The Whimsical Misadventures of Red and Blue (Ep. 1)

Episode 1: Death’s in the Mirror

Blue: Sweetie, don’t look now, but I think love wants us dead.

Red: You don’t say? (she smiled here)

Red: Wait, I see it too, that’s death in the green mini-van, right?

Blue: Yep. (Man, was Blue stony eyed, focused like an eagle)

Red: Well I mean, it had to happen eventually. (Giggle)

Blue: Yip.

Red: Just because love suddenly wants us dead doesn’t mean I’m going to let you get away with using words that aren’t words.

Blue: *Thinking…. (How best to trigger…)

Red: Okay, bud, death is literally in our fucking rear-view mirror and you’re choosing now to give me the silent treatment? Couldn’t you have done it yesterday, you know when you wouldn’t shut-up about how the particles at the center of a light bulb–

Blue: Yip!

Red: What the fuck! I wasn’t done… (Scrunches face in that cute way that makes Blue wanna flick her cheek)

Red: Hey! Stop flicking my damned cheek!

Blue: K.

10 slow seconds pass as the couple drive down the old 42. Blue notes the rugged and deep cracks whizzing by, trying to focus on individual cracks in detail, but failing each time. Red is seething, furiously slotting her brains available RAM into a single task: realizing a vicious yet sensitive retort to her lesser half. That was it! Her lesser half…perfect!

Red: Blue, before death catches up, I just want you to know that–

Blue: No need to say it, I wish we had time for Pistachio flavored Gelato too, in fact, I distinctly regret not binging on luscious Pistach–

Red: Honey! (Makes a sad face, the one with the faux-puppy dog eyes) Stop interrupting me when we are running from Dea–

Blue: You know, that was kind of rude, dear. I mean I appreciate and support what you have to say, but I was talking. These kinds of lapses in courtesy really grind my gears. Especially when Death is literally in our, and I can not stress this enough, the literal robed-life-snatching-scythe-guy is chasing us in a raggedy green mini-fucking-van.

Red: We should drive faster, shouldn’t we?

Blue: Do you really think we can outrun death?

Red: Yeah, he’s in a min-van.

Blue: Oh, wow. You’re right. Floor it!

And that Red did, floor it, that is. Blue, feeling a sudden rush of confidence, rolled down his window and waggled the center-most flesh-pointer of his right hand at the forlorn-fellow in the green mini-van.

Red: That’s a bit much, what if he makes it hurt more because of that? Wait, oh…shoot.

Blue: Nice going, how are we supposed to outrun death and the law? Especially when the law is in an armored Mustang with a shit-tier paint job?

Red: You gave me the go ahead to do this thing!

Blue: I don’t recall. Wait, don’t slow down! I already lost my licence, what do we do if you get too many points?

Red: Oh shit, you’re right!

As Red slammed on the accelerator, the Law-man, who’d started to pull left, mirrored her wanton acceleration with the vigor and poise befitting a man of his station. 

Blue: Oh shit baby, he’s swerving across traffic! Look Red!

Red: I’m going 98 in a 65, Blue, I can’t look right now!

Blue: !

Red: Why are you waiving your arms around like that?!

Blue: I can’t even right now…Baby, you can slow down.

Red: What? Why?!

Blue: Well death totally just broad-sided the law and the two cars are rolling down a cliff in a brutal and fiery, yet romantic, fashion.

Red: Well…I mean…that doesn’t sound so bad, does it? (Her brow had curled into a thoughtful furrow)

Blue: There are worse ways to go!

Suddenly, without a word, Red swerved left towards the cliff. If only I knew what the cliff meant to her. Maybe, it meant hope. As they fell, a stoic and euphoric haze engulfed the two lovers. Neither had ever felt so utterly complete, let alone content, with their menial lives. 

Wait, no. Actually, it was shit-show.

Blue: OH GOD!! What are you doing Red?! (A look of terror spread across Blue’s pubescent face as the ground disappeared from under the small car) 

Red: I THOUGHT THIS IS WHAT WE WANTED!

Blue: WHY WOULD YOU MAKE THIS KIND OF DECISION WITHOUT CONSULTING ME?!

Red: MAYBE IF YOU HADN’T KEPT INTERRUPTING M–

Unfortunately, the car’s impact against a jagged rock twice its size robbed Red of the chance to realize the irony of her last sentence. If the meaning of that last sentence wasn’t clear, here is Neil deGrasse Tyson with the details: 

Neil: The unrelenting G-force of the car’s descent through gravity whilst maintaining its significant velocity was met with an equal and opposite reaction from the rock. This collision, of sorts, caused Red’s head to meet the steering wheel with such a force that it immediately caved in, spraying her brain-stuff all over Blue, who miraculously, despite a really nasty sprained ankle, made a full recovery.

 

Finding Happy: Chapter 3-To Normal

Ignorance is a bliss that most fail to appreciate. Truly, sometimes not knowing, forgetting, is the purest mercy life can deal you. How knowledge can taint an otherwise euphoric reality. 

Enjoy!

Start at the beginning, if that’s your thing: https://bluebeard-art.com/2017/09/13/third-degree-part-1/

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III

To Normal.

Casey had regained control of her emotions by the time her mom pulled up, twenty or so minutes later. I still can’t get up…The pains only grown sharper. Her mother nearly tripped as she raced out of the car. Her hand covered her mouth, tears flowing, as she flew to her daughter’s aid. “Baby, what happened to you? Oh God! Sweetie, you’re bleeding. Can you stand up? We need to take you to the hospital!” Bleeding?

