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Bind

 

Bind

 

Lucus Anthony Ren

Lucus Anthony Ren

Bind

© 2015, Lucus Anthony Ren

Self-publishing

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This book contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author / publisher. Limit of Liability and Disclaimer of Warranty: The author / publisher has used its best efforts in preparing this book, and the information provided herein is provided “as is,” and makes no representation or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this book and specifically disclaims any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for any particular purpose and shall in no event be liable for any loss of profit or any other commercial damage, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.

Chapter 1

How Far?

 

Chapter 2

Free to Meet

 

Chapter 3

Laying Low

 

Chapter 4

Hardware

 

Chapter 5

Though’s Holiday

 

Chapter 6

Cellar Glass

 

Chapter 7

Lasting Calling

 

Chapter 8

The King

 

Chapter 9

Fire Trucks and Baseball Figures

 

Chapter 10

Started Out

 

Chapter 11

Produce

 

Chapter 12

The Key

 

Chapter 13

Black Pool

 

Chapter 14

Waited

 

Epilogue

Chapter 1

How far?

That’s what it was. A sound in the rain of falling metal, rolling slowly off in the left about a foot away. A light metallic tinkling. A strange dropped coin spinning before that lying flat sound coins make. But this rolled. Then only the rain could b heard. Along with his panting. And a fading. Slipping. A slipping, bending control onto itself. Normally, the only sounds on Monkey Mountain were distant train whistles and occasional car horns. When hearing another, a different sound, focus intensifies leaving a blank spot in the center of your thoughts, slowly filled with recollections searching common situations while the surface forming the outside of a perceived object, collapses. They left in the morning; it was 20 minutes later when they reached the site. Monkey Mountain had no light at that time. During the day birds filled thin, twisted pine trees seeking light at any cost. The forest depth at night reached beyond what most wouldn’t dare guess of. Those who did, roamed its paths without companions. They were no different from the pines surrounding them. Only they could walk. And in that mobility, that gift of movement often forgotten halted by a sound which shouldn’t have emerged. When things that shouldn’t happen yet do, the attention enlarges through bounds and truth.

How far was it from his foot? Did it fall off the path? If it did then what? And what would you be looking for should you even think it was that, you sought after? Madness. It was nothing, simply a car or high pitch train whistle echoing off the trees, changed by the rain on the stones. No. It was something. He wouldn’t have dropped it had it not been. Jovan bent slowly not wanting to lose balance, removed his left glove and touched where the sound last reached him. Nothing. Only the wet, cold stone. The story of his life before he saw her, in that one brief moment. That single time he met her. That moment of clarity it is often said. Yet what is really known about such a fragment of time, unless it was taken from you? If so its knowledge and power indeed have your commanding rights. You alone own that and not a soul may alter it.

In that flash he knew they’d only have, that briefness. Remembering the look on her face at that last second, was looking in the mirror. Too exact with the same thoughts, same eyes, hopes and fears, yet all would soon be taken. That moment was his. His time. It was his compensation for he’d all the reasons to understand and all the meanings in his life summed up in one moment. Like so many, they had their own conception of time. What both their minds processed isn’t very clear, resulted in the fact they’ll go the rest of their lives knowing very little, some form of reality intertwining a form of accursed, horrible nightmare of their own created lives.

The panting grew heavier. He could feel the warm breath on his face. He caught the faint sounds of whimpering. Shifting the weight on his left foot, he spun around reaching further out with the left hand. Nothing. He knew he was close to the edge of the path. Whatever made that noise must be close, either off the past or stuck between it’s cobbled stones. The chill of water and wind on Monkey Mountain crypt over the exposed skin of his hand. He could feel the coolness of recent deaths decay growing up, into the arm.

Thoughts of warmer spring nights with coffee rose in his mind, then quickly faded, leaving him only with the cold and heavy breathing of a straining pant. How easy it is for animals, truly remaining their own masters. And as we are so close to dogs what more could you have for your own true friend. Their desire to please without reward, commitment to a bond lasted since both brought together thousands of years hence. The panting and whining increased and the clicking from the dogs nails on the cold stone circled him. They always walked together. The German Shepherd only a little in front or off to the sides, never far or too near, was nervous. ‘Something you’ve found has caught us both,’ he said. The Cale tilted his head to the side, searching for a better understanding of what was just said, while looking down urging the man’s wet hand more to the right where what he searches, lies. ‘Oh come on Jesus. Are you blind, it’s right there!’ thought the Cale.

Coffee, cold, wet animal fur, a mind rounding one of its bends that wouldn’t happen till diapers worn, with teeth in a glass smiling at you next to your head all the while wondering, ‘How far do people actually think?’ but he always knew the answer. This whole silly mess, was all rather boring. The Cale made it real though. Plants too. Anything really apart from people, created surprising developments. The strain of humanity became too much causing a mind to snap. Those usually insane weren’t, while those weren’t, usually were. Animals never lied, nor plants. They could fool though. Still we adapted becoming both, liars and fools, creating our own worlds. In seeing her, one world closed, opening another.

Happening on any given day perhaps a hundred times, we become so innate with our own-self in that nothing really matters. And it is in this shock most have, these worlds colliding, Jovan mastered. Able to extract from these collisions required perception, a trick most never accomplished. And becoming this wizard-of-sorts was the very trade never expected. Why would you? Sometimes the thinking went too well, the insanity too real. So when around Ron their neighbor, things remained always tilted.

Ron retired at sixty-three, obtaining his wealth through a chain of hardware stored owned and operated over forty-five years. He’d stand there, legs spread wider than the shoulders scratching his back against the wall spouting the same ten things he always spoke about leaving Jovan wondering whether these were the only ten points in Ron’s life. Even in the rare chance of meeting on Monkey Mountain Ron was never far from his points. Away from his store empire but holding the scribbling’s that no one could ever decipher of how to repair this or that on paper which he always carried to remind those he ran into, as most wanted to avoid him, that he was in charge. Ron was looking to make it all the way to the end. And no one, for any reason, could change that. Joan contemplated on walks with Cale if Ron was truly insane. When you talked with Ron something in him changed. And you knew if you looked too deep into that, you’d get scared. Jovan supposed that’s how Ron survived with his stores. He also supposed Ron collided all the time, but only with himself, so in that last effort in reaching, his fingers feeling something colder than the rain, and it was Ron he felt, as they closed around it.

Cale moved quickly licking Jovans hand. His gloved hand moved for the neck of Cale to calm him but the dog turned quickly extremely alerted looking back where they came. Something was there. Not far off. To get close was rare when Cale was near. The dog always vigilant, even sleeping Cale would cry out chasing some dream, paws running in the air. When challenged he’d stand the ground not moving until commanded or the threat was too high in which instinct took hold. In their world the conflict was short and always extreme. Our world was the opposite. Things simply dragged out till both parties gave up, killed each other, or had sex. That’s why the animal kingdom prevailed and Jovan enjoyed it so. There was no second guessing. No imagination on exchange of money, or whether it would even matter. True, animals did offer food and territory in trade, but it was done in accordance with another code which we don’t really abide with. An animal will run from battle to fight another day just as we would. It will relinquish a carcass to one who is greater just as we would. But an animal would not lie just as we would. Cale was not lying when is body began to shake. It was not the cold for this weather was his true domain he reveled in. There was no greater joy sensing his constant excitement in running through boundless scented woods. It is a constant near climax they endure. And now what feared him approached too swiftly to be human.

Chapter 2

Free to Meet

How he heard her the first time. Yes I’m free to meet. On the Mountain at times caught in that voice. ‘Where’s my morning kisses?’ was another. Aria was very clever and highly intelligent. Beauty with an erotic twist. An artist alongside her own gallery she was successful having created a unique style when only twelve. Her only flaw was forgetting those very obvious tasks. This occurred seldom but Jovan had to take note of such importance’s altering in time or reconfirming so as not taking offense for she was one you did not want to irritate. She was straightforward, polite and if you didn’t see eye-to-eye you would not be a prisoner for none such were taken. You were simply banished in the purest of senses. He wondered if it was due to the arts or was she born with this. Aria was good for Jovan. As he was fearful of her wrath he often spoke openly of nearly everything going on in his mind. This at times proved to be too much for her. Not that she didn’t have time to listen but rather his somewhat undisciplined and fragmented mind would move from topic to topic at speeds she couldn’t follow, nor bare. She spent an equal amount of time at the gallery and at home. She was excellent in finances, established a solid income, and bank account before they meet. Why does she stayed with me was often thought, and that’s exactly the reason why, because he was such a child. Through his eyes everything was new and fresh, had not been corrupted. In that simplicity was the honesty she desperately needed.

Aria wasn’t reluctant in meeting him. She often told him she knew exactly who he was and what he would become. Having complete faith in her abilities her perceptions, his case was no different. He was in fact, in destitution before they met, having so for several years. After their initial greeting the next sentence Aria spoke, ‘My God you are grey!’ It was not the color of his hair rather his complexion that of fog coming in from a cold sea. Overwork and anxiety was a strong factor in his life. It showed quite easily, he was one never able to hide anything. It was a wonder she thought, he survived at all.

So they moved in together, bought small trees they planted in big pots, placed in the house and saved Shepherd from a cage where perhaps there was room enough for one dog but where actually three were kept, while fed nothing but rotting, melted pig fat. They lived on the fifth floor of a moderate apartment complex just at the right height where they could feed rice to birds which during the winter would fill with a variety. It was only five minutes walk from the main entrance of Monkey Mountain. When Ron moved next door things changed. Privacy was gone but they adapted, and listening to his stories became a conversation event behind closed doors. Learning after all came through many points.

Then, there was Hans. He was a big man and secretive. He and his wife Lizzy, both Jovan and Aria found difficult to understand fully, who exactly they were. Perhaps this is the point in not knowing, it keeps alive the enigma. Hans was much older than Lizzy, and claims his money comes from the South. Though listening and watching him becoming more and more apparent he was as crooked as a dog’s hind leg extorting and tortured to get that wealth. He walks as if he was in the past some form of security force. His speech in fact his entire mannerism, dictates a complete man accustomed to getting anything he wants. His wife was no different. The heiress of the world renowned sheepdog convention held each year for the wealthy to attend, made her considerable sums. It could be said placing a German Shepherd and a sheepdog side-by-side, the only comparison made being that between a shark and goldfish. From the beginning they didn’t get along. Neither Cale nor the sheepdogs would respond when they met during a walk and both couples mutually greeted each other in passing.

One of the more unfortunate aspects of all of this Hans loved to talk. He could talk the paint off a wall and if he thought dogs would understand he’d preach endlessly to them as well. For it was just an inexplicable style of preaching continuing until your mind simply had to run away taking you along. How Lizzy could stand him was beyond any form of comprehension except that for finances. It seems both were together forming some agreement toward the extended fostering of their own empires. And how ironic this could be for Hans stated often the brain of a sheepdog is no larger than that of a pigeon. This may be true however pigeons are very sensitive to their surroundings, can find their way home for the most part yet sheepdogs have been witnessed to become completely lost in their own pen. It became clear soon after their first meetings with Hans his hatred for these dogs, the surroundings he lives in, and his life as a whole is a ship just wanting to sink for the sole purpose of escaping from its own captain.

Slowly you could see there were changes in him for Hans’s health was deteriorating, certainly over the past few months the shaking in his hand became more prominent. Aria and Jovan visited their apartment only once to pick up some dog food that had been left over because Hans’s dog was killed. It was during that particular visit clearly seen as he held the big glass of water nearly a quarter of it had spilled simply from his constant shaking. Lizzy paid no attention. Aria and Jovan upon leaving the apartment yet waiting until entering the lift and finally upon its dissent Jovan stated, ‘What was that?’

Aria replied ‘He drinks too much.’

‘Coffee?’ said Jovan.

‘No.’ replied Aria.

‘Alcohol then,’ boldly Jovan.

‘Perhaps but I think it’s something more’ exclaimed Aria.

‘And what of the story about his dog? He said the dog barked at someone and they kick the dog then ran across the street and was hit by a truck, ran off into the bushes, thats when Hans started attacking the man’ Jovan asked.

‘I am not sure of any of it.’ Coldly stated Aria. ‘And what does it really matter maybe the dog is better off. Whatever you do be careful what you say and watch Shepherd when he’s near.’

‘So we have cause for alarm?’ said Jovan.

‘Open your eyes and see what you think,’ nodding her head forward illustrating the world around them. ‘Look at this place and tell me what you see.’

‘There is proof of nothing,’ said Jovan shyly.

She slowed her walk and took his arm then softly whispered, ‘Listen. Do not be deceived in what you see nor feel. Do you understand?’

Jovan paused a moment, then softly spoke,‘I will try.’

She smiled pulling gently on his arm and forward they continue the walk up the path away from Hans and Lizzy’s most uncomfortable apartment.

 

It was often the calming she had over him, that quieted those storms. His mind for the most part splintered into many different places and times, hurling normal everyday situations far beyond any form of understanding. Things change. Adapt and move on. Jovan knew its importance, still the past was held in one small part of his being, which happened to escape on occasions causing minor innocent inconveniences. There was that one time which changed many things however, having occurred long ago, now forgotten. Everything seemed that way. Antique. Disregarded.

 

Often gazing towards that time for guidance and understanding with his current and near future, but it grew blurred. A walk might open a window looking out upon a place of stillness and sounds both lost in the place he now lives. In this place he chose to come, rests upon wealth and gains for the person. Why would you then choose such a place as this to exist? You could ask for anything, anywhere, yet here he decided upon. It is a question asked many times. Most simply looked at him scratching themselves thinking, or openly acknowledging, ‘Jovan, you are about the simplest that every walked.’ No matter how he tried he always stumbled, dropped many things in many places and they’d kept after him. Till he withdrew, and its closure he saw something very special. Very special indeed that most seemed to have, simply over-looked.

 

Often spoken there isn’t enough meat on this, so it won’t be of any interest and why speak often about the meaning of it all, why write, or just plain why? Why anything? It’s always the same. As long as you ask that particular question Jovan thought then you won’t understand. And then he stopped questioning. Gave it up. Stopped expecting. Demanding. Counting.

 

Outwardly he seemed light hearted with a twisted smile he knew looked horrible. He’d practice in the mirror applying a simple toothless slit till a full-blow grin arose. None fit well. How could there. Nothing would ever natural develop within Jovan, from which inside grows features terrifying should they ever be seen. Yet when he saw her that storm did calm, that window could be opened again.

 

Aria is a combination of worlds. In meeting both found a common field to explore. To walk and lay in. To lounge about as lovers do. To be their own private devas. A great treasure, that of privacy. The world around them grew brash and incoherent, knowing little of its structure only that of the strong surviving, personal profit most cultivated on it. It was exhausting to go out into this place. Upon returning they’d collapse trying to reclaim their sense of what transpired ann taken during it’s detour. Both well educated in statues for which the society they lived functioned. They simply didn’t abide by them very well. The current form of lunacy had enacted without their consent so why should they participate? Was there a common election for the entire goings on?

 

They made their lives knowing what was at stake. It mattered not should you hold any impairment, for if you distinguished the traps, than half the path was clear. The other half up to you and your own ventures, quests. Out right demands, should you wish. Both weren’t demanding though before seeing each other across the busy street that late afternoon, both traveling on a particular trail of common idiocy. They were movers in their own genre capable and most important, dependable. She was a rising star with her own art gallery, some containing her own works, some from friends, never from those she detested. One of the stronger features produced. She has a decisive mind which calculates in a moment what lays beneath the surface in a person, very valuable with her line of business and social activities including romance. Not through ambition did she build her bridges, extending far beyond the city center, rather they came to her. She waited. Took time. And they come. Jovan was less fortunate. Always headstrong, take action, onward. It cost him profoundly. Close to his end they met were she then quieted and educated him.

 

And now this business with Hans which neither of them wanted has come into the picture of their life more prominently. Both felt it always best keeping a distance from him, be polite but that’s all. He maintained a dominating figure in the apartment complex telling people what to do, when to do it, and how to do, and of course why it should be done. People would get out of the way when they saw him walking on the sidewalk. He acted as if he was the apartment security. He was a big man well over 250 pounds and more than 6 feet tall. The only friend he seemed to have that of his dog whom he affectionately called ‘JB’ after the drink, was part malamute, part basset hound. The two seen often together always early in the morning around seven walking at a steady pace. His wife Lizzy however was a very different sort, younger by probably 30 years, it was obvious Hans had the money and she was in for it. But went together they did establishing a well rehearsed show when reviewed by a seriously intellectually impaired person, as genuine affection. The interesting note, she had money so what was she doing with Hans?

 

If you met Lizzy passing on the street you would notice very little except for one extremely distressing thing. She always dressed plainly not much makeup simply a little highlighting, and she always had with her a sheepdog puppy. It was hard to tell if it was the same puppy that just never seemed to grow or another since at that age is very difficult. All you knew they were white and gray, tail was cut and you could never see their eyes for the hair that fell upon them. Without the puppy she would look extremely boring but as soon as she had the puppy close to her in her arms where she always carried them something about her would change. A spring would come to her step a wider and whiter smile came upon her face. Talking with strangers wasn’t the problem the puppy simply were an outsource for communication, becoming a greater focal point for her world. If you were to visit her at the breeding facilities she owned you would see in her own right among the dogs, a star. Whether it is film, theater and other assorted arts she would shine brightly above the rest in her realm surrounded by what she holds most dear. And without that is to say what she would be? But so disquieting about Lizzy was you simply couldn’t focus, because you couldn’t keep your eyes from hers. They drew you in, removed all those protective layers we carried. Immediately you felt she could see right through all the way, past your present life, into anything you’d had in the past, and even if you didn’t believe in such things all would swear she knew the secrets they’d locked away not wanting them ever disturbed.

