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Darkly Dreaming Demographic.

Where weird shit hits bizarre fans.

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psychological thriller

Diana After Dark Chapter 3 ‘Come into my head’ (remurdered edition)

Hey there,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See you…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A head.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I have a great imagination.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Okay.”

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

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

“Uh huh.” I took a bite of toast.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“How late?”

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

“Fine.” She rolled her eyes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lucky I only needed one.

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

What was I doing here?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The others must’ve had clean records.

How nice for them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Knees.

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

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

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

The hoods sucked in and out faster and faster.

I wished I could hear them.

Wait, what was this? What was I watching?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Their fear built silently.

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

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

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

He started from right to left.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He must’ve been eating it up.

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

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

Big boy.

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

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

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

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

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

She saw it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that was it.

What a tease.

 

Diana After Dark Chapter 2 ‘Do you see what I see?’

Yeah more of these lazy stalling tactics haha. Well is it laziness or do I just want to take my time and make sure the proofreading of Cur is perfect before I put out another chapter, no you’re right it’s laziness.

But I felt like I’ve been putting off proofreading this pitch stuff, which is arguably more important. And I was for a good reason, I think it’s good to let something sit for awhile and then come back to it with fresh eyes. You find a lot more of the mistakes that way.

Still happily can say I’ve read no witcher in a couple of days and my polish friend who got me into the witcher told me the next book is the most boring of all so I can’t wait to slog through this to get to that… yay.

I dunno, I just feel like I have to do something to escape inevitable depression, I have to keep moving forward, to stop or slow is death.

I’m still rocking Cur, I’m about over the hump now working my way into the home stretch and into the real meat of the story, which I think is fucking epic but I’m biased haha.

Because up to this point it’s been pretty apocryphal, building my own story around a character that was meant to die in the original literature that I revived sort of creating an alternate timeline. So this is when we’re about to start getting into my dramatisation or interpretation of the actual mythology and it’s pretty awesome. I actually already started writing it awhile ago because I was gonna slot it in right at the start.

But then my buddy said I should move it to the end as like a reveal and a part of me thought it would be better at the part because it’s a little bit of an obvious twist in my opinion and I thought it might be cheesier than it would be epic. But now as I’ve built up to it in the story I think it will be really cool. If readers feel half as pumped as I did writing it it’ll hit the mark.

Yeah so here’s the next edited and double proof read chapter of Diana after dark, this should be what professional agents will read so if there are still mistakes I’m pretty much fucked. But I’m being a lot more patient and conscientious this time around. The last couple of times I jumped the gun a little bit and my content really wasn’t as good as this so I have high hopes for it. I mean fuck me it’s better than twilight.

Anyway gotta do something actually productive today, I’m back on facebook so I’m gonna do some spamming with this lovely little chapter people can’t complain about being unedited. Despite the fact people will just to be dicks haha.

Yeah so here’s that, now I have to get to proofreading and spamming and all that good stuff.

See you…

 

Paul drove his dad’s car when he was out in some Middle-Eastern hell hole doing what I could only dream about, literally. But in an altogether less neat and ritualistic way at the behest of his Uncle Sam.

That’s a level of trust you can’t kill for. His dad was obviously very confident in the offspring he’d carefully chiseled out of clay. That, or he was indelibly dim-witted, allowing his only child to drive around in his top-of-the-line vehicle. Having only met him a handful of times, I couldn’t say which was the case.

It was an older model olive drab Hummer, with leather interiors that smelled like discipline and spearmint gum. The thing ran like it was brand new, the old man kept it in peak condition, and his son took it just as seriously.

I opened a bag of chips in her once on the way to an Ariana Grande concert and he made me get out and finish them on the side of the freeway. That was fun.

Another thing I loved about Paul Alan Junior was, he rarely talked. There’s the strong silent types. Then there’s this type, the type that’s conditioned to ‘being seen and not heard,’ on levels that teeter on ‘culty’, if that’s a word. His father taught him well; sometimes I wondered if he wasn’t as damaged as I was. Instead of breaking the mold, he’d been hammered perfectly into it. A living Ken doll with no visible cracks or creases.

Thankfully, unlike a Ken Doll, they’d seen fit to leave the important places ‘unsmoothed,’—not that that really mattered to me.