Apologetically, Casey muttered, “I can’t walk…my stomach feels like it has a hole in it.” Pale and distraught, her mom wrapped her arm under her daughter’s knees and back, lifting her with a wordless grunt. “I’m really sorry, mommy. I went to a party last night. I know I was drinking, but I don’t know what happened. The last thing I remember is being in the hot tub with…” Best to leave that out.

“With who sweetie? With who?”

Lying, Casey said, “I…I don’t remember.” Straining, her mom managed to open the old VW’s passenger door.

“Don’t worry about it sweetie. Everything’s okay now. I’m not mad, don’t worry baby.” She said as she lowered Casey into the VW’s shabby and torn faux-leather seat. She’s always mad when I do bad things, why not now? I almost like it better when she just yells at me.

Casey pulled out her phone to check the rest of the messages as her mother started the engine. She tabbed to Matt and read:

‘Hey, Casey! I got the drinks and came back to the tub, where’d you go?” Where did I go, anyway? I just remember waiting and thinking how he was taking forever. ‘Hey, kinda worried, these parties can get pretty crazy, hope you’re okay <3’ Damnit. Now I feel even worse. I probably ruined his night, too. ‘Hey I’ve been looking around down here for like thirty minutes. If you headed home or something, I just wanna say how great a time I had with you. I know you think I’m a bit of player or something, but I’ve never really had a real girlfriend. Like I’ve gone on a few dates but I’ve never really connected the way I did with you there. Oh goodness, look at me getting all cringey. Sorry about that, but I mean it!’ He’s so sweet. I felt that too, though. ‘Alright I’m heading back with Jacob now, he drank wayy too much lol, I’m good to drive though, so don’t worry!’ I hope he was… ‘Hey, I made it home safe, hope alls good on your end <3’

Casey jumped, yanked from her reverie as her mom said, “Just a few more miles to the hospital, Casey. Hang in there!”  

Casey looked back down at her phone as it vibrated twice, indicating a new message. It’s from that same unknown number…It read ‘You get my msgg, bitch?’ Furrowing her brow in confusion, she tapped the new message notification and looked at the previous message, an ill-lit still frame with a play-symbol in the center. What the fuck? An ominous wave of anxiety surged up and down Casey’s sore limbs as she tapped play.

The video was black and void of detail, aside from two guys laughing softly. Is one of them carrying something? It’s so hard to tell with the piss-poor quality. Where does this dick get off calling me a bitch anyway? Wait…Is that someone? It looks like a body…The camera moved erratically and she heard someone whisper, “Take the camera so I can fuck the bitch.” What the hell is this? “Turn the flash on, dumbass.” Casey’s eye’s widened as a light illuminated what looked like a corpse on the bed. She’s not moving, what the fuck is wrong with these people!? No…The man who’d handed off the camera got on top of the girl and started to touch her.

Casey’s hands started to quiver, silent realization paralyzing her, as if she’d kissed a train that had somewhere to be. The man–the coward–pulled his large frame off of Casey’s limp body and started to undo her shorts. Broken, she held the power button, letting her phone die. Her entire body started to shudder, in shock, as the excessive vasoconstriction stole her viscera’s light, their liquid life. Again, the tears fell, but no sound left her gaping mouth. As the pain started to ravage her fast-fading willpower, she shut her eyes tight, let out a quiet choke, and leaned her fore-head against the back of the raggedy front-seat. In a vain attempt at stealth, she bit down hard on her tongue, and tasted crimson-iron. Why?

Noticing, Casey’s mom screeched, “What’s wrong, are you okay?! Casey!” Casey couldn’t respond as naked and utter despair washed over her sense of self. Failing at suppressing the pain, she let out an agonized, blood-tinged, wail.     

 

Finding Happy Chapter 1: Asunder.

This is technically the fourth chapter due to the three prologue chapters before this, and I’d recommend reading them before jumping in.

Start at the beginning here: https://bluebeard-art.com/2017/09/13/third-degree-part-1/

I should start off by noting that this novel is about recovery, overcoming a horrible and unfair situation. There are heavy mystery, drama, and horror elements throughout. This chapters is one of the reasons I’ve waited so long to start posting “Finding Happy” sections. I really wanted to make sure I understood every bit of what I wrote, and that I did it in a way that accurately reflected this terrible thing that real people go through every day in America.

This is an extremely dark chapter that introduces one of the primary conflicts of the novel. It is uncomfortable and is intended for a mature audience. This was very hard to write as an author who cares deeply for the character they have created. It made me feel sick. I used an allegorical method here where Casey fades in and out of consciousness due to the drugs. The scenes in the dream are analogies for the hell she endures. In this regard much of the graphic nature inherent to “date-rape” is not explicitly described, but there are waking bits that can only be described as cruel. It’s a bit of an extreme contrast to the happy and hopeful tones of the first few sections, and is well within the veins of the psychological terror/horror genre.

*Trigger warning: Contains implied and actual depictions of physical and sexual abuse as well as victimization. Contains extreme and demeaning language.

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I

Asunder.

 

Casey faded in and out of a half-reality. Who’s moving me…It’s so cold–

Casey stood on her grandmother’s porch, looking out over the dead cornfield, shivering. A storm was approaching, uncanny for a Colorado winter, to see so much lightning against snow. Thinking aloud, Casey said, “I always thought that you needed rain for lightening. Snow is so dry, in comparison.”

The rug…It burns. I can’t move. Why is it so dark. Where is everyone. She tried to scream, only managing to part her fragile jaw an inch before fading into oblivion­–

Turning, she unzipped her heavy jacket, simultaneously opening the withered old door. “This place was never the same after Nana passed. Gramps stopped tending the field, too. Stopped caring. Stopped tending to the life of the farm-stead. Stopped tending to his own life. As withered as the door.”