 

It became clear living near Hans and Lizzy took its toll. You can see the false shadows of their play act. If she was alone you see a depressed downtrodden individual but when she was with her animals she was queen, but from a different age. For most it would be unsettling to think she could actually communicate with the dogs that surrounded her. Of course there is the obvious connection that most have with animals but Lizzy seem to possess something a little different, something a little more, intense. It had been noted on several occasions customers saw her talking with the dogs as if they were students in a class and the dog simply got up and walked away as if they knew exactly what she was saying and all in different directions. Quietly and calmly they simply moved out toward their appointed quest. She simply informed others around her its dog training, pure and simple. However the breeding facilities never offered any formal training. And when questioned she simply smiled saying these are friends that are always with me.

 

Her facilities were renowned producing high quality sheepdogs for naturally, a considerable high price. Marketing was a fiasco as agents were constantly asking to brand her product. They thought of having sheepdogs on towels on sweaters, table cloths, sheets, shower curtains, dishes and bowls, cutlery, scarfs, thermoses, magnet for your refrigerator door. The list was endless. Her reply, ‘Why, when you can have real love.’ It made little sense to them either. If she’d market branded her goods they estimate she could make over 30 percent profit.

 

Hans, Lizzy, and Morton the groundskeeper for the apartments at times seen talking along one of the sidewalks running throughout the apartment complex. The apartments are in block style rising up to 18 floors with a series of seven blocks in total. Each floor consisted of 2 to 3 apartments depending upon their size and covered roughly a square mile in its entirety. Morton was in charge of all the grounds with a workforce of three women and four men. Women obviously did better caring for some of the plants than the men, in fact is generally stated in this line of work, women are much better at almost everything. It’s no surprise walking or driving you see men simply standing or sitting on the corners smoking cigarettes and gambling away. Most of the women do the heavy work, have greater care and understanding of how things should be managed yet you will have men in positions of power with absolutely no idea what to do. They are there only because they are connected with someone who could appoint them. Morton was just one of these men. He knew someone, who knew someone and through that has a very comfortable employment doing little but walking around and pointing fingers. The three of them work very well together. If they ran for government and won everything would be lost.

 

Morton liked JB in particular and it was often quoted they look similar to one another though not loud enough so Morton would over-hear. Indeed there was a strong resemblance. Every time they saw each other they’d roll around on the ground, and bothered Morton none the least to be completely filthy afterwards. He was always happy to be around Hans so what did it matter. Good buddies backslapping all the way to the bank for everyone knew Hans was wealthy and if he associated with Morton he must be as well. One day a plan was put forward to use high pressure water to clean off the sidewalks throughout the complex. It’s not for sure whose idea it was most likely Hans but it proved disastrous. Only after three days from the completion of the last part of cleaning the sidewalks started to crumble, its foundation weakened from the high pressure cleaning. No one was put to blame, no one asked questions, as if no one seemed to care. The golden rule being however, keep silent and be invisible. There was a complaint later from Hans concerning the fact that upon returning from one of his vacations there was a note posted in all the elevators alerting of a planned union forming for all occupants should they wish to state their suggestions, complaints, and concerns of the apartment complex. He was furious at not being notified this and took several hours for him to calm down but only after the superintendent assured him he would sit on the board committee for the union. They’d hoped he wouldn’t return from vacation during the election thus posting in his absence. But he did, bringing significant consequences. And if you were lucky enough to see the four, JB included, blocking the sidewalk pointing in all directions, writing their notes, screaming into phones, you realize, they were something which should never have been created.

 

Chapter 3

Laying Low

 

‘Phillips or flat head which!?’ Jovan’s father yelled. It wasn’t he didn’t love his father he was confused by him. His father was very good with his hands and to manage affairs but couldn’t manage his family. Jovan was the youngest of four sons, there was a 13 year difference between the first two and the last and this of course was a big surprise so when Jovan was born this belief his father had nine months previous he thought, must be his punishment. For nine months Jovan’s father wanders aimlessly struggling with this concept asking ‘Why, where, and how the fuck?’ into mirrors, doors, steering wheels, glass bottles, blank TV screen, small dogs, and cactus for they homesteaded in the desert, just about every place he went during the working day he would ask that question over and over, until it spilled out one night, at just that moment, while lying in bed next to Jovan’s mother that she had had enough and picked up the pan collecting the rainwater from the broken roof and dumped it on his head, yelling all the while ‘For the love of Christ shut the hell up goddamnit!’

 

Had Jovan known the real weight of those words his mother spoke he would not be in the situation he was right now for if so, things would’ve been much fuller of life. The fact is he only knew those words much later and with great difficulty and true understanding there meaning. He’d heard often his family talk about ‘laying low and get the job done’ but never was it so poignant while holding Aria’s hand in Hans and Lizzy’s kitchen feeling her energy tightening around his lips, keeping his heart still, listening to the three discuss summer holiday plans, did he want to scream ‘God what’s that on the counter!!’ but could not. Clearly there was some horrible malformed creature twisting, deep red and black fluids with long writhed hair trailing after, as it dragged itself slowly over the surface of their imported massive Swedish oak wood counter. Jovan felt her hand further constrict, his mouth drying-up. The smell consumed him. Bile climbed higher up his throat. He felt the greatest urge to vomit releasing a powerful jet retching upon the counter, walls, floor, ceiling for no doubt the pressure building in his stomach would certainly change the interior of this horror house they’d both entered. In a second lunch would join this insane gruesome parade. What ever tit was, humped its way, curling on a side then flopping forward with a sickening creep spattering fluid further around itself. In its movements there was something within also caring a motion as if trying to escape, pushing against a thin outer skin. It had a skeleton of thin bones struggling in motion and faint clicking sounds came from its movements. There was no-rhythm-of-movement here that was recognized, and the longer he looked at the abhorrence the further he felt from common surrounding.

 

Blisters would form, build, then erupt upon its skin loosening a thick, creamy purple and yellow which oozed spreading out along the body.

‘Well give me the south on a winter’s day anytime’ barked Hans.

‘Yes you do love that warmth don’t you?’ replied Lizzy.

‘Am telling you, there’s no other place worth living. Here we have inbreds can’t figure their own way across the street. There, we haven’t the inbred to care about!’ he squealed.

‘Now dear, remember what they said…’ rattled Lizzy.

Their conversation a faraway shadow related to what was happening on the counter before them. Jovan knew they must see this, smell this for the stench was unbearable. As each blister erupted it spouted forth a nauseating gas from hell’s own sewers causing his eyes and nose to scorch, and tasting of acid curdling in his throat. Yet beyond all this hopelessness he could feel an energy coming from it corroding his soul.

 

Watching this Jovan understood nothing of the world he knew. It had abandoned him. What moved before him was not from any dream he’d dreamt nor thought before, or curse given to another. No language for this existed. Not born from a circumstance or period this dwelled in places never expected, where no time was invented.

 

His screaming came in a rush. Not able to contain, it was thrown upon them with a force of beauty holding still the room in a silver and maroon light. Its pitch increased instantly causing a vibration in the light. Abruptly what crawled on the table screeched and twisted. It wanted to escape. The vibration and light produced an immense eruption of its fluids splashing onto the floor and over the front of their clothes. Writhing it slide along the table the skeleton stretching to break through the skin, finally could be contained no longer. It split open and set forth along the entire surface of the table a blackness of yellows, blood reds, dank greens, and countless off-springs that immediately began their own slow, no-rhythm-of-movement their creator possessed.

 

‘I’m expecting a call and we have to go.’ Calmly stated Aria.

Was there ever a time when talking ceased and thought prevails rendering the helpless their needed hand, then now was it. In that moment between thought and speech, or lack of comes the multitude of non-essential elements we’d always wished we never took on. Something we bought, which now we don’t need, which is broken, now laying in our way. First friends and lost ones. Or how to get out of this one. Sex. A blank mind. Any thought will cross a mind simply resting in the middle allowing a brief pause of our own defined sanity, that incurring silence taking hold, sweeping us off. Saved. In this way Aria planted a thought in Jovan’s mind of being still. Laying low. In her thought he receded toward a pointless place where what he just witnessed were no more than just shallow, distant whispers of near-forgotten childhood nightmares.

 

No more a silence crept in as does a thief at night than what stirred next. Slowly Jovan felt a heat that rose from the hand which held hers climbing towards the wrist, ever so gently caressing the two. As the warmth stimulated thus did it calmed him, his hold on panic gradually weaken. It did not move further along his arm nor did it intensify, only maintaining its constant sincerity. With that moment, the echo came.

 

‘I’m expecting a call and we have to go.’ He heard Aria calmly state.

The temperature of the kitchen they all stood first felt upon Jovan’s hand immediately, causing a sudden flinch through his entire body as the warmth seduced him was considerably higher in degrees then the room. In the shock, he wondered why she was speaking this yet again. He’d heard it the first time.

‘I’m expecting a call and we have to go.’ He heard Aria for a third time.

What phone call was she talking about and in so thinking realized upon the expensive Swedish oaken counter lay what had been there all along. Only a bowl with fruit which he choose an apple, now held in his hand, and not the warming hand he thought was Aria’s.

 

Nothing, only the bowl of fruit sat on the counter, being the object of his hallucination. A bowl with various fruits manifesting into the terrifying slithering creature which erupted, spawned hundreds of itself on the counter, floor and their cloths, was obviously not there.

 

‘Ready?’ Aria looked at questioning Jovan.

‘Suu…suu… sure.’ He replied a stuttering and put the apple in his pocket.

‘Always welcome.’ Said Hans smiling at them both.

‘Why yes indeed. Do come by or we can always have a chat on the walkway wouldn’t that be just?’ whipped Lizzy quickly not to be overshadowed by her husband. In the lowest shrill she added, ‘We often talk there with Morton. He’s so good with plants and things.’

‘I am sure we will.’ Replied Aria gently leading Jovan by the arm towards the door, which Hans slowly opened allowing both to leave but not without one final reply slapping Jovan on the back laughing, ‘Don’t go choking on that apple now. Hate for anything to happen to our two good friends.’

Aria turned and looked over Hans’s shoulder. Behind him stood Lizzy without her smile without her face for the world to see a form of justice from a different side. A face having driven a chill deep in everything.

 

The door closed behind them. Aria gripped Jovan’s arm severely pulling him quickly to the elevator door. This surprised Jovan tightened his muscles against her hand. Aria sensed before Jovan could whisper his fears quickly saying, ‘Not here.’ When finally the elevator arrived and the door opened they hurriedly stepped in, turning around to press the buttons for the decent, both froze. Hans was standing behind them. In his outstretched hand held their umbrella. Smiled seeing their surprise and fear relishing the moment before calmly declaring, ‘Something you forgot.’

 

The brief silence. The mind frustrated thinking of all the implausible activities out of this situation, which none seem to fit, become numb. Both indeed were quite shocked seeing Hans there. They never heard him approach. Undeniably this big man stood right there in front of the door. Could it have been, being so focused on what just transpired in the kitchen they were completely unaware of his approach?

 

It was Jovan who finally reached out toward Hans who gently placed the umbrella in his hand quietly whispering, ‘You never know when this might come in handy. Do ya?’

Jovan mumbled something incoherently while Aria smiled, both now stepping further back into the elevator away from the open door, which Hans placed a hand against its security keeping the door fully open. He seemed to grow inside the elevator doorway. The door tried to close on him several times, a mouth trying to bite down on its prey. But Hans’s hand kept the door in place, clearly he was enjoying every moment in this offering. Then slowly, shadows behind Hans changed. They grew darker and moved in different ways shadows shouldn’t. Jovan froze and Aria’s face grew grey and taunt watching the shades lighten then deepen till a most empty blackness now weaved between Hans’s legs and arms consuming him. Hans faded then appeared as the misting shades breathed over his hulking frame sliding over the shoulders. Downward it drifted where landing softly upon the floor of the elevator its color changed to that of a hideous blood red having dried some time before.

 

Both Jovan and Aria pressed against the tubular glass wall of the elevator seized in their breath a unity of disbelief, beyond any measure, as neither had witnessed such a sight before. With the dark red mist advancing toward them a movement caught Aria pulling her eyes up to Hans where slowly a pale bony-fingered hand crested over his right shoulder.

 

Suddenly a loud click bounded off the walls of the elevator and instantly a circle of blackness partially blocked Hans and the mist. Screeching came from the elevator’s doorway, it’s howling neither human nor animal stabbed with a fierce vengeful hatred. But the circle held. Again its scream tore at the black that stood between it and the two, but the circle would not give. Then silence.

 

A second later only Hans’s voice could be heard calmly state, ‘That’s supposed to be bad luck that is.’ It was Jovan who clicked open the umbrella between them, and lowering it there in the doorway stood nothing more then Hans with not a white bone hand, or mist to be seen. With that Hans stepped back into the hallway leaving the door to close on its own beginning the elevators decent.

 

Chapter 4:

Hardware

 

Ron had the time to talk with anyone. And often did. He’d repeat story’s frequently enough so those who knew him wondered whether he simply forgot he’d told them before, or Ron was looking at things a little different from most. Selling the chain of hardware stores developed over thirty-five years established him as a wealthy man. The ‘his-way or no-way’ policy of life placed him awkwardly next door to Jovan and Aria who had to adapt with his views and mannerisms which caught him crossing over ground none wanted. It was clear they enjoyed each other company but there are limits with all things. Light conversations and jokes were common simply because Ron was very secretive.

 

His past being an enigma only brought more questions Jovan and Aria didn’t want the answers of. There wouldn’t be any resolution with them therefore, it what’s the point in trying to understand much he spoke about. Only wondering how much he was able to understand about himself that puzzled Aria and Jovan most. True he was knowledgeable about his vocation with certain attributes. If straying way from those fields, one wasn’t brought into another picture entirely focused. Instead you were woven into areas your mind transfixed upon certain elements it was not sure, entirely existed. Elements disrupting the natural flow of your own reasoning, placing its ability into uncertainty. Was this a sales-pitch? A hurried form of new expression? Hadn’t knowledge dealing with such a form of lost support played enough with its bizarre abstract alignment expressing a desperate mate of fellow souls? Causing not only anxiety for both Aria and Jovan but Cale too would bark at the mere mention of Ron’s name. Cale knew if Ron was being discussed his barking allowed Aria and Jovan an understanding it should no longer be a topic. From that came a lighter side of their neighbor, a most unexpected result in having witnessed directly, how true madness affects perception.

 

Early in the evening Ron came walking up the stairs to his apartment because the elevator was being serviced when he caught sight of something in the corner on the third floor next to the window. Being a creature of forced habits brought through childhood lessons taught from those not wishing anything to do with Ron, in fact they’d just assume he’d never been a thought from his father’s tingling, contracting balls prior to unceremoniously screwing his mother on the kitchen counter while fellow colleagues of work whom just 20 minutes earlier had seduced his subornment friend’s wife into spreading her legs declaring the husband would profit most come salary time so in fact they were actually helping him while stifling her well-wanted orgasm with the kitchen towel, boozed it up in the backyard on the national holiday barbecue. And those habits did hit their particular mark for Ron producing a true sign indeed we have very little control in our lives, that we will lose bodily functions when reaching a certain age or accident, caused from excessive intake of strong drink, and of foods, drugs, and in theory, chronic masturbation leaving most of the male population little hope for, so why not blow the brains all the way till it ends. Of course there are groups today mentioning the reason why we suffer so, and with such glee, stems from our lack of faith for that higher divinity, as it too shall be the cause of malformed off spring, or so for some believed. Males then looked upon females this derived from their undoing with Eve screwing-up not simply giving Adam enough blow jobs and not letting him go down on her in that tall grass, hearing soft mummers of her passion, but instead that higher being’s scream to get the fuck out of My Garden!

 

As Ron stopped, focused, looking into that corner on the third floor next to the window, all this crossed his mind. It also hung on the very same detail he’d submerged, buried miles under the sea floor in the days of youth when all the treachery from those around him at there crowning, in the brilliance of that neglected vision for none of them would ever see, his true vista. And that was what spoke to him as he walked slowly to the third floor window and stood in its corner. ‘Now you are myself’ he spoke to conscious. A grin broke from his brain onto the face spreading dry cracked lips wider causing a pain he’d only notice after he was safely again behind his lock mind of composure, but for now whispered in proclamation, ‘Let my freedom swing wide and let me take what is blameless for I have seen the side of man that shall not be ever challenge by none the lesser!’ And Ron did begin his downward bend reaching into that corner never to return again whispering softly all the while, ‘Sweet times I say to thee, oh this land shall be of misery.’

 

Chapter 5

Thought’s Holiday

What ever happened to knowledge? Had it been placed alongside other mistaken areas, forgotten for another hundred centuries? It seemed so. How else could this have become so foul had thought not taken time off when it did.

In knowing these terms, through common understanding, being lost wasn’t as bad as first believed. Why wouldn’t you just wonder off? Why hadn’t it happened more frequent, with honest intentions? Crushing foot falls pronounced their own language clearer, always a mission but never reached. Driven, Jovan had limited time, working of which meant focusing more intently then he’d wished. Loosing track of any time grew costly. In youth that commodity was all too abundant, weeds springing forth after rains opened their lives fuller, its complex adaptive system ensuring growth.

The weeds of his mind broke anchorage from reality that afternoon with Hans and Lizzy while Aria closed his inspiration, the reflected likeness appeared closest than it had ever. It enjoyed a sense of reason most never, would understand, a moving method unseen. Jovan’s creativeness appeared only in Aria’s mind where both roamed free, unrestrained from common requirements held by the greater population surrounding them. They controlled a different rule with bounds set only in their limitations.

Aria too saw what Jovan did that afternoon in the kitchen at Lizzy and Hans’s apartment. Jovan first noticed it and his fear caught him, with the reaction alighted onto Aria, she took hold of his hand. Jovan for most outwardly impressions always possessed a cool, somewhat distant attitude, very different to his inner domineer. Always a struggle for him it was in maintaining this. Both his out and inwardly worlds resided upon a thin, fragile line, held in condition through Aria’s efforts and love of him.