Unlike most people, I’m a big fan of comfortable silence; sadly in Orange County, near the coast, it’s in short supply. Inside the sealed air conditioned mobile command center that was Paul’s dad’s car, it was preserved. Like some kind of orchid, hermetically sealed for freshness. I could almost taste it as I watched the anemic palm trees and midafternoon roller-skaters go by. Baking and cracking in the sun while I felt like a lizard on a cool dry rock; bliss.

With a full stomach, it was even better. He took me to this little taco place we like near the beach because it’s quiet and he knows that’s why I like it.

I had the vegan taco; not vegan but I like their food and for some strange reason I like animals. Not really people or kids. Of course, people are kids but there needed to be a distinction. Although, I don’t hate them.

I just have a callous indifference for everything that doesn’t walk on four legs. There’s something about them I like, their raw natures, their lack of pretense, lack of a filter. Their natural instincts just accepted, not sanded away by school or television.

Sadly, the feeling is not mutual. Every cat or dog my aunt ever brought back would rather jump under a semi than let me pet them. I won a gold fish at a fair once, got it a bowl and a little castle, the whole bit. As soon as we put it in the bowl, it climbed those castle steps and was never seen again. It chose a life of solitude like some hunchback. It starved to death rather than see me for all of the five seconds it took for me to sprinkle food on the surface of the water.

Paul paid for the tacos, of course, perfect gentleman.

Feminism, what’s that?

“Are you mad at me?” he asked, as he kept his eyes straight, hands at ten and two.

I looked at him and sighed, and smiled with the corners of my mouth like a snake. “No.” suggesting it could’ve gone either way.

He looked good in profile, a strong chin, long straight nose, light dusting of designer stubble. The aviator sunglasses were probably also his dad’s. His hair was tight at the sides with a bit of gel assisted lift at the front.

“Is that a real ‘no’ or a woman’s ‘no’?” he asked, without taking his eyes off the road, just smiled out at nothing.

“No as in no.” I just couldn’t get those dreams out of my head. Picturing the city under the blanket of night and me stalking its street like some carrion bird picking off the weak and strong alike. It was a mix of horror and sheer splendor mixing in my chest. A feeling so unexplainable, to try seemed like blasphemy.

“You just seem—” The leather squeaked under him; his eyes remained forward, he poked his tongue into his cheek, as if looking for the right word. “Different”.

Should I tell him about my dream, maybe just to shut him up? I don’t have to tell him about the good bits, I can keep those to myself, locked away in Dear Diana’s vault of diabolical deeds.

I make a bit of a show of it, lick my lips so he can hear, maybe not over the air-conditioning. “I had this weird dream.” I shrugged and smiled again.

Paul readjusted the rearview mirror, still he wore that dumb smile. “What kind of dream?”

Two questions in one day. Aren’t we the inquisitive type today?

“I was walking…walking, at night.” I tapped my front teeth together anxiously. A creeping odd feeling of cold hit me and I rubbed my bare pale arms to warm them but my hands were just as cold.

“Like a vampire?”

I scoffed.

“You really shouldn’t be walking alone at night Di—even in your dreams.” He made a hawing laugh sound in his throat, and turned that smile directly on me.

“Cute.”

Paul unwrapped a stick of gum and popped it into his mouth, somehow without taking his hands off the wheel. “You haven’t heard?” He poked the gum packet in my general direction.

“Apparently not,” I said, losing a sliver of patience, as I politely batted away the offer of gum.

He lifted his aviators and looked into the rearview mirror, as he chewed loudly. “You haven’t been watching the news?”

“Not if I don’t have to, boring show.” There goes another one.

Paul took in a deep breath and continued to chew. “They found a couple’ a bodies washed up on Huntington Beach.” He said.

“Bodies?” Happens every other day here. Some fat tourist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania goes belly up in a rubber dingy and we have to pretend to care.

“Headless bodies.” He made a chopping motion at his neck, like I didn’t know what headless meant. “They think it’s a serial killer or something.”

Or something, something like a chip of ice broken off, a cold laughter in the dark, a tinny voice spoke a language only I could understand. Those words set my teeth on edge, my skin to a cool burn.

“Really?” I tried to sound like I wasn’t chomping at the bit to Google this on my phone right in front of him. I swallowed, trying to pretend it didn’t faze me at all; like it wasn’t the most rapturous news I’d heard in my life.

Like there weren’t alarm bells ringing all through Diana’s dark deep depths. Like a light didn’t go off in my head, telling me somewhere, somehow, this is what I’d been waiting for.

But what else? Of course I need to feign some sort of fear, some kind of concern, for the victims for their family’s maybe.