Ugh. I’m floating…No someone’s carrying me. Casey felt a dull and winded pain as she was dropped onto a soft surface. Too dark to see–

Thunder roared as the storm converged on the farm-house from all directions. “How is that possible? It’s just a storm. A break from the bitter and dry winter-air. That’s all it was supposed to be, just something new, I didn’t ask for this!”

–Don’t touch me…no! Casey was paralyzed as the darkness was interrupted by the light of a smartphone. Whoever was there waved it back forth, as if to mock Casey’s listless form. What do you want? What did you do to me? Her eye’s silently streamed tears as the stranger began to touch her. This is a nightmare…Wake up! Casey made a small grunt in a pointless attempt to scream. The stranger laughed, stood back, and fiddled with the phone. Suddenly, he arced the phone behind his head, allowing the screen to illuminate his masked face, showcasing Casey’s vulnerability. He’s taking a selfie…

The man turned and muttered something inaudible. There are more? The man held out the phone, and a tendril from the darkness accepted it, held it up, and laughed cruelly. A few seconds later, the phones flash illuminated Casey’s pale and limp body. Please don’t film it…What did I do to deserve this…I…I can’t–

Casey ran upstairs, calling out, “Mom! Where are you!?” At the top of the stairs she hung right and crashed through the first door. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to lie! Please, mom help me! Where are you?” The room was empty, decrepitate and decomposed. Her old bed, the one she’d always slept in while visiting her grandparents was cracked, desecrated with something…something evil. The sill where her Nana would lean, reading her Mr. Toad stories. That warmth was gone, shattered, like a black mirror seeking a comfort it will never reclaim–

–The man was on top of her, his considerable weight suffocating her in silence. He sloppily kissed her lifeless lips while violating her chest with his disgusting intentions. Dead tears rolled down her chemically-frozen cheeks. Stop. Matt, where are you? I need you, Matt. He rolled off her, snickering, and said, “This will teach you to be an uppity bitch and embarrass me in front of my friends, whore.” He grabbed her still-damp track shorts and pulled them off, exposing her panties. “Man, it’s like you weren’t even trying to get Matt to fuck you! Worst. Lingerie. I’ve seen. Better fix that.” Coward. Gutless coward. I’ll kill you if I ever find out who you are. I will kill you. Callously, he tore her panties off and began to roughly finger her. Casey’s anger ignited as the sharp pain radiated from her groin to her intestine. I promise, I will kil–

Before Casey could reach the second room, the storm blew a hole in the roof. The now-red tempest solidified into a necrotic hand, fingered lesions splicing in and out of its dynamic skin. Casey backed away, consumed by anxiety, terror, and regret.

Just think of the good times. Dissociate. Focus on your friends, Mom, that time you won the science fair, anything besides this. The masked man had started to rape her, she didn’t know when or how long it had been. What she did know, is that it hurt. He panted with a disgusting vigor as he penetrated her, stole from her with each passing second, blood acting as the only lubricant. “Take it whore, this it what you get for being a cunt! That’s all you are, trash, a sperm-dumpster. Better that you learn that now. You ain’t going nowhere, you jus’ act all smart and shit. You ain’t nothing but a filthy cunt.” The man recording with the smartphone laughed at his compatriot’s cruelty. You too, I’ll find you. You think you’re strong, but you’re wea–

The hand emit a thundering wave of force, tearing Casey’s childhood home, her life, to shreds. Disparaged everything she’d been taught to believe. Consumed her purity, her freedom, her choice. With an electrical explosion, Casey was flung through the window’s glass and out near the long-dead cornfield. An icy-pain spread as her broken and shattered bones sent SOS to her brain. She tried to move, but couldn’t, and the world she knew, ended.

Finding Happy: Prologue-3: Torn

A major tonal shift from the first two chapters serves to mirror the alcohol’s progression. A lot of the prior details come into play in this, and the next chapter. Foreshadow’s Chapter one’s malicious and disassociated style.

Start at the beginning: https://bluebeard-art.com/2017/09/13/third-degree-part-1/

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Prologue-III

Torn

 

Sighing, Casey stood, nearly falling as a head a rush blackened her already-distorted vision. It’s been like four minutes or something stupid, how long does it take to get drinks? Guess I’ll have to go find him. Lethargically, Casey walked up the hot-tub steps and headed towards the towel rack. Better to not track water on those expensive carpets. Reaching the rack, she took one of the course, white, towels and dried herself from the legs up. She wrapped the towel around her waist to help the shorts dry faster, before walking towards the now-open sliding door. What time is it? I swear, there were not these many people when we got here. Okay, made it inside. Where are the drinks, anyway?

Casey tried to squeeze past the coagulated party-goers, but stumbled, accidentally knocking the drink out of some guy’s hand. “Damnit! I just waited five minutes to pour that shit.” She ignored him, pushing through the crowd as an unwarranted anxiety gripped her chest. I don’t feel so great, another drink will help take the edge off. Where are you Matt? I can’t handle these many people. As her eyes started to ache, she blushed in embarrassment. Come on Casey, this is supposed to be an awesome night. First big date, first big party, don’t go and start crying, please. I’m enough of a nerd as it is.

She couldn’t help it though, as the crowds overwhelmed her, so did the alcohol-corrupted tears. I don’t know these people…Spotting an empty part of the wall, she pressed her back against it, breathing deeply in a vain attempt to quiet the burning tears smearing her dramatic eye-liner.

“Yo! Casey, you alright?” asked a voice she recognized but couldn’t place. Frantically, she looked around, wiping her eyes. Casey’s throat fell into her stomach as she spotted the source. Just my luck. Jacob pushed through the crowd before continuing, “Don’t cry! What’s wrong? Where’s Matt? He seemed real self-important about lookin’ after you tonight.”

