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Darkly Dreaming Demographic.

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murder mystery

Diana After Dark Chapter one ‘Darkly Dreaming’ *remurdered edition.

(posted late because there was a freak storm here that knocked out my internet for a day haha)
Yes I’m this lazy, rather than proof reading and posting another chapter of Cur (of which I have lots of) I’m re-using Diana chapters haha. Ok well they have been fully edited and now I’m going over them again for the final proof read before I submit them so it’s a little different.

This is essentially the final version so it’s a much more polished version than I give the plebs on inkitt haha. And honestly looking at it, it has changed a lot, it’s really grown up with the help of my new editor and I’m really proud of it and really glad I went over it again because some of the formatting was fucking broken from the editing software haha.

I’m just posting the whole chapter because this is not going up on inkitt, this is just a sample. You gotta pay for this haha. Or maybe I’ll give it away for free next year who knows. I really hope I don’t have to.

Feel really shitty today because I missed another day of work and I really really need the money right now. I just fucked up and I feel really fucking frazzled trying to reset my body clock coming back from the holiday. I feel like a zombie only getting the 4/5 hours again so it’ll be a couple of days before it becomes normal again and this fucking heat is not helping. I feel like I’m fucking melting, two fans on me and I feel like a polar bear in an oven.

Maybe I should switch to drinking cold green tea.

Actually fuck it, I’m gonna do that right now brb haha.

*30 minutes later

Well that took longer than I expected.

Not much to report beyond that. I like this Parker book but it’s not really delivering on characters and suspense in the usual way. I like it when Parker is just this unstoppable force like in the first books he’s going against the whole mob and they can’t touch him. Because he’s this one guy who can dissapear and reappear wherever and he has a network of people just like him who’ll help him and the mob is this stalwart force with names and faces and addresses he can find. The third book is when it hits home that really the mob can’t touch him because he’s not a real person with a real name or even a real face by that point he’s already had facial surgery.

Parker basically lives like a ghost and they’re vulnerable because they have houses and families and cars in their names and he can just roll up to their front door and kill them which is exactly what he does. Because nomatter how rich or powerful you are you can still be gotten to if someone knows where you are and wants you bad enough and has the balls to do it.

It’s such a good book, the first three books are so solid. They really inspired me. In regards to Diana and especially LCYE and TOTCB. Just tight tense terse stories with great action.

This one is a little more loose and it’s good but it’s scope is a little small so far and I just feel like Parker is whining and being kind of a bitch. I just feel like he’s getting softer and I don’t like that. I mean in some of the books it’s almost like he’s the bad guy because he’s like this unstoppable monster and most of the books swap to his quarry and they’re fucking terrified of him and you really feel like they’re being stalked by the devil.

In this he’s like a little lost sheep hiding in a barn. It’s different but I like the stories that are about the job, I think this book and the last Stark got a little tired of the same formula and wanted to switch it up but in my opinion if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. I want to read a book about a hard as nails master thief planning the ultimate job, it just seems a little bit like Stark is running out of ideas for cool heists so he sets all the book after the heist to get around doing the same things. Which is a good idea to stop the books from getting stale but it’s just a little underwhelming and there isn’t any direct interaction Parker has with another character so there doesn’t really feel like there’s progression or structure or pacing because he’s in this one place the whole book trying to do the same thing.

In the other books he’s moving all over the place talking to different people and doing stuff, this book is just small in it’s scope and I don’t mind that, its fresh for a Parker book but I really hope it goes back to classic Parker in the next book. And the next book is called ‘Plunder squad’ so that sounds promising haha. A cool cast of characters and lots of loot.

It’s literally taken me all day to write this because there was a lovely little storm knocking out my net and power and since I live in the middle of nowhere I just have to wait.

Anyway I’ve waffled enough, must dash.

See you…

My high heels tapped on the wet concrete like anxious teeth clacking. It’s dark, I’m alone. Scared.

It’s a good kind of scared.

A fear of coming waves of something unexplainable, something inevitable.

I’ve felt it building for so long, and now as I walked the street, alone in the dark, it’s all around me like the tropical heat.

I picked up the pace, it’s a neighborhood I didn’t recognize, low slung houses, high fences with glass teeth. Dogs barking in the arid heat of the night. Salsa music played in the distance, muffled shouting in Spanish.

I swam through its want, waded through its need.

It called to me, it’s hunger passed down through what feel like eons. An insatiable hunger. Teeth strain against gums. I tasted blood, and it felt good.

I heard a splash, and it’s my feet hitting a puddle, it watched, and it waited, the hunger growing.

The moon reflected in the puddle, its smile so wide and manic. Those white teeth, sharp and ready, it’s just right. Projected on my back, it filled me with that white pure light. Filled every corner, carried me like I was on strings.

My steps were weightless and without agency, carried by a wave of lustful righteous anger.

His eyes landed on me before I heard his silent voice.

I heard a fluttering of dark angel wings. A leathery tightening inside, as it whispered and laughed, it told me to keep going.

Told me to be patient even though that’s not a word it understands at all.

A cool breeze blew through the little hairs on my neck.

He called to me, and I’m out of it for a second.

A man—but I couldn’t see his face reflected in the glass of a bus stop because of a huge hairline crack down the middle. He walked down the street on my side, toward me.

I saw myself, dressed in my best impression of a hooker from a nineties cop movie in a car window. The fishnets might’ve been a little too on the nose but it seemed to have worked.

 

I caught a big fish after all.

Just the one I wanted.

He called to me again, but I can’t respond now.

My tongue is somewhere far removed, and words seem like pointless frail things.

I kept going with my arms folded like I was cold, when nothing but cool clear clarity and vicious joy washed over me.  Faster now, the puddles and the car windows revealed he was following.

He looked around and kept pace, how far will he go?

I went along a pink stucco wall that seems to stretch on for miles, passing houses all with their curtains drawn tightly, small dirty lawns cluttered with broken children’s toys, dry dying grass.

The shadow inside shifted and wriggled, like a kid in a bean bag chair. So excited, it hissed and tossed, just where it wanted to be, so close.

The man called to me, something crude in Spanish, but I couldn’t react, not yet.

A little further.

My heels clicked louder and faster, almost breaking out into a run, and what do dogs do when someone runs?

They chase of course, and predictably, he’s caught the scent of something he likes.

Me.

I knew him, his name escaped me, and his face seemed familiar but unimportant right now. No eyes, no nose, no mouth, just a blank pale face not unlike the face of the moon.

Maybe I’m giving him too much credit.

Who’s hunting whom after all?

His need is palpable; I’ve watched him. A small petty monster, a dog chasing cars, not sure what he wants until he gets his hands on them. A bottom feeder, a wanton monster with no attempt to hide it, no need. How free he must have felt, not like me at all.

Something inside me called to him but he can’t hear it, he’s just along for the ride.

I moved faster but I’m not out of breath, it’s a humid night with a cool ocean breeze and I felt brisk and tight. I quickly checked in another car window. He still shadowed me.

Good, almost there now. One more block, follow me little rat.

The thing inside shifted like an eel in a glass vial. Happy, tensing and releasing like a balled fist, electric, with terse excitement.

Impending release just over the horizon.

The man is still following, muttering to himself, looking around, he put his hood up..

The streets are dark and desolate, and lined with houses full of people that don’t talk to cops about strange goings on in the dead of night.