She had to reinforce herself within him, often steadily. His greatest fault was time. He always lost track of what was going on, admitting it regularly without prejudice. Jovan naturally knew why he suffered from a serious lack of time management, and could speak of it. Why would it really matter anyway, most didn’t care unless it involved them directly. Those who knew Jovan, knew he’d be late and they’d adjust accordingly. Apart from Cale and Aria, Jovan didn’t bother staying with any schedule. Fact was he didn’t care for anyone much, except those two. His connection being stronger with animals then humans appeared early in life as a child whose adolescence in the rural desert catered mostly in tending the needs of farm animals they kept. They were simple and direct, completely different to that of people.

Being with Aria intensified this connect. Cale reacted with little or no command. Hans’s dog JB was always friendly as were other dogs within the apartment towers. They’d wait for him and as he passed wag their tails yapping for attention he’d take time to often give. Their human counterpart would comment and Jovan would nod his head or smile all the while talking with the animal enforcing his understanding toward their confusion as why were humans so unbelievable dumb, and smelled horrible. They had a common language none knew of nor even perceived, except Aria who helped foster his feelings not only for creatures, but of all nature, even the brutes there-in. ‘That was a fine line not worth crossing for love nor money.’ His mother would say. But he wasn’t after either and needn’t worry crossing such. These bullies and thugs, beasts and monsters crawled and slithered right along with saints. But saints forgave as the doctrine to do so. Jovan didn’t. He kept record of their atrocious, their feigned savior acts displayed for the deaf and blind, who in turn believed these appalling artists as they too desired a clean soul, and they ushered them with clapping hands and whistle’s, ‘Yes do beat and burn, we need it all!’ they would endlessly rant. The insanity hadn’t shown favoritism. People simply sold themselves of their own maddening accord. When lunacy flames those fires; thought is useless. So it abandoned those who claimed wanton yearnings and as it withdrew, laughter came forth. Laughter none heard nor certainly not expect for they hadn’t a thought this was a trade, as undeniably that’s exactly what it was.

Had they known laughter’s intentions they wouldn’t have gone or maybe they would have. More often than not, there is always confusion. And in that place for many, they find a home. Always with a wanted need, always with a searching heart. There come demands. For most, they can never be met. Sometimes on that distant place that we always want to go, we always know as home. No matter what happens no matter where we go we feel inside ourselves and need and desire fools us. It is a visual world we live in and thought has very little emotion. One we must understand with more then half full of greed, and realize half of them are greedier.

Of the black humor that takes care of things, a custodian having the ability of removing our mistakes, seldom has rest. Aria and Javon were custodians of their own thoughts and ideas but in a way, trapped. In creating their own, environment, they could become very bored. To the point they would think of lying. And in lying there was no hope.

So would you want? They both knew. This silly game played, this forgotten identity. A forgotten place due to their dissatisfaction. They dreamt about ideas they only shrug their shoulders when confronted with a common thought something different, something illustrated something brought to them by another idea, and it was with that, they built things upon. Deep down they realized there was no ‘true’ emotion in it all. Deep down they knew they had to govern. No idea how to do that. None at all. Only a wanton desire of hope and prayer and thought, but none of it, was true. For it was ripped from them with great vengeance, and in revenge they swore of trusting only on another.

You always knew the insides of your dreams. Sometimes, they were a white wall, everything with a proper shape. And sometimes, they were a prolonged pain being corruptive. Yes, sometimes they were just ideas, the thoughts, always the thoughts which shaped. Gave vision to that inner self, its fervency. Always the same wherever you went, with never a direction. Was always some sort of lesion carried in a wanton hope to some forgotten desert place of despair dying. Slowly. And where was that hope? You prayed every day. Every, day. You rocked yourself you took yourself. Then woke from that drunken sleep which ordains you because it was the safest place. It was the only place, where sleep was the freedom, for its wine tasted good. Then, and for them, the voices were always clear, extremely pronounced, desire most positive. You were traveling, mattering not where nor what you did. Who cared? The point being, is there any idea the two thought into anything, ever done? Or had that too taken a holiday?

Chapter 6

Cellar Glass

‘I wish I had a mind that could have really coped. That it could do things. Its main adventure would be to learn. That would be nice.’ Who thought this often? A mantra sort of silly thing of time and place that meant nothing. Which was the idea. And became a closed place. It could not understand, no one could really deal with, all thought was insane, they all hoped it would shut up, but what point was there, with no real desire? What could they do between the monkeys? The most possible. Wanted its own things, knowing not what it had. It was too difficult. So it would not have that. Any of it.

Was so simple. That was just that. Simple time and simple plans whose majesty was always the grace. Whose cheapness was a lie, desire that cared not of anything, but of its own. Who wanted nothing, cared nothing for, thought a clock of their own, its own timing, and zone alarm of its own. How simple it would be. The issue was, nothing would happen that thought could hold. But it did not. It crumbled, having not a consideration. Often the imploration, ‘Please help me for I have not chosen this path and will do anything to get rid of it’ The two-bit gambler having never been paid off. Straight, never given a chance, and always late.

Such as a rat trained in jumping through a door for food, they could not grace whose emptiness was that of a folded map having not a list of treasure. They could not hold. So, the brokenness that all have, a time always desolate, began anew.

And whose fellow owners were never the ones? From the time always known greatness shall be shown. Waiting for that one moment always felting, shown on to ones that saw, this emptiness. So what could be had from training a rat? Once the rat was strong and brave, knew all the paths ahead, which turn meant what, now lay only with its madden despaired pair of blacked eyes, staring. It was sure, the rat, the door would open if pushed hard enough. So it pushed till its nose bled a hundred hours. And it knew, the rat, something else would come. If the food didn’t. After running with terror, the rat, near exhaustion, surrendered. As it knew it would. But tried, the rat, couldn’t evade what came next.

The rat thought. Its nose, still bleeding twitched, stretching for any sign of what it had only known beyond the door. Then it came. Never really knowing. And could only hope. The rat suddenly shrieked, then fell dead. They had taken the time for themselves. Were the rats thought in releasing a final inspiration? Often lost and confused they hadn’t any attention or knowing of what to say. Have they any dreams, tried with images, ones that were or how to be?

But only dreams. Or not. Had, it, the rat, died knowing, realizing, finally where the food lay? The rat, it, often looked into a glass placed there for the sole purpose in bringing about the question and hopeful answer faced by all, of, ‘Who’s that looking at me?’ and later, ‘Will it hurt?’ all subjected from glass which replied exactly as it is shown. If so, what had the rat, it, seen, and logically produced from this analogy? Was the act of death its signal, for the rat, a moment of, perhaps, evolution? And this being the insurmountable force it may at times contain, for the potency of which has shown to generate a collapse of spirit, a trigger for suicide. Therefore, it could be stated, after accessing the conditions, it, the rat, killed itself. Maybe. Or was it killed? Or not.

What of this knee-jerking glass the rat, it, looked into, shrilled, and then died? What pesky-standard are its definitive nature? If it, the rat, was assassinated what rules, if any, were used in contracting it’s, if any, executioner? And could the nature, be proved, if any, alteration every existed after it’s death?

Whatever placed it, the rat, together with the glass, might have clues. What design of thinking prompted this act must have set well with the rat, it, till causing its death. Maybe. Might it, the rat, been content, till the door locked preventing it, the rat, from reaching food, and if this is true then it, the rat, died in peace. If that were true then why did it, the rat, cry out before dying? Was it fear causing it, the rat, to shriek? Possibly. So, what put these two together must have the answer, otherwise why would such an event take place? Why would the door suddenly be locked should be the prominent question asked. But to what? It, the rat, is dead and nothing will be spoken from it. Maybe.

Is it possible it, the rat, can give some measure all this? It is dead, from fright it would seem. Or not. In turning all the facts aside what remains is it, the rat, is no longer present. Here. Yes that is true. Not here anyway. True. Not to confuse things, rather to plainly eliminate falsehoods. True. Still, the key remains with why the rat, it, died in this method, in this place of cellar glass?

Chapter 7

Lasting Calling

Why was the calling so peculiar? What when through its mind? Some rudimentary patterns etched long ago before its birth? It made sounds, and only it, early before anything else. It had a horizontal twisted pitch actually sounding as if there wasn’t one at all. Was it simply in the mind? While asleep? So as a dream took time unrolling a sleeping thought, now too was its change of birth.

And the light grew bright while walking in the sunny morning. Or so it seemed. The day before left Jovan and Aria damp, as the clammy stench mixed in their cloths and breath drifted off them while following the low hill path toward the old cottage. A ‘knowing’ lay ahead, having witnessed the elevator and Jovan’s subsequent kitchen episode. Waiting as a waiting must with endless long-suffering, but no hope would be claimed in time preventing all said and done before. It was before that held them both together; children tightly bound with no wonder left but that consistent clean white though which came when called. And when so did, happened a great shudder splitting earth itself, in-two.

Well, if such a thing did chance wouldn’t there be proof? Wonder a while and take deep long breaths so the feeling of being warm filled your skull, heating, letting the ringing in your ears grow as your focus twiddled. And not forget what seen is seen clear, that what held your attention may not rest, as capture it you might, but you haven’t the sight. For your only thought is fright, in that dead of… Then again you could welcome such thoughts. Should time for them be had, in a place becoming mad.

But you woke. And it was all just a simple dream of threads left-over from the past weaving their memories. Now what harm can that be? Needn’t worry of things not seen, nor even those seen. You had a slight misunderstanding is all. You see everything is clearer now, now that you’re feeling yourself. Isn’t it? Now, in a moment or two you’ll feel right as could be, just as nothing happened at all. And all those silly dreams you had will run away not to be seen again! And you’ll wonder had you any dreams at all? Isn’t that grand? Of course it is, now let’s hold that breathe a little longer and all will be as right could be. Those tears down your little faces will be swept away never to grace your pretty sunshine…what’s that now? You don’t believe this? You want to go? But you are here. There isn’t any place to go too. And why would you? Don’t you like it here? Isn’t it splendid? Look at all these moments and treasures you have. What? You don’t want the moments, or treasures? What do you mean it’s too loud? It certainly isn’t loud and why would you want to leave? No, there isn’t anything to do about the loudness as it isn’t LOUD! Alright go then. I won’t stop you. No and I don’t care if you do get lost. It’s your head should it be found out. Yes it will. Of course I won’t tell. For goodness, what is it now? First you’re going and now you’re staying. Are you sure? Well I don’t want you. No. It’s what you said before that hurts the most. Now you must go. Quickly before they come. For sure they will come don’t be silly, you know they will. And they will know, you know they will. I know they will, so I’m not worried. You are? Certainly, but you choose this so it’s your own problem. Yes it is. Now hurry along you haven’t any time at all now. Stop that! I told you it’s what you said earlier. What do you mean you don’t remember? Of course you did. No. You cannot be sorry it’s too late. No, I won’t accept it. Not at all. Alright that’s enough! Get along or you’ll be in worst trouble then you already are.

The conversation with her sister flashed through Aria as she felt her hand losing its hold. Fingers unraveling. The palm cooling as it pulled away. She was losing and soon would slip if no… A scratching whine rolled over as a wave tossing, forcing thoughts to wonder. Her hand opened fully and she fell…

Jovan’s neck oozed that dark red he’d seen before. Not the brighter one which on occasions happened, but the one clearly defining a time just before dying. This wasn’t his only anxiety. Drawn to the darkness of its color he longed for more. Flowing along his arms feeling the warm thickness built as a river blocked then swelled passing its submerged obstacle, forming another path, reminding him of snow and wind. How the two self-possessed one another. How they dance. Embrace. A love. The dark maroon lake grew around his waist. Always he turned, an actual physical action when seeing something known before, pulling his body. Most often it was a sense than a sight catching him. And always his mind hummed, a sort of ancient groan rising deep from some time having no markers for passage. The entire mind throbbed only an instant causing a break in this present, losing sound, yet gaining an entrance. Images formed. Smells ensued. Like a broken film they played before him not entirely viewable rather, absorbed, as a plant with rain. Yet, there wasn’t a control. If you left your goods in a plastic bad while it rained, the bad would fill. And if you left the bag for others to find because you didn’t want it, what then became of the goods? Your intentions were of goodness; still everything became wet in the bag. Unless there was a hole. Would it matter? The goods would still be wet. A mind full, however difficult appreciating signals. A saw cutting long and deep through stone rides a person’s nerves.

It was a tale after all. And you should know what happens isn’t real. Unless you want it to happen. How would that work if you did? Would you change much? More with your liking. Something of your own character placed along the lines. A comforting feeling instead of what you read before. Indeed that is the simplest way isn’t it. One you can count on for certain. Not worried of what you’d encounter next now would it. Sweet it would be you’d think. How your words would fill the minds of others giving scent of oneself, isn’t it so?

They both wished that. Having a thought of your own was natural from birth. Now they’d wished coming from their mothers hadn’t happened at all. Their own conception hadn’t taken place wouldn’t even have been a thought. Now isn’t this a dream? Or something just before you dream? What’s that called? That place after falling asleep, right before your fantasy begins? Some say it’s a school of sorts. Learning. Yes that seems right. You’d go first to study, and then dream. Finding first your department of course before setting off. It would be in your own ‘halls of ivy’ gathering all your studies on what your coming aspiration would show. Allowing you afterwards a clear understanding of what you dreamt. What then if you happened to be in the wrong department? Is there such a place? Most certainly what follows would be not of your intention. You’d not understand a thing of what you dream meant. Aria knew this. As she fell though it couldn’t be more different. This was real. A fatal real. Losing Jovan’s hand, not together, she went to the wrong department. And it felt like you’d never tried anything in your life just before the inevitable approached at the end. You truly wasted everything.

Then the sawing started. Lightly it came into the thoughts, only slightly noticed caused of the itching felt. This crawling began just behind the right eye. And it grew slowly from something not at all till something reached around filling the surface of the eye. All at once it grasped inward tearing through the center searching a home. In all this, was not the slightest pain felt. But it was witnessed. By the conscience holder, who for a time only thought of food and thirst. It was true, half are blind and the other can’t gather at all a single thing. Going about their own aims for hire, there lies only a very few gazing deeper towards sight holding that ambience close where thoughts seed its vacant desert. There is argument whether a desert is however barren. The First saying there is nothing, The Second smashing The First witless giggling the while because it just came from there. Seeing what had happened with The First, The Seconded began screeching. It all started long ago this disagreement. It’s the nature of the two beasties. Always at each other.

She woke on a floor. At least her mind. The rest wasn’t working well enough to do anything. It just refused. There wasn’t a meaning for it. But the mind began searching right away knowing everything made it alone. That too is the nature. A short while ago things were as expected. Does it do well another side exists? Is it really needed? What happens to all the wondering? An archived death? Must it be explained? For Aria everything was expected. Yet with all that she was always bound. Unable to reach far enough was the whipped slash felt while wakeful. Asleep it was something very different. Constructing a bridge of the two was a constant effort, making certain of maintain both distinct places were greatest. There was firm understanding of them as apart, yet often their meeting being more apparent. In distinguishing between the other, arose another situation; which do you trust?

Aria wasn’t sure yet of the surrounds but was aware of falling, the cabin, and of losing Jovan. Something was missing? There was another part. Tracking back seeing them again, they both walked towards the cabin. They were about 10 meters from the porch. He was talking about summer flowers, but abruptly stopped then turned his head north. At the same time a loud crack caught them both and he feel onto her pulling them to the ground. Two more sharp cracks, the snow jumping a few centimeters above his head then fell covering the face. He had fallen on his side, her left arm pinned at the elbow under him. Shouting while pushing him over trying to pull free, it’s when the blood started flowing through the snow towards her she thought – What has changed? There wasn’t before. How could there be now. Deeper she pushed her awareness. It was summer. They were going to spend time in the cabin. Sharp noises. Falling. Snow. Blood. Her mind whispered. Summer. Warm. Birds. Another crack this time closer, next to them it being so loud. Jovan’s head whipped with a jerk at the sound. She saw his face torn away as the noise knocked through her. Blood covered everything, only his forehead remained. The distance of a hand separated the two, she could see his life still pumping through shattered bone and tissue. His heart still beating forcing thick red from him onto an ever increasing blacked ground. The suffering sight revolted their world. And it began to shudder. A vibration felt building deep below the ground rose forth, turning it and its cover into an ocean picking and holding them both up into its wave-crest. Screams and further explosions slashed the air. A retching zip sounded, cutting around them, with bullets piercing the wave. Jovan’s body lifted off Aria’s arm, turned then disappeared below the surface into this ocean-ground depth. She reached but only caught a small handful of cloth from his jacket. It was the last thing she felt. Held, she could not reach further, but only followed his body with its smoky-blood trailing, passing into the dark.

A yelling undistinguished further then near, glided around her. Rolling on her back floating with the ocean-ground, it was difficult comprehending what occurred. Her head dipping under the surface produced muted sounds. Glancing along her body Aria saw the snowy ground pass over her just as water from a sea. Raising her hands indeed showed the dark-crimson color dripping. Something on her left made her glance, as her body drifted with the ocean past the cabin. As she passed its old wooden structure, with it the times they spent locked away, naked half-crazed passion biting, it slowly tiled and began to sink. She could hear its moaning timbers as they shifted under the swelling pressure. There were loud pops as timbers broke within and in a moment it was gone under the surface. A rich life passed, moaning. It too knew and felt that first shudder far below. What the cabin touched then would reach out and take a hungry grasp bringing it deep, under, into that forgotten place all wish not remembered. And it was that act of forgetfulness which feed another. So in all those above the surface none seemed nor willingly nodded the fact, but only when asleep did it stir, reminding them of a payment due. And it always searched for any sign, but none would give at any time. Silly they moved along their way, noticing nothing gone astray. Till the mauling of the thunder, with its every lasting calling.

