Monday, May 2, 2011
Monday, April 25, 2011
So this week:
Messengers will finish.
Zombie story will start.
New Red Teeth chapter.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Dylan felt like he was drifting. There was an unreal quality to life in jail. Sometimes he suspected that it was the mixture of a perfectly regimented schedule combined with more free time than he knew what to do with it. While that was a reasonable enough explanation, and it might have even been true, it wasn’t really the truth.
The truth was that nothing in Dylan’s life had felt real for a long time, definitely since before the messages, probably since Alexandra died. After a certain point, Dylan thought, we expect our lives to go a certain way. We start looking at the future like we look at the past, something fixed, something definite. When things go off the rails, then you start to feel like nothing is real.
Dylan hadn’t quite lost his mind. He was aware that feeling like your life wasn’t real was some kind of insanity, and he hoped, at the very least, that being aware of the insanity of his feeling meant that, paradoxically, he wasn’t going insane. Or at least, not too insane. But there was still a moment or two when he woke up in the morning where he simply could not believe that he was where he was.
He was a celebrity, of sorts, and so he spent his time in jail alone, passing the days until his trial. They’d tried putting him in general population, but his status as the angel guy had made managing the other inmates more trouble than it was worth. It was amazing to Dylan just how many of them blamed the angels for their problems, or thought that Dylan had a line directly to them and could help them.
It didn’t help that he was the current subject of a media blitz, which had taken him from relative celebrity as the first person to receive a message to full blown infamy. They might not have wanted anything from him, but they all knew who he was.
For his part, he was grateful for the solitude. The one real advantage of being in jail, as far as he was concerned, was that he was free from the messages. He didn’t watch television, he didn’t use the internet, and he declined to speak to anyone on the phone. He did read, but he did his best to get books that were printed before the messages began. He wasn’t interested in anything that the angels had to say.The problem was that he was alone with himself, and the truth was that he wasn’t really alone. In the endless hours, he found that his thoughts naturally drifted towards Molly. Always. Her memory distorted the shape of his mind, like a bowling ball on a rubber sheet. No matter what he did, his mind was always pulled towards her. It was worst at night, when he dreamt about how he killed her.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
“I think you’re keeping secrets” she said.
She said it through a mouthful of bacon, which is one of those things that he loved about her. Molly was an unabashed carnivore, and while he didn’t share her enthusiasm for meat in all its forms, it made him love her even more.
“I’m an open book. Hell, I’m practically a newspaper.”
“Uh huh. I think you’re keeping something from me. I can tell when you have something on your mind, and I think you have something on your mind.”
“I’ve got lots of things on my mind: my deadlines, the nature of causality, why Hugh Jackman is popular, and how cute you are when you’re devouring a salted pig.”
“Nice try, but I know something is on your mind, beyond the usual.”
Her tone was light, but it seemed a little forced. Dylan thought that she was genuinely worried about something. He wasn’t inclined to tell her what he was thinking about, and he was actually a little worried that she might figure it out on her own.
“Well,” he said, “what about you. You never did tell me about the other message.”
She paused, bacon hovering in mid air and he regretted bringing it up. They’d been married about six months when he came home from an interview to a house full of smoke.
He found Molly in the bathroom, where she was burning paper in the bathtub. She was pale and she was crying. She was burning a printout of her thesis. Dylan had tried to turn on the shower, to stop the fire, and she hit. She pounded against his chest and he had to grab her to stop her. He’d never seen her like that before. He’d never seen her like that since and he hoped that he never did.
Dylan was not, despite occasional evidence to the opposite, a stupid man. He figured out that she had gotten a message. But she refused to talk about it. She spent the rest of that day in bed, not saying a word. He wondered what she could have read that would have done this, but she wouldn’t tell him.
The next day, she was back to normal. He brought it up again and the subject was either brushed off or the beginning of a huge fight, but there was never an answer. As far as he knew, Molly didn’t have secrets, didn’t see the point, except for this.
She stared at him now, and he wondered which way this was going to go. She stood, no expression on her face.
“I’m late,” she said, which simply wasn’t true.“Molly,’ he said, but it was already too late. The only things that heard were the kitchen table and the bathroom door. Dylan drummed his fingers on the table. He didn’t want her to know what he was worried about. He was worried that talking about it would cause what he was afraid of would come to pass. Once again, he wondered about causality.
Monday, April 11, 2011
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Greer, for his part, walked away from the accident without a scratch on him. At least on the outside. Dylan heard, later on, that the man was never able to go back to work. He just couldn’t get behind the wheel. All things told, that seemed like small punishment.
Despite that, Dylan wasn’t really angry at Carson Greer. He thought he was an idiot, and he thought that playing Call of Duty was a stupid reason to die, but he didn’t hate him, not really. That Greer plowed through that red light at just the right time to kill Alexandra was blind idiot fate, and if you spent your time being mad at that, then you weren’t likely to get anything else done.
Their marriage was not a particularly love filled marriage, not in the way that romance novels and chick flicks would recognize, but it was a happy marriage. They got along and they had a good time and Dylan missed her every day until the angels started leaving him messages.
Johnny was right; there was something about the messages. Dylan assumed, at first, that the voicemail was some kind of mean spirited prank, or maybe even a wrong number. Dylan didn’t know anyone that was that big of an asshole, as far as he knew, but he didn’t really consider any other possibility. But it nagged at him. He spent the whole day thinking about it.
Of course, once the messages became a known fact, which didn’t take very long at all, Dylan gave it some more consideration. It was a while before people got a grip on how the messages worked, but Dylan couldn’t put it out of his mind. Not just because it was bizarre, although there was that, but because he couldn’t shake the feeling that the last few years of his life were not what he thought they were.
