Chapter One


November, 4th, Present Day

                The meadow was a gorgeous blend of purple, life, and satin, the sky an unrelenting slur of orange and blue. To his left, Silgan noticed a small tree blurred by heat and moisture. Squinting hard, he could just make out a silhouette. Moving closer, his mouth shifted to a grin, his heart soared with elation, and he tasted serenity. It was Adam, sitting alone under the tree. Adam, under the tree, reading. Adam, under the tree, carefree. Adam, under the tree, alive.

Silgan called out to his son, but no sound left his lips. A crushing humidity of adrenaline, desperation, and hope was constricting Silgan from the inside out. Convulsing and crying like a pathetic dime-store mime he struggled towards his son. Adam looked up. It wasn’t right. His eyes were missing and his movements were mechanical, almost as if he was moving in a low four frames per second. His mouth gouged the sky as it opened, letting forth a shrill cry. The previously beautiful haze of color turned black, as all the meadows life converged into Adam’s gaping jaw. The sky was dead.

The alarm was obnoxious, a recording of a shrill babe’s cry. Silgan hated that alarm. But not much else worked in rousing his medically induced nap each morning. Besides, he had a job to do, a purpose to fulfill. What more does a person need, than to be used? Silgan turned the alarm off and stretched. Groaning, he got up and assessed his surroundings. The room was both compact and ordered. Both were pertinent traits for someone in his line of work. Messier, and he could easily start a fire or poison himself with any number of the neurotoxins arranged across his workbench. Larger, and the IRS might pay a visit, he learned that lesson the hard way.

“All right. We’ve got fifty minutes to shower, get dressed, and prepare the solutions…” He murmured.

Silgan got to work preparing the solutions immediately. I can always cheat the shower. It’s not like he needed to look pretty for today’s mark. He’d prepared the first vial last night, a slow release muscarinic neurotoxin and putrescine mix neatly contained in a lead sub-body. Essentially a group three muscular poison that mimicked a group five poison without all the heart attacks. The resulting chemical created a pathological sense of dread, simultaneously increasing contractile tissues sensitivity. Put simply, it increased the mark’s capacity for pain and anxiety while keeping their heart beating. Silgan took the vial from the fridge, shook it slightly, and put it in a small cryo-vial of his own design to keep the active reagents from damaging the lead, prior injection.

He grabbed his green sharpie and scribbled “Part 1” on the tape below the vials head before securing it in his metal briefcase. Silgan knew from experience that a simple, matter of fact, label tended to terrorize his marks more than any ostentatious label could.

Next up was “Part 2”. Today’s “Part 2” was a lipid-soluble and sodium activated hemeo-toxin that coagulated around fat and epithelial tissue while absorbing all the oxygen from nearby blood vessels. In essence, an injectable, localized gangrene infection. This one is a little bit sadistic, but effective. It also contained a slight green dye, for that subtle “I don’t want you to inject me with that” feeling. He reached for two different catalysts that would speed the reaction rate via different mechanisms which would give him a few options for inflicting pain, given the mark’s compliance. Glancing at the toxins inhibitor, a vindictive smile crossed his face. Guess you won’t be making a recovery once I’m through. He quickly taped the two catalysts on either side of the “Part 2” vial and stored them under the frozen “Part 1” apparatus.

He shuffled to the cabinet and opened it wide, assessing his options; from the mechanical tools to the pre-mixed and otherwise stable solutions. “Part 1” was a constant in all his marks, while “Part 2” changed often. It generally depended on how much he hated himself that given week. “Part 3” consisted of a variety of chemicals that could be used to fill gaps or change up his current strategy. Purely supplemental. He grabbed some anesthetics that paralyzed without affecting consciousness or pain interpretation by the brain. He also gathered some muscle relaxants along with two distinct laxatives.

Following this theme, he also chose a particularly jagged and damaged surgical knife he’d used to saw through a previous marks cochlear implant. He packed away the knife in his briefcase while storing the pharmaceuticals in his small fanny pack beside his workbench. Finally, he reached for his tracker gun, which hung next to the anesthetics. Silgan made a habit of keeping track of previous marks on the off chance they were released. A simple insurance policy that would warn him if he needed to run. He stored the tracker gun below in the outer pocket of his briefcase.

Glancing at the small black Digitex on his nightstand, the time read 4:12 AM in bold red letters. He had exactly thirty-two minutes to get downstairs where a black Sedan with blacker tints would await his arrival. He had time for a shower. Moving towards the kitchen he grabbed a large, green banana and went to work on the peel. Simultaneously he scanned the counter for his enzymes. He quickly found the bottle and dry swallowed them before taking a bite of the banana and heading towards the bathroom, which was adjacent to the kitchen counter.