That’s why he picked this place, that’s why I picked it too.

A perfect playground for Diana the Dark Dabbler.

The pink stucco wall ended abruptly, and I rounded the corner fast down the back alley of a Chinese restaurant with bars on the windows, breaking line of sight.

Hidden in the shadow of the large smooth square building. The clear black sky overhead.

He made some sort of noise in his throat that somehow I heard.

I kicked off my heels already and tossed them into the open dumpster. It was neatly tucked away, behind a chained metal fence until I came by earlier and freed it.

That dull thudding sound sent the rats circling.

I ducked behind the spot I picked. A pile of cardboard fortune cookie boxes was all I needed.

The odor sent shivers up my spine. Old shell fish, the smell of the ocean, the spray, maggots—refreshing—like smelling salts.

He rounded the corner fast and confused, like he’s the only kid that doesn’t get the magic act at the birthday party.

My lips parted and curved up; my heart beat hard in my chest, can he hear it? Can he hear the wings beating, can he hear the moon’s teeth clacking, feel it’s beaming maniacal smile?

I hope so. He will.

The man looked around, pulled his hood down tighter. All those chemicals rushing, he felt it too, the chase, the thing inside of him that fed on my fear. Got high off that night air, stumbled into my trap.

I took my cellphone out of my purse and dialed the number of the burner I put in the dumpster.

It rang with a mocking eight-bit Mariachi band song.

He heard it, and swung around taking offense at everything.

Stired up that rabbit in head lights feeling. Trapped in a beam of ambivalent bone white moonlight.

It carried me, gave me goose bumps- goose bumps. Teeth chattered, but I’m not cold, not even close, I felt nothing but pure icy potential. The thing inside purred and waited.

He poked open the dumpster with the barrel of a Glock and looked inside.

We waited until he reaches in for the phone. It took the wheel and we fell out of our hiding spot, lithe and ready in a sliver of moonlight. Invisible, invincible, stun gun in hand, as we moved low and slow and sleek toward his back.

I shouldn’t look..

He turned but it’s too late; It pressed the stun gun to his neck and his legs went limp.

We caught him, took the gun out of his hands like a child with a squirt gun. “You’re mine now,” I whispered and heard not my voice but another vibrating just below the surface.

He heard it too, that eternal voice that speaks to both of us.

His heart beat faster but he couldn’t move. I hiked him up and leveraged him into the open dumpster.

The gun held in my hand, my heart sped up, pumped all those good chemicals hard. The Glock bounced and scraped into the gutter from my toss. Can’t risk some little kid picking it up and blowing his face off—that would be tragic.

I climbed into the dumpster.

Diana the Dumpster Diver, c’est moi?

Afraid not.

A dumpster is just a big metal coffin. It can be cleaned and prepped like any other space.  Prepared it I have; it didn’t take that long, a little tape, a little clear plastic. A battery lamp hooked on a loop of duct tape.

Then there was light.

It still didn’t smell great, cramped and hot, with a faint smell of soy sauce. It wasn’t a room at the Cali Hilton but it’d do fine for about the four hours this would take.

Then home and a lot of showers later would let all those good vibrations course through my muscles. Loosening and straightening out all that bad juju that’d been building. Making me tense and not quite myself.

Set up another light, I blocked out a lot of it in that tight space. Made quick work of taping his hands and feet, cutting his clothes away with garden shears. Shaved and buffed out the areas I wanted to work in.

He didn’t know, couldn’t know or feel what was about to happen. What was about to happen?

My tongue touched all of my teeth; I let out a little laugh.

Just had to have gotten the most powerful stun gun they had; he was out like a light, complete reboot.

A quick slap to his face and he made a noise like someone finding a hair in their lingquini and muttered something in Spanish that might’ve have been, “Ten more minutes, Mama.” I suck at Spanish.

Found the bag I’d stashed there. A small black overnight duffel, and I plan to stay the night. Inside, a sharp fillet knife, a scalpel, a razor and a framing hammer. The gangs all here!

The dumpster was cramped but I could move, as well as lay him out flat. The restaurant it was attached to was closed today. So I’d had all the time I needed to make it ready. Then leave my own trash behind in neatly wrapped packages ready to garnish the local landfill.

We slapped my friend again and his eyes opened wide. I taped his mouth shut.

He couldn’t scream muffled Spanish slurs.

We showed him the knife and his eyes darted back to absorb his surroundings.

He may have well been buried six feet under already.

He had to know he was ours.

The man didn’t seem too impressed with the knife, so the framing hammer was the next item in show and tell day. He didn’t like that, not one bit, his eyes got wider, his pupils shrinking.

It seemed like he was getting it.

We breathed out a cool controlled breath and we watched him shrink, his muscles tightened feebly against the tape, his veins popped, we breathed in his fear.

The pretty girl thing might’ve thrown him at first, or maybe it was a prank.

I heard the mirthless tinny laughter inside and I think he heard it, too.

There was no turning back, one step on the dark path was enough.

There would be blood, a lot of blood.

I could almost hear it rushing inside him, that disgusting hot sticky stuff, waiting to come out.

He was mumbling something; I could feel his panic rising. His longing for release reaching up and touching mine. His eyes were talking, he was drooling, his mouth moving.

There was something really important he had to tell me.

I was hungry for anything. I’d been watching him. What he liked, young girls with wide scared eyes looking up at a knife or a gun or a framing hammer. Feeling him on top of them heaving and sweating, then nothing.

He’d killed four in the last month, and it was nothing to sniff at. Mostly prostitutes, because he was an amateur, no procedure, just pure bare need.

A pathetic creature, but I didn’t hate him.

How could I? We were the same, sort of, but more than that, I loved him; he was a brother.

He sputtered.

His eyes tried frantically to reach inside of me and find some small tear. Like some buried motherly instinct would battle the forces of darkness in the dungeons of my deep dreadfulness. Seeing fit to spare him and maybe take him out to lunch..

I was curious, bad form for a cat.

Didn’t like begging, but was ready to hear anything.

He looked up at me after the tape was ripped off. “Diana, you’re gonna be late for school.”

“School?”

“Yes, school.” I heard my aunt’s indignant voice break through the cozy wall of the pillow over my head.

A dream?

How you tease me. I can still hear the laughing, it’s taunts. Me, Dark Dreamless Diana.

I don’t dream, I never dream, it’s just serene blackness every other night, or I don’t remember. I miss the cool crisp void of sleep, the nothingness. What happened to my nothingness? Bring back the void.

Not to say the dream wasn’t, stimulating.

I moved the pillow off my face and started to rend myself of my sopping sheets. I was drenched in a layer of thick cold sweat.

It isn’t the first time, different people, men, women, different places, times.

It seemed like the dreams were getting more frequent and they always end the same way.

Unsatisfying, they always end just before…

Murderus interruptus.

“Didn’t you say you had a test or something today?”

“There’s always a test or a final or a quiz,” I tell my aunt Mary-anne, a fat girl’s name, but she wasn’t fat, not yet anyway.

A soft and pretty woman, not much older than myself. Kind of a hippy dippy sort but a good soul, raised me from an egg to the velociraptor I picture myself as now.

She had that ‘good hair.’ The type that’s long and straight, a deep chocolatey brown she nevertheless always tied back in a tight ponytail for work. Delicate straight features TV pretty people had, but she never really liked to flaunt it with make-up or fancy clothes; I guess it runs in the family.