His marriage was happy. He was sure of that. He knew Alexandra, knew her as well as he could know anyone, but what the angels said, he couldn’t get over. She’d been planning to leave him. Something was wrong, something he never saw.
There was no evidence she was planning to leave, if you don’t count the word of unknown and possibly unknowable forces, potentially supernatural in nature. He’d checked her email, spoken to her friend and family, even tried to check with the divorce lawyers in the area. As far as he could tell, Alexandra was as happy in their slightly odd but functional marriage as he was.
So he went on, and did his work with the messages, and tried not to think about it because there was nothing to think about. Either the angels were right or they weren’t, and there was no way for Dylan to get at the truth of it. If he kept replaying his marriage over in his head, the only real outcome was misery. He thought about it everyday, after the message, but he tried not to think about it a lot.But then he went and got married again.
Saturday, April 9, 2011
Dylan’s first wife was, more or less, Dylan in a dress. Alexandra was smart, she had a biting sense of humor and Dylan always wished that he loved her more. They got along, almost too well, but there was always something missing. He didn’t realize it until he met Molly.
They’d got together in high school. Dylan was neither popular or unpopular in high school. Basically, he was background filler. He didn’t feel particularly lonely, but he was definitely different. Not many sixteen year olds at his school had actually read The Communist Manifesto. Alexandra had. They fell into each other’s orbit out of necessity. It felt like gravity.
They’d gone to college together. They hadn’t really discussed it. It wasn’t a big romantic gesture, like they had to be together. It had simply turned out that way. In a way, Dylan would later realize, it was a lot like their relationship in general. They did it because it was the easiest way. He realized that their whole life together was like sliding down a greased chute. Always down the path of least resistance.
They got married after college, in a small ceremony that was probably most notable for the cookie table. They were happy enough, he supposed. They were comfortable. The marriage worked. Dylan had honestly never considered that it might have been otherwise. Naturally, it was bound to end in tragedy.
Tragedy, in this case, came in the form of an eighteen wheeler driven by a man from Florida who shouldn’t have been driving. His name was Carson Greer, he was twenty six years old, and at the time of the so called accident he’d been up for more tham twenty four hours.
This had nothing to do with him being a truck driver and everything to do with him being an asshole. He was at the end of the amount of hours he could legally drive at a stretch, and that would have been fine had he not spent the day beforehand up playing a Call of Duty. In a very real way, Alexandra died because of an X Box.
Life hangs on tiny seconds. Alexandra stopped at the local convenience store every morning before she went to campus to teach her first class. The coffee was terrible, but she’d gotten a taste for it when they were young and poor, one that had persisted now that they were slightly less young and slightly less poor.
If she had spilled her coffee, if she had had to look for change, if she had eaten cereal for breakfast instead of a bagel, she would have lived. Anything that made her five seconds faster or slower would have saved her life. If Dylan had given her a goodbye kiss that morning. But he didn’t. She didn’t.Carson Greer never even saw the red light. He didn’t even see Alexandra before he slammed into her car at sixty miles an hour as she pulled out at the intersection. Dylan didn’t know why she hadn’t seen him coming, why she assumed that because the light was green that the intersection was safe. But she didn’t.
Friday, April 8, 2011
“What did you find?” he asked. He knew, but you needed to keep the conversation flowing.
“Pictures. He had a scrapbook. He took a picture of each girl. Every one of them…you don’t know what it was like, looking at that. It was like looking at a snapshot of hell. I found the rest of his rape kit. It wasn’t proof. Not really. But it was enough. I knew.
I waited in his house for him. The waiting was hard. Sitting alone in the dark, waiting for a monster. He walked in and I stepped behind him and shot him in the back of the head.”
“Do you feel guilty?”
“I am guilty.”
“I think you know what I mean.”
She smiled at him again, the disarming smile. The soccer mom smile. It wasn’t reassuring.
“No. No, if I was uncertain about Carcetti I was sure about Sinclair. He would have kept on doing what he did. Maybe the angels would have sent a message to someone else and stopped him. Maybe not. I don’t feel bad about him. Not at all. The world is better place if he isn’t in it.”
“And the others?”
“You’ve read the files on them?”
“Then you know. The other three? The same. The world is better off without them. It is. And they were guilty. No doubt. No innocent people at risk. So do I feel guilty? About them? No. I don’t. I wish, sometimes, that I had never heard of Carcetti. Regret. I’ll give you regret. I wish things had been different. But they weren’t.”
“What gave you the right? Why did you get to decide? What about the law?”
“What about it? The laws were designed for a specific set of circumstances. But circumstances changed. The angels might occasionally be wrong, but they never lie. I didn’t need the system to do what was right. All I needed was to be able to take the blame.
Once I killed Carcetti, the clock was ticking. I had choices. I could wait to come here, and let those animals loose on the world. Or I could do something. I did something. I murdered them and I deserve to be punished for that, but I wasn’t wrong. I wasn’t wrong.”
“Do you think the angels wanted you to do what you did?” he asked.
“I don’t know what the angels are. But I know they don’t care about us.”
“They weren’t using you to make the world a better place?”
She laughed. Longer than she reasonable, louder than was comfortable. Dylan cast a glance to the motionless guard in the corner. He shrugged.
“I’m not crazy, Mr. Hobble. At least, I’m not that crazy. I am not the avenging sword of god. I didn’t go on a holy quest. I killed them because down at the core, I knew they needed killing. Not because the angels made me, or even because the angels told me to.The angels don’t care. If they cared, they would have told me enough to help Amanda Carcetti. If they cared, they wouldn’t have sent the message to my partner. If they cared, I wouldn’t be here. They don’t care about us, and they don’t make us do anything. All they do is show us exactly who we really are.”
Thursday, April 7, 2011
And we were on the ground. Things were normal, for a given value of normal. Selene buried her face in the dirt and clawed her hands in.
