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Why I Don't Talk About the Vietnam War

Most stories you hear about the Vietnam War are biased; not from politics but of point of view. You see, only the winners get to tell the stories. They will tell you heroic tales on the battlefield. This is not one of those stories. I am writing this down so that someday someone will know the story I have been too afraid to tell even my own family.

When you think of the Vietnam War, most people see images of grainy, intense color video of soldiers fighting in the war. My story is not like that. I fought a different war in Vietnam. Most Americans don’t realize that there was not just a civil war between North and South but also inside Vietnam. President Kennedy had President Diem assassinated; there were other coups and counter coups. Even us gangsters were involved. Officially, anyone who was a part of the triad was technically a soldier. I never fought a Commie; I fought in the streets of Saigon. We were the Dragon Triad, and I was the second in command to the Leader. We were feared by our enemies, and people paid us for protection. The Leader just took on a new project, taking over the Cathay Casino.

It was owned by a small-time crew—the Jeweler. He emerged from jail, and in a few years, he had all the city’s officials wrapped around his finger. The Leader said that money can do a lot, but it can’t buy respect and honor. I organized my little brothers and took over the Cathay Casino at midnight. We wanted to keep the prize; we needed the customers and the casino in one piece. I set up my men and everything went smoothly. We had muscled other triads before, the Jeweler was no match for us.

I set up the office. The Boss wanted to make this his new headquarters. This was part of the boss’s bigger plan to settle down. He was going to set up a study room for his daughter. I was in charge of her during the transition. Everything was going to plan until that night.

I went to the Boss’s new office. I could overlook the whole operation there, witnessing the unique ambiance of the casino below. The live singers belted out the latest tunes, and American GIs, seeking respite from the war, drank and gambled away their last dollars during their R&R. The rich and the politicians reveled in the opulence of the casino, a stark contrast to the ongoing war outside. "No wonder the Jeweler loved this place so much."

“I still do love my place.”

The Jeweler strolled in casually, adorned in a suit and tie, cigarette smoke announcing his entrance. Questions swirled in my mind. How did he enter? Who had the audacity to walk in when the Dragons had just seized control? It wasn’t legal, but in the unwritten laws of the street, he should have known that such intrusion wasn't allowed. My hand reached for my gun, but before I could threaten him, my arm was paralyzed.

“I think it's time for your boss to get here; I have unfinished business with him.” In his hand, he held a cloth figurine. Upon closer inspection, it seemed as though someone had taken my photo and placed it on the doll. He held the figurine with the hand bent, compelling me to go to the phone and pick it up.

“Call him,” he ordered. I didn’t even question; I did as I was told.

“The Jeweler is here; he needs to talk right away.” My thought process was warped, and my actions were instinctual. But in the back of my mind I thought of the boss’s daughter. One backward glance and I could see her just over my shoulder. I had to protect her from this maniac.

“You are the soldier, I am the business man, hardly a maniac.”

Shit not even my thoughts are safe. Just then the Dragon boss came in. He looked for his daughter and yelled at me for not protecting her. She ran to him with a shiver. She just knew her father was business man, he didn't know about his dark side. His words meant nothing seeing the Jeweler able to control the situation and see the panic I couldn’t hide.

The Jeweler summoned one of his employees as if nothing happened. “Bring the Dragon Boss some cognac, that should calm his nerves. Also make sure the little girl is entertained while we discuss business. I want you to make sure that girl is taken care of.” With that, the maître d' went on his way perfunctorily.

The Boss spoke up ,“Now that I see your face, I know you. You’re that kid that the police made eat the cockroach. Then you learned black magic from Old Boon from Thailand in jail.”

“You are more right than wrong. I was that kid but now I am a man. I learned the jewel business from Old Boon, but I don’t use black magic. I use merits, right now you are in my debts, This is what we need to discuss. Also, why don’t you sit also your boss may need your assistance” Just then I was able to move. Up until that point I was faced down with my arm in the air, paralyzed.

“Be happy you’re seated your little brothers didn’t fair as well as you did. I’m a business man let’s get down to business. I built this casino as way to make money. This is how I square my accounts, pay my debts. Currently my finances are a mess, you have my casino. With it I can’t run my jewelry operations. You see, with the Cathay Casino money I can pay off officials to keep the jewelry business running. You soldiers are wasteful, paying with blood and bullets are bad for business.”

“You know nothing of honor, what type of man doesn’t fight?”

“One who wants to live. Your soldiers are no longer alive. That is the cost you pay for taking what is mine. What honor is in that?”

What I didn’t know then but know now is that bodies of our soldiers were mangled up. With a flick of his little figurines the victims would suffer nefarious deaths. Their faces told stories that their lips were never able to say.

“I am sorry for my actions as my little triad brother as witness I hand back all that I took from you.” The Boss bowing to the Jeweler seemed to have no effect on him.

“I appreciate the gesture but your debts are not squared away. Nothing would stop you from making sure I am not finished off when I am not watching. Dragon leader, you have killed before with no remorse. I was just a victim I cannot afford another chance.”

I knew the tactic the Jeweler was doing and it was a cruel one. You make the victim pick his own punishment. We did this to the junior Triad members. This keep people in line this way because unbridled fear is a better weapon than bullets.

“On behalf of the Dragon Triad I offer you our hostess bar in Section 5 and control of port in Section 4.”

“Dragon Boss that is very generous but that is not the collateral I was really looking for. I don’t need control of these activities. These vices are the ones that make the authorities upset. If i get into the activities you do like killing and drugs are bad for my business. but I have the solution here.”

The Jeweler pulled out two additional blank figurines with Thai writing on them, He placed them on the palm of his left hand and the figurines stood by themselves. In front of our eyes we saw the figurines take on two images. The first one took the striking appearance of the boss. And the second took the appearance of the daughter.

“I had more time to craft these I hope their appearance does you justice.”

“You leave my daughter out of it, you little…”

“Dragon Boss, negotiations are going well and almost finished. It would be to your benefit for them to conclude favorably.”

Just then the Boss clutched his heart. However, much pain he was experiencing, he knew the situation could have been worse.

“This is my collateral, as long as you no longer threaten my interests, I will have no reason to use these.”

With that he placed the figurines in his breast pocket and pushed his cigarette into the ashtray. Business was complete.

The word of the street is that nothing happened. We never talked about it to our men. The Boss planned for the Cathay Casino to be his retirement, and he was right. He took off for America right after this incident. His daughter and family are safe. When friends or acquaintances ask if I fought in the war, I don’t even bother to answer. They think my silence is about some battle, some death I saw. I saw pure evil manipulate me like puppet. Not even my thoughts were safe. I haven't even spoken to the Boss. But sometimes I lie awake and night wondering if the figurines will be used by the Jeweler again.

1 Comment
05:02 UTC


There was someone in my apartment

I woke up with a start. Few sounds immediately instill a feeling of dread like the sound of glass shattering, especially at night. I froze for a moment, waiting to hear someone stomping down the hall, tearing through cupboards, or anything that would hint to the intruder's actions. But there was nothing. Shakily, I got up out of bed, and reached over to turn on the lights.

To my surprise, nothing happened. The power was out, meaning either this was the most inconvenient blackout in human history, or the burglar had planned ahead. Tonight was going to be interesting. I cursed under my breath, and grabbed my cellphone.

Who the hell are you gonna call?

I wasn't keen on talking to the police, and I didn't have any friends to call, considering I just moved to this town a few months ago.

Not that you've ever made many friends.

No, I had to handle this alone. I flicked on the phone's flashlight, and grabbed the wickedly sharp knife from my nightstand. Before I exited into the hall, I stopped to listen. Still no footsteps, or any other indications that the invasion was proceeding.

What is this? A burglary or something else? Maybe he's even waiting around the corner to ambush me.

No, this whole thing seemed strange. Breaking in through the window seemed like an amateurish move, but why the stealth all the sudden? Not to mention the power. I sighed, and quickly kicked through my bedroom door. The apartment is small, with only one bedroom, and the main living room with a kitchen, so clearing it shouldn't be a problem. Before me lay the kitchenette and dining room, to the left of that was the small loveseat and TV next to the entrance, silent as a grave.

I checked the corners quickly, light held out far to the side of my body just in case the attacker had brought a gun. In the living room, I saw on my couch a small rock lying on the couch, broken glass strewn around it.

No one entered through the window. Maybe this is a professional after all.

At that moment I heard the rustle of something moving behind me. I shone the light back towards my bedroom, and saw the shower curtains softly moving, as if in a breeze. I swore to myself, I hadn't thought to check the bathroom attached to my room.

"Come on out," I yelled with over-exaggerated confidence, "I have a gun and I will shoot."

My challenge was met by unbroken silence. I weighed my options carefully. Either I make a break for the front door, and get stabbed in the back, or I confront him head on and get stabbed in the face. I turned off the light, and started towards the front door, making sure to step loudly. I stood at the door, pretending to fumble with the key.

Come on, I'm wide open here.

I could hear the attacker rushing towards me as quickly and quietly as he could, but the instant before he reached me, I dropped into a well practiced crouch, and swept a leg out, tripping the attacker over in a bundle of limbs. It was a risky move, but it had paid off. I straightened up, knife raised for a brutal fight, but was surprised when he stayed unmoving on the floor.

I bent over and saw that the man had managed to fall right onto the knife that now protruded awkwardly from his abdomen.

Right into the heart? Lucky bastard.

Still clenched in the man's left hand was a rag, soaked with the unmistakable smell of chloroform. Upon a quick search, he had a collection of matches, lighter fluid, and even a skeleton key. I took the kerosene and started to douse the carpeted floor. I shook my head, here I was hoping this would be a fun night.

What a pain, and I just got settled in here.

By the time the fire department arrived to combat the blazing condominium, I was 35 miles away on the open highway.

"A real shame," I chuckled under my breath, "It's always nice to meet a fan of your work."

04:32 UTC


Can't Just be the Wind

On hot nights like these, I always sleep with the window half open. Sometimes the wind howls, or the rain pelts the pearly sill that silently sits abase the glass panels on my window, carrying the weight of damp potted plants and a cracked ashtray. Those sounds never bother me though, they’re almost soothing, like white noise. The noise that sliced through the tranquil silence was however far from soothing. From the inky darkness out my bedroom window I hear the weathered creak and rattle of my back gate amidst the bustling of shrubs and dancing of branches. The eerie wail of the gate’s hinges burst through the darkness, a screech so thick it could paint a path in the night sky. It crawls its way through the ajar window and pierces my ears no matter how hard I toss and turn to ignore it. The sound is drawn out and unbothered, as if the gate itself is gingerly inching its way open.

"Just the wind," I tell myself, rolling over, digging deep into my pillow so my ears are shielded from the groan of my back gate.

The wind must have just blown the gate open, the latch was rusted and old anyways, probably came loose, or maybe I even left it open, I’m far too busy to even check for such little things anyw-.

The return to silence breaks my train of thought, the recollection billowing up into nothingness like the smoke of my last cigarette that sits alone in the empty ashtray.

Buried under the safehaven of my pillows, I sit on the cusp of drifting back to sleep, and for a moment, I feel the release of nothingness. However, following the brief escape of tranquility comes a loud bang, one that rattles and shutters as it bounces off the stars, echoing throughout the night air. This sound is one I could not ignore; it was as if the gate was forcibly thrown shut. My spine goes rigid and shoots me up where I lay. I can hear the latch chittering as its rusty grasp wanes against the collision of wood and metal seemingly pushed into it.

As I now sit in my bed, wide awake, I continue to tell myself, “it’s just the wind.”

It’s rational, a quick, rash breeze had just thrown the gate shut just as its soft kiss had gradually inched it open. Then it came again. piercing again through the silence, a sharp creak. While the last had drawn out for about a minute or so, this one is fast, crying out into the darkness for just shy of ten seconds before it too is abruptly silenced by another bang. Then it came again. The gate shrieks as it is now thrown open, and shudders against its latch as it is closed. Going on and on, over and over again the pace only picks up, Creeeeeak…Bang! Creeak…Bang! Creak…Bang! Creak…Bang! Creak…Bang! Creak…Bang! Creak…Bang!

Cowering once again behind my shield of cotton and feathers, I wrap my pillow around my stinging ears, begging it to stop, until, just as it had so quickly begun, it ceased. The final thud comes, followed by familiarity, and security, of nothing. Not even the wind dares to make a sound now, a deafening silence blankets the darkness. Where one may find security, I only find worry. The air is hot and though the wind dare not blow, a chill lingers on my skin. My stomach sits upside down, tied in a knot, my hands clenched, gripping the sheets to bring them close to my cheeks. I finally lay back down, and try to sleep, it’ll all be gone if I just sleep. But in the back of my mind, I can't keep telling myself that it was just the wind. Though, without a means of rationalizing the situation, I instead choose to just drift back into my sleep.

Time passes, but I do not know how much, in a sleep-ridden daze, I sit up, and once again, a sharp noise breaches my veil of silence. Focusing, I come to my senses, realizing this noise now comes from inside my house.


Reggie has a high and squeaky bark, more like a yip to be frank, fit for his tiny frame. He's the farthest thing from a guard dog, but still, his courage never waivers, courage that I could use right now. His chain of barks is unwavering, carrying on in a crescendo of yelps akin to the fire alarm. At least I know for certain that this is not just the wind. Though I am weary of the uncertainty lurking down in the yard, I turn and step out of bed, Reggie’s barking about something, and I need to get him back to bed. My feet meet the floor with a frigid greeting. As if even the warm summer air had been scared off, the hardwood is cold to the touch. Stepping down my stairs, it is now clear Reggie sits at the large sliding glass back door, snarling at something in the darkness. He is unbothered as I creep up behind him, and when I reach out to touch him, his fur stands on end, dancing in waves with every bark. Looking into the unforgiving wall of dark, I strain to see past my own reflection. Pressing my eyes so hard against the glass that I might fall through, I see the backyard sits empty and still. My shaky breath gently fogs up the glass, moving back with a wipe of my sleeve, the backyard remains stagnant through the clear door. A wave of relief begins to surge through me, realizing there really is nothing there. Turning around to go back upstairs, Reggie presses close to my calf, his snarling silenced.

“What is it, boy?” I ask, kneeling down to run my hand along his back.

He doesn’t even glance at me, his eyes unwavering, his gaze present only in the yard in front of us. Getting one last look, my heart drops. I see it, In the back corner of the empty yard, I can barely make out its lanky figure amidst the shadows and bushes. It stands, as still as Reggie and I, as if it too is terrified of what lies in front of it. Finally, his long, thin leg begins lurching its way across the dewey grass. It moves in a way so animated, my paned backdoor could be a TV screen. Exaggerated lifts of each leg halt in a lunge, landing on the tip of its toe much like a ballerina trapped in the heat of a dance. With each step it swings its arms merrily, almost as if it truly is dancing. In just shy of three bounds, it has moved across half the yard, rigidly facing me once again. It’s now escaped the shadows, and my gaze remains trapped on its unique figure. Seeing it fully, it stands at nine or ten feet tall, and its skin bares such a pale gray, it reflects the moonlight as if it was basking in the sun. Its limbs hang in a way that is uncanny, stretching long and high, dangling at its side in an almost cartoonish fashion. Though its face remained shadowed, its eyes stared into mine, seeing through me from across the backyard, even past the apparent security of the lightless kitchen. Raising one long, gray limb up to its head, it gives a slow, curling wave, bowing and tilting its head to the side as it did so, before turning back around and continuing its inhuman stride across the yard. Its long gray limbs cheerfully swing. It is moving so fast, yet so slow, like light passing through water, and though its steps come down heavy, it meets the grass with silence. Reaching the border of my yard, one long step extends its leg over my neighbor’s fence and into their yard, the gray pale head disappearing from my sight, sinking behind the wood. Reggie’s muscles finally relax, and for a moment I stand, basking in the silence, grasping at straws to decipher what had just happened. Slinking up to bed, I swiftly shuffle across my hall, Reggie close behind me. In long lunges my feet silently meet the carpeted floor, carrying my muddled mind to the sanctuary of my bed. Lying under the covers, my mind is finally appeased, sinking slowly into the comfort of sleep. My eyes go heavy, and my mind shuts off, all I now know is darkness as silence fina-


Screeching its way through the still air of my home, I shoot up in my bed, as I hear the sound of my basement door slowly opening, before it is swiftly thrown shut.

06:21 UTC


My Name is Zane. Call Me if You Need me.

She was objectively pretty, I guess.

That’s the first thing I noticed, because that’s generally the first thing I notice. Not really my type; I prefer sturdier stock. She was slender and willowy, with not a lot up top or down below, but her eyes were the color of the sky and her hair pitch, straight as a board and down nearly to her ass. It was tucked back in a no-nonsense ponytail, which made sense since she was waitressing. I hate when waitresses have their hair down; makes me think about all of it shedding into everyone’s food. Her cheekbones could cut glass and her lips were full and thick.Not really my type, but objectively pretty.

Made it all the more a shame. Not my type, but I’d have had fun making her scream for another reason entirely at the end of this. Leaving her with something better to remember me by then what was going to go down in here.

I pushed aside my empty plate- just pie and coffee, couldn’t do this on an overly full stomach- and sat back, scanning the restaurant. I’d picked a small mom and pop place, not too tiny but small enough that the kerfuffle about to ensue wouldn’t make major news. The food was good, too, which was a bonus. Great pie; better coffee. I’d miss it.

She noticed me watching her. Those sky eyes flicked towards me and away again almost immediately. Not a fighter. She didn’t want conflict. That was as obvious as it was possible for it to be. Fight or flight would kick in and she’d pick flight, every time. Everything about her added to that impression.

Good. That meant she’d listen. She’d be meek and spooked and she’d do whatever I told her to. She’d be easy to handle when things got crazy.
Ding. The little bell above the door rang, a cheerful little noise morbidly juxtaposing the scene that was about to go down. He was here. Showtime.


The door closed and the little bell rang again, and I moved in towards the girl. She saw me move towards her and, after a step or two, began gathering up the cups and plates left on the table she’d been preparing to clean faster.

She wasn’t a fighter, but she also wasn’t stupid. She knew something wasn’t right here. Like a deer aware of a hunter- not scared. Not yet. She didn’t know there was a threat but she knew there was something and she wanted to be away from it.

Too late. I closed with her faster than she could make her get-away, put one hand on her shoulder and pulled the gun from the waistband of my jeans. I made no attempt to be subtle, pointing the muzzle directly between those sky-eyes of hers. They widened in fear and horror and, like the deer she was, she froze.
“What- why-”

“Oh my God!” Someone screamed, and I lifted the gun from the girl’s face just long enough to fire a shot into the ceiling.

People screamed, short and sharp, the alarm call of the human herd. A predator is here, a predator has one of us.

“Shut up and do not move.” I didn’t yell; just raised my voice, calm and authoritative. “Anyone moves, Princess here gets a bullet, and we wouldn’t want to ruin her chances at an Only Fans, would we? Wouldn’t want to mess up that pretty face.”

I lowered the gun back down, motioned at the girl with it. “Now come here, pretty, and do as I say. I won’t hurt you if you do what I say.”All flight, no fight, but for a second something behind her eyes flared. Anger, indignant. She did have a little spark in her. I’d have to watch out for that. But, like I thought she would, she obeyed. She moved where I could wrap my arm around her shoulders, keeping the gun positioned just so at the side of her head.

“Don’t call me that. My name is-”

“I have the gun. I decide what your name is, Princess.” She stiffened against me, anger making her shoulders and jaw lock, but she didn’t have the balls to act on it. I knew she wouldn’t.
“And you,” I added, cocking my head at the cashier. “I know there’s an emergency button under that counter top. Press it, and I will blow your head off. I don’t want to hurt anyone but trust me, I’m not of a delicate constitution about it.”

Then I finally turned, and I looked at him. He hadn’t moved this entire time. Stood, just where he’d come in, the big, hulking lumberjack of a man. He was also objectively pretty- if I’d been into guys, I’d have said even my type. Big, burly, with hands big enough to cover your entire damn face and hair the color of wheat, or the sun right at dawn. It hung, shaggy and soft, around a chiseled jaw, lightly dusted with fine stubble, framing a friendly face that looked wrong without a smile. His eyes were corn-flower blue, the whole look pulling together for that of a good ol’ Southern boy, right off the cover of some cowboy Harlequin.
Objectively pretty.

More the shame.

He watched me watch him, and then finally, spoke. “Come on now, miss.” He said, slow and low, meeting my eyes with an unnerving directness. His voice was silk over sandpaper, honey over gravel, and it rolled up my spine pleasingly. “Come on now, Miss….what’s your name, love?” As he spoke, a soft Scottish brogue entered the words. It hadn’t been there at first. No one else would notice or remember it. If you asked any of them, they’d say he had it from the start. But he hadn’t- he hadn’t until he’d met my eyes, so directly. Until he’d gotten it from me.

“I’m holding a girl at gunpoint and you think I’m just gonna give you my name?” My own accent was faint and soft; I hadn’t been home in years and it showed. “That makes sense, hero. Sit down.” He did not sit down. I didn’t think he was going to. He stiffened instead; it was subtle, an animal preparing to pounce.

As for my part, I relaxed. I needed to be loose for this, not tense, not tight. No, the tension came from the people around me.The moment he’d tensed himself, the fear and panic of the crowd had shifted. I could feel them now, closing in, shoring up. They looked at him as if his every word held the truth of the future and he could save them from any threat; with adoration and admiration. They looked at him like someone they would do anything for. Like he could tell them anything and they’d swallow it up. It was slow, like a spreading wave; the people closest to him were getting it first, then slowly outward. I’d picked a small place for this and I was glad I had; I’d only have to deal with five, maybe six patrons if anyone decided to pull any crap, plus one or two staff.

He, meanwhile, seemed to get a little taller; a little broader. He didn’t see me notice it. He didn’t see me seeing him, watching him drink in their admiration, their fear…literally.

Growing stronger from it.

“I see a young lady who seems to be in a desperate position. Desperate enough to threaten an innocent girl.” He gave me a smile that was supposed to be reassuring. That for anyone else who didn’t know better would have been. “But you’re more than just some thug, aren’t you?”
You have no idea.

“Why don’t you let her go, now, eh? What is it you want?”

The opening could not have been better if it had been scripted.