Chapter 8

The King

Oh was that ever needed. Not eating the seeds of the date. Rather the meat of the fruit itself. But if not careful, small bits of its seed might cause a breaking of not only teeth, but train of thought. What happens then should you lose that most valuable part? That which has no real piece, but swells in you? It’s argued without this you would have bliss and misery. And that too seems basest, or so they say. Are what they say affecting anything more then what they think? A holiday without its day. Even Death took a day off. And then you’re rudely awakened. Your peace interrupted. Damn, the entire train of thought derailed sending its load snaking off coursing, soon to join those that once gambled your thoughts with coherence, but before slams you into thinking ‘I’ll remember. I promise,’ and departs like the good whore it really is. Bastard. For once you’d kill without thought. Just to have it back again. Whatever the tune would be you’d pay. Gleefully. Knowing if you hadn’t things would happen. Nasty things. Nauseating. Things that shouldn’t even been conceived in the minds of any young, fashionable, new-set, pre-Madonna tormentors. But they did. And they were liked. Very much so. And they grew too. And became even more liked. In fact they were liked so much they became worshipped. And after adoring them for so long they became, the rule. And everyone was in their own right to do any damn thing and they were well pleased in doing it to, with anyone or thing. And my was it a holy sight beheld with all the saintly signs and charisma of something mighty and noble coming across a wasted land of inconsistent, vial corrupt down-right good ol’ time which absolutely no one wanted to relinquish in any shape, or form not even upon word of death. And their lucid thoughts growing less. Happiness comes in many colors. Proclaimed when refrigerator doors slammed. And he felt that, when woken suddenly screaming, ‘I want to be selfish. What everyone in the world is. Absolutely no one living on this planet can call themselves “not selfish”. Its human nature. Telling someone to not be selfish is like telling someone to stop being human. GODDANM IT!!’

It lasted only briefly, but stayed deep within till the next time. It always flittered away but left twisted, perverted pieces, shrouds of rusted metal and splinters scattered about, lying where dropped. Some had little hooks grabbing, and tearing, snagged on whatsoever. And they found their way inward. And they loved that. It was their best undertaking. Writhing till it struck. Yes. Most happily. With no repentance either. None. And why not? Who would ever complain? Think of those consequences. And their echo? That’s right. How often were they forgotten. There was nothing in comparison. The cold sweat formed with its drilling hangover as a driving companion, had no justice in mind when seeking refuge with such an act. To ‘forget’ was not just a circus on some bad hallucinogenic drug you’d take out of boredom. By far, it was much worse. In the simplest of terms, explained, for the relief of some reading herein wanting anchorage from this cruel storm now thinking, ‘My God man, what the hell is going on here?!’ We must abide their burning desire for escaping. It is their cause which brings us together. Yet, are the first stampeding, like a troop of monkeys, all having one wooden leg, trying to kick the seeds out of a pickle. What rhythm. And we’d forgotten that entirely, too.

So it wasn’t all together unnerving, knowing forgetfulness would rule. Facts had to be apprehended. At least that could be controlled. A form of expressive stupidity. A savior, not having to pray too, was born, with its companion, the shit-eating hound. Both running wild in cultures magnificent orgy for ‘I think therefore, I’m lonely’ crew, when a question stopped the train; ‘What if the bulb burns out?’

Now you’re getting ahead of yourself here. Go back and see what you did. If you don’t, it will become very confusing and they’ll just fold-up. Make sense. It looks like a bad dream of yours, and you want to tell everyone. And so prolific. Can’t you just do this normally? Nobody cares, and certainly they won’t be interested in compassion any further in whatever it is you’re trying to say.

And, so, he thought even further. ‘What if I forgot I had done something very bad to someone very bad?’ Well, that’s sure a situation. But ruling thumb would want to understand better before making any debate concerning how bad was it, and to whom had it been done it too? Indeed, it sounds there begins here a story one might want assurance an involvement within would only be looked upon as one simply in the pleasure of a better appreciation in facts, and therefore, obtain a full pardon should any accusations be granted upon them. An honored observer. Naturally. Without prejudice.

Alright then. ‘And what if I liked doing bad things to bad someone’s?’ he thought. Well why not. It could be relaxing, therapeutic. A new found hobby. You know what most say, if we disclose our true self, we’d be killing each off. So why not go public with it then? Come on live it up! Yes that’s all there is too it. Just let go of your retched-self. You’ll feel so much better. And you want that. Don’t you. You naughty.

But will you feel remorse? Spoil it all. Of course not silly! Think of the good times you’ll have doing bad things upon even the worst people. No need to have misgivings. Are you kidding, hell they’ll do the same for you, if you not too them first. Am I right? So what’ll you say? Want a go at it? You know…have that rush you always wanted after seeing the first nasty bits one inflicts upon another. Of course you do. Don’t be shy. And think of all the people you’ll meet! Well hell that’s reason enough isn’t it? Damn straight! Now all you have to do is simply pick up that dumb phone. That’s all. Simple as simple could be! Sure. And most of all it’s free. You needn’t worry about it costing you a cent. But here’s the kicker. Are you ready? I didn’t want to say anything but since you’re a swell guy with that high powered intellect and all, are you listening? Well see, if you’re good enough and clever enough, are you ready because I’m going to let you in on a little corporate secret here. But I have to know if you’re listening as I’ll only say it once. Sharpen-up now. Clear. Are ya set? Alright then. You can get paid for it. I know. I know. It’s unbelievable! Isn’t it! Actually earn! No, no I’m not kidding here. See. That’s the trick. They will pay you. Yes. Yes. I thought the same. Are they fuckin’ crazy? But it’s true. And that’s not the best part of it. I was saving that for now because I knew telling both in the same sentence would give you cause for your own death. See. But here, wait this here’s the gem. Breath. You need to breath. You look a little pale there. A bite much ah? Settle. Settle. You want to wait with this? Are you sure? Alright then. So, the best part in all this see. Is. You’ll get addicted. I shit you not! Devotee. Preacher. You will be. Oh YEAH!! Your own Prince of Affliction I’m talking. Hell, just when you think life is gay or boring, wham-o. And this is one damn-ass thing. So. Are you in? Now how could this hold any resistance? The candy-man cometh delivering an ill-gotten, but deserved booty.

His lips were dry in all this thinking. ‘Well. Now I have a choice,’ he thought. The paths ahead burned brighter, sand built up on with their sides from other well intended merchants who had near identical considerations. At the same instant thinking, ‘Brethren folk travel where I stand now’ made his skin crawl, growing warmer. Hot labored breath floated up into his nostrils thick with hair and fowl growths. Loving his own reek, closing his eyes savoring the stench thinking of what lay before, his genitals throbbed. Always. ‘A good sign,’ his mind talked. The closer to deciding, the more aroused he became. The agitated fit of masturbation released any disconcert or inability of decision grew upon him. He felt his shirt bulging as thick-forested hair on his back developed its erection. Cultivating dampness his arm-pits liberated pheromones, coiling, snaking the conscience further along that decision of which path must be preferred. A choice. Always a choice. ‘Had taken one ending in misery. Now be sweet, my little ones. Tell me the manner you so desire.’ The thinking complained. ‘Don’t be nervous. You’re wanting brings us with others. They get on well together. My littles. Save what’s good, yes, wanting more juicy dee..lights. You will.’ Imprisoned. Liberation, desperate freedom started its chewing. Anger embarked. ‘This or that. Mmm. Now, can’t be close. Close, can’t be now.’ His will shaped a diversion needed. If his spent orgasm happened now loss of any hope would take hold, and the fear would set-in. The hands itched. Insects burrowed long ago, now eggs opened from their mothers festering womb spilling out with thick intent. ‘I know,’ all screamed at once. ‘I know what you need!’ They swam over his hands, then skin covering arms. ‘Gnaw me.’ His whispering called them. ‘Gnaw good. Make my hot hard; take you bitch’s good like. Sweet. Want.’ Mauling further they spread along inner thighs. Skin ripped with a tear. Huge gashes leaped along the legs and calves. Blackened fire oozed, dripping. Little beasties labored along the waist, matted hair and flesh bubbled with their hungry anger. Skin shudder violently, rolling storm this thin spherical, dome-shaped film filled with immoral wrong burst as a cork from its bottled prison upon the surface of a world mad with itself. His malicious bubbly drink filled of excessive craving, free now, with a purpose, poured forth. ‘You. I know.’ Gurgled deep his voice calling, ‘Hide. Can’t. Way is clear. Take you deep like.’ Spasms tore, bone violently cracked splitting open the chest, from which a great malignant hand reached deep outward then lifting the world and all did know, the ceasing had begun. And there would be change, beyond where none was. A reverence with beyond. For it. Wanting. Expecting.

Clouds parted and the sun shone through. Lie in wait for something. To be waiting to catch or attack. All ripe for the taking. Sufficient lack of any real hope pushed elements further than projected. There weren’t clouds to be parted, nor sun and its radiant quality. A trick ensued what vomited upon all known, and that yet capable. So crafted was it many hadn’t the inclination of subtle preservation. Even forewarned, they’d behave in disbelief. Owing only unto themselves an enclosed perception of which nothing ever would stand, apart their dreaming’s at night, of truth. Oddly truth, would manifest on a constant basis. Yet, constantly being misconceived since, well, typically everything began really, truth became a tool used in furthering one’s self. Eventually light came forth in a basic, principle question stipulating how, could this, occur. How indeed. With truth reeling, another position sprang onto a domain of incoherent probabilities oversee others, that of manipulation. With this cause and effect in-play, thought Aria, ensuing from a particular establishment and background of usual qualities and required character regarded as representative, it ultimate breed, The King of Chaos.

Chapter 9

Fire Trucks and Baseball Figures

‘Well I’m confused. I mean, whose idea was it for him to be in the store?’ stated Ron. ‘It doesn’t make any sense and confused me through the whole movie,’ he grumbled. Sure of one thing Jovan thought Christ, was he actually paying that close attention to the scripts of such a ludicrous film? He’d seen it with Aria too, but after a few minutes watching they both agreed might just as well appreciate anything but the writing here as little else could be found in modern cinema. It was about the effects. Computer generated information locking away a person’s imagination was an agenda the film industry wished to maintain. Authentic script died years ago, replaced with a sense of understanding it would only return in a hundred generations. In such a span of time what reoccured would be at best, left-up to weaken by-gone souls unable of little comprehension other than their inept ability of questioning who they are.

And that’s just how Ron began his life. An imitation rhetorician stating too anyone stupid enough in listening, he’d seen and done it all to, and no one knew as much as he. How many of his kind were out there? And what powers they held over others? Fear and disgust can shackle a good mind while adding emphasis too such thoughts. Nothing accomplished while holding such produced ideas. All reasoning powers left abandoned on some forgotten godforsaken scorched highway. And that’s just what they wanted. Everything forgotten allowing new and wondrous beginnings. Yes. Considerations contained. Anything, was possible.

But animals don’t forget, humans apart. Inherent qualities remain, though muted. Within those hundred generations since Jovan knew his collection was viable. Associations were needed. Cataloging. Referencing. Vision. Quantative outcomes obtainable. While it burned into him, what Cale discovered initiated the change longing to happen, a consequence of something. All part of the great plan. Primal productions of an outcome yet revealed. And so that long path expanded into a plain. And on the plain, there came a river. And on the river, came a boat. And on the boat, rode a child. And on the child, draped a cloak. And on the cloak, shown a woman. And on the woman, there was a hand. And on the hand, there was a mark. And on the mark, there was a sign. And on the sign, there was a word. And the word was, χονχεαλ.

Could Ron and his conscripted kind, perceive with their eyes and formulate anything, but their own to what this word meant? Cale loves chasing his red ball across the hills. He’d loose it at times, but come the following trip sniff it out under thick forest branches of shrubbery. Was that possibility even required of Ron’s folk? The art of cohesive reflection often enough, lays with the past. There is little you can achieve should what brought your life, hold nothing more than the simplest of thoughts. During the rain, a turkey will drown. Mesmerized by falling water, it will gaze endlessly at the source. Not even the sense in closing its beak, till the gullet ruptures might it therefore understand. What potential will alter the turkeys’ inevitability?

Aria considered carefully in Ron’s rambling in that distant of great conquests done throughout his impressive life, just how he came too being. His parents must have been some throw-back of genetic misconduct, yet here he stood arms raised holding each corner of the doorway emanating the usual, repulsive body odor he always carried. Worst, he was shirtless. With baggy knee length orange running shorts, his turtle-skin, once holding a muscular form, hung in sags as billowing clouds of thick flesh slowly swung in his loud speech, becoming aware only in his existence from the on-set of earliest life.

Her thinking drifted past the door he blocked, onto the walkway below where Hans stood in the shade, smearing sweat along the back of his neck with a small towel always carried while moving, stirring, for Hans never really walked. Like a rodent at night, he’d move in short almost convulsive, deliberate sequences causing her to think of those early films, the frames skipping along, and fitted with this world, in how things so un-absolute looked. In Hans hating the sun, Aria consideration what he was attempting. Puzzlement began its creeping. Tingling felt on the back of her arms pulled her senses deeper, watching his movements closely. Something was happening. It hadn’t yet but was just about too. Only forming. As a bubble taking shape just before floating away, having that beautiful glimmering shine its different colors expanding. The prickling grew, curving over her shoulder blades. Rapidly moving down along her sides and middle-back it began to thicken. And burn. She smelled and heard Ron, but faltering it became. His speech had changed. Her mind controlled its desire for understanding. There wasn’t enough time. If allowed, she’d remind herself what just took hold here. Of her seeing Hans and hearing the alter in Ron, in all that of a flicker, an unspecified event occurred. Where on the left, behind Hans, just past him but not too far, there was a shape, moving in the fashion just as Hans with jerks and stature.

In the understanding of Ron, that situation held little importance in relations with Hans. That’s where the focus lies. Her attention drawn towards a clear indication of serious intermittent actions constitutes, in the broadest of meaning, for one important quality aimed primarily in forming a declaration of intent to cause harm. While its full impact slamming into Aria the threat produced flowering shadows within her thoughts forcing a disordered concentration, allowing in that nano-moment, the burn outs delivery.

Just turned seven, Jovan woke alone in his room shared with his brother seventeen months elder. It was summer, the open widows allowing voices and various other undistinguished distant sounds to drift along adobe walls. Being neither old nor new in structure, the desert house faced one inescapable and constant test. Surrounding the house contained upwards of fifty buried animals, large and small. Primarily pets having passed on. Only the horses whose hooves he’d hear coming up the hard dirt and stone pathway they often took when returning from a long walk with his mother and step-sister, were too large to accommodate this ritual. The ground being what it was, a hard, relentless life, gave-up no other option, allowing only the smaller, a final resting place. And being just those hooves foot-fall of iron shoes thick-tinging he’d heard, waking him from some wondrous youthful event, did Jovan realize his soul residency of that room. And being who he was, hearing what he had, frightened him even more.

He never slept well. Restless dreams, thoughts of days and years possessed his sleep. He’d spend hours on projects deemed important, drifting off a few minutes, waking fully aware. The pursuit continuing. Youth saw him scrutinized, wondered upon. Laughed at. And he’d always heard, felt, those passing pets. It wasn’t fear of them, rather what lay beyond them. That Place was very bad and his mother told him never go there. Ever. She explained what That Place was only once and never spoke of it again. Naturally, he thought after her lecture. Who would. In her beginning with directions and expressions, he pictured a grand and beautiful Place. Full of goodness. Cured hope. Candy. Lots, and lots of candy. Primarily chocolate. Of course. Had to have that. And it was cool. Not cold, but…fresh. Early morning fresh, before a desert heat robs it.

How bad could that be? He thought. Maybe she’s lying. No. Mommy doesn’t lie. He was losing her. The conversation, drifting off, as it often did. Fainter, till near nothing. Losing track, of everything. ‘His condition’ they called it. But he was moving very quickly, faster then he’d ever gone before and soon very far from his mother’s voice. Could hardly hear her. When it came. When he heard it. A whisper. What? Jovan said. Whisper. I can’t hear. Whisper. What? Whisper. Mommy said no. Whisper. Yes… I can. Whisper. I can’t see you. Whisper. No… Whisper. Noo…stop! Whisper. Mommieee!!! Whisper. Whisper. Whisper.

Two years ago. They still come. Wide awake now, remembering hearing drips of cool water his mother dipped the towel into before placing it on his heated neck and chest. Soundless save only the water. Then heat, not ever felt before, coiled upon him. Intensive dryness, sucking moisture from stone. He felt it most on the back and inside. Deep within between stomach and chest, something moved. He felt it. Twisting. Slowly. And another. Somewhere in him, a heat raged.

Two years ago. Yesterday. Now. It didn’t matter. He had to pee. In lying under the bed sheet was it safe. ‘Everybody knew that,’ he thought. If you get out, they’ll see you of course. Slowly he peered down towards his feet. Nothing. His eyes rolled over too his brothers bed and arm distance away. He felt the bed. Nothing. Sounds of faintness started their work. He heard voices. ‘Hadn’t I?’ he thought. ‘Of course. Or…dreams?’ his lips mouthing the words. ‘But the horses…Was there more than one?’ he wondered. ‘Two. There were two. All those horsy feet noise. Too much.’ His final decision made, the next would come in whether in wetting the bed, or get up. Move, they know. Stay, and mommy is mad.

Breathing was hard to please. Convincing yourself this being normal, concerning the circumstances, had not worked. Quick sharp breaths like a hopping rabbit, that’s what they said. Jovan felt a weighted mass, pushing down, deeper with each breath. The cool water limited the unconscious swelling around him. His mother pushing matted hair from it’s burning forehead, calmly rubbing the soaked towel upon his arms and neck, firmly speaking, ‘You are here. It is all right,’ repeatedly. Chanting. Had Jovan the strength of listening more intently, he’d have heard his great aunt, now one hundred and three, lean towards his right ear, while smiling and exclaim, ‘In your fall.’ Even had the capabilities of this been possible for Jovan, it is certain he wouldn’t have understood.

Louder. Voices. Mommy and someone. Outside. Close by the window. ‘And how did that start?’ his mother. ‘Who knows. Kids playing probably.’ The other. ‘Jesus, Mary, ‘n Joseph.’ His mother. ‘Damn thing is everywhere now.’ The other.

