Fantasist's Scroll

Fun, Fiction and Strange Things from the Desk of the Fantasist.


As far as I got

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Pig which is in the late evening.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Well, I failed at my NaNoWriMo goal, but I did get a fair bit written, so here it is:

(Failed) NaNoWriMo 2006 Work-In-Progress


J. K. Hoffman

Chapter 1
“Wherein some brief introductions are made.”

I don’t care how worldly or experienced you think you are, there is nothing quite so unnerving as seeing a dead man walking past you.  The experience is not minimized by seeing that dead man walking through a barbershop owned and operated by the Molvanian “Mafia”, either.  In fact, I think knowing that Molvanian gangsters are involved with a walking corpse makes the entire thing just a little bit worse.  Don’t get me wrong, the walking dead is pretty strange, but the Molvanians are even worse most days.

Ah, but I’m getting a little bit ahead of myself, here, aren’t I?  My name’s Jake and I’m a thief.  Oh, hell, who am I kidding?  I was a good thief.  In fact, in my day, I was a very good thief.  Not quite good enough, I thought, to make a full-time living at it, which is why I kept up the little computer consulting business, but, still, I was a good thief.  Now, that’s not to say that I’m not good at other things, too, but, there’s something about having said that out loud.  “I was a good thief.”  Yep, there is definitely something about saying that out loud that makes me feel different, somehow more important, more sexy, more…  Well, more something, than saying, “I was a good system administrator”.  Oh, sure, being able to handle two support calls and read e-mail while also rewiring a network in my head is a wonderful thing to be able to do, but it just doesn’t have the same impact as having been a professional thief.  Or, at least a semi-professional thief.
You wouldn’t have known it to look at me, though, that’s for sure.  No, people saw what they expected to see, namely a professional geek.  Usually, a professional geek who was there to help them sort out some terribly complicated and obscure problem that required very specialized knowledge.  That was my day job.  Really, it wasn’t even so much about what I could do as what I knew.  And, back in the day, I seemed to know everything.  Or, at least, everything that mattered to my consulting customers.  It was a good gig, the computer consulting thing that is, even if it wasn’t all that sexy.  It was steady pay and, more or less, honest work.  At least, I sure did my best not to cheat in my straight job.  I had a reputation to maintain, after all.  That was how I got work, based on my reputation as a smart-ass, know-it-all who didn’t always get along with people, but could make computers sing and dance.
The day gig let me travel, too, which was a good cover for my other work.  I was out of Houston at the time, but did most of my “work” in Chicago.  Traditionally, professional criminals of my variety don’t work in the cities where we live, though, there are always exceptions to this rule.  Now, so-called organized crime is a zebra of a different stripe, and my old friends, the Molvanians, sure liked to think they were just as organized as the Italian boys.  They weren’t, but no one likes to think of themselves as second fiddles to anyone, so they put on a good show, complete with full Scorsese dramatics.  And, I suppose, in one sense, they were organized.  They moved in packs, like domestic dogs gone feral, and they had a finger in as many pies as they could manage. But, beyond that?  Well, let’s just say they were the living embodiment of what happens when you cross Murphy’s Law with the Peter Principle and turn the result loose in an underworld, free-market economy run by a confused Darwinian experimenter with his finger on “fast forward”.  Other than that, though, “organized” just isn’t something I would have ever applied to any of the crime syndicates that I’d ever done work for, least of all the Molvanians.  Still, they were a good enough bunch of guys.  You know, for a collection of sociopaths and miscreants.  They sure knew how to throw a party.  Those crazy bastards loved their parties.  More importantly, to me, was the fact that they always had something in the works.  Often, they had something in the works that a quiet, unassuming guy like me could get a piece of.
The Molvanians’ main problem was that they suffered from an over active collective imagination.  They’d seen one too many gangster films in black and white and thought that was how they should run their business.  So, when the first of these guys got a little scratch together, he bought himself a barbershop.  Now, I don’t know which film noir gangster movie old Jelso had seen, but, somehow he’d made the connection between the old-style, Italian mob and hot lather, so he just had to own, run and use an old-fashioned barbershop.  And, that’s how I found the Molvanians.  I wasn’t looking for a connection in Houston, but I’ve never liked modern, unisex hair salons, so I went looking for an good, old-fashioned barber.  I grew up going to first a German then an Italian owned and operated barbershop.  It was the same shop, but changed owners when I was about sixteen, or so.  It was the kind of shop where the guys learned by apprenticeship and still used a straight razor to shave the back of your neck.  When I first showed up there, I never would have guessed that “Tony’s Barbershop” was owned by Jelso Voldarj, the de facto “godfather” of the Molvanian mob in the States.  Come to think of it, I’m not sure I even know for certain who the capo di tutti capo was back in the old country.
In any case, I strolled in one crisp, Fall day, expecting to see the place full of swarthy, old men, dressed in black, pinstripe suits without ties, joking with each other in Italian.  What I found, though, was a bunch of swarthy, old men dressed in more shades of earthy brown than I knew existed joking back and forth in a choking, slobbering Slavic language I later learned was Molvanian, peppered with Russian.  They were all drinking what looked like espresso out of those demitasse cups that the Italians made so famous.  The smell in that little storefront, however, was anything but that dark, rich aroma of fine Italian roast.  No, the smell was something more like burnt chicory and old shoe leather rendered down with rusty water.  And, when I looked more closely, I could see that they were actually sipping it through these strange straw-like contraptions that had corks on the end that was in the cup.  I was about to turn and walk out, but, just then, one of the barbers saw me, jumped from his chair and waved me over.
“Zlkavszka!” he spit the word at me through a toothless grin.
