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Gage Chapter 7 ‘Ceremony’

Well hello der,

Err, I never know how to start these things, all I really want to do is bitch about the witcher.

No I’ll do an intro, ok well I’ve done pretty much nothing except make googoo eyes at my babymama and think about celtic folklore in the shower. But on that front it’s great. I should feel shitty because nothing is on paper but I don’t for the major reason; the mushy stuff which I don’t want to talk about. To focus on the writing, I feel like this is a real awakening for me. 

I found myself pretty blackpilled after I finished Diana because I genuinely thought to myself that I would never write anything better than this and it stung a little because it’s pretty much a fanfic or an homage to Dexter, it is mine, but also not mine. When I write it I’m purposefully trying to recapture the feeling I had while reading Dexter because I just want more of that feeling and I probably wont ever be getting it again from the actual source.

But there’s something about this, I didn’t have it at first, but as I read the folklore and think about it and wrestle with it in my head I just get this really good feeling in my chest. And even if it doesn’t turn out better than Diana it will be the next step nomatter what. I told myself if Diana failed, if I couldn’t get an agent or any copies sold I might quit but this is what I was waiting for, this will restock the fires in my heart for writing, I can feel it.

Right now I’m in this gorgeous calm before the storm moment like I have this big juicy apple the size of my head in front of me and I’m deciding how to eat it, just nibbling at it from all sides waiting for the answer to present itself. I really can’t wait til friday, I think I’m just going to dive into the internet for names and sources and start digging and taking notes and start sculpting this story. For right now it’s enough to let it cook in my head. I can’t rush it, this one has to be perfect.

Ok so enough of this positive shit, time to rag on the witcher haha. I dunno I actually feel positive even ragging on it, I think my fantasy book will be ten times better in terms of story, I don’t know about the writing, these books as I’ve said are really well written which I keep mentioning because it surprises me having read so many bad fantasy books on inkitt haha.

Because as I’ve harped on about the first witcher book ‘the last wish’ has almost no story it’s a witcher cheesy clip show with no real narrative linking the random events then it just ends with Geralt and Yennefer fucking because he uses his magic Genie wish to make her love him, which makes literally no sense. I mean the magic date rape sure but  I don’t even get why he liked her and not the snow white chick who banged the seven dwarves, their relationship was pretty much the same but she was more interesting.

Anyway so I started reading the second book ‘Blood of Elves’ and it starts with Ciri escaping cintra written in a really teenage girl ‘omg’ way I find really annoying. Then there’s a bunch of guys discussing the battle then Dandelion is captured and tortured and saved by Yennefer then Triss goes to Kaher Morhen (I at least tried to spell it this time) and that’s it. I started meming when was about 30% in that I was halfway through a book about monster killers and they haven’t killed a single monster yet nor did it seem likely they would in the near future. But now I just went over the halfway point and the most eventful thing to happen was Triss had a vision quest and Ciri got her period.

I wish I was kidding. Yeah it’s well written and some of the characters are decent but this is fucking filler, this is like bad bleach filler but instead of going on a wacky adventure they just sit around and do nothing but whine and feel awkward. I dunno, it almost feels like I’m missing a book, like there must have been a big time jump from the first book because I get the feeling that the thing where Geralt has a relationship with Triss has already happened and Yennefer and Geralt have already split up sort of. Also Ciri wasn’t born in the first book and she’s old enough to be having periods in this one.

This is the book that brings in Vessemir and my boy Lambert and all the other witchers and surrounding characters… to do nothing. I’m halfway through the book and the only person to pick up a sword was a little girl. I’m sitting here reading this expecting to get this rip roaring swashbuckling witcher adventure like the first book but with a story and I’m stuck in this really well written fantasy snorefest where the most interesting thing to happen is a magic make up tutorial.

Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not giving it up, I’m told the series gets better and my polish friend told me the first two books were sort of a slog but I won’t skip them. I’ll just read them and moan about them til I get to the good ones haha.

Ok so enough whining about the witcher, on to do something productive like blow it out of the water haha.

See you…

After the fire died Gage took ash onto his fingers and marked each boy’s forehead in turn. To symbolize the ashes of the old world and the world that would rise from it.

He took the various guns he collected from the patrons of the whorehouse who no longer needed them and handed them out like the sacraments at a mass. The boys eyeing them with wondrous curiosity as they splayed out on a tray Gage found in back.

They each took a revolver and Gage made them all take an oath to the new world. A mighty bone shaking oath that shook them to their core and moved them in ways they never thought possible.

*Note to the reader, the oath spoke of is never mentioned in the following text nor referred to again. And any remant of it has several variations none of which can be said to be cannon.

They were the warriors of the new world who’s only purpose would be to save the future of the human race from alien control. They would be the first droplets in a mighty tide of revolution to wipe clean this land and then this earth.

They swore before god and on the words of the bible that they would lay their lives down in service of their people. And cut down any that would stand in their way.

They spent the next few days in the remote brothel fixing it up and making it livable. Converting it into something of a clubhouse. Although there only being four bedrooms would mean two of the boys had to bunk up. Which lead to incessant consternation and ribbing between them. Although most of the time Gage preferred not to use a bed and just sleep on the porch on the rocking chair with his gun on his lap.

The boys took the time, familiarised themselves with the guns long and short until they could say they were as adept as anyone could have been. Considering only government officials and cut throats would even handle such a thing. They got comfortable enough to use them without blowing their own toes off. Learning for instance to keep one chamber empty to rest the hammer on so as not to misfire down the back of their trousers.

