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Just a Ling

“Who is he?”

“I don’t know.”

“How did he get here?” one voice rises shrill above the others.

“Maybe a cop?”

“What type of cop you know doesn’t have a badge?” retorts Percy, the grogginess slowly wearing off.

“No ID either.” another feminine voice, softer than the last one, replies.

“Look he must have followed me, I don’t know how or why.” Alex waves his hand up in his defense.

“Nothing human should be able to get through the spell. Even if they did the fence should have…”

“He, I mean she could help us right? I mean its safe for him, I mean her, to stretch her legs isn’t it?”

They all look at the man probably named Joey. Alex nods and John agrees. One of the girls takes an unconscious step back and in the direction of my stuff. All my stuff, even my phone still hooked to the double whammy. It’s a shack used for “fuck all if I knew” and only the sections obviously needed was somewhat cleaned to “don’t dirty my pumps” conditions. The occult books I was looking for? All here, laid out in piles spread around the various dust and hay free zones of the barn. Arcane symbols are written haphazardly on 8’11 pieces of paper, but most look too old and faded to be “hot” and none are spread out in any particular order or pattern, just the scribbling of children playing at Harry Potter. And in the middle of it all stood the cage. While the shack was well lite by modern light fixtures (very wise of them), the cage itself was a black tinted window masking the figure(s) moving inside. To understand how strange that was you’d have to imagine a typical zoo cage made to generously hold back a lion and then fathom why a grey sheet would be billowing inside, conveniently muting all attempts to illuminate the contents.

Joey was the one who opened the door, showing all the practice of a zookeeper working open the exit to a tigers cage. The tiger was not his friend, but he showed no fear of the tiger. Though his grasp of the door remained firm ready to close and lock it at a moments notice. The cage wasn’t just a few jail bars and a padlock, it had inscriptions running square to each corner, only stopping at the door itself, where a rune of vague, probably made up origin was sketched in most likely goat or cows blood. It glowed hot as the door was open gingerly. Joey backed up to give whatever it was plenty of space, though no one gasped everyone’s hair stood on end, even mine, though granted I was tied up like a dried pig.

It sniffed the air a few times before turning in my direction. Whatever It was, it did a good enough job of repairing its host body;  the only sign of a struggle was the orange-colored hair, the color of dried blood on blond. Otherwise you wouldn’t think said young girl was being posses by an alien entity beyond our concept of space-time. Though possessed is an odd word; it implies that there is someone home when the daemon gets bored and leaves, a cute Hollywood trope with no basis in reality. Fact is currently IT is wearing that poor girls meat suit with about as much practice as a dog walking on two legs (and doing a worse job than an actual dog because it’s probably accustomed to having more legs than four). For all intent and purposes, the poor girls last moments were spent locked in the back of a car, stripped naked, wrapped in chains and thrown into a bear cage for the amusement of the bear. Now the bear is wearing human skin like an expensive fur coat, and is sniffing me up and down looking for fear in my eyes.

“So who is he?”

“Out of your league” It hisses, he gives a moment to give the woman who asked the question a longing glare before turning his attention back to me.

“Yessss” it chimes, running a finger down my chest before his finger sizzles against the iron chains. The iron isn’t the problem, but the paper talisman wrapped around the locks and hanging from the chain links are. He notices me staring at it and nods the answer to my question, I groan.

“A precaution for me, but I can only imagine what it does to you.”

“Not much.” I chuckle, “mild headache really.” Also no low-level telepathy or access to magical items like wards or cursed items.

“You know him!?” resounds Alex

“Simple creatures, you don’t even know your champion?” It laughs, while keeping an unnatural level of alertness on me. As far it was concerned I was a shark in a fish bowl.

“King of Atlantis” It begins, “I wonder, have you sired an heir yet?”

The prospect of me dying today finally hits home and the only thing I could do was fake a steely eyed resolve. Damn this.

“Aww, I guess not.” It turns and walks toward the cage. Stops and address the confused rabble of white picket fence necromancers, “I’d suggest you kill him before he causes any more problems for us.”

And with that It climbs in and Joey locks the cage. I can see IT’s eyes staring at me now, mucus green circles spinning rapidly around her dead iris and beyond, the slither of worms moving in dead waters. He wanted to kill me himself but was afraid of the repercussions, the geass they have him under is strong. And it saved my life. Something I wish to take full advantage of.

“Hey, hey don’t tell me your believing…that thing do you?”

“How do you know she’s not human.” John points out.

