Saving Hadley: Chapter 18

An interesting chapter, I had fun re-working some of the subtler mechanics here. It introduces some of the first adventure elements in the story, something that’s more salient in Act 3. I think the chapter would be very dark without the elements of comic relief. It has a bi-polar structure in a lot of ways, and it experimental in that regard.

Start at the beginning: https://bluebeard-art.com/prologue-2/

Enjoy!

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XVIII

Present Day-Silgan

            Silgan locked the apartment behind him, anxiety high, as his thoughts raced for a solution. Where do I go now? The Governor and the Police are going to be on my trail once they find out about Harold. Silgan had forced Harold’s limp body into the industrial-sized freezer near the back of his room, neglecting the blood-stains in the kitchen. He’d also grabbed Harold’s house key, which he now used to open Harold’s apartment. The room was huge, and disgusting. Old clothes, pizza boxes, soda cans, and ambiguously stained porno-mags littered the floor. I need to find the phone he was using to communicate with Haskell. If they used a text-based channel, I can throw Haskell off my trail. Silgan only had forty minutes to meet Alex, and an hour and twenty minutes until Nessa would, hopefully, awaken.

Hurrying forward, he examined his surroundings, scanning for loose electronics. Harold’s bed was a luxurious looking king-size, disheveled and blood-stained. I don’t want to know whose blood that is. There was a ladder in the back corner of the room, leading to a small loft. Silgan set his briefcase and duffle down before climbing the ladder. Reaching the top, he found a small desk with an intense looking desktop PC. Probably has crazy specs. Approaching, Silgan noticed that Harold was still logged in. Hurrying, he sat at the computer and looked for any open communications services. All that was open on the desktop was an amazon shopping cart, filled with differently colored knives and an unsavory looking pornographic film from the nineties, entitled, ‘Rubber Ropes’. The fuck, Harold. Using the dark web to buy porn? Disgusted, Silgan closed the tor browser, navigating to the “advanced search bar” where he unchecked all of file types aside from the common note taking extensions. Then, he typed “Password”. The first result popped up as a notepad file labeled ‘Passwords and sht’. Harold, you always were a dumbass. Silgan clicked the file and reopened dot onion browser. Choosing the “maximum mirroring” option, Silgan opened his personal email server, before clicking back to the file. There were eight different passwords:

“Sinusoid2Rhinodick”

“RobertEL33reborn” No surprise there, I knew he was a supremacist scum-bag.

“BiglilBrain1969”

“569142”

“HaggardHaroldDomYourSub” You wish, Harold.

“ElvisKilledTupac1996”

“PickleRickReturns2019”

“Passwordword”

Amused, Silgan drafted an email to himself, and clicked ‘browse for files’. He searched “Passwords and sht” and attached the file before pressing send. Closing the email server, he shut down the computer. Getting to his knees, Silgan crawled behind the desktop and under the desk. Shame, it really is a nice computer. Silgan reached into the open system and unplugged the hard-drive before removing it entirely. He secured it in his pants pocket for the time being. I’ll destroy it later.

Crawling back, Silgan stood, and turned to the ladder. Carefully, he lowered himself onto the small, wooden ladder, before climbing down. Next, Silgan walked towards a small night-sill to the right of Harold’s ominously stained bed. A green Digitex alarm read 8:20 AM, but the rest of the sill was empty. Silgan reached down, opening the sill’s drawer. Oh, come on, man…fuck. The drawer was filled with various sex toys, male and female, two of which had dark-black blood-stains. Silgan backed two steps away, kicking the drawer closed. Looking to the bathroom, Silgan thought of places where he’d hide an important phone. Do I really need to see what Harold has in his bathroom? Nobody deserves that kind of exposure. Maybe later. Decidedly, Silgan moved around the foot of the bed towards Harold’s three-drawer-dresser. Opening the first drawer, Silgan ruffled the clothes around, searching for any solid objects. Nothing. Silgan closed the drawer before opening the middle. Rummaging, Silgan paused, suddenly grateful for his latex gloves.

There were sticky pictures of a young woman Silgan didn’t recognize. Could this be the woman he mentioned? Turning through the photos, Silgan started to feel sick. The photos, clearly amateur, clearly predatory, and clearly taken without permission. The first was a shot of the small, brunette, woman through what was presumably the window to her kitchen. The second, pictured the woman, smiling, surrounded by other people in an outdoor hot tub. The point of view of the photo was disconcerting, as there were trees creeping into the side of the frame. He was stalking her. The next three photos were like the first two. The sixth, however, showed the poor woman sedated, retrained in an upright cross-like position. The seventh, from the same scene, pictured her awake, clothes torn, tears streaming, and blood gushing from several small wounds. Silgan had to put the pictures down after the eighth, in which the woman, still on the cross, was screaming as a small blow torch was being held to her breast.

Silgan tore the sick, darkroom style, photos to shreds before throwing them into the nearby trash, where they belonged. You sick and perverted bastard. You really did deserve to die, no regrets there. Moving back to the wardrobe, he opened the final drawer. Ruffling the clothes, he found nothing besides a few boxes of cigarettes. Turning, Silgan headed to the bathroom, directly across from the wardrobe. As Silgan approached, he noticed the lights were on. Interesting, all the other lights were off. Why leave the bathroom lights on? Apprehensive, Silgan pushed the door, letting it swing open. Christ be spared the cross…There were towels covering the entire bathroom floor. The showers curtain was drawn, a pale hand protruding from out behind it. Silgan noticed a phone on the bathrooms sink. Moving forward, he grabbed it, and stashed it in his left suit-pocket. Do I even want to know what’s behind that curtain? No. Creeping forward, Silgan grasped the curtain, and pulled it aside.

The blaze returned. How could he do this to a person? In the tub, rested the remnants of the woman from the photos. Her midsection and legs had mostly dissolved in the corrosive acid. Probably a mix of hydrofluoric and fluorosulfuric acid. The bubbling gives it away. Her face had a permanent expression of fear and disdain on it, as her upper body sank lower and lower, dissolving. The right-hand Silgan had seen, was detached from the body. The acid had eaten through the bone of her forearm before she had sunk low enough to pull the rest of the hand into the tub. A large, diamond, ring remained on her slight, young hand. Poor girl.

Crestfallen. Silgan left the bathroom and opened the burner-phone. It was locked. Quickly, remembering the password list, Silgan pulled out his smartphone before opening his email app. The smartphone quickly downloaded the notepad file. Glancing over the list, only one password could be entered, because the burners animated keyboard had no alphabetical input. Holding his breath, he typed: ‘569142’. He smiled as the phone played a small unlock animation, leading to the home screen. He navigated to the phones history, which contained texts to a lone number.

Interestingly, any reply from the number was either deleted, or nonexistent. Well, that makes things simple, doesn’t it? The most recent sent message read, “He’s just left the room” dated today, and sent at four thirty AM. Silgan typed out a quick message, similar in style to the previous messages “It sounds like he’s gone to sleep.”

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Daily Blog 9/12/17

*Violent, disturbing, and graphic content. Bad language.

The aftermath of chapter 10, and the first chapter of Act 2. Revenge, no matter how much someone deserves it, isn’t gonna fix what they did.

Start at the beginning: https://bluebeard-art.com/2017/08/27/daily-blog-82717/

 

XIII

October 30th, 2021-Nessa

 

Nessa watched Ben fight for every breath. She’d desecrated him, like he’d done to her. Unfortunately, the euphoria had been short-lived. Ben’s white golf-shirt was now a satin-red, his small wound had four and a half feet of his intestine trailing from it. She’d removed his testicles, where a steady flow of blood and other unsavory liquids continued to flow. His screaming had stopped five minutes ago, at which point he’d started to choke up a mix of blood and vomit. His eyes were wide open, flicking from one end to the other in shock. He’d defecated, messily, off the foot of Nessa’s bed.