I realized suddenly, a whole minute had passed since I last spoke. I just threw out a stock, “That’s horrible, those poor people.” For effect. No tears, no screams? Too much.

“Don’t worry, I’ll protect you.” Paul smiled.

“Did they find them?”

“Did they find what?” he asked, tipping his sunglasses down.

“The heads.” I asked quietly, as I tried to restrain myself from biting my lip.

He started chewing out of the other side of his mouth. “Now that you mention it, I don’t think they said.”

“Oh, terrible, I’m so scared!” I muttered almost shaking with excitement. What could it mean, why take the heads? Was it just a gang thing? Maybe the cartel. They love murdering random people and scattering them all over the place. Maybe some kind of Santeria voodoo hoodoo thing. But what happened to the heads?

Maybe they washed away and became a house for a family of California Dungeness crabs.

But not to find one, that stood out to me. It could’ve just been Paul forgot, but it seemed to strike a chord with Diana’s Dark Double. A shrill laughter, a tingle, a shiver up my spine, electricity on my fingertips. Every hair on the back of my neck stood up to salute the day, I had to check my lip to make sure I wasn’t drooling. Something seemed so right about it, something I had no idea I was waiting for.

I had to find out.

The moment he stopped the car, I bound out of the door like a dog seeing another passing car full of burning cats. I tossed back a feeble kissing noise and something like “Bye, babe, see you tomorrow!”

He said something equally as vapid back and swung a wide U-turn around the tiny roundabout at the end of the cul-de-sac I lived in, and drove off in a cloud of diesel smoke. The maneuver was something akin to the Titanic trying to do a Mexican Hat Dance around the iceberg.

Paul almost always just drove over it, leaving muddy tire tracks and crushed flowers in his wake, which seemed to really piss off my neighbors for some reason.

Oh well.

I quickstepped to the door of our ‘reasonably’ priced Orange County bungalow that looked like a little beach hut. Complete with beach towels drying on a spinner in the tiny front yard.

I was trying not to break into a full-scale sprint. I managed to keep my hand loose enough so I didn’t break the key off in the lock. Just to avoid any unnecessary time wasting conversations with my aunt. I wanted to be free to sit down at my computer as quick as humanly possible.

The keys on my chain rattled and it took me too long to find the right one and keep it still long enough to get it to go in the lock.

I turned the key, flinging the door open, closed it behind me and strode through the hall. I passed the living room, which I followed with my eyes.

The TV was on, the news, something about the killings. What a coincidence, but something in me told me this had to be a private moment, shared with no one.

Not even my own flesh and blood, and I also didn’t want any spoilers, no fluff, or padding. Just raw stark reality, no artist’s impression for Diana of the Dark.

I hurried past, slurring my words. “Hey, I’m home, had a great day, not hungry, kinda tired, going to my room, kthanksbye!”

Bustled past what felt like a crowd in a train station, but was just a bunch of squash equipment occupying the hall for some reason. I got in my room, pulled the door shut and had a fight with a wooden hat rack I’d thought was cute on Amazon, but had yet to buy a hat for.

My room was a hovel. Clothes, clean and dirty in piles throughout the room and on my bed. Posters of bands I didn’t listen to anymore, if I ever did in the first place, peeled off the walls and ceiling. Containers of soft drinks and burgers—I’m not a vegetarian. I like animals, big difference. They could have been vegie burgers, I don’t remember.

The curtains were drawn and the room was dark and humid. I put on the fan, and it started to cough and move warm air around my small room.

My laptop sat atop a throne of dirty clothes on my bed, half open like a clamshell.

I snatched it up and almost tossed it onto my dresser/desk/landfill. I turned it on and found a swivel chair with a sock wrapped tightly around one of the wheels. Its swiveling days were over, as the sock had lodged itself deep in one of the wheels. I parked my butt down and waited for my laptop to boot up, which seemed to be taking much longer than usual.

Punching it wouldn’t make it go any faster. So I didn’t do that.

Patience Diana.

It finally booted up, and I quickly logged in. My fingers almost tripped over themselves to type in my password, Dahmer7.

I opened a browser and typed, “Headless bodies, Huntington beach.”

There were a lot of results, but the top results seemed to be the most recent.

The Beachcomber had the juiciest title. The bodies had been found on the beach after all. So it seemed fitting.

 ‘Is there a head-hunter in Orange County?’ Jess Wode of The Beachcomber asked

I hope so Jess, I do hope so.