I smile. “Well it wouldn’t pass the typical college frat girl test with that deep gurgled voice box she’s working with. I mean come on, I grew up in the 80’s, I’ve watched my share of scary movies! But let’s be serious do I look like the “King of Atlantis”? Do I sound like I drink vodka with SpongeBobSquarePants? I got a knife and a smart phone, and some jewelry I was hoping to pawn. I came by to rip you guys off and suddenly I’m out cold. Now I wake up in a strange shack and tied up, weird talismans hanging everywhere, and naked chick you got locked in a cage. I didn’t mean to interrupt your bachelor party, but I’d gladly get back on my way.”

“No.” says the woman who must be Katherine. She is calm and to the point, unlike Jill who is a bit more than nervous and hugging herself since her earlier outburst. Without any of my usual talents for building up persuasive arguments they’ll get me for being either suspicious or being at the wrong place at the wrong time. There is another way to get me out of here…

I”Look, I’m going to be frank with you.” not the best idea, but you know what they say about the truth, “She-IT’s right.  But I’m going to tell you something; this situation, this nightmare you’ve invited into your lives for 18 years can not be controlled. And don’t tell me you have it under control because I can see it laughing at all of you. How many people have you sacrificed to it? How many young women will never see their mothers again because of your actions. Boys that will never be fathers. For what?”

The room grows silent.

“Answer me!” no one speaks up. “Tell me that you have this under control! You don’t. And you know whats sick? Its waiting. Buying time until it knows it can stay in this world without you. Until it knows its safe to kill you all.”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about.” John marches forward, anger in his eyes.

I match his glare and smile, “I see it now. Six years after that incident, your lives all suck, some with no girl, others with no job. There is only the guilt that maybe your responsible for all those unexplained deaths, maybe those douche-bags never really deserved to have what you thought was coming to ’em. And you feel like a scumbags, all of you do, and nothing you do can change that because realization of the truth only you know and only you can believe is eating you alive.” Than an epiphany hits like a brick, “So you come back to the barn where the magic happens…. my god, there is a piece of IT in you?” the group’s faces doesn’t deny it, ” A little bit of charisma, less guilt? The perfect family? The perfect job? A nice apartment with all the panties traffic your dick can manage? Is that’s what your soul is worth?”

Actually for most people the answer is yes, it is. But I doubt that they were stupid enough to make that exchange, no, they chose a different route, young boys and girls picked off from the street and late nights at the local bars. It’s not a coincidence that John has an alibi between the hours of 12-4,  and worst comes to worst his unwitting family can vouch for him being home despite sometimes not being home till 9 am in the morning. All this in exchange for a bit of knowledge here and a bit of juice there. But..

“But your deal wasn’t worth it for IT wasn’t it? It broke free six years ago, despite all the assurances that the sporadic flow of fresh bodies is of no fault of your own. You scramble to put it back to in the closest when  its true form can black out the state of Missouri. And yet you feed it prime stake as if it’ll be satisfied! Ha!”

I turn my full attention to the thing in the cage. “You’re nothing but a mid level Ling with dreams of grandeur  If you was a real daemon you would devoured them from  the inside the moment they took your offer, but you’re not even capable of holding a human body for longer than two hours, so you wait and bide your time until you learn to be a proper greater horror.” Even now with my eyes adjusting to the weird lighting of the cage I see IT’s form mutating; stretching the lips, elongating the fingers,breaking her skin out into hideous boils that ooze with blood and mucus like slime, while shifting her facial features to match the realignment of bones to a fit a newer more alien model…

“And you chuckle heads are just yucking it up as you put the lives of countless thousands in danger! If you had any idea where that thing came from you would have tried and failed to destroy it years ago instead of trying to appease it believing your two-bit parlor tricks will hold it back forever.”

Come to think of it, there is a reason why cops and soldiers above the level of rent-a-cop or merc-for-hire, train intensively in hostage situations. The simple basis being that sometimes you are the hostage and you’ll have to talk your way out of being gang-banged by the local psychopaths. Sometimes you must do this while speaking broken-unamerican, sometimes its better that you don’t call your current caretakers on their bullshit. Joey proves how much not being a snide douche keeps you alive longer,

“You talk too much.”

My knife is fresh from the table and in his right hand in pre-stabbing form when Alex and Jill rush to head him off.

“We don’t kill!” demands Alex

No, you just sic your pet daemon on people, big difference stupid git!

“Get off me he needs to GO!”

Alex lands hard on his hip while Jill, who is basically 5’1 and maybe a buck’one if you count the slippers, is sent flying before the rather fit Joey who could have been a 5’9 college quarterback in the heyday of his frat years (doubting he saw the inside of one). Neither John or Katherine moves to stop him when suddenly–

“JILL!!!” Kathrine was screaming for her friend’s name while the rest looked slacked jaw and petrified in fear and piss, Joey dropped my knife, Alex couldn’t peel his eyes away, and John…John had no expression at all.