Enough, for Jovan leaping from bed straight for the bathroom, that urine was ready to shoot right across the room. In-time but only just, standing there listening for sounds other than his hitting the water, he instinctively cocked his head. Hearing his mother with the other talking eased his mind somewhat. Not certain thinking only of relief, he thought while standing there liberating the bladder he’d noticed, rather felt, just entering the doorway of the bathroom, a silence. Then, when in the bathroom, his mother’s voice and sounds from outside became clear again. With the last drops expelled he flushed, washed his hands, and walked out with the soul intention of going to the window and finding out what all this is. Until, he again passed through the bathroom doorway.

Being seven is an interesting age in itself. Infant and toddlership are over, almost forever, returning with senility and old age taking you back into diapers and plastic sheets. Officially through the first year of school, for most that being kindergarten, your vocabulary is extensive enough in getting your point across while listening to those from others. You are allowed staying-up a little longer than the year before, your dexterity has improved considerably, along with the fact you’re distancing from parents, though this won’t be apparent until the first grounding, and older brother whom you’ve always looked up too, rivals everything which exists. More importantly, does that age carry high-powered imagination? An over-exertion from the glands? So that any, thing, carries particular weight, always shifted, always bothersome?

That soundless noise he could not hear griped the part of him not able to sleep when awake, its owner lost, a teddy bear fallen to the floor, twisted, gazing under the bed watched the crawling of shadows move ever closer. If teddy could talk, it’ll scream. It’s what Jovan thought when passing back into the bedroom, with all sound stopping. ‘I know teddy’s yelling, my only true friend fallen, and not a sound does it make.’ Racing in his mind. Voices, vibrations then none. Unwillingly he stopped in this doorway of significant change. Held, forced to listen, chains of thoughts from all directions and time, grabbed, fell upon, and weighted him pulling downward with a spiral groaning shift of a sinking self. The shadows extended, slowly from under the bed, moving outward across the now chilled floor. Teddy would have frozen had he not fallen half on the throw rug next to the bed as the darkest took him, its blackness covering further eating hungrily, entire parts of the room now moving upwards upon the walls. Had he not gotten up from bed he’d be taken too Jovan thought as the light must have been grabbed for it did not cast its eerie glow as once before from the distant, but full moon.

Of such size could only be a hunter’s moon. Creatures of all sorts which hide away came during its time. Wandering lost, dazed from the radiance and lust it caused, they roamed till eaten by others or eat themselves. A strangeness takes hold when the moon is such, happening a day or two before and after, entirely lasting up to a week, nothing remained as it was before, only to return after the dream lifted. Many became lost during this time. Strange crimes committed. All for which the moon came to blame the shadow it’s not able to cast, upon her sister. A need not worry, should nothing have particular sense. And of this, took now Jovan’s world. Forever.

And the pull did make its motion. Of stepping forth. Its urge being strong, needling the high-arched insole of Jovan’s foot, constructing thoughts in his mind, for movement was paramountly. If standing in the doorway persisted any longer, what lack of moonshine lasted, he’d be carried with it. And yet, residing with the stillness, which lack of boundless, clattering, senseless disturbance heard since birth, possessed that very peace, a most inviting world at last, when where but only with passing could be truly understood. And as with so many things, choices are to be made. Trailed forever by their consequences, action with goodness attached or deep-lying evil masking as such, forced or withdrawn, where ones selection always a hushed moment before their outcome did it cause, never was there to be accused, a doorway. For it was here produced, where passed a hundred times a day, either going through, or not, an inevitable effect.

It would all come and go. For Jovan, already happened long before what showed its way on that day. The black reaching the ceiling, dripped upon his pajamas covering the soft terry-cloth fire trucks and baseball figures. If moving backwards into the bathroom proved actions speak louder, he didn’t hear them. The fire under his feet was too extreme, a pull he felt too strong. Stepping into his now near-completely darken bedroom, with no thoughts other than questioning what his pajamas must look like and what mommy is going to say about them, how teddy should be feeling without him, and whether he’d be pulled under the bed before making it safely back under the covers, by some blacken sharp-toothed monster with a drooling smile. Or was all this just the restless over-creative part of his mind again.

‘Well there goes another.’ His mother. ‘Damn shame that. Hope they catch whoever did it.’ The other. ‘Hell, they can’t find their assess with both hands.’ His mother. Whining noises intruded gradually taking away authority from the sole bedroom’s occupant. Control of anything, meant sanity. And there was very little of that in the pitch black bedroom. ‘Jesus how many more are joining? Damn show this turned out.’ His mother. ‘Why’d they call Jeb? The other. ‘Had to re-rout the supply so there’s enough pressure. He said be like pissin’ on the thing if he hadn’t.’ His mother. Laughter from both. ‘I suppose so if you look at them all and what they’ve got workin’ for ‘em.’ The other. ‘Taxes and stupidity. It’s what built the place.’ His mother. ‘Holy Jesus was that a horse!?’ The other. ‘Hell. It’s one of Marcelle’s. They’re loose!’ His mother. ‘But why? That’s more than two miles away. Did she let them out you think?’ The other. ‘Christ, who knows, she’s as crazy as a shit house rat. Wouldn’t put it past her.’ His mother. ‘My God, look there’s two more and one’s on fire! Sweet Jesus!’ The other. Nearly half a minute of conversation silenced, with even more high-tone whistles, yells, and bells sounding. Then, a loud crack, followed with two more directly thereafter. And in that very next space of a moment sounded a timid, ‘What’s that mommy?’ from behind the other and mother who upon hearing, jumped as if shot themselves instead of the horse on fire, the sheriff having dispatched three bullets from his service revolver directly in the suffering animal’s brain no more than ten feet away from where they all stood.

Mayhem, bedlam, anarchy. Meaning the same. That night grew from this, and several occurrences beyond. Had those who started the fire which raged, burned the desert oasis damaging virtually every palm tree growing there since 1850’s foreseen such an event, or better, knew each consequence produced, they’d have wished never giving one another such an ultimatum, delivering so much bewilderment for local residents and law enforcement equally. From thirty-seven trees damaged, six would survive. The six horses bursting from their corral, no fault of Marcella, and not either her drunkard husband, rather the hardware store who bought a cheaper version of nails, selling them at full price Marcella’s man used in constructing the corral, through later investigation wasn’t discovered for another eighteen years, three where burnt, with one serious which had to be put down. Directly. On the spot. In front of residence and television crew reporting the blaze. The deputy sheriff responsible for the action employed with the service for just two months, retired thereafter. Voluntarily, clearly stating he hadn’t a stomach for such a call again. Fellow deputies and family, friends assured him the chances being extremely rare he’d come again across flaming stallions, had no way altered this young man’s destiny. Four days later he was found with a fatal self-inflicted gunshot to the head. He left in debt, a seven year old son and wife. The boy worked odd-jobs, providing for his mother and soon to arrive abusive step-father till high school graduation where upon embarking into the study of law he completed a degree from Stanford, which later he used successfully in suing for twelve point eight million dollars the hardware store for false advertisement and federal wrongful doings in the use of its merchandise, including but not limited to, nails. The Town (population 10,022) ordered a three-hundred thousand dollar bid in the re-planting of fire damaged and lost palm trees. It was awarded to a company based in Texas whose trees they provided, the Queen Sago variety contained the fatal Ganoderma butt rot disease claiming all trees within three months of arrival, but not before while planting the trees four Town workers were hospitalized with severe chemical burns from the Queen’s poisons frons. The forth-right, quick thinking of the Town’s water manager in collectively re-routing the Town’s primitive water system thus increasing its pressure and capabilities in fighting the fire, saved the Town and county uncountable millions in property loss. At the ‘Show-of-Appreciation’ party in his honor, he proclaimed while very inebriated of his long-standing hidden homosexual attraction toward many town-folk. In the arrest and conviction of all four youths responsible for the fire, two later became state officials in juvenile correction management, one left the Town, forcible with his family upon completion of his incarceration and was never seen or heard from again, while the fourth was killed in a one-car, head-on traffic collision with a tree. Toxicology reports showed neither alcohol nor illegal substance noted in the blood. However, clearly written on a postcard taped to the dashboard of the owners vehicle stated the words, ‘YOU BASTARDS!’ above the photo’s one palm tree. With the shooting death of the horse, the third round the sheriff fired ricocheted off the tarmac road striking a seven year old boy on the side of his skull causing his hospitalization for two weeks, three days of which were with intensive care, where after surgical removing the fragment all waited in wonder whether he’d survive. Or not. The boy woke from the surgery three weeks later, the subsequent injury causing permanent blindness, asking had anyone seen his teddy bear, began crying to his mother saying how sorry he was that his terry-cloth fire trucks and baseball figures pajamas had gotten so dirty.

Chapter 10

Started Out

The police came with intensity. Stirring. Investigating. Dribbling. The entire affair resembled a salivating hound with distemper sickness. How they managed to find an elephant tied to their hand, always remain an enigma. The case of the hand Cale discovered was their pinnacle. The person in charge, Detective Josh Balant, just shy twenty-two years’ experience with such situation while receiving the notification and case number from his superiors, a primary thought ran along his nervous system causing a tightening of the bowls. Existing unknown in his mind this reaction formed years ago when his father, suffering from the same infliction disorder of irritable bowel syndrome flatulence, while proposing marriage to his mother without warning emanated a robust uproar alerting all surrounding the joyous event indicating indeed, humans can produce astonishing sounds at improbable moments. And laugh about it.

Inevitably this became the downfall of his father’s law practice resulting in divorce mounting too financial and psychological ruin. Josh was labeled Fart Junior till graduating high school, whereby he moved to another part of the planet. Nomadic travel suited him. Occasional jobs kept him on the road for three years till, receiving notification from a whim a year before in submitting applications to various higher education institutes; he’d been accepted in the French University of La Fontain in Nice, the southern Rivera on the Mediterranean coast. As fortune calls, upon reading this notification his inherited gastric dysfunction surfaced, while sitting in the back of crowded bus fondling his sweetheart’s frontal lower extremities, till near orgasm. The roar, stench, dismay and ever a little horror threw the rear occupants in madness for escape. At any cost. An emergency stop button was activated, lurching the entire load of stricken riders upon one another, some even falling with that sudden halt the panicked driver invoked.

The following moments weren’t very clear for Josh except one detail. Some genes should never be reproduced. At any cost. All this and little else had been shown of his father. As he read the look on a young man’s face some twenty-five years later, he saw no indifference seen on that bus from both occupants and girlfriend. She left him. That day. Like so many, waiting isn’t possible, nor even conceived. How many options failed to blossom from that, he pondered. Over time countless episodes emerged with no fate-line attached, not even the slightest hope. Those with the chances held the choices. Those with nothing simply obeyed the rules set forth long before any of the present population was even thought of, some thousand years before. In a normal and unaffected way there were some, educated in ways leaving the general inhabitants, and moved forward. Those free of ignorance, prejudice, and superstition excelled in their own right. No longer encumbered with burdens strapping down others, they found something each had in common. They’d openly viewed the contents of Pandora’s box. And walked away. Intact. Their kept collections complete. And Josh thought himself one of them.

‘We usually go for a walk about this time every day,’ stated Jovan while stroking Cale’s neck and chest. ‘He needs to get out,’ he added as a fact. ‘And he simply dropped the hand at your feet?’ questioned Josh. ‘Yes. He came out from the left just beyond the sign’ pointed Jovan in the direction of the large red and white lettered ‘No Fires Allowed’ sign placed about three feet from the forest path. ‘Was there anyone else on the path that saw this?’ said Josh. ‘Not that I’m aware of,’ answered Jovan. ‘Did you hear anything? Anything common, or out of the ordinary?’ further probed Josh. ‘What do you mean?’ replied Jovan. ‘As I said was there anything you can think of familiar, or not?’ said Josh. Jovan paused for a second before replying. ‘No. Nothing,’ he finally stated and stopped rubbing Cale who licked his hand affectionately then nibbled on Jovan’s wrist, a common trait among the breed. ‘Detective…?’ called a voice from the forest not far behind Josh, who turned, and waved signaling acknowledgment. ‘Fine. We have your contact details and should there be anything you’ll be notified. Thank you for your cooperation.’ With that Detective Balant, turned and walked to where three other men were standing behind the ‘Fire’ sign where on approach one signaled with his eyes in a downward fashion which the detective followed, and stopped abruptly, watching as one man bent down with a fine, long metal probe hooked at the end, and lifted two inches of pine needles exposing a thick silver ring ornate with intertwining roses. In knowing from their silence they’d located something of great importance, the breeze shifted among the tree tops causing dead pine needles gently fall went entirely unnoticed. Captured by all who viewed not just the ring, but the remains of a thumb with its jagged stump from a last owner held all their attention focused, and as Jovan with Cale slipped off the path through the trees the wind changes its direction, following the two. With this article of such high significant value, it lay far beyond any of their understanding. Even in this life, none of them would ever comprehend what they had just entered into. The official inquiries, their personal thoughts, all face challenges through belief, devotion, and a trust strongly held.

This collective investigation would do better Jovan thought following Cale swiftly through the high-growth twisted pines, had it begun a year from now. While Cale slowed for him, Jovan felt the dog’s urgency in escaping the view of being watched. If not held firmly Cale would pass among the trees as easily as smoke in wind. Though the two held the strongest of bonds, the animal’s instinct had taken hold. He couldn’t help being pushed apart from Jovan; both knew movement was survival from that gazing hunger. Within the little circle of discovery in the finger and ring it held, an item still went unnoticed. And quite possibly wouldn, seeing they weren’t looking with the correct sense of purpose. Had the investigators looked up when the wind changed they’d clearly see two important facts; three feet above their heads reflecting the suns gleam, in its direct center, a coin was nailed into a tree, and further up in the crowned tree-tops, a large black bird stood watching.

With the evidence cataloged, important aids in solving this mystery were still missed, even with their great collective prowess of constabularies. But then, who would wonder at the lack of animal life. Not even the absence in the calling from birds could be noted. Even less, the total deprivation of sound itself surrounded the area. The crackling of twigs under foot falls. The rustle of small branches you’d catch in your jacket while passing along. Something surprising as the uneven, muffled tone of voices was not even heeded. Never the mind to see. Too interested in other facts. Or so, one might choose in thinking. Yet, these would all have, a nature of understanding attached. Fore without, then no reason existed in there happenings. Such was the point though. Occurrences transpire. All the time. Yet, unobserved. The clock passes each second, nevertheless how often is it understandably viewed? Late for the date is it’s only construe.

Cale picked-up an adjoining path, one more open. With their traveling growing easier Jovan knew something ahead would show itself. As all things, reason and random, it was a game he immensely enjoyed playing. The ways most things appeared to him. With the adventure being in their order of acknowledgement and more importantly, the act of recognition. Some would say they are the equal; with acknowledging and recognize, rather an adherence conjures the rooted origin in the ‘self’. Now, too lost the ‘self’ lays dormant. Few stimuli willingly dare venture as deep, these scarcer pathways ever founded, close from absence, denial. Unused.

Jovan had a different manner. So charged around him he’d often laugh from prickly sensations on the soles of his feet induced by electrical current passing through them. While brushing his teeth, water acted as a ground repeatedly disrupting the energy flow producing a sharp pain in the fore-front of his head followed by sever ‘Flash’ of light-headiness. It was during one of these ‘Flashes’ while in the fourth grade, in class he drifted off waking moments later unable remembering what transpired, yet the teacher with a seriously worried voice informed the principle, while during the commotion caused by his ‘Flash’ someone tore all his books in two. In reviewing the evidence the principle found it hard understanding how this occurred, seeing all his books except math, the subject being covered in the class, were in his locker. Which was locked. With a combination. That only the principle and Jovan knew the numbers too.

A practical joke it was thought. Till in high school his freshman year, a group of seniors grabbed and placed Jovan head-first into a large metal trash bin. A common hazing activity. In efforts of escaping the container, it fell-over with him on its side breaking a glass bottle cutting Jovan’s face deeply. Head wounds bleed large quantities profusely, and with his reemergence from the bin blood spread a great deal across the cheek and neck. His white and yellow shirt absorbed it like a sponge half-way down his midriff. Carried to the schools head office among screams and laughter, Jovan’s ‘Flash’ lasted longer than average. Only upon reaching the hospital some twenty minutes later did his consciousness finally rise, just slightly. It wasn’t till late that night, did he feel himself again. Feeling the side of his swollen bandaged face, thinking was the doctor right saying the scar would heal in time, with little trace at all.

A week had passed with no calls from school or friends. Jovan liked to think he had friends. But in its place, existed only slight acquaintances. Two, to be exact, consequently when entering through the main campus entrance he was confident in the absence of any reunion. And oh how those terrible things did await him, being his only, true, welcome. In waking that very morning upon his return to school, his spirits emphasized a deeper fall, accompanying misgivings growth. It was to be, pivotal. Change his life forever sort of moment. Similar with having had imitation apple juice your whole life. Then given fresh squeezed to try. Had the bottle broken slightly lower it would have cut his throat wide open. Had he paid more attention where he was walking, taken a different turn, he’d not met the seniors. Had he done ‘this’, or someone done ‘that’, with every what’s and how’s possible, is there really a point to it? Making sense? Of all it could be?

In holding the handrail, moving slowly up the steps toward the school’s main entrance; in feeling the electric voltage scratching away with each step; in listening to all the whispers and yells with your name and their obscenities’ attached; in wanting only clarity; in knowing why you are defenseless, that even if you could raise a hand, it would not strike; in not wanting any life at all; in wishing only peace of mind; in just that final moment, a soft touch upon the arm, a supple whispering… ‘You needn’t be afraid. Forever.’ From that particular time, Aria not once left him.

The students’ involved where never found. That is not too say they weren’t caught. Rumors spread as they do. Though no one came forward on Jovan’s behalf, pointing them out to police or administrate staff that did in fact, review the incident. Most students’ involved in such activities were ‘Heroes’ on various athletic teams from well-to-do families whose financial contributions for the school and community as a whole, were conclusive of their exceptional demeanor. Irreproachable.