I closed my eyes and gravity switched directions. The ground became a dirt cliff and I was hanging on. A light of no color burned into my face and I pressed my face into the dirt. There was a sound I couldn’t hear and then it was over. I head a familiar sound.
I open one eye, and the cat was looking me.
“I don’t have any food,”
I peeked an eye open and looked at Selene. The cat was pawing at her head. She lifted her head from the dirt and blinked.
“I guess so.”
I flopped over on my back and looked. There was nothing but a hole where the shed and pasture had been. Just a circular bowl carved out of the ground. I looked at Selene.
“What the hell was that?”
“Which part: where the universe folded in on itself or when Pan got killed by his women?”
“The Shed was an extension of Pan’s will and belief pushed into the real world. Call it a reality pimple. When Pan died, the pimple popped. This is…this is the scar, I guess.”
“Pan was a god, right? How can a god die?”
“Pan was an echo of belief. The cultists summoned him into the world with their belief, and he maintained that through the dairy and the brides. Once they woke up, every one of them wanted them only for themselves. They believed it so hard that his existence shattered, and my non belief destroyed him.”
“Non belief? You just killed him.”
“It’s learned skill.”
“Am I supposed to understand that?”
“A wizard did it.”
“That’s more like it.”
We sat and looked at the hole. I’d seem some weird stuff, but this was probably the winner. Selene looked pleased. She stroked the cat like a Bond villain.
“So why do it?”
“This. Offering yourself up as a bride of Pan.”
She half smiled, shrugged.
“Somebody has to. Beside, I get extra credit at Misk U for this kind of thing.”
She got up and dusted off her make shift toga off. I scratched the cat’s head. Who he was, that’s a story for another day. Selene walked away.
“What would you have done if I hadn’t shown up while you were on the altar.”
She smiled and winked.
“I’d have thought of something,” she said as she walked away.
And you know what? I’m pretty sure she would have.
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
“Well,” I said to Selene, “It was nice knowing you. Except for the dying thing.”
“We’re not going to die.”
“Well, you might not…”
“Trust me, just watch.”
Behind Pan, who was still coming fast on our heels, the brides were rising up like a white wave. Before he could get to us one of his brides stepped in front of him. I was sure he was going to trample her down, but he stopped suddenly.
The wave rushed over him. He struggled and was lost in a seas of white flesh. They didn’t say a word, just engulfed him in nameless lust. I could see flash of red as they piled onto him.
“Pan’s…let’s call it love…is lust and sex distilled down to it’s purest form. While the brides were still being milked, their urges were being kept in check. Now in the presence of Pan they’re letting it all out.”
“Fucking him to death, yeah. They’ll devour him in their desire.”
It wasn’t pretty. They were a seamless squirming mass of flesh, no way to tell where one began and another ended. It wasn’t sexy, it wasn’t erotic. It looked like maggots on dead flesh and somewhere in the moaning, Uncle D was screaming.
“Has nothing to do with it.”
There was more red than I expected, and I realized that the brides were tearing each other apart, and more were rising from the beds all around us, not even needing Selene’s help. They were killing each other. One of them looked up at me with a shark’s smile and started to move forward. Selene struck her down.
“We need to go, now.”
“Terrific. Do you have any ideas about getting around the ravening sex beasts there?”
“I do. Come on.”
She went to the wall and began to chop at it with the sickle while the brides were still destroying themselves.
“This area is a four dimensional space pushed into a three dimensional space. So no matter how big it is, the walls are still…”
Moonlight came in through the wall. Fresh air, more or less.
I started chopping with my sickle and we managed to get a hole going. I smashed into it with my shoulder and kept going right through to the grass. Selene was right behind me.
“Are you just going to lay around all night or what?”
“What about them.”
“They…” she paused, a sad looking passing before being replaced with anger, “...they stopped being human as soon as Pan got to them. There’s nothing left for them.”
The shed started to shudder, and things changed. I felt like my head was trying to turn inside out and everything started to taste like the sound of purple. Selene grabbed my arm.
“og ot deen we” said she.
She gave up on me and started booking it for the edge of the little pasture the shed was seated in the middle of. The landscape blurred and Selene stretched out to the edge of forever. I wanted to look back but back was in front of me. Selene reached out with a hand a million miles long and grabbed me and pulled and…
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
“I have an idea.”
“Terrific, let’s do that.”
“Don’t you know what it is?”
“So long as it’s not give up and get goated to death, I’m in.”
“We need to go to the shed.”
Which wasn’t going to be a problem, since I didn’t know how to get anywhere else. We hit the wrongness of the field and Selene kept running, grabbing a sickle off the side of the shed. She grabbed another one and tossed it to me.
“Come on” she said, and tossed the shed doors open.
It wasn’t any better the second time around. Selene grabbed a sheet hanging near the door and did some kind of woman magic and turned it into a fairly passable toga. She shut the shed door, dropped a board in the slats to lock it. It probably wouldn’t slow Big Daddy D down for long, but what the hell. The sickle wasn’t as good as the hatchets I usually used, but it was passable. I gave it a few experimental swings. Not too bad. But still…
“I don’t figure these are going to do much to a god.”
“No,” she said, “they won’t. But they don’t have to.”
I feel Pan coming, a shuddering rising in my loins the smell of flowers blooming. Selene stood over one of the brides and slashed with the sickle, cutting the tubes carrying away their mother’s milk.
“Take the other side and keep moving”
I started chopping the tubes, the sickle sharper than I would have imagined. The brides started to stir as soon as I cut the wires, blinking away and looking at me in a way that might have been flattering and interesting if it weren’t so terrifying. Pure and unadulterated lust was something I was pretty sure that I never wanted to see again.