I’m Diana, the poor orphan, boohoo. My parents died when I was just an innocent tot. Oh woe is me, the poor child, parents taken so young.

Is this a superheroes backstory? Afraid not.

Were they slain by a wicked murderer or super villain? No, not unless the truck that hit them was a Decepticon. A petty car accident robbed me  of any parental love I was owed and cast me as the martyr in my own passion piece.

“Well, that’s school for ya,” she said, she smiled with her hands on her hips as she waited for me to fully ascend my damp throne.

It’s not that I don’t like school; in fact, I love school. All those plastic minds clinging to some form of identity or another. Forming their own sense of self, all those people pretending to be human hoping the shape would stick. I fit right in.

Maybe I’m not very good at this, I feel like I skipped a step. I’m completely hollow inside. It sounds like teen angst, which is an easy way to pigeon-hole it since I am a senior in high school.

But it’s been this way since before I can remember. Since before I could think, I’ve felt nothing.

My aunt tells me, even as a baby I wouldn’t cry or laugh or smile, nothing. Every emotion I fake is for other people. I’ve been forced to become the perfect mirror of every person I’ve ever known, but I’m good at it.

I’m the best.

I trudged my way to the shower, down the hall from my modest bedroom. It’s hot today, it’s always hot in Cali. That’s why I keep my hair short, easy to clean, easy to dry and it looks cute.

What does anyone else’s opinion matter anyway? Only, that’s a lie people tell themselves on occasion. I don’t, I’m not people. Other people’s opinions are all that matters. It’s the glue that binds this world together. Without it, the world would be the perfect clean chaos of my dreams.

The world where that mocking laughter I hear comes from.

Lies we tell others, and the lies we tell ourselves, are what stops this world from falling apart and it’s what keeps me out of a sanatorium. Are there any sanatoriums in Long Beach? Probably some rich kid day spa with Vicodin vending machines that take hundred dollar bills. So Miley Cyrus can clean up for the next time she needs to squeeze her ass inside a rubber glove.

Rubber gloves, was I even wearing gloves in my dream? Need to write that down.

The things that you remember in the shower. Running water stimulates creativity, or some such other new age nonsense. Massages the chakras or stimulates the karma flow, vibrates the mediclorians. I toweled off and wiped the mirror with my hand. Empty blue-green eyes stared back. I made a toothy fake grin, showed those pearly whites. Such a practiced grin, straight out of the Sears catalogue, 1997.

It’s easier for girls I guess, people don’t look too closely at a girls’ smile. As long as it’s there, it’s good enough, a perfect disguise.

The mirror steamed up again, and I’m gone, poof.

The test was easy, done and gone and I was already forgetting what it was about. The dream was growing stronger and taking up more space in my head. All I could think about was that night and the ripple of the plastic wrap.

I looked outside; it was nice day. Every day was a nice day in California, starts to get boring after a while.

University High was the number one ranked public school in Orange County, go Trojans. It looked like a cross between a prison and a high end motel on the outside. Monstrous palm trees swaying behind sturdy chain-link fences. A backdrop of concrete covered in coral white stucco.

It was a standard mix. An even smattering of Hispanic, caucasian and black kids, the motto, ‘Unity through Diversity,’ as supercilious a statement as the American flag outside.

This wasn’t America, this was some place all new, a fantasy island floating in the clouds where all the beautiful people and one or two monsters lived. Every day, I was rubbing elbows with the future career criminals and politicians of the greater California area. Was there a distinction? I felt blessed walking through the halls. A real rainbow family of love and diversity.

I had no idea how my aunt got the money to put me here on a rookie cop’s salary, but we have a don’t ask don’t tell relationship that seemed to be working for us even better as I got older.

She chose the school because the campus tour video gave off a distinct ‘cult vibe’ and the teachers were nice enough. They really went out of their way to pretend they cared, despite fading into the background in Dark Diana’s World.

I wasn’t bad at school, I was too good at it. It’s amazing the pointless facts and figures you can memorize when you don’t have all that teen angst or hormones or any emotions whatsoever clouding your mind. Pure emptiness to fill with whatever the school board wanted. The perfect clean slate.

I made my way to my locker before I realized I forgot to eat breakfast, a common occurrence. But that’s not to say I’m anorexic. I love to eat, but I could never put on much weight, compliments of a super-fast metabolism, must be genetic, or maybe I was a sleep jogger.

Sleep walking?

I hovered in front of my open locker.

Nah.

As soon as I slammed the door shut

Whom was standing behind it? None other than the notorious Wendy Vargas. How cliché.

Another cliché would be that the most popular girl in the school and I would be bitter rivals.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

“Morning, bestie,” she crooned in her best vocal fry valley girl as she opened her locker.

It might have something to do with my painfully cringe-inducing habit of flattering everyone. A trait I polished like the turd it is. I say things most people with any sense of dignity wouldn’t dare.

Happily, I lack any of those mortal inhibitions; my gag reflex was never there. When your goal is to blend in and make people like you, lacking any shame is pivotal. So I can tell everyone everything they want to hear and keep a straight face while I do it.

Funny, it’s not even that hard. I can usually tell at first meeting someone what they want to hear. No one even bothers to hide it, they might as well write it on a sign around their necks.

Wendy’s locker being next to mine also tipped the scales of fate. I can’t remember exactly how we met or became friends but I assume proximity is what allowed me to use my powers of butt-kissing to full effect.

Maybe I just complimented her on how she opened her locker. How she applied her lip-gloss in the mirror she had inside the door, or some other banal little detail I’d felt wasn’t worth the storage in my head.

“Looking sexy as always, my love. Wendy Vargas, when will you marry me?” I say in a perfect mocking impression of her voice; she will of course ignore that, and only hear the compliment.

“Thank you, my dear but you know as well as I do, I’m taken and I am a one-woman man,” she said, as she pursed her snake-bitten lips.

She was a beautiful golden goddess one might expect to see in some Spanish soap opera, with a set of expressions just as fake. Heir to a fortune in Cuban sandwich shops. Head of the cheerleading squad, of course, but also a strange passion for ‘nerdy stuff,’ as she called it. Mostly kitsch nerdsploitation, like The Big Bang Theory. Big lens less glasses, wearing comic book superhero T-shirts and pretending to like the new Star Wars movies.

It was all an act so she could rule over a hoard of thirsty geeks in the AV club who’d do whatever she said.

I still have no idea why she likes me. I really could’ve slipped right through the cracks right where I wanted to, if it wasn’t for her.

It might be because I’m the only one in the state that knows she poisoned her stepfather with anti-freeze, and framed her mother.

Did she tell me? Not in so many words. I wasn’t an accomplice or anything, either. Poison’s not my style.

That’s such a ‘girly’ way to kill someone, and I’d never stoop so low as to kill for money. No, a passion is best left free, like all the good things in life.

She didn’t confess to me, but something did. That little voice, that little clawing thing that rolled around deep inside the dark depths of Diana.

It could smell it on her, not her guilt, not her shame, her complete indifference. She had a monster too, a dark secret, but it was a small and covetous thing, a greedy opportunistic monster.

“Where’s that handsome new beau of yours?” I enquired.

Wendy’s new boyfriend was some chad from out of state, what was his name? Bradie? Brodie? Brodo?

She tends to go through them quickly, but this new one had peaked her interest. He was a transplant from Miami, very exotic.