You.” I hissed, and the jaws of my trap snapped shut.I saw him realize it; like the girl I held against me had realized she’d been in the gaze of a hunter earlier, he saw it now. His eyes went wide, and he bore his teeth in a vicious snarl.

“Hunter.” He growled, then, “No!” The word left him like a punch; it sucked the air out of the room, out of my lungs, and simultaneously the girl in my arms began to squirm and writhe. I’d picked her because she was meek, and soft. Flight, not fight. Avoidant. Fearful. I’d picked her because she’d been the target with the best chance of two things.

One, drawing in an emotional vampire with a literal need to be needed. She was frail and weak, or seemed to be; a beautiful damsel in the middle of a public place. He’d be drawn in like bees to a flower. The idea of that much adoration and respect, couple with the fear and panic of the situation? It was a buffet.

Two, because her innate lack of desire for conflict would- hopefully- override the way he exuded, demanded that anyone in the radius of the building fight for him. Protect him. My gun would keep most of them at bay, anyway. But her I needed nice and calm.

Yet here she was, squirming. I swore between gritted teeth, shifted the gun, and did something you should never, ever do. I swatted her upside the back of the head with the butt.

I could have shot her. I should have shot her. Been done with it, put myself at less risk--but as she twisted in my grip, her sky-eyes met mine. They held, this time. Held for a long moment.

She really was…very…pretty.


At that moment, with fire in her…so I knocked her out cold instead of killing her.

Pretty little thing like her, probably waitressing her way through college? She’d had worse hangovers. She’d be fine.

She dropped to the floor like a spilled sack, and I whirled to catch the fist of the cook that had emerged from the kitchen, who had, until this moment, been content to hover in the doorway, unsure what action to take. He wasn’t unsure now.

Now, he was very, very confident that he wanted to break my nose, which had been broken quite enough times, thank you very much. I’m not a small gal, but this guy was built like he wrestled bears for a living instead of flipped burgers. He sent me backwards, crashing into a table. I staggered, and couldn’t avoid the second blow; this one from the man who had been eating breakfast with his wife, a few tables over from me. It caught me in the jaw and sent me to the floor, and only a quick jab to his Johnson with my boot kept him from landing on top of me.

I rolled up, grabbed my gun again, and fired two more times into the ceiling. It gave a few of them pause; natural human fear overcoming their deep, barely recognized desire to protect this man who they’d just met.

He hissed, like a snake or a cat, and dove for the door in the chaos. I took advantage of the pause I’d created to draw down on the creature; he’d turned and was half-way back out the door, the little bell ding ding-ing in that obnoxious, cheerful way.

Easy target. I was a damn good shot, and the bullets in this gun were designed, very specifically, to kill things like him, each with a little symbol carved into them, a little spell.

I fired.

Bang on. I was a good shot.

The bullet hit squarely in the middle of the chest, piercing the heart-

-of the girl with the sky eyes.

My world reeled. My heart clenched, my breath whooshed out of my chest like it had when I’d been little, a kid, and struggled with asthma, a fist around them.

My world went red at the edges. I wanted to say that it was the empathetic vampire that made me feel the white-hot rage, the gut-twisting nausea. I wanted to say I didn’t give a shit that she had come around without me noticing- that, woozy and weak, she’d been particularly vulnerable to his influence. Didn’t care that I hadn’t noticed her make it to her feet, hadn’t noticed her lunge, throw herself in front of the empath. That he’d used her as a human shield and made me kill an innocent girl. I wanted to say I didn’t care, that he forced the rage out of me like he forced emotion out of everyone else. Humans were slow, stupid, clumsy, blind deaf and dumb. I hated other humans. I didn’t care.

But I knew that was wrong. I knew it because, thanks to the necklace around my neck, under my shirt, he couldn’t do shit to me.

Stupid, stupid, stupid. You should have been paying attention. You should have paid attention! This was a fucking stupid idiot-ass plan you fucking stupid idiot-

I heard myself shout with rage.

The smirk on his face vanished as he heard it, too, and assumed the oh shit look of any child who had pushed a parent too far. He dropped any attempt at control over the people in the diner, but I was barely aware of them reeling, of someone puking near me.

I think someone may have screamed; there was crying. It all seemed very far away as I pulled the trigger again in rapid succession before he had time to get out the door.

I was- I am- a damn good shot.

Once through the leg. He staggered, his knee exploding from behind.

Once through the center of the back. He dropped like a stone, making a wailing noise as he did so. Screeching like a wounded animal, in the jaws of a lion. He knew he was dead. Still, he was defiant; prey lashing out one last time before their throat was opened and their life spilled out.

“Fuck- you- Hunter.”

“You’re a little bitch, but I like ‘em prettier.” I snapped back, panting, and I kicked him over onto his wounded spine to get access to his chest. “Nobody in this fucking shithole move or I swear to God I will kill you all.” I added, raising my voice. I knew, without having to look, that now that her mind was hers again that the cashier was going for her phone, to try and call 911-or for that emergency push button again maybe. She froze, mid-move, also sensing that I had been pushed too far.

“Ma’am, you don’t have to do this.” Someone said, to my left. “No one else has to die today, please.”

It was cute to me, how many people wanted to try and ‘help’ me. How many thought they could stop me by making me feel remorse or pain. No. No, if anything, I was more determined than ever.

"Your little hunt…” He rasped out, laughing, spitting blood, “got a girl killed. Good….job. Y’got me.”

“That was you, not me.” I snapped, cocking the gun. “That was you, you son of a bitch, and the last person you’re gonna hurt.”

“Don’t…hurt…anyone. Killer.”

“Liar.” He was. He manipulated people for his own gain, used them for what he wanted, took their emotions and fed on them- he’d caused the suicide of two teenagers by the time I’d even taken his case. Used them and tossed them aside like so much dirty laundry. Emotional vampires are, ultimately, the least dangerous threat a Hunter can face- about all they can do is manipulate people’s emotions and ‘feed’ on said emotions. The problem comes in with what that causes in people; suicide, obsession, ptsd, trauma. It leads to things like rape and unwilling accomplices in crimes.

Causes people to launch themselves in front of a bullet.

He didn’t get to retort. I pulled the trigger, and my bespelled bullet found his heart.

He didn’t die fast or easy. They almost never do. I didn’t watch. It didn’t give me any pleasure- not even now.

I put the gun back in the waistband of my pants, turned to face the stunned, terrified patrons of the diner.

“I got what I wanted.” I told them, in the silence of the room. “Call the cops now if you want. They won’t find me. But I might find you, if they try. I hold a grudge, y’know, and I’m sure at least half of you have families. ”A young couple to my left clutched each other, her hand going to her belly. I leered at them to rub the point in. “So maybe be good little sheep and pretend you never saw anything here today. I don’t want to have to make good on this very direct, very real threat.” I motioned to the door. “Get out. Go home.”

No one moved. Fucking idiot sheep, frozen in fear and panic. Deer in headlights. Humans.
“Get. The fuck. Out!” I roared it this time, and it worked. The flood of panicky, scared people rushed past me, out the doors, stumbling and tripping over the body of the vampire.

I leaned against the counter behind me, pulling a pack of smokes out of my shirt pocket and lighting one up. Yeah, I know I said I had asthma as a kid. As a kid, y’know? Besides, my lungs were lowest on my list of things likely to kill me. The herd jostled me as they rushed out, some sobbing, others stone-faced, in shock, others just looking exhausted and drained. They were, rather literally. Still others looked at me with rage- hate, anger, and I grinned at them lazily.

Gonna do somethin’ about me, tough guy? My grin said, and they always answered by flicking their eyes away and moving on. People aren’t usually as tough as they think they are, and even if I didn’t have a gun, even if I hadn’t just shown them I was willing to kill-their instinct, their subconscious, told them I was a litttttle bit out of their weight class.

It didn’t take long for the diner to empty. Like I said, it wasn’t a big one, and there weren’t a lot of people inside. In just five or six minutes there was nothing left but myself and two dead bodies. I sighed, heavily, stubbing my cig out on the countertop.

Story of my life. Me and only dead bodies for company.

I sighed, glancing up to the ceiling. Goddamn it, there was something like a hundred bucks up there in the plaster and wood of that fucking ceiling. I’d expected to fire off a shot for attention and to show I was serious- that was almost always how hunts in public locations went- so I’d prepared for the cost of that one. But two more in the damn ceiling, and then one that had hit……well, someone it wasn’t supposed to…

...three. Three wasted shots total. Three!

Bullets like mine aren’t cheap, and now there were two just poof, gone. Fucking stupid fucking empath, wasting my time and my money-

I moved over to the vampire, who was no longer so much as twitching; and for good measure, I gave him a swift kick in the head. Asshole. Asshole! Bounty wasn’t even fucking worth the loss.
Slightly vindicated, I bent over him, pulled a knife out of my back pocket, and carved a symbol into the small of his back. The sign for fire. Before I whispered the word to ignite the spell-literally- I used the knife to carefully, gently, remove the pinkie finger from the vampire’s right hand. Proof.

In theory, you could just cut the finger off any ol’ Tom, Dick, or Harry, and claim you’d brought down a beastie, but there were ways to test and check for that. Anyone who put bounties out on these creatures had access to those spells, you just had to bring them something to use them on.I like taking fingers. Or sometimes claws. Small and easy to carry, not conspicuous. Plus, a few of my clients have told me they’re one of the easier things to test.

I wrapped the finger in a small, square cloth from my back pocket, then whispered a single word towards the body. “Ignite.” The word I use doesn’t matter. I could have said ‘fucking burn, you manipulative bastard’ and he would still have burst into flames. It was the spell I carved into his skin that counted.I pushed back to my feet, slipping the wrapped finger back into my pocket, and sighed. I’d have to do the same thing for her.

For the body of the beast, this was easy; like disposing of trash, cleaning up after yourself. But her…Those last moments she’d been alive passed before my mind’s eye. Her eyes were lighter still, when she’d been full of fire like that. Her full lips parted slightly as she panted, her long, slender neck arched trying to escape my grip-

-I shook my head, pushing the images away.

Didn’t matter that she was pretty, didn’t do anyone any good to think of her like that but in an entirely different scenario. She wasn’t my type, any-

“What are you doing?”

“Jesus Mary and Joseph!” I jumped half a foot in the air, gun in my hand before I could stop myself, pointing unerringly between the eyes of- the…the sky-colored eyes of…

“Hi.” She smiled and waved. “Please don’t shoot me again. It really hurt.”

“How the hell are you alive?” I demanded, not lowering the gun. I’d shot her. Right through the heart. I knew I had. I didn’t miss. I don’t miss. Not ever. I’d watched her go down, watched the blood spread across her shirt- it was still stained deep red. She should be dead. Even if she wasn’t human, she should be dead. Those bullets were meant to take down anything being shot through the damn heart didn’t.

She shrugged, no fear on her face. She wasn’t a fighter, that was still true; she didn’t want conflict. Didn’t want trouble. But she had no fear of the gun in my hand and no fucking wonder; I’d shot her through the heart but here she was, alive and well. I’d probably not give many fucks about a gun, either.

“I don’t know. It’s not the first time, though.” She reached up, put a hand gently on the barrel of my gun. “Please stop that. Really. What were you doing?”

“It’s not your-” I spluttered for a second, like a teenage boy being confronted by a pretty girl for the first time, tripped up by his boner. She wasn’t afraid of me. Even if she wasn’t scared of my gun, she should have been afraid of me. I’d just murdered a man.

“I’ve died like, four or five times.” She gave me a weak half smile. “It’s never fun, but it never sticks.”
“That bullet should have put you down, no matter what you are.” I bit out. “It’s spelled and blessed.”

“I don’t know what to tell you.” Her smile faded, fell, and something dark passed behind her eyes. “I’ve been stabbed twice, overdosed once, got hit by a car, and-” She stopped, lips thinning, and her eyes darted away. “And other stuff. It never sticks.”

It hit me then, and for the second time in one day that familiar, old feeling of not quite being able to catch my breath hit me square in the chest.

“...what was the first time?” I asked, my voice coming out hoarse and raw.

“The- why do you need to know that?” She folded her arms over her chest, then grimaced and pulled them away from the sticky wet on her shirt.

“Was it bad?” I ask, instead of answering her question. She froze, those beautiful pale eyes fluttering shut, her brow furrowing, and it was the only answer I needed.

“You always answer a question with a question?” She asked, but I barely heard her quip. Revenant. She was a revenant.

They weren’t real. They had always been whispered about among Hunters, among people in the know, but they weren’t real.

I had a friend who claimed she’d fought off a hoard of zombies in a small town once- someplace she called Gravity Drops or something, I didn’t remember- and I’d heard an old, old Hunter once claim he knew a guy who could bring people back to life, but only for a couple minutes at a time or something bad would happen…but neither of them had ever had any proof, and most other Hunters just laughed the stories off as tall tales.

It’s not unusual for Hunters to have Big Fish stories- in fact, it’s pretty damn common.Not that I have any- only the truth from yours truly, swear on me mum.

It was- it is- a catch all word for anything not alive that’s also not a ghost, ghoul, or vampire. Y’know, zombies, or…or, in some stories, people who had died in bad ways who had regrets, anger, and refused to go out without getting revenge or finishing what they felt needed finishing.
Usually, they came back as spirits, angry ghosts.

But here, now--the gun was suddenly quite heavy, and I let it pull my arm back down by my side. She breathed a sigh of relief, and gave me another weak half-smile.

“Guess even special, magic bullets can’t kill me, huh?”

No. No one knew what could really kill a Revenant. There were tons of speculations and thoughts, but because no one had ever actually hunted one, no one knew for sure.

“...Shiloh. Are you listening to me? Hellllloooo?”

Movement, inches from my face. My hand snapped out, snagging the slender wrist, and I twisted, instinct taking over, bending the arm back behind her wrist, trapping it halfway up her back. She cried out, her knees buckling, and she hit the hard, crappily-carpeted floor by the time I’d ever realized I’d acted.

“Hey! Ow! I just- ow, let me go!”

I did, stepping back and trying to pretend I didn’t feel heat in my cheeks at the fact that I’d just assaulted someone who weighed eighty pounds soaking wet. Revenant or not, she wasn’t any kind of threat to me and we both knew it. Rubbing her arm and shoulder, she turned over to flop onto her ass, her sky-eyes filled with anger and tears, her slender chest rising up and down quickly with the fearful breathing of a cornered animal.

“What the hell was that for?”

“I-” Jesus fuck, what is happening here? “I’m sorry. I just- you startled me.”

“You always attack people who scare you a little?”

“Yes, actually.” I pulled the cigarette pack out of my shirt pocket again, tapped out a second. I don’t usually go through more then one so fast, but fuck if I don’t need one. Maybe a drink, too. “Usually people who ‘scare me a little’ are tryin’ to take my face off, so-”

“Point taken.” She actually chuckled a little, delicately picking herself up. She wrinkled her nose at the smell of my cigarette, and I lifted my eyebrows in a silent dare for her to say a word. She thought about it, but instead said-

“I was saying my name is Shiloh.”

Shiloh. Shiloh Sky-Eyes, Shiloh Raven-Hair, Shiloh the Undying, Shiloh. It was a perfect name. It fit her like a glove.

“Shiloh.” I said it out loud this time, and it tripped and bounced off my tongue, energetic and sharp. “I’m Zane.”

“Zane?” She cocked her head at me. “That’s a boy’s name.”

I laughed despite myself- the sound surprised me as much as I think it surprised her. I hadn’t had that happen in…a very long time. She smiled, though, crooked and unsure.

“You know,” She added, “I think you owe me a drink, Zane.” She took a deep breath, turned and now, now she met my eyes without flinching. Without looking away. She didn’t see a predator anymore. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that.

“I mean, after you shot me. And held me hostage. And also called me Princess.” As she got steam under her, I could start to see her personality; what she was under the scared deer. That fire she’d had in my arms was still there; buried, smothered, but there.

“Do you even drink? Or eat?”

“I feel like that might be the same kind of question as how old are you or how much do you weigh?” She retorted, lips thinning- she looked away, a light blushed on her cheeks.“I can. I don’t have to.”

She pulled a shuddering breath, and I watched her brace herself- brave herself up. Put on armor to face me, directly in the eyes again, sassy and disaffected. But I could see the shadow behind her eyes, the way she held herself a little more tightly then someone who didn’t care would, the way she kept trying not to look at the burning body on the floor or the gun in my hand.But also she was eyeing me up and down- her lips parted slightly, her pupils dilated. Scared and turned on. I think the term for it is scaroused.

I chuckled to myself. I’d been told I was hot before- usually by stupid, drunk men right before I stole their wallets, but hey, it counted. “On the plus side, I also can’t get drunk.” She smirked at me, lifting an eyebrow. “Which means if I say yes, I mean it.”

Oh. Well, that was damn forward.

“That’s forward. Most people would be panicking and puking right now, by the way, Princess.”
“Your magic bullets couldn’t kill me. I’m not most people, tough guy.” She gave me a crooked, honest little grin. “If you get to pull the stupid nicknames, I do, too. I do need a nap, though. A long nap. Then we’re going to talk about what happened in here. I…need to talk about what happened in here.”

I wasn’t totally surprised. She’d just seen a man die and honestly, Hunters were- are- rare enough that most people don’t have experience with us. Don’t get how it works. Shit, if Shiloh Sky-Eyes wanted a chat before she let me bang her and we headed off on our separate ways, who was I to complain? At least I’d get something out of this.

“Not worried I’m going to try and find a way to off you?”

She stopped, and this time her smile turned strained, and those sky-eyes danced towards the ground. “If you would,” She replied, softly, “let me know.”

A lot of things I could have said to that. It was heavy. It was hard. She was born of a bad death and clearly haunted by her inability to die- especially if she’d wanted to die in the first place. I got that; knew what it was like to not see the point in life, to want to…

…I got it.

A lot I could have said.

But only one possible option that made any sense to go with.I patted her, firmly, on the shoulder, stepping over the now smoldering pile of ashes that was the vampire. “Okay, Louis.” I drawled, pulling open the door with a dramatic waist-deep bow. “I’ll be sure to finish you off as soon as you finish your memoirs.”

She blinked, then laughed softly- surprised, pleased I hadn’t pressed the issue, and I liked it. Liked her laugh. Her smile. It lit up those pale eyes and gave her little wrinkles at the corners of them, and her nose crinkled along the bridge. Her face went wrinkly when she laughed, and it was so imperfect and ugly and all the better for it.

“Does that make you my Lestat?”

“Last time I checked, Lestat wasn’t planning to let Louis die.” Her laughter faded, but the smile lingered as she studied my face with a slight tilt to her head.

“Maybe not.” She murmured, and took my offered open door with a playful curtsy. As we stepped out into the fading afternoon light, the pale, pale eyes caught the sun and lit up like a fire had been started in them; they were so pale a blue they reflected the light and sent it back times a thousand. Perfect, pale mirrors. She smiled at me when she caught me staring, blushed despite herself.

She really was very pretty.


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18:01 UTC


The dark side

Dark side of internet,socialmediapossession,and more

13:21 UTC


The sisters of perdition part 7

Part 6


I work at a construction company and we are renovating this old monastery into a library. The last of the monks decided to sell the building for money and the state of Tennessee bought it to make it a heritage site. There is still going to be a library and in addition to adding a bunch of books they are keeping all the ones that were originally here. While renovating the building I found another journal of someone named Ewan. After reading it I found this part particularly fascinating and wanted to share it.

My name is Ewan and I live in a monastery on the Mississippi river. I have trained under our leader Max since I received a halo. I was 25. It was 1865. Our monastery kept in contact with the cesareans and I was able to buy ammo for the weapons I had acquired.

Much like 4 years ago our monastery was holding a meeting today. The American civil war had been long and bloody but the south was on the run. They had turned Dixie into an impenetrable fortress and the north was laying siege to it. They were calling for all available troops to gather outside Dixie for an assault.

The north had gained the upper hand mainly through numbers. Though the south and north had at one point had similar populations the casualties of the 2 changeling crises had changed that. More than 2 thirds of military aged men in the south had been lost too the two crises.

On top of that the north had utilized a new invention to deal with the gator animals and wendigos. The Gatling gun was remarkably effective on both accounts and had helped the north against Dora’s creations.

That morning I sat beside the water, praying with my mentor Max. We were both a very calming presence and the animals often came to greet us.

“The orcas will return,” Alziza said from behind us.

I opened my eyes and within moments saw the pod of orcas coming into shore.

Me and Max swam out to the orca pod and before long we were surfing as I had before. Max spoke loudly as we surfed along the river. “You know in my entire life I have only gone for 29 of these orca rides! How many are you up too child?”

“This is only my third.” I responded playfully.

“Well why don’t we take this opportunity to go over some things! You’ll remember it better because we are surfing I assure you." Max said with a grin.

“Sure.” I responded.

“Well now.” Max started. “Charlemagne the Great was the first since the fall of Rome to rediscover the phasing power. Do you know who Charlemagne reincarnated as?”

“Napoleon Bonaparte of course” I responded, rolling my eyes.

“He was brilliant!” Max exclaimed. “In a world of traitors the only logical response is personal liberty! Let no one else have control over thee! It’s such a shame Napoleon didn’t practice what he preached. His own personal liberty went too far... Now then, the watchers! “ Max hacked and spat in the water, then paused.

“What about them?” I asked.

“They are a reminder to us all. No matter how powerful you think you are, if you turn against Yahweh, the law of this world will come for you. You have read the book of Enoch, no?” Max asked.

I looked at the willow trees as we surfed by. “Of course.”

“The watchers thought that Yahweh would come himself to expel them. Instead he sent Enoch. He was the messiah of the pre flood humans, much like Jesus christ is our Messiah. Yahweh sent a junior kindergartner to expel an entire grade of 9th graders if you want to think of it like our school.” Max monologed.

“It is said that men lived a up to 1000 years before the deluge. Why did Yahweh shorten our lives so much?” I asked.

“Death can be a blessing down here. People are so evil that it is necessary Yahweh doesn’t give us that much control. If we lived 1000 years there would be men in cages for 900 I tell you. These people are all evil, child. Trust no one fully.” Max monologed.

Before long we returned to the monastery and swam to shore. Alziza was waiting for us.