You see Jill, a wisp of a thing, was neither tall or needing a gym membership, even her long hair was purposely cut business short to improve her streamline dry dolphin look, if the dolphin was a vegan; so when she went flying, she quite literally flew, and where she landed and thunk’d her little head, was no less convenient than the very cage, containing the very daemon they put so much effort into home trained.

Not funny how time stops when you have no way of changing the outcome. Fuck all the way of the warrior bullshit; a real fight is a blur  of indiscriminate motion only parsed though the magic filter of muscle memory and self-preservation. It’s only when death is looking at you straight in the face and there isn’t a god damn thing you can do about it, that you see the world at whatever frames per second is considered slow. When IT forced her hands through the bars– the sizzle and pop of the talismans all desperately trying to burn away the human meat coat but never beyond the level of third degree burns– you can see the momentary gasp of fear in Jill’s eyes as the window of escape closed before she understood it was open to begin with, the hands claps around her head and squeezed for dear life, nearly ripping her head from her shoulders as she thrashed against the otherworldly grip. But it wasn’t the physical touch that was loathsome, but the sudden invasion of one being of the immaterium into another being of immaterium (the human soul) that caused the panic that was almost primal to behold.

It was in this painful seconds of absolute horror that ages the soul and forces young men’s hearts to turn white before the twilight of their age, that the spectacle completed itself before a dumbfounded audience; powerless in body, mind and soul against the thing that eats goats and children. It was in completion that the cage in which the daemon lied for two decades, finally showed a natural hue, revealing the liters of dried blood and bits of unprocessed flesh of vague origins. Where the former host of ITs black intentions lay silent like a dried husk, the new host of horror laid slack like an adolescent child sleeping in a school bus.

And John just stood there, like a bloody stole pigeon.

“John!!”

My words barely moved him out of his stupor.

“John get me down!”

His eyes trail upward, sees me and hesitates to even stutter a no.

“Get me down or die with the rest of them.”

And like clockwork It moves. Why IT jumped on Alex McCoy as the first order of business, could be rationalized as the pure expression of a deep-seated grudge or the sheer coincidence of being the closest warm body to a soul eating monster, historians can decide, but as far I was concerned “it was better him than me” when it found Alex first.  Alex whispered “Jill” as he cried, tears flowing for a friend he just lost, the realization not quite hitting him but the gravity weighing all the same. It was the same for all of them, seeing Jill tightening her fingers around Alex’s shoulders, her green eyes reflecting a slight sickish hue. Only Alex could see what I knew was there; the hollowness beyond her facade, the IT that was barely contained, withering in places that shouldn’t move.  And when doom visited him, I mean finally dawned on him the nature of the creature he helped summon 18 years ago, he screamed. Not for help. Or for pain. But a torture keen to only the most basic senses in the human brain that still remains after years of surviving the hell of post-Jurassic. The sound of every cell wishing to do one thing, one basic thing and being denied the chance long before the understanding of the need. So he defecated himself, and twisted and thrashed and tried to escape the tiny grip of the hungry alien for all of one second-

“Crrrrrck”

Most children have tried, unsuccessful, to pull the head off a pez dispenser by yanking at it from the chin. But that method, with proper amount of superhuman  strength, is indeed sound. First the head is yanked back hard, the neck elongates before flesh and muscle cords snap at the seams. The sickening crack of bone is heard, as the spine is being snapped at the base, followed by a slosh of blood gushing forth like a shaken soda bottle.  When the child is done she merely toss the head against the nearest wall like a wet wash cloth before letting out a howl of ecstasy. Pure hunger  takes over as she unhinges a human jaw much like a snakes, and dives into the blood stump.

Crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, and it rips an arm off from its socket to get a better grip of the mid section. Working its teeth and snapping jaws against and through tough muscles and cracking bones. Where it comes from there is no elegance when feeding on souls, no high pitch sucking noises or firm laying on hands. No Shang Tsung declaring your soul is mine. Just keep chewing and ripping at flesh until the belly is satisfied. This can be considered primordial, ritualistic, or just plain evil, pick your adjective, either way no person looking at this thing rip and spit out gobs of flesh and organs, face nose deep in blood, the clicks of its teeth mashing up fat and gristle…returns sane. And there was no escape. Even though John was the first to try.

“JOHN!” damn these chains,” You can’t run from it, it knows where you live, that you have kids, and even how your going to defend them. You have a piece of it inside you John! How do you think this will end!? I’m the only one here that can stop it, the only one here that its afraid of!”