“Um…” I replied.  “I’m sorry, but I don’t speak…”  I smiled and shrugged because I realized about then that I had no idea what language they were speaking.  One of the old men at the back of the shop started laughing loudly and stood up from his over-stuffed, leather chair that looked like it belonged in an old, English library rather than a barbershop.
“He say ‘Hello'”, the old man told me through a slightly more tooth-filled smile than the barber who was waiting for me to sit down.  “I am Jelso.  He is Yakov.”  Upon hearing his name the barber, Yakov, stood a little straighter and, somehow, managed to smile a little wider, even with hardly any teeth in his mouth and absolutely none of his front teeth at all.  It was hard to look at Yakov, standing proudly behind his worn, red barber chair and not catch his smile, as it were some kind of Eastern European fast-spreading flu.
“Yakov is good barber.  Since you are new customer, he give you special price, yes?”  And, when he hear Jelso say the words “special price”, Yakov’s smile slipped just a little bit, letting me know that he spoke English just fine and I was about to be conned.  I liked the two men immediately.
“Special price?”  I asked.  “Can I afford your special prices?”  I could tell that the men liked me, too, from the twinkle in Yakov’s eye and the way Jelso threw his head back and laughed.  Which was good, because I noticed that everyone else in the room had stopped laughing and were just about holding their breath to see how the two con artists would react to my response.
“For you cup of zvadovar?” Jelso asked me, pointing to a small counter in the dark, smoky back room on which rested the most ornate, baroque brass contraption that I’d ever seen.  It hissed like an angry snake and leaked steam from virtually every seam.  Honestly, I was afraid of what might come out of the antique machine along with whatever it was the men were drinking out of those demitasse cups.  I had also started to wonder just what was responsible for Jelso and Yakov’s particular dental choices and whether or not there was a connection to the wheezing heap of scrap metal in the corner and the fussy, little man with the slicked back hair who tended it like a ship’s engineer fusses over his boiler and engine.  He clucked and whispered to the whistling brass machine almost like it was a living thing.  Worse than that, though, was how afraid I was of saying no to a man like Jelso.  He was happy and smiling and laughing now, but, seeing how the other men in the shop watched him, I had the distinct feeling that he could drop that facade in a heartbeat if things didn’t go his way.
“Sure, I guess.”  What else could I have said?
Yakov cleared his throat and motioned to the chair in front of him, still smiling.  As I sat down in the barber chair, Jelso snapped his fingers to get the barista’s attention and sputtered something at him in their shared language that sounded very much like the noises coming from the brass contraption on the counter.  The dour, little man snapped to attention like a soldier taking orders, then turned smartly to his brass companion and went to work.    While the barista practiced his arcane craft under the cover of shadow in that back room, Yakov wrapped a sheet so tightly around my neck that I almost choked.  He asked Jelso a question over my seated head and Jelso turned back to face us.
“He say, how you want hair?”
“Oh, um, short, I guess.  Off the ears and with a slight taper up the back.”  And, before Jelso could even translate, Yakov had set to work on me.  I wasn’t sure what they were playing at and why they kept up the pretense that only Jelso could speak English, but they were an interesting pair.  They looked so alike that I was sure they had to be related.  In fact, at first glance they were so similar in appearance that they could have almost passed for brothers.  After a moment’s thought, I asked the question, “Are you brothers?”
“Ha!  No, Yakov is, how you say, Uncle.”  At this, Yakov gave a little groan behind me, as if anticipating the punchline of a bad, well-worn joke, while maintaining a steady pace trimming with his scissors and comb.  For his part, Jelso almost seemed like he was waiting for me to play along, so I asked the obvious question.
“Uncle?  But you two look the same age.”  Which brought a sigh from Yakov and a slightly wider smile from Jelso.
“Da, that Grandpa, he was only good for two things: drinking zeerstum and complaining about life to Grandma.  But, Grandma only good for one thing.  Making family.”  This brought another sigh from Yakov and small smiles from the other patrons.  It seemed as though I had become the latest excuse for one of Jelso’s favorite stories and one of Yakov’s least favorite.  I could understand the sentiment.  I had a great-grandfather that liked to play the ponies and my grandmother, his daughter-in-law, hated when my father told the story about taking the money to the barbershop so he couldn’t blow it on the races instead of getting his haircut.
“Also, Yakov looks younger than real age. Always he had the, how you say, little-boy face.”
“Baby face.  You mean to say that he had a baby face.”
“Da, is what I said, no?  Yakov have face of little baby, but is older, is uncle.”  By this point, Yakov had set the scissors aside and picked up an electric clipper that sounded like it was about to rattle apart.  He started trimming the back of my neck, giving me a nice, even taper, just the way I like it.  I didn’t even have to look in a mirror to know he was doing it right.  I could tell by the way his hands worked on my head and the pattern of the clippers on my neck that I was getting a good haircut.  While he was working, he muttered something under his breath in that gurgling, hissing language that he and his brother spoke, as well as, apparently, the rest of the clientèle quietly sipping their zvadovar, whatever that was really.
“Ah, Uncle Yakov no likes that story.  He think it say bad thing about father,” Jelso said with a wink and a nod.  “So, what is your name?  All this talk and we no know your name!”
“Oh, you can just call me Jake.”
“Just Jake?”
“Yep, just plain, old Jake,” I told him.  Before Jelso could think of something more clever to say, the little barista appeared at his elbow with a dingy demitasse cup that had what looked like a silver straw sticking out of it.  The fussy, silent man stood almost at attention when he presented Jelso with the cup.
“Not for me, Parsnip-Brain!  For customer!” Jelso barked at the ancient barista, who turned toward me and carefully, precisely shuffled to the barber chair where I sat, watching the cup of zvadovar more than where he was going.  Miraculously, he made it to me without spilling a drop, or tripping over the tired, cracked, linoleum floor.  Watching him, watching the look of concentration on his weary, almost Asian face, hearing the rhythmic buzzing of the electric clippers, I almost felt as thought I’d accidentally wandered into a William S. Burroughs story as interpreted by Monty Python’s Flying Circus.  The pungent steam rising from the worn cup smelled like some sort of chicory tea made with rusty water and strained through an old shoe.  But, I knew I had to face it, or risk upsetting my host.  Frankly, I didn’t know what to make of them, but I was too fascinated to risk missing the opportunity to find out more.