I wasn’t sure exactly how many brides there were, but we were a good ways down the aisle when the doors turned into splinters. Uncle D stepped through the doors. It was like looking at one of those hologram things that had two images together. I was looking at the kindly old Uncle and the Great God Pan at the same time. He smiled, and wiped rocky road off his face, licked the melted ice cream off his hand.
“Ah, Rocky Road,” he said, “Some of my very best.”
He looked at Selene with a look that would have given a eunuch a hard on.
“My darling bride. Come with me and I will show you a night that you will never forget, I promise you that.”
Selene smiled. I was a little worried. I hope somebody had a plan that didn’t end in satyr rape. Then she gave him the finger.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Come and get me, goat nuts.”
I liked her more all the time. Pan came charging, still flickering between being the kindly Uncle D and the Great God. Selene went running. So did I.
Monday, April 4, 2011
The fact that all of Uncle D’s ‘brides’ beared a rather strong resemblance told me that Uncle D or whatever obscene entity was inhabiting him definitely had a type, and she was it. And presumably, next.
The problem is how do you tell someone that yes, the supernatural exists and oh, by the way, it wants to fuck you? Literally. As it turns out, that wasn’t going to be the problem that I thought it was.
“Yes, I know, now don’t fuck it up.”
“I know it’s crazy but…wait, what?”
She shook her head and looked at me like I was maybe the dumbest guy she ever met. Which, admittedly, was entirely possible. I certainly felt like I’d missed some part of the script. She took off her glasses, rubbed her nose and took a deep breathe.
“Sixty years ago, Uncle D was one of a group of occultist cum scientists who tried to impregnate a woman with the seed of the Great God Pan. They got it wrong.”
“The woman they used was, well, we’ll go with unclean and Pan was not amused. He killed everyone else and basically turned Uncle D into his flesh puppet. He started the dairy to try and get a foothold back on Earth.”
“Through the power of milk?”
“It does an evil nethergod good. It also gives him a little bit of control in every person who takes a lick of that ice cream. Every year, inch by inch, he gets a little more of his position in the world back. It’s a slow process, but he’s got nothing but time.”
“So wait, how do you know all this? If all the cultists died?”
“I go to Miskatonic. We know things.”
“So you’re here to…?”
“Become one of Pan’s brides and send him back to the half formed realm of the collective unconscious from which he was summoned.”
“The power of focused unbelief channeled into Pan as he reveals his true form for the, ahem, marriage.”
“You’re going to unbelieve him to death?”
She put her glasses back on and told me to get the hell out of there and not blow her cover. I didn’t, which is why I was booking it through the labyrinthine fields of fences holding a sex stunned naked intern and being pursued by sex god who was going to rape one or both of us.
“You tell me. Your focused unbelief didn’t seem to be working. If he hadn’t gone chasing the cat out of there I’m pretty sure you’d be “married” by now.”
“He’s…he’s substantially more real than I anticipated.”
“Terrific. Do you have any other ideas?”
“Well, you can put me down.”
Running alongside a beautiful naked woman is distracting, but the rape god behind us was an excellent way to concentrate my attention. The last time I had to fight a god, I had the means to control it. Here, I pretty much had the means to die horribly
Love and Panic At Uncle D' Old Fashioned Ice Cream Emporium - A slightly older story (as in I wrote it at the tail end of last year) that is, in fact, completely finished and actually short enough to be described as a short story. Huzzah. This is a fairly rough version of the story, since I wrote it as an exercise in writing fast and without a plot in mind, neither of which I do very often. That said, it amused me a lot more reading it this time compared to when I finshed, which is a good sign.
Messengers - Is winding down, writing wise, so I may actually be finished with it this week, depending on the paid work.
Red Teeth - Another chapter should be up this week. Yes, I know I said that last week, too.
Sunday, April 3, 2011
Uncle D’s winds around and around until it opens up into a small field with a small red shed in it, pails hanging on nails in the wall, and no air movement at all. I didn’t like it. The whole place just felt wrong, and stepping foot onto the nicely trimmed grass felt like a violation. Looking up, I couldn’t the idea out of my head that I was looking at the wrong stars.
But the meowing continued, and it was very definitely coming from that shed. Which meant that, naturally, I was going into the damn shed. It was locked, of course, but not locked enough. The Cat kept meowing.
The shed was…different on the inside. Bigger, for one thing, stretching on as far as I could see, and the smell of sex and milk wafted out. Row after row of bed stretched out in an endless interior space. Every bed occupied by a beautiful young eight breasted woman.
Eight. Udders would not be the wrong term here. Everyone hooked up to what I was pretty sure was a milking machine. The woman didn’t seem to mind, being in, near as I could tell, a permanent state of near orgasm. It was maybe the worst thing I ever saw, and I’ve been to Barry Manilow concerts.
The Cat said ‘Mirp’.
I said “Oh, fuck me.”
Uncle D said “Aren’t they beautiful?”
I didn’t jump out of my skin or, despite what The Cat might claim, scream like a little girl. I’ve had way too much training for that, but hearing the cheerful voice of a thousand television commercials right behind was slightly startling.
He draped a heavy arm across my shoulders and walked me across the threshold, smiling all the while. The air in the room felt wrong, and I still couldn’t see the far wall. I was fairly sure that if I turned around I’d find no wall behind me either, so I didn’t.
“Now, see, son, you weren’t supposed to see this,” Uncle D said. He was taller than I expected, grey hair slicked back and a face as red and smooth as a televangelists, but the body under the suit was pure old farmer, muscle overlaid with fat that was as hard as oak. He never stopped smiling.
“Now, I could,” he said, squeezing my shoulder hard enough to cause me knees to quiver “tear your overly curious head off and leave your body for the magala.”