“The tides pull out. We must be ready to ride them to victory.” Alziza said, with death in his eyes.

We gathered all the monks from the monastery and began our journey to Dixie, rendezvousing with the monks from other monasteries on the way.

By the time we started seeing gator deer we had a force of 300 monks.

We arrived at Abraham's Lincoln’s encampment the following day. I noted that the old fella had finally gotten his halo. Just as he had said 4 years ago he had 40,000 troops encircling Dixie. Thus far they had not been able to breach the city, being repelled every time they tried.

Abraham and all his Generals gathered that night to speak with Max. They were plotting a plan of attack when Alziza brought an idea to the table.

“We shall strike at sunrise with all available troops. IT will be a long hard battle, and many of our men will die. But by nightfall we will have the enemy where we want them.” Alziza said ominously.

No one seemed mentally capable of refuting the wise ass’s points as he scolded the skeptics like children.

Everyone agreed to the plan and we readied to strike at sunrise.

As sunrise approached I stood with our troop of monks overlooking Dixie.

All of our artillery was lined up. We had renaissance era cannons with cannon balls and primitive exploding shells. The ones that are just bombs with a timed fuse.

We started firing upon Dixie as soon as the sun cracked over the horizon. I was not prepared for the horrors that were about to ensue.

Minutes after we started firing, squadrons of giant black wasps came flying out of Dixie in giant V’s.

The wasps were as big as grizzly bears. They had alligator jaws and wendigo heads on the end of their antenna. Some of their legs were replaced with wendigo arms.

The men tried to aim their Gatling guns at them but couldn’t fire high enough. The wasps flew into the groups of men, slaughtering them by the hundreds.

Then a cavalry charged came out of the city. Hundreds of white knights came out riding gator horses. Gator bears and dogs ran at their side. Dora flew above them, riding one of the wasps.

“Allow me to introduce you to my latest creations!” She screamed into the megaphone. Wendigos then came running out of the city, gaining on, then passing the white knights as they charged towards us.

I then looked towards the sun, and atop a ridge stood Alziza. He was silhouetted against the sun and stood there like the angel of death, surveying the battlefield. I felt an incredibly strong presence from the spirit world and looked upon Alziza with my third eye.

In the spirit world Alziza was an alicorn, with wings and a single horn. He led a legion of 200 2 winged angels.

One of the angels flew over the battlefield and sounded a trumpet. Immediately bullets started curving through the air towards wendigo hearts and klansmen. That battle swung wildly in our favour for a second and then I saw it.

The red, serpent-like, dragon Saren flying through the spirit world towards Alziza. “You think you're as powerful as me, jackass?” Saren laughed.

Immediately the remaining 199 angels pulled out weapons and all flew at Saren, attacking him. He laughed as he swatted them away like flies. The battle started swinging in favor of the enemy and I fled to a bush to avoid the carnage.

The wendigos overran the force I deserted and killed them en masse. Their aim was not true and our side took heavy casualties. The klan was pushing us back and there seemed to be little we could do.

I looked back to the spirit world to see Saren swatting away the last of the 199 angels.

“Now you're mine, jackass!” Saren laughed.

Alziza’s eyes narrowed and then from all directions, 20 4 winged angels flew in at a tremendous speed. One of them flew over the battlefield with a goblet of wrath and dumped it. The others gathered around Alziza, and then all flew at Saren, attacking him.

The battle swung in our favor momentarily as bullets curved towards klansmen, gator animals and wendigos. Even a few of the wasps were hit by stray cannon balls. Then everything reversed and our side was being massacred.

I looked back to the spirit world to see Saren crush the last of the 4 winged angels. “Is that all you got, jackass?” Saren laughed.

I looked to Alziza and saw 7 6 winged angels all clinging to him in the spirit world. They chanted “Glory, glory glory, the lord god the almighty, who was and is and is to come.”

Then all 7 angels along with Alziza flew at Saren attacking him. The battle continued for hours. The upper hand going back and forth constantly. I used guerrilla warfare, getting in shots when I could. I had the pistol and cesarean rifle with me.

After a while I noticed a wendigo wasp flying straight at me, me cover was blown. I only had enough time to dodge or shoot and I chose to roll to the side, as the wasps sword fingers raked the bush.

I stood up and faced towards in as it came back for another try. I fired at it's left wendigo head, then the right, knocking them both off as it's sword arms raked across the ground closer and closer to me.

I said a prayer as it approached, not ready to accept death, and terrified of which angel of death would appear to me. I was too young I thought, I still had so much left to do.

As the wasp's sword arms were about to hit me a stray cannonball stuck it broadside, blowing it too bits. The sword arms exploded from it's body like the quills when you shoot a porcupine and stuck around me. I was pelted with guts.

I crept back into the overgrowth and wiped myself clean with leaves before returning to the bush.

Morning turned to afternoon, and then to evening as the battle raged on. Bodies of both sides littered the ground, tens of thousands were dead in heaps as the battle raged on.

I watched the spirit world as the battle raged. Saren took out the 6 winged angels one by one. As sunset approached the last of the 6 winged angels fell. Alziza was wounded and fell to the ground as Saren laughed.

Wendigos sucked men’s blood like mosquitoes, gator bears chomped men in half. Gator dogs yelped with delight as they tore off body parts and swallowed them. Wendigo wasps raked groups of troops with their sword arms, killing them all.

Bullets curved towards northerners and our troops were being slaughtered. I watched helplessly as Saren took control of the battlefield. Bolts of lighting started hitting troops on our side as they lost hope.

My attention was diverted from the battlefield when out of the corner of my eye I spotted a group of 6 gator dogs running towards me. They either had smelled or heard me because they were coming right at me.

I knew I couldn't shoot them all in time and I lept from the bush and ran for my life. The dogs chased after me and I could hear them barking. I was terrified knowing that even one of them could tear me limb from limb.

I ran through the overgrowth trying to lose them as their barks got closer and closer.

I knew I couldn't outrun them and my mind raced as I tried to come up with some way to save myself. Then I saw a tree that looked just perfect for climbing.

I scrambled up the tree as the gator dogs lept at my feet. I felt one nick my shoes as I climbed. When I reached the top I looked down at all 6 dogs, who had surrounded the tree.

They barked at me and I considered shooting them. But instead turned my attention back to the spirit world.

Alziza cried out to Yahweh, and for a moment I thought his plight fell on deaf ears. Then a number of men came out of the overgrowth, their horses pulling some very advanced looking canons.

In the spirit world I saw 2 dragon heads floating above the men. The black one I didn’t recognize was smouldering uncontrollably. The other, Yahweh was glowing a profound gold light.

“Saren is too powerful! My lord, I have failed!” Alziza cried.

Yahweh looked at Alziza with amusement. “I don’t like to get my hands dirty in these hell worlds.” Yahweh spoke. “I’ll let Nibiru take it from here”

The black dragon cackled and then teleported beside Saren, flying at the same speed as him.

Saren swatted at him, only for him to appear behind him. Nibiru took a bite out of his back and Saren screamed. Nibiru continued teleporting around, taking bites out of Saren as they fought.

All the cesareans had halos. One of them came to the front and screamed, quoting Napolean "God fights with he who has the best artillery!"

The battlefield took another turn as the Cesareans opened fire with their advanced cannons. The exploding shells swerved towards their targets, hitting the wasps and klansmen. These were not primitive exploding shells and detonated on impact. Wasps fell from the sky, burning, klansmen ran, screaming at the tops of their lungs as they burned.

Buildings started bursting into flames and Dixie started to burn. The klansmen ran towards the Cesareans, being mowed down by gatling gun fire. I looked towards Dora’s who seemed humiliated that her creations were being killed.

I looked back to the spirit world and saw Saren and Nibiru duking it out. Saren was on the run as Nibiru chomped away.

Suddenly Nibiru’s head grew a body with legs and he cackled at Saren. Nibiru pointed at Saren and a gridded fabric wrapped around Saren leaving him unable to move.

“Please don’t kill me!” Saren cried, unable to struggle.

“Oh you know me Saren. I like to play with my food. I won’t kill you now. I’ll play a game with you. I’ll offer you a chance at redemption, and if you don’t take it, I’ll have Julius Caesar damn you, just like Yahweh had Enoch damn the watchers. IT seems right since you plan to reach godhood by eating him, no? Now Sarnen, flee to the ends of the earth. Go to the bottom of the ocean, hide behind the clouds, burying yourself under miles of rock. If you don’t take my offer, there is nowhere I can’t find you Saren. You can’t hide from me.” Nibiru cackled.

The fabric unraveled and Saren flew away at and incredible speed. Dora fled in the physical world, followed by many of her troops.

Abe Lincoln and the Cesareans seemed focused on a singular task. Burning Dixie to the ground. Cannons fired all night as the city was reduced to total rubble. I climbed down the tree since the dogs had gotten bored and left. I saw Max and a group of monks heading after Dora and ran to join them.

Max had rallied a small force and we tried to follow the Grand wizard Dora. Tons of her underlings gathered on steamboats that sped off down the river. Dora and her squadron of wasps landed on the boats.

We could not pursue them any farther and they fled with many klansmen, and monsters. The next day me and a force of monks went into the rubble to look for survivors. We found 1 building that was miraculously still standing and we went in to investigate. There was a family sitting down for breakfast, all dead.

I looked at them and recognized the family as my own. Grandpa Mike sat at the table along with Christie, Jean Robert, Josephine, a man I didn’t recognize, along with Jeff’s wife, another man I didn’t recognize and Jeff's two kids. All of them sat full of bullet holes around an untouched hog on the table.

After Dixie was destroyed what was left of the south surrendered. The grand wizard had fled to who knows where.

The remaining monks headed back to the monastery and I continued to train under Max for years.

Unfortunately, shortly after the south surrendered we got news of Abraham Lincoln's assassination at the hands of the KKK. Still, the north had won the war and Abe’s people kept his memory alive, and kept the south in check.

5 years passed and in 1870 we located the Grand Wizard. She had fled to Antarctica. We mustered a force of northerners who wanted to avenge Abe as well as all the monks we could and sent a convoy of steam ships to head to Antarctica. Me and Max stayed behind as they left.

“Why aren’t we going with them?” I asked.

Max smiled. “I told you only 7 monk’s in the history of our order have been able to phase through objects, but I have gained the power after that on the chain. The chariot it is called.”

Later that day we got on a steam ship and headed north. Everyone on the ship gathered in the boiler room and prayed as Max activated the chariot.

We sat in the boiler room for numerous hours while the boat chugged along. When we went back to the deck after many hours I couldn’t believe my eyes. We had traveled close to 1000 miles in a single day.

The next day we did the same thing and within two days we reached our destination, Igloolik.

“When I was 8 years old I met a green man by the name of Hugo. He inspired me to be the man I am today. I always knew that one day we would meet again.” Max said.

We found a group of Eskimo’s and Alziza asked something in their language.

We walked along the ice near Igloolik and found someone frozen in the ice. While we went to boil some water a monk’s dog named Mutt peed on the ice block.

The ice block started to shake, and then shattered as a green man stood there screaming. He had glowing gold eyes; and teeth like the dragons did.

Energy swirled around him as the green man screamed,“I have come for the white witch!” . The ice started cracking around him and for a second I thought we would all be plunged into the freezing water.

He settled down after a moment and he headed back to the monastery one last time before heading to Antarctica.

I record this here so that my contemporaries, as well as future generations, may have a true account of what happened the night they drove old Dixie down

17:42 UTC


Undying to see you (NSFW- Adult themes, violence)

I try not to die every day.

Warm amber liquid tingling going down, nutty aftertaste, smooth.

My tumbler clinking against the polished wood, holding up two fingers.

“What’s up Nicholas?” Bambi slid down and poured another. “Next you’ll be asking me for the bottle.”

“Nah, just one of those days, you know,” I said, whiskey disappearing from my glass again.

Despite my condition, I didn’t want to die. Scratch that. I didn’t want to go through the process of dying all the time. Being dead, well. I didn’t say that. Bambi didn’t need the baggage and it’s not like I talk about my condition.

“Last one, sweetheart.” Pouring one for each of us, she leaned into the bar. “It’s bad for business to say but this ain’t a good answer for every problem.”

Hot air blasted through the open door and stuck on my shirt. Slimy and Twitchy strolled in like they owned the place.

Slimy was short, five and change if he was lucky. Greased back hair, a Canali suit hanging loose on his frame, and snakeskin boots shined to a high gloss. Right behind him, vibrating in his own skin, eyes darting around the room, Twitchy wore heavy gold, a wife-beater, and pimples.

“Hey there, sweet cheeks. Pour me one, will ya, before we go.” Slimy strolled up to the bar, eyes roving Bambi’s ass when she reached up for the good stuff.

“There you go, Vinny,” throwing her bar towel in the sink. “I’m so excited!”

“What’s going on?” I asked.

“None of your damn business,” Twitchy sneered.

“Hey, you wanna say that again, Meth head?” I said, standing up, my barstool scraping across the floor behind me.

“Whoa there, big guy,” Bambi’s warm hand pressed against my chest. “It’s alright. It’s just a photo shoot.”

“Photo shoot, huh?” I stared hard at Slimy. “Bambi, I don’t know about…”

“You don’t have too!” Bambi shoved me just a little. “It’s none of your damned business and I want this.” “But?” I said, glancing back at Slimy, his eyebrow raising.

“I know but I researched the hell out of it.” Bambi, said. “They’re legit and they’ve done shoots for some pretty famous girls.”

I felt Bambi’s lips brush across my cheek.

“I’ll see you tomorrow. I got this.” Bambi said, walking out into the humid Jersey air.

Slimy saluted me, kicked back his drink, and followed Bambi out.

“Fucker,” Twitchy made a jerking-off motion before slamming the door shut behind him.

I sighed and finished my shot.

“I haven’t seen her, man,” the guy behind the bar said. “She called off this morning saying her grandma died or some bullshit like that.”

There was a new Monmart opening up in town and I spent the afternoon applying for the overnight stock shift. It was honest if unstimulating work. Monmart didn’t really care about its workers, but it was a good a place as any to eek away the hours of the night. Better than watching the paint flake off of my walls or sucking on a bottle of Jim.

Three nights and days passed.

“It’s not getting any easier, Richard.” I muttered. “They said it would.”

Looking up into the Atlantic City Skyline, straight black lines from the newest casino jutting into the morning light, a giant electronic sphere resting on the tip. Pinnacle Casino glowing in neon red, spinning around the ball. Pinnacle was supposed to be the savior of AC, bring in all the deep pocket tourists, they said. Someday, have an express boat cruise between AC and NYC and watersports on the coast, they said. They said a lot of things. A giant ball in the sky wasn’t great. Like some maniacal dark overlord’s unblinking eye jealously glaring at its realm below.

“The only watersports we got out of the deal is being chased by mosquitos.” I opened the door of the bar, escaping the watchful eye of the Pinnacle high above. “Fucking casinos.”

Pulling out a stool at the bar, sizzling bacon brought tears to my eyes and water to my mouth. Walking out the backroom, Bambi was carrying a stack of flapjacks high over her head.

“Bambi, hey!”

“Shit!” Plates and pancakes exploding against the bar. “Shit, shit, shi-it!”

“Hey, you, ok?” I said, reaching down to pick up the corpse of breakfast.

“Shit, Nick, just leave me alone.” Slamming the plate down, Bambi stormed out the front door.


I didn’t work at the bar, but a cleanup on aisle 5 is pretty much the same wherever you’re at. Finishing up, I tossed the deceased pancakes and plates in the trash and headed outside.

“Hey.” I found her around back in the alley, all tear-smeared mascara and puffy red eyes.

“The worst part about it all, is that I knew better.” Slamming her fist into brick. “Fuck.”

Letting silence fill the space, I didn’t make eye contact, watching instead a fly struggling in a spider web, trying to free itself. The spider watching lazily from the edge of the web.

“You know they say that porn is supposed to be so liberating for women. It’s bullshit. I didn’t even go there for that. I thought, sure I’d show some skin, but I didn’t sign up for...” Squeezing her arms tightly around her body, Bambi spat. “They didn’t force me, but they made it really clear I wouldn’t leave until I performed their script.”

The spider working its way unhurriedly to the fly, no reason to rush, the meal is already there.

“I just wanted to get out of this dead-end job and be somebody. Make some cash and get out of this dump. I signed a contract too. They can sue me if I don’t make more videos for them.”

The spider punctured the fly from its articulated fangs, injecting venom into the fly’s abdomen. The fly never had a chance.

“Stupid, stupid,” slapping herself in the face with each utterance. “Stupid.”

Every fiber of my being wanted to reach out and stop her, hold her, comfort her. But I didn’t. She had just been violated and coerced, she didn’t need another man telling her what to do, even with the best of intentions.

“I’m leaving town. I’ve got nothing but I can’t do that again. Maybe if they can’t find me, they’ll leave me alone.”

Maybe, I thought. These bastards can be fickle. It all depended on how popular she ended up being and how much money she made them. Porn was a multi-billion-dollar business with deep ties in sex trafficking. That kind of money pays for attorneys who won’t look too hard at who they’re representing and don’t have a problem financially ruining a poor kid who didn’t know any better.

“Running means running for a long, long time. Sometimes you never stop,” I said. “Sometimes it stops you.”

“What the hell can I do against those guys, Nick?”

“Not you, Bambi.” Looking in her eyes, “us.”

“Just give us the damned contract and we’ll get out of your slimy hair!” It felt good shoving Slimy in the chest.

We were in a crappy downtown hotel room in AC, just close enough from the strip to look legit. A girl who looked like she was just out of high school, barely wearing a towel, was leaning against the window.

“Get the hell out of here!” Bambi, grabbing the girl, shoved her towards the door. “it’s not what you think it is!”

“Wait, man. Just wait.” Slimy held out his hands placatingly. “We can work something out.”

Backhanding him, “is that what you tell the girls before you rape them!”

“Rape? Hell no. They all know what they were signing up for.”

“No, we didn’t!” Bambi spit in his face. “I didn’t sign up for what happened to me.”

“Come on baby, it wasn’t like that.”

“What the fuck!” Twitchy slammed through the open hotel door aiming a cheap pistol at us, “You’z gonna die, motha-fuckers!”

Raising our hands we moved against the window.

“That’s a good lil’ bitch.” Slapping Bambi in the face, Slimy sucker punched me. “Ain’t so tough now, are you.”

“Yeah, you ain’t so tough.” pressing the gun into my chest, Twitchy spat. “Fucker.”

“Go to school, dipshit, is that all you can say?”

“What, you want some!”

“Look, this doesn’t have to get messy.” Slimy said, pushing Twitchy back towards the entrance. The barrel of the gun spasming so hard in Twitchy’s hand, it kept flicking between me and Bambi.

“You know black sells. I film you doing this pretty little thing with that big piece I know you have, and maybe we can work something new out.” Slimy smugly stared at me. He knew he had won. “While Twitchy has his gun on you of course, but that’ll just make it more hot, ya know.”

I watched Twitchy’s finger vibrating on and off of the trigger.

Looking at Bambi, hoping she would understand what was going to happen. I caught a sideways glance out the window. Four stories, fifty-fifty. Looking back at me, she nodded.

“Okay, okay,” I said, moving in front of Bambi. “Let’s…”

Lunging out, I screamed at Twitchy. Bullets whizzed past me, exploding into the window behind us. Bambi screamed out in pain. Hot lead pierce my chest, my shoulder.

Spinning, I grabbed Bambi, flinging us out of the window. Glass shattering around us, pavement rushing towards us. I flip my body with Bambi’s, enveloping her fragile body with my own.

Slimy watching from the shattered window, slack-jawed and stupid. Good. Need him to see this.

Impact. Organs slamming into my chest activity. Skull cracking. Vertebrae in my spine rupturing.

I hear Bambi moaning on top of me. Blackness encroaching all around.

Gravity is a bitch.


Sucking air. Lights. Stinging flesh.

“Nick!” Slapping sound, faraway. Again. Stinging. “Nick!”

Moving. Need to be moving. Racing through my chest, arcs of electricity, burning nerve endings coming to life.

“I’m good, I’m good.” Grabbing her hand, mid-swing. “Over there!”

Limping, dragging, we collapsed behind a dumpster. “Nick! How are you alive.” Bambi, grabbing face and looking at me. “You saved me. Nick, we’ve got to get you to a hospital.”

“Wait,” gasping air coming out of a punctured lung. “Just wait.”

I willed my condition to move faster. There wasn’t any time.

“Where the fuck are they?” Slimy’s voice from around the dumpster.

“Yeah man, there’s so much fuckin’ blood and shit.” Twitchy shouting. “I killed those mother-fuckers! I killed them!”

“I saw them die. I saw them die. They have to be dead. If they’re not dead, we are so screwed.” Panic pitching Slimy’s voice. “Let’s just get the hell out of here.”

“Boss.” Rattling gun against the ground.

The look on Slimy’s face was priceless. Twitchy’s neck arched against my forearm. Little extra pressure on the carotid artery. Meth head wasn’t using his grey matter anyways. Limp body dropping to the ground.

“What the hell! You’re dead!”

“Yeah, we are.” Bambi sauntering out from behind the dumpster, walking up to Slimy. Blood streaming down her face and coating her ample cleavage. Pressing her chest into him, reaching down and grabbing his cock. I could hear his balls popping. “I’m a fucking ghost and I am going to haunt you every day of your miserable, pathetic, life.”

“I’m…I’m sorry.” Squeaking out his words, Slimy backed off.

“I know you are, you sorry excuse for a man.” Squeezing, popping. Slimy’s eyes unfocusing. “That’s why you’re going to turn yourself in when the cops get here, or I will do this to you every night of your miserable life. You’ll be my bitch, this time.”

Slimy’s body slumping to the ground.

Leaning against the hotel, red and blue flashing across Bambi’s face.

“You got this.” Statement, not question.

“Thanks to you.”

“To you!” Raising my long neck, clinking Bambi’s bottle.

“Right back at you.” Bambi said kicking back a third of her bottle. “You know that asshole already distributed pics from that night online. The FBI said they were working on getting everything erased, but it doesn’t really work like that does it? I’m sure, everyone from this bar has seen my boobs by now.”

Glancing up at me, she raised an eyebrow.