“Thank you,” I said, as I accepted the cup from the barista who responded only with a bow and a smart, military turn before he retreated to tend his baroque, brass charge.  Mimicking the other patrons, I sipped at the vile smelling brew through the silver, straw-like contraption.  As I did, I noticed that the end in the zvadovar had a cork filter of some kind that was no doubt meant to strain the larger flotsam and jetsam that had somehow navigated all the way through the brass tubes into my cup.  Sadly, it did not filter out the taste which, thankfully for you, was indescribable.  I think I managed not to spit any back into the cup, but I coughed and choked so hard it made poor Yakov curse at me in his native tongue as he jerked the clippers away from the back of my head.  The rest of the room erupted in laughter.
“Not what you expect, eh?” asked Jelso with a knowing grin.  He repeated the question in the language the rest of the men shared, which brought a new round of laughter.
“A little stronger than I thought it’d be,” was all I managed to choke out.  In truth, it had simply tasted far, far worse than even the horrible smell had led me to expect.  In truth, nothing could have prepared me for that bitter, burnt taste.  My comment, after Jelso translated it for his audience, brought another round of laughter.  Yakov just blew a frustrated breath through his nose, said nothing and resumed his work with the clippers and comb.
“Ah, Uncle Yakov does not like when we tease new friends,” Jelso said and shrugged, but gave me a sly wink, as if I were in on some old, family joke.  Yakov, for his part, simply asked a question in an even, measured voice, as if he were trying to keep from losing his temper.  I suspected that it must have rankled Yakov a bit, having an upstart nephew who was almost your age for a boss.  “Yakov wants know if you want shave, too?”
“Sure, why not?” I replied, and heard Yakov set the clippers down behind me even before Jelso translated my answer.  Then, Yakov turned the chair half-way around, so I was facing toward the back room and Jelso, but also able to see Yakov and the wall of mirrors that had been behind me.  I didn’t like having my back to the door, but it made me feel a little better to be able to keep track of Yakov.
“So, Jake, what you do for make money?” Jelso asked me as Yakov started a lather machine, picked up a straight razor, and started to sharpen it on a strop hanging from his counter.  Ah, I thought, here it comes.  Finally, here was what they were going to do to me.
“Oh, mostly, I do computer consulting.”
“Eh?  You are insulting computers for living?”
“No, I help people solve computer problems.  When they can’t get their computers talking to each other, or when someone breaks into their computers to do damage, I help them fix the problems.”
“Ah, is good!  Have small problem you maybe can help with?  For haircut and shave and nice cup of zvadovar?”
“Depends on how small the problem is, Jelso.  Why don’t you tell me about it while Yakov shaves me?”  And, I gave him a little wink and a smile, so he knew I was just being friendly and not trying to tell him that I wouldn’t do it in a polite way.
“Hmph.  Da, is good,” Jelso said, in a sort of non-committal way.  He took a long, sour-faced draw of his zvadovar through the silver and cork filter, then sighed and started his story.  “I have friend with small problem.  Has disk that friend can not read in computer.  Disk has very important information on it that bad, naughty employee hid from friend.  Is, how you say?  Pro….”
“Proprietary?” I offered around Yakov’s enthusiastic lathering.
“Da, is proprietary information that friend want keep hidden from competitors.  But, naughty, bad employee, how you say?  Crypt?  He crypt data?”
“Ah, encrypt.  He encrypted the data on the disk.”
“Da!  Da, is right.  Make hard for Jelso’s friend to keep business running, with proprietary information all encrypted, da?”
“Well, yeah, if your friend’s business relies on that information, then it would make it hard if the data were all encrypted.”
“Da, so can you help?  Can you fix encryption on data?”
“Well, maybe.  Can I get a copy of the disk?  I’ll take it and work on it and bring it back, okay?”
Yakov took the moment of quiet to shave me with a frightening speed and an almost unnatural dexterity.  In just a few short seconds, while Jelso contemplated how trustworthy I really was, Yakov had managed to remove most of my stubble, quickly and efficiently reducing the white, mentholated foam to a cartoonish mustache and goatee.  He was about to lunge in at my upper lip when Jelso came to a conclusion.
“Da.  Is okay,” Jelso said.  Then, his entire bearing changed from that of a happy, jolly Eastern European characature, to that of a dark, hard, dangerous man used to whispering death sentences over his zvadovar.  “But,” he continued,”if you betray me, if you betray my confidence, and you make proprietary information public?  That make things very bad for you, da?”
“Da,” I replied.  I think I managed to not blink or flinch when I replied, but I’m honestly not sure.  “That would make things very bad indeed.”
And, so, I did my first little job for the Molvanians.  The details don’t really matter, and would probably bore a non-geek to death, but I managed to figure out which encryption system was used and cracked it.  I used, well, it doesn’t really matter what I used to crack that encrypted files, but it was very custom and loaded with pretty black-hat utilities that the average consultant just wouldn’t have been using.  I used to call them “trade secrets”, but anyone at DEF-CON would have been able to come up with them.  Naturally, I made copies of all the files on the disk.  Even back then, I was smart enough not to trust my “grey-market” customers totally.  These kinds of guys were a little random and unpredictable, so I learned early to make my own special kind of insurance.  I had a series of hidden accounts on servers I’d compromised over the years, each set to e-mail, among others, the FBI and local police, a whole laundry list of very interesting files, not the least of which were the files that old Jelso had asked me to decrypt.  Turns out, they were a set of books detailing the Molvanians’ entire juice load business that one of his former employees had locked up and held for ransom.  I heard at least four municipalities found parts of the guy and they had to use dental records and the serial number on an old surgical pin to identify the poor bastard.
The next big job Jelso had for me, though, was a little more complicated.