Nessa watched him die, not because she enjoyed the suffering, rather, she had to see him pay. She was waiting for the moment when she’d suddenly feel what she imagined justice was supposed to feel like. The longer she watched Ben pathetically struggle for air, drowning in his own vomit, the more she feared that the feeling wouldn’t come. Then the guards would come, and they’d beat her, maybe rape her, and kill her. What was it all for? What’s the point of life if all that exists is cruelty. Cruelty that can never, truly be paid for. Does justice even exist?

                Frustrated tears welled rolled down Nessa’s cheek and onto her blood-stained nightgown. Anger welled deep in Nessa’s core, igniting every synapse of every muscle. The rage built, bursting to boil. Ben gurgled. Pig!

Nessa walked up to Ben and screamed, “Why did you do it you disgusting shit-stain! What? Did it make you feel powerful?! Does the pain, the suffering get you hard?! Because I don’t get it, I get no satisfaction for doing to you what you did to hundreds of little girls, you sick fuck! You hurt people who can’t fight back, all so you can stroke your fucked-up ego!” Nessa hit his forehead with the hilt of her hook-knife. “Come on! Fight back, cunt!” She hit him again and his eyes rolled back, exposing his jaundiced whites. “Don’t you die, coward, fight back!” She hit him a third time, a bloody hole appearing on the spot. “Not so strong now, are you!” As she hit him again, the hilt of the hook-knife broke through his skull with a loud and sickening crunch. Nessa tried to pull the hook-knife out, but it was stuck. “Give it back, you’ve taken your share!” she screamed, struggling to get her weapon free. “It’s mine–BANG!”

Turning towards the noise, Nessa froze. Two men with ski masks and automatic rifles stood at the now lockless door. “On your knees!” the man on the left shouted. Nessa got on her knees, abandoning her knife. The right man moved forward, quickly, keeping his gun pointed at Nessa.

Noticing the mess on the bed, he whispered, “What the fuck.” Calling back to his partner, “She’s massacred him. What should we do with her?” The left soldier moved forward to examine the mess. Just as quickly, he backed up, audibly gagging. Pussy.

“Take her in.” Said the soldier between retches. “Those were the orders. I can’t though, not with that smell.” The sickened soldier left the room. One down.

                Amused, the remaining soldier said, “Well, you’re a sick little fuck, aren’t you?” He lowered his weapon. “What’d this guy do to you anyway to deserve that?” Nessa stayed quiet, assessing her situation. Obviously, I won’t win in a fight. Especially with no weapon. Maybe if I do what they say I can escape at some point. “Well, I didn’t really want to know anyway, he probably deserved it. Turn around, gonna cuff you.” Nessa did as the soldier asked, lowering her hands to her lower back. The soldier got down behind her and cuffed her left hand with a “SNAP”, before doing the same to the right.

Daily Blog 9/7/17

*Contains graphic depictions of sexual assault and extreme violence. If this type of content is likely to offend or disturb you, for any reason, please do not continue. 

Start at the beginning: https://bluebeard-art.com/2017/08/27/daily-blog-82717/

 

Author’s notes: Definitely a more horror-oriented chapter. Hard chapter to write, felt disgusting after I did. It’s one thing to raise awareness about sexual trafficking by talking statistics, it’s another to depict the experience and give the victim a name. It’s one of those scenes you really don’t want to write, but you know you have to. It would have been easier to not include Nessa’s history, but it’s important in understanding her characterization and motivations in Act three.

X

October 30th, 2021-Nessa

                The maid had entered Nessa’s room twenty-three minutes ago, as the sharp, abrasive, fluorescents had saturated the tattered cell. Silently, the maid had bathed, dried, and dressed Nessa, preparing her for the day’s work. Nessa had laid awake too many nights pondering if the maid knew what she was preparing Nessa for each morning. Nessa had concluded, to her dismay, that the maid did know. Two major clues played into Nessa’s hypothesis. Firstly, the maid refused to speak to Nessa, secondly, she avoided eye contact. The one time they had made eye contact, the old woman’s eyes had been sad, ashamed.

None of that mattered, not anymore. Today was the day. Nessa’s first visitor would be showing up any moment and she’d be waiting for him, on her back, in her pink, silk nightgown. I’ll let him get close, and then I’ll make him pay. The room was dimly lit, the harsh fluorescents used to wake Nessa were always replaced by black lights before a customer visited her. For the ambience, probably. It was the queue for her to assume her current position. The furnishings were nothing special, a cheap IKEA wood table sat between Nessa’s bed and her washroom. The table didn’t have chairs, settings, or a lamp. What it did have were scratch marks, blood stains, and occasionally, hair. The maid usually sweeps the hair. Nessa was brought two meals each day, one around midday, and one late at night, if she was lucky.

Nessa’s muscles contracted in unison, as the door opened. An older man she’d never seen before sauntered in and looked around the room, scoffing. Too humble for his majesty? A nervous chill harassed Nessa’s already tensed muscles as his eyes rested on her. A slight smile crept up his face, as if he could somehow sense her fear. He wore a white, collared, golf shirt tucked in over his enormous beer belly. An unnecessary leather belt was straddled around his khaki shorts. That things fit to burst. His eyes were sunken and his lips chapped blood-red. His face had weak, short features, his nose was pimpled and hooked. Casually, the man pushed the door closed behind him, maintaining his malevolent gaze. Nessa jumped as she heard the lock click, trapping her in the room with the short man. Your fate is sealed, creep. He doesn’t know it yet, but he’s the one who’s trapped.

The man walked to the foot of Nessa’s bed, and said, “Sweetie why don’t you sit up so I can get to know you little better.” Obliging, Nessa pulled herself forward, moving her knees under her core, and resting her hands on her thighs. His wide smile revealed crooked and yellow teeth, as he continued, “Well aren’t you cute, my names Ben, darling. What’s your name?”

“I’m Nessa, sir.” She responded, flatly. He’s disgusting.

Taken aback, he moved closer, sitting on the foot of the bed. Giving Nessa a stern, almost concerned look, “That’s a pretty name, Nessa. But I won’t have any of this sir business. I don’t take our relationship lightly, you see. I’m hoping I can steer you in the right direction, so you can mature into a beautiful woman. Think of me as your mentor, you can call me Ben, or even dad, I won’t mind, my sweet.”  I want to cut your smug neck from ear…to ear.

Nessa felt sick, but managed to keep her face blank and her tone even as she smiled, responding, “Okay, daddy, what are you going to teach me?”

Blushing, Ben, in an instructive tone, responded, “I’m going to teach you what it means to be a good woman. I’ll teach you how to please your man.” His pupils had grown enormous. “Would you like that, Nessa?” No, you sick fuck.

Leaning forward, Nessa, in her best seductive voice, whispered, “Teach me, daddy.” Ben stood, removed his ridiculously tight belt and unzipped his khaki shorts, revealing tight white underpants. Nessa moved her knees out from under her, inching backward. Come get me. As Ben struggled to get his pants down, he fell backwards onto the bed. Clown. Nessa struggled not to laugh, as he righted himself and his pants finally fell. Ominously, he crawled towards Nessa, belt still in hand. Out of nowhere, Ben’s face hardened. Sitting on his knees, he swung the belt, copper buckle first, into Nessa’s left eye. Nessa let out a small whimper, as she was thrown onto her back, recoiling from the force of the blow. The unexpected, blinding pain, sent hot tears streaming down Nessa’s cheeks. He caught me off guard…

“Your first lesson, Nessa, is to not patronize your daddy like a whore. You are not a whore! So, I better not catch you acting like one, no daughter of mine will grow up to be a whore!” Ben shouted, spittle flying, as he threw aside the belt. Again, he crawled forward, struggling to get his beer belly over Nessa’s small, fetal-oriented frame. Violently, he grabbed her shoulder and shook, trying to roll her over. “Stop crying, only whores cry. You aren’t a whore, sweetie.” As Ben successfully rolled Nessa onto her back, he shouted, “Stop crying! Bitch.” As Nessa wiped her tears, he grabbed her neck with both hands, squeezing as he rested his substantial weight on Nessa’s stomach. I can’t breathe, he’s going to smother me. “Stop, crying!” He screamed. His penis was erect against his tight underwear, pushing against her.