A few days past, it was around sundown when Clarke rushed back to the brothel, his rifle tucked under his saddle so it wasn’t visible to any passersby. He was out hunting rabbits and had come back empty handed but was very excited none the less. The sun was coming down and the boys were inside rather hungry with nothing to eat but stale bread and crackers from the whorehouses stores. Clarke had proven himself calm and capable with the long gun, a steady shot and a good tracker, so he’d taken it upon himself to scout around for food.

He rushed into the whorehouse coughing and sputtering with youthful excitement. Although this was unusual for him, as he’d displayed himself to be an even tempered young lad who rarely spoke when it was uneccessary. And could even be considered taciturn and moody in some respects. But he was excited by something.

“I- found- something!” He exhalted.

“Not rabbits ey” O’Shaugnessy bellyached.

“Let him breathe lads” Jameson said as the other three crowded around him.

Gage listened pretending to be asleep on the porch with a hat pulled down over his face.

“What did ya find Billy?” Mcdonald asked.

“A- trading post- about five or six miles east of here” He sputtered trying to steady his breathing.

“They have anything worth trading fer, like rabbits?” O’Shaugnesy added.

“Would ya shut yer mouth Shaun and let the man speak” Jameson said.

“I dunno, I didn’t go inside, I just looked in the window, got all kinds of stuff, guns, ammo, food, coats and furs and the ugliest damn wife and kids I ever seen”. He smirked.

“How many?”

“A whole bunch, look like that fella we hung the other day cept uglier.”

“He’s human?”

“Oh yeah, as you and I, must’ve taken one of them things as his wife for some goddamn reason.”

Jameson and the other lads made a face of confused disgust at the thought of a human mating with a lug. Shocked to think it was even possible and encountering the demonic children such a coupling would create.

“So you didn’t talk to him at all, he didn’t see you?” Jameson asked.

“No, I was the only one doing the seeing.” Clarke smirked. “I overheard him bellyaching with some traveller said he was pissed at the Cyclon for some reason. Wished someone would take’em out. I couldn’t rightly understand what it was he was saying, the fella didn’t seem too interested hisself neither.”

McDonald who was the largest but most soft spoken of the group with whispy mousey brown hair trying to escape his head. And muton chops framing a rough potmarked scotch-irish mug scratched his chin. “Could be he knows if there’s a town nearby, mightn’t be a good place to start.”

Jameson breathed in a little puffing out his chest and stomping across the wood floor of the brothel out the saloon door.

“Morning” Gage said as he rose from his rocking chair letting his shotgun fall loose at his side. “We ride out first thing tomorrow.” He said low.

Jameson nodded and smiled trying to hold in his excitement.

“Yes sir” He said.

The next morning they got up at the crack of dawn all four of them but Gage was nowhere to be found. He left a note outside Jameson’s door telling him to take his horse and he’d meet them there.

Read the rest of the chapter over on inkitt.

Diana After Dark Chapter 14 ‘Two Way Street’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See you…

Two Way Street

~

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

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

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

“What is it?” I asked.

“Err”.

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

“Wendy?”

“No it’s the fucking tooth fairy”

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

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

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

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

“Walk” She said still looking at me.

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

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

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

The room froze trying to recognise the sound.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

How do fine folk?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyway, enough time wasted.

See you…

Daddy’s little darlings

~

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

“Come on &&^%^$(*()*&

I wanna show you something”

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

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

What’s on the other side?

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

“A surprise

I did it for you”

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

It’s my face, it’s a mirror.

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

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

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

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

“Get where?” I ask stupidly.

“Prom, of course” Wendy said.

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

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

“Wendy, what’s going on?”

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

“Wendy I-“

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Paul!- Is that you?”

“Diana? – are you?” He said groggily.

“Just stay cool” I said.

“What the hell Di?” He groaned.

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

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

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

“Then what?” I said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Why did you-?”

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

“You know I hate awkward silences” I said.

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

“What about Brodie, when he sees this-“

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

“You’ve got your brother”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Subtle”

“I knew you’d like it” She said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No thanks.

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

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

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

“What?” Paul said

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

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

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

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

“Yeah- I guess.” I said ditzily.

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

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

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

“Thanks for noticing, wanna dance?-“

He furrowed his brow in response.

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

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

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

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

“So?”

“So what?” I hissed.

“Do you have a plan?” He asked.

“I thought you’d have one”

“Why me?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“And then what?”

“We take out Denny”

“Take him out?” He said as we swayed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Gage Chapter 5 ‘One Piece at a Time’

Good day vaguely humanoid masses of goodly folk who read these words.

Just taking it easy today, pushed the boat out last night on chest day and I feel great but dead, I am the swole grateful dead. But I had a pretty decent week all things considered, mainly shitty, a shitty month so far, my love life is in the toilet still banned on facebook and my ‘extended family’ is in fucking shambles but I guess things can only get better from here, I hope. 

I was at my day job just feeling sorry for myself doing a job that should be the exclusive purview of seventeen year olds and feeling like I chose the wrong path. I should have listened to my uncle and done an economics degree and been some kind of wallstreet asshole blowing all my money up my nose and shit haha. Not that I’d do that, I am the ultimate solid citizen haha.
I dunno, I found myself recently having more days like that and it really bummed me out but then you have a day like yesterday and it kind of reminds you why you do what you do and reassures you that one day, things will be better and just to have faith in the mean time I guess. I’m not really religious but I think about whether there is a god and whether there is a plan for me and I really hope there is in both cases.

Anyway so I’m kinda in one of these slumps again, pretty standard for me when I finish something I’m passionate about like Gage and Diana, I just try to occupy my mind until lightning strikes again and the longer it gets the more I get worried that it won’t ever strike again.