 It was apparent from the outset, this person had no idea what was actually going on. They were reading a police report, and adding their own ‘unique spin’. Or more likely, recycling a headline from another newspaper that also knew nothing.

Nothing more than headless bodies were found on the beach. That sells newspapers.

I was grinding my teeth, considering the prospects of a journalism degree. How much easier it would be to get access to all the morbid tripe I could get my hands on, if only I were a cop or a forensic tech or something.

The article was trite speculation and useless filler and what’s more, no pictures. What a waste of time.

I went through a few more sites. before I realized the police must be keeping a really tight lid on this one. No leaks, no cracks, no crevices, not even a video on someone’s phone, a selfie of a morbid dog walker, nothing.

Well that was disappointing. Even more so realizing that I would have to do the exact same thing as in my blog.

I opened another window and clicked on the bookmark tab for my blog. It wasn’t very fancy, I’m okay with computers, what kid born post y2k isn’t?

A super script kiddy hacker, I am not, but I’m getting there. The blog was just a standard WordPress blog dolled up with emo fonts and cheesy blood spatter effects as a background.

Mostly a serial killer fansite, where I documented murders and weird goings-on in the world at large. I ran it anonymously, obviously for the same reason I didn’t collect knives or listen to death metal.

Not that there’s anything right with that, but the connotations are the problem. People’s impressions really are everything.

If I do go on a killing spree out of the blue, I’d make it way too easy on them. They could blame reality TV, or Marilyn Manson or videogames instead of the harsh reality they’re hiding from.

Which is, Diana of the Dark Descent?

A shiver up my spine and that mocking chortle; the word I’m looking for is banal at best. ‘Evil’ doesn’t really cover it.

When I think evil, it’s more twirling moustaches and girls tied to train tracks. Some brawny hero coming to the rescue. This wasn’t so simple, it was never truly that simple.

Besides, how selfish would I have to be to let my ‘appetites’ harm the good name of videogames and death metal?

I logged in and tried to compose something, anything.

No pictures, maybe I should’ve just Googled ‘headless bodies’ in images. What kind of ‘leet’ hacker would I be if I didn’t figure out how to turn off my aunt’s safe search—in the fourth grade no less?

I felt dumb and dithering, as I looked at that blank text box I was about to fill with smoke, definitively from my ass. This must be what it feels like to be a real journalist.

My eyes wandered from the blank text box to my notifications. There was one. I clicked it, pretending I wasn’t mildly excited. Almost an addiction, checking notifications, expecting some great revelation. Some invisible backslap from a stranger or shit slung from some obtuse basement dweller, or maybe even a picture of a dick.

Other women complain about this constantly, I don’t get the fuss. It’s just a dick. I get the distinct feeling they’d be more miserable if the conveyer belt of phallic imagery would ebb. Maybe around their mid to late thirties.

It was a comment from one of the handfuls of subs to this small corner of the internet I call my own.

Spoopyshadowguy666 writes, ‘Check your inbox’.

This guy again, he subbed to me maybe a month or two ago, and he’s always sending me these weird cryptic emails. Like puzzles or riddles, games, and no pictures of his penis, woe is me.

Okay, I’ll bite.

I opened my inbox and it was empty, funny, my room looked like a homeless shelter, but I like to keep a tidy inbox.

I check the spam folder and waded through all the phishing emails and things trying to sell me Viagra and dildos and wart remover. A combination I can’t recommend.

His emails in the past didn’t really seem all that interesting. Mostly pictures of people, their names and addresses. Odd things, like their habits and work schedules, where they like to hang out.

It was weird but it didn’t cross the boundaries of being really strange. Seemed like the random fixations of a professional stalker. The standard fare for any fan of a serial killer page.

None of the people in the pictures seemed to be connected in anyway, different races, ages, jobs, sexes. If there was a pattern I didn’t pick it up, so into the spam folder it went. 

Today I was feeling ready for a distraction. Anything that would save me from the blank text box, and raking the bottom of my own skull for inane bullshit.

There it was, the subject of the email read ‘Do you see what I see?’ There were some attachments.

Here we go, finally the validation of seeing a nice hard cock of a stranger, can’t wait.

Clicking on the email revealed that it was pretty much the same as before. Pictures of seemingly random people, with little to no correlation in the way they looked.

I scrolled through them aimlessly, feeling silly for wasting my time. Then I saw a face that sent a little sliver of ice into the dark well.  I felt it stir.