Coincidence would have it he had the keys on his person (and that was a good measure of luck right there) and freed me promptly, being the only hope and all. I put a hand on his shoulder to show thanks.

“Took you long enough.” before sliding my palm under his chin and snapping his neck in savage disgust.

I only heard the shack doors slap close as Joey and Katherine ran out screaming. If I was in a generic action flick I’d menacingly call out “it’s just you and me” while pointlessly circling the room. I bite down the cliché’ and focus on the task at hand; my dagger, my three wards, and two curse items are call to me by me via the soft magic of displacement theory. Taking an item and re-materializing it to a very specific location is only intrinsically hard if you not particularly careful about details of the item or where exactly in space-time its going. You have to call by value not reference, and it takes much practice to do the former because the human brain likes to do some things by the latter . Otherwise I would be summoning a new copy of all my essentials from an alternate reality…and I’m too much of a fan of the original article thank you.

The daemon formerly known as Jill looked up at me the way a cat does when you interrupt it enjoying a fish stick, backed away slowly as I approached, looked around the shack as I advanced before giving the ceiling a quick eye.

“Rumor has it that your only half-Atlantian.”

“Whats your point?”

It chuckles, “Maybe we can end this game, I go my way you go yours. The real monsters are the human’s your letting escape.

Their engines barely make a sound but the slamming of their car doors grabs my attention for a second, a second enough for It to escape. Not on foot mind you but through Jill’s mouth, as the daemon drags its being into the shadows, leaving his meat suit to drop carelessly on the floor.

“Fuck.”

I scramble for the fleeing necromancers, their tail lights blaring as they speed into the open road.

“NOT FUCKING TEXAS!”

In my rage I channel a more serious form of magic, the art of probability, with the help of two cursed items, both red rubies that aren’t set to expire and anytime soon, one of which is holding the soul of a former meth dealer. Probability is relatively difficult because you’re never quite sure how far you need to manipulate the matrices to achieve the desired effect, and considering the effect only when casting can be rather lethal…to you, so its best to be prudent before letting the magic run wild (because there is no call backs once you hit the negative). Probability can be pushed up or down per set margins or given a sum to work out the difference, for me I just wanted their cars to break down, a sum based cast basically, which was the easier of the two options. The latter of which would be the untimely death of two healthy 30 somethings, speeding away in opposite directions in the middle of nowhere.

Quick thinking on my party determines which is most likely to end badly.

Joey’s car breaks first, a sports car running at triple digits, barely a speck in the horizon, the hood bursts into blue flames and acrid smoke, he hard swerves as the engine dies and his breaks fail. His crash is a series of hard skids, followed by a hard stop somewhere in horizon.

Katherine’s Chevy on the other hand caused a sharp pain in my chest before its front wheels snapped cleaned from its axle, slamming the front bumper hard against the open road. One of my dear rubies burned out and I traded the difference with one less month of old age, not a fair trade really and its going to take a minute for my breathing to regulate itself. But I’m calm enough for whats going to happen next as I step out into the middle of the road, Katherine’s car well in my sites. As expected she stumbles out from her unexpected crash, haven’t not bothered to wear a seat belt she is far more dazed and confused than she otherwise would be. Which means the following would be relatively painless, as my knife breaks past her spine and finds her heart before reappearing in my hand in a blur.

“One down.”

Displacement was only used in the return trip; actually placing a foreign object into a human body or any solid construct violates Pauli exclusion principle, which basically states that no two objects can occupy the same space at the same time. Granted it is a rather simple and effective way to murder someone, its best not used when you actually want the object back. For all intent and purposes all natural laws can be violated, however not all natural laws should be violated, which is the fundamental difference between a good necromancer, a bad necromancer, and a dead necromancer.

And I clearly intend to be a good one as I find Joey’s car hugging a welcome to sign. I see smoke, I see blood, I open car door, but no Joestar. I kneel to touch the blackening ichor, rubbing its warmth against my index and middle finger and following the trail into the tall grass. I smile and turn around, catching the brunt of a tire iron with my forearm. The pain is numbing but bearable. Joey however is breathing heavy and ragged, half weak, half exhausted from the crash. He’s nursing a few chest injuries and a dire need for aspirin. When I grab and pull down his only weapon, he nearly yanks it from my grip with a surprise amount of upper body strength.

End this fast.