“But I hired you for a reason, Hatch, and that was not your dubious musical talents, though god knows I do appreciate music. I hired you because of the incident with…well, let’s call it my cousin. You kept that quiet, and I appreciate someone is both discreet and well versed with the more unusual parts of the world we live in.”
He turned me then, and I was still powerless to resist. He out both hands on my shoulders and looked into my eyes. His eyes were both a regular bright blue and the golden horizontal eyes of a goat.
“All of these are my brides, Hatch, everyone a blessed treasure to me. But it costs so much to keep them happy. So I had to make a deal with this…farmer in order to provide that. If people knew where Uncle D’s ice cream came from, well, that just wouldn’t do. “
So that was the agreement. I didn’t tell anyone about this and remained the watchman, and Uncle D didn’t kill me. Supposedly. I suspected that I was probably going to be necessary for some sort of arcane ritual, as that’s how this thing usually went. I would have and should have ran into the hills and never looked.
Shoulda, coulda, woulda. The problem, of course, was Selene.
Saturday, April 2, 2011
. Selene had a habit of working very late into the night, studying the goings on of Uncle D’s while there was no one there to disturb her. The Cat, apparently, had decided she was also an excellent source of food and warm spots to doze, and had adopted her as well.
I had half a tuna fish sandwich for The Cat and went out looking. Selene had half a turnkey sandwich and the same idea.
“Oh!” she said, “You must be the nightwatchman.”
“I don’t suppose you’ve seen…”
“A big ball of fur that thinks he owns the place?”
The Cat was sitting in between, licking his lips and looking liked he’d been there the whole time. Selene would come over after that whenever her eyes started to bleed from staring at Uncle D’s legendarily disorganized books, and we would shoot the shit while The Cat basked in our adoration.
Frankly, if I’d been a little less attached to the fuzzball, I wouldn’t be running for my life from a sex crazed god. Of course, there’d be no one around to save Selene, either, so I guess I owe the critter for that, but I would like to just once, ONCE, have a job that didn’t end up with me nearly being killed, possessed or otherwise personally violated by supposedly mythical beings.
What happened was one night, The Cat didn’t show up. He had just about got me trained the way he wanted me, so this was a little out of the ordinary. I went out looking for him.
What do you want? He was The Cat, I never did name him. I was answered by what sounded like a faint meowing. And now I was worried, because The Cat didn’t meow, and this meow sounded like the kind you get when a cat is scared and wants a human lackey to do something.
The grounds of Uncle D’s headquarters are pretty sprawling, encompassing both a dairy farm and the actual place where they make the world famous ice cream, and the damned meowing seemed to becoming from just ahead, no matter how far it went.
Before I knew, I was deep, deep into the labyrinth like interior of Uncle D, making my way to dark territory, where I wasn’t supposed to go and where cameras didn’t reach. If I were a good employee, I never would have been there. On the other hand, if I were a good employee, I never would have been here at all.
Friday, April 1, 2011
As the door to the ice cream parlor burst open, I briefly considered the naked intern on the table in front of me and guessed that the agreement was probably off. The bargain was this: I could either keep the secret of Uncle Dio’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream or I could die.
But seeing as I was right in the midst of snatching Selene, Miskatonic intern and latest ‘bride” from her place on the sacrificial altar/ice cream counter, I figure I’d moved into the “or die” portion. Well then, I was going down swing. I reached down into the ice cream tray, grabbed my weapon and nailed the Great God Pan right in one weird goat eye with a double dip of Rocky Road.
He was not amused.
This problem was the intersection of two of my longstanding problems. One, I can’t help but fall ass long into trouble. Two, I’m a sucker for a pretty smile. Selene had the kind of lo side grin that made my heart (and, possibly, parts south) stand up and take notice.
In my defense, she wasn’t JUST cute. She was a grad student at Misk U. and she already had two degrees, one in some kind of agriculture, the other business. Her grad studentry focused around, not surprisingly, agribusiness.
Uncle D’s isn’t agribusiness in the same sense that the massive conglomerates that provide most of the food in the country are, but I guess the growth of the company from a family farm to a chain with more than two hundred locations and a presence in many of your fancier grocery stores was worth looking into for Selene’s masters thesis.
Me, I was just the nightwatchman. I was looking for something nice and relaxing after the thing with the Thing on the coast. All I had to do was make sure that nobody tried to bust in, and seeing as no one had ever tried, this looked like an easy job. I’d even get time to catch up on my reading.
Except, of course, for the cat. I have a soft spot for cats, and this cat, the cat who walks through secure security perimeters, was a big fluffy bruiser with a chewed up ear and a snaggle tooth. He came ambling up to the secure office one night, completely non plussed by the locked doors, motion detectors and chainlinks fences. I still don’t know how he got inside. He jumped right up on my desk where I was definitely dozed off, set his broad butt down and said.
Not a meower, but that was fine by me. I gave him half my lunch and he curled and slept the rest of the night. He showed up every night a little after I got disappearing or sleeping as it suited him and going wherever the hell he damn well pleased. If it weren’t for the piles of cat hair I had to clean up every night, I might have thought I was imagining him.I wasn’t the only person getting visited by The Cat.
Thursday, March 31, 2011
“Sure, I have to blame somebody, right? They sent me a message that I was going to kill Bobby Sinclair. I know they say that what the angels say doesn’t have to be, and I guess that’s probably true. But when I got that message it felt…inevitable. It felt like gravity. It was easier to just fall than to fight. So I didn’t.
I wish I could tell you it was hard. But it wasn’t. It would have been harder not to. You know about Bobby Sinclair?”
“After his body was found, they were able to connect him to more than thirty rapes. All of them were teenagers.”
“Thirty six. That were reported. God knows how many more that weren’t. He’d been at it for more than a decade. Poor girls, girls from the street. He figured no one would care enough to look very hard. He was right. If I didn’t know it before, I knew it when nobody found about Carcetti.