A small flap of leathery wings, a tail uncoiling.

The face seemed oddly familiar. It was a Hispanic guy, maybe in his late twenties-early thirties, curly brown hair, small almond eyes, a flat nose and wide lips. The name on the image was Antoine Ruiz.

Ruiz, that name also seems familiar but it’s a Hispanic name and I go to a school that has a sizeable population. I think I sat behind a Ruiz in calculus.

I decided I was being silly, it was meaningless. I was making a big deal over nothing. I could have seen this guy while I was eating tacos an hour ago. He could have been staring right at me while he was grating vegan cheese and I wouldn’t have noticed.

There was something odd about these photos, though. They seemed different. The ones before were almost stock images pulled straight from Facebook or Twitter. Selfies, pictures taken by friends of them standing with surf board or in front of lobster dinners or on vacation.

These pictures seemed more intrusive, and increasingly so, as I cycled through them. Pictures from a distance, with their faces turned away from the camera, as if they had no idea they were being taken.

There were no smirks of the impending picture taking, no glib grins of people trying to show themselves at their bests. Instead it was the harsh glare of the camera’s eye revealing them in their natural state, completely unaware.

The first pictures of this Ruiz character made it obvious he was some kind of small time drug pusher or pimp. At night, with girls. Clandestine exchanges with people in cars with tinted windows. Moving his gun around the waistband of his Jordans.

Quite a character. Another small tingle was conjured as the next image was that of a small single story house, not mine. That would have been really ‘spoopy’.

No, it was a lot more ‘low-key’. Wider but with an unkempt, dried out lawn, and some desert plants in front. He’s really going to be hearing from the homeowners’ society.

The pictures got closer, looking through the windows at Ruiz. There was some kind of party going on, armed bouncers at the doors, people going in and out at all hours. The time stamps said as much.

Girls of the paid variety hanging around.

Quite the operation he has going on there.

Then more, after the party was over and people were leaving. It could have been just my imagination, but on a headcount it seemed like they were one girl short.

Then the next morning. Ruiz appeared, pulling heavy duty black trash bags to the boot of his car.

I clicked back and forth through the pictures like I was watching a video. Trying to separate reality from some daytime TV show with a cheesy title. ‘Appointment for murder’. Waiting for the other shoe to truly drop.

Was this a joke? A prank? Was someone playing a trick on poor delusional Diana? A trap? It didn’t seem to want to go in my brain, make the jump from pictures on a screen to actual things happening in real living color.

Something inside told me it was very real, hyper real, and right in front of my eyes. My teeth clenched, wishing there were some pictures inside the trash bags but that’s where the pictures ended.

What a tease.

I didn’t get it, who was this guy? A cop? Was it some kind of message? A warning? Was I being investigated? It looked like surveillance footage, and it looked like Antoine Ruiz was the type that needed to be ‘surveilled’.

Why send these pictures to Dainty Diana? Was it a mistake? It made no sense, and the more sense I tried to make out of it, I realized there was no sense to be made.

There was a puzzle piece missing, deliberately so and there was no way I was going to find it here.

The email itself was blank, but I scrolled down to the bottom.

If I sent a response, what do I say?

‘Do you see what I see?’ I see it, I think I do.

If ‘it’ was what I thought it was. I see it like no one else can see it.

There was something more than that, something deeper. Something that spoke directly to that part no one else should know about. What was it saying?

What would I want to say? What would I want?

To feel in control, to feel a step ahead of the person getting the email. To let them know I know them and they know nothing about me and I’m watching and waiting for what, for me?

To do what? Who am I? I’m no one, less than no one.

A high school senior with a tiny blog and a love for comfortable silences and Mexican food and occasionally living vicariously through famous serial killers.

Now I’m rolling my eyes back in my skull, looking into that pure clear darkness. The blackboard where truth is written by my dark professor.

It laughed, a cold mirthless laughter that shakes flecks of cool sea water off its irreverent scales.

What was it teaching me? What does he want from me? What does he want me to do with Antoine Ruiz?

What would I want it to say, not just, ‘Do you see what I see?’ But; ‘I see you.’

He sees me.

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 16 ‘Dark Descendants’

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

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

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

That’s about all.

See you…

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

“What do I do?”

“Whatever you want.” He smiled.

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

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

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

“I figured as much.” He smirked.

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

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

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

Only one question savaged me; Where to start?

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

 

Diana After Dark Chapter 15 ‘The Build up’

Well here we are again, 

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

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

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

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

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

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

See you…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clue it is.