Choking, Nessa rasped, “Stop…you freak.” As he started to grind his lower half against her exposed stomach, his grip tightened. I need my knife…He’s going to kill me… His eyes were almost fully dilated and spittle slowly dripped from his disgusting mouth. Nessa frantically reached behind her, feeling for the two pillows her knife rested between. Can’t…reach! As Nessa’s vision started to blacken, he released his grip before leaning back and taking his weight off Nessa’s abdomen. He’s not done with me…still have a chance. As he started to struggle out of his underpants, Nessa slowly inched backwards, placating, “I’m sorry for disappointing you, Daddy.”

Ben glanced at her for a second, an appraising look shadowed his ugly face, before responding, “I accept your apology, darling. I’m sorry I had to punish you, but I care about my daughter. I don’t want her to act improperly, I don’t want her to become a lecherous cunt like her mother was.” Fuck you. Nessa found the two pillows and grasped the small knife as Ben finished removing his underpants. “I think I was too hard on you, Nessa, I think I need to reward you.”

“I’d love that, daddy” responded Nessa, feigning sincerity as she tucked the hook-knife against the small of her back.

Ben grabbed Nessa’s knees, forcing her legs apart, and tearing off her silk panties. No…don’t you touch me! Nessa bit back her panic, steeling herself as Ben entered her. Groaning, he started to thrust in and out. After a few seconds, he fell forward, hooking his arms behind Nessa’s shoulders, letting his obscene weight center on Nessa’s chest. He’s suffocating me, I need to act now!

As Ben continued to flounder, his eyes closed and his spittle splashed everywhere. Enraged, Nessa bit his neck as hard as she could, immediately tasting blood. Ben’s eyes shot open, screaming in agony as Nessa bit deeper. Trying to pull away, Ben removed enough weight for Nessa to get the knife out from behind her. Before he could pull away from her bite, she plunged the hook-knife into the side of his gut, before twisting it. Pig…I hope you suffer.

Ben struggled free of Nessa’s bite, freeing his left arm, “You, Whore!” He shouted, punching her in the nose, hard. “I try to teach you how to be a woman, and this how you fucking treat me?” He punched again. Dazed, Nessa put every ounce of her fast-dwindling vigor into pulling out the hook-shaped shiv. Ben fell, screaming, to Nessa’s right as the hook fished out part of his large intestine. Teeth bared, Nessa pulled the hook to her chest, and rolled left. Guards will be coming soon, but I’ll make you hurt before they do! Ben’s screams intensified as Nessa rolled off her bed, violently jerking the eviscerated intestine with her. She hit the ground hard, but felt nothing as the endorphins and adrenaline numbed her senses. A loud siren started to go off. As Nessa pushed herself to her feet, she noticed Ben’s intestine, which had wrapped around her chest twice. Quickly unwrapping herself, she glanced to the door. Still no guards?

Nessa smiled, as she looked to Ben, writhing in agony, crying profusely as his liquid vitality stained her sheets. Serves the sick fuck right. Feeling a burst of rage, Nessa shouted, “Hey Ben! Stop crying, you don’t want to be a whore, do you?” Grinning, Nessa picked up the hook-knife, and started to pull. “How about…I make you…my bitch?” Ben’s intestine, offering resistance, started to pull him across the bed as Nessa played tug of war.

Laughing cruelly, Nessa pulled the hook-knife out of his intestine, and walked towards his writhing body, which had shifted to the edge of the bed. If the guards aren’t going to save him, I’m going to make him pay. His screaming had stopped and his face had assumed a ghostly-pallor. Nessa climbed on top of Ben’s stomach, straddling her legs around his beer belly, back facing Ben’s head. Manically, Nessa said, “I hope you like reverse cow-girl, daddy.” The alarm was still ringing in a shrill monotone, surely it would deafen any further screams. Sadistically, she shoved the hook-knife into Ben’s exposed, and shriveled scrotal region. As he let out his loudest scream yet, waves of pleasure shot down Nessa’s back. With a wide and toothy grin, Nessa twisted the hook, and pulled up.   

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Thanks for reading!

Next chapter: https://bluebeard-art.com/2017/09/09/daily-blog-9817/

Daily Blog 9/4/17

Chapter 6-2 and 8 are very positive chapters, especially compared to the maelstrom/gauntlet that is 9, 10, 11-1, 11-2, and 12. These lighter chapters are easier to edit than the heavy ones. Revisiting some of the darker chapters tends to sour my mood as I remember writing it and being in such a negative place. But they’re important to the plot and overall pacing that I’m striving for, so it’s worth it.

Besides, to edit, is divine. This is one of the easiest ways to edit. Simply go over a single chapter a day at a time. I caught about four typos/mechanical errors, and improved the overall flow in about forty minutes of working with this chapter, which is really encouraging. About two chapters ago, I found a major issue with the timeline, and was able to fix it pretty easily which was great.

I hope everyone had a great Memorial day weekend! Mine was basically preparing chemistry-related class materials, which wasn’t as bad as it may sound. But I hope you guys got to do something fun with friends and family!

Enjoy! : D

Start at the beginning: https://bluebeard-art.com/2017/08/27/daily-blog-82717/

*Explicit language.

 

VI-II

December 4th, 2015-Hadley

 

“Would Hadley Sheffield please rise to testify?” recited Keller, as he turned to Hadley, smiling in his collected, grandfatherly, gate. Alright, stay calm. You can do this. Returning Keller’s smile, Hadley pushed back her seat and got up. Simon gently patted her lower back as she walked around him towards the stand. As she sat, Hadley noticed for the first time how many people had bothered showing up. There must be over forty people here! A bit of an audience for a shut-in like me. Deep breathes, Hadley. In the back, there was a channel 6 local news camera-man. The case was by no means high-profile, however, Simon’s academic fame had drawn some media interest, exacerbated by an outburst during lecture five months prior.

The Judge recited, “Do you, Hadley Sheffield, swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth; so help you God?”

“I do.” said Hadley, steeling herself.

Keller smiled reassuringly at Hadley, and asked “The pills you took that night, what were they, Hadley?”

Returning his smile, she responded “It was folic acid, during my pregnancy with Adam, I took a morning and nightly dose.” Clear and confidant, pretend it’s a school presentation.

Nodding, Keller continued, “CPS ended up performing their screening for drugs based on Gia’s report. While her intentions were noble, she didn’t understand the circumstance. SS shouldn’t have administered a drug test until it was clear what you had taken. Furthermore, the drug test did not find traces of oxycodone in your system. What can you tell me about what they did find.”

Cautiously, Hadley answered, “I can’t lie, Keller. I’ve struggled with addiction since I was seventeen, but I’ve been clean for quite a while now, despite having Adam taken from me. I took the heroin they found in my system long before I knew I was pregnant, I thought I’d gained a couple pounds, initially, as the doctor had recommended, I put on at least fifteen pounds and I was eating a lot at the time.”

Nodding, Keller asked, “The drug test also discovered light traces of a barbiturate. What can you tell me about that?”

This caught Hadley off guard, they hadn’t gone over this part. Why mention that? Biting her lip, Hadley responded, “Well, Simon prescribed me a very light dose to ease the severe withdrawal symptoms. He said it could be dangerous to go cold turkey without immune support as well as a barbiturate. He actually told me the withdrawal could potentially harm the baby more than continuing the drugs, and he said the risk was minor.”

Looking back to the Judge, Keller said “The defense rests.” Keller gave Hadley a quick, reassuring wink as he went to sit down.

Jacobs turned to Jeffrey, asking, “Would the plaintiff like to cross-examine?”

“Yes, your honor.” Jeffrey said, in his haggard southern drawl. I’d give anything to not have to talk to this troll.

Approaching Hadley, Jeffrey fixed his collar. Wearing an expression of disgust, he asked, “Mrs. Sheffield, you don’t honestly think Adam would be better off in your care, do you? A woman, who readily admits to injecting heroin for at least six years of her life?” How dare he judge her?