But I’ve been reading the first witcher book recently and although there isn’t much story, it’s more like an anthology, it’s well written and I love the style, the action is frenetic and not over descriptive and for a translation from polish it’s really stylized and immersive. I was reading it for research because I wanted to do my own dark gritty almost noir fantasy in my style, something like the Kurgan from highlander meets Solomon Kane or Conan. So I thought the Witcher would be a good read to get the juices flowing on that.

BUT instead of thinking about this fantasy novel idea (which I did a bit, it’s still going on in the background) I couldn’t help thinking about 3 ring samurai again. Yeah that’s the comic I did about the fucking clown samurai named Pookie haha (Which incidentally you can still read on right here on tapastic).

Admittedly I wish I could take credit for the weirdness of the concept but someone in my comic days just came up to me and said “Diesel punk clown samurais go!” and I just went away and created an elaborate world and mythos and we turned it into a script. Then a lot of bullshit happened and when Trump got elected I had a spat with the artist who was heavily liberal and I was evolving into a trumpkin trollololmon and it just went up in smoke but at the time it was also lingering in development hell because the artist was this boomer who needed medical weed to deal with chronic pain and he couldn’t get it anymore so he couldn’t find the impetus to draw anymore, so it kind of just fell apart and it was the push I needed to dump comics for good and go into prose.

And now I’m doing prose, I couldn’t help thinking about what this would look like if I just had the freedom that afforded me and also not having an overbearing boomer telling me what the character I wrote should do/be and fucking boomerposting all over it haha.

I was kind of hesitant at first because when I sit down to write something like Diana After Dark, I’m thinking this could have mass market appeal, this could actually go over well and make money and make a name for me, it could make me. It’s not a dumb zombie book about green haired chicks and weebs with katanas that I write for the sake of irony and inside jokes with myself. Its not only fun to write a book and a character like Diana, it could really have a big impact, it can be taken seriously. But then I can’t steer away from stuff like Green Sunday and Gage and this, stuff I know, only a niche audience if anyone is going to  enjoy them but after a day like yesterday I can’t help but waste my time on projects like that because they’re so fun and they remind me why I do this.

I actually enjoy this, I’m not just doing this for cash, I’m doing this for the feeling you get when you’re writing something and even though you have it all planned out as you’re writing it, you’re still not sure how it’s going to go and it’s like this intense feeling where you feel like you’re reading a book no one else has ever read and it’s unfolding in real time right before your eyes.

It’s really an indescribable feeling.

Anyway, I’ve ranted long enough and my journey to getting swole has robbed me of doing anything really productive today so I was gonna try and proofread the first chapter of the 3 ring but I might do it tomorrow and keep you hanging to the edge of your seat for it on the thursday.

I think I’ll leave it there and remember anyone who hasn’t signed up to my mailing list you missed your free copy of The one that came back and Ladies close your eyes but do not be down in the dumps because I’ll be sending it out again the first tuesday of next month, so sign up to my mailing list today to get your mits on those professionally and very expensively edited free ebooks.

Also you know the drill as far as inkitt is concerned haha.

See you…

One piece at a time

~

The small gun barely moved in his great mit as he fired at the bottles sitting on rotting bales of hay in the barn.

He fired until he could hear the clicking of the pin against the spent cartridge. Gage looked down range to see that all five of the bottles were untouched and only the inside of the barn had been injured in a wide dispersal.

“Damn son, if you weren’t inside the barn I reckon you would’ve missed that too” He chuckled.

He took the gun away from Gage and emptied out the spent cartridges into his hand. He stowed them in his pocket reloading the gun and then taking a look down the sights and then at Gage’s eye.

“Don’t get much depth perception from that one eye do ya boy?” He sighed and looked at the revolver and said “Other eye probably doesn’t work so good neither”. He sighed again and sucked his gum before shooting one of the bottles looking out of the corner of his eye.

The old man sucked his gums again and said “I think we can work something out.” The old man turned went over to one of the empty horse stalls and drummed his fingers on the fence. “Why don’t you get yourself some more coffee and try and get some rest. I’ll see if I can change the odds a little” He said smiling.

Gage breathed out frustrated but nodded and found his way out of the barn and slumped into the farmhouse sitting in one of the chairs. He supped cold coffee staring at nothing for what seemed like an hour maybe two. The ragged mad thoughts came screaming back as each second that dragged more of the booze sweated out of his system.

Then there was a whistling sound which didn’t come through at first over the sound of the wind outside. Something of a dust storm had kicked up and it had mostly swallowed the horizon. But then over the whooping wind he heard a cracking sound like rolling thunder. He walked out into it, his huge hand over his one good eye as he made his way back to the barn.

He entered the barn slowly, the smell of gunpowder in the air. The old man stood looking at a giant hole in the barn the whistling wind was coming through. He turned as he heard Gage shut the barn door.

“I guess you weren’t born in a barn afterall.” He chuckled. He paused and thought a minute before putting his hands on his hips and pushing his bottom lip out. “I got something for ya” He said smiling.

He turned and nodded at a bale with a lambskin tarp over it, atop the tarp sat a sawn off shotgun. Gage went over to it and picked it up.

“Justice herself couldn’t miss with that thing, or god be my witness” The old man laughed.

Gage took it in his large hand, it was a good weight. The old man noticed him shaking it for the weight and said “Even if you miss you could just hit’em with it”.

Then he noticed the etchings along the barrel and how abrubtly they stopped at the choke with crude tools marks. The stock had been roughly sawn away and sanded down, it was the same gun that was hanging on the wall of the storm cellar.

Gage looked down at it and breathed heavily and said “Why?”

“Why what?”

“I aint done nothing for for you”

“Not yet, could be you’re the one we’ve been waiting for and we didn’t even know we’d been waiting.” The old man smiled and said “Come on try it out, it might just back up and blow your damn hand off, ruin that pretty face a’yours”. He laughed.