Three weeks after the incident with Jovan, in their honor of greatness during a sporting event, a parade was given down Main Street, followed afterwards barbecue and fireworks in the Town Park. All were there. City officials, teachers, coaches, friends and families of those great champions. The fashioned binge drinking would go on till late morning; certain groups splintered-off continuing the festive, in more private setting. ‘Heroes’ who’d given Jovan’s ‘bin bath’ lead their entourage settling at the semi-remote cabin on the outskirts of Town, a five-acre track father bought as an investment, where one day it’s passing, with complements, to a son’s celebrated achievements.

With dawn approaching, the parties reeling music would not disturb any screaming of certain ‘Hereon’ actors who ventured too far in the early morning. City dwellers relished embarking into the desert admiring its pristine beauty, and welcoming solitude. A place to find your ‘self’ they often spoke upon returning. Current onslaught of life for them revealed a place where the only ramped-up noise was your own blood, pulsing through swollen ears. No communication through abolished networks, the desert unfolded upon you without reservation. It was pure and simple in most understanding, sign posts clear and direct. Yet, there are always those who can’t read.

With conclusion of the drunken orgy in that little desert cabin, there awoke several issues; who might be pregnant, who might have contracted a social disease, and who saw the ‘Heroes’ last? Late afternoon dispatch at the local sheriff office received its first call. It had received numerous calls pertaining to the missing ‘Heroes’. It just, hadn’t received a call like this. Nor does it ever wish to again. Deputy Sandy Anderson, a veteran of over twenty-two years with the sheriffs took the call. She was closest, about twelve miles from the reported location. A great deal of concern was in the air at the time. Local officials, parents, teachers, all up in arms as to what happened, and who’s taking care of it. After all, the towns ‘pride and joy’ doesn’t simply vanish in the night. At least not the five boys. And what of their dates? Seven of them also have a file with their names at the sheriffs. Regulations state a missing person isn’t as such till twenty-four hours after the event. This was quickly referred and dismissed with network reception established with a screaming girl franticly calling 911. Her voice was very familiar when it’s recording being regularly played; over and over finally hitting those social air waves. It being the high schools prom queen Mary Lation voice, but there was something very wrong with that voice indeed. Some of the words you could hear were hers undeniably crying desperately for help, that she was lost. And then, there’s the background noise. That part is very difficult in understanding. Firstly, as she begins, her shrieking, was completely inaudible. This lasted for five seconds, and then an ear-piercing static whine came through, beginning very high in tone gradually moving lower, with duration of seven seconds. In the final three seconds of that static another voice was heard. Not Mary’s. Something deeper in tone. Could have been male. Or so the voice analysis expert states in her official report after reviewing the tape for several hours. Her report also stated in those three seconds, through further, deeper analysis with various technological contrivances, one word was establish. ‘Conceal’. Mary was found wandering along the interstate I-101, half-cloths, no shoes, suffering from chronic dehydration, and shock. Rushed to the Towns medical facility where due to mental condition, moved to the County Hospital for further evaluation and treatment. To this day Mary has never spoken a word. She has no tongue to speak with. In all the reports compiled, no one knows but Mary what happened out in the five-acre cabin. But Mary rests with her mother and father caring for her. Sitting, looking out the window. And little else.

Rumors come and go. Facts stay. For the most part. And what did Deputy Anderson find, was enough for early retirement. Which she requested and received. With full-pay. Some time you just have to walk away. And she did, at that crime scene. Her last ever to witness. But some people simply need to know what it’s all about. Just can’t live with not getting a better picture. So here it is…

Deputy Anderson stopped her cruiser as close as possible at the GPS location given by a fly-over search and rescue plan thirty-five minutes after receiving the call. Looking again at the GPS she knew there would be some walking. The location was a little over five miles due west. Straight into nowhere. She radioed headquarters with the situation and received authorization to leave her cruiser and proceed on foot to the target area. Having limited fuel the search and rescue aircraft still in the area would assist if requested, though its primary purpose continue searching for those missing, it could stay on-site for another thirty minutes before having to return.

Anderson, having grown-up in the high-deserts damn well knew what to expect on this ten mile round trip hike. She popped the trunk, and stepped out into a blasting one hundred thirty-five degree heat, sucking the breath from her momentarily. It took a few seconds for the brain to adjust itself, but she moved with purpose to the back and stood looking into the truck, already feeling a sense of fear and remorse. Beads of sweat formed on the forehead, arms, and neck, wiping them off her face where they started to run, she took a moment feeling the moisture between thumb and forefinger. And noted, it had a cold greasy feeling. Thinking greasy because she had steak at Buck’s Roadhouse the night before. Cold, from of imagination. The fly-over only reported a dark circle about five feet in diameter. And that’s all she was going to find. Some thing put there long ago by kids, plastic or trash. Some thing which doesn’t naturally belong in the desert. And that’s all. Probably. She thought differently.

Unbuttoning her shirt she removed her body armor leaving it in the trunk, grabbed the standard first aid and survival kit all cruisers carry. She always placed in the back a large sun hat with aluminum reflective top molded onto its shape. She always used it hiking and casual walking when alone. Pulling over on those long stretches of heat-shining road, she simply gets out and listens to the quite. The peace. Given by her mother three years ago for her birthday, it became her best friend. In places like this, things like that do. She put in on and immediately felt better. The sun’s intensity reduced, but more, she was comforted. With a hand on the baked trunk lid she was about to close it and head out, but paused. Thinking, she placed the survival kit back into the truck feeling lighter then usual, and opened it. ‘Jesus fuck!’ she swore loudly. Three of the four quart containers holding emergency water, were empty. They’d been used, but not replaced. That comforted feel she had, just fell onto the desert floor. To be considered; with one quart of water, for more than ten miles. Judging from the last water drank an hour ago, the next needed would be in an at most forty-five minutes to an hour. Depending on the speed walked, it’ll take about one and half to two hours to reach the site. Some water enroute, some on site. Some return. Some at cruiser. A swimming pool when home. More thoughts sprang-up, dancing around till it drove her mad. One quart. You won’t make it. Thirsty now. When did I have sex last? That’s enough, forcing them out, unclipped her belt, taking only the handcuffs, three clips for the Glock, walkie-talkie, flashlight, the two kits, and slammed the truck closed. She went back to the front, unclipped the twelve-gauge, flipped open the compartment between the seats and took her Swiss Army knife she always carried, grabbed the carry strap with twelve extra rounds for the Smith and Wesson shotgun, checked communication to central and fly-by via her handheld informing she’s left the cruiser on foot receiving confirmation from both, closed the door of the cruiser, clipped the light on her belt, chambered a round in the shotgun (take no chances when alone out here, they always teach you), opened its strap and swung it over the shoulder (always keep the hands as free as possible, they always teach you), put the Glock behind in her belt, pulled the shirt out unbuttoning mid-way down, drew her hat down just over the eyes, checked her watch at half-past one (know the time, it can save your life, they always teach you), and started out.

Chapter 11

Produce

What of that feeling? And, although you thought better not in congratulating a colleague on their trivial achievement they’d done nothing to reward, but you did it anyway, with their reply being smirkish, and your upmost wish at that moment reliving it so as to withdrawing your hand from their back you’d just mildly touched, out of really, a pureness buried deep within just having escaped for a precious foolish moment, because at heart, that’s just what you are. That one, you get moments before, less than a second say, but the decision made, in what you thought would stand out, shine, among all else, taken with the greatest of deliberates, experience, consultation with all others, including random strangers, though you weren’t actually aware as the overwhelming engrossment corrected any sane vision, was depraved. And why wouldn’t it be? Deprivation is your heart lying. And your heart told you not to touch or say what you did, yet you did and here’s the true stupidity of it all being; figuring out what level of pleasantries you’ll have to exchange with the stupid fat bastard next time you meet, and knowing again, God, what a whore you’ve become rolls on your doorstep again. It brings along baggage of others you’ve acquaintances with, now have trouble even passing. Those especial with nothing, who has achieved standing with the boss. And the boss being stupid enough to keep them there, you take a harden heart too. And what can be had, in all this madness surrounding you? What lessons, you wish to call of that, saving your saneness and growth, plundered by rotting pirated inept, well-off in their own right, associates you work with, can be learned, while that constant thought, if murder wasn’t a crime, stampedes your soul?

Once ‘meaning’ celebrated, for removing your habitual sickness ought to be taken by all people on a change of climate, only becomes that tainted costiveness infliction, inevitable of gainful wants. It started before your birth. Long ago in fact. So long, it’s nearly forgotten. Then you received it. This plan. Blossoming, it singled your consciousness, emerging, sluggishly as learning a once dead, foul-fevered language could only be. Taking forever it would seem completing the simplest of tasks, you grew intolerant. All things grew from exasperation. Your root environment became weaker. The minds-set seizing-up. Near bankrupt you hunted ways cheating, as a divisor, the normal and honored, of those you’d known, had little voice and mastery which you sought. Nothing would be far from your reach you warranted, no craving unsatisfactory. An element, raw with nature, mitigating, relentless. You became perfect, an aversion of things not understood, able of collapsing origins. If pleasure could be had it was from this dominion. Only indulgence of physical desires allowed were of those toward gainful, and pained expressions of others in observing their demise, and though this, a coherent viewing of your place assured wanted command of all. Nature and otherwise. Of course. A yearning stretch of deprivation raged seeing the stupefied public aware only in their own self, could be taken as a whole with the greatest of ease. But you weren’t ready. You missed something. Something essential. Insignificant at first it was easily lost. Given the surrounds and future tasks, your present time was limited. Action, swiftly required that giving force, controlling physical world. Mate. Your need of one. Several. Reproduction. Fundamental at this junction, yet where? Still, considerably beyond critical, with whom?

Luring is adequate for directing the snare. This environment maintains breaking the simplest of rules held close; thus clever, is success at hand, in spite of that if senseless, perish results. But you are, very shrewd. Capable reveling qualities of many talents, when required. You begin then, scouring for something, leading towards somebody. Clues become evident, bringing that clarity, before the longing ever thought of taking you, before the catalyst. When the hunger began.

In 1934 the Shangi Ho, a six thousand ton passenger-cargo ship registered out of Indonesia, struck a reef off the northern coast of Australia. It sank in less than seven minutes. Two-hundred and fifty-seven passengers and crew died. The remaining twenty-seven survived stayed afloat; clinging to debris till two rescue vessels arrived two days later. Upon reaching the scene of the reported sinking, both ships found an unexpected smaller, third ship, about one-hundred and twenty feet in length three-masted schooner, adrift among the Shangi Ho survivors. It flew no colors, carried no name. And seemed abandoned. In the operation of collecting those having survived, a long-boat was sent, circling the third ship for closer inspection. No distinguished characteristics could be found; it came alongside and boarded. After half an hour the long-boat casted off and returned. It reported seeing no crew aboard, nor signs of struggle, no structural damage to the schooner either. There were no charts to speak of, no crew’s personal effects. No cargo. And no engine. But the most striking was the schooner hadn’t any sails.

They took the schooner in-tow, and with the twenty-seven survivors headed back to port. When questioned, none of the survivors from the Shangi Ho recall seeing the schooner approach. Upon early daylight of their second day adrift is when they first saw the ship. Floating among them. It was noted the survivors suffered severely from dehydration and heat stroke; consequently their testimony lay in doubt.

The second rescue ship, with all survivors sped ahead, leaving the first as a three days return to port with the schooner in-tow was estimated. Three men were left on-board with the schooner in radio contact, maintaining her sea-worthiness. The sailing was smooth that first day. On the morning of the second, they came into thick fog forcing them to slow. After two hours the rescue ship cleared the fog bank, at which point there was an immediate slackening of the tow line. This stemmed from three causes; either the line snapped, was cut, or the schooner had increased her speed and was gaining on the rescue ship. In radioing the three men aboard the schooner, there came not reply. The tow-line hauled aboard where the end attached to the schooner, was burnt. The rescue ship stayed in the area till the fog lifted completely, but there was no sign of the schooner, where they then headed to port, conclusion being there must have been a fire on board, that overcame the men, and eventually sank her.

With the second ship approaching port, the survivors, now with their improved condition, still contested upon first light the schooner, having simply appeared. It wasn’t till after two more days, when all contact with the first ship had been lost, did a more adamant line of questioning resume with greater extent, for exact details, demanded. Yet of which, proved pointless. Their stories altered none the least.

No wreckage was ever located of the ship after a thorough search lasting several weeks. In the final radio contact the captain indicated they were still searching for the schooner, but a ship that size, even burning rapidly would have left debris especially in the given close proximity of both vessels. On a clear day with high visibility, there was no indication as such. Aircraft fly-overs of the ever expanding search area lasted two more weeks, proved futile. The final report states, the ship, either struck a submerged object, causing her to sink or, a massive explosion seeing as she was fully laden with fuel. Concerning the schooner, it burned and sank. It mentions no statistic of there being an extremely high probability of debris, at least in some sort, for both cases. There was no speculation either as to how the schooners appeared, without any form of mechanical or otherwise, form of propulsion. Only one point mentioned in the report, of a search and rescue fly-over noticing a dark circle on the surface in the area of the last reported location about eight to ten feet in diameter, of near exact circumference. Probably a school of fish, the report concluded.

Had the officials know the surroundings of the schooner, the first ship would have never picked-up the Shangi Ho survivors, and certainly, not put her in-tow. If aware the schooner appears at certain times, under certain circumstances, causing certain consequences, those same officials and all involved would have wished their fathers never born. For all survivors of the Shangi Ho, felt cheated. Why couldn’t they have died too in her sinking, often spoken and thought, in their last moments instead of what they had endured, of a madness not with name, taken each their very souls, yet onward towards a deeper, darker waiting, they must go. Of the crew from the second ship, their fate was secured as it often does when one encounters, their own true fears. All dying within three years after the event with the crew-less schooner, from heart failure. Some so young at nineteen, thought doctors, how odd a youth taken in such a way. And what of the first ship? As there are places full with deep vile, withering souls, unable venturing far from where they last had hopes, and fears, loves and desires, they only wait for another to pass, so as to face release, the other must first replace from where their impaled rotting bodies with fleshed torn off in strips, where burning and flaying is of rapture, where intestines are hocked and slowly pulled with gleeful laughs from those pulling, where hot needles are effortlessly pushed first in then out of boiling eyes, where none are as before, but now become. For in all these acts, that conception, does take place. A copulate complete. And birth anew, from that comes forth may not alert, but only the few. With the twilight the darken state did fall, and moved. Searching as anything does, a host, where it could thrive. Produce.

Chapter 12

The Key

‘I love the ground,’ he spoke aloud. ‘I love what I can do with it,’ he thought, aloud, mouthing the words. But not a sound came from his quick smile supported by the tolerating demeanor Morton possessed. Employed at the Province Living twelve years, working his way from apprentice greenskeeper to now, supervisor, he was well liked, more important, well trusted, capable, and intelligent, to a certain degree simply a likable guy you wouldn’t think twice about passing on the street. Explaining should situations arise, a staff member was quick at hand with assistance, to the Province Living administration upon reaching the position of supervisor, therefore he requested from administration a small living apartment close to the greenskeeper office. This was granted. It was provided without rental fees, and was his, so long as he maintained his contract.

The seven other greenskeepers employed with Province Living held him in respect. Morton relished all the attention with the position, stating it often, and loudly. He would talk with apartment owners informing them, listening to their concerns about the ground for which he was a virtual encyclopedia of knowledge including the weather. He would place notices in all the elevators if there was to be a spraying of either pesticides, or fertilizers, or to mind their pets since they’d just position new monitoring points for the pest management of rats and mice. There were maps in each building complex showing the points, along with duplicate, related news, posted in the lifts. It was always up to date. And multi-lingual, in large type for the visually impaired.

Morton would always, after the days briefing, and assignment given his underlings cleared, walk the entire six miles of inner-pathways and sidewalks among the Province Living property. Chatting with many, admiring their lives, commenting accordingly, taking photos. Of everything. Morton kept detailed records of the greens, claiming its database will further bring a greatness into Province Living. Savvy with the internet, he designed a user-friendly system allowing his colleagues access and better understanding of the world around them. They could login, review which plant or area required what, when and how. This entirely freed Morton’s allowing him to further the greens keeping best-practice principles, outside the property. He had linked-up with Ron, owner of one of the largest hardware stores, where for a considerable discount, purchased all material Province Living greens keeping department required. Some of which he ordered and re-sold to occupants who lived on the ground floor. And the discount he received, wasn’t mentioned to the administration, who simply paid full price.

The two complimented a well-honed partnership in their ever-growing lust for money every time they gazed upon hidden bank accounts, new clients or potential ones. Some of their best business dealing was in the agriculture sector which Morton opened. Through purchasing connections of various plants for Province Living, he happened upon a salesman whose range spilt over into that of selling corn seed at a greatly reduced price, of which was not of the genetically modified variety, but whose clients suffered greatly from beetles attacking the seeds and newly developing corn shoots. Naturally Morton took a great interest in this and spoke with Ron, whom he knew possessed, or could obtain certain chemicals to combat nearly any situation. In this case it was on such product known as matibromite, or ‘mati’ as Ron and Morton referred it. It was a big seller within the farming industry, but unfortunately very illegal. The government banded its usage several years ago due to carcinogenic developments it produced in people and animals, but Ron fell into a huge stock pile just before, which he kept at a secret location even Morton didn’t know. ‘Trust wasn’t an issue,’ Ron explained to Morton when questioning the whereabouts of mati. ‘It’s business.’ And left it at that. In exchange, Morton never relinquished contact details of any clients he knew to Ron. Even those outside the realm of mati dealings.