Hadley felt a sudden twang of rage, fists tightening and cheeks flushing, she shouted, “I never said that! I only used for a year. I said I struggled with addiction for six years, and I’ve been clean. Dumbass.”

“Language, Mrs. Sheffield.” Warned the Judge.

“For what, two months?” Jeffrey responded with mock sincerity.

Hadley’s jaw tightened and her grip tightened around her knees under the table. He’s making that obnoxious face again. Baiting me… Against her better judgment, Hadley spat, “Fuck you!”

The Judge slammed her gavel, announcing, “Order, Mrs. Sheffield, last warning on your language. Mr. Jeffrey, this is not a criminal trial, get to the point.”

Jeffrey smiled, nodding at the Judge before saying, “I think Mrs. Sheffield has proven my point. Plaintiff rests.” Sighing, Hadley got up and returned to her seat, guiltily avoiding her husband’s gaze. As she sat down, he rubbed her back lightly. As she looked to him, he smiled, before mouthing “It’s okay.”

Looking to Keller, the Judge asked “Mr. Ross, is your final witness present, and willing to testify?”

Keller glanced at Simon, who nodded, and replied, “Yes, Mr. Sheffield is ready.” Simon stood and approached the stand. He was wearing her favorite navy blue suit, the one with the matte finish that contrasted well with his striped blue and black tie, and clean white shirt. As he swore his oath, he made eye contact with Hadley. His face looked tired, worn down. She gave Simon a quick smile, before turning towards Keller as he started, “Simon, the Plaintiff’s noted in their opening statement that their appeared to be MDMA, also known as ecstasy, in your wife’s system. You’ve indicated that these readings may be inaccurate, can you elaborate for the court?”

Smiling, Simon responded, “Yes, what the lab results actually tell us is that Hadley tested positive for heroin, in addition to an unknown empathogen. The marker used to detect this is not drug specific. This means that several different drugs could cause this positive read. One is MDMA, another happens to be the barbiturate I put her on to ease withdrawal related symptoms. In my medical opinion, the suggestion that Hadley had used MDMA within the stated period is an invalid assessment because she is already on a drug that will trip the same blood marker. Any qualified medical practitioner or toxicologist will tell you the same.” Damn, he’s sexy when he’s smart.

Keller gave Simon an approving nod before announcing, “Defense rests.”

The Judge looked to Jeffrey and asked, “Will the Plaintiffs cross examine.”

Looking smug, Jeffry responded, “I don’t believe it to be necessary, your honor. Unless the court is willing to take an expert testimony from someone who clearly has a conflict of interest.” He knows Simon would make him look like a dipshit.

Curtly, the Judge said, “Are you insinuating that Mr. Sheffield, a widely respected medical doctor, would risk his considerable reputation by lying in a publicly televised courtroom proceeding? Now, unless you have evidence that Mr. Sheffield has committed perjury, a criminal offense, or anything relevant to your claims, I suggest you keep your speculation to yourself. This is not a criminal trial, we are here today to determine what is best for Adam Sheffield, nothing more.”

On the verge of laughter, Simon stood, and walked back to his seat. As he sat down to Hadley’s left, she whispered, “That was good, wish I had kept it together.”

Smiling, he muttered in response, “Well…it was an easy question. I didn’t have that dick looking down my shirt while shouting at me either, though I want to give him a piece of my mind after this is all over.”

“You’d stan–BANG!“ Hadley started before being interrupted by the Judges gavel.

“I believe, having heard from both parties, that I understand the case.” Oh shit, she’s already decided? “While Mrs. Sheffield may have shown poor judgment in the past, I’ve heard no evidence that supports the CPA’s allegations that Mrs. Sheffield knowingly used illicit drugs when pregnant with Adam Sheffield.” Wait, she’s siding with us? Suddenly, Simon gripped Hadley’s hand, she could feel his perspiring hand quiver, ever so slightly, as the judge continued, “Adam’s safety is of utmost importance to me, which is why I’ll be releasing him to his biological parents.” Yes! “On the condition that they willingly submit themselves for blood testing, once a week, for one year. If both Mr. and Mrs. Sheffield stay clean, and the fitness of their financial situation remains reasonable, Adam will be released to them on December fourth, two-thousand and sixteen.” Another year…but we’ve done it!

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Thanks for reading!

Next chapter: https://bluebeard-art.com/2017/09/05/daily-blog-9517/

Daily Blog 9/2/17

Start at the beginning: https://bluebeard-art.com/2017/08/27/daily-blog-82717/

Previous chapter: https://bluebeard-art.com/2017/09/01/daily-blog-9117/

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This was a fun one to edit and review. The court case chapters were originally a single chapter, but were split into two parts: 6-1, 7, 6-2, 8, etc. They were seven pages, and very cumbersome. I think I’ve gotten them both to a digestible point, and they provide a lot of answers to questions posed in the early chapters. You find out what triggered the slew of events that’s about to go down in a relatively hopeful way.

It was one of the most difficult chapters to handle, due to the amount of research I had to do. I ended up watching multiple CPS related cases so I could understand the ins and outs of what I needed to portray in a concise manner. Dialogue can become very cumbersome, very quickly, so I had to pick and choose carefully what to omit. This is exacerbated by the motion-focused structure I’ve chosen to write this book in. There is a lot that happens in the decade or so that leads to what’s going on in the present. The order matters, especially when there are a total of seven characters perspectives to consider. I started with just three for act one, then cover a different group in act 2, which makes it a lot easier to manage (and understand from a flow/timeline perspective).

Enjoy!

*Explicit Language

December 4th, 2015

Hadley closed her hand around Simons, who sat to her left. She was three months sober, too sober as the jurisdictional hearing regarding Adam was about to start. The court itself was unimpressive, cheap wood and scratched furnishings. TV loves to play these things up.

A young male bailiff announced “Please rise. Honorable judge Tracy Davids is now presiding.” An old woman entered the room. “Court is now in session.”  Hadley rose, still grasping Simons hand, and studied the frail old-woman as she approached the judges stand. Her hair was a dyed light brown, her mouth cornered an ugly grimace, compounded by tens of frown-lines running up her cheeks. She wore a loose black-gown under large spectacles with a gold accent and chain securing them to her neck. As Judge Davids reached the stand, the bailiff announced, “If you have any electronic devices or cell phones, please silence or turn them off. You may be seated. Thank you.” He’s awfully chipper. 

Sitting back down, Hadley let go of Simon’s hand and started to nervously scratch her own. You can do this, Hadley. She’s human too, and a mother, she’ll understand. The Judge was shuffling papers around. Probably the social services complaint. It’s author, Gia, was sitting twenty feet to the left of Hadley and Simon. It took everything Hadley had not to try and tear her lying throat out now. But had she lied? I don’t even know what she told CPS. She was my friend, I’m being unfair.   

Voice cracking, the Judge started, “This is the case of Simon and Hadley Sheffield vs. the State of Massachusetts regarding custody of Adam Sheffield.” Thank Christ Adam isn’t here, I wouldn’t be able to control myself. “Are the defendants present?”

Simon’s lawyer rose, addressing the Judge, “Yes, your honor. Mr. and Mrs. Sheffield are seated to my right. My name is Keller Ross, and I will be representing their case, your honor.”

As Keller sat, the Judge asked, “Who will be representing the plaintiffs today?”

An older looking man rose, and said, “Your honor, I am Bill Jeffrey, and I will argue on behalf of the state.”

“Very good, Jeffrey and Ross, you may be seated.” Responded the Judge. She sounds…bored. Well fuck you too, bitch, you better do your job. This matters! As the two lawyers sat down, the Judge continued, “Gentlemen, I am Tracy Davids, and I will be presiding over this case. Now, from what I understand this case was appealed from a lower Court’s decision by Mr. Sheffield. Is this the council’s understanding?”

Keller stood, remarking “Yes, your honor, it is.” Before re-taking his seat. As the Judge looked to the plaintiff’s, Jeffrey simply nodded. Is he taking this seriously? Our case isn’t that hopeless, is it?