Chapter 2
“Wherein some weird shit happens.”

So, a couple of months passed, and Jelso and I fell into a kind of pattern.  I came in about every five or six weeks to let Yakov cut my hair and give me a shave and Jelso would have “little projects” that he’d ask me to do.  It worked out well for me, because Yakov was a superb barber and, mostly, the stuff Jelso asked me to get done for him weren’t that complicated, or even that illegal, really.  Then, after six months or so, the little jobs started getting bigger and Jelso started giving me more than free haircuts.  When he found out that I liked old books and obscure books on the occult, just for fun, I started getting those.  Honestly, I was a little surprised by that.  I had sort of figured that a guy from the “Old Country” would be a lot more superstitious than Jelso.  I guess living under Soviet rule does have its advantages.  When the jobs got big enough, I started finding money in the books as bookmarks.  One time, Jelso asked me to access, backup and format a dozen or so laptops.  Not generic, no-name Eurotrash junk from former Soviet Bloc countries, like he normally got, but a dozen, top of the line Toshibas.  Real high-grade stuff.
Anyway, when I bring them back after a week’s worth of working on them, Jelso was acting all cagey, like he had something he wanted to tell me or ask me, but wasn’t quite sure how to broach the subject.  I figured it was best to let him get to it himself and not push at him.  He’d either come to it in his own time, or it was something I wanted to avoid.  If I were particularly unlucky, it would turn out to be both.
“So, I hear you like work in Chicago?” Jelso asked me, looking at me sideways over his zvadovar.
“I do consulting work all over, Jelso.  Maybe I work more in Chicago because I used to be from there and I can visit family when I go to Chicago on a job.  Why do you ask?”  I had the feeling, of course, that he wasn’t talking about my consulting work, but my second job, as a thief.  I understood his reluctance to talk openly about it.  So far, I hadn’t done anything all that illegal for him.  Nothing that could trace back to me and get me pinched.  I had what Ollie North would call “plausible deniability”  Up to this point, I had just been working on equipment and files that I could claim I thought Jelso had a completely legal right to access and use.  It was a total lie, of course, but, still, I hadn’t done anything that would send me away.  No good thief, one who stayed out on the street working, worked where he lived.  At least, not if he could help it.  Jelso had heard right.  I did most of my other “work” in Chicago, far away from Houston and home.
“I have for you special job, maybe, here in Houston.”
“A ‘special job’, Jelso?  What kind of special job?” We were getting down to it, but I wanted hi to say the thing, not me.  I never, ever wanted to bring up my second job first.  It was a lot harder to get pinched, trapped by the police or the “alphabet boys”, if they brought up the job first.  Don’t misunderstand, though, for the right money versus risk ratio, I was willing to do just about anything, but I never saw a reason to make it easy on the other team.
“You like the old books, da?  Special books no one else sees or reads, da?”
“Yes, I like books of all kinds, especially old ones.  Is that the job, Jelso?  Finding you  a book?”  At this point, he really had my curiosity piqued.  Jelso wasn’t the kind who dealt in old books.  He was old school.  Contraband liquor, electronics, pirated music and video.  Every once in a great while Jelso would come up with cultural goods from his home country that had managed to slip past Customs, but, mostly, he always had something that had fallen off a truck somewhere, if you take my meaning.  He was a good guy, though, and he had his standards.  He might have dealt in zeerstum or turpz that didn’t have any of the normal import tax labels or seals, but he never poisoned his people with something like heroin or cocaine.
“You are, maybe, superstitious?  You believe in God, Jake?”
“That must be an interesting book you’ve got there, Jelso.  Why don’t we go somewhere quiet and talk about this job.”  He’d gotten me at that point.  Once, I’d heard that Jelso had been deported from his own country for dealing in stolen religious icons.  Saint Simeon’s Church in Lutenblag “lost” a number of platinum-plated crucifixes and at least one Molvanian-cedar icon of Saint Fyodor that was inlaid with some of the earliest glass the Molvanians ever produced.  Not worth all that much on the open market, honestly, but they were priceless to the Molvanians.


Death from Above

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

That was me, allright, “death from above.”

I wanna’ be an Airborne Ranger. I wanna’ live a life of danger. Death from above! Hell, that was me all over. Only, I was never even a regular ground-pounder, much less Airborne. But, when we were ass-deep in greenies, nobody cared. Yeah, when those goblins came pouring out of whatever hell they came from, everyone was glad to see the North Glenview Irregulars show up. We weren’t much to look at, but the boys an’ I could kill the hell out of goblins. After that first skirmish, they elected me leader. They even called me Captain and saluted. I woulda’ been real proud of that, if I’d had time.

I was home from college the Summer the first goblins showed up. Nobody really knows where they came from. Some people say they were a government experiment to make the “ultimate soldier”. Some people say they came from some “alternate dimension”. Hell, some people say they came from Mars. Who knows? All I know is hearing the woman on the TV news start screaming about invaders and fires in the streets. That was downtown. We were out in the suburbs then. Before they built the walls.
Anyway, it was on every channel. These nasty, big-eyed, green-skinned bastards with sharp teeth and claws chattering away in some hell-only-knows gibberish, swinging meat cleavers and torches. That was bad enough, but then they figured out guns. Didn’t take long either. That’s when they started to really move. First, they followed the sewers from building to building, but soon they started up the river. Right toward us.

Well, I didn’t know where anyone was. Mom and Dad were both at work still and half the phones were out, so I didn’t even bother to call. I went right for Dad’s old .22 rifle. I loaded up that old thing with as many .22 long as I could, then I went looking for more. I found his shotgun, a box of shells for it, and his .38. I was still looking for the .38 shells when the sirens started to go off. I remember as a kid listening to ’em, but I never thought they’d use ’em for anything real. Damn near made me piss myself.
Our house was only two blocks from the river, so I knew they’d be coming right up it for us. We were between them and the Naval Air Station, so I figured we were gonna’ get hit hard. I was a pretty good shot, so I decided to hide up on the second floor and pick off as many as I could manage. At the time, I figured I might be able to hold ’em off until the Army could get there. I don’t know how long it was before I started to see other people in the street with guns. Just a couple of minutes, I guess. Well, I figured two stood a better chance of surviving than one, so I started calling people over to the house. Pretty soon there were about thirty of us with all kinds of guns and ammo. Hell, there was even a kid with bottle rockets and roman candles.
Well, it was about dusk when we could hear something weird. At first, I thought it was some kind of engine, but as it got closer I could hear that it was the goblins. They were singing. I couldn’t see the river, but I’d guess it helped ’em keep time when they were rowing. Anyway, we could see the glow from their torches go right over to the local park. It was as good a place as any to get out of the river and regroup. But, like I said, we were right dead in the middle of the shortest path from the river to the base, so it wasn’t long before they started marching right toward us. The chanting had died down while they were getting out of the water, but they started up again when they started to march. We were all scared, but I could smell that someone had pissed themselves out of fright. Hell, I was so scared it might have even been me.
It was really bizarre to see these things marching down the street like some kind of freak parade. It all seemed so unreal that I almost forgot to start killing ’em! By the time I snapped out of it, the head of the column had marched a block past us and the streets were filled with the green bastards. I went around to the far side of the house looking for their leader, but I think he’d passed by already, so I just picked one that looked dangerous and squeezed off a shot at him. Popped him right in the ear. He dropped like a stone.
I’d never killed anything bigger than a squirrel before and it kind of made me a little sick. In that smoky twilight, the greenie almost looked human. But, then, one of them noticed what had happened and started gibbering and pointing at the house and all hell broke loose.

I don’t remember much after that, really. It was just chaos. We just kept on shooting and killing through the night while the bodies started to pile up around us. Before it was all over, we had an embankment of green bodies that they had to crawl over to get at us. Good thing, too, ’cause if it weren’t for that, we’d all died. The only thing that sticks out for me was that kid with the roman candles. Some of the guys made fun of the kid, at first, but we used those bottle rockets to show the Army where we were so they could come help out. Turns out, they didn’t even know that this group of greenies had come North out of the city! Those rockets and roman candles were the only way the 101st Airborne found us. I’m not sure we woulda’ made it through the night if not for that kid.
Course, that was just the begining of it all and I was in the thick of most of it. Hell, they needed everybody they could get.