Voice cracking weakly, Casey answered, “He went to get drinks. He was taking a while so I came to find him. Was a mistake, obviously. I hadn’t realized how many people were here.”

“Uh yeah, that wasn’t the best idea. These parties get real packed. Glad I found you though!” He smiled, obnoxiously. Is it a scientific fact that polo-shirts make you look like a fucking douchebag? “How about you go wait for him near the top of the stairs, I’ll do my best to find him for you and tell him where you are. Here, take my drink, you…you need it more right now I think.” Okay, maybe he isn’t as bad as I thought.

Casey took his drink and smiled, slightly, before replying, “Thanks, Jacob. Sorry for what I said in the car, I guess I wasn’t being fair.”

“Ah no worries ‘bout that! I figured you were just joshing around. Besides I like a little fight in my girls.” Nope. I was right. Just grin and bear it so he finds Matt for you, Casey. Feigning a laugh, Casey thanked him for his help and started towards the crowded steps. She took a sip of her liquid courage before tackling the masses again. She managed through the crowd without pissing anyone off this time around. Alcohol really does fix everything, I guess. Christ, I’m not looking forward to discovering what a hangover feels like, though. She turned right and climbed up the stairs, noting the ‘Do Not Enter’ rope at the top. What’s the worst that could happen? I’ll just sit at the top and wait, that way no one will bother me.

Casey nearly tripped on the penultimate step of her booze-soaked journey. She sat down and took another gulp as her vision started to swim. Is that normal? I didn’t realize alcohol made you so dizzy. Ugh, my stomach doesn’t feel good all the sudden…I don’t want to barf on the carpet. There’s gotta be a bathroom around here. She finished the drink and struggled to her feet, grabbing the wall as her towel fell to the floor. Shit. Oh shit, I can’t see right. What’s happening? I feel tired. Turning the corner, Casey headed for what appeared to be a bathroom. It’s hard to tell though, my vision is swimming. What’s wrong with my legs?! It’s like walking through deep water. About ten feet from the white-tiled restroom, Casey’s legs buckled, and she hit her face against the carpet. She painstakingly managed to push herself onto her knees before she noticed the bright red stain on the white carpet. Slow and steady. It’s just alcohol, you’re young, you’ll be fine.

Crawling now, she worked her way to the toilet, cold tile harassing the frayed nerves of her knees and hands. The nausea passed, but I can barely move. Somethings wrong with me, what was in the drink? Her arms failed her and she crumpled. She tried to call for help, but her throat was as useless as her muscles. Stay…Awake…Plea…

 

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.”

Finding Happy: Prologue-2

So this particular short story used to be called “Third Degree” before I realized it was going to be another long one. I’m on the rough’s of the fifth chapter as of writing, and naming is something that isn’t really set in stone. I do apologize if this causes people confusion!

Prologue-II is similar to prologue-I in tone and style. It’s very much exposition with a few hints and foreshadows. Enough of that, though, enjoy!

 

Start at the beginning: https://bluebeard-art.com/2017/09/13/third-degree-part-1/

Related Artworks: 

https://bluebeard-art.com/2017/09/18/distant-fall-artwork/comment-page-1/#comment-85

https://bluebeard-art.com/blind/

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Prologue-II

 

I really shouldn’t have put off this drinking thing for so long, I feel fantastic! Matt was talking to a couple of his friends, but Casey wasn’t really listening. His arm was draped over her shoulder and she was leaning her head against his muscular chest. “Matt!” shouted Casey, unintentionally cutting off the tall girl who was speaking. “Oh…shorry, about that, I’m a little out of it.” The girl giggled, shooting her a look she couldn’t place. Pfft…Like I care anyway. Everything is great.

Laughing now, Matt asked, “What’s up?”

“Let’s go in the pool, it’s hot out.” Said Casey, nuzzling his under-arm with her fore-head.

A surprised look shot across his face before he smiled, and said, “Sure! Let me go get another drink though, I think I need to catch up to you!” Casey laughed, drunkenly. I’ve only had like five or six drinks, can’t be that bad. What was alcohol’s disassociation constant again? “You gonna be okay if I leave for a minute, Casey?” He sounds like he’s joking but his eyes actually look a little worried.

Casey’s mouth curled into a self-conscious smile, her brow furrowed, and she said, “Of course I’ll be fine! I can take care of myself.” As he left, she stumbled slightly and looked around. Parties are a strange thing. What’s the point of a pool if no one uses it? There’s at least forty people just standing around and literally no one is in the pool. Casey stepped back and relaxed, letting her back gently rest against the house’s expensive looking rose-wood exterior.

It really is a beautiful home. I don’t even know how you treat wood to get that shade of blackened brown, but I’d bet it’s expensive. Those tables, too. The cheap-ass red cups can’t even hide the crystal. I wonder if Mr. and Mrs. Fletcher realize Christie is throwing a drinking-party. Probably not, but with a house this nice, I’m sure they travel for work or something. It’d really be a matter of shutting the neighbors up, and the next house is a quarter-mile out, so no worries there, I suppose. I feel out of place, I guess wearing vampire teeth to a full-on slutty Halloween party wasn’t proper planning, though. Alcohol really highlights those silver-linings. Casey closed her eyes, smiled, and let gravity pull her neck to the left.

“You still good to swim, Casey?” asked Matt.

Lazily, she opened her left eye, and responded, “Always.” He already changed into his swim-trunks? What’s the point of being a sailor if you don’t swim?

“Awesome! I hadn’t expected to actually swim, glad I brought my trunks now. You want me to hold your drink while you go change?”

“What? Nah, Bra’s…Two-piece’s, same thing.” Said Casey, playfully biting her tongue through a wide grin. “Oh, don’t look so surprised, I can party too, just because I make grades doesn’t mean I can’t have fun!”