It was a couple of months before Gage was ready to move on. His head clear, his mind focused, his body taught and strong like a drum like it was those years ago when he swung iron on the rail road. Doubts cleared from his mind he rode west on a horse the Carpenter provided.

What he intended to do he wasn’t quite sure of yet. Like some kind of apostle or prophet he was sure it would occur to him as if it would ride out of the clouds to greet him.

It was getting dark, and when it gets dark in the desert it gets cold. He could stand the cold but something on the horizon caught his eye. He’d been riding all day and the only place for miles was this odd two story ramshackle what looked like a coach house. But it turned out to be some kind of brothel built out in the middle of nowhere. Maybe it was put there by a mining company for the workers or could have been a ways out from an actual town put out of sight from the decent folk.

Either way Gage wasn’t gonna pass it by.

He was sure the place would be occupied with all sorts of riff raff being so far out here. He wasn’t ready to be picked up by some Cyclon agent who might find a handcannon on him. Things could turn really bad really quick.

So he took the gun the old man had given him, oiled it and wrapped it in a canvas sack and buried under a tree about a half a mile out from the whorehouse. So if it turned bad he could just ride out and get it. Marking the tree with a knife so it wouldn’t get lost in all this nothingness.

He rode in slow as the sun came down over the ridge, laying down behind the mountain range. The sound of crickets and birds whipping up into a frenzy as he hitched his horse.

His heavy footfalls on the rickety porch stopping the tinny piano music inside for a moment before he entered. He ducked under the door frame and pushed the saloon doors open and the smell of the place hit him first. It smelled like filth, like it covered the walls. Unwashed woman wafting around never seeing water between countless uncaring drunken customers. Rat faced sneering men that smelled like blood.

The whorehouse itself was a simple wooden construction with a wide fore area with a piano on the right surrounded by tables and chairs. Where various scraggly ner-do-wells sat drinking with their shoulders around their ears.

“Looking for some company de-ar god” A woman’s voice said as he turned his face to look at her. She was old by any standard must have been late forties but gussied up to look half that with a face painted white like an eggshell. Her rotund belly bursting the seems of an off white colour corset. Her speckled and spotty sunburnt breasts popped up like flabby rising dough propping up her chin.

“No” He answered.

He stepped over a slightly raised mantle that felt as if it were a stage and made his way towards the bar.

Above the smell the place seemed like a good start. The tubeloscope played in the background reporting on some kind of explosion that happened near the capital. Some terrorist group claiming responsibility for it. The news woman, some kind of alien half breed of her own was walking around asking people leading questions. Like ‘what kind of monsters could have done this?’ The dirty people sitting and drinking didn’t look shocked. In fact some were smiling, some even laughed or were in silent support of the action.

He had heard on the tubeloscope that there was a rebellion somewhere. Some band of revolutionairies carrying out bombings and raids on convoys of Cyclon good. They were branded terrorists and scorned as the worst of the worst to be as despised as those that had killed and subjugated alien kind in the past. Those evil men who had tried to wipe them out as they would say ‘just for being different’.

There seemed to be an air of disdain for the current system and a general attitude of undirected animosity to it.

This gave Gage some hope that he might in the right place and he sat down at the bar and tapped the bar tender on the shoulder.

The bar tender swung around aggrieved at being disturbed from whatever it was he was doing behind the bar. But he stopped before saying something he’d regret seeing Gage’s face. A dirty faced young girl stood up and wiped her mouth. Gage looked at the girl who couldn’t have been older than fourteen barefoot and almost naked and then glared at the bartender.

“Wha dya want?” The fat sweaty man asked.

Gage said nothing, he looked above the bar and saw a large copy of the bible sitting on a shelf.

The bartender turned to look at it and scoffed, “Oh yeah that’s for the whores to piss on”.

He couldn’t rightly understand it at that point but for some reason that angered him greatly. He grabbed the bartender by his sweaty dirty shirt and pulled him close to his face. Not sure if he could even think of the words that would surmise his feelings of pure hatred towards the repulsive character.

But even if he had thought of something he was stopped in his tracks by a clicking noise. The feeble prodding of the barrel of a six shooter behind his good ear.

“Now I’d drop him if you don’t want to get even uglier.”

Gage turned to see the old whore who spoke to him when he enterned. He dropped the bar tender hard against the bar, knocking about a half a dozen bottles of liquor on the floor.

The women held the gun on him with her two hands as she looked around the bar at the other patrons and smiled nervously. “Get him” She squealed.

Before he could do anything the entire bar descended down on him. A chair was smashed over his back and a bottle over his head and he was kicked and rolled and hit with anything they could get their hands on. The whores too beat him with rods from the fire and even the teen girl from the behind the bar was biting at his legs as she pulled his boots off.

The attack was so fast and savage and by surprise there was no way he could have stopped it. And if he had had his gun they would have no doubt taken it and used it on him. But as it stood he was dumped a quarter mile out and left to die of dehydration and his injuries.

He lay there face down in the dirt awoken by the sqwarking of a buzzard deciding whether to peck at his good eye.

It didn’t hurt, nothing hurt anymore, only his pride was injured. His boots took, his coat, his money and whatever else he had on him. He was stripped down to his undershirt and left to rot and get picked at by the coyotes and the vultures. He felt nothing but the soft tight feeling of the broken and the mending and a stiffening of his muscles.

It made more sense to him now, these weren’t the revolutionaries he was looking for, just general criminals. A putrid scum that only laughed at the misfortunes of the state powers as far as they enjoyed any such misfortunes of others. They only opposed the system as far as it got in the way of their of own, degeneracy that exceeded that of what the state itself was willing to promote.