“Bambi,” looking her directly in her soft blue eyes. “If we were ever to get to that point, it would be with top shelf liquor, flowers, romance, and respect.”

Staring me in the eyes for just a moment longer than comfortable, she took another pull from her bottle.

Bambi smiled.

03:17 UTC


I am a monster hunter in a curious coastal city.

My city doesn't have a name, officially it does, but it's been a long time since anyone has referred to it that way, most people usually refer to this picturesque place with things like, the city, the place or hell, the latter being its most popular nickname, mostly because of outsiders or people who end up here by mistake. For me personally, I don't mind what they call my city, but there are many locals who get very offended when, for example, a family who went on vacation in their car suddenly arrive here and crying and screaming they approach any business or convenience store clamoring for help, that "this is hell" and that "they shouldn't be here", but, I'm getting ahead of myself.

My name is Jacob Alexander Pharaday, eccentric name, the e's, but I always thought my mother's last name sounded much better than my father's. I am, like many thousands of others, a humble inhabitant of a city on the northern coast of the continent, if you were to get on a plane and fly over my city what you would see would be a small concrete colored dot standing out among an infinite blue desert and a green tide of trees as far as the eye can see, and is that our city is so to speak, isolated or trapped, the truth is difficult to explain to someone who has never been here. We are far from any other population center, it seems to me that the nearest city is 720 kilometers to the south, just out of the forest, there are no stable communications with anyone outside of here and the few who know we exist have no interest in informing the rest of the world about us, as lonely and scary as this may seem, the truth is that everyone here loves this solitude, it's like when you are alone at home on a Sunday and enjoy absolute privacy while drinking a good coffee and eating that piece of cake you left in the fridge all week. The vast majority of us who live here agree with this universal privacy, comfortable and calm living our day to day life, but of course there is always a group of people, usually young people, who want to get out of the city and go to the outside world. As strange as it may seem, when this happens, the general population has no problem with this, if they are young, yes it is understandable that they want to have their own lives and yes, if they want to leave they can do it, the thing is that if they want to leave, they must do it by their own means and leaving this city is, to say the least, very difficult.

As I said we are in the middle of the ocean and the forest, that in principle would not be a problem, except for a small detail, both are infested with monsters. Don't misunderstand me, we have monsters, like anywhere else in the world, we are not and we don't think we are the exception to the rule, we don't complain about that, the point is that, both our forest and our ocean suffer an incredibly unusual overpopulation of monsters, I'm talking about that you can't walk 20 meters without encountering one. From goblins to skinwallkers, from mermaids to krakens, we are in the middle of a plague that we cannot fight, at least not adequately. Anyone attempting to leave the city limits either by land, sea or air will be violently accosted by monsters of every imaginable type, be it a pack of small ones or, if you're really unlucky, a big and powerful one. It is an immovable rule, no matter what you try or how much effort you put into it, the only thing that determines your survival and subsequent escape from the confines of the city is luck or, failing that, the favor of some forgotten god or forces beyond the supernatural, of course a good list of skills and experience also usually influences your chances a bit, but in general it is a titanic task for which the vast majority is not prepared. That's also why these manifestations of youthful freedom are usually quickly overshadowed, either because common sense gets to their heads or, because enough of them die horribly and the others are dissuaded from trying. Of course, it is not as if we are penned in a tiny space and doomed to die of claustrophobia, in both directions one can venture several kilometers without suffering any significant harm, this allows fishermen to get food and farmers to process good amounts of land, so our supplies are ample and we do not need them at all. On the other hand, the large rivers that flow down from the mountains into the forest supply us with enough water to drink and consume without care, so yes, we live in a prison, but a luxurious one.

Good people live in this place, most of them are descendants of the original settlers of the city, witches, minor necromancers and hybrids with some magical gifts, they are usually the nicest, but also the most conservative, they are usually the type that rejects outsiders and get offended when they call the city "hell". A good portion of the settlers include, but are not limited to; scientists, explorers and, obviously, monster hunters, some arriving here by accident, others looking for a challenge or, as is my case, assigned by their superiors who had not the remotest idea of what was hidden in this place. Most of this group are engrossed in finding a safe and definitive way to leave and return to the city, in an attempt to efficiently bring reinforcements and research equipment, according to their words this anomaly is "harmful and malicious and must be destroyed as soon as possible" they are, in fact, the only revolutionary movement that has not died out over time, always hostile, always intransigent, they do not want to try to understand what surrounds them, they simply want to destroy it. On the other hand there are the handful of hunters and scientists who, we have grown accustomed to living here, in fact more than that we have grown fond of the place and its inhabitants, on the one hand the scientists wish to understand and study the anomaly and the strange varieties of creatures it attracts or creates, on the other side we are the hunters who do not wish the absolute annihilation of all the creatures created by the anomaly and we simply dedicate ourselves to exterminate those that can mean a real danger for the population of the city, referring of course to those that are intricately evil. Finally, the last sector of the population is made up of individuals who were unlucky enough to arrive in this city and are now unable to leave, this group is the most stranded of all, there are families, couples, single people, all arriving here in one way or another. Due to the nature of the anomaly that surrounds us, which works like a fish trap, the ease of getting in here is proportionally opposite to how difficult it is to get out, which is why a considerable amount of people lost their former lives through ridiculousness, driving the wrong way, driving into a storm in their boats, walking in the rain, opening a door absentmindedly, those and more infinite could have been the reason for their, now, indefinite stay. Truth be told they are the ones I feel most sorry for, at least the new arrivals, they wander for days around the city, first in panic and then like desperate zombies, trying to make sense of their situation and hoping that, as magically as they arrived, they will leave, but it never happens, or at least almost never. Those who find enough strength to accept it and go on fit in and soon become a functioning part of our society, helping and learning to live with the obscene amount of weirdness that surrounds them, the few who can't stand it usually fall into utter despair, which drives them to madness. Most of them run off into the woods or the ocean to find death at the hands of whatever horror is lucky enough to find such a simple morsel, but a handful remain on the fringes of society, living in the sewers or in abandoned buildings, wallowing in their misery and pain, and, in some cases, end up messing with things they cannot comprehend, they are the main source of our current plague of demons, apparently even here the more classical forces find entertainment.

In the middle of all this is me, a humble hunter who tries to help as much as he can and as much as his abilities allow him, as I said, my bosses sent me here some years ago because of rumors of a city infested with monsters, they believed that the stories were mere exaggerations, even so they sent me as a reconnaissance agent, if only they could see me now, I guess I would at least deserve a pat on the back for my good work. In my case it didn't take me long to get used to the place, it was nothing I hadn't seen or experienced before, only now it was all at the same time and in incredible quantities. I was also lucky enough not to be the first hunter caught here, thanks to my colleagues I was able to get up to speed pretty quickly and assimilate even better, it wasn't hard for me to decide which faction of the hunters present I would lend my services to, the department of "The Resigned" as we are called are in collaboration with the police department and the fire department of the city in charge of helping the population with problems of all kinds, from a lost cat to a kaiju attack on the coast, our policy imparts that we will only take lethal action if the creature in question is clearly hostile and dangerous. At first I was assigned a fairly general job, helping out a bit with everything but over time I have been given the freedom to choose which cases I get into, I am now less of a field agent and more of a private detective, I no longer have the patience to run through the woods chasing a crazed child-eating demon or embark with the fishermen for a night of purging. Nowadays, I prefer to focus on solving more elaborate problems; cursed objects, demons, unnatural entities, cultists, plagues and the recurring minor problems with forest creatures, on very rare occasions I get involved in more complex issues, such as uncontrolled liminal spaces or pest nests and of course, sometimes I have to resign myself and run around with a child-eating demon, although these are usually more for favors to professional colleagues, friends or, in the worst cases, because not helping could compromise the integrity of the entire city and its inhabitants, but out of those unpleasant intermittent tasks I do not mind saying that my life is good, I have good friends, I have good companions, and over time I have learned to call this city, my home.

I started writing this log because, recently and apparently, our city has started to be the focus of attention for certain lights in the sky, it is not a subject that the experts here are not aware of, in fact, that is just the reason for our concern, either from stories or personal experiences, many of us know that when the lights appear things can get ugly very quickly, add to this the fact that, the hostile hunter experiments have been bearing fruit and now claim to be close to creating a safe passage out of the city, this too can be potentially catastrophic for the city, as it has been proven on more than one occasion that these hunters care little or nothing about the devastation they leave behind as long as they consider their job done, therefore some of us hunters have decided to start recording everything that happens from now on, from the strangest thing to the most insignificant detail, not only to continue nurturing our knowledge, but also, in case everything goes to hell too fast to stop it, to keep a record that in this lost place there was something, there was someone, that this lost city had the name of all the people who inhabited it and that we are trying to stop this madness.

20:37 UTC


A quick story about my short time undercover

****The following story is completely factual and true. Disclaimer: All names are changed to protect the identity of people, and locations/information is withheld to protect the integrity of criminal cases. This story also is not to spark an argument about Marijuana and its legality; it was illegal at the time of this story.****

It was the fall of 2016, I was on patrol with my hometowns department (town of 1,400 people). As I was driving around town on patrol, the Chief of Police, Bill, called me. He asked to meet me at his house. I showed up and met Bill inside. Bill explained to me that the Sheriff's Office had been working on an investigation into a drug dealer in a neighboring town (smaller than mine). Bill explained that the Sheriff himself called and explained that the deputy assigned to the case was on vacation and they had no deputies available to go undercover to do a drug deal. Real quick I want to explain the sheriff's office to you real quick. The sheriff's office has the Sheriff, a Chief Deputy, a Civil Deputy, a Jail Administrator Deputy, and 8 fulltime deputies with 4 reserve deputies. The jail is the original from 1851, holding 20 prisoners within 2 cellblocks and 4 individual cells (for females or max security prisoners). During day shift normally the Sheriff, Chief Deputy, Jail Administrator, Civil Deputy, and a patrol deputy works, with 4 deputies working the evening shift, and either 1 or 2 working overnights. On the weekends the reserve deputies work and cover the county.

Anyway I was asked if I would be willing to go undercover as this guy named Chris, that the deputy investigating called himself online. I said yes. I was given a dirty change of clothes that I went home and changed into. I came back to the Chiefs house and he gave me a Budweiser hat to wear. Bill explained to me that I looked too clean for the background of this guy so he literally told me to roll around in the dirt, which I did. The individual I was pretending to be was supposed to be a construction worker who also did work at home. Bill drove me to the trailer park to meet up with a local drug user, who knew the dealer, and who was also on probation. After a brief introduction of each other, the mans name being Will, I jumped into Will's truck and took off toward the neighboring town, as Will's license was suspended. Bill followed in plain clothes and inside his own personal car (we didn't have an unmarked car). I didn't bring any ID or badge or gun as not to give myself away if this drug dealer searched me. This made me nervous. Bill had his badge and gun on him and would be watching to make sure everything went smooth.

We rolled into this neighboring town and Will told me to pull over to the side of the road beside a plating business. We sat there for a few minutes before a black car rolled up next to us. My heart had already been beating fast, but now it was beating a million miles an hour. I began to sweat as the dealer shut his car off and looked at us. Will looked to me and whispered, "Be cool", before stepping out. I saw the dealer looking right at me, so I gave him the piece sign. He nodded his head as Will stepped to the passenger window of the car. Man right then I began to really sweat as this guy kept staring at me. I diverted my eyes over to the bar, which was out my window, and shouted at some random lady standing outside smoking, 'What's up babe? Looking nice today." The lady rolled her eyes and I turned my head to look at the drug dealers car again. I saw Will leaning into the car talking with the drug dealer. I saw Will had his left hand underneath he car window. I saw an exchange between Will and the dealer. They talked for a minute more before Will leaned back from the car, and the drug dealer drove off. Will returned to the truck and got in. As I drove away Will told me I did a good job faking it. Will told me that this drug dealer never suspected I was a cop. I want to point out quick that they DID NOT have a class on undercover work at the academy, so I was on my own.

I breathed a sigh of relief and drove back to town. Will pulled out a baggie filled with Marijuana and the truck filled with the odor. Even though the windows were rolled down, it still reeked of marijuana. This was some good shit that the dealer was trafficking from Colorado and California. As we drove back in this piece of crap truck, I look ahead and see the front of a State Patrol charger coming at me. I knew already that there was a headlight missing from the front of the truck, as well as a cracked windshield, and the steering wheel had to be held sideways to stay straight. I knew by the way myself and Will looked, that the trooper more than likely would stop us. I immediately had a panic feeling. I threw my hand up and waved at the trooper, who was staring us down. As soon as he passed, I saw brake lights. I didn't want to get stopped because we would have to let the trooper arrest us and once at the jail sort everything out (reason being is if the drug dealer went by we can't raise suspicion). Thankfully the trooper kept driving and didn't turn around. We got into city limits and met at a rendezvous point.

Bill rolled up behind me a few minutes later. We had Will exit the truck with the Marijuana, which he bagged as evidence. We searched Will, before I drove him back home to the trailer park. Bill picked me up and told me we all did a great job. Bill said he was sitting near us watching with binoculars in the event something went wrong. I went back home, showered, and threw my uniform back on. I then went to the office and wrote a report about the drug deal. The report and evidence was turned over to the Sheriff's Office to help the investigation.

I do not know what ever happened with this investigation as a few months later I transferred to another department. The drug dealer I will say was living a double life. He was a family man at first look, who frequently went to Colorado and California for work. But his secret was that he sold marijuana in his spare time.

23:31 UTC


Undying for Christmas

“The lady said you were cut off,” I growled and threw a candy cane at Grinch 2’s head. “What, you not feelin’ the Christmas spirit?”

Grinch 2’s buddy, Grinch 1, all flannel and body odor, swaggered over to me. “Hey, Santa ain’t no black man!”

“Maybe not, but you--” sucker punch to Grinch 1’s gut.

“--Are on my--” knee to the nose.

“--Shit list!” Right hook satisfyingly snapping prick’s mouth shut.

Grinch 2 threw a haymaker, clipping my jaw.

“Is that all you-- Ugh!” Grinch’s buddy slammed into my gut, throwing all three of us into the bar. It was all body shots and cussing.

“Hey!” the bartender yelled, followed by the unmistakable sound of the action on a double-barrel shotgun pulled and thrust forward, “get the hell out of my bar!”

“Merry Fucking Christmas!” Grinch 1 spat, flipping the bird.

“Yeah, what he said!” Grinch 2 followed him out the door into a cold blast of Jersey Christmas snow.

“Sorry for the trouble.” I said, and very slowly, making sure the bartender could see what I was doing, pulled a $100 out of my wallet and dropped it on the bar on the way out into the cold. Let me tell you, that wasn’t easy in this giant red suit I was wearing. “Merry Christmas, Ms.”

“Hey, Saint Nicholas! Not you, you idiot.”

The bartender picked up the $100 and folded it in-between her cleavage while grabbing a Johnnie Walker Blue from the top shelf and pouring two shots. “I’ll take this for sticking your nose in where it doesn’t belong, and these are for sticking your nose in where it doesn’t belong.”

“Long life.” Raising my shot, I kicked it back.

“Fame and fortune,” she said and poured us both another. “I’m Katie, Father Christmas.”

“Nicholas,” I lied.

“No shit.” “As good a name as any.”

“So, what’s with the get up.”

“I’m meeting some kids that need some Christmas cheer.” I threw back my Johnnie, pulled up my fluffy white beard, and headed to the door. “Unfortunately, I’m all they’ve got, but it’ll have to do.”

“See you later Father Christmas,” Katie said.

I’m an orphan. Yeah, I don’t talk about it much, but St Theresa’s Home for Wayward Children was the only home I knew. I wasn’t a good kid who grew into the typical troubled teen and screwed up adult. But that was all history until I met Robert. Now that’s history too.

But I’m a different person now and I owe a lot to those sisters at St. Theresa’s for not throwing me in the street when I was being a complete pain in the Holy Mother’s rear end, and it was my turn to give back.

Looking up; the gothic arches of St. Theresa’s are still pretty badass, impaling the sky and daring any mortal, or otherwise, to not think twice about their place in this universe.

“Merry Christmas!” Sister Anne, as wrinkled as the day I met her, stood as unmovable as the church itself. “Nice outfit, my son.”

“Thanks Sister,” I reached down and planted a big one on her cheek. “Hot as always.”

“Ha! We have got to talk about your taste, young man!” I barely felt the slap on my arm, but I winced anyways just for show. “What are we going by now?”

“Nicholas,” I said. “No saint, just Nicholas.”

“I don’t think the big Guy would agree… Nicholas.”

Her touch against my arm warmed my soul, salty streams leaking from my eyes.

“Thanks Sister, hey what’ve we got this year? A bunch of lost kids with a lot of anger issues and no home but here?”

“Like every year, my son.”

Walking through, I held my gaze forward. I was here to do a job, not get lost in the past. Peeking through the door, I counted 12 wayward children causing general mayhem in the hall. I chuckled. Things don’t change much.

“Hey Sister, who’s the stuffed shirt and Ralph Lauren child model?”

“That is Mr. Nichols, tech firm CEO and benefactor of the orphanage this year. That’s his son Eustice. They’re sponsoring the children’s Christmas and have been very generous to our parish.”

Eustice caught sight of me and, for a second, his eyes turned into saucers and then he forced a scowl onto his face.

“Good Catholic guilt, sister?”

“God works in mysterious ways, Nicholas.”

“Ho, ho, ho!” I winked and stormed through the doors! “Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas!”

Little hands swarmed all over me.

“Hey, leave the beard alone!”

“No, reindeer don’t do that! Sister Anne!!!”

Little Eustice stood in front of me looking up. Mr. Nichols was busy typing away on his cell.

“You’re black.”

“You don’t miss anything, do you kid?”

“Santa’s not black.”

“Santa’s a fictionalized character made up for consumerism by white people, based on the real Father Nicholas, a Greek pastor who performed countless miracles for little children, and no, he wasn’t black. But he definitely wasn’t white either.”

“My father paid good money for this. We should have a white Santa.”

“Kid, you don’t always get what you want, but sometimes you get what you need.”

The crack of bullets smacking into ancient wood broke the mood.

“Everybody get the fuck down!” Two flannel clad men in black ski masks kicked open the hall door and sprayed the ceiling with bullets. “Merry Fucking Christmas, assholes!”

Throwing Eustice behind me, I stormed the men.

“What the… Fucking Father Christmas.” Grinch 2 said to Grinch 1.

“You? What the hell?”

“He knows who we are,” Grinch 1 said.

Grinch 2 nodded and pulled the trigger.

A small caliber bullet ripped through my chest. White fluff floated in my peripheral, falling gently like snow in a globe.

“Pretty.” I whispered and died.

Liquid pain poured through my nervous system. Neural pathways lit up like a Christmas tree on crack.

“Ouch. Mary and Joseph.”

I still don’t fully know how my condition works, but when my body suffers catastrophic damage, an invisible man with paddles comes along and lights up my entire cellular network, jump-starting the healing process a thousand-fold in the blink of an eye.

“Well, that’s new.” Red and green lights swam through my vision, spinning and spinning, then twinkling. “Oh, Christmas tree, oh. Ouch.”

It took me a second to disentangle my body from the branches.

“Man, this tinsel gets into every crack.” Looking around, I was greeted only by silence and broken ornaments. “Probably better that way. The kids didn’t need to see Santa resuscitate inside of a fake Christmas tree.”

Hallway clear, I walked down the ancient halls of the orphanage. The way the hallway glittered with tinsel and lights; the church must have gotten some serious holiday cheer out of Mr. Nichols for decorations.

“We just have to hold out long enough for that rich cat to transfer the funds and we’re out of here.” Whispering down the hallway. Two shadows conversing against the wall. A door shutting closed.

“This’ll do.” Wrapping a string of Christmas lights around my hand, I chucked three of the glass ornaments across the hall and past the entrance with my other. Glass on stone, tinkling shards of Christmas falling to the ground. “Sorry, Sister Anne.”

“Who’s there?” Grinch 1 popped out of the hallway, his .22 pointed gangsta’ style towards the smashed ornaments. “You want some of this!”

Wrapping the Christmas lights around his neck and covering his mouth with the other, I tightened my grip.

“Silent night…” I whispered in his ear, his body spasming. Then still. “Sweet dreams, Mr. Grinch.”

Dragging his body down the hall, I hogged-tied his hands and feet with the Christmas lights. I closed the door behind me.

“Better watch out, better not cry, better not pout, I’m telling you why!” Singing in my best bass and picking up the .22 from the floor, “Santa Claus is coming…!”

Slamming open the door, I swept the room with the gun.

Children in the corner, Sister Anne standing in front of them. Mr. Nichols on the floor, bleeding from his forehead.

“You’re dead! I Killed you!” Grinch 2 yelled pushing his gun into Eustice’s blood-streaked temple, his other hand over his mouth. “I killed you.”

“You can’t kill Christmas, idiot.” Raising the gun to just above Eustice’s head, my eyes locked with his. “You hungry, kid?”

Eustice blinked and then sank his teeth into the Grinch’s hand.

“You little…”

Released, Eustice dropped to the ground. I stroked the trigger, watching shreds of flannel explode out of the grinch’s chest.

“They’re just kids,” I said, kicking the piece out of the grinch’s hand. Raising my gun to his forehead, I saw Eustice staring at me from the corner of the room. I dropped the gun. “It’s Christmas man, do better.”

“Time for me to go.” Red and blue lights twinkling against the snow chased by the police cars racing down the main drag.

“Thank you,” Sister Anne brushed my cheek with a kiss. “Be good, my son.”

“Merry Christmas, sister,” I said, her face disappearing into the snow behind me. “Merry Christmas.”

21:32 UTC


Undying to Find You (NSWF-Violence, Adult Themes)

“Order up!” I caressed the pan buttered sesame seed bun just to the side of a double-stacked beef patty, melted cheese and grilled onions slide obligingly onto the bread making a picture-perfect greasy lunch. “Tell ‘em, a lil’ pink just how they like it.”

“You’re too good of a cook for a dive like this,” Ginger said, rolling her eyes at the greasy spoon diner in Jersey I was working at. “Why don’t you go down to the casinos to one of those fancy restaurants.”

“Work with all those assholes, just make a dime by breaking our backs, hell no.” Sautéed onions sizzled pleasantly on the giant cast-iron grill in the kitchen. My mouth watered just a bit. It felt good. “I’d rather do the grind here with good people like you, boss.”