Well, now it’s mostly over. Oh, there are still some green bastards out in the hills, but we got most of them. Doesn’t mean I’m comin’ out from behind the city walls, though! Hell, no! I know those things are out there, just waitin’ for me to slip. Not me, though. I’m nice an’ safe here. With Dad’s old .22.


The Chrome Girl

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Sheep which is mid-afternoon.
The moon is Waning Crescent

I remember the Chrome Girl.
She was a Gift-Giver and I was a Quester. She had magic and I wanted it, no matter the price.

It was the Summer between my Freshman and Sophomore year of college and the Magic Plague was still new. People were changing as fast as the times. Magic was everywhere. There weren’t any laws to limit it yet, so anyone who had any magic threw it around pretty carelessly. But, it was something that mankind had dreamed for for centuries, so we embraced the changes with out thinking of the dangers.
I was no different. I grew up reading comic books. When I was in the lower grades, having super powers was all I thought about. I always wanted to fly. Wings, no wings. It didn’t matter. I just wanted to fly like a superhero.
No one can remember when the first sorcerer showed up, but I can remember the first time I saw magic in person. It wasn’t the Chrome Girl. She came later. The first was a guy juggling fire on the library quad at college. He didn’t even move his hands. Just held them there and the balls of fire danced around in a circle.
I was hooked.

By that time, everyone knew how you got the magic. It was like the Clap or herpes. I guess you’d call it a down-side, but it didn’t seem that way to a college kid. Magic as an STD? Hey, that was just a bonus. Get lucky one night and you might walk away with the power to read minds.
Of course, no one talked about the guy who was always on fire. Or, Mister Midas who, like his mythological namesake, turned everything to gold. His heirs didn’t even end up with much, since it wasn’t even real gold. Just pyrite. Fool’s gold.
In the end, I guess that’s all it was for any of us.

But, I was young and stupid, so I started hanging around with some of the Changed. I got to know some, but none that wanted to share the Gift. They tolerated me, though, as long as I bought more than my share of the drinks. Then, the Chrome Girl showed up. She didn’t seem to mind that I was just a Quester. That’s what they called guys like me back then. Those fools who chased magic thinking we understood the risks. Hell, back then, no one understood the risks.
But, the Chrome Girl didn’t care. She was willing to share the Gift. We had sex three times before I caught it and started to change. She didn’t even mind that I wasn’t very good in bed. After I caught the Plague, she told me about her life before she changed. She even showed me a picture of herself taken at her prom the night before she caught it. Her date had blue fire instead of hair and his eyes were silver. She was sort of plain, though. Just another mousy brunette. Nothing all that outstanding about her. Not bad looking or homely or anything, but not spectacular, either.
“My God, if that’s how she started out then what’s going to happen to me?” That’s the last thing I remember thinking before the pain started.

Three hours later, I was in a coma that lasted a week. When I woke up the first clue I had that I was “different” was the forced smile on the nurse’s face. Underneath her smile, I could see the fear. Hell, I could smell it. Literally. I tried to reach up and touch my face, but my arms were in restraints. My hands had changed into claws. I had paws like some kind of demonic monkey.
Once the nurse understood that I was still human, she tried to talk to me. It was hard for me to talk, at first, but I got used to the extra teeth and the jutting jaw pretty quick. It took me a few minutes to get her to understand that I wanted to see my face. She hesitated, so I knew it had to be bad, but she got me a mirror anyway.
While she was away, I found that my back hurt. Like there were too many muscles knotted up under my shoulders. I started to panic a little wondering how horrible I really looked. Was I going to be like the Elephant Man? What had I done to myself? What she showed me in the mirror was better than that. And, worse, too.
I was a demon. At least, that’s how I looked. Horns on my forehead. Sharp teeth forcing themselves out of my mouth. The whole thing. It was pretty bad. Then, I saw the wings.

Well, I got my wish. I can fly now. Of course, I usually only fly at night, thanks to the fundamentalists. They use my picture all the time. The horrors of the Magic Plague, they say. They point to me as the Anti-Christ. Idiots. My lawyers are always busy suing one group of them or another. Defamation of character, slander, or whatever else they can make stick.
So, I take my little night flights and I remember the Chrome Girl who made me what I am today. You know, she joined one of those fundie churches. Every so often they show her screaming for my blood. I try not to be bitter, but it’s kind of ironic, isn’t it? She gave me the Gift, but now she calls me evil.



Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
– John 1:5

Night. The stars glittered in the velvet sky. The smoke of a small cigar swirled in the air like a serpent. The thin knife glinted in Paul Black’s hand as he turned it around and around.

Nietzsche thought that suicide was a comforting alternative, he thought. Why ? Why do I think of that now ? A chill wind passed over him and he shuddered in the sudden cold. A nighthawk cried in the distance like a mournful Arab at a funeral on the six o’clock news.

It’s not comforting at all. He drew deep on his cigarillo and coughed the bile-bitter smoke back out. The knife lay in his hand. An invitation to oblivion. Blissful oblivion. It’s frightening, but it brings release. I could finally be out from under. He spat on the uneven stones of the patio under his feet and slouched back in his blue and white lawn-chair. He tossed the knife on to the short, wooden table in front of him with a backhanded flip. It skittered and bounced off the far side of the table, clanging and sparking on the patio stones when it fell.

Aw, Phoebe, why ? Why couldn’t you just say yes ? He sucked in on his small cigar and blew the smoke out his nose. It burned, but he managed not to cough and choke. I’ll never come out on top. Never get out from under. You were my last chance, and now it’ll never happen. He felt the tears start to well up in his eyes, again. This time he didn’t try and stop them. He just let them flow. Why not me, Phoebe ? I’d have done anything for you. Given anything.

“I believe that you dropped your knife, Mr. Black,” Ismail Ibn-Narr said smooth as silk with a voice like a dry desert wind.

“What the Hell!” Black shouted as he snapped upright in the chair. “Where’d you come from ?” Black jabbed at Ismail across the table with his cigar. “And who are you ?”

Ismail gave Black a sad, almost mournful, look and offered him the small, ivory-handled knife which had fallen to the ground. When Black didn’t take the knife, he placed it very carefully on the table. Ismail was dressed in a dark, gray suit of conservative cut. His neck tie was the color of dried blood and on his head was a dirty-dark crimson fez with a silver tassel. His face was still in deep shadow as he spoke.