They were common criminals and had no right to live on this earth he thought as he staggered to his feet. His one good eye almost closed up with swelling as he tried to find his way to that tree and the justice he would bring, buried at it’s feet.

He found it within an hour of searching and trudged his way back to bar in the wee hours of the morning. Following the vile scent of the inhuman garbage that had left him to the carrion to be picked apart like some bloated pig.

He pushed through the door and was greeted with a silence and dull humming and the sound of snoring. The bar looked frozen, like a den of sleeping hogs, the drunks who had taken joy in beating and robbing him the night before were passed out on the bar. The whores passed out drunk in the booths along the side.

Gage could have easily killed them all in their sleep with his bare hands. But he wanted them to know the face of the man that would send them to the devil one at a time.

Pulling up a chair near the entrance he waited for the first to stir. The bartender appeared behind the bar like some kind of vole or rat sensing danger. Poking his greasy bald head over the bar as if he were sleeping on the floor. He rubbed his eyes like a child and thought he saw Gage and grabbed a drunk at the bar and tried to rouse him.

“Hey, wake up, is that- It’s him!” He squealed like a stuck pig and the drunk reached for an iron feebly slow and was cut down by the blast of Gage’s gun. The shot; hot and hard, hitting the back of the bar, splintering it and bursting open the bottles of liquor and lighting it on fire. The liquid flame exploding and splashing on the bartender who shreaked like a washer woman. He waddled falling over the bar and jumping out of the window partially on fire.

A pistol coughed at him hitting the doorframe and then once in his arm but it wasn’t powerful enough to move him. He swung around to where the noise was and emptied a barrel of his shotgun into the stairs. Cutting the old whore from the night prior in half just under her corset. The top half of her popping out of it and rolling down the stairs while her legs remained, the gun tumbling down and breaking open.

The bar was awake now, skittering like cockroaches under the eye of the sun, stinking rats fleeing a sinking ship. They piled over eachother to get away into the desert. Which was fortunate since anyone with the balls to draw a weapon and fight had to clamber over the cowards who tried to flee to pop a shot off. A foot to the groin or a hand in their face not helping their aim any as people literally climbed over them to escape.

Gage fired his last shot into the crowd tearing a wide hole in it and leaving men and some women writhing around in their own putrid entrails.

He emptied the spent shells onto the wood floor putting the shells in his mouth as he slowly reloaded. Occasionally some dishevelled miscreant would pop out from behind a table to fire a poorly aimed shot at the furniture. Only to duck down behind it again if they didn’t just fire blindly over the top.

He slid the final shell into the gun as he felt a tapping on his back as if someone were insistently prodding him on the shoulder.

Swung around to see a dirty young lad with a whispy mustache standing with a 22 pistol smoking in his hands. Gage snapped his gun shut and picked him up by the jaw and slammed the hard wood handle of his gun into the kids face. The first blow loosening all the teeth in the front of his head, the next shattering his jaw entirely. The next knocking his nose in and the next shattering his orbital cavity. After that there wasn’t much left to break and he threw his lifeless body over the tops of the overturned tables the cowards were using for cover. He heard a womanly shriek.

He fired into the crowd of overturned tables and turned them into kindling almost instantly. As if they were made of leaves and a strong gust blew them away. Men that weren’t killed by the shot were caught by shrapnel. Men shrieked with thick table splinters gouged into their eyes and throats and hands. Any that weren’t dead and maimed ran to escape the sound of the dying men’s screams.

Gage trod over the desolation barefoot, glass and splinters sticking into his huge hard feet but he couldn’t feel any of it. He walked over their corpses stamping out those still gasping and gargling for life. He saw the young girl from before lying on her back a big piece of table sticking out of her throat and her eyes glassy staring up at the ceiling. He spat on the floor in disgust and walked over to the stairs.

Stepping over the corpse of the old whore he made his way up to the second floor, kicking her legs off the side of the stairs.

The second floor was just a balcony overlooking the bar and a series of doors leading to bedrooms for the whores to ply their trade.

Coming to the first door his heavy footfalls gave him away and a burst of two succinct revolver shots bust through the door. Cutting Gage along one of his arms but not deep enough to knock it out. He fired back splintering the door and sending a bald man flying out of his boots with a hole the size of a donkey’s head in his chest.

A blonde whore was prone behind the bed with a long schofield revolver in her clasped hands. Her arms laying across the bed. She looked at Gage filling up the doorway covered in blood the righteous hogleg hanging heavy at his side. She hesitated and threw her gun down on the bed and it slid down and hit the floor.

Gage said nothing before firing the last barrel at her. Tearing up the bed with a burst of feathers and blood as her head split in two and plastered against the backwall.

He stood for a moment as the gun smoked before putting three more shells from his pocket in his mouth. Breaking the gun open again and letting the spent cartridges hit the floor,

Another whore with raven hair and green eyes sprang at him from the adjacent room with a pair of taylors scissors and stabbed Gage in his raised arm. He grabbed a fistful of her hair with his free hand and slammed her head into the side of the door with a cracking squelching noise. Her knees buckling instantly and he tossed her body off the balcony with a crash of glass and wood.

He finished loading the gun and snapped it shut again and fired into the room she came out of. Knocking her customer right out of the window with a thunderous clap and a tinkling of glass.

He kicked the door down of the last room and fired both barrels without even looking. Making it nearly impossible to distinguish what remained in the room. Just a paste of blood and feathers and bone.

When the whore house was still he went outside lead by a pathetic mewling noise. Following the sound it lead him to the bartender face down in the dirt smoke rising off of him as he whined quietly with as he breathed in dust.

Gage put his foot on the back of his greasy bald head and pressed it into the mud until the mewling stopped and he heard a cracking snapping sound.