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

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

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

But for one stretch hummer.

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

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

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

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

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

The build up

 

 

 

 

 

Diana After Dark Chapter 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”?

TOTCB Chapter 18 ‘Nobody’s Baby Now’

Bonjourno,

Well here we are with the final chapter of The One That Came Back raw and unedited cos I’m mean like that, if you want the lovely polished edited version you’ll have to sign up to my mailing list to get it winged to your inbox in a lovely digital with a cover and everything that I spent ages on ms paint making haha. I wish I was kidding.

Shit, I spent god knows how much money getting it edited only to give it away now I’m supposed to spend a small fortune on getting someone to do me a cover. I got lucky with the Ladies Close Your Eyes cover, I got someone from my comic book connections (when it was supposed to be a comic) to do it for free with a bit of cajoling and ass kissing.

So ms paint is all you’re getting, hey it’s the content that matters, all that thirty day nanowrimo content that kind of sucks but what do you expect it’s free? Nah it’s good, it’s not my best work to date, it’s rushed, it’s kind of raw, a little cheesy but overall I like it because it’s as close to the real life events as I could get it.

My main aim when writing it was to add an element of the supernatural and an element of mystery while keeping it as grounded and realistic as possible. A little like true detective, keep it gritty and real even a little boring to hit harder when it gets a little crazy.

I don’t really think I got the emotional weight I could have gotten or spent enough time making people like the characters but I wanted almost to treat it like a documentary and just present the characters as they are and you end up liking them or disliking them. 

I dunno, I kind of like that, I’ve been watching Battlestar gallactica recently and it’s hard to describe because the characters are really grounded and I find myself not really liking any of them but not hating them either. It’s weird, they just are. I’m not rooting for anyone but I still find it oddly compelling and interesting and I love spaceship cabin asmr noises in the background and the sort of claustrophobic feel. Because it’s basically about the majority of the human race being destroyed by evil robots they created and now they have to live in a nomadic convoy of space ships looking for a new home. I think it’s a great show, not usually a big fan of sci-fi, but it’s sort of so realistic it’s almost like watching a tv show aboard a naval ship a thousand years in the future.

It gives me that hit of starship troopers feels I didn’t get from the animated series. Because I recently read the starship troopers book and it’s written by a guy who spent time in the navy and he just wrote a book imagining a navy in the future with space travel and killer bugs and that’s how it reads. And it’s why I found the book super fucking boring haha.

It’s not a bad book, just nothing really happens in it, it’s just slice of life kind of crap but its only interesting because its a slice of a guy who kills bugs in a mech suit haha. But it just goes to show how perfect Paul Verhoeven was to direct the movie, he added the perfect tone to the movie, just enough campy silliness to make it fun and make the gorey fucked up moments hit harder. Because really there’s no other way it could have been done, it stretches credulity too much to be taken seriously so Verhoeven just took it to it’s natural ridiculous conclusion and it worked really well.
Obviously he was trying to parody a fascist space dictatorship but he just made it look really cool haha.

Updates updates, ok well 3 ring is coming along pretty well actually. I’m finding it really easy to write, just flows really naturally, I’m not sticking strictly to a word limit for the chapters like I usually do, so just letting them fall where they fall because I have a lot of content for this, no shitty word salad filler (I don’t do that).

I originally planned it to be like a sixty issue long comic series so I watched a buttload of kung fu and samurai movies as ‘research’ and I have ideas out of the ass. So I’m just gonna write this first maybe as a novelette and just see where it goes, end it where it feels natural. Maybe I could get it published in a magazine in an episodic format if it’s short and wraps up nicely.

Yeah I was surprised by how well it’s going to the point where I did something pretty clever that was kind of unintentional, but mostly I think it’ll be a fun read, I think I’ll do the next Diana book after this seeing where the wind blows. Maybe I’ll do Cur for nano if I do nano this year. I fucked up and was late last year and just failed by like a day haha.

Getting some good stuff for Cur, still not fully formed, reading more Witcher which I’m enjoying for the most part. It’s fun because it’s basically written almost as a fantasy noir, it’s very stark and gritty and not at all fanciful or verbose, it’s literally like if Richard Stark or Dashell Hammet said “Fuck it, I’m doing wizard shit now” haha. 