A tinkle of bells and a blast of humid jersey summer air pushed through the door with a cute little girl, no more than 9 years old. She was the spitting image of her mom, a mop of red curls and freckles spread across her face and down her neck.

“Hey kiddo,” Ginger said from behind the counter. “How’d your day go?

“School sucks!” Wiping away a trickle of tears trailing down her cheek with a fuzzy pink teddy bear she turned her face away.

“Was it that boy again, Carmella?”

“I don’t want to talk about it!” Carmella hollered slamming the diner door behind her, bells a rat-a-tat-tat of machine gun fire on the glass behind her.

“You want me to talk to her?” I pushed my frame through the tiny door in the kitchen. Damn, they should make these things bigger. “I know she doesn’t know me, but…”

Car brakes screaming against pads, steel on steel, ripped through my words, punctuated by car doors slamming shut just outside the front door and the squeal of burning rubber. Bolting outside, the stringent smell of rubber and a cloud of dust were all that were left where Carmella had been standing just a second ago. I knelt down and picked up her pink fuzzy bear abandoned in the street, little arms outstretched, but her girl was gone.

Spiraling blue lights reflected off the chrome surface of the diner. New Jersey’s finest took our statements and assured us they would do everything in their power to find Carmella. Ginger didn’t want to go home. Wanted to stay in case she somehow made it back. She wouldn’t. These assholes knew what they were doing.

So did I.

I couldn’t have her waiting around for what would happen next. I finally convinced her I would stick around the diner and wait. I needed to clean up anyways after the police took the statements of everyone in the diner and then sent them on their way, all the food and plates left where they dropped them. I walked back into the diner, bells tinkling above me. I clicked off the lights but didn’t lock the door behind me.

Walking back into the kitchen I flipped the heat back on the griddle, roaring flames exciting molecules in the iron, heat waves radiating above. I settled into the shadows in the back of the kitchen, a pot of water in my hands. I didn’t have long to wait. Bells tinkled and the distinctive sound of a deadbolt slamming home echoed through the empty diner.

“Come on boy…” I glimpsed a beefy, tatted ape of a man, with ears that disappeared into his bulging shoulders, skulking past the pass-through window. I softly tapped the steel pot with my fingernail, tink, tink, tink. “Come and get it, bucko.”

Mr. No Ears pushed through the tiny opening into the kitchen. Pots clattered and crashed to the floor while he fumbled in the dark. I felt more than saw him in the shadows pausing at the griddle. I grinned.

“Gotch-ya.” No Ears’ bulky shadow turned towards me. I acted. Water crashed onto the griddle. Super-heated steam erupted, scorching my adversary with blistering pain. I roared out of the shadows, heavy duty steel smashing into soft flesh. I ducked as air rushed past my head, anticipating his blow. I slammed the steel pot upwards into where I thought his chin would be. Pain shot through my hand from the impact. I backhanded the pot into his face. Once. Twice. He ripped the steel pot out of my hand, the bone in my finger splintering with the torque. He swung. Ripping pain tore across my abdomen.

Got to end this now.

Pain called to pain. Dropping to my knees I hammer punched the inside of his knee, bone dislocating under my fist. Gravity took hold. His body torqued down. Grabbing his head with both hands I slammed his face into the cast iron griddle. Flesh and blood instantly blistered and boiled. No Ears roared in pain. I roared back, no longer holding back.

“Kids.” Slamming his face into the scorching iron with each syllable. “Kids. Just. Kids.”

Flesh sloughed off his face in chunks. I forced his face across the griddle and threw his limp body into the corner.

“Just kids, asshole. They’re just kids.” I whispered.

I stumbled to the light switch. Bright fluorescents washed over the devastation.

I knew the owner paid out protection money to the DeCavalcante family every week. I didn’t blame Ginger. Often it was better to work with the system you had than to get your legs broken and your kids abducted or to turn tricks for pervs to watch online. Something must have changed or maybe Ginger decided to hold a line. None of that mattered now.

Mr. No Ears groaned from the corner, a discarded k-bar next to his legs. Blisters and torn flesh hung limply off his face. Swelling was already distending his flesh out, his remaining good eye glazing over from the trauma.

“No sleepy time yet,” I muttered, opening the fridge and grabbing a carton of heavy whipping cream. I crouched down next to him, creamy whiteness flowing over his burning skin. More than he deserved. “Where is the little girl?”

I jerked his chin towards me and forced his remaining eye open.

“Tell me now and I’ll make sure the pain stops.”

“Gio’s” Slow labored breath bubbled from his lips. “Shop.”

Standing up I stowed the discarded k-bar into my belt. Dizziness rocked my head, the world spinning.

“Fuck.” I staggered towards the back room and opened Ginger’s First Aid Kit. “Good girl.”

Ripping open the industrial strength duct tape I wrapped the tape around my gaping abdomen, shoving bulging pink, fleshy muscle back inside of me. Finally, oozing but not bleeding out, I cinched the tape once more and discarded the roll.

The sound of the deadbolt sliding open and bells tinkling echoed in the darkness of the dining room. “Hello?”

Ginger. Shit.

I quickly grabbed the steel pot from the floor and a roll of paper towels from the wall. I shoved the paper towel roll into the flames under the griddle, watching the flames consume eager carbon. A smile forced its way into the corner of my mouth. Placing the pot in No Ears’s lap, I dropped the flaming paper towels.

“Hold this for me, will ya.” Flicking the knobs on the griddle. Flames died. Another flick. Gas hissed from the valves.


“Ginger!” Exploding out of the kitchen, I grabbed her into my arms and ran out of door. Her car door was still open. I threw her inside the passenger seat, slid over the hood and jumped in. Engine roaring to life, I ground the pedal into the steel.

We made it two blocks. Explosions rocked the night.

I mashed the pedal to the floor; I took the turn hard onto the parkway.

“What. The. Fuck.”

I didn’t know if it was a statement or question that Ginger said. Probably both. I let the silence hold until she was ready.

“What the fuck?” she said, turning to me, just a little deer in the headlights shining on her retinas. “Tell me.”

So, I did. No point holding anything back. After we were done chasing down the cartel she wouldn’t be able to go back to her old life. She and Carmella would have to disappear. Or we would be dead. Either way, the diner was a liability at best or pointless at worst.

“Fuck them.” Steel reinforced her voice. “Do you know how to get Carmella back?”

“I do. We probably won’t make it out of this.” Truth needing to be said. “If she’s not overseas already, that is. If she is, I’ll kill every one of those mother fuckers and make it last before they see the devil.”

“Kill them all?”

Good girl.

“I swear.” We swung into Gio’s chop shop on the harbor in Atlantic City. 40-foot shipping containers domino stacked on top of each other created lanes too narrow for the car. Everything from kids to caddies were shipped out of this port, never to be seen again in the states. A multi-billion-dollar business like that paid for a lot of blind eyes. No one was going to come to our rescue when this went south. I had planned for that.

“Get down Ginger,” I whispered, flipping the lights off. “Whatever happens, don’t get up. No matter what happens.”

She glanced at me, lines creasing her forehead, but crawled into the space below the dash, making herself small. I threw a coat over her. I hoped it would be enough.

“No matter wha…” Spiderweb lines spread out on the windshield from pinpoint holes ruptured by the sound of angry hornets. Molten lava pain riveted my spasming body from the impacts. 600 rounds per minute .22 Parabellum rounds burst through my flesh. I watched, oddly detached, from above as my body seized from the impacts, geysers of blood spraying the interior of the car.


Consciousness thrusting back into my body. Searing. Oh God. It hurt. Pain. Waves of endorphins coating my ruined nerves. Blackness closing my eyes. Last moments, car door opening. Ginger screaming. So far away. Blackness. Death. +++

“Stop!” I roared, then inhaling sudden cold air lighting up nerves in the ruined flesh of my esophagus. “FUCK!!!!”

Strange quirk of what you could call my condition, it if isn’t a devastatingly fatal wound my body does not heal. Hang nail, deal with it. Paper cut, Neosporin. 600 rounds per minute from a black-market Uzi. Fatal. You get the picture.

Feeling myself over. Rough duct tape under my hands. Blood still oozing between layers. Not fatal. Yet.

Pulling out of the ruined car I staggered to the tin pole building at the back of Gio’s chop shop. Lights. Sound of laughter like glass grating over flesh. I looked inside, still hidden in shadow.

It looked like No Ear’s had cousins. Three of them. Ugly. Fugly, Mugly.

Ugly was standing closest to me, back turned. Fugly was holding Ginger down on top of a steel table, her flesh pressed into shop tools, shirt ripped open exposing her freckled flesh. Fresh blood poured from claw marks on his face. Didn’t matter. There were three of them and, combined, likely had 600 pounds on her. Mugly was standing between her legs, unbuckling his belt slowly. Clink. Clink. Clink. Relishing the moment. He’s done this before.

Red haze filled the corner of my eyes. I shook it off. Had to stay in the moment. Couldn’t let rage be in control.

Flash of red hair. In the corner. Carmella. Eyes wide in shock. Unmoving. Maybe her amygdala will flood her brain with enough chemicals to obliterate this memory. Maybe.

Time to help Father Darwin cull the evolutionary pool scum.

I melted from the shadows behind Ugly. Left hand gripped his mouth, Kbar impaling his vocal chords with the right. Warm arterial blood spraying my face. I let Ugly’s corpse slide down.

I look.

Fugly and mugly haven’t noticed. Too busy. No mercy here. Actions have consequences and I was the sharp edge of the guillotine. The sound of bone scraping against bone catches Mugly’s attention. I watch his face slowly move up from Ginger’s prone body, transforming from serial rapist, all bad and in control, to slack jawed and stupid. I’m still holding Fugly’s dead body against the table. Neck broken. Dead eyes staring at the ceiling from an impossible angle.

I release. His body slides to the ground, revealing my blood-soaked face behind.

I grin.

A foot slams into Mugly’s chin, snapping his head back. Ginger is on top of him, screwdriver appearing in her hand like a magic trick and just as quickly disappearing into Mugly’s chest.

“Ginger, it’s over.” She swings the screwdriver at my face, blind rage taking over. I block the shot and step away, hands outstretched, empty. “It’s over, Ginger. It’s over.”

Never take a women’s weapon. Never.

Sanity seeps back into her eyes. Screwdriver clatters to the ground. Ginger picks up Carmella and places her in the backseat of a jacked-up SUV that had probably belonged to one of the uglies. I take a step forward and she firmly places her palm on my chest. I nod in understanding. Taillights disappearing into the blood red morning dawn.

Funny how much gasoline you can find just lying around in a chop shop. Lighting a just-long-enough fuse, I stumble into an abandoned field a block from the dock. Lying down on broken asphalt, my stab wound bleeding out. Flames from the warehouse flicker in my eyes and I die again.

00:35 UTC


Undying to Save You

I didn’t trust Bryan from the first day he joined our company.

Monmart is just another soul-sucking big box store that employs the broken and broke like a kid collects Magic Cards, and discards the common ones just as quickly. 3 months ago, Bryan walked into the Tupperware aisle with a tele-evangelist smile reflecting the glare of florescent lights and a laser beam stare on my co-worker, Jenny’s ass while she was leaning over picking up random trash.

“Hey, I’m Bryan. It’s really good to be working with you.” Hand outstretched he grabbed my un-extended hand and shook it furiously in his sweaty palms. “I just love your vibe! I know we’re going to get along freaking awesome.”

“Um… sure man, nice to meet you,” I said wiping the slime off on my jeans. “This is…”

“Who are you beautiful?” Bryan practically yelled at Jenny. “I didn’t know I would be working with a celebrity?”

“I’m not a celebrity!” Jenny said.

“You would be if you sent me some pics! I’d make sure everyone knew how pretty you are!”

While I watched this sexual harassment lawsuit in front of my eyes, I caught Jenny blushing at his advances. Jenny was a good kid in her early 20’s, more curves than common sense though, and a giant hole in her heart that her dad made when he cut out of their lives more than ten years ago.

Don’t get me wrong, she was a knockout on the inside and out, but I wasn’t into her. For one, I was way, way too old for her, and two, I didn’t swing that way. I had more exotic tastes. I just felt protective of her, but I wasn’t her dad, and I couldn’t get in the way.

Over the next couple of weeks, I noticed Bryan chatting her up in hardware and I’m pretty sure he made it at least a little farther with her in the breakroom on the overnight shift. It was what it was. I really got worried last week though when Bryan dropped her off for her shift and she wouldn’t look me in the eyes when she clocked in.

“Hey Jenny, wait up.” I called and she stopped short before leaving the backroom. Her hair was down that day, brushed over the side of her neck revealing ugly dark bruising along her jugular. “What the… Jenny what happened?”

“Just leave me alone, will you,” she muttered through clenched teeth and stormed out of the room.

The next day Jenny didn’t show up for work. Three days later the police asked questions but told everyone not to worry about it, she was young and would show up. They’d seen this kind of thing before. Monday, Bryan was moving in on the new girl at the store, Brandi. Same M.O.; Brandi looked a lot like Jenny too. Fun and cute with a hurt she didn’t quite understand yet but left her vulnerable to assholes. And predators.

Pro tip. Next time you go to Monmart or any of its big box competitors, look up. You see all of those round domes on the ceilings that are supposed to have cameras in them. The domes are all empty. They’re just there to freak you out and deter the amateurs who don’t know what they’re doing. Yeah, there are a handful of security cameras all over the store. You just can’t see them. You’ve got to know where they’re at.

I just happened to know that the security camera in the alley behind the store had a tragic mishap with a baseball bat last night. Management is lazy. They won’t get to that for a year. Maybe.

“Where is she, asshole!” I slammed Bryan into the brick wall next to dumpster.


“Stop screwing with me!”

Bryan threw a sloppy right I blocked with my left. My knee struck gold between his legs and my right snapped his head back with an upper cut.

“How’s it feel dealing with someone your own size!”

“Okay man, okay… shit. Just give me a second.” Bryan stretched out his hands, placating. “Let’s talk about this, man.”

I blocked the sucker punch he threw to my gut on my arm. I grabbed the loser by his t-shirt and slammed my forehead into his nose. Cartilage crunched and blood splattered satisfyingly.

“Where…” I growled, slamming his back into the brick to accentuate each word.

“Is. She.?”

“Wouldn’t you like to know, old man.” Bryan spat bloody spittle in my face. “I saw you looking at her. You want some of that honey, too, don’t you?”

I paused for just a split second. Present tense. Want some of that honey too. I didn’t think Jenny was still alive. But maybe. I never saw the box cutter until I felt the warmth trickling down my shirt. The last thing I remembered was the feel of my ribs breaking from what felt like the tip of a steel-toe boot as my life blood bled out into the alley.

Bryan’s face the next day was priceless. I waited just outside of the break room and looked inside. Bryan looked like 250 pounds of angry black man had made his face into meatloaf. I was half surprised a wuss like him would show his face at work looking like that. But, of course, if he didn’t show up so soon after Jenny disappeared, it might draw some suspicion his way. This was going to be awesome. There was lots of talk about, you should have seen the other guy, and other bullshit.

“Good morning gents!” I bellowed in my best bass. “What a fine morning it is!”

The other guys groused back at me, but Bryan—oh my sweet baby Jesus, Bryan—his face was priceless.

“Good morning, Bryan.” I walked right past him and clocked in at the electronic time clock. “It looks like you came out of the wrong side of a meat grinder.” “Oh,” I said. “Shut your mouth. You like you’ve seen a ghost.”

I walked out the door and started my shift. Later that night, I just got off of the 12-hour shift and walked into the employee parking lot at the back of the store. Invading weeds cracked through the weathered asphalt laying claim to the land once again. I noticed my car door was open ajar, but I didn’t think anything of it. Worn cracked leather upholstery creaked in the back seat as I settled into the driver’s seat.

“I just want to know where she is, Bryan. Just tell me. It’ll be easier for you.”

Thick blackness draped over my face and tightness closed off my airway. I only knew the dark.

“Top o’ the mornin’!” I shouted into Monmart the following day.

I pulled a tooth-pick from my pocket and dug out pieces of dirt from my teeth I didn’t get out that morning in the bathroom.

“What the hell? You can’t be here!” Bryan screamed, spittle flying from his ruined mouth. “You’re dead. You’re DEAD!!!”

“Bryan, calm down man,” I said, raising my hands in front of me, palms open. “Calm down, buddy…”

My muscles easily encapsulated his shoulder blow to my abdomen. A crowd of lookie-loo’s of Monmart employees and customers started to surround us like a school yard fight. I heard someone mention calling 911. Better make this quick. I grabbed Bryan’s head in a rear chokehold, pivoted his body and jerked his neck up so his ear was next to my mouth.

“You’ve got to decide very quickly, asshole,” I whispered into his ear. “Tell me where Jenny is, or I will fucking haunt you every fucking day of your miserable, worthless, fucking life.”

I applied just a little extra torque to the pressure points behind his jaw.

“RV lot, outside of town. Blue…camper.” He croaked.

“That’s a good boy,” I whispered applying just enough pressure to cut off his airway until his body slumped in my arms.

In his last moment of consciousness, I said, “If she isn’t, you’ll never know peace.”

The police arrived a minute later. Badass response time guys. I quietly slipped away in the confusion and drove to the RV parking lot outside of town. In the very far back of the lot was a broken-down blue trailer. I found Jenny inside. Alive. I got her to the local hospital and slipped out of the emergency room doors when the doctor walked in. She was going to be okay. But just in case, I left an envelope in her jacket that’ll see her through for a few years while she recovers.

01:55 UTC


The dead city.

There is a city, a city nowhere, nowhere, nowhere. If you don't live in it, in fact, it's even hard to know if it ever existed, exists or will exist, if you do research about it you will most likely come across the same as everyone else, records of acquired land, plans about colossal buildings with no apparent architectural sense and a manifesto about the construction and inauguration of a city somewhere on the west coast, but nothing else, there are no maps, no news about it or any record of any kind about any city that fits the bizarre characteristics, in essence it does not exist, but if it did, it does, it will, but you will never be able to find it, it was built for that.

As far as is known, a very wealthy industrial magnate was the one who conceived the original idea, according to his words, he wanted to build the perfect city, an ideal place where there was no problem, no overpopulation, no hunger, no death; he had the idea that, under the right circumstances, he could reach the industrial utopia, the ultimate city, so he got down to work. He called in all kinds of specialists, architects, engineers, scientists, physicists, priests and pagans, anyone who could help him fulfill his dream.

Plans were made, schematics and a lot of money was disbursed, so much that, according to financial records, it was literally impossible for that man to have that much, no matter how powerful he was. Even with the colossal amount of land he acquired the man was still concerned about space, for him it was not enough, even though some buildings on the plans marked an estimated sixteen kilometers, both up and down this was not enough, even though he was warned of the risks of such experimental architecture and the fact that even in the whole country there would not be enough people to live in his city this did not matter to him, the man had a dream, and this would be fulfilled even if it was the last thing he would do. At this point the records get fuzzy, it is not clear what actions the man took or what went wrong, but the point is that it happened, overnight the estimated population that the city could support went from several thousand to hundreds of millions, even if not a single other building had been built, by the time this happened all the workers were long gone, There was no one to witness whatever happened, the only thing that is known is that everything was suddenly filled, in the houses, furniture appeared, all and of all kinds, in the stores products appeared, filling the shelves and warehouses, the same with the schools, hospitals and parking lots, everything suddenly became habitable and a day later people arrived. Of all kinds, of all ages and all shapes, they just came just like things, out of nowhere and so, they started a routine, crowds went every morning to work in offices or factories, children went to school and old people just went for a walk, everyone seemed to know exactly what to do and how to do it, as if they had lived all their lives within those thick concrete walls and neon lights.

As for the workers, they returned to their homes, to their families, and tried to resume their lives, but they all suffered from the same evil, as if all their conscience and their will to live had remained in that dead city, some went crazy over the years others just committed suicide and the few who survived existed the rest of their lives in a catatonic state, so did the architects and the scientists and basically anyone who had spent enough time in that city, burying their memory, only they knew its exact location and never shared it, they just let it die, hoping that would be enough to kill it, but it was not. Even though everyone forgot her, even though all her detailed records were destroyed or hidden in the depths of some lost warehouse, it was not enough, because the city already had everything it needed.

The city exists, it is a fact and it works like any other, there are rulers, policemen, criminals, there are ordinary people, like you and me who live a normal life, like yours only surrounded by pipes, wires, concrete and neon, grouped, stacked and superimposed without sense, trapped in a place apparently inaccessible to anyone, at least that's how it was until recently. It was found in some old internet forum, what appeared to be a document written by an inhabitant of the city, with general information on the functioning of society and citizenship, as well as a manual detailing specific functions of the city, some of the highlights of the document are; Basic regulations for buying in SuperGamma, basic astronomy to follow the thirty moons, 6-hand clock scheme, guide to deal with "Unwanted" and police regulations for architectural anomalies.

However, this was not what caused many to become obsessed with investigating the supposed lost city, nor was it the fact that many more blogs and documents were discovered on the internet supposedly coming from that city, nor that some have claimed to have had contact with citizens via message, this was because next to the original document was an unofficial note, supposedly attached by the writer, which had a short and apparently incomplete message which made most think that the fact that everyone involved at the time had kept quiet about what happened in that city to the point of going insane was an act of pure heroism, the message read: City growth is failing.... -------------------.------------- now anomalies appear everywhere .---------------.........------- lead nowhere, many citizens have lost their way....... ---------------...----------- The "Unwanted" are spreading ----------------- they are eating everything--------................-------------- they already invaded the whole lower district-----------.....................----------------......... the higher ups shut everything down and locked us in.................-----------------------...............-------------the hunters are trying to help us..................--------------. ..................-.---but they won't stop them...................---------------..........-.------------- we can't get out of here-------------.-....................---------------we want to get out of this city................-------------.........---------------the city is going to die........------------------------------------............----------we can't get out---------------...................-------------------they are coming.

To date, no one has figured out how to get to the city and no other messages have been received from the interior.