“He’s off collecting that order of red cups and plates for prom.”

“I sense, we’re about get down to business.” I winked.

“You’re senses are keen, as always, my young padawan,” Wendy bowed with her hands pressed together, like she was going to Kung-fu me.

“I learned from the best, master.” I dipped my head.

“I need you to print off some fliers for me.” She smiled, like she was doing me a favor, her arms swaying at her sides, as her voice rose at the end.

Wendy was head of the prom committee, they put on the senior prom every year, and this time it was our turn.

I, Diana, sweetness and light, am on the prom committee, too. All because it would’ve been too strange for me not to, being best friends with the head of the committee. Oh, sweet nepotism.

Part of the practice of being normal was doing things ‘normal’ girls do. I’m not a cheerleader, that was too much for even me to stomach, some things truly are beyond even me. I can’t remember how I got out of that one, must’ve made up something about having one leg longer than the other or something, extreme corns perhaps.

Cheerleading is also surprisingly time consuming, all those pep rallies and practices and incessant parties. Which could prove a problem for my other ‘interests’. I looked around at the fliers already up around the hall. They were on almost every locker, and bulletin board and classroom door. I cast sparring glances at people who don’t need to make conscious efforts to be normal. What blissful cow-like expressions they all had.

“What’s wrong with the old fliers?” I asked in a robotic fashion, but I already knew exactly what she was going to say.

“They’re old,” Wendy shook her head like it was obvious; which it was.

“Okay,” I said without argument, because, what a waste of time and energy that would be.

She sucked her lips like she was tasting her cherry lip gloss and she liked it, then looked over my head. “Oh, there’s a sight for sour eyes.”

I looked over my shoulder, and stage left appeared my stalwart boyfriend Paul.

An ordinary name for an ever so ordinary boyfriend. He was practically perfect in every way, the male Mary Poppins of University high. Tall, but not too tall, smart, but not too smart, conventionally handsome but not too conventionally handsome.

He was into sports, basketball mostly. An army brat through and through, his dad was almost always away on maneuvers.

If I was painfully honest, I mainly liked him for his car, and for the places he was willing to take me in said motor vehicle. I had my license already, but no car of my own.

My aunt was sort of an eco-nut, forcing me to take the bus when possible and if she did buy me a car, with the no money she had saved. It would end up being one just like her work car. One of those terrible eco-bubble little hair dryers powered by happy thoughts and bunny farts.

Did I mention his dad was deployed most of the time? So if I ever did go visit we had the run of the house, and from time to time, his gun cabinet.

His mom was a mystery I didn’t care to explore. Seemed like a sore subject I had no interest in. Sobs stories are no fun, unless they’re your own.

Most of all, I liked him because he was normal. Painfully normal, bone achingly, teeth rattlingly normal. So much so, just being around him made me feel normal by osmosis. Like he absorbed some of my weird into himself and excreted it as a form of non-toxic handsome. He was kryptonite to my superman. Paul is the perfect disguise.

His upbringing, one of strict discipline had forced him to become the perfect gentleman. Thus, his urges were dutifully restrained, not unlike my own.

I really have no interest in sex. I have no hang ups about it either, we’ve had sex.

Honestly didn’t much care for it, a sweaty messy thing, waste of time and sheets. The smell of it was enough to keep him by my side, and to drive me where I wanted to go and do most of anything I wanted.

Being a woman is pretty easy when you have no shame. Anyone that says different is a liar.

Men will put up with almost any shit from a woman if he thinks sex may possibly happen at some point in the near future.

Paul was presentable, neat and clean and always smelled good, never a blond hair out of place, or a blue eye in the wrong direction. A stern solid posture always maintained for some hidden watcher like someone stuck a broom up his ass without any KY and expected him to clean the ceiling.

The perfect scarecrow he was, scaring off all those hangers-on and beta orbiters that like to cling to pretty girls who don’t carry mace on a key chain.

The bell rang, and Wendy looked up, as if to make sure. “Shit, gotta get back to class, see you guys later.” She said as she vocal fried her way down the hall. Swished and swayed spreading a sweet fake scent as she floated away.

“Hey, baby, what’s up?” Paul said.

He speaks! He Leaned in for a hello peck, his arms wrapped around me.

I dutifully resisted, pushed back against him. “Hunger,” I said, without a hint of irony.

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 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.

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.

14991866_1467124819967662_5336355243338357340_n

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.

TOTCB Chapter 14 ‘The Carnival is Over’

Guten Aben, Just gonna phone this one in, not that many updates exept it’s a go with the new editor and she seems raring to go. I realise I forgot all about the mailing list over the holidays, and I actually still haven’t got the full manuscript for the TOTCB off my old editor who is studying to be a priest or something in israel, or something like that.

Anyway, so I can’t do the mailing list really until I get that back, which sucks. But I’ll still be posting free unedited content and reviews of whatever dumb shit I see. I don’t have a clean copy of the last jedi to rag on yet but I did get the misogynist copy which is like a version with all the women scenes cut out I think haha. But it’s a cam so fuck that, I want high quality theft, only the best quality piracy will do.

Also I remembered why I use inkitt, it’s a good respository for my work I guess, makes it easier to thumb through each chapter on any device so I guess it has it’s uses. I’ll start putting Gage up there when it’s finally done, been dragging my feet recently where that’s concerned. Elite Dangerous addiction really getting out of hand haha.

So I’ll be putting links up like before so people can read the chapters in order. Like right here; The Carnival is Over

See you…

~

Nancy was sitting in her makeshift office in the San Antonio field office. She was on edge already then the phonecall she was waiting for came and time slowed. She picked it up and didn’t say anything.

 

“Hello? Is this Jaeger?” A thick spanish accent said confused by the silence.

 

“Yes, sorry, this is Nancy Jaeger”

 

“I’m Legate Dargento. We have analysed the data you’ve sent to us and forwarded that data to Interpol and they have a match. We’re faxing you the information as we speak. I hope this helps you in your investigation.”

 

“Yes, I’m sure it will” Nancy was elated but felt a hint of sadness creeping in from an unknown place, a cold shiver. “Thank you”.

 

“You’re most welcome”.

 

She hung up the phone and just sat there for a minute with her elbows on the desk.

 

“What is it, did the tests come back, was that Interpol?”

 

“They’re faxing it over now.”

 

 

Porter thought the kid looked hungry and he might loosen up if he put some food in him. So he took him across the street to Raising Cane’s chicken fingers, ordered some texas toast and lemonade.

 

It was a standard diner set up in any roadside chain. Booths running down the windows with blue seat cushions. The walls were all red with pictures of dogs and old movie stars on them. There were square tables running along the centre of the room at right angles to eachother. It was busy enough to cover whatever they had to say to eachother without anyone hearing it. Kids having birthday parties, old people, teens, college kids, the works.

 

He picked it because it was close and on a busy road out in the open. He picked a booth facing out so he could see any cars coming. The kid was facing away with his cap and dark glasses on, plasters on his face. It was awkward the kid didn’t want to talk but by this time Porter knew he remembered him.

 

“Do you remember me?”

 

Johnny nodded.

 

“I heard you scared your mother pretty good, that stunt you pulled”

 

The kid, shrunk back into his seat, the hairs on the back of his neck brushed backwards. His lip quivered, but with what it wasn’t clear. After a moment in a harsh whisper he said “That woman is not my mother”.