So I stab him quarter to center but not deep; he checks my elbow and shoves his forehead into my face. I go down flat as he climbs on top, bringing the iron down as he holds my knife hand by the wrist. Two good shots is all he needs for me to nearly lose consciousness, only a gasp of air separates me from a shatter skull, as everything goes into a mumbled blur of sky, gray and red. Even in a situation like this nothing slows down, everything moves at the same time with no concept of before or after, especially decisions; I reach for a nearby rock, grasping it in my left hand, before hearing the thunk of it disappearing from my clutches and reappearing somewhere inside Joey’s skull. With a gasp his eyes fell back and his mouth hanged open, blood drooling out his eyes and nose from the aneurysm, before he started convulsing in seizures. Pushing him aside, I watched him thrash and gargle non-words before finally deciding what to do with his entrails.

And Yes this will be edited

                                                                 

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In the Apartment of Evil

Back up takes the fun out of daemon hunting, but the League of Shadows takes the tedium out of hunting necromancers. I could call them right now if it wasn’t for the 4th level abomination sleeping in some assholes basement waiting to be sicked on hapless teenagers. They’re better at the more boring assignments, the ones that don’t involve undead pirates and possessed grandmothers, but lean towards the subtitle difference between H.P Lovecraft and someone sacrificing goats and virgins in the backwoods by a lake shore. Granted, there are 6 billion people on this planet and despite all advances in social media and travel, it’s impossible to thoroughly investigate every Wicca club in the state of Missouri let alone the country. Sometimes they arrive too late and counter-demonology 101 has to be dusted from the shelves, friends need to be sacrificed….

Which is partially why I am rummaging through the mail Mr.McCoy leaves haphazardly in his bachelor-pad/apartment/condo. Who knows what their called these days. It’s a box on top of another box with two kitchens and a thick wall dividing the two renting units. One bed room, one bath, one living room and room enough for two barely adult sizes tables that denote the dining room from the living room. He as an impressive library of science fiction, pulp fiction, and old school fantasy before Dresden Files and Song of Ice of Fire with the occasional college textbooks un-open since the day it was bought. His TV looks expensive but only that, there is no sign he actually sits down and uses it; his cable is basic, his game systems include the original Xbox and an N64, and his fridge is mostly lined with beer and flavored tequila.

His closest is light on the wife beaters and jeans and more on the button ups and other business casual “comfortably working in an office” drape. No D&D, no He-man, or even a fetish for Star Wars. A guy with more condoms than video games probably stopped wearing his geek on his sleeve years ago. And most disturbing is no occult. None. And I’ve been to necromancers apartments, most don’t think to hide that type of shit from plain sight, some are more than proud to let you know they firmly believe gibbering horrors from beyond space-time did or should rule this world, usually by way of undisclosed human organs laying about with crude “insert your favorite ancient civilization” runes and inscriptions mapped over floors and jars. I personally tend to start worrying when I start seeing Scandinavian/Germanic runes inscribed in various bodily fluids, no offense to anyone but when people start asking the “frost giants” and “dark elves” to cross the rainbow bridge from their cozy dark corner in the multi-verse into the “middle-realm”…well lets say the Viking’s disappeared for a good reason…

Was I wrong? I’ve been here for two hours without noticing, god I’m still bad at this. Stopped Iran from doing the “other” type of nuclear research (the kind that involves less boom or more num) but can’t find a single vile of “cocktail monster bait”. Well, if I think about this logically, he may have a lot of people come in and out his apartment for one reason or another. It would be a buzz kill for a one night stand to run into your collection of satanic rituals 101. Few necromancers know guys like me exist, not for the lack of paranoia on their part, but for the simple reason that while stories of witches are rather prevalent, the guys that hunt them are far less popular. This is partially on purpose (secret government agencies and the league of shadows wouldn’t be quite secret or shadowy otherwise) and mostly because the potential witch to hunter ratio is very skewed on the witch end. And besides the few bastards that slip through the cracks look less like Magikarps and more like Gyarados when they finally make the radar again, meaning there are few to none who are truly qualified to put them down.

Though I’m sure he isn’t that dangerous. I mean come on, what kind of social outcast doesn’t have an Xbox 360? I need his cellphone and or his laptop (no **** desktop to hack? fucking serious?), but I’d rather borrow his cellphone for now. So I do what any sensible king of the ocean floor has done for generations…hide under his bed just when he comes waddling in at 10pm in the evening, talking loudly and boisterously on his cell-phone.

“Look I’ll have next week column to you by Friday, I just spent all day at Starbucks getting the ideas down… Look I know, I know was late last week but Vicky came through didn’t she?… I know I know your paying me not Vicky but… Ok, ok I got you, rough draft before the clock hits 12, you have my word!”