“You called me,” he said, his sandy voice almost a whisper. He stepped forward into a patch of light reflected from a neighbor’s house so that Black could see his face. It was a swarthy, weathered face the color of old, worn-out leather and was partly concealed beneath an oily, black mustache and goatee. Ismail’s face would have been dominated by his hawk-like hook of a nose had it not been for his intense, sea-water-blue eyes staring steadily out from under his bushy eyebrows. “You may call me what you wish, but my name is Ismail.” He folded his hands in front of himself like a mourner, or a security guard.

“I ‘called’ you ? I don’t think I understand.”

“You had a need. A desire.” Ismail shrugged as if he thought that explained the entire Cosmos. “You said that you were willing to do anything. There was a power behind your words.” He waved at the knife. “So, I came to you.”

“You telling me you came to help me kill myself ?” Black’s cigarillo fell from numb and forgotten hands. It dropped toward his waiting lap with an anxious speed. Ismail waved his hand again and the little cigar stopped for a moment, extinguished itself, and shifted forward before continuing its flight. It landed between Black’s feet with an unnaturally loud “plop.”

Black looked at his feet with astonishment. He had not been aware of the falling cigarillo until it was too late, but he realized that it should have burnt his lap instead of dropping safely on the stone patio. He looked up at Ismail with an open-mouthed look of complete astonishment.

“If that is what you truly desire, then, yes, that is what I will help you do.” Ismail reached into his jacket and pulled out a thin cigar, longer than what Black had been smoking, and put it to his lips. He cupped his hands around the tip and light from an unseen flame lit his face quite clearly. As smoke began to curl from the cigar, Black noticed that Ismail’s hair was an unusual kind of black. It wasn’t blue-black like a Greek’s or an Italian’s, but rather it was red-black in a way that Black himself had never seen before. It reminded him of the dying embers of a campfire. His hands were once again in the reserved position of a funeral attendee. “But, I do not think that is what you truly desire.”

“Then, by all means, Mr. Ismail, tell me what I do truly desire,” Black said sarcastically. This guy must be one Hell of a stage magician. Or maybe, stage hypnotist, Black thought. Wonder who sent him ? Parents ? He sat back to await the reply, secretly hoping for the right answer, but not believing that this hokey Arab with his magic act could pull it off. After all, not even my parents know how much I want Phoebe.

“My name is not Mr. Ismail. It is simply Ismail.” He paused to stroke his beard in a contemplative manner. “I believe that you desire a bright star.” He gestured toward the night sky with his cigar. “But, she is not in the heavens. Her name is Phoebe, no ?” He sighed like a cool breeze across a desert oasis and shook his head like a teacher who is disappointed in his favorite student. “Does not your own Bible tell you,’Give not thy soul unto a woman’?”

“How ?” Black exclaimed. “How could you possibly know ?”

“It is no secret.” Ismail shrugged as if to say that there were no secrets from him. “Anyone may read your Bible.”

“No, the other thing.” Black leaned forward resting his elbows on his knees. “How did you know that I asked Phoebe to marry me and she said ‘no’ ?” His left hand strayed to the small, silver charm which he wore around his neck and ran it slowly back and forth on the simple chain from which it hung. “Did she put you up to this ?” He smiled rather like the Cheshire cat and added,”How much is she paying you ?”

“She pays nothing.” Ismail sighed again like the wind from the desert sliding through an Arabian bazaar. “Perhaps I have misjudged you, Mr. Black. I was under the impression that you were more open to some of the more, shall we say, unusual possibilities which the Cosmos presents to us.” Again the all-knowing shrug which also seemed a sort of challenge. “But, it seems that I have been misled. Thank you for your time.” He paused to draw a deep breath of smoke from his cigar and started to turn away from Black. “Good evening.”

“No, wait !” Black said, as he dropped the sterling trinket and gestured for Ismail to stop. “Tell me what you have in mind. Maybe I’m interested.”

“Indeed,” Ismail replied as he turned back to face Black. “It is as I said. You want Phoebe.” He shrugged in a way that suggested a small victory casually dismissed and waved his cigar in a circle at Black. “I will give her to you.”

“Just like that. You’ll give her to me.” Black laughed a bone dry rattling laugh and shook his head. “You’ll give her to me.” His hands hung limp between his knees. “Of all the crazy, outrageous, bizarre things to say ! ‘I’ll give her to you.’ You, sir, are a nut.”

“No, I am a djinn.”

“A what ?”

“Brought forth from a smokeless flame by the Almighty Himself, I am a djinn.” His voice grew steadily louder as he spoke and gained a rhythm not unlike a prayer. “Given power over creation and the Earth and sky and fire by the Great Creator. Set to walk about the world long before Man raised himself out of the mud and spoke his first word. I am of the first of Allah’s creations. I am of the First People. I am Djinn !” And with that last word, thunder boomed and lightning cracked the velvet black night sky.

“Oh, well, I see,” Black said. “And because you are a djinn, and I’m not, you’ll just give her to me because I want her.” He started playing with his charm again. “Free of charge ? Or, is there a catch ?”

“There is the small matter of payment, of course,” Ismail said as he shrugged in his manner, as if to dismiss the payment as insignificant. “I would require a mere two hundred years of service from you and your descendants.”

“You’re wacko.” Black paused in his absent-minded fidgeting and squinted at Ismail. “How do I know that you’ll deliver once I’ve agreed ?”

“You require proof.” It was a statement and Ismail spoke it as if he had been waiting to be tested for millennium. “Name a task and I will perform it if I am able.”

“Bring back the dead,” Black said triumphantly, like a little boy who is sure of stumping an expert.

“Who do you require ?”

“Caesar. Bring back Julius Caesar.”

“It is done,” Ismail said, and pointed out into the dimly lit yard. In the distance, Black could make out the somewhat insubstantial figure of a man approaching. He could hear the clank of metal on metal and the creak of leather stretching and relaxing. The man grew closer and more solid with every step, until, when he was but a few yards away, it was clear that he was in the costume of an ancient Roman soldier. His bearing, however, was not that of a common man, but of a leader. He was a man used to the weight of command.

“He certainly looks Roman, but how do I know that he’s the real Caesar.” Black shook his head. “I’m afraid I’ll need to see more.”

“Choose another,” Ismail said. “Select two more, and they will come.”

“Marilyn Monroe. And Elvis.” Black smiled boyishly at the djinn. “Bring back the King.” Without another word, Ismail pointed back into the yard. Caesar was gone and in his place stood a platinum blond who could be no one else but Marilyn Monroe. Next to her was a young man who’s black hair was done up in a pompadour like hasn’t been seen since the 50’s. The King of Rock and Roll lived again. “Incredible.”