02:03 UTC


Indigo Blood Chapter Five

01:14 UTC


Indigo Blood-Chapter Four

01:14 UTC


Indigo Blood-Chapter Three

01:13 UTC


Indigo Blood-Chapter Two

01:13 UTC


Indigo Blood-Chapter One

01:13 UTC


Ryuuji- The Demonic Human

As Ryuji busted open and entered the room, everyone went silent. Our blood ran cold as he slowly marched to the end of the room where there was a letter kept for him. He had felt a sort of a chill as he walked into the room. His face became dark. It was impossible for us to get a good look at him anymore. As he picked up the letter, a single drop of sweat ran across his face. He had expected the “Sinnerman” to come to give him the letter personally but since he was too busy he couldn't come. The raindrops falling from the window-sill made that dripping sound tap-tap-tap-tap. Inside the room as the other people beside me were getting to ambush him as soon as he was going to open the letter but then suddenly, HUSH….. Everything went dark and silent. No one was speaking, nothing was there in front of me except for Ryuji with a knife in his bloody hand grinning at me because he knew what he was gonna do to me…

08:24 UTC


Anyone interested in hearing some of the creepy stories I have experienced during my short 51 years of life?

I have multiple ghost stories, a brush with VooDoo, a few incidents that should've left me dead barring miracles, some lost time, an "alien/ufo" story just to name a few. Due to my Christian world view and above average biblical background some of my stories have really affected some people because of the plausibility of my explanations. I have been asked to stop telling stories when I begin to explain why I think they are very much real and it doesn't go against some people's religious views. Let me know. I would probably enjoy writing some of it down before my brain deletes anymore of it to make room for song lyrics and funny dialog from movies!

23:13 UTC


The Grey Demon

She got off the school bus, scratching her head as she undid her annoying braids, and began her usual walk down the footpath as she ran into a familiar pale face with dark hair that she knew of from the last few days.

"Hey, man!", she almost yelled, as he put more pressure on his right shoulder to move the crutch just below his arm forward to meet her gaze.

"Hey, what are you doing alone?", he nearly shrieked.

"Used the bus. You?"

"Oh, uh, I'm just here for a walk.", he shrugged his other shoulder, "You going to the shrine now?"

"Yup. Wanna come with me-"

"Why isn't your dad with you, though?"

"Ugh", she rolled her eyes, "I'm old enough to go wherever I want!"

"Miki, I'm serious. It's so far away, and it's almost dark, you should have someone with you."

"Well, I got you now, so...", she made a face that invited him to walk with her.

"Alright, lead the way, kid."

"But hold on a second, you sure you can handle the stairs? They're, uh,...", she looked at his leg for a second, "much longer than you think."

"Oh, I could actually use a little exercise."

"Jesus fucking Christ.", he held his head as his eyes fixated on the mountain ahead, behind the large and crimson Tori gate.

"Come on now!", she spoke with Joy as she led the way while he stood behind, still processing.

"Don't tell me I gotta carry you or something.", she half-chuckled.

He let go of his crutch that was bound to a strap on his shoulder, as he let his body land on the beginning few steps.

"Dude, what the- Oh.", she sighed in relief as he just began to use his arms to drag himself up.

"Isn't that getting your clothes dirty?"

"It ain't the first time."

"Are all you Americans so lousy about hygiene?"

"Wh- What's that supposed to mean?"

"Shoes on the bed, on the couch, THIS, and who knows what else?", she giggled.

"Are all you Japanese people so into...", he grunted as he climbed higher, "stereotypes?"

"Probably", she laughed.

After a moment of them just listening to the birds around them, she spoke up.

"How long has your leg been...- Nevermind, sorry."

"Few years, not too long."

"Injury, right? Or genetic, or...?"

"Injury... I think?"

"You're not sure?"

"No, I'm no- What the hell?!", he angrily whispered at the bushes next to her as they stopped.

"What's wrong?", she looked around.

"I don't think it was a dog or a cat."

"It's a forest, idiot, what do you expect?", she crouched down and flicked her finger at his forehead.


She laid on the stairs, catching her breath after rhe exhausting way up.

He exhaled, "That actually wasn't that bad.", And smiled at her.

"You serious?", she spoke before chugging her water bottle. "How are you not even sweating?"

"You can lie down inside the shrine too, I mean, these stairs are dirty-"

"No, never. It would be disrespectful."

"I don't think Kami-Sama would mind though-"

"What?", she looked at him, with an almost offended tone and expression.

"I mean, whomever you pray to."

"Haiiro no Akuma."


"It just means Grey Demon, as the people call him. I've heard him say 'Isami' once but I don't know if he was saying someone's name or his own. It doesn't matter though, the important thing is to pay our respects and give an offering."

He just stared at her as if he didn't know what language she just spoke.

"You okay?", he politely asked.

"What do you mean?"

" You HEARD it talk?"

She frowned, "Him, not "it"."

"Um, I've never once heard of people praying to something they refer to as a demon? Unless it's a satanic cult or whatev-"

"No! We're just... we're doing it to ensure the peace."

"What? Is uh, some political party or something making the people of this area do it?"

"Look, I get you're a tourist but...you really know nothing about this town, do you?", she chuckled, but the weight of her words highlighted her trembling voice.

"Come on, stop messing around."

"I don't know what will happen if we stop praying. I don't want to know.", she got up and slowly walked to the entrance and bowed three times in a silence that echoed in his ears.

"Okay, listen to me. Stay here, TURN OFF your phone, I mean it, do not call for my name, do not follow me inside, just wait here until I'm done, okay?", She placed her phone in his hands, switched off.


"I mean it. Seriously. Stay here, and don't make a sound. Please.", she smiled for a split second before turning around, leaving him with a raised eyebrow.

He slowly began to crawl towards where she went, without using the crutch.

He understood only sections of her prayer as he saw her with her forehead down in front of a strange and unsettling sculpture of a face. A face that looked very human but... at the same time felt like a creature forcing itself to mimick a human as best as possible.

The way her voice shook was enough to send a chill down his spine, as she prayed in Japanese, "Please accept our offerings. Please cause us no harm and let us children grow properly under your shadow. Please forgive our filthy and weak bodies-"

"Hold on!", he sternly broke her prayer as she slowly turned around to face him, and began to hyperventilate.

"I'm sorry to interrupt but-"

She spoke in Japanese, "What have you done...?"

"I get that you believe in this God, I respect that, but... why do you ask for forgiveness on your own bodies? You're basically begging, and uh, this.. doesn't seem very normal to me. Something is very, VERY off here."

She turned her forehead back to the floor in front of the sculpture and began to frantically apologize for his behaviour as he was left dumbfounded.

She turned around, in tears, joined her hands, and mouthed the Japanese words, "Please show some respect."

"Alright, I'm sorry.", he spoke in English, as her eyes grew wider with fear.

She grabbed his head by both sides, and stared right into his eyes, "He will end us both, please show some respect."

He continued in English, "Look, I'm still learning, I'm not that good-", she slapped him as he then stared at her with a face colder than the sweat on her face.

"...what do you think you're doing, Miki?"

They stared at each other for a few seconds before he struggled as he stood up, and walked inside the shrine, his crutch vibrating the weak floor. "You let this fucking piece of clay control you this much?"

It was as if her heart stopped beating the moment he spoke.

He picked up the sculpture with his left hand and showed it to her as she began to shriek. "It's just a piece of clay! Chill the fuck out!"

"I've made a mistake...", she whispered to herself.

He put it back, but in an odd position as his concern was Miki only. "Look, I don't know what these people have led you to believe-"

She looked him dead in the eye, "I trusted you."

"Miki, I don't understa-", he screamed as his right hand from just above the elbow was suddenly getting ripped away.

He then felt an inhuman grip on his neck as he began to choke.

Miki continued to cry and scream as she crawled into one of the room's corners as a dark grey, almost a hand of burnt texture, picked up her friend by the throat, threw his severed hand on the floor and swung his fragile body across a few of the shrine's many empty rooms, as pieces of wood pierced his flesh and broke his bones throughout.

He found himself on the merciless cold floor, his jaw barely connected, his own ribs piercing his lungs and his legs bent in a million different forms of wrong ways.

He couldn't tell if he heard a thousand ancient voices speaking simultaneously in perfect harmony... or a real demon.

He couldn't understand most of what was said, except the last sentence. "No more mercy."

He heard heavy footsteps walking further away from him as Miki's screams grew louder and louder.

This was the first time she ever got to see him. A ten foot tall, sturdy giant with ashen skin that had many white spots highlighting the strange skeleton, and a skull of what looked to be a mixture of a human and a reptile, beading purple eyes, and two pairs of withered, goat-like horns sticking out from his head, along with legs that looked like the structure of a bird and a goat's, mixed together.

He threw her friend's arm at her, to showcase what will be happening to her.

And she finally screamed for help, "WALLACE, HELP ME!"

And just as she did so, the now darkened, severed arm of her friend hit the Demon's face like a bullet train as it flew back to where it was severed from, and began to reconnect.

Her friend screamed in a grungy, demonic voice similar to the Demon, as he now knew he was up against another one of THEM.

His pale white skin began to turn pitch black as he grew in size, revealing the razor sharp teeth and claws, the black eyes with glowing white irises, an elongated head shape ending in sharp edges, and a body as tall as his. Though smaller.

The pieces of wood piercing him were bolted out, as his jaw and ribs returned to their original position in sickening sounds. He laid on his stomach, his arms ready to tear apart any threat.

The demon rushed to him.

As he did so, Wallace pulled his arm back and made a gesture of grabbing something, as the wooden wall behind him began to crush without him even touching it. Just as the Grey Demon opened his jaw that extended down to the start of his neck in a grotesque, mangled way, Wallace flung the broken wall right into his face, which distracted him just enough for him to hastily crawl on his back, choke him with one arm and let the sharp claws of his other arm start to pierce his back.

He grabbed wallace's face and flung his entire body in front of him as he fell out from the shrine, and down a short cliff, but he used his claws to get back in a fighting stance. The Grey one jumped out, and just as he was in the middle of a sentence, Wallace made the gesture of a powerful blow to his face, and his disgusting face flung back, almost disrupting the balance on his mangled feet.

Grey just stared at him for a moment, as the sheer disrespect triggered his warrior spirit.

His hands slowly took the shape of a steel katana, just like that of a Samurai.

"Motherfucker.", Wallace thought to himself as Grey spun around and sliced multiple parts of him as he fell further down the slanted cliff, only slowed down by the abundance of trees. Grey jumped down and watched as all of Wallace's parts and organs followed wherever his head was, and reconnected within seconds.

"Useful.", His hoarse voice echoed, leaving Wallace confused.

Grey then shoved his two blades into the ground and spread his chest wide. To his horror, the chest began to open up, as the ribs turned from solid bone to a fluid and elastic material. It grabbed the arms and legs of Wallace as he was beginning to be pulled closer and closer. He panicked a little in his demonic voice that made him wonder if he really was any different from the likes of Grey.

As a last minute solution, Wallace was able to overpower the rib extensions that grabbed his right arm, positioned it to the glowing red insides of Grey, and let his hand form a design that could be best described as the ace of spades, and suddenly, a cannon-like explosion of his telekinetic abilities sent grey flying back over twenty feet, groaning. Wallace was now free, but he laid there, holding his visibly weakened arm, writhing in pain. But he was nowhere near giving up.

Grey stood up in a grotesque manner, as his chest cavity closed back up and stared at him with eyes that managed to strike some level of fear in him. Wallace stared back with his glowing white eyes, his black, glossy teeth ready to rip apart any organ. Grey's blades began to slowly glow as purple as his eyes. He rushed to attack Wallace as he dodged and got behind multiple trees. He was observing Grey and learning his patterns. Each time he hit a tree, a small electric burst could be seen, causing smoke to build up.

He thought to himself, "Don't you worry, Miki. I'll save this town.....somehow."

06:10 UTC



“I am counting on my most loyal comrade in the war against KAFIRS. Keep your guard up, I will see you soon. You will be my right hand in this battle. May God Shower his mercy on you.”

Ajaz took a deep breath and pulled out his secret number cell phone and texted the details.

“Anything more he disclosed? Like when he is coming and what he is planning.” A very next moment, a message flashed on Ajaz’s screen.

“He won’t and that is for sure. I am destroying this cell and will inform you the other details the moment I will get it in a traditional way.” Ajaz looked at his bunch of pigeons that he had always used to pass the message when needed.

“We will wait for a message from you.” That was the last message Ajaz read on his phone before he dumped it into the bonfire that was lit outside his house.

The last minute preparations were being made at the base camp with Colonel and Major burning the midnight oil, planning to take out Hamza once he was spotted. And above all this, they were waiting for a message from Ajaz.

Ajaz kept his calm no matter the butterflies of anxieties working overtime in his stomach and waited for the next orders from Hamza. Well, his wait didn’t last for more than 48 hours. Ajaz had just finished with the dinner and was about to set up his prayer mat when there was a knock on his door. Ajaz smiled, Hamza was standing at the door.

“May God’s Peace be upon you my brother,” said Hamza “May His Peace befall on you too and May God bless you with his immense strength in the war against KAFIRS.” Ajaz greeted Hamza by bowing and kissing Hamza’s hand. Ajaz let him in with his guards and they sat on the floor. Black tea was served to all and Ajaz sat next to Hamza. Without wasting any time, Hamza spoke.

“Time has come to deliver the justice of our Great Lord to these KAFIRS who have offended our holy religion and brutally slaughtered innocent people of our religion. And I, on behalf of our leader Suleman UL Laden, am here to do the needful.” Hamza inhaled deeply the aroma of tea and took the first sip.

“I am at the service of Allah and his disciples in this holy cause.” Ajaz bowed a bit and smiled at Hamza.

“I will set a command centre in this very place of yours Ajaz and we will bring those KAFIRS to their knees.” Hamza kept his gaze fixed on Ajaz.

“I’ll be honoured to be a part of it. May our Great Lord wipe away all my sins with this noble act for our religion.” Ajaz spoke and sipped some tea. Hamza said his prayers along with Ajaz and then sat to discuss the plan.

“It’s gonna be bigger than 26/11 and in multiple locations.” As Hamza spoke, Ajaz held back his breath with the fear of brutality and chaos that would be showered by Hamza.

“This time we will set up our operation command room here. And I won’t be relying on media for the coverage, our tech geeks will do all the needful.” Saying so, Hamza patted the back of a young boy barely in his twenties sitting next to him.

“What’s the order for me?” Ajaz asked displaying his pseudo enthusiasm.

“I want you to send the message to our comrades for the meeting, here, after two days.” Hamza spoke as one of the assistants filled the cups with freshly brewed tea. Taking a sip of it, Hamza continued.

“All our comrades have reached here. They are close by but have maintained a low profile and have been training themselves for the biggest mission of their lives.” Hamza smiled looking at the surprised face of Ajaz.

The tech guy passed a list of locations where the fedayeen were and Ajaz carefully went through it. No two fedayeen were at the same place or nearby. They were scattered like landmines at the border.

“With the first light of morning, my messengers will be on their way.” Ajaz picked on the pigeon who was trying to get into his lap.

“May our great almighty bless them with good life in service of our people” Ajaz caressed the tiny head of pigeon who closed its eyes with every pat from its master.

After the discussion, Hamza walked out and Ajaz followed him to the pitch black night. The guards of Hamza were busy setting up booby traps and setting the perimeter to prevent anyone from reaching the house before tipping them off. Ajaz’s heart pounded hard against his ribs but he showed no sign of it.

“I don’t want anything to go wrong till I make those KAFIRS bleed and bring them to their knees.” Hamza smiled at his cunning thoughts. Meanwhile, the tech guy got busy setting up the command room inside with laptops, sat phone, and other gadgets.

“What about second perimeter?” Ajaz asked not sure if that would make Hamza sceptical about choosing Ajaz.

“You have a canopy of trees around.” Hamza winked at Ajaz who was all ears.

“My men are there, we cannot see them but hell they can see you through their long range rifles.” Hamza’s menacing laughter rattled the silence of the night.

“Long range snipers…” Ajaz spoke to himself in his head.

Next day morning, Ajaz sent the message to all the fedayeen about the final meeting with Hamza. The message was written in small scrolls which were tied to the neck of his pigeons.

Hamza saw all pigeons with a scroll in their necks flying to different locations, what he could not notice was that in place of 20, there were 21 pigeons. The last one was directed to the Major’s outpost.

As the pigeon reached the tent, Major’s eyes didn’t miss the scroll in the neck of the bird. He slowly got hold of the pigeon and untied the scroll. The message from Ajaz had finally arrived.

Colonel and Major immediately went to meet the General and reported about the information that had been gathered.

“Sir, Hamza is already here and he has planned a final meeting with his handpicked fedayeen at Ajaz’s place after two days.” The tension in the room was mounting as Hamza was a step ahead of them.

General immediately set up the meeting of the core team with the P.M. and briefed them. There was a green signal from P.M. to take down Hamza along with other mercenaries.

“This is our last chance Colonel and we have to take Hamza down at any cost.” General in his cabin began to discuss the further plan with Colonel and Major.

The task force was ready and the black moonless sky announced the nightfall when all the fedayeen with Hamza and Ajaz were present inside the house. As the task force approached the target in dark, Major’s sharp sense gave him a jolt about the motion detectors and a landmine, few inches ahead. He immediately singled the soldiers to stop.

With the keen observation under his Night Vision goggles, Major discovered several booby traps that could not be bypassed. The snipers too were all vigilant right then. One wrong move and mission would be a total disaster. With a heavy sigh, Major clicked his earpiece to update the situation to Colonel who was at command base, monitoring the operation.

“Alpha to Charlie… Alpha to Charlie… Come in…”

“This is Charlie… Status update Alpha.” Colonel’s voice cracked into the Major’s earpiece.

“Sir, there are booby traps that cannot be bypassed without alarming the target. The snipers on canopy too are vigilant.” Major responded with a rush of adrenaline.

“We can’t let this chance go, Major. We have to take down the target.” Colonel banged his fist on the table displaying his utter frustration.

“But sir, we can’t take the target down without alerting them and then there will be an ambush.” Major had already calculated all the risk.

“We will go for PLAN B.” Colonel spoke in a stern voice.

“But sir… Air Strike… “ Major paused before he could speak what was on his mind.

“Sir, Ajaz is with them… Air Strike will wipe him off too.”

“I understand Major, but Hamza has to die tonight.” Colonel was firm about his decision on Air Strike.

“And Ajaz…” Major let his words dangling in the air.

Collateral Damage, Major. Head back to base. Air strike is approved. Over and out.” Colonel disconnected his sat com.

As Major fell back, the whole unit saw the fighter planes struck Ajaz’s house and turning down everything to ashes around it.

11:01 UTC



Ajaz Kashmiri, a resident of Kashmir and one of the most trustworthy and loyal comrades of Hamza. But… that fateful night changed everything, if not for anyone at least for Ajaz.

Hamza’s one of the terrorist plots was foiled by the Indian Army in the past. Ajaz, along with his family was somehow trapped in the crossfire between militants and the Indian Army. The badly injured, terrified, and wounded family of Ajaz was left behind with him to die as his own people fled the scene. Major Avinash Batra single handed rescued the whole family but sadly only Ajaz could survive.

Ajaz was angry with his people as they didn’t bother to save or at least check on him. He would have gladly accepted the death of a martyr for his people but the feeling of betrayal had overpowered him. That was the day Ajaz promised his loyalty to Major Avinash Batra forever by staying undercover and still pretending to be Hamza’s muscle.

“If Hamza was coming to India, Ajaz will be the man he would contact.” Major replied with a smirk on his face.

“But will Ajaz give away Hamza to us?” Colonel knew the connection between Major and Ajaz but he was still sceptical about it as Ajaz had yet not been offered any chance to prove his loyalty to the Indian Army.

“He will, for sure…” The confidence in Major’s words was sky high.

“It’s a big risk to take.” Colonel was practical. He knew what is at stake and couldn’t afford to play blind.

“I can bet on my life for it.” Major replied with his fist thumping on his chest.

“Let’s talk to the higher authorities about it before you make contact with Ajaz.” Colonel patted Major’s back and they both walked back into the tent.

Next morning, Colonel and Major discussed about Ajaz Kashmiri with their seniors. After a hot table discussion, Major got a nod from high command to make contact and keep it as low as possible.

“Urgent.” Major sent a text to Ajaz’s secret number. Within an hour, the reply from Ajaz flashed on the Major’s number. He smiled and texted the details about the meeting at a secluded spot, heavily guarded by Army.

Major waited for Ajaz impatiently between the clouds of his smokes. Colonel was at ease he knew that Major was on the edge of his heart for several reasons. Finally, after a long wait, Major saw Ajaz walking towards him. The meeting time had been delayed for half of an hour. Nobody could recognise him from the way he was dressed up, a roadside old beggar who had lost his battle in this world.

The guards were instructed by Major to not stop anyone who looked out of the box. The sigh of relief on Major’s face was evident as he stabbed his half smoked cigarette. Ajaz had proved his first step in the loyalty test but it was still a long battle.

Inside the tent, Colonel and Major sat on the metal chairs with a metal table in front of them. Ajaz sat across them and Major introduced Colonel to Ajaz. The whirr of pedestal fan in the corner with rhythmic breathing of three men made the noise in an otherwise quiet tent.

Ajaz gulped down the glass of water that Major had placed in front of him, relishing every drop of it that soothed his parched throat. The eyes of Colonel and Major were on Ajaz, waiting for him to break the silence in the tent.

“I am here…” Ajaz spoke with raised eyebrows.

“Abu Hamza…” The name was enough to make Ajaz shift in his metal chair. He didn’t utter a word and just a nod.

“Any idea about his recent travel plans and the mission he is on?” This time Colonel asked.

“No word till now. Hamza is one cunning fox. All he loves to do is surprise everyone, whether it’s his people or those whom he is planning to hunt down.” Ajaz knew it better than anyone ever.

“There is a confirmed intel about Hamza coming to India and this time, he has planned something more bloodier than 26/11.” Major briefed Ajaz, who held his breath long to listen to what news came his way.

“If it is India and if it is bigger than 26/11 as you say, Hamza will need the most loyal rather than trustworthy person to spread the word. And of course it would be the fedayeen kind of attack.” How easy Ajaz was in interpreting his Ex- Master.

“You are right, but we don’t know three W’s. WHERE, WHEN and WHO.” Colonel lighting his smoke offered one to Ajaz to which he politely declined with just a nod.