Click

He settles on his bed by flopping on it, pulling out various cords from his briefcase/carrying bag before finally slapping the charger against the wall and letting his apple shinny rest after a long day in McCoy’s back pocket; which going by how readily this bed is touching the floor, it must have been rough. Real men have Androids, but I resist the urge to point that out, he needs to go to sleep or sit on his work desk, which ever is easier on my poor legs. He of course does neither, instead he dials another number, the phone whizzes back into action and another voice, defiantly male comes into speaker.

“Alex whats up.”

“You know whats up, they just found the girl.”

“Oh…”

“Where is Katherine?”

“Checking the cage.”

“BY HERSELF!??!”

“God no, she toke O’Hera and Joey with her.”

There was a long audible pause as both men breath sighs of relief.

The man on the other end breaks the silence,”So who stopped HIM.”

“Wasn’t me.” says Alex sharply.

“Next meeting we need to talk.” the distance sound of family obligations can be heard from the strangers phone.

“Yeah, yeah sure.” hangs up McCoy.

“I could slit your throat right now.” It wasn’t a threat but a promise. But my rage will have to wait. Bumping him off now will trigger a flight or fight response that always ends with me in Texas (whoever made this universe did two things wrong and one of them was Texas).

Besides they’ll be all together soon enough. In the mean time I’ll take my Mandriod and  connect to his I-crap, using my double whammy. Now don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate the good ol’ days when all you needed was a ward soaked in the entrails of a local thief and a few cursed items (basically objects with soul(s) tethered to them). And yes I could have easily made a few sandwiches with Alex’s brain for the information I need. But there is a time, a place, and a measure of caution you must have and I’m sure my predecessors would appreciate how much easier technology makes the busy work associated with daemon hunting. And besides stomping around in the mind of a normal person is traumatic (for them) but fine, doing the same to a person who just came face to face with a gibbering horror is varying degrees of dangerous and extremely traumatic but its doable, but…. the mind of someone paranoid and actively engage in magic… no way to not leave a mess (that’ll usually result in your choice in serious mental disease(s) or a mind wipe of the last 10 years of their life as a bonus), or hit a trap (see making messes), or leave a dead body(the other way of dealing with traps). And the worst case scenario IS leaving a cold unresponsive body behind…  Maybe I am being too cautious but I’d rather not try to stop another easy assignment from crossing the Mexican border if it can be helped.

But as far as my double whammy, oh man what an awesome little device(and my only device). Connects to any phone. Check. USB enabled device. Check. Even has an extension for using fake credit cards to access ATM’s using bluetooth. Check. And best of all, none of those apple tards can use it. Go Mandriod. Without even having to crack his password, my Android app loads his shitty Apple OS and gives me complete access to his phone from the comfort of real smart phone position five feet. away Silently I go through his call history looking for the names of his mentioned friends.

“John Percy of course, Katherine H’Lee,”

Contacts.

“Joey H’lee, Jill O’Hera? Bingo. Wait…”

I nearly laugh. An alarm set for 4 am in the morning. Basically dawn. Looking at my target again, if I had met him 12 years ago he would be an overweight chili-dog stuffer but now he is reasonable buff, except for tell-tale signs of alcoholism starting to set in around his gut. He doesn’t fit the profile of a skinny, nebbish little man with wet black hair and beady little eyes. Instead he is has graying sandy blonde hair that stands at attention even while being rolled over a pillow. Light blue eyes and the type of “adorable” baby face one would find in a Seth Rogen comedy. No one would believe this asshole killed over 20 people, or that his actions are chewing at the fabric of space-time and inviting more of his pet Cthulhu’s to our little corner of the multiverse. Nay.

….

Oh the ease of hiding in the back of a car, a hot ward fading me into the shadows of an Mitsubishi Lancer, as Alex tumbles on in and fumbles for the keys. The only trick is staying silent, even as he throws his briefcase into my abdomen without looking. I could have shadowed him from the comfort of my car but its hard to notice someone following you in a small town at 4am in the morning. Especially when you go out into country side and all there is for miles is highway and corn-stalk.

“John.”

“Morning Alex.”

“The sacrifice, you found one?”

“Of course.”

“Boy or girl.”

“Girl.”

“Katherine will bitch.”

“Let her! Look, I’m stressed enough as it is and besides our mutual friend specifically asked for one.” John points out.

“Still one more missing girl, especially after… that…that Jessica girl the cops will think a kidnapper/rapist is one the loose.” Alex sighs.

“No, I heard from my cop friends that their blaming it on drug-sex traffickers or something like that.”

“Seriously?” Alex’s relief passing over like waves.