Jacobs pursed her lips, reviewing the document before saying “Due to the…severity of this documents implications, and the limitations of a single Judge presiding, I think it’s important to manage expectations, Mr. and Mrs. Sheffield. I find it unlikely that your son will be released to you today, however I will consider your arguments and potentially recommend this case for further review or a special conditional release, in the case I find issue with Social Services conduct in removing Adam from your care upon birth.” How dare she say his name. I just want my…my son. “I find these types of hearings to be more efficient allowing the plaintiffs to start. Go ahead Mr. Jeffrey.”

Standing, Jeffrey said, “Thank you, your honor, I’ll try to make this quick for you.” Smiling slightly, he walked forward, and continued in his monotone drivel, “Your honor, the defendants have demonstrated a clear pattern of neglect, abuse, and borderline criminal intent towards their son. All of this before he was even born!” Fuck you, you…bastard. I love Adam, you don’t know shit. “As if Gia Sheffield’s report to CPS wasn’t disturbing enough, I urge you to consider the toxicological reports, which found SMS traces of both heroin and MDMA in Mrs. Sheffield’s system.” As Jeffrey said this, he turned to look at Hadley. “As you likely know, your honor, this means it is a scientific fact that Mrs. Sheffield used both of these illegal and highly destructive drugs during the beginning of the second trimester or later. Due to this abuse, Adam was born prematurely, your honor.” Jeffrey’s face contorted into a vindictive, cruel, smile as he looked Hadley in the eye. “It’s a miracle that Adam was even born. An attempted murder case, would be far more appropriate under these horrendous circumstances than a simple custody battle.” As he finished, Hadley’s jaw started quivering and her eyes welled. He’s trying to fuck with me, I need to keep it together.

Gently, Simon reclaimed her hand under the table, squeezing twice, before tightening his grip. Hadley moved her right hand to rest on his. Thank God you’re here, Simon. Before Jeffrey could continue, Keller interjected, “Objection, your honor!”

Curtly, she responded, “Reasoning, Mr. Ross?”

Noticing the tone, Keller, exasperated, responded, “Your honor, besides the fact that Mr. Jeffrey seeks to intimidate my client by making aggressive faces at her, his argument is clearly speculative. He has no place making character assessments or suggesting a charge beyond the scope of this court.”

“She’s hardly on the stand yet, Mr. Ross. I see nothing wrong with Mr. Jeffrey’s opening statement. Please refrain from making comments about the oppositions face, moving forward.” Replied the Judge, smiling ever so slightly at Keller’s disbelief. She already thinks I’m unfit.

Chuckling, Mr. Jeffrey continued “I suppose I’ll end early, I think the court gets the gist of what’s happened here.” As Jeffrey returned to his seat, Simon’s hand tightened. Wincing in pain, Hadley looked up at her husband. His jaw had tightened, lips had folded into a snarl, and he was staring straight at the Judge. He needs to calm down, I’ve never seen that look. Hadley started messaging Simon’s forearm and kissed his shoulder.

Moving closer, she whispered, “She’s a bitch, it’s not our fault, we need to keep it together, honey. His face softened as he lowered his head in a defeated manner. I’m not sure I like that look any better.

Keller got up, approached the Judge, and said, “My clients admit they’ve made poor choices in the past regarding use of prohibited substances. But it has been stated time and again, that neither Mrs. or Mr. Sheffield realized that a pregnancy had occurred. When they did, Mrs. Sheffield immediately withdrew from all drugs that could harm her child. The test used is sensitive to the past six months, it was administered half a month after a premature birth, meaning Mrs. Sheffield could have stopped all use during the first trimester.” I tried. That has to count for something, right? “It’s widely available information that some women do not show in the first trimester, or even until the end of their second.” When you weigh one hundred and five pounds, you do. “As for my client’s sister in law, Gia Sheffield’s claims were both unwarranted and inaccurate, which I will demonstrate.” Keller moved back to his seat.

The Judge, looking unimpressed, turned to Jeffrey and asked, “Is your first witness present, Mr. Jeffrey?”

Standing, Jeffrey responded, “She is, your honor. Gia Sheffield please rise for testimony.” Hadley watched as Gia got up and walked towards the stand. She wore a modest, green dress that draped over her knees. She was a stout, uptight looking women in her early thirties, and stood at a modest 5’3. As she sat Hadley made eye contact and Gia pursed her lips into a conservative, almost sympathetic smile. Don’t give me that look, I’ve been trying to reach you for months. Gia’s eyes were a dark grey with brown accents near the center of her iris. She had a clear complexion, muted cheekbones, and a long, angular jaw. She’s pretty, nothing special though. 

The Judge recited, “Do you, Gia Sheffield, swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?”

Wavering, in a mousy voice, Gia said, “I do.”

The Judge turned to Jeffrey and said, “Plaintiff’s witness.”

Nodding to the Judge, Jeffrey approached Gia, asking, “Mrs. Sheffield, is it true that on August fourteenth, two-thousand fifteen, you attended a party thrown by your brother in law, Simon Sheffield?”

“Yes.” Gia responded, looking down at her lap.

Nodding smugly, Jeffrey continued, “Mrs. Sheffield, could you describe both the nature of the party and what you saw Hadley Sheffield do at said party?”

Gia quickly glanced at Simon. Her face had an apologetic, almost guilty grimace. Looking back to the states lawyer, Gia answered, “Well, Simon and Hadley had just found out they were pregnant. Tom and I were really excited for them, since they’d been trying for about a year. So, I guess it was to celebrate the good news. I need to be clear, Simon, Tom, and I were having drinks, probably too many, but Hadley wasn’t. That was good, but about halfway into the poker game, I saw her go into the kitchen and take a white pill. Normally I wouldn’t think too much about it, but Tom had just had surgery to fix his L2 vertebrate, you know he lifts a lot at that gym, and I always tell him he should slow down.”

“Please focus on what Hadley Sheffield was doing, Gia.” Said the Judge, annoyed.

Cheeks flushing, Gia bit her tongue, and continued, “Sorry, anyway, after his surgery he had to take these little white oxycodone tablets. The pill I saw Hadley pick up looked an awful lot like that. So, I was worried about the baby, you know. So, around thirty minutes later, Simon and Tom went outside for a smoke break. I don’t smoke and I guess Hadley had quit for the baby. I suppose, we were left alone, so naturally we talked a little bit. Eventually, Hadley went to the restroom…” Gia paused, blushing deeper. “…and I went to the kitchen to look for the bottle, just to make sure, you understand. In the second drawer, down, there were a whole lot of bottles. I’m sure that Simon, being a big-time doctor had some stock for various reasons. But on top of the pile was a bottle of oxycodone, and it wasn’t prescribed to Hadley.” No…I don’t understand! Fuck you! Wasn’t your god-damn place to snoop around our private property. Bitch…

“Who was the bottle prescribed to, Mrs. Sheffield?” asked Jeffrey, looking self-satisfied.

Pausing a moment, seeming to not want to continue, Gia said “It wasn’t a name I recognized.”

Looking to the Judge, Jeffrey said, “Plaintiff’s rest the witness.”

The Judge, face flat and unreadable, inquired, “Would the defense like to cross examine the witness.” As she said this Jeffrey sauntered to his seat. He looks so relaxed, so sure he’s got us beat.

Rising, Keller answered, “Yes, your honor.” He approached Gia, a kind, exposed look marred his aged face. “I understand, you must have been very upset, Gia. Finding out your friend, no, your sister, may have been exposing her unborn baby to dangerous chemicals?”

Eagerly, Gia responded, “I was! I was devastated! I mean, I love Hadley, and I love Simon. They are family to me, and they’ve always been the nicest to me out of Tom’s relatives. I couldn’t believe it. But I had to file a report to CPS, I didn’t want to, but for Adam’s sake…” Friends? Friends would ask for the context before shouting off to CPS.

Nodding empathetically, Keller continued, “Under those circumstances, I’d be a wreck. I’d probably have a hard time knowing what to do next, too.”

Jeffrey stood, suddenly, and shouted, “Objection! This is speculation!”