“Whatever you say, boss!” said Matt, laughing, before running at the pool and jumping in, splashing a couple making out in the hot-tub. Gotcha! Casey chugged the rum and coke Matt had handed her, set it down, and pulled her tank top over her head. Best leave the shorts on! Making eye contact with a confused Matt, she winked, and sauntered towards the hot tub. Ignoring a whistle to her right, she stepped into the steamy water, quickly did her hair up, and sat. God…this is literally the best temperature. The girl across from Casey gave her a nasty look before turning back to her gentleman of the evening.

Casey recoiled in shock as Matt fell, feet first, into the shallow water, splashing water into her face. “Hey! What was that for?” asked Casey, giggling uncontrollably.

Closer now, ignoring the distraught couple he’d splashed twice, he replied, “You pranked me first you know! That water was actually kind of cold.”

Suddenly serious, she nodded slowly, and said, “Awwwe, is the little athlete sensitive? You want me to warm you up?” Taken aback, Matt opened his mouth to reply, but nothing came out. Feigning frustration, she grabbed his arm and pulled him down. “Just kiss me, please.”

Cautiously he brought his lips to hers. Shivers shot down Casey’s spine and she pushed forward, deepening the kiss. As Matt curled his muscular fingers into her black hair, she swung her legs over his lap, pulling herself closer. Matt pulled away for a second, breathing heavily to catch his breath. Taking advantage of his momentary weakness, she bit his neck with her fake vampire-teeth, and giggled with elation. “Wow! I see you’re into some weird stuff there, Casey.” Pulling away for a moment, locking eyes as she cocked her head in mock-confusion, she removed the silly teeth and attacked his mouth.

_____________________________________

Thanks for reading!

Continue here: https://bluebeard-art.com/2017/09/28/finding-happy-prologue-3/

Daily Blog 9/16/17: Chapter 15

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

Silgan returns from the appointment to gather his materials per Alex’s request.

*Explicit language and gore. 

 

XV

Present Day-Silgan

 

Silgan hurried into the apartment lobby, the fluorescent nightmare had diminished in response to the morning light creeping in through the many windows. Ms. Caldwell, Lauren, was still working the front desk. Noticing Silgan, she smiled, flirtatiously, and asked, “Rushing like that, Mr. Sheffield…might give a girl the wrong impression. You trying to dodge me?”

Silgan paused, embarrassed, and returned her smile. Indignantly, he explained, “Me? Never! You know you’re my favorite, Lauren. I’m in a hurry for something related to work and I need to meet an associate in about forty minutes.”

Blushing, she caressed her bottom lip with her left thumb, and said, “I hadn’t realized we were on a first name basis, you know, there’s a lot of things you can do in forty minutes. I’m sure your friend wouldn’t mind if you were just a little late.”

Taken aback, Silgan stuttered, “Any other day, Ms. Caldwell, but this could be a matter of life and death.”

Pouting, Lauren said, “Well, I mean, move your pretty little ass if it’s really that important. Besides, you know where to find me.” She winked coyly before turning back to her ledger.

Relieved, Silgan said, “Take care, Lauren.” as he turned towards the elevator room. Silgan walked past the first two, public, elevators, and swiped his RFID on the old management elevator. The old gate opened slowly and Silgan stepped in, turning to press the button that read “13”. As the elevator began its sluggish ascent, he shuffled his feet, fretfully. Okay, we need to clear out everything I can’t easily replace.

“That’s seventy percent of what’s there, dumbass.” The voice of an elderly woman mocked.

Then we can booby trap the room, as a precaution.

Cackling, the woman’s voice gained power, “So you can piss off Haskell even more than you already have? Quite the headache he must have, pondering how to deal with his star extractors insubordination.” Silgan’s spine tingled with anxiety as his right hand started to tap his suit-pants to the tune of staying alive. “I bet he’s already got a man waiting for you up there, no time to prepare now. See what you’ve done? You’ve fucked over all of us, all your friends, we, he guided and supported you when you needed a push to do the right thing.”

Does torturing an innocent woman qualify as the right thing? The elevator came to a halt and opened. Silgan walked out, turned right and headed towards the narrow hallway. At the intersection, he turned left, walked five more steps, and inspected his tan colored door, marked “1304” in silver lettering. You do raise a good point though, I need to make sure no one’s waiting for me on the other side of the door. Silgan set his briefcase down, opening the side pocket opposite to where he had stored the tracker gun. He pulled out his customized 220 Sig Sauer and slotted the chamber back. Loaded. Turning the safety off, he leaned down to examine the doors lock. It’s scratched up. Fuck. Expecting the worst, Silgan took out his key and slowly inserted it into the lock, Sig Sauer loose in hand. Slowly, he turned the lock, and heard a click. Leaving the key in the slot, he stood back, tensing his quadriceps and gluts, preparing a kick. With his left hand, he pulled the handle down, pushing forward slightly. His hands were perspiring, his breaths came shallow and fast. With a small grunt, he kicked the door open, quickly recovering his balance, and raising his pistol. Looking through the holo-sight he started forward, scanning back and forth rapidly. As he walked through the doors small frame, he could hear a quiet movement. It was coming from behind his bed.

“Hey, come out, I see you!” Silgan shouted, snarling in his rustic baritone. Abruptly, the rustling stopped. Silgan felt light headed, as his vision became hazy. Realizing he’d forgotten to breath, he gasped for air, trying and failing to keep his aim steady.

“Worthless!” the woman’s voice mocked. “Can’t even aim a pistol without nearly passing out, you’re going to get all of us killed, Simon.”

Shut up!