“Have you seen enough ?” asked Ismail, the impatience in his voice the first real emotion that Black had seen him display. “Are you willing to accept the bargain ?”

“I have a counter offer for you, Ismail, my friend.” Black had started to toy with his little, silver token again.

“Your charm is quite interesting,” Ismail said.

“It’s Ganesha, the Hindi ‘Remover of Obstacles’. It’s cheap, hollow silver. Cost me twenty bucks.” Black paused to look down at it. “Probably cost a quarter in India.” He looked up at the djinn thoughtfully. “You want it ?”

“I can make a thousand such trinkets with a mere thought.”

“Right.” Black dropped the hollow charm to his chest. “What you want is my servitude, right ?” The djinn nodded. “Alright, I’ll trade you two thousand years service for three wishes. How’s that sound ?” There was a long pause and then the djinn began to grin an evil, cat-who-ate-the-canary smile.


“Don’t I have to sign a contract, or something ?”

“Your word is enough.”

“Very well. My first wish is that majik can really work.”

“It is already so.”

“Not stage magic, mind. Real majik. Majik like as in Merlin and Cagliostro and King Solomon.”

“It has been so since the Beginning of Creation. You have wasted one wish.”

“Not so. Now I know for sure that majik works. And soon others will too.”

“So you say, manling. Name your second wish.”

“I wish to know, understand and be able to use every spell, charm, incantation, or other similar formulae or enchantment which Mankind has ever known or will ever know.”


“Really ?” Black asked as he rose from his chair. “Do I really know everything there is to know about majik, now and in the future ?”

“Look into your own mind if you do not believe.”

“Wow,” Black whispered. “It’s all there. It’s all really there.” He bent over and picked up the ivory-handled knife from the table.

“Your third wish ?”

“Let’s slow down a bit here, friend,” Black said as he fingered the knife. “Remember, with the next wish I condemn generations of my family to some mysterious servitude. Let’s pause a moment to reflect.”

“I can wait a while longer for you, manling.” He fixed Black with a devilish stare. “Choose carefully.”

“Hey, you know I’ve got a lot of Solomon’s really good stuff running around up here,” Black said, tapping his forehead with the tip of the knife. “He had a lot of your kind working on his Temple, didn’t he ?”

“Yes, but I don’t see how that effects your choice of a third wish.”

“Then, you’re nearsighted.” Black lowered his hands to his sides. “You gave me everything. Solomon’s Greater and Lesser Seals.” He turned and locked eyes with Ismail. “Even his Most Excellent Subjugation of Spirits of Fire and Air.”

“By Allah, no.”

“Oh, yes. Submit, submit, submit. I order you in the name of King Solomon and the Arch-Angels Gabriel, Raphael, and Metatron to suppress thyself ! Submerge, suppress, submit !” Black raised the knife and cut the thumb of his left hand. He smeared the quickly thickening blood on the face of the silver Ganesha about his neck. “As the will of my mind commands thee, so shall the blood of my body contain thee. Thou shalt be required to inhabit the object which bears my life’s blood until such time as I may require thine aid. Get thee thither !” At which point, Ismail made such a screech that it drove more than one animal insane and he became as smoke in the wind.

He became a foul black whirlwind who’s focus was the hollow, silver charm about Black’s neck. He fought and screamed and cursed and threatened. But, Solomon had warned of this and Black did not let his will waver. A moment later all was as it had been. Peaceful and quiet. The stars sparkling like fine gems in the velvet sky. Ismail was no longer to be seen.

But, Paul Black could hear him calling from his new home. He had switched to begging. Pleading. Bargaining.

“I will give you endless wishes, master,” he whispered. “If only you will let me be free of this accursed prison.”

“Well, old boy, I’ll have to get back to you about that wish thing,” Black said in a cheery voice. “You’ve given me quite a new lease on life. Now, it’s about time I started paying the rent.” He fished in the pocket of his shirt and pulled out a scrap of paper. On it was a phone number. He turned and looked at the sun rising above the trees and smiled. “I wonder if Heather’s up yet ?” A new day had begun.


The Calling

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning.
The moon is Waning Crescent

There’s one of those “paid advertisements” flashing on the T.V. screens and the lights are strobing in time to the latest re-mixed, pop-music knock-off. The lyrics are saying something about dancing alone while she danced with another. Deep. Real deep. A whole six inches. I start to leave when I see him. He glides towards me all pale and beautiful like a silver shadow of death. All calm like a hang glider in the eye of a hurricane. I see him slide to a stop at the bar and he acknowledges me with a smile as white as an Auschwitz operating theater. I can feel the panic rise in me like a drowning rat trying desperately to climb out of a filling rain sewer. And I watch my home-made death as he turns in for the kill, his slicked back hair like roach wings reflecting the bright neon ripping through the air.

I light another Camel and draw hard, knowing that it’ll be my last, and scratch my crotch checking the .38 revolver that I’ve taped to my leg under my black jeans. He’s coming closer, weaving in and out of the crowd like a king cobra ready to strike. I unzip my fly and rip out my weapon of choice. No one seems to notice as I draw a bead and snap off four shots. Then they see the lip-stick-red blood and the sun-streaked blond hair and hear my screams of pain and fury.

And I realize that it’s Diane who’s bleeding on the beer-soaked floor, that she’s already dead. And that he’s behind me wrapping around me like some kind of shadow cloak. The last thing I see as his fangs rip into my throat like a thousand needles is her face torn apart by my own clean shots, the wounds so fresh that they are still pumping blood.

And I woke up screaming. The nightmares were starting again. It meant that he was coming back for me. My own personal, home-grown demon was coming back to claim me. It was April 30. Walpurgisnacht. My birthday. Happy birthday.

It had all started a year before, on my birthday. I was alone, again, and had been drinking like a tourist at the “last chance” gas station at the edge of the desert. Well, it wasn’t long before I started getting vicious the way that drunks can get sometimes. The only difference was that I didn’t have anyone to take it out on. So I decided to call someone.

Now that may not sound so ominous at first, but let me explain. My fraternal grandmother was a German emigree. She left her country before charges could be brought against her in the matter of a death. The death of someone who had insulted her. The charges were of witchcraft. That was just before World War I. I used to talk with Grandma a lot. She taught me some rather unusual nursery rhymes, which she claimed were in German. They weren’t, nursery rhymes or German. She and I always knew that they were something more. We knew that in the proper setting with the proper conditions arranged by the rhyme-chanter they would call a being of the inner world. They would call a demon.