So it’s right up my alley but there’s no real story to the first book, it’s basically a collection of not really connected vignettes pastiching classic fairy tales like snow white and things like that. So I like it but there’s nothing in it that makes me want to get back into it. I kind of have to force myself to set time aside whereas when you read something like a Richard Stark Parker novel I can’t wait to find a minute just to see what Parker does next because I know it’s going to be fucked up, usually rape and child murder. Actually has he raped anyone? I don’t think so but he definitely killed a kid in one book haha. He is not a nice person.

But that’s one of the reason I love those books, because I spent so long reading noir detective novels to read one from the opposite side of the law was just so refreshing and every book in the series is just consistently good. It’s a lot like Dexter in that respect but a lot more stark and realistic. No dumb jokes about fruit or whatever haha. No I love Dexter but reading the books back, he is kind of a goof haha.

Anyway Jesus, I waffled a lot today. 

Shit I need to do some real work. I hope someone out there likes the ending and wants to read it in it’s final form until then you can read the raw copy with the link below and have yourself a peachy day.

See you…

Nobody’s baby now

~

A week later they had his funeral.

Porter came to watch people. He blended in, that’s what he did on most days. There was no guest list at a funeral and he knew Jack for a split second or two. Maybe he owed Jack a headache he’d pass on to the nearest relative, so he figured that made it sit right, for now atleast. Some of the heat had died down from the Bartlett case.

The imposter supposedly skipped town after he got bailed out by a family friend. Without him to interview the press had run out of blood to squeeze. He was the centre of it all and with him gone it all fell apart. Jack’s death made him the perfect scapegoat. For the fbi at least and any news source that didn’t make the imposter the focus of their stories. For anyone that could see past a desperate conman to the potential murk underneath. They’d seen enough and were willing to pin it on the junkie that killed himself.

So why was Porter still here?

The funeral didn’t go on too long.

It wasn’t overly dramatc, it wasn’t raining, no one cried. The priest said his part and they put him in the ground and threw dirt on him.

They buried him in Holy cross cemetary near Bracken because it was the closest to their house. It was just a field at the side of the road like so many others. But it had some privacy with the surrounding trees and the long chapel barring it from the road. It was a small and private.

When it was over he watched as what remained of his family walked to their cars. They were parked at the bottom of an embankment. A blonde haired kid that looked like Johnny should have looked at his age got in the drivers seat of the Lincoln. Peggy and her husband Brandon helped the mom, Angela into the passenger side. They were ready to set off when Porter worked his way up to them.

Peggy clocked him straight away and her irises shrunk to full stops or the dot at the end of an exclamation point.

“You remember me?”

“I remember you, you’re that detective right? The one who took Johnny for the interview.” She looked curious but cautious and hung on the edge of a car door, half in half out.

“What did your father do to you?”

“Excuse me?”

“Did he touch you?”

She scoffed and started to get into the car, Brandon worked his way around the side and balled up a skinny fist. “I don’t have time for this”. She said as she began to sit down.

“I found him, it is him isn’t it? Buried in the backyard of your old house.” He said looking at Brandon shrink as he said it. All the strength drained out of skinny limbs.

Her face got long and her ears seemed to dip, her eyes looking around as if for somewhere to be sick.

“You get the hell out of here!” Brandon screeched coming up on Porter but stopped short to looking at him. Revealing the emptiness of his threat. Expecting Porter to look away or flinch but Porter looked straight back and said nothing. His eyes like steel ball bearings in his head.

“Stop” Peggy sighed.

Brandon stepped back and flopped around the side of the car and got in behind Peggy.

“Two minutes mom” She got out of the car and started to walk up the path flanked by gravetones. He was supposed to follow but he watched her go and then went to find her.

The cemetary wasn’t that big or old. It was just a patch of land in the middle of all that texas nothing. Dolled up to look like a tasteful oasis of trees and restful sleep. She was standing in the back under a large oak tree looking down.

He approached her slow, evidently she did have time for this.

“He was yours, Johnny?”

“I don’t know where you get an idea like that”, she said folding her arms indignant.

“I have my story, you have yours.” He lit a cigarette and waited.

“Let’s hear your story first.” She said cocking her head to the side and plucking the cigarrete from his mouth, taking a slow pull.

“I think he had his fun with you and you got pregnant and Jack found out and killed him for it.” He stood and waited for her anger, when it didn’t come he went on. “Then when Johnny was old enough he found out. Then he found what was buried in the garden, there was a fight and he had an accident.” Porter said checking off boxes in his head. Going back to the pack for another cigarette and lighting it like dejavu. Waiting for his pat on the back.