“Yeah they found a meth dealer eviscerated in a bath tub. They keeping a lid on that part.”

“Oh…but still…”

“Yeah I don’t like this more than you do, but lets’ get this over with before my kids wake up.”

Some 45 minutes later, not counting the 30 minutes it took to not even be half way there, Mr. McCoy parks the car. I look outside and all I see is two sports cars that looked like they starred in the fast and the furious, a Ford minivan that looks like the envy of suburbia and a grey Chevy Altima. All of which are surrounded by tall grass and wheat and an old shack looming in the foreground ominously. However Alex doesn’t seem to notice, he slams the door as he heads straight for the barn. I stare at him waiting for something horrible to happen but nothing does. Weird.

I step out the car and immediately my ears start to ring. Getting back into the car seems like a great idea, in fact driving away seems like a really great idea…

“So this is what it feels like to be repelled.”

Ok good trick. I ignore the ringing, the anxiety, the cursing myself for not simply taking my own car and for the most part it helps. Except the ringing, it seems to only get louder and its coming from my ward. I touch it and its blazing hot.

“Only a really good mesmer.”

And I push forward, hit something solid, realize what it is too late, reach for my ward too late, feel each hair on my body catch fire as my tongue dries, my eyes sizzles, my throat gurgles yesterday’s stomach acid as my entire body is being plugged into an outlet and all I can do on time is scream,

“SooON OOOOoooOOF AAAAa BIIiiiiiiIIITccccccCCH”

And yes this will be edited

                                                                 

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A Day in October Part 2

“Jessica”

My face is an inch away from hers, but her attention, and her panic, is drawn to the combat knife I hold  in front of her saucer like eyes.

“Understand me, I do not intend on using this on you.”

She doesn’t believe me of course, but I don’t need her to, the knife comes down and brushes lightly against her throat, drawing blood as it slowly misses her major arteries, leaving no more than a paper cut behind.

“I know I did this before, but I need a fresh sample you see.”

And I slide the blade over my tongue.

“Mandrake… wolf-bane…garlic….. basil? Basil? Seriously?”

I read the confusion in her eyes as she mumbles complaints through her gag.

“You were roofied by amateurs, all the pros know to use paprika.”

No one knows what that’s suppose to taste like I wanted to add, but I notice her following the swaying movement of my dagger and sigh.

“Really?”

I hold the blade in front of her, her panic fully taking in the jagged, almost predatorial, nature of the seven inch knife that stole her breath. Granted it’s a damn terrifying instrument; few weapons I’ve come across give the impression that a great white contributed to its design.

I put the knife away.

“See” I hold up my hands, “no knife.”

For her credit she hasn’t peed herself once. She  blinks and exhales several minutes worth of carbon dioxide, nods her little head back and forth, sobbing a little but relatively calm. Taking my actions as slow and deliberate as possible, I cup her cheek in my hand and cradle her head as gentle as newborn.

“I need you to be calm.” I whisper.

I take her head in both hands and squeeze until her skull rigid in my grip. She doesn’t cry out in panic, by sheer force of will she stops herself from thrashing about vainly in her bindings. Not so much as a whimper escapes her gag. I try not to smile.

“I’m going to do something horrible to you. You will not enjoy this and I can not reiterate how unpleasant it will be. If you panic, if cry, if you fight me in any way, I will gut you like a fish.”

She doesn’t bother to nod but she knows I understand, though she is way off about my intentions, her relaxed body and emptying mind (“think of England” she mutters over and over again) will do. And besides I rather she not call my bluff; leaving a brain dead med student in the care of local authorities and worried sick parents leaves too much evidence behind for my taste. I may be a king, but I haven’t been to a country where hiding a body isn’t simpler, easier, and far less strenuousness on the diplomatic immunity. So with a shallow breath I open up the sardine can most people call a mind and start making sandwiches.

….

“Hey”

I wear my business casual smile with a hint of “aw-shucks, look how embarrassed I am” and awkwardly bring out my object of interest.

“Does this guy frequent your shop?”

The cashier/owner looks at my sketch of a slightly overweight Caucasian male, with heavy horned rimmed glasses, chubby perpetually rosy cheeks, a good old boy smile, and hair that hangs in wet mope like fashion over a comically flat forehead.  Recognition comes easy.

“Percy?”

“That’s right.”

“Is he in any kind of trouble.” The comic book stores owner’s face re-actively recoils at the thought.

“No, no nothing like that.” Disarming smile and awkward nebbishness turned on to max, “He wanted to sell comics on…craiglist, yes craiglist, but he is kinda hard to find and I came all this way, and well….”