They kept appearances with always friendly greetings should they pass each other within Province Living. Outside of such though, it was very different. As their collaborative ventures grew, so did animosity between the two. Finance driven, their bitter outlook upon each other escalated with the other’s relationships. With trust a key factor diminishing, any contacts either inside Province Living or out were construed as a threat. Except for two residents. They were nothing of the sort Ron or Morton had ever met nor will ever likely, should they even want, proving something dreadfully wrong in a person’s thinking. Wrong in the sense of miscalculated, and evil. If you swam with that dimension of thinking and willingness, Hans and Lizzy would remain alongside you all the way.

Two of the most congenial residents at Province Living, open and willing to assist in any shape or form, ‘HnL’ so often referred seeing they were inseparable, never two feet away from one another, became a social point within the property. Often instigating barbecues, wine evenings, cheese dinners for the entire Province Living resident population including maintenance, security, and administration personnel, with never asking a cent in return, Hans and Lizzy were rightly viewed openly as, hallmarks of good living. And they set a damn high standard enjoying always the best. Three years ago a couple celebrated their sixtieth wedding anniversary. Both thought it deserved recognition. Naturally all residents were invited. The city’s eighty-piece full orchestra was hired for the twelve course lunch commenced at eleven, lasting till 10 the following morning. It’s difficult to say how much and of what was consumed for that event. Cost speculations put it over twenty-five thousand dollars. Not a thing was asked from anyone. Only that they enjoy themselves.

It was at the very event both Morton and Ron became better acquainted with Hans and Lizzy. After all the farewells, Hans and Lizzy invited both of them up to their penthouse for coffee. Around nine Ron and Morton emerge from Hans and Lizzy’s building. Had anyone taken notice, the two looked, different. However, no one observed this, seeing just about all the residents, turned-in a couple of hours ago. Only a security guard, lacking attention, making his rounds noted them from a distance, and he wasn’t interested in either seeing the party produced an unexpected liaison with one of the more liberal residents which he’d just spent the last hour being screamed and whipped at during a wicked orgasm. And wanted more of that.

Had anyone noticed, the two even moved differently. Stiffer, without the fluid motion as before of human-like gestures. As if the signals controlling muscles weren’t connected properly, they progressed with the slightest of short-shuffling jolts, spastic in nature. Behind their dark glasses were sunken, opaque, glazed-over eyes, unrecognizing the commonest of anything. Morton’s sun hat, sat somewhat atop his head, askew giving the impression of a careless drunk, while Ron appeared nearly the same, his shirt was inside-out. In their reaching the sidewalk leading from the pathway of building, neither bid the other good-day, rather shuffled off in their own direction toward a waiting bed.

In reaching the buildings of residence, it concluded the anniversary event without incident, still spoken fondly of to this day, had anyone been watching. With all the cleverness of a person’s abilities in misleading others, they often forget one simple detail, changing everything, putting all the energy spent on such projects to waste. And it is exactly that Hans and Lizzy, Ron and Morton failed taking into account, yet is fundamental. It is more common than the air breathed, and water drank. Of food eaten, even the sun. Some thought it an electrical charge, or change for the less fortunate thinkers of the time. What could really be told of the madness lurking on all those residential doorways? No one really had any idea. Least of all, the occupants themselves. But what did it really matter, they were all controlled by a greater power. An all-seeing demi-god with golden chains and rings on every finger. And it was very hungry, not wanting any peace in our time. At all.

So, in its hunger it searched. It ravaged all things and even those not yet born. It took, molded, force-fed an entire falsified humanitarian relief syndrome lost on its own wheels, even further out of control. Not ever wanting to know the rules, or look behind, there was absolutely, nothing sadder, more hopeless, then the poor bastards willingness to join in that parade. And they pay good money too. Just to belong. To feel that warmth, that gratitude from fellow escapists. And never wanting a touch of realism, again. They jumped to it like frogs in a hot skillet, not wanting a moment missed. When all was done, that great gathering emerged, forming a line following off the horizon, into whatever climatic sensuous homeward bound voyage they’d been told existed. And it was loved by all. ‘We’re doing the right thing.’ It was boundless tales from the unexpected holding the reins on this. Keeping all in check. No drifters allowed. Their own ridiculous values grew, in this endless march.

Like a lady in black with a silver snake belt that stole the show, it came with a gust taking all those not interested. These were the obscure hearts, referred to in any language as, the ‘incomprehensible ones.’ Here, no bridge could be built. No path existed. No way in knowing what the other camp was up to. It lasted eons, since time itself started ticking, an inevitable bomb, just waiting for that right moment of clarity. The two factions often clashed, with bloody outcomes, carnage on both ends. None where brave enough in establishing a dialog. Neither saw the point, thinking the other as a mutated mental midget incapable of understanding, at any level, a through-back from their spawning times upon this great earth. Light, would never shed, on these burnt intellects.

Keeping the line tight and minds deceased, only proved one point. Change was dead. And nothing was going to bring that rotting animal back. Not with Hans and Lizzy about. They had that highway of freedom chained. And no one, was getting that key.

Chapter 13

Black Pool

The screaming should not even had an opportunity. It was a closed environment. But there it was and nothing would alter the fact.

Every time she was seen with a phone pressed in such a way against her head, it was very late at night, while meandering the sidewalks and pathways of Province Living. Often the walking routes of the property were filled with the residence going about their business. Some days happened to be more intense than others with loud ambushes from screaming babies and toddlers clearing the way ahead nearly fifty feet with such racket. This might occur early in the morning or late. Balconies too resonated the wailing where often than not, residents thought, along with verbal proclamations clearly stating, ‘for god’s sake it’s late and we don’t need your half-ass insanity at this hour, go far away outside the property, preferably the moon with that shitty kid of yours.’ Always a puzzlement why some even bothered reproducing.

Yet here she was, always at night with the phone, never during the day. Or maybe, but unrecognizable for the fact no one ever got a clear look at her. Always walking with a purpose. Phone in the left hand, crossing over to the right under the chin. Probably not that interesting had she used the left ear. But always the right. Always at night. Always walking for two hours. Was she married, in a relationship on the property? Had she a secret lover, and this being their form of communication while the other slept? Who knew. It’s the same with many people. They do strange things. Ron for example had money. Yet always ate the worst, cheapest food mumbling how poor he was. How no one talks with him. Perhaps it’s due to his constant inability of having any logical, productive conversation. He knew everything. An expert of the world, and all its holdings. Hans was similar. Outspoken on all fronts. Lethargic in mannerism. And looked just, plain mean. An angry man with his inflamed world. Perfect for his chosen partner, Lizzy. Eerie to watch, yet captivating. Listening to her talk gave birth to the new meaning of ‘deep-end’. Dazzling and articulate, she possessed you with a single look. And in that, one felt she’d reached right in and gripped your, soul. How Hans dealt with this enigma, it’s itself. Till something changed in them both.

During one of their festivities with half their building in attendance, a young couple, new comers at the complex knocked on their door. It was late, had seen the party through the windows, were lost in the property, couldn’t find their own apartment, so they rode the elevator seeking directions. Declaring their situation naturally they were ushered straight away to the center of things. With drinks thrown in their hands, shuffled straight up to meet the hosts of this grand event, Hans and Lizzy, and in that very second the four met, a vast disturbance was deeply felt. If you’d ask the young couple why their interests ventured upon the property of Province Living, their answer would sound, rather unclear, an act pardoning your sanity for any crime concerning self-preservation. The understanding of it would leave you restless, forever looking over your shoulder, peering under the bed before crawling in, hoping, just once, you were dragged under, ending this horrible nightmare.

In a circle they stood. Not one perceived, nor so much as inclined the happenings just then. Therefore, it was impossible knowing if any of those present identified the tremors ripping through nature’s ability in continuing with that eternal task of coherency. Although far away, very deep below, it was recognized. Roused, bounding forth toward whatever summoned, not solely from obedience, but that of hunger, producing deprivation, of all things known. And moving toward the complex of Province Living.

In that very moment becoming extraordinarily clear for both couples, what the outcome would be. Perceived before, this encounter must be within contained surroundings. A certain depth of penetrating revealed uncountable clues, eliminating costly mistakes. While details calculate, necessary in producing a desired outcome, the probing took its time. A mere second, enough reveled permitting the correct sequence of action to follow.

Surrounded by gawking half-drunk residents interested in the new couple as dogs meeting the first time, Lizzy spoke first. ‘You’re the new couple. How nice. Welcome. I’m Elizabeth. But, please do call me Lizzy. And this is Hans.’ She offered no hand; only a faint curving of her lips did Lizzy show the woman standing opposite her. ‘I see you’ve found us,’ stated Hans with a weak smile. ‘So nice,’ he added seeing the gawkers interests grow around their, tightening, ringed group. The music faded slightly, anticipation flourished weaving a spell, for what immediately would follow. Who were these two, and all wanted to know. In another time, another place, this would have gone unnoticed. But here, in this apartment, motion was put in place, evident even for the blind; there was recognition between the four.

Ron broke whatever took hold in that room. His drunken, slurring speech could be heard the floor below. ‘Hey, I know you. You have that big German Shepard. Seen you before on Monkey Mountain. Hell yea, now I know.’ Hans eyes shifted from watching the man dressed with only a deep shade of blood bordeaux tie breaking a complete black set of jacket and pants worn, who not only entered with the unknown women, but knew him as a likely twin, placing them squarely upon Ron. ‘Damn good looking dog too.’ Ron sheepishly added his voice trailing off after not in fact seeing, rather feeling Hans’s intense glare. He took a large gulp of whiskey thinking there wasn’t enough alcohol ever produced in this world, would give him courage adequate, when dealing with Hans.

Stretched tight. It all was. If a coin dropped into that living room, it would spring disbelieving back in its very existence. That being one point. The other, it would sink straight through. Owners of that time differed in opinion, each swinging their own ways. And all were caught; waiting for some sleek magic trick they’d all paid for. And by God they were going to get their worth! One could sense even before taking that elevator to penthouse heaven, centuries earlier than the new arrived couple. And it all started, that strange winding, slithering of a cheap trick with one thing of purpose. The hosts felt it some time ago, not able to see clearly, it was laid back in reserve, waiting, as a creature, till the brain snaps, full-flung instinct splitting that ripe sanity, we all hold so dear.

‘I am Aria. And Jovan.’ She said this with an effort affected by action as thick flacks of snow in the dead of a soundless winters’ night, adrift, only it, reflecting light. Aria stretched her arm offering her hand, palm slightly turned upward in the direction of Lizzy, who immediately raised her right eyebrow a fraction, which naturally went unnoticed. All eyes held Aria in her deep maroon full length dress with black laced sleeves. In mesmerizing the party for that brief moment permitted Jovan the time needed in establishing a foothold with Hans as her pheromones proceeded to work. Males felt lust for Aria, females’ yielded a wanting. And it happened so quickly Hans hadn’t the time, Jovan reached, grasping his hand firmly, at once understanding fully, Hans’ capabilities.

There is no depth for such as this. No real explanation as this. Nothing could possible ready a situation as this. It was in itself the collapsing of origins. And the defense of others. Survive and harvest. Emit only what you will gain from. And never, ever, have direct contact with an indistinguishable. Like the early morning yellowish glow the sky possess before it’s pending rain, where buildings acquire a paler face against the darkening skies, in those moments before the storm, the air changes. A wind rises. Cooling the way. Birds are silent. Moths stop twirling near the light. The vibration quickens. It can be felt years away. Their meeting occurred before, just as now. No surprise intended, having endured many obstacles, and rights knowing when planted with one seed, before succumbing how many leaves shed from one tree, and why the present goes so well unnoticed. That so far in witnessing must recall, the compelling eye be open. And there be no bond or system of distinguishing events. Nor principle governing conduct. A bare soul remains victor.

Erotic. Lushes. Booze. Hard. Smell. Hunger. Falsehood. Bitch. They danced in the room only wanting their gain. Caring little for the other, abiding while craving the prey, all wanting to know where the merry chase will take them, the guests tightened their circle holding the cabaret to their word. No one wanted to miss a thing watching the four in their little game they knew must be played. They came a long way, climbing, begged, stole, killed to be part of this one, precious moment. Each in their own right demanded a good show and they were going to have it. This would be read to their grandchildren, slurred with barfly’s, their whores, their promised waiting lustfully fits spent on credit cards, on cheap orgasms and airfare gotten with cheaper nights spent in rundown hostels hoping for a better tomorrow becoming increasing lost in the city you travel for the sole purpose of not actuality there for the right reason, always lying shortsighted, of seeing the truth. ‘And hell if that mattered, there’s a show going on!’

As being neither, spring nor winter, night or day, loud or calm, those beggars in the night with Hans and Lizzy, having only one thought, ‘I’m starving, give it to me.’ Even the whispering, gradually beginning the moment the new coupled entered hadn’t been heard. That softness in the back somewhere, drifting forward into the part of all their brains, calling them together, wasn’t an inspiration, not even conceptual, nor reasoning power. No idea produced by any mental activity. It was planted there. In a kingdom of idiocy, where tended well, it grew. The felt fever pulsing, desperately wanted, this new rhythm heard, was received with gratefulness and caring love as the herald infant ‘Mine!’ released its exhaled viral raining atop the expecting. And with clarity and direction aimed at no one, but for all intended, to change the path set off on forgotten ways, Jovan spoke those two words everyone has felt since their own births, but never omitting, ‘We’re lost.’ And not a sound did follow.

No one can say for sure, or will absolutely agree together, what altered, just then, in that room. Was it either themselves, the temperature, mood, recalling a joyful moment from youth, couldn’t be said. And yet for years to come, it was always spoken of with a puzzled look, feeling, incomprehension, even clearly remembrances. Like a hangover, the times before blurred, never really connecting till perhaps years later. A safety switch built-in, allowing a continuance with your own affairs, than certain insanity of witnessing events that followed. For grace took those involved safely, save the four, securely together along side their world fading. And stop existing, entirely forgotten.

Suddenly, from within the circles very center where the four stood, spilled forth upon the carpeted floor a round pool of blackness filled with ancient illnesses, cruel, malevolent, ailing forgotten time, and that yet to come. It is without hope, birth, and the dead. A consuming nothingness being pregnant of hungers. Spawning. And through it, as the black pool’s center showing no light, slowly opens it’s yawning mouth, till finally the entire sphere seemed hollow, of no depth, nor dimension. Uncountable. Of all that lay within comes sorrowful echoes first emerged. Nothing ascertainable, a sense contrived once formed of miserable thoughts, now only lost abodes rebounding those once longing positions. At times the blackness revealed a face protruding just below its surface, twisting, mouth agape. Calling. Yelling. A scream never allowed. Then sluggishly rolling to one side starting its descent, returning. With it’s passing below, a thick protrusion boiled upwards spilling onto their feet, thin globe-shaped air-filled bags popping, omitting a lewd reek of decay, primordial in nature. Undistinguishable at first simply a mass of black secretion, Aria made the first movement, bending from the waist she reached into the filth till her elbow. Jovan still holding Hans hand released and straightaway took hold of Aria’s free arm. Uninhibited Hans grabbed Lizzy’s hand and together attempted stepping back, but were held in place with the blackness climbing slowly up their legs. In a moment, it moved till her shoulder when Jovan pulled, and with a slow arduous rise, Aria finally stood erect, holding something she’d brought back in a tar-thick blackened hand.

Once Aria rose from the pool, her contact broken, the blackness slowed its climb eventually halting just above their knees. Thick strands of black rubber-tar slipped from her arm, dropping back upon the surface of the blackness as goblets causing profuse heaviness, resonating through the room, shuddering the air. Jovan stared ahead of him, but Lizzy and Hans kept eyes on the black form Aria held. No effective appreciation what the rectangular, one foot across, inch thick shape came to mind for either, only the slight puzzled expression identified when Aria’s gaze drifted from Lizzy to Hans.

‘And what have we here,’ coldly whispered Lizzy. ‘A small token?’ Aria narrowed her eyes slightly, while raising the object slowly to just under her line of vision, and held it there in a most perfect horizontal state, where she released it, letting her hand slowly move away, allowing the object to simply drift. It hovered a moment where she left it, then commenced a slow tumble, end-over-end on its axis. In each rotation the spinning increased; with a few seconds the centrifuges affect slung humid, hot blackness in all directions. Then just as quickly it slowed and completely stopped. Though the room was brightly lit, Hans and Lizzy, now covered in black glowered at the flat object. In understanding their unease, the flat object floated toward them, closing the distance in an instant, stopping the identical length Aria previously held it before lowering her hand. And on the object both Hans and Lizzy could see there were markings. Lizzy leaned closure. The object replied drifting nearer to her. Letters lastly shown through the rust. Lizzy’s eyes startled with surprise. Mouthing words no one could hear, she then moved back taking Hans’s arm. He looked from object to her and back again. And he saw it too. His lips quivered faintly whispering. ‘Shangi Ho. It’s the Shangi Ho.’ With that, the rectangle plunged back into the thick blackness taking with it all remains of itself hurled far and wide from the spinning. Immediately thick tar drained into the center where they stood, rolling back off legs and shoes, ever decreasing in size, till disappearing completely. Coldness gripped the four. Nothing moved; all senses slipped away with the darkness. Everything swam in a cocktail, having no meaning at all. No right side, nor up, or vertical could be told. Only their frigid temperature gave indication of being alive. And stood as such till Morten spook in his matter of fact voice off on Hans’s right, ‘So where have you met? I missed that.’ And the party swung back on its hinge, never missing a beat. Not waiting for a reply, Lizzy turned grabbing Hans’s arm and spoke looking directly at Aria, ‘Perhaps we can go into the kitchen. It’s quieter.’ Lizzy lead the way never losing sight of Aria who held Jovan by the upper arm and followed her, as the crowd parted without a word allowing their passage unhindered.

Upon entering the kitchen Aria and Jovan noticed several people in the corner talking, and three others busy preparing food of one sort or another.

‘So you’ve become lost.’ Said Hans. But Hans hadn’t spoken a word just then. In fact Hans hadn’t opened his mouth. It’s as if the “thought” just heard from Hans, sprang into Jovan’s mind.

‘We have to go.’ Calmly stated Aria.

‘Always welcome.’ Said Hans smiling at them both.