Biting his lip, he moving forward. He could hear a pathetic whimper, a forlorn moaning. It reminded Silgan of the time he’d hit a deer, getting out of his car, only to find the deer dying, struggling through the door to its next reality. Moving quickly around the foot of his bed, Silgan shouted, “Hands up!” He lowered his weapon, mouth parting, eyes widening in horror.

“I’m trying Simon, my arms, I can’t move them.” Wailed Hadley, with deep crosses cut into her wrists. Her skin wasn’t right, it was cracked, a dark and hallowed green. She’s not real, Simon, she’s dead…you buried her. Taking a deep breath, Silgan stepped back from Hadley. Hadley’s eyes grew desperate as Silgan backed away. “Please…Simon don’t leave me here, it hurts baby, it hurts so much worse than when I did it. I’m so sorry, help me Simon!”

Tears welling, Silgan responded, “I…I can’t help you. I failed you, I’m sorry Hads. I miss you every day.” Silgan turned away, forcing himself to look his cabinet. Focus. Productivity, what will help you survive. Grabbing a small duffle at the foot of his bed, he walked to the cabinet, set the Sig Sauer on the cabinets counter, and zipped open the duffle before throwing it back onto his small bed. Opening the cabinet, Silgan suddenly felt overwhelmed. There must be two-hundred separate ingredients here, how the fuck do I decide which ones to bring? Christ, I have room for fifteen or so. If that. Silgan cringed at the terrible moaning as he reached for a case of empty dart-syringes. Ignoring Hadley, he put the pack into his bag, eyes darting across the various chemical labels.

Silgan froze, as the woman’s voice returned, “You’re going to let her die, again? You coward. And for what? So you can turn tail and run?”

You’re right, I am a coward. But why show me this, I know I can’t save her. But I can save that poor girl, Nessa, and that’s what I’m going to do.

Suddenly determined, a wave of clarity drowned the wails and Silgan realized the chemicals he needed. Quickly, he grabbed a fast acting spasmodic, a cyanide potassium solution, and three cryo-contained vial of , or mustard gas. He packed each vial in a rubber stabilized mold before setting them next to the darts. I only have one more pressure resistant mold, I need to pick carefully. A moment later, Silgan grabbed two clear and unlabeled solutions, and packed them into the mold. Hurrying, he reached for two small vials of adrenaline, a small tub of batrachotoxin–he’d scraped it off the backs of poison dart frogs himself–and a cryo-vile, containing VX. He’d have to be careful not to be caught with the VX if he traveled, as the UN classified it as a weapon of mass destruction. The worlds stockpiles had been destroyed twenty-five years ago, but it was relatively easy to synthesize. It was essentially a liquid nerve agent that had a low boiling point, making it an easy to use gas.

Silgan packed the rest of the vials into the rubber chassis before gently resting it in the duffle. Finally, he ran to his chemical work-bench and retrieved three gas masks, as well as a few extra filters. He packed these into the side pockets of the duffle, carefully mounting the valuable bag over his shoulder.

Turning to the cabinet, Silgan picked up his Sig Sauer and turned the safety on before holstering it into the specially stitched pocket in his suit coat, hidden by his left lapel. Just the pills now. Moving to the kitchen drawer, he wiped some of the lingering dirt off his white dress shirt. Silgan opened the small drawer before rummaging for his painkillers. He removed the oxycodone, Vicodin HCL, Secobarbitol, and Compro, before setting them on the counter. He unsaddled his duffle and set it on the counter, then stashed the Vicodin and oxy in the duffle’s left pockets. Those are less conducive to performance than the Compro. Silgan opened the Compro, took two pills, then closed it, before stashing it next to the Vicodin. As Silgan opened the Secobaritol, his shaking hands jerked unexpectedly, causing him to spill the pills on the floor. Shit, my nerves are frayed. He fell to his knees, gathering the pills back into their container.

Freezing, Silgan focused on a small black circle on the bottom of the counter. It can’t be…was someone in here after all? Moving closer, he squinted at the black smudge. A transmission mic. I’ve been bugged. A nauseous anxiety spread from his core as he finished picking the pills up. He left one out, and dry swallowed it. “Eh, Silgan everything alright in here?” asked a voice he couldn’t quite place.

Turning, Silgan saw his neighbor Herald looming ominously in the door-way. “I’m good Herald, did I make too much noise or something?” asked Silgan, ambivalently.

Smiling easily, Herald stepped forward, and said “Nah mate, I mean I heard you talking to someone, you sounded upset.” Herald leaned forward examining the room, looking back and forth. “Musta been on the phone though, it don’t seem like nobodies here right now, besides me that is.” Herald chuckled at his joke. He wore a dirty T-shirt and torn jeans. He was probably in his early fifties, though his voice was clearly smoke damaged and made him sound much older. While his facial structure was handsome, his meth-cracked skin and teeth were not. His eyes were jaundiced, his nose was the kind of red that only twenty years of binge drinking could lend.

“Yeah, I was fighting with my brother, a financial matter.” Lied Silgan.

Laughing loudly, Herald responded, “You know, Hadley is a weird name for a brother if you ask me. But my parents weren’t too creative either. Coming up with Gerald than Herald, I mean who rhymes their kids name?” He must have been the one who planted the bugs.

Face hardening, Silgan asked, “Herald, I don’t suppose you know anything about who might have tampered with my lock there, do you?”

Herald tensed, responding, “Eh, what you tryna say, bud? Man ought to be careful about accusing a co-worker of something like that.” That face, no way in hell it wasn’t him.

Silgan’s muscles tensed, anticipating a fight, as he said, “You know, it’s the funniest thing, I just found a small microphone glued to the bottom of my counter, right before you walked in, Harold.”