 

Porter’s heart gallopped and hurdled his stomach. His blood started rushing in from all over and he could almost hear it. His breath getting hot in his lungs as he tried to calm himself, tried to keep his face poker.

 

The kid looked at him and he was scared, really scared this time. He took the glasses off and threw them across the table and rubbed his eyes. He slumped in his seat and suddenly looked older and he looked Porter in the eyes, with those deep brown eyes.

 

“Who are you?” The words shook in Porter’s throat. They seemed to make the ground shake, like he was talking to devil himself. The angel Gabriel from high revealing himself in human form. His bones quaking at the revelation of truths to come. Come flowing out in a torrent that wouldn’t stop until they washed everything away.

 

The waitress came with their food. They sat across from eachother waiting for her to put it down and go back to the counter. She put it down and Johnny smiled at her and she walked away. His eyes hung down and he turned back to Porter. He breathed in deep his hand on the counter scratching at his thumb with his forefinger.

 

“My name is Cisco Nulidad and I’m wanted by Interpol”.

 

 

Nancy fought the urge to bob on her heels, she speed walked down the hall to the fax machine. She could feel the eyes on her but this was her moment, she couldn’t let the excitement get to her. She could hear the fax machine going as she walked. She sped up, Con was behind her.

 

It spitting out page after page after page, some in English some in Spanish. There was so much of it she could hardly believe it, she felt like a kid on Christmas. She could barely look at the pile afraid one part of it would be revealed too quickly and spoil the whole surprise.

 

When the fax machine stopped she scooped up the hot pieces of paper and bundled them into a folder she had ready. Then speed walked them back to her office pushing past Con, she hardly even noticed him at this point. She needed to get back to her office. There was something about it that told her she needed the privacy of a closed door to see. She didn’t need anyone to share in this moment.

 

She slapped the folder down on the desk and started from the start.

 

Con opened the door, coffee cup in hand. It was hot so his jacket was draped over his chair. He was just wearing a white shirt with the sleeves rolled up and a tie tossed over his shoulder.

 

“What is it? Who is he?” He asked not stopping for air between questions.

 

She speed read through first page. Her mind reeling to keep up, She passed it to Con and started on the next as he looked at it and tried to process the scope of it.

 

It was a black and white sheet, a fingerprint card with a picture of man with dark hair on it. “Cisco Nulidad, it says he’s French, wanted by Interpol, twenty three years old, Christ!”

 

She burned through the next page and passed it over to him.

 

“Wanted for impersonating minors to gain access to children’s shelters. known Alias; Frederic Beard, Benjamin dianason, Jimmy Peter Manfred, Hurny Wright.” He flipped the page over in disbelief. “The list just goes on and on, these are all missing kids he’s impersonated. This is all over Europe. Luxembourg, spain, france, Germany, Belgium, Milan, Glasgow, Bosnia, paris, bourdeaux, this is crazy”.

 

She finished another page and passed it to him.

 

“Known nationalities, Australian, Uruguayan, Canadian, Mexican. A history of lying about abduction and sexual abuse. Suicidal tendencies, designated an extreme flight risk”. He looked at Nancy and back at the page in sheer disbelief.

 

“He’s a fake”. He said.

 

 

Porter steadied himself, his food growing cold in front of him. “How?”

 

“From the start?” Nulidad said.

 

“From the start”

 

Ciscoe cleared his throat and started to look around. He took his cap off and Porter noticed he had somewhat of a receding hairline and his roots were even darker now.

 

“Well I make a phone call and I pretended to be a couple who found a missing boy. I said he was scared and lost and they picked me up and I pretend to be very scared. I put into their minds they have a child, I don’t even need to tell them I was abused, they say that.”

 

He took a sip of his lemonade and he almost looked pleased with himself. There was something fun about it for him, like a magician revealing his secrets to the world, the world of one.

 

“They take me to the shelter and they tried to find out who I was but they couldn’t. I didn’t let them print me take photos, but they threaten to. I just wanted to stay in the shelter. So I say to them leave me alone in the office at night. Because I tell them I’m an American and because of the time zone difference I need to call at night”.

 

He breathed in. “So I search, I know on the phone in that office, no one can hear me, I can convince anyone on the phone. I called police stations in the U.S. I tell them I am police and we have a missing American child. I try to find a child that matched my description. After a while I found a woman in San Antonio who told me about a missing child, Johnny Bartlett”.

 

He looked around at the children at the birthday party, the cake came out candles and sparklers lit. He swallowed and went on. “She sent me a fax with his picture and I looked at it and I saw the date. Been missing for a few year, it was old picture, I know there would be a change and I tell them they had a match. I call Peggy on the phone pretending to be err police and I tell her we found Johnny. ” He paused and a little something wormed into his smile, regret maybe. “I washed her brain.” He went on fresh. “The next day I proved to the people at the home who I was and they called the embassy and the fbi.”

 

“I didn’t stop because I didn’t know what I was doing, I couldn’t stop”. He started to eat, taking bites of the toast, chewing while he continued speaking. “But fuck, when the embassy they sent colour pictures of Johnny, I see he has blue eyes and blonde hair, fuck me, I burn them. I wish I could burn every word I say up to that point. So I had no choice, I dye my hair, I get the dark glasses and cover my face and I get a girl in the home to do the tattoos. I thought if I could get the hair and tattoos and she couldn’t see my face she wouldn’t know I wasn’t her brother, I’d have a chance.”

 

“I didn’t even know if he was left or right handed. I couldn’t be him because I didn’t know him, I couldn’t think anymore. I just think of what prison will be like when I go.” He said taking a slurp from his lemonade.

 

“I thought about running away, I thought about it but it was too late, Peggy was on a plane and coming to get me, I was trapped. She show up and I hide, I didn’t think she’d accept me. I thought as soon as she see me she say ‘Who the fuck is that? That’s not my brother!’. I knew I was about to lose everything I had no choice, I knew I couldn’t wait no more, it was too late to run, I couldn’t disappear. So I open the door and I went down to meet her and she didn’t wait two seconds. She jump on me. She starts kissing and cuddling me and telling me she recognise me. She accept me right away, to her I was her brother, no question.”

 

“She tell me everything would be fine, only god knows why she would do that. Then she started showing me pictures, dozens of pictures. ‘You remember this is when you were playing with scotty.’ ‘Jason looks older’, just over and over, drilling it into my head.

 

He swallowed “I wasn’t pretending to have another identity, I stole one.” He sighed and went on as if it was a play or a game.

 

Porter stayed still like he was listening to a radio play.

 

“All I had to do was get on a train and go anywhere, but something tell me to stay. I can’t describe, I wanted to feel loved, because I never have that before. My mother have me very young and didn’t want me so I thought I could steal one who did”.

 

He looked off out of the window at the busy intersection and all that nothing. “I think America, I think big city, skyscraper you know? But when I get here it’s all this nothing, all this country, so much space.”

 

He was talking louder and more confident than he had since he got here and he smiled and shook his head. “And then I met you, I already leak to the media about me. Because I thought if the media, the whole world see me and hear my story, it would make Johnny more real, even to me”. He looked down at the table “I wanted people to feel sympathy, to love me”.

 

“How many French adult live the American dream?” He laughed a little as he said it.