“John Percy buys comics?”

“He’s a big collector.”

“Well he doesn’t buy any here.”

Looking at around at the mid sized collection, I can imagine my Percy boy reading but never buying the latest issues, huddled with 2-3 other disenfranchised man-child’s bemoaning the canonical nightmare which as become the Walking Dead. Or maybe he comes here alone, his friends teenage years of idle time spent behind Starbucks and bookstores long buried under the demands of sleep and menial jobs.

I shrug “Buys online?”

He shakes his head, “Probably.”

“Hey it was nice to meet you,”  I hold out my hand for him to shake which he does  vigorously despite the searing sensation, “And don’t tell him I was here looking for him.” A command not a request, but he doesn’t notice the difference, so he’ll nod and smile and forgot I was here all the same. He also doesn’t notice he has been marked, the price for the inscription a last courtesy from Jessica before the cops found her in a sleazy motel in the more rugged side of town due to an anonymous tip. The cops will eventually find a small time street dealer (whats left of him) in the bathtub… I don’t make any pretenses about killing an innocent, it could have been a mother of three, or a grampa coming back from vacation, marrow is marrow and after making a sandwich I get hungry. And besides I leave the vigilantism to the Bruce Waynes and Frank Castles of our universe, I tend to keep a good relationship with the criminal element– a few aspiring pimps and mobsters helped saved the world a few times.

….

“I don’t know who you’re talking about.”

“John Percy went to school here, you was his main literary teacher.”

“I’m sure he was but as you said before that was 18 years ago. I’ve had thousands of students since than, and quite frankly most of them aren’t worth remembering…. Why are you interested in him?”

Scratching the back of my neck and pretending to struggle to keep eye contact with Professor Milesaw, “I’m a reporter from the Missouri Bugle and it turns out your former student has made quite a name for himself. I wanted to get the first interview with the man who he admits inspired him so much.”

Milesaw puffs his chest in pride and leans forward, “Oh that John….” he really wants to talk out of his ass but some invisible force seems to be holding his tongue,  I smile as he literally chokes on his bullshit, “…. no….”

Memories are like terminates, they’re not hidden and they don’t go away, there only waiting for a good reason to come up.

“John Percy he was nothing special, but his friend, Alex McCoy, he was a true talented. You should read the story he published through the school paper, he was like a Steven King.”

“So your saying Alex also inspired John? Funny I’ve interviewed Mr. Percy and he never mentioned Mr. McCoy.”

Milesaw yawns, “Well I don’t know what happened with those two after they graduated. In my opinion the class of 1992 as a whole wasn’t the same after that incident that happened 18 years ago.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well many dropped out, I think John was one of them. Every school in this county and a few of the neighboring ones across Missouri closed for two months. Even some of the colleges and of course this one.”

“Really?”

“How do you expect people to react when there is a crazy axe murder on the loose killing people’s children?”

I hold back a smile; you’d be surprised how quickly people get back to business as usually when their crazed axe murderer leaves evidence that looks less like that creepy guy next door and more like a giant honey badger.

“Is there anything else you can tell me about Alex.”

“He lives on the other side of town at 1421 Malbarry Rd.”

“How did you know that?”

“He uses me as a reference for his free-lance jobs and sends me thank you letters.”

And with that I tap his forward head and guide him as he feints.

“Thank you for your help but I need you unconscious.” I angle him into his seat, “But,” I lean in close to whisper in his ear, “your password per favore.”

“1122345”

…..Honestly better than the Japanese Defense Minister’s home office password being “123”.

John Percy being a college drop out explains the bartending gig, he doesn’t look the type to appreciate free drinks and boobs. But Alex, yeah he defiantly sounds like a player. A quick query for his name in the archives of old school papers using the good Professor’s desktop gives me a hit… well call me cthulu. May not be mountain of madness, but he didn’t get his master of horror degree from “i think too much about candles and pentagrams with my other weird friends who dress in all black.”. He was that kid and a cool one at that if Milesaw could appreciate him. Wearing your satanic worshiping tendencies on your sleeve was rather frown upon until some depressed teenagers made it cool sometime mid 90’s. His short story “the Witch behind the Wardrobe” reads less like a pious manifesto and more like a genuine leaning towards what man shouldn’t know.

“I’m jumping to conclusions.”

So was assuming the 6’3 bartender that marked Jessica and Kevin would be a big comic book nerd.

“Rule 1 of the multi-verse: If you seek it, you will find it or it will find you.”

I have two names, one address, and all I had to do was a make a little girl relive the night her boyfriend got eaten… several hundred times.

And yes this will be edited

                                                                 

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