The Judge, smiling, responded, “Questioning sustained.” Shows him right, maybe Jacobs isn’t a total cunt. That was bad, I need to work on my language, getting too jaded…

Nodding at the Judge, Keller continued, “Now, under the circumstances, you were upset. Rightly so. What you describe, the entire drawer of pills, is concerning to me. Yes, you saw Hadley take a white pill, and yes the oxycodone you found was white. But as exhibit c-7 clearly shows, eight of the seventeen pill containers in the drawer contained white pills, four of which are similar in size and shape to the oxycodone. One, of particular interest, was a folate supplement prescribed to Hadley.” As Keller said this, Gia’s face paled. “As you likely know, having had a child, folate is extremely important to the development of the fetus. Most new mothers are given this prescription. Now I’m not saying you did something bad, but considering the sheer number of pills in that drawer, wouldn’t it have been prudent to simply ask Hadley what she had taken?”

Gia’s pallor had taken on a ghostly hue, as she responded, “I…when I took folate, it was a green pill. I hadn’t even thought of that.”

Smiling kindly, Keller continued “I understand your confusion, but you see, Hadley was taking a concentrated form of folate, folic acid, which is generally sold in a white capsule or a white tablet casing.” Damn, I see why Simon wanted Keller so bad. 

Gia’s brow tightened in distress as her eyes welled up. Scrambling, she wiped her eyes, looking to Hadley, and pleaded, “I had no idea, I’m so sorry Hadley, Simon. I didn’t know.” You should have asked, Gia. Feeling a sudden pang of sympathy, Hadley nodded at Gia, smiling in slight reassurance. Some color returned to Gia’s face, as she wiped the tears from her cheek.

Looking to the Judge, who seemed more engaged at this point, Keller stated, “Defense rests, your honor.”

Head hanging, Gia pushed herself up and returned to her seat, avoiding Jeffrey’s gaze. He was giving her his look. Clearly, he’s unhappy with how that unfolded. Not so cocky now, eh? Maybe we aren’t screwed after all. Hadley looked to Simon and saw a thin, hopeful smile on his face.

_____________

Thanks for reading!

Next chapter: https://bluebeard-art.com/2017/09/03/daily-blog-9317/

Daily Blog 8/31/17

Not much to report since yesterday. Got a bit of sketching in last night, which was good. Back to making spreadsheets today though. Lab courses are kicking my ass, it’s getting easier though as I get better at excel. I’m happy in that regard, learning a lot about a professional program is never going to be a bad thing!

I like chapter four, fleshes out what chapter one started to do. Doesn’t advance the plot too much, but it introduces a few details that should make you scratch your head, which is always fun. Contains a few hints about who Simon is as well.

*No trigger warnings, contains explicit language. 

Start at the beggining: https://bluebeard-art.com/2017/08/27/daily-blog-82717/

Chapter 3 (Previous blog post): https://bluebeard-art.com/2017/08/30/daily-blog-83017/

 

Enjoy!

 

IV

July 8th, 2015

        Hadley had just finished loading the washer with the freshly scrubbed sheets when she heard the doorbell ring. Panicking she glanced at the old Digitex. 12:17 PMHe’s thirteen fucking minutes early? What happened to having to drive from work? Simon was never early, never late. Normally, his precision annoyed Hadley to no end. Today she would’ve given her leftmost toe for ten more minutes to let her dampened hair dry. Running to her closet, she grabbed an over-sized white tank top that read Beartooth in large and black stylized lettering. I’ll tell him I went for a run after the morning shift, and that I’ve just taken a shower.

Walking quickly out the bedroom door, Hadley turned left, towards the stairs. They were awfully elaborate and would require some patience to traverse in her still-inebriated state. Slow and Steady. Breathing deeply, she started her descent. The stairs were a helix that spiraled left. Damn thing’s closer to a ladder than a banister. On the third step, she tripped, falling hard on her left shoulder, simultaneously snapping her head against the jagged stone wall. Fuck! Concussions don’t mix with hangovers. Hadley, still sliding down the stairs, stabilized herself and decided to take the remaining rungs on all fours. This design…Was…The…stupidest…Idea.

Reaching the bottom, Hadley’s mouth cornered slight smile. Chuckling, as she realized Simon had seen her climbing down the bannister in through the glass window. Smiling wide, she opened the door, careful not to wobble. Simon stood there smiling back at her. Wait, what’s that look? His smile quickly turned to concern. Did I forget something?

Leaning forward, reaching for her face, Simon asked “Hadley, your eye?”

Confused, Hadley laughed “What? Is the color off today?” Her jaw tightened as Simon’s concern deepened.

“Sweetie you’re bleeding everywhere. What happened?” he asked, in his warm baritone.

Shit. I must’ve cut myself when I fell.

Scrambling, Hadley responded “To be honest, I wasn’t expecting you, and I had just finished running, so I came from the shower and slipped on my way down the stairs.” Maybe this isn’t so bad. I might be able to pass the hangover as a concussion from the fall.

Looking pale, Simon apologized “I’m so sorry, sweetie. I should’ve called, the shift I was covering was canceled. I…I wanted to surprise you. I brought someone. But I need to clean this wound as soon as possible, you could have a concussion, considering the cuts location.”

Hadley suddenly felt faint. Who’d he bring? Simon seemed to notice and tenderly put her arm around his shoulder. Slowly they walked towards the living room adjacent to the banister and door.

“I missed you, Hadley.” Simon said, tenderly. “I know this new job hasn’t been easy, especially during your recovery, but I’m damn proud of you. You’re doing great, getting clean isn’t easy. Hell, half the people coming into the ER are either seeking a fix or coming off a fix they injected incorrectly.”

Hadley Smiled as she sat on the couch. Leaning back, letting her shoulders sink deep into the soft leather, she responded “It hasn’t been easy, it really hasn’t. You and Adam keep me going. I need new friends, I think.”

“Why do you say that?” Simon asked, calling over his shoulder as he searched the first aid cabinet bolted to the wall between the front door and window. Blood from her cut dribbled into her left, stinging. He wasn’t kidding.

“Oh Simon, don’t you know by now that the girls at the law office party hard? I can’t keep up with them anymore. We went to that new club, Studio 26, last night. Some of them started rolling, Samantha had Ketamine, too.” said Hadley, looking away to her right as she lied.

Turning, a look of amusement forming on his handsome, angular, face, Simon giggled “Ecstasy? On a week night? I bet they didn’t feel great this morning.” No, I’m sure they felt shitty too. 

Blushing nervously, Hadley exclaimed “I didn’t feel good this morning from the Jello shots alone!” He believes me. Simon relaxed a little as he walked back towards Hadley, wipes and bandage in hand.

Simon gently rubbed the wound with a small alcohol wipe, responding “I’m really impressed you turned the E down, Hadley.” Smiling reassuringly, he secured a small bandage over the cut. “But please be more careful on that Banister, I don’t know what I’d do if something ever happened to you. I got someone waiting in the car for you though, and I don’t think he likes the heat all that well.” As Simon turned, Hadley grabbed his left scrubs sleeve, pulling him back. He really does love me, and I’m repaying him with lies. I love him so much.

As their eyes met, she studied his face. His strong jaw tightened as his lips formed a half amused, half surprised expression. He had his favorite, black, set of scrubs on. His hair was cut short, the way she loved it. He has the perfect amount of stubble, too. A moment of silence later he asked “You okay, Hadley?”

“I am, with you here.” She responded, pulling him closer. Leaning forward she kissed him, hard. He leaned down, sitting next to her. He tasted of nicotine and mint. He’s been smoking again? But Hadley didn’t care, she pulled him even closer, grabbing his short dark-brown hair. Can we stay like this, forever?

Simon pulled away first, looking Hadley in the eye, he said “We are gonna get Adam back. They can’t punish us for the same mistake forever. Once we are clean, we are going to get him back.”

Tearing up again, Hadley responded “I know.” Maybe Adam is better off without me. I can’t even stay clean a week, and here Simon is, three months clean and working his ass off to stay that way. I don’t deserve him.