“That’s how Hamza works. Last minute surprise is his USP.” Ajaz smirked who was no more surprised now.

“We need an insider to know more. We need to know where he will be meeting his people and how they gonna execute it.” Colonel blew the clouds of smoke above.

“You can bet on me. After all, it’s now my turn to do what they did to me and my family, left us to die.” Ajaz’s fingers rolled up into a tight fist with his jaws clenched.

“I have put my life and career on line for you, Ajaz.” Major kept a hand on the clenched fist of Ajaz.

“And I won’t let you down, I too, bet my life on it.” Ajaz smiled releasing his fist.

“We don’t have much time, Ajaz.” Colonel’s forehead was creased.

“And I won’t delay a moment.” The smile on Ajaz’s face was assuring. Without any more words, Ajaz left. Leaving Colonel and Major to count on their luck that should favour them this time.


There were no updates from Ajaz. The pressure on I.B. and RAW was mounting like hell. With every passing moment, the situation was turning more dangerous and out of hand.

Hamza did not play it easy either, he was very well aware of his stature in the dark world and as a priced ticket for the Indian Army. While Hamza entered India via the Nepal border stealthily with his guards and computer geeks, all he thought about was one man who would be his messenger and set up his command room for the operation. Ajaz was on the top of that list.

Ajaz had kept his guards up and wanted to grab the slightest wind of Hamza or his plan but Hamza was not an easy guy to be lured into traps. Just after his last prayer of the day, there was a knock at his door. When Ajaz went out, all he could see was a leather envelope with a message inside it. Ajaz quickly took it and went inside without scanning the area. Hamza’s people would be surely looking at him through the dark and any suspicious behaviour would have landed his credibility on the wire.

Ajaz went through the content of the letter. The message was short and brief.


12:25 UTC



“This is gonna be worse than it seems.” Mr. Kulkarni loosened his tie and snapped the file he was going through in his office, one of the most secured places in India, RAW headquarters. Kulkarni a Joint Secretary of RAW moved uncomfortably on his chair, sitting across him was Mr. Sinha, a senior field officer.

“Is it worse than whatever we have seen in past ten years…?” The creases on Kulkarni’s forehead made it evident for Sinha to worry. Kulkarni was a man of steel running to the core of his bones. No threats could ever shake him off easily but if he seemed worried then it’s something big with a causality count higher than the country had ever witnessed.

“Who is the key player…?” Sinha holding his breath asked, his finger crossed under the table hoping not to hear the name that had rattled the world.

“It’s Abu Hamza.” Kulkarni crushed the butt of his smoke in the ashtray and leaned back with a heavy sigh.

“Good Great Lord…” Sinha was aghast on hearing just the name.

Abu Hamza, one of the most dreaded terrorist leaders from Afghanistan and the second most wanted man on the earth by Interpol. Abu is the right hand of the world’s most dreadful terrorists and the most wanted man across the globe, Suleman Ul Hafiz.

Lighting another cigarette, Kulkarni fed the details to Sinha.

“We have received confirmed intel that Abu Hamza had left Afghanistan and he is heading to India. Abu is gonna strike hard this time.” Kulkarni blew a cloud of smoke above and shut his eyes tightly to get rid of this stress that had begun to hover over him like a dark black cloud.

“How bad is it on scale of one to ten…?” Sinha questioned only when he couldn’t resist the urge and tried to grasp every word that Kulkarni was about to share with him.

“Our best and deepest asset in Afghanistan, ROY, had sent a message that Abu is planning something worse than 26/11 and probably in multiple metro cities. I can bet on every word of Roy’s message.” Kulkarni took another long drag and looked straight into Sinha’s eyes.

Before Sinha could ask further questions which he won’t as per his position in the system, Kulkarni added more.

“We don’t have any details regarding the plan of Abu and time is ticking…”

Kulkarni looked at the clock on the wall and stabbing his smoke spoke.

“Time to get ready for the meeting.” Kulkarni along with Sinha walked out of his office, heading to the meeting Venue.

It was a closed door meeting with the Prime Minister, the Defence Secretary, and the Army General. Kulkarni led the meet with his file and all the details he had gathered.

The air in the room was tense like never before. Everyone was lost in their thoughts to tackle the situation with PM as the most worried person in the room.

“Do we have any way to confirm the whereabouts of Abu Hamza like when he will enter Indian territory and from which border he is planning to enter….” PM asked the people inside the room to which everyone was clueless. Clearing his throat, the Army General broke the silence.

“Sir, my best guess is that Abu will come to Kashmir as he has many sources there. A team that he’ll need to carry out his mission will come only after he sends the message.”

“What kind of people would be in his team?” PM shifts his gaze to the General now.

“Our intel says that it would be something like 26/11 and if that is true, his team will have fedayeen with two or three computer geeks.” General replied and sipped some water to swallow the big lump formed in his throat that nearly blocked his windpipe.

“Sir, the terror launch pads in our neighbouring country would be the source of Fedayeen and the tech guys must be travelling with Abu from all the way to Afghanistan.” Kulkarni replied with his best possible guess.

“Are you sure about it…?” PM leaned forward and looked at Kulkarni who sat opposite the PM.

“As of now sir, it is our best possible guess, as we don’t have any confirmation about the group travelling with Abu. Our asset could not get the details regarding it with obvious fear of dire consequences.” Kulkarni replied and released his long held breath.

“What should be our next step then?” PM asked looking at the Defence secretary and the Army General.

“Sir, we should tighten up our border securities, especially near Kashmir region and we should order I.B and RAW to gather more intel on ground to know the movement of Abu Hamza.” The defence secretary replied this time.

“Moreover sir, we should prepare a task force that will have selected commandos from all the groups that will rip apart Abu Hamza and his troop once we have their location.”

“OK, that sounds like a good plan.” PM nodded at the suggestions and orders for the special task force. Along with it, he ordered the I.B. and RAW chiefs to rigorously gather more intel on Abu Hamza and his plan.

Next day, early in the morning, the Army General called a meeting and assigned the compilation of commands for the task force. Colonel Kuldeep Singh, the best in the force, was made in charge of the mission with Major Avinash Batra as second in command.

This duo of colonel and major had an appreciable record of carrying out many covert operations and hunting down those bad guys that could have possibly harmed the nation.

With a high priority and urgency, Kuldeep Singh and Avinash Batra had handpicked the finest of the men for their mission and a rigorous training exercise began for the selected troop of most ferociously and deadly soldiers at a secluded spot that had been reserved for such purposes. None of the soldiers had been briefed about the mission and they were denied contact with their family, friends, and even the fellow officers.

“What do you think, Major?” Kuldeep Singh asked, sipping some coffee from his metal mug and without taking his eyes off the boys on the training ground.

“Sir, with whatever intel we have, our chances to nail Abu Hamza are very thin. Till we know more about his entry point and further plans, we are just fighting the battle with blind folds on.” Avinash lit his smoke and took a long drag.

“Something what I too feel… Without any whereabouts of Hamza, all I can see is chaos accompanied with bloodbath, building debris and rummages with bodies strewn turning this paradise into living hell.” The heavy sigh of Colonel was enough to reveal the fears he hid.

Moments of tense silence passed, Major was still battling over the thoughts which could be the key to crack the situation but he was not sure of it.

“Anything on your mind Major…?” Colonel asked. Major took the final drag before crushing the cigarette butt under his military shoes and released a cloud of smoke. Colonel was all ears as he knew that Major had something worth on his mind.

“AJAZ KASHMIRI… Major gaped into the Colonel’s eye for counter reactions.

Colonel opened his mouth but words failed to step out. All he could do was just looking at the Major, trying to study where all this was going exactly.


16:32 UTC


‘Professional courtesy’

Hunters canvassing a swampy, low-lying area in the woods beside the highway reported a suspicious item. They discovered what they thought was a partially decomposed body. Being aware of the need to preserve the integrity of crime scenes, they waded out within a few yards of it and then remained nearby until we arrived. I had my team cordon off the perimeter and we went in slowly to confirm the details. As it turns out, it was a false alarm.

The ‘body’ was in fact, just a department store mannequin. The hunters could be forgiven for their reasonable mistake. From a distance it really did look like a human form, and we had a number of missing persons cases in the area. They were just trying to help. We need more concerned citizens like them doing their civic duty. I gathered up the lifelike debris and removed the crime scene tape from the bog. The other hunters had a good laugh at the one who spotted the ‘corpse’. He seemed to take it good naturedly. Frankly it was going to be a relief to turn in the official code for ‘false alarm’. Those missing persons were hopefully still alive somewhere. 

I returned back to the office and filed my report. My supervisor asked about the call. We had a good laugh at the thought of my pants and shoes getting muddy to retrieve a plastic dummy. It was “all in the line of duty”, I shrugged; but then I told him I was going to turn in a cleaning bill on my ‘expense report’. That elicited an even greater laugh. We don’t receive any compensation for damaged clothing in performing our work duties. Carrying a scantily-clad, waterlogged store mannequin out of the swamp must have been hilarious to witness.

Even though I was glad it wasn’t a real corpse, it did mean that some family remained in the dark about the whereabouts of their loved one. I vowed to keep searching for them. There were a number of leads that trickled in but after working them to their natural conclusion, I wasn’t any closer to finding the missing folks. A few days later we received another call about a suspected body floating in the bog. It was apparently at the same location, just off the highway.

At first I thought it was only a delayed report of the original incident but the eyewitness insisted he'd saw it earlier that morning. I wanted to be skeptical but knew the caller. He wasn't the sort of guy to be confused about what day it was. He was as sharp as a tack so I knew he'd definitely witnessed something suspicious. I figured I'd just accidentally left some pieces of the damned dummy in the water. I stopped by a sporting goods store to buy waterproof waders. I didn't want to ruin another pair of shoes and pants retrieving it from the swamp.

This time was different. There was a strong decomposition odor present. Even from the road, I smelled it. The object was in almost the exact same location as before but this one wasn't plastic or fiberglass. It was definitely human remains. I called headquarters. My investigation team brought their forensic tools and cordoned off the investigation grid. The corpse was an adult female in a fairly advanced state of decay. There were no obvious signs of trauma but I'd leave the deeper analysis to the medical examiner. It was my job to preserve the scene and retrieve her body.

By my estimation, the body had been there for quite some time. It was waterlogged and had possibly been weighed down by something to expedite the process. It didn't take a rocket scientist to realize it was weighed down by the mannequin. Besides underscoring my admittedly subpar earlier investigative work, it also suggested a clever culprit. They had to have realize that eventually the real corpse would rise to the surface. What better place to hide a real body than underneath a fake one? It was bound to make the investigator dismiss it as a false alarm. The idea was as clever as it was daring. 

That afternoon I mulled over what we knew. The victim was a young adult caucasian female, previously in good health; and her cause of death was definitely a homicide. Her fingers were badly degraded from submersion in the murky swamp water but the medical examiner did his best to get usable prints using a few advanced forensic techniques he knew. We'd hopefully get results back from the state crime lab soon. Her general features matched one of our missing persons cases but the prints and dental records would conclusively verify what we suspected. Then would come the difficult task of informing the relatives, figuring out what happened, and who was responsible. She deserved justice. 

I was troubled over the bizarre method of disposing the body. The killer had hundreds of square miles of inconspicuous places to hide his violent deed, yet the culprit choose to almost 'flag' her corpse for us to find. It was an incredibly risky decision. Why draw our attention to her rural dumping spot? An old log or nearby river stones placed atop the body would've possibly held it down, indefinitely. Honestly, the odds of finding a well-hidden victim are pretty slim but we don't advertise that to the public. Crime shows and movies imply that no crime goes unpunished and that misnomer hopefully serves to discourage some premeditated crimes. Usually though, most murders are solved by hard work of the investigator, dumb luck, and accidentally incriminating behavior by the culprit. Strangely, this murderer actually took deliberate steps to help us find her body. On the surface it didn't make sense. 

Once the victim's identity was determined, we'd interview her known associates. It's almost always someone they knew, but in this case it seemed like the killer was daring us to catch them. Either that or they were so cocksure of their mental superiority that they hoped the plastic marker was so distinctive we'd never look there again. It was clever, ironic, AND cocky. I admit my first instinct was to discount there being a real body at the crime scene, after retrieving the mannequin earlier. The killer may have also realized escaping decomposition gasses would eventually cause it to rise. They may have hoped we'd assume it was just another false alarm and leave it there, unmolested. Those theories and others even more bizarre floated in my head as I awaited to final lab report. 

When it came in, I had the unpleasant task of informing the young lady's parents. It wasn't the news they wanted to hear but it hopefully offered them closure. Not knowing can lead to a false sense of hope. I vowed to uncover the truth and bring her killer to justice. Then I asked if they could give me a list of her known friends and associates. Up until that point, they had been appreciative, and forthright. As soon as I asked whom she hung around with, they grew immediately silent. It wasn't just my investigator paranoia thinking that either. My partner noticed their reaction too. Normally when people clam up like that, it suggests a greater awareness of the truth, or outright culpability. I wasn't sure what the case was, but they were definitely hiding something. 

He went on a fact-finding mission and spoke with several of her friends. They projected an air of conspiracy or suspicion too. A little background digging unveiled something we were not ready for. The details of which possibly explained their mutual lack of transparency. The deceased had an intimate relationship with my supervisor’s college-age son. He hadn’t come forward to speak with us about finding her, and a number of their social media posts had been deleted since her disappearance. It looked very bad. Worse, I didn’t know how to approach the situation. It wasn’t easy to question family members of law enforcement.

Officially they was just ordinary citizens like anyone else but the unspoken truth was often different. They were sometimes insulated from equal justice by their family ties. As a paramilitary organization, we had a rank-and-file system of doing things that protects our own. It was deemed ‘professional courtesy’ to extend them extra ‘consideration’; and that always stuck in my craw. My partner was thinking the same thing I was. We had to bring him in for questioning ASAP but that wasn’t going to be easy. His father was fiercely loyal to those he cared about. He would definitely try to obstruct our investigation if given the opportunity.

I though back to our conversation about wrangling the mannequin out of the swamp and ruining my shoes. He and I went days without taking about any of my cases. It was pretty unusual for him to take interest in them so early on, but I knew that alone wasn’t proof of wrongdoing. Obviously I couldn’t yet connect his son to the crime, nor did it suggest he knew anything about the murder, but my suspicions were growing. I started to share my hypothetical idea with my partner but he just shook his head. We were both thinking the same thing but were afraid to express it out loud. That was the very definition of dangerous.

Strategically I knew I had to plan out my next course of action carefully. One wrong step could be disastrous. If I brought in the state police as a backup and his son turned out to be innocent, I’d burn my career and my relationship with him. If I confided my ugly suspicions to him discreetly and they were actually true, he might bury the evidence, or worse. Much worse. I didn’t want to believe he would cover up a crime or commit one himself but parental love is a powerful thing. I couldn’t afford to be blindsided by assumptions or coworker loyalty.

Later that afternoon, Frank stopped me in the hallway to ask if there had been any further advancements in the case. I wanted to stonewall him until I could decide how to handle the issue but it was too hard to ignore. I decided to just come right out, man-to-man and confront him directly.

“We spoke to Miss Yates friends and family. Among other things, they mentioned that she had an intimate relationship with ...Joey. I’m going to need to talk to him ASAP, Frank; and I’ll need you to fully recuse yourself from any further involvement in my investigation, going forward. Do you understand? It’s the only way this can go down and maintain the necessary level of impartiality.”

I studied his face but there was no hint of surprise or shock. There was none. He definitely knew Joey had been involved with the victim, and he already realized he would be a prime suspect in the murder case. The only question was, did he realize his son’s freedom was on the line AFTER she was positively identified, or BEFORE. I didn’t really want to know at that point. It was definitely becoming uncomfortable. Frank sighed. He was obviously relieved that the truth about their connection came out but I still couldn’t be sure he wouldn’t try to run interference to save his son. I’d revealed my hand for the benefit of seeing how he would react. The gamble paid off but it also changed how I needed to conduct the investigation from that point on. He would surely inform Joey of my intentions. That could make things go sideways rapidly.

“I’ll have him in your office first thing tomorrow morning. You have my word, Mike.”

One thing he didn’t do, was proclaim his innocence. It was a very telling reaction; and as an officer himself, he had to realize I’d notice. That certainly didn’t help me feel like I was overreacting to my suspicions. An innocent man would want to step forward immediately and clear his name once reasonable suspicions arose. Instead his; ‘I was unaware but I’ll fully cooperate’ act, was unbecoming for a highly-competent law-enforcement veteran. I nodded and thanked Frank for the promise and understanding. Afterward I advised my partner of the sudden development. It was going to be an interesting few days.

I hoped he knew better than to ask me to go easy on Joey. It was highly deceptive and unethical. Frank had stood beside me a hundred times when we pressed other suspects for answers over the years. Sometimes we pressed them hard. That's how detectives bring the truth to light. The fact that it would be his own son sweating in the interview chair this time shouldn't make any difference. Regardless, he probably hoped I would extend some ambiguous 'professional courtesy'. Human nature being what it is in most people, devotion to justice takes a back seat to protecting our loved ones.

I understood the sentiment on principle but I had an official job to do. Even if Joey was innocent of the crime and coverup, Frank knew he would be a prime suspect once we connected him directly to the victim. Only after I made a formal request to talk with him did Frank acknowledge what we both already knew. He was using his authority to glean details of my ongoing investigation, in order to shield his son from suspicion. 

I put my partner on stakeout duty that night to make sure ‘Little Joey’ didn't run. We no longer had the element of surprise. If he fled, we'd unfortunately have to work against our own organization to bring him in because some of our fellow officers would help him out of misguided loyalty. I also reminded Jessie that Frank knew we'd stake out his son's home. As a highly-experienced veteran, he was familiar with every trick in the book to evade detection. Ordinary fugitives blindly react. The as-yet uncharged son of a high ranking police captain would be able to plan out an effective escape, using the vicarious knowledge he possessed by being so connected to the law-enforcement world. Jesse would have to keep his eyes peeled.

To my surprise, Joey arrived at my office door right on time the next morning. On one hand, it was a big relief to get on with the process and avoid dealing with drama and complications. Almost immediately however I got the impression he'd been coached on exactly what to say, and what not to say. That part wasn't so surprising. It didn't take having a chief detective for a father to realize that being interviewed in a murder investigation was going to be intense. Even innocent people sweat during the prolonged heat of interrogations.

I wasn't so jaded that I believed it was impossible for the innocent to look guilty when they were not. Plenty of innocent folks fall apart because they are nervous and it makes sense to organize what they plan to say, but that also makes it more difficult for investigators like me to determine their culpability. There's an ebb and flow to these things and appearances matter. Joey was way too well-coached for ordinary techniques to be effective. Up until that point, he'd passed 'the sniff test' of my run-of-the-mill questions with flying colors.

I could feel his father's eyes monitoring the proceedings through the one-way mirror. Clearly Frank was making sure his son followed the script the'd rehearsed the night before. So much so that his answers came off the tongue too quickly. I knew I had to switch gears if I was going to have any success but that would be tricky too. It had to be quick and highly convincing. Ordinarily having Frank witness the interrogation wasn't a big detail at all. He would observe the suspect's reaction and behavior while my partner and I hammered them with questions. In this case however, I knew it was me he was watching. If I rattled Joey too much, he'd swoop in and put a stop to the interrogation. I wasn't sure what pretext Frank would use to silence him, but Joey would clam up and any reasonable hope of a confession would go out the window.

After three predictable 'softball' questions in a row, I did a dramatic about-face to throw him off-guard. Previously my questions were not accusatory at all. They just dealt with verifying his whereabouts from the time period of her last known eyewitness appearance, up until her body was discovered submerged in the swamp. I came out and asked Joey point-blank if it was his idea to use a mannequin on top of her real body, as a 'false flag' to confuse us. He actually grinned. He was visibly proud of how clever he'd been to use it to weigh her body down and delay the investigation. It was the first natural reaction I'd witnessed from him all morning. I knew his father was just about to end things. I had to dangle one more tempting hook in front of him before it was over. 

"Neither of you thought I'd go back into that nasty ol’ bog water, did you? You thought I was so particular about my clothes and shoes that I'd just ignore it if her real body ever floated to the surface. While the idea is both clever and daring, I'm insulted you thought I wouldn't follow up on 'another mannequin' sighting. I might grumble a little bit about it but I'd go back into that swamp a dozen more times if it was necessary to do my job. Your father owes me a dry cleaning bill!"

"Oh man, you wouldn’t believe it! He and I had a bet. He didn't think you'd go back in after it, but I did. I swear! I knew you’re a hard ass. I told Dad that drawing attention to the scene was a huge mistake. I..."

Frank angrily burst into the room and yelled at Joey to shut his mouth. Then he raced over to the interview camera and erased the video. Not to be foiled by the 'undo' feature, he permanently deleted to file in the trash folder so there was no way it could be recovered. That seemed to greatly satisfied him. He sneered and warned me that it would be my word against theirs; and that it would also amount to professional suicide to accuse them without any proof. They both left the station in a self-important huff.

Meanwhile I went back to my office to review something of paramount importance. Anticipating a similar scenario to what actually transpired, I'd set up a backup camera in the interrogation room to document everything and capture evidence. I decided to let the FBI know I had not extended my colleague with the 'professional courtesy' he wanted. Instead I’d let them be the ones to inform him about the extra video camera at their trial.

04:33 UTC



“My holidays are beginning next week. When does your summer break begin?” Yash asked as they both were playing in the sandpit. Yash then realized that he didn’t know which school Ansh went to.

“Which school are you in by the way?” Yash asked to which Ansh was focused on making the shapes in the sand.

“I stopped going to school long back.” Ansh replied looking straight in the eye. It was kind of weird, Ansh’s face began to turn stone cold and stern. Yash was about to ask further but the curt tone of Ansh made him quiet.

“Can we play now?”

“But it’s a story time now.” Mr. Mehta spoke as he walked with Mrs. Mehta towards the kid.

The weird feeling of Yash about the way Ansh behaved vanished in the sweet story of Mr. Mehta.

“Today we will have two ice creams.” Mr. Mehta spoke as the story ended.

“Why two today?” Curious Yash asked.