I rolled out of bed, sweat running off me like streams off a mountain, and fumbled with a Camel. Grandma would have hated to see me smoking. She could have helped me get rid of the thing which stalked me in my dreams. You notice how we never miss relatives until they’re dead ? My hands were shaking so badly that I could hardly get the butt into my mouth. And when I tried to light it I was shaking so bad all I could do was stare into the flame dancing on my lighter.

I am staring into the flame sitting on the black candle. My eyes feel like twin globes of slow burning gasoline. My back is a suspension bridge about to snap under the weight of traffic. My body screams in protest when I begin the chant again.

“Ash nag durag…” My voice walks down my throat like a barefoot child skipping on sandpaper. Using my peripheral vision, I see the chalk drawings which enclose me like a protective custody holding cell. And then, gradually my vision begins to blur and I’m seeing heat-wave distortions ripple the world around me. The change is beginning to take hold. My call is being answered.

“Ash nag durag…” I cut my hand with a simple knife and drip the blood into the candle before me. The flame turns and twists like a teen age girl dancing at her first unchaperoned boy-girl party. And it is beginning to take on a shape. There is a viscous popping and then the smell of burnt meat as the thing from the inner world forces its way into our reality.

I sit back, tears running from my eyes as if from a faucet, and take a look at the thing which has answered my call. It isn’t what I expect. He’s beautiful. Tall and smooth and pale like a marble Michelangelo statue of David. His hair is the color of freshly shined shoes. His eyes are the bright blue of sunlight on water. His muscles flow like mercury in high-school science lab as he reaches a hand out to me. He can tell I’m lonely and he wants to help. My eyes flick in the direction of his erection.

He is so achingly beautiful that I don’t realize I’m breaking the first rule. Never touch the called. If you touch the called he is free to do with you as he pleases. And you can’t send him back by chanting.

I had set down the now empty lighter wondering if it was some kind of metaphor for my life. I threw the unlighted Camel away from me. It bounced off a picture of Diane. Suddenly calm, I picked up the picture and stroked her hair. The grainy laminate didn’t do her justice. She had been so soft that I had always been afraid to hold her too tight, afraid that I might break her when we made love. You never miss someone so much as when they’re dead. I needed her there in the bed beside me. But it was too late, I had turned her face into ground chuck. The thought started me shaking again.

“This is bullshit,” I whispered through clenched teeth. “This bastard thing I called has taken everything I care about. I called him. I can send him away.” I put the snap shot back on the stand next to my bed, face down. She was gone and nothing could bring her back, but I could destroy the thing that took her from me. I showered and shaved. I pulled on a pair of jeans and an old sweat shirt which read,”Property of Vero Beach City Jail.”

I pulled open the drawer of my desk and looked at my dad’s old .38 caliber. I picked it up and felt its reassuring weight in my hand. I held it up and took aim. I focused in on a dagger hanging on the wall. It was the same knife that I used when I called him. I put the .38 away. It was a night for knives.

* * *

I stood in the center of a raised concrete landing in the basement. I had redrawn the rainbow mandala of chalk and stood at its center. The candle in front of me flickered sending my shadow dancing around the cold, damp room. It was time to begin a new kind of call. I hoped that he would answer.

“Azg nag turish..” I could feel the world ripple and sway as I said the words. A cold finger of fear tickled my belly. I started to shake with anticipation. I wanted to see him again. I almost broke into tears when I realized that I wanted him as much as I wanted Diane.

“Azg nag turish…” The candle guttered in a sudden breeze and when it flared to life again the room smelled of fresh-cooked meat. I heard breathing behind me, but I did not allow myself to turn around. The thing behind me sighed like a homesick schoolboy at camp for the first time. Then footsteps start to come around the edge of the chalk drawings. I closed my eyes.

“Just couldn’t say no anymore, could you ?” The voice was like silk being spun and molasses being poured on hot waffles. It was irresistible. I had to answer.

“No, Nathan. I couldn’t let you stay away. I had to call you back.” I opened my eyes. He was standing in front of me, smiling that same all-knowing grin. I felt a bad case of the shakes coming on.

“What do you want ? Why have you called me back ?” He said it in an innocent way like a five-year old asking why he couldn’t play with matches. His smile never changed, but his eyes grew hard as he said it.

“You know why, Nathan.”

“But I want to hear you say it !” he shrieked, spittle flying carelessly from his distorted mouth. “I want to hear you beg for me to come back !” His body quaked with uncharacteristic emotion and he stabbed at me with his finger as he spoke. “I want you to thank me for making you kill her.”

“Please, Nathan. I need you.” I managed to hold back the tears, but the shakes got worse. “I need you more than I ever needed her.” I knew that he could tell if I were lying. And I was telling the truth. Right at that moment I did need him. As much as I needed to breathe, I needed him to be there. “Please, Nathan. Come to me. It’ll be like it was the first time, I swear.” He started to take a step towards me. “I need you, Nathan. I need you more than life itself.”

“Now that’s more like it.” He glided toward me, his old self-confidant self in place again. “Aren’t you glad I made you kill that bitch ?” He was four steps away and he came closer. “How could you go to her after what we had ?” Three steps and inside the first circle of chalk. “What the hell did she give you that I couldn’t ?” Two steps and right in front of the black candle.

I took a step towards him, my left hand reaching up as if to caress his face, my right hand flicking back from where it had rested on my thigh. The dagger slid down the inside of my sleeve and into my hand in one fluid motion like a steel serpent. I grabbed Nathan by the back of the head and drove the knife into him two ribs below his left nipple. The look of hurt and betrayal on his face made me want to kiss him. For Diane’s sake, I twisted the knife deeper into his chest instead.

“She gave me love you inhuman bastard,” I whispered lovingly in his ear. He started to fade. His eyes dimmed like an old T.V. shutting down. And then he began to dissolve into smoke. The last thing to go was his face which silently mouthed the words,”I loved you.”

He was gone. I had sent him back. Back to the inner world. Even though I can never escape the things that I allowed him to make me do, he had finally gone. Even though I can’t break out of my own inner world, I had finally beaten him. I was alone. I had finally won.


Powered by WordPress
Any links to sites selling any reviewed item, including but not limited to Amazon, may be affiliate links which will pay me some tiny bit of money if used to purchase the item, but this site does no paid reviews and all opinions are my own.