Harold sighed, relaxing, and said, “You got me Silgan!” raising his arms above his head in mock exclamation. “It’s not like I did it for fun though, order came from Haskell himself, just a few hours ago. He wanted me to keep an eye on you.” Harold paused, smiling cruelly, he continued, “So imagine my surprise when I hear you, one of our most skilled laborers, over my lil radio talking to your dead wife. I don’t suppose Haskell would be happy to hear you’ve lost your fucking mind, eh bud?” Harold croaked loudly, laughing as Silgan blushed and looked down. “Don’t feel bad, bud, you know I kinda miss that girl I got pinched for assaulting. Sometimes I talk to her too, mostly when I got a whore up here who’s willing to act though, you know.” Haskell already suspects me, it’s now or never.

“I’m going to give you one chance to get out of my way, Harold.” Silgan said, flatly, meeting Harold’s eyes. Harold looked amused, and took a step forward.

Closer now, Harold whispered, “A’ight coach, what you gonna do? Cry to your bitch an’ tell her ol’ Harold’s given you a tough time?” Harold shoved Silgan, hard. Croaking again, as Silgan stumbled, Harold followed up with a wide right hook which landed squarely on Silgan’s left cheek. He fell hard, head hitting the floor with a crack. He shouldn’t have done that. Silgan reached for his concealed Sig Sauer, clicking the safety off with his right thumb. “That all you got big man? You a fake bud, can’t even take a punch.” Rolling onto his back Silgan aimed the Sig Sauer’s holo-sights at Harold’s face. “Oh shit! What the fuck man, it was just a tussle.” Harold raised his hands, desperately murmering, “What? You gonna shoot me with that thing, unsilenced? Whole buildings gonna hear it mate.”

Silgan pushed himself back to his feet, keeping the firearm trained on Harold. Quietly, Silgan said, “I’m crazy, remember? How about you apologize for calling my wife a bitch, scum.” Harold stayed silent, smiling slightly. Moving forward, Silgan grabbed Harold’s dirty T-shirt and shoved him up against the wall. “Say…you’re…sorry.” He set the guns point to Harold’s left jaw.

“Man she musta had a vice grip on your tiny balls, I’d never let a bitch–BANG!” Harold’s eyes twitched wide in surprise as the lower half of his face was torn off by the Sig Sauer’s blast. His broken jaw dangled from what remained of its right hinge. Bleeding heavily, he slid down the wall, and let out a hideous, gurgling screech. Silgan stepped away, letting him fall, letting him struggle. Harold’s tongue waggled back and forth wildly, finally coming to rest near the base of his throat as he fell to his left. Blood quickly pooled. Silgan felt sick. What did I just do?

                “Well I can’t say I approve, but at least you’re showing some initiative now.” Said the woman, malevolently.

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.

WinterSmith (Updated)

Karl Wight felt a smile creep across his face as the orderly undid his restraints, moving to open the old iron gate. Today’s the day. Freedom. The wind flew into Karl’s old bomber-jacket with reckless abandon, needling his flushed cheeks. This is what the world feels like. Alive. The old gate complained loudly as the orderly struggled to push it open, muttering “Damned frost…Just had this thing fixed last week.”

Karl liked the frost though, reminded him of the good old days. God, I miss that old farm. Preparing the fields for every harsh winter was more fun than harvesting ever was. The cursed, familiar, tightness choked Karl’s Heart. He’d felt it, craved it, every night he spent in Bridge-Brook Asylum. Nostalgia. He’d been trained to forget the old days, encouraged to destroy the memories by his physician, Dr. Crest. Flashbacks of Crest’s office started to seep into Karl’s periphery. Hand’s shaking, he pushed the bad thoughts away, looked forward to the orderly motioning him out the gate, and walked forward. What now?

Karl knew how Crest would answer that question. He’d speak sternly, executively, trying to hide the fact that Karl disgusted him. Karl heard Crest’s voice echo “Now Karl, you must simply move forward. What happened in the Great War is over. Your friends will never come back, and to accept this truth is to be cured. These harmful delusions are crutches, a bridge to a past we must burn, together.” But I don’t want to lose my friends, lose the good times. They make me feel, something, anything. But Karl had nodded, accepting Crest’s words,

accepting Crest’s pharmaceuticals,

and accepting Crest’s apathy.

Anything to feel the breeze on my face, just one more time. Two years of swallowing Crest’s orders had led to this day. Was it two or three? No matter, I’m out now. The January forest surrounding Bridge-Brook was breathtaking. The leaves, long dead, had vacated their summer homes. Leaving the simple, frail, and beautiful skeleton of each monstrous tree to dream alone. Thousands of branches hibernating under a viscid coat of fresh snow, layered over older, frozen snow. That old snow, frozen into long and perilous icicles, could fall at any moment. When will I fall? Have I fallen, just now rising?

A brown flash of movement caught Karl’s eye as he continued down the snow-caked drive. A lone fawn? Poor thing. Where are your parents? Who cares for you now? As quickly as the fawn had appeared, it retreated into the icy kingdom, leaving soon-to-be-filled hoof-prints. How can something so beautiful, this Winter-gust, be so destructive? You, who designed this crystalline palace, what was your aim?  The asylums drive widened as Karl continued, revealing a little-traveled county road. The village lies beyond. I’ll go find a phone, dial my Pa. Tell him the good news, let him know his son is better.

Karl paused, examining the small village before him. It looked near-deserted, a thick frost enveloping most aspects of the village. The modest homes had the same layers of snow and ice. It’s different though, this human forest can never compare to nature’s. But, I suppose human creation is a type of nature. Karl continued his walk towards the village, setting his sights for a small tavern at the top of a hill, near an elaborate Victorian-style church. Something just feels different about it, the layers of snow resting on the trees, were beautiful, natural. Here, it screams death, life-lost, cold. It was cold before, but it was ordered. Now it’s attacking these homes, imposing its icy-reign. Is that the point, WinterSmith? Do you hate Humans, do you wish to desecrate our hovels, the way we desecrated your sister-summer? Maiming your trees, hunting your denizens to extinction?