You know what I learned being a homicide detective? That most of us are smart. Most of us care. Most of us want to get the killers. And most of the time, it’s not that hard. Most of the time we find a husband with a bloody knife over his dead wife or we find some gangbanger killed by a guy who brags all over town. But if it’s not obvious, if it’s not someone that society cares about? We don’t get them. You know about the first forty eight right?”
“That’s not because there’s something special about those first two days. It’s because if you can’t find the evidence you need that fast, you probably never will. Nobody cared about Carcetti. Nobody cared about those girls.”
“I guess so. But that didn’t change anything for them, anymore than it changed things for Amanda Carcetti. The angels weren’t helpful enough to tell me which Bobby Sinclair I was supposed to murder, so I needed to do some legwork myself. I narrowed it down to likely suspects.
The Bobby Sinclair I was looking for had been arrested once, back when he was in college. He was accused of raping a girl. There wasn’t any hard evidence. She was a townie, too young to be drinking. He didn’t deny sleeping with her, but they were both drunk and he was young and pretty and he walked.
He must have learned from that. He was smarter about it after. We never even had any idea that he even existed. But I was suspicious, you know? Something felt wrong.”
“So you broke into his house.”
“Sure. I mean, it’s not like I needed evidence for court. I just needed to know why I was supposed to kill this man. So I broke into his house and found all the reasons that I would ever need.”
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
“Because of the angels,” Dylan said. She nodded.
“Before I got involved, he was restrained. He was still a monster, still someone who should never be allowed near children, much less allowed to have one of his own, but he wasn’t hurting her physically.
That’s not much of a consolation for a little girl forced to stand on top of a cooler for hours, or made to sleep in the attic when her behavior wasn’t perfect like daddy wanted, but she’d have been alive.
But when I showed up? He thought she’d been talking to someone. He started beating her because she betrayed him. He actually tried to justify himself to me. Can you believe that?”
She stopped. No expression but the anger almost dripped from her.
“Excuse me?” Dylan said.
“I keep thinking if. What if I’d never gotten that first message? What if I hadn’t done anything? What if I’d done more? If.”
She rubbed at her wrists, looked away.
“Carcetti was an accident.”
“Maybe accident is the wrong word. I’m pretty sure it was. But I didn’t go there planning to kill him. I didn’t even plan to kill him when I pulled the trigger. I didn’t think about it. I wasn’t thinking about anything. I put the gun against his forehead and he begged and he pleaded and he tried to explain and I pulled the trigger. And then he was gone. As simple as that.”
“That doesn’t sound simple.”
“I guess it doesn’t. He was dead before I realized what had happened. Do you know that was the first time I’d ever fired my weapon off the range? Of course you do, that’s in the record. Something that simple, that quick, it changes everything.”
“So why the rest of them?”
“Now, that is not a simple thing. Even after I killed Carcetti, I didn’t plan on doing anything like that. You know what my first instinct was? To run. To get out of there, to get as much space between me and what…between me and him. So I could forget about it. Can you imagine that?”
This time Dylan looked away. He could imagine that. Very well.
“I got lucky. Nobody saw me coming or going. Nobody ever considered me a serious suspect. Truth is, Carcetti was a piece of shit and no one was inclined to look too hard at what happened to him. But I knew. What started to worry me was the angels.
There are no secrets anymore. I mean, I don’t have to tell you that. Eventually, the angels always tell the truth. I knew it was only a matter of time before somebody found out about me.”
“And you decided to take the law into your own hands? Pardon the cliché.”“I’ll pardon you if you pardon me,” she said with a smile, “No I didn’t decide to start killing them. The angels decided it that for me.”
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
She stopped, looked away. He was staring at the window but Dylan didn’t think she was seeing it. It seemed like she should be crying, but her eyes were dry. She’d just..stopped.
“Do you need a minute?”
“I’m fine. I got the second message about seven months later. It was simple, like they always are. It told me Amanda Carcetti was going to die. I have to tell you, that’s a hell of a thing to find in your newspaper while you’re eating a bagel. I went over to Carcetti’s house, but it was too late. Amanda was dead. He was crying, saying he was sorry. Maybe I should have done something different. Maybe I should have called the ambulance. Maybe I should have just done my and arrested him.”
“But you didn’t.”
“No, I didn’t. I tasered him and stuck one of his own socks in his mouth. There was no helping Amanda. She was still warm when I picked her up, but she was gone. I’d like to tell you that you don’t get used to seeing dead children, but that isn’t true. I’d seen enough dead kids and enough dead people to know that the only thing I could do for her was to offer some measure of justice.”
“You think what you did to Carcetti was justice?”
“Well, I’m interested in what you think?”
“You sound like the psychiatrists they have me talk to in here.”
“Sorry, next time I’ll try to bring a couch in with me.”
Rodgers smiled a real smile, laughed a little. It was a cliché to say she didn’t look like a killer, but it was true. She just looked like a person. Dylan wondered what it was like. He wondered what it took to actually pull the trigger. He realized she was staring at him.
“Do you need a minute?” she said.
“No. Sorry, just got distracted. So, you think killing those people was justice?”
“I did then.”
“You don’t now?”
“I’m not sure that I believe in justice at all. I know I used to. It was why I joined the police, back when I was younger and dumber. They say the job makes you cynical, and I can’t argue with that, but some part of me always believed. That while you couldn’t always make things better, you could still make things right.
Do you know that I talked to Carcetti. Before I did it. I needed to know why he would do something like that. I need to know how. How he could do that to a little girl. You know what he told me? He told me it was because of me.”
Monday, March 28, 2011
“Don’t know what to say to that?”
She laughed again, but her smile was warm again.
“Do you know why I’m against the death penalty?” she said.