 

“How did you get away with it? The embassy doesn’t just throw out U.S passports to anyone.” Porter voice came out of nowhere. He’d just been sitting there listening dumbstruck for what seemed like hours he’d forgotten how to talk.

 

Nullidad didn’t seem to notice and he looked off past him. “I had help.” He clenched his jaw and said. “I thought I’d fooled them but I fool myself, I see now they were the fakes from the start”.

 

“What do you mean? Who?”

 

He looked into Porter’s eyes. “She help me, I see now she coach me. The embassy they give me a test they show me pictures from Johnny family and they test me to see if I remember. ” He licked his lips and leaned forward with his hands on the table. “Peggy she tell them that I haven’t seen them but she’s telling me over and over showing me pictures. ‘Do you remember this, do you remember this person, you remember this, you remember that? That’s your uncle this, your aunt this, your cousin, your mother, your grandmother’. She did it over and over and she make me remember, she coach me and I passed”.

 

“Who your sis- Peggy?”

 

“Yes” He paused. “It was just so much I couldn’t think at the time that she knew they would test me. She helped me to cheat, it was such a normal conversation. I couldn’t see what she was doing, I just thought she really wanted me to be him, she wanted it so bad for me to remember”.

 

Nullidad swallowed and said “I thought she just really wanted me to be her brother. She made me her brother, she didn’t believe it for a second. She knew I wasn’t her brother, she wanted me to be him, nomatter what.” He looked down and breathed in. “I was convince, it was luck, I realise now there was no way they couldn’t see through me, who wouldn’t know there own child? They pretended.”

 

He swallowed and kept rambling. “I thought I was the fake, the imposter. I’m just a stupid person who wanted to be someone else, they were the real fakes. They knew Johnny was never coming back and they used me to hide that. I was the fool all along.”

 

He poked at his food and said “My lie was small, I lied about being someone I was not. Their lie is everywhere, it touches everything, it’s all around, it encircles me and I can’t escape.”

 

Porter banged his fist on the table, a sudden surge of nervous rage shooting through him. “What about Johnny?” Cisco looked up his eyes narrow and frightened. “I’m sick of listening to you feel sorry for yourself, what happened to Johnny?”

 

“They killed him”.

 

Porter shrunk back in his seat, all the hairs on his arms felt electrified, standing on their ends. He got that cold feeling in his stomach like he knew it all along. He knew it.

 

Nullidad looked down at his feet. “Some of them knew about it, some of them kept quiet about it, some of them did it”.

 

Nullidad licked his lips and filled the silence that was growing. “For a long time I worried that the real Johnny would come back. But one night, Angela, she drink, she was drunk and she tell me. I heard her say, Johnny is dead, it was an accident, but Johnny is dead. I knew it was true and I never worry about him coming back after that.”

 

“Why did you do that to your face?”

 

“I knew no one believe me, I could’t be Johnny anymore.”

 

“What about Jack, why did you run?”

 

“I don’t know, I have bad feeling and I wait for him to go pay for the gas and I run”.

 

Porter’s eyes glassed over and his face was flat and expressionless. “Why should I believe any of this? How can I believe you?”

 

Nullidad paused and rolled his head back and forth looking for an answer and when it didn’t come he said “You can’t.”

Diana After Dark Chapter Seven ‘Darkness on the Doorstep’

Good day once again fine people, some normalcy returning to my page thank Jeb and all his guacamole. 
Ok so here’s the next chapter of Diana After Dark, still playing with the title in my head. (Before you even think it, hell yes I am going to do a last jedi review as soon as I get a decent pirated copy because I’m paying to let Mickey Mouse shit in my mouth.)

Again ignoring the inkitt bullshit, that page is just a waste of time full of teenagers who stick crayons up their nose and middle age women touching themselves to werewolf homosex haha.

I saw the benefit of reviews at one point but it’s sort of incestuous how the reviews there work and it’s really just a load of nonsense and frankly I’m sick of reading the same fantasy story about some girl using her magical cooch to find the hidden whatever before she finds out she don’t need no man. I mean there are only so many stories you can read like that before you want to start huffing hot lead.

So I’m just gonna post full chapters on here and when I want reviews I’ll reach out to people on facebook for unbiased takes on it.

Still coming down from new years and it is a harsh steep decline. So many emotions kicked up it’s like all my other functions have shut down trying to process them all. Feeling like I’m in a rut again my writing has slowed down, still trying to finish Gage, kinda feel like the legs have been kicked out of my motivation but on a brighter note I randomly stumbled onto a new editor who seems to be really good and prompt and cheap.

I was just spamming that three book deal thing (which is having it’s last day tomorrow)  and I just spotted her ad out of the corner of my eye and messaged her and she got back to me with a quote, so it’s gonna be full steam ahead with Diana After Dark editing and then it’s just trying to get it out there to agents and make my fortune like the dickens character at heart that I am.

So have a good one, check out that three book deal in my last blog post and fuck inkitt haha.

See you…
Diana After Dark Chapter 7 ‘Darkness on the Doorstep’

 

Hot, sticky, red.

 

It’s blood isn’t it?

 

Blood?

 

All over the floor.

 

It smells, I don’t like it.

 

Why is it here?

 

All over the carpet.

 

Where am I?

 

Why did you do that?

 

A big puddle.

 

Blood all over the floor, spreading and getting thicker like a dark red plastic spreading and dripping and coating everywhere. A child’s room, bunk beds, bright colours. Where is this place?

 

Something rising from the blood, the sea of thick hot red plastic. A head coated in it like it was hot molten wax and then another and another bobbing up like croutons in a rich tomato soup.

 

My vision is a tiny cone surrounded by blackness, small hands, a child’s hands reach for the heads, turning them over one by one. I recognise their faces but can’t place them. Buried somewhere, a tinkling, a mocking laugh and a slamming of a heavy door and they’re gone.

 

A feeling of loss, of loss of loss. Losing something that never existed, something you never had taken before you even knew it was there.

 

The little hand reaches for mine and it tells me to come and play and I want to. I want to so badly, but I can’t.

 

I wake up again, a cold sweat, it’s dark. I maybe got two hours sleep on Paul’s couch.

 

We could have used the bed of course but I couldn’t drag him much further than the living room. He is a big boy.

 

And once I’d got him down I wanted to stay with him and make sure he was ok. Some motherly instinct kicking in Diana? Channelling a little Florence Nightingale perhaps? Hardly, a good mask needs a touch up now and then like anything else. But soon enough after lying down next to him the sandman had snuck up and wrapped the ten pound fishing cord of sleep around my neck and I was his. I’d fallen asleep right next to him. But now I was awake again in the wee hours of the morning and he was gone.

 

It wasn’t as dramatic as I thought it was. He came in after a minute or two with a glass of water and sat back down on the couch like he didn’t even notice I was there.

 

He cleared his throat and took in a big deep breath and then proceeded to take sips from his water and yawn.

 

“Oh you’re up” He said. “I was just getting some water.”

 

“I can see that”

 

“Here” He said as he handed me the glass. I took a big gulp from it. I suddenly felt utterly bottomless and wanted to down the entire glass before handing it back to him.

 

It felt like we’d never talk about it and that’s kind of how I wanted it. Pretend like it never happened. Just let it slip off the cuff, a very interesting dream soon forgotten.

 

“What happened back there?” he said rather ineloquently breaking my fantasy of a night lost. Murderous pirate ships passing in the night.

