“No” I said incredulously.

 

“Not even an animal”

 

“…”

 

We were rounding the dune-like sandy hills, the grass was a desert khaki colour, we had to drive around the whole park to get to the entrance on Elinvar drive.

 

We parked up at the end of the street and hopped out into the muggy mid-afternoon. Paul got out jangling keys without saying a word circled back around the car and opened the trunk.

 

 “Here grab this”. Innuendos aside, He took out a small black case and handed it to me, I took it, it was a little heavy but I ate my Wheaties this morning.

 

I was feeling a little giddy, maybe it was the slight elevation. The air was a little thinner and smelled different, less like people and more like dirt.

 

He pulled out something long and thin and hard wrapped in a piece of shamy leather and set off quickly up the trail at a medium paced stride.

 

“You coming” he yelled back at me, he was feeling it now for sure, all those juices flowing. Must have felt like he was straddling a camel in Baghdad with an m60 strapped to his back.

 

I kept up pace as we hiked further and further away from the road, getting a lot quieter as we did, only my minds wanderings to keep me entertained.

 

“Why didn’t you tell me?” I ask her, my ‘aunt’.

 

“I don’t know, I just- it just seemed right.” There was something contemplative in her words. I was being shielded even now from something darker than even my imaginings and it made my heart skip thinking about what it could be. Dancing just outside my peripheral vision, gliding along the edge of a wine glass, ready to crack it and slip off. “I wanted to give you a chance. A chance to be whole”.

 

My aunt looked at me, her eyes welling with a cocktail of emotions all of which I couldn’t begin to understand. She was looking into my eyes knowing, and knowing that I knew she knew. That there was nothing behind them. I was empty and she’d known all along. She’d hoped and prayed but her worst fear had come true, I was a monster, a shadow, a poor reflection of a human. No different from the ones she was running from.

 

She burst into tears on the breakfast bar in the kitchen. All I could do was stretch out a puppet like hand and pat her head saying “There there.” Dropping my hand on her head like it was made of wood.

 

I couldn’t feel anything but my heart pounding and my legs chaffing lugging the case around. There was a little bit of wind coming off the coast and reaching the high-ish peaks. The empty hilly landscape stretching out now on all sides. I regretted the jean shorts this time. The brittle dry grass slashing and scratching my legs as I walked passed. The sun was slowly losing its grip on the sky, starting its shambolic descent into a watery grave. Only to rise from the dead the next day with a cock crow and a “Hey what’d I miss, no gruesome murders I hope” expression on its face.

 

It was warm but the breeze and the coming night gave you all the heady air you needed to feel a slight buzz. Maybe I was sharing a high.

 

I could feel the smile in the back of his head. Beaming like a Boy Scout heading to a magical Indian pow wow. Somewhere between that and hunting bin laden in Orange County.

 

When it was quiet enough, secluded enough. Far away from the road and civilisation we stopped and he set the thing in the wrappings down and unfolded it.

 

“You can put the case down on that rock” He said as he stood the rifle up looking it up and down. It was a regular hunting rifle, probably one of his. Just a regular wooden hand cocked hunting rifle. I guess he thought a tactical black semi-auto AR would have been too scary and most likely illegal in this super liberal state. Anything black and scary and pointy was usually banned in California, all the good it did.

 

I watched as he patted it fondly, cocking and shouldering it, looking down the iron sights.

 

I set the case down on the rock and opened it. Inside was a four pistols of varying calibre, don’t ask me what they were, I’m a girl. One was a revolver, I knew that much. There were two like that one out of the matrix and then another. And a little one that looked like the one James bond uses but a little more boxy.

 

“Pick one and we’ll start.” He was walking over by another rock about fifteen feet away from the spot he put out the mat that had wrapped the rifle. Now spread out like a picnic blanket. And I forgot to make sandwiches.

 

He set up a can of diet coke on a rock, I hasten to think where he found it, only fat girls drink diet coke. I like water, of the mineral variety, the mineral being steel from the faucet. But what about the fluoride in the water turning the ‘friggin’ frogs gay Diana’? I’m not that type of crazy. Sadly.

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