When it was done he sat on the porch in a rocking chair looking out on the horizon with the gun on his lap. After about an hour of sitting there and thinking about what he was gonna do. Maybe just burn the whole thing down and moving on. But he thought better of it and decided to start moving bodies.

He assembled all the corpses and the largest pieces near the entrance. Then finding a shovel in the back he started digging a big hole behind the building.

He spent an hour or two digging a mass grave a few feet deep. Without the pain in his muscles he found he could work much harder and longer and it didn’t seem to bother him. The only thing he felt by the end of it was his thirst. When he’d finished burying the bodies and the parts he went into the bar and dumped out all the liquor and took a drink of water from a nearby well. Then he collected up all the guns and ammo that were left lying on the floor. All in all he got six or seven pistols, ranging in size from tiny derringer meant for hiding up ladies skirts and long army schofields. There was a rifle in the back hidden behind some barrels of beer and a short double barrelled shotguns as well as a set of brass knuckles and a bowie knife. The quality of the guns was fairly low as the legality issue had made choosers into beggers. They couldn’t even steal anything that mightn’t not explode black powder back into their faces.

After that he started to tidy the place up. Getting rid of the broken furniture and mopping up the blood and picking up the brains and bones and other parts he missed. Throwing out all the soiled burnt and ripped bedding.

At the time he couldn’t say why he did it, it was more ritualistic. Feeling as though cleaning the place up, the necessity for it would be made clear when he’d finished. Or somehow the act itself was like cleaning up an especially filthy corner of the earth and this would signal the start of a great cleansing. A small part of a greater design taking shape and growing one piece at a time.

He felt some slight clawing regret at killing his own people because that’s not what he’d set out to do. All that dirty work that seemed pointless had given him time to reflect on it and as he thought of those twisted ugly dirty faces he knew. That the horrible truth of it was that the decay was too far along. The moral and social and cultural decay of his own people had been had been ingrained in them long ago. By a people that sort their disorder to form their own from the chaos.

They had indulged these vices and even promoted them telling people of the one life they had to lead. Encouraging them to lead it only for the selfish asquistion of the basest pleasures of drink and women and violence.

And the majority had done so. As the spiritual and moral values they had founded this country on had given way to material wealth and physical pleasure. Turning men into nothing more than greedy eating machines whose only purpose was to buy bigger mouths.

He’d initially thought he might excise the cancer of his society surgically. But now he knew that even those not associated with the system were just as vile. And where he might have used a scalpel before when what he really needed was a hammer and shovel to knock it loose and dig it out. Pull it out by the root and he’d have to pile the corpses of his own kind higher than his eye before he could save his world.

A million faces like his would have to be smashed before they’d be free, before his kind would seek their own freedom. Talking never worked, the Cyclon were the masters of talking and nothing changed when it was left to a vote. the Cyclon loved voting everything. His people needed to be shaken forcibly from their dream, they’d fight and cling to their chains before being free.

Free.

The word seemed like a joke to Gage. Looking at this place he saw what people did with their freedom. He didn’t want to free his people, not from morality, not from god. Just from the Cyclon. It was their freedom that lead them to this. Man was not meant to be free, not from himself and not from God.

The beasts were free and man was not meant to be a beast.

It was his place to find good men and lead them against those that would die to protect corruption and decay. A system that would stifle their good and promote their worst degenerate tendencies would have to taken a part piece by piece. By the most righteous men unfaltering in their tasks. Driven by a firey passion and slaked with an icy determination they would drive their thumbs into the skull of the system and leave it blind.

When it was all done to the best of his ability, cleaner and brighter and lighter. That dank smell of human vice gone he felt he could breathe. It was a clean open room now waiting to be filled with what he couldn’t say but it was a step in the right direction. The sun was coming down so Gage took up a blanket with a scotch hatched pattern and sat on the rocking chair on the porch. He sat with the blanket over him the gun in his lap underneath it and with a lamp at his side and waited.

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.

It done did!

Ok so it’s finally sort of, kinda done, I guess. I mean I dunno, it’s still a little rough, I get the feeling my last editor rushed it on her way to being a fucking 7th degree yid belt or whatever she was doing. But hey it’s free so you leave that gift horse’s mouth alone you damn filthy animal.

That is if you’re on my mailing list and if you’re reading this and you’re not on my mailing list then tough hit hombre, you’ll have to wait til next month, maybe, probably, I don’t know.

I do want to do like a monthly newsletter but I’m also very lazy and have a terrible memory and have all the new shiny things I’m working on to keep me distracted like stupid diesel punk clown samurais, because that’s a thing.

But if you are on my mailing list, there should be a copy of this waiting snugly in your inbox in three different formats and a copy of LCYE for any new subs I got in the last couple of weeks.

But yeah I got banned on facebook again so there won’t be many new subs for awhile haha. I get banned for the stupidest things, zuck really finds me distasteful, I wonder why.

If there are any formatting problems with the files I have no control over that, my technical skills revolve around shiny kitchen equipment and now further and I don’t even have an e-reader to test them. Although I did look at the pdf and yeah it looks like crap so don’t get that one haha.

Ok well that’s all, if you got it I hope you like it, if you don’t got it, get it git.

Thanks everyone,

Good day.

TOTCB Chapter 17 ‘Wayward Stranger’

Super quick today, wasted too much time already arguing with spergs about weed today haha. But seriously if you want to see some spergy shit tell a stoner that weed is degenerate and see that motherfucker flip out so hard haha.

Ok so still working through the proofread of this beauty and if projections are correct and I don’t get side tracked into some shitposting flame war it should be up and ready for circulation some time next week, shooting for the first tuesday of the month but I’m already walking that back in my head maybe opting for another proofread.