“I didn’t know you were.”
“I am. Or at least I was. I don’t have a problem with the idea that some people need to die for the things they’ve done. Obviously. There are people in this world that can never be fixed, can never be helped and they’re a cancer on the rest of us. I think they were probably born wrong. These people can’t and shouldn’t be left to mix with the rest of us.
The problem is that most people, even most criminals, aren’t like that. If you have a policy that advocates killing them, you’re going to end getting innocent people caught in the net. I couldn’t, can’t, live with that. When you kill someone, there’s no taking it back. There’s no chance at ever making it right. So I don’t think that we should be in the business of taking people’s lives. One is too many.”
She paused. Looked at Dylan.
“Does that sound to much like a speech?” she said.
“It sounds like you given it some thought.”
“Thoughts are what I have, you know?”
“So, it’s not all right for the government to kill people, but it’s alright for you?”
“It’s not alright for me, either.”
“Then why did you do it?”
“Because it needed to be done. The first guy, Carcetti, do you know anything about him.”
“He had a daughter, Amanda. She six seven when I first met her. She was beautiful. The first message I got said that he was going to put her in the hospital. It wasn’t my area, you know, I was homicide, but nobody is going to just let that go. So I went to his house and talked to him. Looked for any signs that he was abusing her. He was an asshole, sure, but there was nothing there.
Two days later, she’s in the hospital. Broken leg, bruises all over. And you know what this assholes says? He says she fell down the stairs. Which was true, I guess, except what it doesn’t tell you is that he through her down the stairs. He admitted that later, before…well, before.
I got social services on it, of course. I even told them about the message. They investigated, they watched, but there was nothing they could do. Amanda said she fell, and there was no evidence that it was anything but an accident.”
“But you knew it wasn’t”“Of course I fucking knew. The hospital knew. The social workers knew. But what could we do. A message isn’t enough. We couldn’t protect her. I couldn’t protect her. I knew, I fucking knew, what was going to happen to Amanda Carcetti, and I didn’t do anything. It was a mistake. I just didn’t realize how big until it was too late.”
Messengers - Continues. Nope, still not finished. It's definitely going over ten thousand words, and fifteen probably isn't out of the question.
Red Teeth - Another chapter will be up this week, probably in and around Friday.
Ticker - I'm going to finish this sometime this week. There's maybe a thousand words left, so it won't take long and I'll have that particular monkey off my back.
Someone asked me about stuff that was a little less horrifying, so it's not a bad idea to recap what the finished stories here and what you can expect:
The Tragic Deaths of Young Celebrities - No horror, unless you count Justin Bieber or the cast of the Jersey Shore. Which I do.
Kill Phil - Actually a comedy story. No horror unless you're afraid of groundhogs.
Sweetmeats - Straight up horror.
The Bean King - Another fairly straight horror story.
Puncher - It does involve zombies, but I don't know that I would actully call it horror. It more action with the added risk of being devoured.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
“Thank you for agreeing to see me,” Dylan said.
She smiled and shrugged. She looked remarkably at ease, considering the situation.
“Well, it’s not like I have anything but time.”
She extended her hands and gave him a brief two handed shake. She didn’t have much choice, since her hands were shackled together. Dylan didn’t think that was really necessary, but the prison rules demanded it. She didn’t look threatening.
Carolyn Rodgers was 42 years old, pretty if pale from months in solitary confinement. In other circumstances, the first thing that would have popped into Dylan’s mind would have been soccer mom. Even in prison orange, she looked like she’d have been more at home in a minivan. She didn’t look like a homicide detective, which she’d once been. She definitely didn’t look someone who had murdered five people.
“I’d offer you some coffee or tea, but…”
She held up her hands as best the waist chain would let her.
“I’m fine,” Dylan said, which was at least partly true.
Rodgers leaned back in her chair as Dylan prepared his equipment. He was a little distracted, partially due to the prison environment. Rodgers seemed entirely satisfied. She might actually have been the calmest person Dylan had ever met. It was like being in the presence of a more attractive than usual Buddha. Her eyes twinkled.
“Not what you expected?” she said.
“Is that obvious?”
“I’m a trained observer.”
“I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting you to look so…well, at ease.”
“That’s the inner peace at work. I spend 23 hours a day in a shoebox. If I weren’t at ease, I would probably go crazy.”
“There are a lot of people who don’t think that’s fair.”
“Fair doesn’t factor into it. If I were out in general population, I’d be at risk. Women might be less violent than men, but being a cop in prison isn’t a recipe for long term survival in any case.”
“What I meant was that a lot of people don’t think you should be in prison at all.”
She laughed, a sudden giddy bark that made Dylan smile.
“Well,” she said, “those people are full of shit. Pardon my French.”
“So you think you deserve to be here.”
“Of course I deserve to be here. I knew where I was going to end up before I did what I did. I’m a cop. I knew what I was doing. Between the angels and the fact that my coworkers weren’t actually total idiots, it was only a matter of time.”
“So you don’t regret what you did.”
She looked away, looked out at pale winter sun coming in through a tiny window into the visitation area.
“Regret. I regret that I didn’t spend more time with my husband. I regret that I never got around to having a kid. I regret the fact that my partner ended up having his career wrecked because of me.”
She looked at him and her smiled turned into a grin and for a second Dylan wished he were anywhere else.“But mostly,” she said “I regret that I got caught before I could kill more of those assholes.”
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Which was the issue, of course, and one that, after everything happened, that Dylan never could get off his mind. The problem with the inexplicable and the inscrutable was it was inexplicable and inscrutable. The angels told you things, all sort of things, but they didn’t answer questions.
So no, it was proved pretty definitely that what angels said would happen would not necessarily come to pass. But there was no good way to work with that knowledge. As Major Figard discovered, running from your fate more often than not lead to you running straight into it.