Karl reached the log-built tavern, hesitating outside the door, anxious. What do I say to him, say to mom? They left me here, said they’d come back. They didn’t, but I understand, I forgive them. Will they want to talk to me now…now that I’ve been fixed?

Karl steeled himself, and swung the carved-oak door wide, exposing himself to what lay beyond. As Karl walked in, one of the two men at the bar looked up, scowling, before quickly averting his gaze. No surprise there. Karl studied the homie interior of the pub, looking for a phone. The hostess approached Karl, and said “Hey, you’re going to have to leave. Your kind ain’t welcome here.”

Karl nodded, responding “I’m sorry, I really need to use a phone, I’m stranded out there.” The hostess bit her lip, looking Karl up and down, before nodding to her right towards a small payphone. Karl smiled, gratefully, and turned to the phone. Karl checked his pockets, pulling out two nickels. Reaching the phone, Karl inserted the two nickels, picked the phone up, and dialed his father’s land-line. (843)732-1228. Karl shifted away from the patron giving him a dirty look as he listened to the phone ring.

On the fourth ring, a man picked up, asking “Hello?” That’s Danny. He sounds…older.

“Hey Danny, it’s Karl. I’ve been released, was hoping I could talk to Pa, if he’s around.” Danny started, stuttering, and falling silent. “What was that? Is Pa there, Danny?”

Slowly, Danny responded “Pa’s dead, Karl, he’s been dead for six years, you know that.” No. Six years? No, he can’t be dead.

Burning tears welled in Karl’s eye’s as he asked “Danny, I don’t remember that, how…how did he die?”

Karl could hear Danny stifling tears over the line, “Karl, you locked him in his shed, the frost got him. Remember? That’s why you went to Bridge-Brook.” Danny’s voice faded, cruelly morphing into a dial-tone.

The man from the bar called to the hostess, shouting “Look, that Negro ain’t even talking to nobody, I can hear the dial-tone from here! He’s probably one of those Bridge-Brook nutters, escaped or something! Kickem out, I can’t stand the smell of them.” Karl dropped the phone, before falling to his knees, tears falling. Why…WinterSmith?

The hostess approached, wearing a concerned, not un-kind expression. She helped Karl to his feet, ushering him to the tavern-door. Face flat, tears streaming, Karl said “I’m s…sorry. Thank you for your kindness” before exiting. The hostess closed the door behind Karl, as he looked around, assessing his options. Freedom isn’t as easy as you’d think. Eyes fixating on the dense forest to the right of the village, behind the old cathedral, Karl walked.

Half-way to the forest, Karl’s tears froze, mouth parting into a small smile. It’s not so bad. Pa’s still up in heaven looking down on me. WinterSmith couldn’t have meant to hurt me, he wouldn’t. Smile widening as his face numbed, Karl walked past the first set of trees, admiring the kingdom’s gates. Every part of this forest, every detail, is perfect. If only I could have been perfect, like this. Teach me, WinterSmith. I know you won’t leave me. Karl sat against a large oak, then, unzipping his bomber-jacket, letting WinterSmith’s frost enter him, engulf his senses. He looked up, examining the dense web of snow-layered branches, forming an indescribably complex pattern. Not even Michelangelo could make sense of that pattern. It’s the ultimate painting, the only reality. Today is the best sort of day.

Then, the world shattered. The sky shifted from painted blues to a deep, malevolent, purple and black. A half-smile crept from the left corner of Kurt’s mouth as his eye’s widened in anticipation. He’s here. Karl heard thunder to his right, turning in surprise, he shuddered, taking in the gigantic husk-like creature pulling itself out of a tree. It was at least twelve feet tall, with tight metal horns curling behind each of its long ears. Thick and glossy wood-ice veins traced up and down the creature’s skinless frame. As it struggled to free itself from the tree’s bark, blood-stained white fur started to grow, covering its wounds. Freeing itself from the tree, it roared, mouth opening unnaturally wide, cracking, as its eyes folded into themselves. WinterSmith…you came!

 Suddenly, as the creature turned to Karl the forest grew eerily quiet. Silently, it’s long legs covered the twenty-meter distance in a few strides. Euphoric, Karl pushed his knees under his core, looked up to WinterSmith, and let his arms fall limply to his sides. Reverently, he asked, “Lord, what do you want me to do?” WinterSmith’s dolichocephalic skull fell left, resting on his left, bulbous, shoulder. Am I good enough? Is he judging my sins? WinterSmith’s arms were now covered in the beautiful and glistening snow-colored fur. He raised his left arm, extending his long and pointed claws, and gently rested them on Karl’s shoulder.

Abruptly, Karl’s elation morphed to a rotten, scathing, pain. What’s happening? My…my bones…they’re moving! Karl let out a scream accented by tears and a clawing agony, as his insides started to re-arrange. The pain blinded Karl, as his ribs expanded, inverted, and broke through his burning flesh. Thick brown fur started to replace his gouged and broke flesh as his heels extended and became one with the balls of his feet. The pain stopped, momentarily, and Karl rested on his back, looking up at the portal-like black sky. Is this what you needed, WinterSmith? Okay. Karl convulsed as all ten fingers simultaneously broke and started to shift forward, elongating. The bones pushed through his finger-tips, forming sharp points, as his jaw unhinged, shattering. Make me the instrument of your will, please…

 

____________

Thanks for reading, part 2 and original artwork coming soon!