I dunno, anyway as you know free copies for emails, that’s how this works my dudes and as always you can check out the rest of it unedited and raw on inkitt where I keep all my raw and rough work.

TOTCB

~

The house on J street was only twenty minutes from the rehab clinic, it was handy. Every thing seemed to be twenty minutes away in this town. He had some time before nightfall, that was when things would get interesting. He lit a cigarette and sat low down in the dodge.

J street was a loose string of flop houses kept standing with popsicle sticks and spackle. A glorified trailer park without the charm. Lots of empty cars and grey sky to look at as the red light on the end of his cigarette got closer. There had to be more cars per square foot than people, it was a regular grave yard. The dodge didn’t look too out of place, a pick up rarely did in any part of texas. He could be a contractor on a job or an honest crook taking a break from lifting copper wire. Either way no one would likely turn a pickled eye in his direction, cop nor crook alike.

He sat watching the house in his side mirror as he was likely to do. He had to assume Jack had seen his face, the amount of time he spent watching them. Someone had followed him to the meet with Mickey and the list of interested parties was limited. He had to think there was a reason not to kill him or there was just no reason. Maybe Jack thought someone might care if Porter Carraway PI turned up dead. And maybe someone would. But he had to know no one would care about Mickey getting some attic space in his head. Just going round in circles, none of it mattered now.

The house he was watching was a single storey yellow wood building with no garage. A small yard that pincered a concrete driveway and a metal wire fence around the sides. There was an ash tree off to the right and a yellow mustang parked around the right side in the shade on the grassy lot. In front of the tree there was a lot of garbage and debris that spilled out into the street. Broken furniture and cinder blocks with a sign behind it that read ‘No dumping’.

There were four windows in the front. The blinds drawn tight but two had lights on that must have been on throughout the day. They were on and he didn’t remember them switching while he kept watch. Working his way through his pack of cigarettes. The two windows on the left that had lights on had to be for the living room right at the front. The side on the right was probably the kitchen and the bedrooms were in back. The front door was a no go, it was locked and had a metal screen on it, standard for this neighbourhood. He might be able to jimmy it but it would make too much noise. Only then to be greeted by whomever was waiting for him in that living room.

There was a large gap between the house and the building neighbouring on the right. It looked like an abandoned chapel. A long building stretching back from the road covered in sheet metal. Probably to keep out copper thieves away.

The house on the left looked empty too. There were cars parked out front but were likely parked there because no one would complain. He hadn’t seen much activity, no lights, no coming and going. It was a small blue house with wild agave plants growing in the front yard. A tiny plastic kids swingset and slide and a medium sized green plastic lawn table with two chairs.

It got dark quick there and when it got dark on J street it meant it. There wasn’t a street light for a good quarter mile and none of the houses had working flood lights. A dull glow from the shaded lights inside, shadows flicking back and forth. Curtains creeping back and forth, furtive glances felt but unseen.

It was about time. He fell out of the dodge, quick and quiet, shutting the door without a sound. He crept around the truck ducking from car to car in the street, hopping them closer to the house.

He circled around to the left and traced around to the left of the blue house. He walked quick tracing the fence, passing the kids swing set that now looked like a tetnis trap. Around the left side of the house, the windows were dark and it looked like they boarded from the inside. He slipped around the back, the yard was empty and it looked like someone had been digging, the dirt was fresh. There was only a three foot fence separating the back yard of the blue house and the yellow house. Porter hopped it giving out a slight tinkling sound that reverberated down the line. Could have been the wind if there was any wind but there wasn’t. The night was still as a picture in a frame, the air hung cold and dank. There was a lot of moisture in the air and he felt like he could feel all the molecules and none would shake. Time was frozen and he was the only one awake.

The backyard of the yellow house was bare but for a few tipped over lawn chairs and old beer cans. There was a small back porch which lead into the kitchen. Porter circled around the right side, sticking as close as he could to walls of the house. The car was where it had been sitting for a few hours. The old yellow mustang was definitely the same one he’d seen Jack driving. There was nothing that interesting he could make out inside without a torch. Looked like the regular fast food debris and stuff like that and a gun on the backseat. He tried the handle and it was unlocked, the door creaked open but the light didn’t come on. He palmed the gun, it was heavy but he couldn’t make it out in the dark dimtime. It felt like a 45. It was long and squared away with smooth edges, the handle was wood and smelled of oil and smoke. He tucked it in the back of his pants and closed the car back up quiet.

Satisfied he was in the right place he crossed over back into the yard and to the back door. Taking great care as he mounted the back porch. Listening for creaks and voices of the people inside. As he got closer he could hear talking. But it was the static rehearsed talking of a loud television left on in the background. He could hear the pauses and the clicking of teeth and tongues.

The back door was open but for the screen. The door frame was thin as fire wood and he popped it open with a shrug and stepped into the dark kitchen. It was cold and lit only by a warm light coming from the living room where the tv was on.

The kitchen was small and tucked away, boxed in by an adjacent bathroom or bedroom or both. It was rectangular with linoleum floors and unpainted wood cabinets high and low. A fridge next to the door and a washer dryer in the far corner. It was a mess even in the dark. He could smell the plates rotting in the sink. Hear the bugs crawling through the damp under the cabinets. Surged on by a constant drumbeat of a leaking tap.

There was an alcove that lead into the lounge through a little sitting dining area. He walked light footed through the alcove, past a small table and chair under a broken lamp and into the lounge. It was warm and smelled of smoke and other things. Burning plastic. The lounge came from the dining area and snaked around the front. The front door to the left of a big bevelled television sitting on top of four cinder blocks. There was some kind of movie on, one of those late night movies you watch when you can’t get to sleep. You sleep and wake up and it’s there waiting for you.