She got quiet and thought about it for a minute, like she was rearranging things in her head. He expected tears and bittereness and denials. She sat down at the base of the tree and stared up at him, squinting as the sun dipped in the sky.

“You heard that story before or did you come up with that on your own?” She breathed out and cocked her jaw like she was trying to cry or stop from crying. Just taking another long pull from the cigarette she felt entitled to. “He wasn’t a bad man, my daddy. He was just a drunk. He didn’t know better and I wanted a baby so bad.”

Porter walked to a gravestone and sat against it like a teenager cutting class. He started the tap running now, she’d go until she was spent.

“It was my fault. He was drunk. But I couldn’t tell Jack or my momma that” She took a puff from the cigarette and said “You know the rest, or close to it”. She said looking at him through lidded deep set eyes.

“Is that all?” He said flat.

She rubbed her chin with her hand the cigarette dangled from. Her eyes focusing on nothing in particular. They were shakey, getting heavy like clouds about to rain. She looked up and smiled and said “This really bugs you doesn’t it, not knowing?” She took another drag still smiling. Her eyes still shaking. “It kills you not knowing, not being there, not seeing it yourself, having to trust me and every other idiot you ask”. She was mad now but at whom she didn’t know.

He looked at her and smiled back. Focusing on little details, the stain on her collar, the yellowing of her teeth. The pitch of her voice, split ends. Anything to stop him from boiling over and breaking her nose with the flat of his shoe.

“Right now you’re thinking you can hurt me and make me tell you everything but you can’t. You know you can’t, not really and it wont make a difference anyway. I can’t tell you everything because I don’t know I can’t know.” She said it not looking at him. She looked off at the horizon like it was some grand epiphany. She knew she was getting under his skin, she wouldn’t be the first.

She smoked a little more and said “You know the funniest thing about all this.” She stopped to bite her fingernail and take another drago on the cigarrete. “Is that people think we took in a complete stranger to cover up Johnny’s death.” She stopped again to pull the cigarrette in her shaking hand. “-but in all that time, we were the only ones who gave a damn about him.” The water works started slow and built from there. Her voice shaking with cool anger and bitter tears. “When he disappeared it didn’t even make local news, because they knew how he was, we did too. He was like that Bart Simpson kid, always getting in trouble. Terrorizing the neighbhorhood.” She wiped her tears with the edge of her hand, the skin taught and pale. “They thought he’d turn up in a couple of days and the whole thing would have been nothing, but he didn’t”.

“What happened to your father?”

“I don’t need to tell you anything, you know why? Because if you had anything I’d be talk to the cops right now.” She was indignant now, her face wet. “And even that wouldn’t do any good since the only people that really know the truth won’t say a damn thing to anyone about it.” She swallowed, her throat burning, raw. “because one is my momma and the other is buried under our feet.” She stopped and shook her legs, to check they were still there. Her movements were light and fast like a moth under a lamp. “So you’re wasting your time, he took it to his grave and so will Momma.” She smiled but at what he couldn’t say.

“I can tell you one thing, I’m glad of whatever happened to that French piece of shit, you ever find him? That’s what I want to know.” She shook her head and put her hand on her hip and looked like a cartoon character for a second.

“I looked” Porter breathed in, sealing his lips tight.

“What did you find?” She asked wistfull, suddenly not interested in the answer.

“Blood and feathers.” He said.

“Is that supposed to mean something to me?” She looked up at him scrunching up her brow, her temper fraying.

“Doesn’t it?”

“No it doesn’t, not a god damn bit”. She spat.

“He had a place, Jack. Way out in the boonies, a little trapper shack.” He finished his cigarette and flicked it.

“So? What does it mean to me?” She folded her arms again, getting catty.

“Blood and feathers.”

Peggy grimaced and turned away. She staggered to her feet and began to dust herself off.

“Well if that’s everything, I think I’ll be on my way.”

“Is that good enough for you?” There was a challenge in Porter’s voice but his eyes stayed fixed on the gravestone. As if the challenge was open to all takers.

“It’s enough for me. I can live with not knowing, it’s the only way. But this isn’t about me, and you’re kidding yourself if you don’t think I see that itch you got.” She smiled cockily at the back of his head and hiked her purse up.

She started to walk away and turned her head to watch him as she walked. Shouting back to him “Is it enough for you?”

Porter didn’t turn around to look at her and she just carried on down the path and got in the car and drove away.

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.

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