‘Careful where you walk.’ Hans thought.

‘Yes, do take care.’ Lizzies thought came strongly.

‘I am sure we will.’ Replied Aria while gently leading Jovan by the arm through the kitchen door into the living room. Not hurried but with a purposed they both moved past guests they just seen previously toward the apartment door leading out of this madness. Some paid no attention toward the two, while others smiled, lifting their drinks, but Aria saw none of this; her focus entirely concerned leaving. She reached the door grasp the handle, halted and though, what if it doesn’t turn? The door knob. What if we can’t get out? Ever.

 

 

 

Taking deep breath Aria turned the handle pushing at the same time. The door opened easily. Quickly they passed through, closed it behind them and ran for the elevator, which remained on the same floor after they stepped out. Aria pressed the down button, and the door quietly opened. They stepped in, she pressed the ground floor and the door closed.

 

Their world surrounded in a falling metal box by glass wasn’t the safest it could be, till reaching ground floor, where the door opened and cool night air rushed in. Finally able to breath, stumbling out both fell upon the marbled stone floor.

 

‘Get up. We have to.’ Struggling for breath Aria arose then pulled Jovan to his feet. They weren’t completely out yet, both knew until they were clear of the building, protection stood far away. As Jovan regained himself, they moved toward the outer building door, where now a security guard sat when before was none, watching them blankly, newspaper in hand. As they closed upon the door the guard placed the paper on the desk and stood. Seeing this Aria, waved at him calling out, ‘Not a problem. My husband had a little too much at the party. We’re heading home.’ But he was around the desk with uncanny quickness and upon them smiling, ‘That’s fine Miss. I’ll just open the door for you.’ ‘No really,’ rejected Aria, ‘I can handle it.’ It needn’t matter. The guard stood next to Jovan, reaching under his arm to assist with the other hand placed on the door ready to push it open, but then slowed, finally stopping holding Jovan firmly. ‘But Miss the parties just started.’ He smiled tightening his hold. Jovan winched with growing pain from the increased grip and tried pulling away, yet the more he did the tighter it grew. ‘So, what time do you think it really is?’ the guard asked still holding his smile. Aria looked deep at him, and then replied with her own pleasant facial expression, ‘None to waste.’ And raised her hand in an instant, palm toward him, and placed it on the guards’ chest where he stiffened, then dropped to the floor convulsing.

 

Aria guided Jovan toward the door, where in two more steps, they’d be free. ‘Stay right there!’ A loud voice from behind called out. ‘I will tase you.’ He warned. Running footsteps could be heard. It was a group three security guards, closing in. Instinct came on. Aria turned facing the guards, and spoke, ‘Not this.’ Two stopped immediately, while the third on his radio vomited, tumbled, tripping over the still shuddering guard lying where he fell a moment ago. With his momentum Jovan continued onward toward the doors. Aria called out, ‘Left.’ At the moment Jovan slightly turned, striking the doors with his left shoulder causing it to fly open, swinging back on themselves with such force the safety hinge snapped allowing both doors to exceed their designed stoppage where the handles protruded back into the glass wall causing it to shatter turning it into curtain of falling shards. Aria waited a second knowing the possibility of the entire wall might give way. With only a second to spare, she lifted her hand above her head, then ran directly toward Jovan who stood outside waiting for her. With glass continuing to fall she sprang forward where large pieces of the plates sliced through the air and down upon her. As the inevitable would occur, it failed. In passing through the curtain Aria created a sphere where no glass could puncture. Falling pieces glanced off her head and shoulders, touching not a hair.

 

On the other side Jovan caught Aria, helping to slow her momentum slightly; still, with her speed it wasn’t sufficient. They stuck low lying bushes, toppled onto the side walk where both laid, Jovan whispering with some agony, ‘Is it over yet?’ when an instant after hitting the concrete walkway, three more guards with Tasers directly aimed, standing over them, and smiled. Immediately Aria’s hands were grabbed by a guard while another was placing tie-wrap cuffs over them, when the third screamed. As the two busy with Aria stopped and looked up, the shadow grew over them causing their instinct to lower the head, and wait for something, unquestionably in this case, very painful to arrive. The screaming guard, by now almost certainly regrets enforcing his men just a moment before, they are to approach the women and apprehend her while he, waits safely in reserve, a step or two away. The fact remains, due to his cowardliness and seniority in rank, Cale smelt his fear, singling him out first on the attack. Dogs of this breed, being of relatively higher intelligence than most people, when numbers not being in their favor, will choose primarily, the weakest opponent to confront. In so doing, this will shock the remaining threats with fear, momentarily limiting their defense capabilities, thereby allowing further infliction of damage, as much as possible on those remaining dangers.

 

Cale landed full weight and from a charging run squarely on the screaming guard’s chest sending him onto his back with Cale on top. The guard instantly had the air knocked out of him, causing his final scream to sound similar to that of a wounded mouse, which obviously the imitation suited the man. The action broke three ribs, one of which punctured his right lung, rupture his spleen, cracked the forth vertebrae, fractured his left hip as well as the skull in seven places as hit the sidewalk. At the hospital, x-rays showed his skeleton a strong resemblance to that of a hard-boiled egg dropped from two floors up.

 

Upon striking the cement walkway, Cale directly turned, lunging upon the guard in the act of cuffing Aria. Still not able in fully comprehending the situation and its entirety, the guard simply froze, his last consciences act as Cale torn into his right shoulder with a force dislocating the arm from its socket, tearing nerves, tendons and muscles requiring surgery and rehabilitation with limited results, for the following eighteen months, permitting an approximated mere sixty percent dexterity in the arm and hand.

The second guard fired sending a spray of four-paired electrified cables toward their target. As they left the gun their spread opened, with two cables going wide hitting the bushes. Aria now free moving swifter than Cale, she rose grasping for the second pair as it passed in front, but missed. They struck, hitting Jovan directly in the chest charging him with over 30,000 volts. Any voluntary motor control was completely lost, Jovan having only raised a foot off the ground, fell forward onto his face with violent convulsive jerking, throwing his body into grotesque contorted positions. He lost control of his bowels, urinating almost before he’d hit the hard sidewalk. Vomiting whitish-yellow foam from both mouth and nose mixed with blood, flew across his cheeks and neck. The Taser cables still connected to Jovan continued sending pulses of electricity, curled his arms, bending the hands over onto themselves producing a sight of a person who any moment, will viciously snap entirely in half.

Aria reaching Jovan, placed her body between herself and the guard pulled the cable out, and attempted rolling him onto his side. Her immediate and full attention was for his safety, but she heard anyway the inhuman-shrieking a person produces when their arm is being torn off by a powerful near-wild beast. Cale was on the guard biting deep into the upper forearm, crushing the bone, then wrenching it completely off with a sharp crack, just as an adult breaking a dried twig in two. As he pulled the main artery was drawn out like an elastic band almost a foot till it snapped, with blood jetting high and around in great spurts covering the entire scene in a thick, deep crimson film.

Cale, dripping profusely with blood dropped the arm, straight away stood beside Aria protecting her back with a deep hostel growl as she tended Jovan, still shaking uncontrollably. She realized profoundly their grave situation gazing down at Jovian’s shuddering body with its broken nose and mouth. Their survival related on a moment of faultless celerity, while still formulating in the brain her hand located the tie-cuff. Slipping it over Jovian’s hands, she pulled tighten the strap. Turning to Cale she spoke in a low rhythmic voice. Without delay he swung round, dropped, lying alongside Jovan’s curled body. At the same instant there where huge explosive claps behind them coming from Hans and Lizzy’s building and from both directions of the sidewalk. Bright lights danced in all directions. Screams, muffled whimpering, running feet, high-pitched sirens with their mournful cry reverberated while gunpowder mixed with the copper-metallic smell of blood, drifted in clouds and wisps. Aria hurriedly placed Jovan’s arms around the dog, cuffed at the hands. Grabbing her black laced sleeve at her right shoulder, she pulled sharply tearing it completely off away from the dress. She did the same with the left, and knotted the two. Slipping her arm under Jovan holding one end of the sleeves, she reached around meeting her hand, seized the cloth and pulled it through, wrapping it tightly around Cale, finally tying both ends together. Whispered in the dogs’ ear, Cale sprang upright, with fluid movement, bolted into the night, Jovan strapped to his side. Aria sat there watching them disappear. And waited.

Chapter 14

Waited

The fly-by had long left leaving her alone. It was almost three o’clock. Anderson checked her watch, than looked across the afternoon bleached terrain. The GPS reader showed about another mile to the scene. Half hour maybe and she would be there, twenty if she pushed. Walking steadily she began wondering about the tongue. Mary phoned 911, that part is a fact. Coordinates put her at the place and time of the call, not far from where she was picked-up by a Harold Saveyo while heading home after a business conference the day before. That too is a fact. Harold checks out. She didn’t question Harold. That was conducted in the hospital by the chief, seeing he was closely connected with Mary’s father. Either friendly or business it was clear too her. She on the other hand was sent out patrolling, searching for those missing. Anderson was however, sent that report. And in that report states, again from the facts of confirmed phone dump-time, ‘Mary called 911 at 11:09 in the morning. And…’ Then Anderson froze almost in mid-step. Another sidewinder almost underfoot. The second, and in the heat too. Very strange. Never seen them out in such temperatures. Moving around the snake while shimmering across the sand leaving their unique ‘S’ design, Anderson continued openly to discuss out loud, and why not who’s to hear, the case ‘…so, 11:09am. Right. Now, Harold also calls 911 after he picks up Mary. ….Mary. Mary. Mary. What’s this with you? But Harold doesn’t drive away with Mary not just yet. Probably in shock from the blood and all. He tried talking with her. No response from her. Obviously. He makes the call. And takes off for the nearest hospital. Probably shitin’ his pants. 911 operations confirm he wasn’t driving. Always those dead spots. No signals.’ And she thought of her walky-talky. No worries. It’s boosted from the cruiser. And wondered aloud, ‘What if the unit doesn’t work?’ Then heard her voice crackle from the dryness keying the mike, ‘Central this is KLX 315 over’. And waited. No reply. She checked the settings. They were fine. ‘Central this is KLX 315 do you copy over?’ Again, no reply. ‘Shit’ she mumbled clipping the unit back onto her trouser belt at the hip. She looked again at the GPS. It still showed another mile. Looking at the watch showing 3:05, she guessed being back at the cruiser around 5:30 to 6:00, allowing thirty to forty-five minutes on scene. Night comes on quick; at seven it would be dark. She took some water and moved out.

About half a mile from the scene the unit began picking up static and all sorts of high tones, then low. Reaching down she unclipped it, called again. Only static with a broken word or two. She tried boosting the gain, changing channels. Still no reply. She placed it back on the belt and Shelly’s voice, the dispatcher from Central came through load and clear giving her a shock. ‘KLX 315 this is Central. Do you copy, over?’ There was evident stress in that voice as Shelly was always professional. But something happened serious enough. ‘Central this is KLX 315. I have you 5 by 5. Over.’ Stated Anderson calmly. More static. Then, ‘…KLX…storm…seems to be…Mary…tim…mu…key mike..’ Static. Calmly Anderson thought. Remember what Shelly said. She went over it again. ‘Storm.’ She looked up, and to the east. This time of year if there is a storm it’ll be approaching from the east. But there wasn’t a cloud. Nor wind. Nothing indicating a change in the weather. The last time it rained in these parts was four years ago. Just a sprinkling. ‘Why mention storm?’ Anderson speaking aloud. ‘And Mary, so?’ She looked at the GPS. Ten minutes’ walk. Move on. Maybe clues at the scene, she thought.

The Glock irritating her back, while straps from the two packs dug into her shoulders and arms. There were blisters on both feet she was sure had ruptured and were bleeding. She was thirsty, tired but not delirious. Or certainly hoped. If she was though, it would not have been realized. Normally it’s a second opinion telling you, you’re losing the ability of clear thinking. Upon entering the area where the GPS alarm now sounded clearly indicated from the search and rescue fly-by to be the exact location, Anderson wasn’t sure exactly what she was looking at. There was indeed a very dark circle in the sand. An almost perfect circle in circumference. And it was about five feet in diameter. She first though, was it paint. But before moving closer you took out the unit and tried again. Only static. Then it hit. ‘Key mike. Key mike.’ She said aloud. ‘Of course. Mike on the unit.’ Shelly was telling her to key the mike on her unit. It was the standby should communication fail before the boosters. Morris Code. Used in transmitting short communique over long distances Morris Code used less battery and easier deciphering. But that would take time. For now, she sent a very short message: ARR OK. Anderson then took out her phone opened up the video and began recording. ‘Deputy Sandy Anderson, Winshaw County, south region. Time, 3:34pm, case number WCSR88779B, black circle scene. Lost comms with Central utilizing MC, sent arrival ok upon entering scene.’ Slowly while panning across the circle she stopped. A sensation took hold of her neck. A gripping feel. Something wasn’t right. It was her signal. She kept filming and looked down, left, then right on the ground. And she knew. There were no tracks. Of any foot prints. No disturbances in any kind. The dry brush was never touched. Brush which had grown for years, some waist high. Sand, only wind swept would too have given some indication. Anderson lowered the phone recording what she had seen, commenting aloud accordingly. Moving around the circle staying at least five feet from its outer limit, till the battery alarm sounded indicating no more than a minute remained if she continued filming. She stopped, checked the phones reception. Nothing then replaced it in her pocket, and stood there. It was so quiet. The lack thereof made her ears hurt. The mind, so accustomed to noise, now inundated with a nothingness, might just as well become insane. Many stories happened upon old prospectors, roaming the desert. Their searching for gold, any precious commodity really, sometimes just and old bottle would be a prize of the month, turning them into jabbering, senseless, wonderers. But their stories last, passed down of great things seen, or felt. Strange wonders with sharp teeth and thick claws, that was always hungry. The Native Indians carried along too their winded sprites, touching all who drifting through them. A place the desert became to bury your troubles. Literally. So what exactly was this Anderson thought. Who had done it. How and why? She checked her watch. Almost 4:00. An unexpected rustling sound off to the left caught her attention and she turned. Another sidewinder. And very large. Five footer maybe. About a two foot away moving fast, coming straight at her. The third seen. Normally, she’d come across them once or twice in a year. Rattlers and coral snakes as well. But to see three, such as these, was not expected. Thinking quickly past all that, if she moved the snake would surly strike, more than once, with a high probability of getting bite. The amount, and potency of venom for its size, she wouldn’t make it back to the cruiser, if bitten just once on an extremity. If it struck the upper body, her coherency would drop more the seventy percent within the hour. The second hour ending with convulsions, cramps, fever. Till she fired the Glock into her mouth. That is if she even knew what she was attempting. Few do, and they die a contorting death.

Sand your ground. So she did, and do not move. The full understand of such an evaluation won’t come clear till after the fact. It is one thing to make a conscious act, and another, not too. Perhaps instinct, lack of nerve, divine mediation, or stupidity that drives a person. That puts them into situations and conditions they’d rather not have, or wonder how it all transpired. And of course it wasn’t any of their faults. This all flashed through Anderson as it does with most, the wondering. Hopes. The prayers. The ‘why I didn’t.’ The ‘if I hadn’t.’ all comes before. So in that splinter of last consciousness she held, Anderson knew more about life than any of those living, for it was about to be taken from her. With the sidewinder aiming high for her abdomen, she remembered that last good sex, with its multiple orgasms, of being kissed by her mother after falling, scraping both knees, of her high scores at the academy – high enough they wanted her application for detective; she cherished field work instead, and her father of his ability in talking openly about, anything, of a child she wanted, and riding bare-back on Red Cloud and Dolly two quarter horses she’d had as a child in the open desert, without a care. Fitting to be taken by the desert she so loved.

It struck just under the ribs on her left side, fell to the ground on the left foot, raised struck twice on the upper thigh, then once on her lower calf. Four sticks in as many seconds. Sharp, hot needles. That’s all she felt. Then the burning started. And it consumed. With the violent attack forcing her onto the blacken circle, she hadn’t noticed it wasn’t solid, till the shape reached out and pulled her below its surface. There was not a sense of panic, or shock. One of pure, simple instinct forced her back into the desert sun. Anderson opened her mouth breathless, searching for air, but a layer of thick blackness kept that sweetness from ever entering her again. Trying, she pulled a hand slightly free, but the black wrenched her back below with such force, snapping her arm in two just above the elbow. And the blackened surface smoothed itself. And waited.

- End Part 1 -

 

Epilogue

Part 1 entails the basic outline, while Part 2 will further that outline.

####

Note From Author

 

Thank you for taking the time reading this short story. This difficult short story. Because, it was written in such a manner as most my works, allowing room for the reader to interpret, expand, imagine in their own way. That envisionment. Life in the mind.

 

 

Discover other titles by Lucus Anthony Ren

Vanning

Hard Monkey

Pinned

Naked Letter

Honestly Speaking

Who Stole Know

Markers

 

 


Bind

Two of the most congenial residents at Province Living retirement complex, open and willing to assist in any, Hans and Lizzy, were rightly viewed openly as, hallmarks of good living. A young couple, new comers at the complex were lost in the property, couldn't find their own apartment, saw the party and rode the elevator seeking directions. For Jovan and Aria being lost wasn’t the problem, in knocking on that door opened unto a world forgotten, where its hosts so hospitable informing you can see everything is clearer now, now that you're feeling yourself. Isn't it? Now, in a moment or two you'll feel right as could be, just as nothing happened at all. And all those silly dreams you had will run away not to be seen again. Isn't that grand? Of course it is, now let's hold that breathe a little longer and all will be as right could be. Those tears down your little faces will be swept away never to grace your pretty sunshine…what's that now? You don't believe this? You want to go? But you are here. There isn't any place to go too. And why would you? Don't you like it here? Isn't it splendid? Look at all these moments and treasures you have.

  • Author: Lucus Anthony Ren
  • Published: 2017-05-31 13:05:13
  • Words: 30518
Bind Bind