Noticing the tear forming, Simon wiped Hadley’s eye, and whispered “Wait here.” Hadley nodded, as Simon turned towards the door. As the door opened, and closed, the tears came. I’m going to stop, I can’t keep doing this, I need to grow up, for Adam, for Simon, for…me. She leaned forward, covering her eyes, and felt her mascara run. Hadley’s reverie was interrupted by a loud “YIP!”

Surprised, she looked up, and saw Simon closing the door with a small Australian Shepard in his arms. My favorite! Excitedly, Hadley got up from the purple-leather couch and ran forward to Simon.

Looking up, Simon smiled kindly. After a moment, his brow furrowed, and he asked “Why are you crying? This is your favorite breed, isn’t it? Hey, hey careful!”

Hadley laughed as she barreled into Simon’s outstretched left arm, leaning down to kiss the puppy. “What should we name him?” she asked, fervently.

“I think it’s up to you, Hads.” Said Simon, all trace of concern wiped away.

Pondering aloud, Hadley noted “Well it can’t be a boring name, he’s a special little fella. It’s gotta be weird, but cool as well as short and masculine. He’s clearly a strong boy! How about Silgan?”

Amused Simon asked “Silgan? I don’t think I’ve heard that one before.”

“Me either, that’s the point. It fits though. Isn’t that right, Silgan?” said Hadley, ruffling Silgan’s fur as he licked her hand.

______________________

Thanks for reading!

Next chapter: https://bluebeard-art.com/2017/09/01/daily-blog-9117/

Daily Blog 8/30/17

School loads been tough. Haven’t had a lot of time to edit, write, or draw anything, which makes me sad. I spent about six hours making excel spreadsheets for chemistry lab today. But it’s Hump Day, weekends in sight, so hang in there!

 

Start at the beginning: https://bluebeard-art.com/2017/08/27/daily-blog-82717/

Chapter 2: https://bluebeard-art.com/2017/08/29/daily-blog-82917/

Next Post (8/31/17): https://bluebeard-art.com/2017/08/31/daily-blog-83117/

Chapter 3 through 5 were intended to be a calm before the storm. Lot of characterization and exposition mixed in with details that will become relevant later on. It introduces Alex Parker, a major character who will reoccur frequently in present scenes, as well as past in act 3 (no reason to get ahead of myself though).

*No trigger warnings, just explicit language. 

Enjoy!

 

III

Present Day

                Silgan lived on the thirteenth floor of a twelve-floor apartment owned by an old business associate, Gerald Minum. His was one of two rooms located above the twelfth floor. The other, and much larger, belonging to Minum’s younger brother, Harold, who had been in and out of prison for the past thirty years. Creep. Silgan had moved in two years ago, after a police raid on his much larger, more comfortable arrangement.

The reason Silgan wasn’t in prison already, was due to the excellent plugs his current proprietor had in both the DEA and Homicide groups one through eight–known to lend the DEA some extra firepower now and again. Silgan had known a week prior to the raid, and was able to clear out incriminating and illegal materials long before they’d arrived. Unfortunately, he’d had to burn that apartment afterwards, as to better justify moving on the official records.

The elevator ding brought Silgan out of his reverie. Stepping into the cramped excuse of a pulley, he quickly pressed the lobby icon. It was an old, non-public elevator that rested on the thirteenth floor. It’s inspection certificate was dated 2011, and had expired in 2021, a year and two months ago.

A small, male, child’s voice rang clearly “Well it is your private elevator.” Silgan recognized the voice, but couldn’t quite place it.

He thought in response, “I suppose I can’t complain then.”

We really can’t, can we?” The voice chuckled in response.

Smiling, Silgan responded aloud “Fair enough, we can’t. But if you try to tell me that this thing can actually support 3,000 pounds…”

Silgan did recognize the voice now. He hadn’t heard it in months and voice recognition fades far faster than facial and motor. No, I suppose I needn’t blame myself. Glancing up, the elevator read fourth floor. Silgan steeled himself by visualizing the next few moments. He would exit the elevator–floor 3–say good morning to the clerk–floor 2–he’d walk outside–floor 1–but not too quickly or slowly–ding.

The lobby was bright, not overwhelmingly so, but it was also 4:45 in the morning. Artificial light had a way of sapping his energy. The opposite effect natural light seems to secure. The worst part was the glaring and pure white light. No soothing blue or yellow lights for you, no, not this early. Passing the clerk–who’s demeanor indicated a similar disposition towards the fluorescent nightmare–Silgan asked “How are you, Ms. Caldwell?”.

“Don’t tell me you’re up this early by choice Mr. Sheffield?” the young women replied. Her was voice rye, as a small and suggestive smile crossed her lips. She always makes me uncomfortable.

“Oh, you know I’m not Ms. Caldwell, but duty calls! The ER patients won’t stitch themselves back together.” Silgan responded, smiling wide. Like she’s looking straight through me.

Raising her eyebrows, she responded “No rest for the heroes either, eh?” I wish I was the hero, I really do. 

“You know there isn’t.” said Silgan, calling over his shoulder as the automatic glass doors began to open. The cold morning air stung his face, as he walked out the door.

He was early, but the Sedan was already pulled up on the curb. It really was a nice car, it had official plates too. This way the tinted windows wouldn’t draw suspicion. The driver got out, swung around the front of the Sedan and opened the door, nodding at Silgan. My old, silent friend. Silgan nodded back at the old driver as he stepped into the back seat. The driver was always the same, but Silgan had never spoken a word to him. He had a tired face, a crinkled perma-grimace, and an average number of suspicious sunspots for a man in his early seventies.

The sedan was spacious, with more room in the back than front by design. The seats were a blood red leather with a black pearlescent finish. It contrasted beautifully with the doors interior red-olive wooden paneling. The side windows tints were two-way, any lighter and certain equipment could be used to see through the tint. A divider separated the back seats from the chauffeur. Silgan’s employers were thorough, if not paranoid. Silgan nestled his briefcase safely in the middle seat as the door closed, before fastening his seat belt.  Without looking at the man to his left, in his coldest and most distant manner, Silgan asked “Who’s the mark.”

The man, sighed deeply, not in exasperation, but with the weight of something looming over his head. Great, he always gets like this when he has bad news. He turned slowly towards Silgan, removing his dark sunglasses to expose sharp blue eyes with a slight cataract fade. After a moment, Silgan turned towards the man, Alex Parker. His face looks different. Heavier, which is saying something, considering that nasty chain-smoking habit and the five or so chins. He sported a worn, sea-green, tweed suit coat with a black turtle neck sweater, and midnight-purple pants. Alex always was the old-school type.

Annoyed, Silgan asked “Well?”

Alex replied “Remember Donovan Sullie’s Toronto operation that went to shit?”

Intrigued, Silgan responded “Of course I do, it took us three straight days to crack Sullie’s man. Did they finally manage to pin him down?”

Alex smiled slightly. “Not quite. Nearly. Caleb managed to track him to a small house in upstate New York, in the boonies between Watertown and Ogdensburg. We done caught him by surprise but, you know him, he had a small army stationed around the 300-acre perimeter. He got out but we got his…” Hesitating for a moment, Alex continued “…we got his daughter.” I said no more fucking kids!

Taken aback, Silgan asked “You’re kidding, right? How old is she.”

“She’s young, later teens, Sheffield.” Said Alex in a defeated tone, averting his gaze.

Silgan sighed, leaning back against the seat as the Sedan started to move. He thought back to earlier this morning as he’d packed “Part 2”. I brought the inhibitor, right? Christ, I was so distracted with the blood…can’t remember. An old, forgotten blaze ignited his stomach. Feeling sick, he whispered “Alex, I thought I told the boss no more kids. Not after last time.”

In an apologetic tone, Alex responded “I know, I told the boss that. The boss say if they old enough to traffic, he don’t see a problem.” Makes it even worse. Haskell, you sick fuck.

Silgan felt his hands start to shake, tasting stomach acid. He wanted to tell Alex to pull over, but he knew it was too late. Already been paid. Tardiness is as good as treason in this line of work. Silgan undid his belt and leaned his head against the front seat. Mournfully, he asked “You got a drink?”