Opening the door to the pitch-black bathroom sent a wave of anxiety down Silgan’s back. Christ be spared the cross if he didn’t hate showers. Not that the concept was inherently frightening or otherworldly to him, hydrology was incidentally a strength of his on those useless exams. No, it was the lack of productivity. With nothing to do for a good five minutes besides stand comfortably in a warm stream of contradictions, the mind inevitably braved those contradictions. Stepping into the small room, Silgan took a deep breath before turning the nozzle exactly seven eighths of the way to the right. He quickly shed his brief’s, running through what was in his beloved briefcase to distract himself from the void. He ran his hand through the water, it was still cold as goose pimples appeared on his arms and thighs. He whispered in frustration “For fuck’s sake what am I paying a thousand a month for…stay calm man, it’s just adrenaline and anxiety…”

Stepping into the now tolerably warm stream, Silgan’s hands were shaking. The stream felt good and his goose pimples were starting to fade. Relaxing, slightly he leaned back into the stream with his eyes close. Musing aloud “Everything is alright, I am safe.”

“Hey!” A female voice shouted.

Silgan’s blood ran cold and his eyes shot open. Above him stood a woman standing in a shower, his shower, except a mirror image and upside down. That’s new. Hadley’s face was contorted into a grimace, blood leaked from the right corner of her left eye. She had long, sleek black hair and bright-green eyes accented by a hint of hazel on the edge of her iris. The water in her shower steamed, boiling loudly as it cuagulated above the stopped drain. Hadley’s skin, where the water met dermis, was inflamed and burning. But that face, Silgan could never forget the beautiful face of his wife.

“Miss me?” She cackled. Her voice is different, it’s choked, distorted. 

“You’re dead, and you aren’t real.” Silgan replied, his face turning the same eggshell white as the bathrooms cracking paint.

“Me? Dead? Whose fault is that?” she smiled cruelly. Mine. 

“I’m sorry.” Silgan murmured, voice and posture stricken.

“I can’t hear you, you gutless excuse of a man!” She spat.

“Yes you can, you’re me and you know it, you’re in my fucking head! Is that loud enough?” He shouted back.

She started floating towards Silgan, hovering inches off the floor. As she grew closer, the gravity affecting her reversed and her long, black, hair fell a few inches away from Silgan’s chest. A slow, ominous, stream of blood trickled from her eye, falling onto Silgan’s face. She glared for two moments, whispering “How could you?” before dissolving into the showers steam. What…the fuck. Shuddering, Silgan turned the showers nozzle, cutting the flow of water. Grabbing his dark blue towel, he peered over his right shoulder to the showers ceiling. Why now? Its been years since I last saw Hadley. Nothing was there, not anymore. He vigorously dried his hair with the towel as he shuffled towards the mirror. Looking up at himself, he froze. There was a drop of blood on his cheek. No…it can’t be real. That was in my head. Steeling himself, he examined his face and body for lacerations. Finding none, he quickly wiped the blood from his cheek and left the bathroom, slamming the door. Just forget about it. 

Silgan stood still for a moment, doing his breathing exercises to regain composure.

Disorder is the enemy of order, and whether that was real or not is irrelevant in establishing order.” A deep voice in his head whispered.

You’re right, we are right. Okay, checklist, what time is it?

His Digitex clock read 4:31 AM. How had that taken so long?  Moving quickly to his open closet he shoved the skeleton that he kept as a joke aside and grabbed his freshly dry-cleaned Black suit and pants. As he started getting dressed his mind wandered to his hallucination. He’d had them for years, but few so vivid as this. And the blood…how in the hell had it gotten there? Could it have been dyed iron? But my face had been in the water, it would have fallen, it didn’t appear until after she…and why, why now? This was a good morning, I’ve been efficient, why now!?

His suit was tied, and he strapped his watch as he went to close his suitcase. It closed with the satisfying click he expected–and needed–as he headed to his first aid box. He set the briefcase down and opened the box, revealing an assortment of pharmaceutical aids. Eyeing the Compro, he decided he’d had it rough enough and reached for it. Compro, aka prochlorperazine was his favorite, it minimized the hallucinations while dulling his thoughts and emotions; ideal for a day like this. He opened it and took out twice the normal dose, for good measure. Next, he went for the Secobarbitol, to smooth out his anxiety and counteract the stomach pains the Compro gave him. As he took the normal dose, he eyed the Vicodin and Lortab. “I guess it’s that kind of day, isn’t it?” He chuckled as he grabbed the Lortab, taking one, and pocketing two more to give him the good feelings during the interrogation.

Silgan checked his watch, which read 4:42, he was in good shape for making his “appointment”. Opening the door, he muttered to himself “Order is the enemy or disorder, and I am master over both.”


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