“Cause tomorrow is the birthday of Ansh.” Mr. Mehta affectionately stroking the hair of Ansh replied.

“Wow… I just love celebrating birthdays…” Before Yash could pour down his excitement, Ansh cut him short.

“I don’t like my birthday.” The cold stare from Ansh sent chills down the spine of Yash.

“But…” This time, Mr. Mehta spoke before Yash could fire a volley of curious questions.

“Ah… Not again, we are not going down that track again Ansh please…” silence prevailed longer for seconds or minutes to track.

They quietly enjoyed the ice cream. But Yash had made up his mind. He had already planned in his head that he would bring a cake for his new friend and will celebrate his birthday in the park.

Next day, as per Yash’s plan, after school he finished his lunch quickly and rushed to get a small delicious cake for his friend, Ansh. With some balloons and party poppers, Yash reached the park.

Mr. Mehta along with Ansh and everybody else was also surprised by such a lovely and sweet gesture of Yash. They cut the cake and played together and every now and then the couples sang one liners or rhymes for Ansh. It was one of the most fabulous evenings in the park after a long long time.

Sameer was home early that day from his work while Anjali was still busy at the bank. With nothing much to do, Sameer thought to spend some time, playing with Yash at the park. After all, Dads are the first and best friends of their sons.

Sameer freshened up and walked to the Park. Sameer was surprised to see nothing there. There was a big rusty gate and the fence around it was covered with thorny bushes. Sameer walked closer to see the deserted patch of land. His heart started throbbing loudly as he stepped closer to the gate. What he saw next left him startled.

Yash was sitting on the grass with the remaining cake and blown up party poppers. He was laughing and talking loudly to no one around him. Sameer ran to Yash and jolted him.

“Yash…” Sameer could not fathom what his son was doing alone there and damn… with whom was he talking?

“Hey Dad, what a pleasant surprise.” Yash was surprised but he could see his father was aghast. However, he could not understand the reason.

“Mehta Uncle, this is my Dad, and Dad this is Mehta Uncle.” Yash introduced Sameer who was shocked to hell. He couldn’t understand whom his son was talking to.

“Yash… whom are you are talking to …? There is no one around.” Sameer shook his son grabbing his shoulders.

“Dad… These all are my friends… It was Ansh’s birthday today and we were celebrating it.” Yash was terrified too by his father’s reaction.

And then something happened that Sameer could never have dreamed of in his worst nightmare. The whole garden slowly came to life and Sameer could see the faint smoke lining up into human figures and he could see the floating figures of Mr. Mehta, Ansh and others that had been present there. Sameer fumbled back and fell on the ground, taking support of his elbows.

Things stabilized and Mr. Mehta who was sitting near Ansh and Yash spoke.

“We are here in the park, we live here. Only your son could see us and play with us as he is an innocent boy like Ansh was once upon a time.”

“What happened here…? And who are you all…? Please don’t do anything to my child.” Sameer grabbed Yash and wrapped him in his arms. A terrified father kept looking at those ghosts with his eyes wide open.

“Don’t worry Sameer, we don’t harm anyone. Just calm down.” Mr. Mehta offered the bottle of water that Yash had been carrying. Sameer took the bottle and with shaky hands and sipped some water without taking his eyes off what he saw in front of him. Mr. Mehta took a deep breath and answered the questions that were rumbling in Sameer’s mind.

“We all lived here, in an old age home that belonged to me. It all happened 20 years ago. All these people you can see here, once stayed here with us and this was our small garden.” Mr. Mehta was taking his time to let his words sink in Sameer’s head.

“There was a builder who wanted to buy this place but I denied. This place was a home for all those homeless parents whose kids didn’t want them to stay with them anymore.” Mr. Mehta kept narrating with moist eyes.

“What happened then?” Sameer’s curiosity and eagerness got the better of him. This was so unreal for him.

“It was Ansh’s birthday, he had always celebrated his birthday with us at the old age home and his parents too supported his decision as Ansh didn’t have any grandparents.” Mr. Mehta paused with a heavy sigh. All the souls around him were reliving that horrendous day.

Sameer stayed quiet and patiently waited for Mr. Mehta to continue. He could not fathom what was ahead and it was the most horrific reality he would ever come across in his life.

“Ansh’s parents got a call so they left in hurry with a promise to return soon and till then Ansh could spend time with us. We all were busy enjoying the day with this little angel.” Mr. Mehta said affectionately caressing Ansh’s hair and continued.

“It was quite late when we realized that the builder and his goons had surrounded the place and drenched everything in the petrol. The builder walked in and at gun point asked me to sign the property paper. I politely denied but they were not in a mood to hear NO.” Mr. Mehta paused, trying to calm his restless soul before continuing.

“They shot me right in my heart and then set the whole place to fire. Everyone along with this little boy was burnt alive.” Mr. Mehta closed his eyes, leaning back on the bench.

Tears started to roll down everyone’s eyes including Sameer and Yash. The pain of those burnt souls was felt by the father and son. After regaining consciousness from being lost in the sad narrated account, Sameer spoke.

“Did that bastard get punished for what he did?”

“He is a powerful wealthy builder. Back then he had money and muscle power and today he has become more influential and well connected politically than what he was.” Mr. Mehta spoke with a heavy sigh.

“He may be a big tycoon but he will pay for what he has done.” Sameer’s rage was reflected in his words.

“Justice will prevail for you. I assure you.” Those were Sameer’s last words before leaving the park with Yash.

Within the next week, every leading newspaper was screaming about the dreadful event that took place 20 years back sucking up the life of Mr. Mehta and others living with him. And the writer of the article was none other than Sameer.

02:51 UTC



“Yash, are you done packing your books and toys in the boxes?” Anjali asked her 10 year old son who was sitting by the window staring at the playground, watching his friends playing cricket. Yash nodded at Anjali with a heavy sigh.

Sensing her son’s pensive mood, Anjali walked into the room and sat next to him, ruffling his hair. A lopsided smile hung on his face.

“Honey, why you are sad? The new place is really beautiful and there will be a lot many…” Before Anjali could say a few more words to console, Yash interrupted her.

“But I will miss my friends. These are my best friends.” Pointing towards the boys in the playground with his finger.

“I know it is tough to leave your friends and shift to a new place. But look at it this way, we will have our own house and we don’t have to pay rent anymore. You can decorate your room the way you want and there will be new friends waiting for you.” She tried her best though she knew that it would take time for Yash to get acquainted with the new place.

“I know…” Yash finally turned to look at her with a puny smile exhibiting his dejected mood. He picked up his comics and stuffed them into a box. Anjali could never understand how their child was more mature than his age.

The packers and movers guys knocked at the door, they were ready to carry out the job. Anjali asked them to come in and Yash quietly followed her mom to the dining area. Sameer was already talking over the phone and supervising the guys from the agency.

The new house of Yash was located in the suburbs of Mumbai. A newly developed residency, Sameer had managed to crack a good deal for the new flat. He had finally purchased a place and now he owned his first house, a new home for his family.

Sameer was a crime reporter in the leading newspaper of the city and his wife, Anjali worked in a bank. Thanks to Anjali, there were no complications in getting and processing the loan. Now, they were ready to move into their new house.

The luggage was shifted in the morning the following day. Sameer and Anjali both had taken a day off from the office so that their son won’t feel lonely at the new place. They even needed to arrange everything to make the house look like a home. Like an obedient and polite kid, Yash helped his parents in whatever he could with like arranging the furniture in the house.

The day had been long and tiresome one. The night was a celebration night for the family. They went for dinner at the favourite place of Yash. All the while at the new house and the restaurant, Anjali and Sameer tried their best to cheer up Yash but it did not work out the way they had anticipated. Yash only responded when prompted, however, he remained quiet and lost in thoughts.

Next day, Anjali and Sameer had to be back at the work and Yash also got busy with his daily routine i.e. going to school. The biggest challenge for Yash was to spend time after school alone. He had not seen many people in society. Most of the flats were empty, only a handful had been occupied and to his hard luck, none of them had any kids. All were business professionals, singles or newly married couples who were trying to mend the ends of their life.

With nothing much to do, one fine evening, Yash went down to play with his ball. He walked through a narrow alley that opened to the back of residency into a park with a huge rusty gate. The lush green lawns and the tall trees surrounding the park. The atmosphere was soothing and mesmerising. It had swings, a seesaw, slides and a huge sandpit for kids to play.

Yash fell for the park at first glance as he slowly walked in. There were many senior citizens and some were couples among them. An ice-cream seller with his bicycle was strolling in, smiling and waving his hand to the people there.

With the utter delight of finding such a good place, Yash kicked his ball that went to the sandpit. A boy almost his age was playing in the sandpit, trying to make different shapes from the sand. The boy turned around to look at Yash who was running to get the ball.

“Hi…I am Yash.” Introducing himself, Yash waited for the boy to respond who was holding the ball now.

“Hi… I am Ansh.” The boy responded as he tossed back the ball towards Yash. He had a sweet and enchanting smile that quickly thickened the bond between the two kids.

“Will you play with me?” Yash tossed the ball back to Ansh.

“Why not…” Saying so, Ansh kicked the ball high and both the kids got busy playing. The old couples began to enjoy the delightful sight of innocent kids playing. They had not witnessed such a sight in ages.

The sun bid the earth good bye with the last flying kiss as the winds rustled the leaves in the tree and it was about to turn dark. Yash realised that it was his time for him to return back home as his parents would be home any minute.

Do you come here every day? Yash asked as the kids dusted the sand and walked out of the sandpit.

“Yes, I am mostly here.” Ansh replied and dusted a patch of dust that was still on the back of Yash’s shirt.

“Cool then, I will come tomorrow evening too; I will also bring other toys too.” Yash replied shaking his hand with Ansh.

“It would be fun then. I haven’t played with toys since long.” Ansh replied as he turned back in the opposite direction.

Before Yash could ask what he meant by his last words, Ansh was already gone. Yash kept looking for him but the park had suddenly become dark deserted and scary. Taking careful quick strides through a narrow dark alley, he reached the back entrance of the residency. Finally, Yash had found a new friend who was very nice and playful just like him.

At night, his happiness was sensed easily by his parents over the dinner table. Finally, they were relieved from the worry about what they had to do to keep Yash busy.

“You seemed to be acquainted quite well.” Sameer asked as Yash was busy in digging rice and curry on his plate.

“Yes Dad, and I made a new friend also, Ansh. Like me, he also visits the park every evening.” His joyful answer was music to their ears.

“Well, invite your friend sometimes to our place and you can show him your room too. You guys can play here also.” This time Anjali spoke.

“And you will make tacos for us.” Yash winked as he gulped the last spoon of rice from his plate.

“Of course honey, just let me know a day before so that I’ll be back home early.” Anjali walked with the soiled plates to the kitchen.

It was quite a routine for Yash, morning school, afternoon lunch, homework and playing in the evening at the park with Ansh. Even the aged couples there were fond of these kids. It was a weekday evening when Mr. and Mrs. Mehta were sitting and telling a story to Ansh who was all ears to them.

“Hey, Ansh… Let’s play.” Yash came with his bag of toys hung loosely on his shoulder.

“Hey Yash, join us. Mr. Mehta is telling an interesting story.” Ansh waved and said it loudly for the Yash who was walking towards them.

“Who is the new young man?” Mr. Mehta asked as Yash sat next to Ansh.

“He is my park friend and we…” Before Ansh could say anything more, Mr. Mehta interrupted.

“And you guys enjoy a lot playing.” Mr. Mehta laughed. His laughter was followed by the approval from the other couples who were sitting nearby.

“So Yash, you seem to be new here.” Mr. Mehta asked just like grandparents at home.

Yash told them that they had recently shifted there with his parents and what they did for living. Mr. and Mrs. Mehta were all ears to him. The spark of joy for this evening time was clearly revealed in those innocent eyes of Yash.

“Can we get back to story…?” Ansh interrupted and they all laughed with Mr. Mehta getting back to the story. The boys were so engrossed that they didn’t realize when the time ran out.

“It’s late, I should go back home. My Mom and Dad would be waiting for me.” Yash got up dusting his shorts.

“Not before a sweet treat.” Ansh spoke as Mr. Mehta smiled and waved a hand to the ice-cream seller. Ice cream treat was mandatory after every storytelling session that used to take place once in a week.


03:30 UTC



Aaron stood in the hall gazing at each and every painting on one of the walls. While the girl took longer, Aaron could not stop himself from admiring the beauty of the house. His eyes fell on the wooden bookshelf that had small statues on the top shelf. It was a row of characters you see in your real life, a postman, a security guard, a student with a bag on his shoulder, and many more…

The girl came with two cups of coffee and cookies. Her two pets, a dog and a cat wagging their tails in delight at her feet. Aaron had not anticipated such a warm welcome.

“Please be seated, you look tired so I brought coffee and cookies.” The girl smiled as she served the coffee and cookies on the tea table in front of them.

“Thanks for this generosity, I don’t know what to say.” He was at of loss of words.

“You can start with your name.” The girl smiled handing the coffee cup to Aaron.

“I am Aaron.”

“I am Hanna.” She took a sip of her coffee and asked further.

“So, Aaron, what brings you here? Let me guess… mmm… Museum…?” Hanna leaned back on her sofa.

“Ya, I came to see the paintings of Picasso. I am a huge fan of his work.” Aaron replied looking at the pets who stared back at him without even blinking their eyes, making Aaron uncomfortable.

Watching his discomfort, Hanna shoed the pets away and they walked to the other room but without taking their eyes off Aaron. It was an awkward sight as he had never seen the pets behave in such an absurd manner.

“So you are a painter ?” asked Hanna taking some more sips of her coffee.

“Ah… Nothing like that, but I want to be one, at least to create something aesthetic that will be remembered by if not all but few.” Aaron was more relaxed now with the pets nowhere in sight.

“What about you? Are you a painter too?” Aaron asked looking again at the paintings on the wall.

“I paint and bake. Baking is my passion and when I get tired, I drift to paint something that runs in the fields of my mind.” Her smile cast an enchanting spell on Aaron.

“Try the cookies. You’ll love them.” Saying so, Hanna passed the plate of freshly baked chocolate cookies. The first bite of cookie and Aaron could not resist himself from taking another, it was delicious.

“These are some best and the most delicious cookies that I have ever tasted. There must be some secret recipe for it.” Aaron asked taking another one.

“Yup… It is made by a very secret recipe my grandmother had taught me.” Her eyes had a sparkling glitter. Aaron felt uncomfortable being observed by her undivided attention and constant stare so his eyes drifted to the statues on the bookshelf.

“Seems you are good at pottery work also. Those statues…” Aaron pointed towards them to change the conversation.

“So you also didn’t get it…” Hanna laughed keeping her cup of coffee back.

“Sorry…” Aaron could not get what Hanna just said.

“They are not made of clay, but of dough… The cookie dough…” She winked and smiled making Aaron skip a beat.

“Are you serious…?” Aaron immediately got up to have a closer look at those small figurines. It was for the first time he observed them. Their facial features were perfect, they looked just like small human beings who may come to life at any moment.

“This is an amazing piece of artwork… Seems these too have some secret recipe…” Aaron spoke standing barely a few centimeters away from the miniature statues.

“You wanna know what’s the secret recipe ?” Hanna’s deep and husky voice fell on his ears like wind passing through the trees. She was standing right behind him. Aaron was jolted off his feet the hair on the nape of his neck stood upright as he turned back to face her. Her eyes penetrated his heart.

Before Aaron could respond, with one swift move Hanna slit his juggler vein. Aaron was aghast and before he could respond, Hanna stabbed the dagger right into his chest. She then pulled it out and stabbed him again.

Aaron fell on the ground and Hanna kept a bowl near his neck to collect the blood oozing out of his neck. She pulled out the dagger and pushed it in his stomach now. Groaning Aaron could not scream louder. The dog and cat pounced on his tearing flesh from Aaron’s body to claim their part of the feast.

“Not yet darlings.” Hanna pushed the dog and cat away and took Aaron’s hand to slit his wrist and collected more blood. Aaron’s eyes struck with horror began to turn glassy and stoned. Life departing from his dying body in a most brutal and painful way. Aaron was losing his life even before he would be actually dead.

“Human blood is the secret ingredient of my cookie recipe.” Hanna collected the blood from the bowl into an empty glass bottle and talked to the lifeless body of Aaron. The pets turn into menacing creatures who pounded on the leftover flesh of Aaron’s body.

Hanna got her dough bowl and added some of Aaron’s blood into it and made a perfect statue of Aaron who was no more in the house, not even the tiny bits of his bones were left on the floor.

Aaron’s statue was also now in the row of same other statues…

08:40 UTC


‘The critically acclaimed journal of Sir Jello von Rienks the Third’

Diary entry: Meow 13.7

Today my slave didn’t get up until after 7am. I pled with her to rise and serve my morning meal but despite countless prior clemencies, she still failed to get up and perform her essential duty and honor. I really don’t know why I’m so lenient to her. There must be a hundred thousand potential slaves who would fall to their knees and BEG the gods to serve a regal, superior creature such as myself (and dispense with my poop), but out of the goodness of my pure, feline heart, I let each of her infractions and moral failings slide. I may very well be nominated for modern sainthood. If so, no one shall deny my benevolence. Huzzah.

Diary entry: Meow Meow

Last week my slave’s offspring allowed a foul mongrel to wander into my kingdom! I know. It’s absolutely egregious. Then the drooling mutt had the AUDACITY to lie on MY PILLOW, and bark at Moi! The indignities never cease! I immediately informed the slave I was in no mood to tolerate such disrespect but she was too busy mewing to some other slave on that electrical contraption. It would be cute seeing them pretend to communicate with each other but honestly, my patience was wearing thin. They carried me to a safe location like admirable bodyguards should but honestly, their expenditures of futile effort wouldn’t be necessary if they would just avoid befouling my palace with that flea infested canine doofus in the first place. Status: ‘I just can’t...

Diary entry: meow 9 1 1

My slave reached a new pinnacle of depravity. By my incredibly accurate estimation; she abandoned me for almost 4,000 years. Sure, there was ample food and some stale water to spit my fur balls into, but there was no one to scoop away my royal treasures AND no one around to PET ME! These shimmering rows of golden fur don’t brush themselves.

I was ALMOST forced to groom MYSELF like a commoner. The mere though makes me shudder. What sort of servant abandon’s their king for 4,000 years? I was forced to hurl myself upon the nearest pillow and sleep incessantly until she returned. Even then she scarcely apologized for the abuse. It was as if I wasn’t the most important thing in her insignificant life. It’s my own fault however. I’m just a big ol’ softy and do not punish her enough for the endless parade of failure and pathetic insolence. Status: ‘Le meowwww’

19:55 UTC



Spain has always been famous for its beaches, football, nightlife, etc. But that was not the reason Aaron was there that day. He is a creative mind metamorphosing into a painter, maybe a future legend in the world of painters. Picasso has always been a God for young artists. Aaron was desperate to visit the Reina Sofia museum where the actual work of his God and other great artist was preserved.

Finally, in the Spanish winter, Aaron got a chance to visit that country with his friends for a small vacation trip. He was on cloud 9 when he put his first step on Spanish soil, taking a deeper breath to inhale the art in the air.

The plan to visit the museum was first on board and his friends who were not art enthusiasts didn’t argue. After all, they were here for fun and fun can begin anywhere. Tired due to last night’s journey and struggling with jet lag, the gang and Aaron could manage to step out of their hotel in the early evening. Their plan for the day was simple, early evening at Reina Sofia museum and then hitting the pub till the late night.

The moment Aaron stepped into the museum, his eyes started scanning every piece of art, everything was breathtaking and mesmerising that made him float in a different world. His friends on the contrary started losing their interest and were now getting desperate for their evening drinks with some Spanish beauties.

Aaron was nowhere to be found as he was lost deeper in the heaven of his God. His friends tried to get a hold of him but his cell was out of reach so they dropped the text to him about they moving to a pub and exited the museum.

Aaron, who was lost in his newly found world was finally jolted by a hand on his shoulder.

“Sir, it’s closing time.” A security guard politely requested him.

Startled Aaron trying to grasp the breath, nodded before he sheepishly smiled and exited the museum. By the time he was out, the sun had already kissed goodbye and the deserted streets were dimly lit. He tried to reach his friends but unfortunately, his cell phone battery was drained.

Left with no option, Aaron walked through the streets till he could get something to commute to the pub where they were supposed to gather. He was tired and could not find anyone around, the houses were shut and dark as if nobody had stayed there in ages.

But, he was not out of luck yet. Though tired, Aaron’s ear didn’t miss the melodious chiming of wind chimes at the corner of the street he was walking through. A small bulb was light at the entrance of the house located at the slope of an otherwise deserted street with the melodious music of wind chimes filling the silence.

Aaron’s feet couldn’t stop to march towards the house. The main door was ajar after a small front wire mesh door.

“I could at least ask for the directions to my hotel.” Taking a deep breath, Aaron stood at the door and was about to press the bell when he heard a sweet humming sound of a girl. The sound of the bell stops the humming that came from the far end inside the house. Aaron waited for a couple of seconds before ringing the bell again. It was a strange feeling that started creeping onto his nerves.

“Hello… Anybody there?” Aaron thought of calling out rather than ringing the bell again.

“Coming in a min…” The same sweet voice that had been humming a minute ago replied from inside the house.

A girl with cookie dough on her hands showed up. Aaron’s eyes saw the angel on the earth. The girl was gorgeous with enchanting sea green eyes and curled blonde hair, few naughty strands running down her temples. Just a look at her and Aaron was mesmerised by her beauty and a romantic track played at the back of his mind.

An uncomfortable silence stretched more than it should as she kept staring at dumbstruck Aaron. She tried to push her hair locks behind her ear with the back of her hand.

“Can.. you… tell me where… this… this… address is…?” Aaron asked fumbling over his words as the girl kept staring at him. Embarrassed Aaron, passed the hotel card so that she could see the address.

“I am afraid my hands are…” The girl smiled and raised her hands to show the dough stuck on her hands. Before Aaron could say anything, she added.

“Why don’t you come in? I’ll see the address after washing my hands.” She turned to walk while Aaron stood for a second before stepping inside hesitatingly. The girl had already started walking towards the kitchen to wash her hands.


07:48 UTC

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