Without a word, Alex pulled a small metal canteen out of his suit jacket and handed it to Silgan. Sitting back up, Silgan turned the canteen and opened it. The front of the metal surfaced was engraved AP in black, matte, acrylic. He drank about half the canister in a gulp, stopping to cough as the burning overwhelmed his sinus. Looking back to Alex, embarrassed, Silgan muttered a quick thanks. Alex gave an understanding nod, accepting the canteen. I don’t know if I can do this.

“Look, Sheffield, I don’t like it either. But we can’t hold back, you know that. And I’m gonna need you in your right mind today too, that way we get this done as quick as we can. I don’t wanna see you popping pills man.” Alex said, as the Sedan made a right.

Guiltily, Silgan responded, “Yeah, well I might need something to keep me from being sick.”

Smiling Alex noted “Yeah? They handing out oxy for upset tummies now?”

“They aren’t handing out anything anymore. Turns out too many self-prescriptions starts to look a little fucked in the ledgers. I’ve had to pay a nurse to steal from commissary, via proxy of course.” Silgan mused, somewhat reluctantly.

“I hope you’re kidding man, if the boss finds out you’re under suspicion, again, you know what happens, to both of us.” Alex laughed, warily.

As of last week, Dr. Sheffield was under board review for a number of reasons. Primarily a host of self-prescriptions that generally contradicted each other or contained excessive overlap in function. Having been a tenured tech-ER lecturer with several, successful fellows, had bought him time. But the eight dead patients within the past three and a half months who’d been deemed survivable cases hadn’t helped. Never did like that damned pathologist, she’s out to get me. He’d be fine though, one member of the board was in the direct employ of Alex and Silgan’s mutual benefactor. Haskell. Furthermore, he’d personally mentored a separate board member, who Silgan had pushed through the system. She won’t fuck with me, bit of a vested interest there. Finally, he’d anonymously blackmailed two of the five board members, leveraging their large families. As long as one of two kept quiet, he’d easily obtain the desired three to two ratio that meant freedom, and more self-prescription. For now, unfortunately, I’ll need to utilize more creative methods to obtain a wholesome mood.

Annoyed Alex barked “You’re kidding, right man?”

“Of course I am. Everything is under control, Parker.” replied Silgan, half-smiling and looking sideways.

Silgan wouldn’t be caught dead admitting it, but he was glad to have Alex around. Alex generally favored mechanical means of extraction. Crude, yes. Ineffective, definitely. But the old good-guy, bad-guy dichotomy was effective. Alex would generally open, peeling nails or something. If it didn’t work, Silgan would get going, and once he got going, the mark would proclaim love for Alex, pleading to bring him back. Hamlet’s skull would be jealous. Alex was also the closest thing to a real friend Silgan had anymore. He knew more about Silgan than anyone else could, and accepted him for it.

The front seat’s divider caught both men off guard as it descended. The driver chimed in his heavy German accent, “Almost there boys.”

Besides the obvious optical advantage the two way tinted windows presented; the boss operated on a need to know basis. Silgan rarely if ever knew where they were headed before they got there. He liked it that way, it helped him psychologically distance himself from the act. As the car pulled to a stop, Alex said “All Right, I guess it’s game time.”

Daily Blog 8/29/17

Start at the beginning: https://bluebeard-art.com/2017/08/27/daily-blog-82717/

Chapter 1: https://bluebeard-art.com/2017/08/28/daily-blog-82817/

Next Chapter: https://bluebeard-art.com/2017/08/30/daily-blog-83017/

This brief chapter introduces Hadley’s perspective, for the first time. It’s also the first time she’s appeared since the introduction. It serves to introduce future conflicts while fleshing out Simon and Hadley’s current dynamic, as well as Hadley’s own demons.

*Explicit language, semi-graphic allusions to intravenous drug-use. If this type of content offends you, for any reason, please don’t continue. 

II

July 8th, 2015

                Hadley’s head screamed and her stomach churned violently, as if it was trying to crawl up her throat. But, the hangover was nothing, not compared to the guilt. She’d fallen off the wagon in spectacular form. Like I never missed a step. Glancing to the old Digitex on her night-stand, Hadley sighed in disappointment at the flashing 11:31 AM. Not only had she slept through her morning shift, she’d made it all the way to lunch. Fuck. At least she still had time before Simon would arrive. He couldn’t know, no one could know she’d done it again. Not if I want Adam back. 

Groaning at the volatile mix of pain and nausea, Hadley sat up. Looking around the room, her throat tightened and tears welled in her eyes. She pulled herself off the sweat and vomit soaked queen-size bed, wiping her eyes. The room was large, the master of the house. She didn’t have to worry about Simon coming up though, she’d clean it later.

As Hadley struggled to the bathroom adjacent to the bed she tried to remember what she’d taken. I was just going to have three or four whiskies at that club, maybe meet someone. Shannon gave me a hit of E. Why do I feel so shitty?Reaching the door, Hadley pushed it open and set the lights to dim. Vertigo is the worst. The bathroom was almost as large as her room. It had two separate baths, one was closer to a hot tub than a bath, the other containing a combined shower-head. The floor was marble, and the walls were bamboo paneled heartwood, as was the sauna entrance directly to her left. She knew this, because she’d redone the bathroom herself. This home had been her and Simons honeymoon, just four years ago. She’d been so excited, as it overlapped with her twenty first birthday. Reaching the sink, her spirits dropped even further. What did you do this for, Hadley? Don’t you care about Adam?

A silver teaspoon sat on the rim of the sink, it had a stained red-black tourniquet draped over the hilt. A syringe with dried blood on the tip rested near the drain. Scrambling, Hadley pulled off her sweatshirt examining her inner elbows. My right is clear, nothing on my left either.  Pulling down her pants, Hadley’s heart dropped to her stomach. At least I’d had the good sense to try and hide the marks. Her left inner thigh had exactly seven track marks, two appeared to be over arteries, thank god, she hadn’t injected into those. Simon won’t know if I just put some makeup on and keep him from feeling the area. I just need to act normal, cover this shit up, and clean that mess.

Her eyes wouldn’t stop watering as she looked at herself in the mirror. She felt older than she was. Her face was sharp, angular. Her high cheekbones, which she’d always been proud of, now made her feel gaunt and vulnerable. Her cheeks had sunken in as she’d lost weight. Down to one-hundred, again. She had acne from drug use along her left cheekbone. It had faded since she’d quit four months ago, but it looked inflamed now. Her eyes were the same-old piercing green and her hair was a long, disheveled, midnight black. At least I still have my eyes. A long scar crossed her flat, pale, lower abdomen from her cesarean section. She hated the scar, it reminded her of what she’d done to earn it. It’s funny how guilty feelings about drug use always seemed to lead to more drug use. Calm down Hadley, you can do this. Turning, she walked quickly to the shower. She wiped her eyes, removing sleep and tears, before removing the rest of her clothing. She turned the nozzle six tenths of the way to full. It’s a sensitive shower.

Hadley stepped into the shower after testing the warm water. Immediately, she reached for the soap, and started to scrub vigorously. After thirty seconds, she took a break to apply a liberal amount of shampoo. Soaking it into her long hair, she looked to the stainless-steel nozzle and whispered “I just need to clean last night off of me, and everything will be fine.” Hadley let the shampoo fall over her watering eyes, punishing herself with the sting. Every part of me must be cleansed.

Daily Blog: 8/28/17

Start from the beginning: https://bluebeard-art.com/2017/08/27/daily-blog-82717/

Chapter 2:  https://bluebeard-art.com/2017/08/29/daily-blog-82917/

Chapter one is a jarring shift from the joyful, playful, and informal tone of the Prologue. The goal of this chapter is largely exposition, while giving a subtle introduction to some of the suspense/horror elements to come.

There is explicit language in this chapter, but it is not prevalent. No trigger warnings apply to this chapter.

Enjoy!

I

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 AMHow 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.”