 

“You don’t remember” I stalled.

 

“No, I remember drinking a little and then, I dunno, I guess someone jumped me and everything went black and I woke up here and my gun was gone.” He sighed like he was talking about a botched boy scouts camping trip “My dad is gonna kill me”.

 

“Doesn’t he have lots of guns, I’m sure he won’t notice one missing” I added Diana deft subject dodger.

 

“You don’t know my dad” He scratched the back of his neck “I’ll have to tell him it was stolen.”

 

“Yeah you can’t tell him you lost it in a fight in a drug dealers house” Shut up Diana.

 

He laughed. Phew.

 

We gave up on sleep after that and had a quick shower. I had to change back into my previous set of clothes. Which was a little disgusting for dainty deleterious Diana but I couldn’t exactly skip school the day after another massacre. I suppose the whole finding body parts at school thing could have bought me a little credit. I dunno.

 

I stood in front of my locker again staring at the space left by the volleyball. I breathed and sighed, taking in all the smells of the pretty people passing me. Their talking all mixing together into an interminable cacophony. The occasional chortle and hushed whisper. Did I hear my name?

 

I closed my locker and as if by magic, a poof of smoke and the wicked witch of Orange County appeared.

 

Wendy engulfed me with the most over-exaggerated but nevertheless fake hover hug I had ever received. Her arms and chest barely touched me. But her movements were so verbose I thought she was going to poke my eye out with one of her fake tits or impale on a hoop earring.

 

“Omg are you ok?” She stopped for a brief second to look at me. “I’ve been trying to call you all weekend”.

 

Well we both knew that was an exaggeration but it was the kind you could overlook. The kind of happy shit people fling carelessly.

 

“I’m ok, I just-“

 

“Oh my god, I’m so glad you’re alright”

 

“I forgot the fliers, sorry” I cocked my head to the side, doing an attempt at an ‘aww shucks’ face.

 

“Fuck the fliers, you could have been killed.” She shivered and looked around the hall “He was here, he walked this hall, he could have done whatever he wanted and he chose our lockers. Also I picked up the fliers myself yesterday”.

 

I scanned her face and there was something there, but I couldn’t tell if it was genuine fear or excitement. The goose pimples were a nice touch. I knew without knowing what she was capable of but right now she looked like a cartoon a little Latin mini mouse rubbing her bare golden arms. Afraid of the big bad wolf.

Maybe I was wrong about her, after all I wasn’t that sure, and my big brain hadn’t proven much use as of late. It was sort of a romantic notion I’d conjured up about her. Spiced up her little half Cuban buns.

 

“I think we’re gonna be ok, if he wanted to kill us he probably would have done it already.” I looked into her face as it froze in an awkward expression, so I summoned up more comforting platitudes. Like pulling a drawstring in grief councillor Barbie. “It was probably just a coincidence he chose our lockers.”

 

“Well it’s over now, the cops have a suspect and he’ll have left the state by now if he know what’s good for him”.

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“You haven’t seen?” She went into her purse and pulled out a smartphone in a hello kitty case and started tapping away at it and then turned it over so I could see her screen. On it a blurred out picture of the bodies on the couch. The picture was really good this time, and I could swear it might have been taken at the same time. I could have been passed out on the floor just out of frame. “There was another murder last night, it’s some kind of gang bullshit, this psycho dealer kills four of his own guys and then bolts.”

 

“But how do they know it’s connected?”

 

“That’s the fucked up thing” She said as she opened her purse again to put her phone back at the bottom. “They found a head from the previous victim right on the motherfuckers coffee table.” Kitchen table/breakfast bar but reporters, you know, can’t get anything right.

 

That’s why the bar maids head was there. What a neat package. A picture was starting to form. A nice little picture framing Antoine as the Head-hunter. It seemed like quite a promotion, small time pusher to the serial killer hall of fame. I had ruled him out from the running as I assumed it was nigh impossible to tape and plastic wrap yourself to a bed. Offering yourself up as a meal to young velociraptor. But who knows, maybe that was just what he was into. It didn’t seem too far out of the realm of possibilities.

 

But I doubt he’d paint himself into such a corner as this, but maybe I’d over-estimated him. Maybe I’d over-estimated them all.

 

So what was the plan? If I killed Antoine would I have been next? Would Antoine have disappeared forever sealed as an open shut case? And because I didn’t kill him what then?

 

Was this part of his plan?

 

The word ‘kill’ set my teeth on edge, throwing it around so nonchalant in my head. I had my chance and I wasted it. I could feel now more than ever. It was this annoying buzz in my ear before, a single moth hitting a lightbulb in some deep dark cellar and now.

 

Now it was like fire ants screaming in my veins, crawling under my skin, the whispering a cacophony of good ideas.

 

It was almost unbearable, it took every social grace I had stored up over the years not to scream and pull my hair out.

 

It was whispering so loud now, right inside my ear. I felt hot. I could feel my mask melting, chipping, falling away. I was becoming some base creature. What was I supposed to do now? Go to the library for some montage on how to prevent lycanthropy? Maybe pick up some garlic and wolfs bane and make a smoothie with some kale.

 

I’d come so close, it could taste blood, smell it, it wanted nothing more to be fed, to cut, to take and I held back. I denied it and it was hungrier than ever. But something about denying it felt good too, delayed gratification. ‘Delayed’, was it really delayed, implying it was coming, it was inevitable.

 

I was roused by an obnoxious clicking sound.

 

“Hello girlfriend, are you home?” Wendy snapped her fingers again trying to get my attention.

 

“Oh sorry” Shit, I completely blanked, glazed over, I really am slipping. “I was just-“

 

“Happens to me all the time” A mysterious voice emerged behind Wendy, had he been there the whole time?

 

“Oh yeah Di” Wendy smiled and kissed the high chin of the man in the letterman jacket towering over her tiny self. “You’ve met my new bae right?”

 

“Yeah sure” Brahma, Bradie, bromide, brontide? “You sit behind me in biology or something right” Complete guess.

 

“Chemistry”

 

Close enough.

 

He was tall and well built, definitely a line-backer.

 

“Brodie just became the school’s new quarterback”

 

Close enough.

 

“I don’t like to brag” He said smiling, looking down at Wendy, crinkling his highbrow. He had a boyish face with kind of a button nose and a floppy haircut like he was in a nineties boyband. His entire person seemed like it was picked out of a saved by the bell episode.

 

“You better be bragging about me mister” Wendy said standing on her tiptoes for an actual kiss. Excuse me while I purge my stomach contents.

 

“I heard about what happened to you” Brodie said taking his soppy wet lips off Wendy’s sticky glossed Botox pillows. “That really sucks, I hope they catch the guy”

 

“Nothing happened to me” I said “Still got my head, see?” Did I really just point at my head?

 

“Right” He laughed like a big dumb idiot and then soured his face like he just barely got the joke. So this is how she liked them, big and dumb and pretty. He was good looking but something about his face soured on me. Too familiar, it felt like a face I’d seen everywhere and seeing it now locking face with Wendy did make me feel oddly queasy. Like walking in on my aunt getting ploughed by her reiki healer part time life guard part time boyfriend, Darren.

 

“Oh yeah where’s Paul at?” Wendy took her head out of the clouds “I haven’t seen him today”.

 

“Oh we’re just giving each other some space today I guess” I laughed.

 

“Something up?”