The lounge was a mess, clothes tossed all over the place, more fast food garbage and beer cans. The walls had dark brown stains on them he could only see when the movie got bright. There was writing too but he couldn’t make it out, cabinets off to the right with weird taxidermy animals in them. Looked like rodents, and a few birds in there. The whole cabinet stank of fermaldehyde and had little bones in it, rat skulls. Something a little bigger a cat skull maybe, it’s good to have a hobby.

Scanning from left to right there was no one there, he could see the back of a coach bathed in dry tv light and not much else. He rounded the coach in front of the tv and saw there was a door that must have lead to the bedrooms. He pulled the gun out of the back his pants and shook it a little to get used to the weight. In the light of the tv he could see it was an iver Johnson Trojan standard .45 auto, a nice gun if you could afford it. He held his hand out for a moment like he forgot why he drew it in the first place, he let it drop to his side.

A small thin hand wrapped it’s skinny fingers around his wrists soft. He was looking down at his right into the sunken eyes of brunette who looked half there. Lying almost flat prone across the dirty old coach covered in what looked like a white painters tarp. She lay on her front and could barely summon the strength to lift her head. She looked like she recognised him. Something that was definitely a bad habit because she was a stranger to him.

She was naked lying on her front. He could see her ribs and her ass looked like a flat piece of flank steak. Dirty dark hair sticking to the sweat on her back.

His eyes peeled up and there was something scratched into the walls above the coach. A crude cave painting etched into the chincy wallpaper. It looked like a woman with wild red hair but the face of a bull with a ring through it’s nose. A set of big tits at the bottom and the rest of the body faded behind the coach.

He stepped away from the coach and her hand fell limp on the floor as she drifted out of consciousness again. He checked the clip, seven bullets and one in the chamber made eight. He walked out of the living room into a dark hallway which connected the bathroom and the bedroom. The bathroom door on the right was shut, it had a little window over the top of the door, so he knew the light was off inside. On the left the bedroom door was ajar and had a weak thread of light bleeding out.

He lined up the Trojan and tiptoed towards the door. There was only the sound of the tv from the other room and a building crescendo of crickets outside. He got to the door and there was a familiar smell, acrid, strong and getting stronger. The hairs on the back of his neck rose and his guts did a little dance. He poked the door open with the barrel of the Trojan and nosed it through like a dog under the covers.

It was anti-climatic, he knew it already but he liked surprises, liked lying to himself too much. The butterflies in his stomach were there because he put them there. As soon as he got to the door he knew the truth already but it was too disappointing to put into words. Lying there sprawled on the double bed, a mess of dirty sheets was Jack lying on his back with a needle in his arm. Eyes wide open looking pleased with himself as he stared unblinking at the ceiling fan.

His skin was waxy and pale, eyes glazed over, vomit on his shirt and on the pillow, an overdose for sure. Porter sighed and holstered the gun in the back of his pants and started to push deeper into the room. He must have been dead the whole time he was waiting or the smell was on account of him emptying his bowel. Either way Porter wasn’t that interested in learning the specifics. Or sticking around too long. A cursery glance of the room didn’t turn up any suicide notes. No journals written in red pen with the title ‘I did it’ on the front. But the sawn off mossberg shotgun under the bed said something. It smelled like it’d been fired recently. The calibre ammo accompanying it seemed to fit the size of the hole in Mickey’s head, as they say, if the shoe fits.

Suicide, that was stupid, this was like the rest of this mess, that’s all it was. He wanted this to be big and complicated but it wasn’t, it was a big mistake, the whole thing.

There wasn’t much else to the room, a double bed benal paintings on the wall. Clothes strewn about, drug paraphernalia. A couple of side tables with full ash trays.

He stepped back and took a mental picture of dismay. A snapshot of purest self-destruction. Then ducked back into the hallway where the air was a little more fresh. The girl was still there but she’d shifted onto her side with her other arm still trailing along the floor. He skin was so white he stopped to check whether he had two corpses for the price of one. He put his hand in front of her mouth and he could feel her breath, it was weak and probably smelled bad but it was there.

He thought about asking her questions but small of her back was in no mood to talk. He got himself off and away from that coach and started walking.

“Are you looking for that kid that was here?”

Porter turned to the coach, she hadn’t moved, maybe she couldn’t but there was no one else.

“Are you his father?” She said into the coach cushions.

“Where is he?”

“They came here together and then they went out and then he came back alone” She hummed. Her voice had a dreamy faraway quality as if she were talking to herself.

Porter was convinced he was talking to a ghost now and he liked his ghosts to get right to the point. “Where did they go?”

“J has a shack, he goes there when he’s hiding from someone, it’s a dirt road off interstate 33 near his old house.” She said dryly, no hint of inflection in her voice, she spoke as if reading a script written on a coach cushion.

“Thanks”

Porter started to walk off again when she asked “Is he dead? Did you kill him?”

“He did it to himself.”

That seemed to fit and she stopped talking like she ran out of quarters and Porter saw that as his time to exit.

He went out the way he came, cutting around back, out the kitchen and into the back yard. He took the Trojan out of the back of his pants, wiped it with the cuff of his jacket and tossed it over by the chapel. He snaked around Jack’s car working his way back to the dodge. Starting it up without putting his lights on and pulled out into the night.

Diana in the Dark Chapter 11 ‘Dark Lines’

Hello again,

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

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

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

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

See you…

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

Diana in the Dark

~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was so… so-

Neat.

Horrifying, truly horrifying.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ok time to skip to the good bit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This was not how I expected today to go.

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

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

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

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

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

“I got another one”

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

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

“You’re talking crazy” Denny said.

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

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

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

I didn’t write a second note.

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

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

So then who sent the second note and why?

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

It felt almost like a game.

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