Dylan, in his darker moments, thought this was further evidence that this whole thing was some kind of cosmic joke. Most people didn’t get the joke, he figured. Most people just took what the messages told them and did what they did with them. But if you knew that what they said didn’t have to be true, it changed everything.
Imagine that you get a death message. Most people assume that what it says will happen is what is going to happen, and for most people, it is. But when you know that the angels can be wrong, then you begin to worry. Is it inaction that brings your fate to you? Is it action? It’s paralyzing, something Dylan understood in abstract but eventually came to know maddeningly well.
The first people to really get it were the police. If you were a detective, getting messages about your cases, it seemed like a godsend. At first. Until you realized how cryptic the messages were. You flat out didn’t have the time to try and run all the leads that you got down.
It wasn’t too bad, when they gave you some insight into cases that you thought were already cold. That could make the difference between an open case and a closed case. You could take what they told you and use it to spark new ideas and make new inroads into them.
What you couldn’t do was use the messages themselves as evidence. The courts eventually ruled that while using messages to point you in the right direction was fine, but since the messages might happen or might not happen, they weren’t evidence. Most cops didn’t even mention the messages in their final reports, because the whole thing was a pain in the ass. The courts generally allowed it, but any case where the messages were used generally ended being appeal fodder for lawyers.The real problem was when the case hadn’t happened yet. What did you do when you get a message that somebody is about to be killed, or robbed, or whatever? How did you act on that knowledge? You couldn’t just sit on the knowledge and there weren’t enough man hours in the world to allow you to try and run them all down. Knowing the future was one thing, stopping it from happening was something else entirely.
Friday, March 25, 2011
Dylan had to laugh at that.
“You get a message like, it chills your bones, you know? I felt like I was fucking paralyzed. And then I thought about that story my English had us read and I was like, fuck it. I know you’ve heard stories about people who get a death message and then ran right into it trying to escape it.”
“I have. Too many times.”
“Well I decided that wasn’t going to be me. So I did nothing at all.”
“You ignored it.”
“I wouldn’t say that ignored it is the right word. I mean, how do you not think about something like that. It was on my mind all that weekend. That’s why I posted about it, I guess. I wanted to put some of that weight on fucking friends. I know that’s probably selfish, but I thought I was about to die, you know? I could worry about the guilt shit later.”
“So you believed it.”
“Shit. Yeah. I believed. I spent the first day having panic attacks. I thought for a while my heart might give out, that maybe that was how I was gonna go. But then I started forcing myself to do all the shit I usually do. If I was gonna kick it, I wasn’t going to do it by doing some stupid shit and getting my ass killed.”
“So how did you not die?”
“Fuck if I know, man. I know that’s not what you probably want to hear. I wish I had a cool story about all this shit that almost happened, like I almost got ran over but the message made me look twice or maybe I almost choked on a chicken bone. But that isn’t how it happened, you know? Fuck, man, it was probably the most exciting weekend of my life, but nothing happened.”
“Well, not nothing. I mean, you tell all your friends you got a death message, you get some reaction. So what I mostly spend my weekend doing was avoiding the phone and not answering my door. Which was fine, until my sister got her fucking gorilla of a boyfriend to knock my door down. So it wasn’t totally without excitement.”
He took another drink of coffee, shrugged, looked apologetic.
“But other than the annoyance and the constant feeling of seriously impending doom, it was uneventful. Like I said, I’m stubborn. I tried to make it as normal of a weekend as I could, all things considered. Tried to live like I always lived. I did that and I woke up Monday morning. Not a good story, but that’s how it happened.”
“So what do you think was supposed to happen?”“Fuck if I know. I think I was supposed to run or try something stupid or some other shit. I don’t know. Hell, I don’t even think supposed is the right word. The only thing I know is that despite whatever the fucking angels say, the future isn’t set.”
Thursday, March 24, 2011
“They react in a lot of different ways. Most of them aren’t like you. Most of them haven’t had their death day come and go. Most people that have had that happen don’t make for a very good interview. But the people that haven’t had their day come up?” Dylan said, “They have a lot of different reactions.”
Dylan took a long drink of coffee before he answered, a little timeout so he could think about how to put it. He wanted Johnny’s reactions to be true, not tainted by what other people thought. He was a writer. He did most of his thinking with his fingers, so he needed time to get it right.
“Honestly, most of them? They ignore it. We all live with the knowledge that we’re going to die, all the time. Unless the date of dying is within a year or so, it doesn’t change much. Whatever people use to cope with it, religion, denial, lots of pie, that works when you have a definite date. It doesn’t change anything at all.”
“Really? That’s fucking disappointing.”
“I though so too, at first. But you know, it’s kind of reassuring. People get this news, this important news, the biggest news that they’re ever going to get, and what happens? They go back to their jobs and get right back to their lives. It’s the same way with the angels, you know? Look how fast we got used to it.”
Johnny seemed to think about it for a while. He frowned.
“I guess, but fuck, you’d think it’d change something. You’d think that people would do something with their lives if they knew it was ending.”
“Some do. A couple of the people I interview, the people without a lot of time left. Some of them left their wives, some of them sold their houses, some of them did the things they always wanted to do. I interview one woman, a mom, forty five years old, who had just gotten full sleeve tattoos. She always wanted to, she said, but she was afraid of what people would think. That it wasn’t her. But when she read the news paper and saw she’d be dead in ten months? That changed everything.”
“Did she what?”
“Did she die?”
“Yeah. Car accident.”
“Well, that fucking sucks?”
“So why didn’t you?”
“Why did I what?”
“Why didn’t you die?”
Johnny leaned back in his chair and put his hands behind his head. Grinned like a chesire cat.
“Because I’m seriously fucking stubborn.”