 

“No, we just, kinda had a fight, I guess, sorta”. Technically true, the best kind of true.

 

Truthfully, Paul had got a little closer to my inner sanctum, my dark fortress of solitude than I’d have liked. The dream whatever it meant was a message. And I just needed a little distance so we could better compartmentalise what happened. Pack it away in neat little boxes and pretend it never happened. I knew he was good at that. He was unpredictable last night but I had no reason to believe I couldn’t trust him to keep it secret. After all he had much more to lose than I did.

 

“Wow” Wendy said wide eyed “You two had a fight, that must be the sign of the apocalypse”

 

“I’m sure you guys will work it out” Brodie adding his pointless platitude with a dull dough eyed smile. Oh Brodie, what white teeth you have.

 

“Thanks”.

 

The rest of the day was one humid slog of nothing really that remarkable. Paul and I managed to avoid each other for most of the day, exchanging only one awkward glance in the lunch hall.

 

I was struck by a sad soggy urge just to get home and lay face down on my trash heap of a bed and just sleep until the sun came up again.

 

I walked home, it was pretty early. The serial killer was on the run, don’t you know. It was safe to walk the streets yet again fair citizens.

 

I couldn’t exactly use that excuse again on my aunt to come pick me up. Considering we hadn’t spoken since the other day and she probably already thought I was dead in a ditch somewhere. Maybe she was surrounded by FBI right now crying and trying to sell them dreamcatchers or aligning their chakras or something.

 

Yes, I did that to punish her, yes it was petty and but hey what did you expect? I’m a little monster after all.

 

I don’t know what I expected honestly.

 

Would she be happy to see me, would she be mad? Did I care? I’d take whatever meek tongue lashing she could muster out of her mousey give peace a chance voice box and then be sent to my room, exactly where I wanted to be. So it would turn out either way.

 

Of course I was planning to do the human thing, which was? I don’t know, apologise I guess. Or was that the Canadian thing? What was the teenage thing to do? Just storm in and start yelling and shifting the blame, nothing says good defence like a crazy offence. I could just completely blindside her with crazy accusations long enough to get to my room and lock the door with no supper.

 

That could work, she did kind of sick a crazy bond villain on me. Or did she? I dunno, I felt like I was getting a lot of things wrong lately. My usually big brain under a bushel had been leading me astray or worse it was outright lying to me. I was overthinking everything, getting paranoid and crazy… er.

 

Maybe I could go teary afternoon special and just burst out into a fit of crocodile tears, tell her the whole sick sad story. Nah that never works.

 

The walk went quite quickly thinking of things to practice saying, or maybe I’d just storm into my room and not come out ever again. Learn to photosynthesise, nah I’d need to open the blinds for that. The sun was just over the hill working its way down. It was still pretty bright, walking past all the matchbox houses. Hybrid cars puttering passed me at ten miles an hour.

 

I turned into my block and felt an intoxication of a coming night wind. The smell of the palms and the little quaffed bushes surrounding the houses. A primal rushing wind forcing its way into my lungs. I almost felt like skipping the rest of the way home.

 

But there was something incredibly tantalizing about resisting about holding off. Delayed gratification, as I said. It was something I’d honed over the years. There was no other way, unless I wanted to spend the rest of my adolescence looking at people through plexi-glass. Doing my best teen Hannibal Lector impression.

 

I walked as casually as I could as the sun was slowly going down, ripping broad swaths of red and orange along the sky.

 

The neighbours two houses over were having some sort of semi-noisy party. I say semi-noisy because it wasn’t loud house music or drunken shouting. Just refined loud excited talking knives and forks scraping. The barbecue sizzling on their quant veranda over their garage.

 

“Hey Di, how’s your aunt?”

 

“She’s-err fine” I said.

 

“Give her my best” Gary from next door said as he went back to flipping burgers and smiling at nothing in particular. He was a nice guy, kind of forgettable, one of those software engineers who grew a beard because he had no chin and wore only plaid. His wife was kind of a bitch though.

 

“Will do, have a good evening Mr Harvey” I said with a smile in my voice which he didn’t see. Politeness and cleanliness, next to godliness. I hopped up my driveway and to the front door about to knock remembering I had a key. Knocking would only give her enough time to think up a line and a face to sling it from. I was feeling righteous indignation. Her plan was probably the same as mine, come out guns blazing. Quickest draw would win, just bowl over the other, like women do. Making themselves completely impenetrable to logical arguments and explanations. Then resorting to waterworks when the other party wouldn’t just roll their belly up in the air for the final attack.

 

I jangled my keys out of my purse quickly finding the right one, oh so proud of myself. I can’t kill a helpless gangbanger taped to a bed but I can find my keys super quick. I slipped my key into the door and was slightly deflated to watch the door shrink away from my prodding. It swung loose from the jam.

 

Ditzy aunt stereotype forgot to lock the door again, what a cliché’. This was the sort of neighbourhood you could leave your door unlocked in but my aunt wasn’t the sort of neighbour to do it. In fact she’d been double bolting the doors again since the murders started.

 

Eh, it’s probably nothing. Maybe she’s out canvassing for me, stapling my picture to phone poles and in her haste just forgot to lock the doors. I’d call and she’d discover me home safe and sound and once I paid her back for the printing cost of the fliers, everything would be copasetic.

 

I closed the door behind me making a disconcerting clicking noise and instantly the air was heavier. A wry whisper, a hiss from the deep dark, a warning from the dark driver. The hair on my neck shot up. I held my breath and just listened. Nothing. Silence.

 

I breathed slow and quiet and got low and contemplative.

 

I could feel it, was it him? Had he come for me? I failed him. I didn’t play his game, didn’t dance to his tune and now he was coming for me and my aunts head.

 

Oh fuck.

 

He probably put it in the fridge waiting for me to stumble in and scream and then the bag goes over my head and the darkness comes. And then leaves and is replaced with bright light. Not god but a masonry light and a camera and a sharp blade and then snicker snack goes the Jabberwock. And then it’s nothing but cold concrete and darkness and then maybe flames and damnation if you’re into that.

 

This was it, I was making jokes but this was it, I knew it. Here in my home, there was nothing keeping him out, he got in before just to watch. To prod me, mock me for being unable to see the obvious truth. Which was?

 

I could run and I could scream, I could call Gary in here with his spatula and he could maybe slow him down for as long as it took for his head to hit the ground. The cops, the man in the wheelchair, could they protect me, could they save me from myself?

 

I had to try.

 

I made my way into the kitchen, it was dark, all the lights in the house were off.

 

I crabbed low, moving towards the phone in the kitchen. I know I should use my mobile but it makes a lot of noise and lights up like a Christmas tree and I couldn’t risk it. I needed the dark and the quiet low murmur of the party outside.

 

I squatted under the phone and released it from the cradle, slow and quiet and started tapping 911. Shit what was I gonna say? “Please send police my imaginary friend thinks there’s a serial killer in my house because it’s scared of the dark”.

 

Well it didn’t matter anyway, phone line was cut. Of course it was, that was dumb.

 

I slid Ruez’ iPhone out of my pocket and unlocked it and started swiping through his really cluttered layout to find his dialler. I starting tapping 911.

 

Just as I hit the last 1 the phone rang with a loud DMX song and I froze.

 

I answered like a fucking idiot.

 

“H-hello?”

 

“Come into the living room Diana” A hushed voice said.

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