Darker Regrets

 Her long black hair looked like a spider crawling along the sand just inches below the water. It was only a slow subtle movement as gentle waves hit the shore and then made their way back out into the lake. She looked like a ghost or some angelic version of the Arthurian Lady of the Lake. She was nude and just floating there but it was her eyes that had me transfixed. Just like old times.
I held my feelings deep inside but could feel them brimming and wanting to explode like the violence of a volcano. The officers were tying up the yellow tape to cordon off the area and the Crime Scene Unit was about to arrive. My partner Sid stood behind me and I knew I had to pull myself away or risk some unwanted or unneeded suspicion.
“So what do you make of it Will?”
“What else could I make of it? You see her; you see the bruising on the neck. It has to be murder.”
My reply was too terse and abrupt. I could feel my heart boiling in my stomach acid and I felt like losing my breakfast. Not only was Sarah dead but my heart was taking that same trajectory.
“You know Will, you don’t look so good. You feeling OK partner? Maybe you picked up that flu bug that’s been going around.”
“I’m OK Sid. Maybe it was something I ate last night that’s not sitting so well after seeing her.”
“She looks like she was a doll. Wonder why that is? It’s always the beauties we find while the ho-hums of the world keep on breeding.”
“I don’t know Sid. I don’t know.”
*******

Driving back into the city my mind began to wander. Sarah’s husband was my prime suspect and that was without any evidence to prove it. He was a rat bastard too lucky to know what he had in her. Me, I was just an eight month diversion that ended up making him pull closer to her in the long run when he realized she was drifting. When the time came the love of my life punched my number and she left me and all of our plans high and dry. Back into the arms of the beast she fell.
You can’t change volatile and psychotic and that was what her husband was and had always been. You can’t change the broken heart of true love and that was all she left me with. It was keeping me alive by beating but for the most part it had long been cold and dead.
Before making any snap judgments I promised myself that I would hold off until the M.E. ran the autopsy. First person we would question would be her husband though and I was just hoping that the bastard would slip up and spill the beans. Sarah may have hurt me but she was too good for him and she shouldn’t have been done wrong by him or anybody else for that matter.
It was the next morning before the M.E. called us in. In all that time I kept checking for her rotten husband to file a missing person report to cover his tracks but there was nothing. The M.E. identified her from finger prints on file from when she went to grade school so we had a name and I had cover as far as my association with her. Her cause of death was from the strangulation while being dumped in the lake was just a cleanup method. She had been dead for twenty four hours or so by the time she was hauled out of the drink. How these people thought dumping bodies in a lake was a good way to cover up the crime has always been beyond me. Once we had the basic facts it was time to talk to the husband.

*******

Samuel Paisley was well to do. Money was not something that Mr. Paisley had in short supply and buying people was just his way of maintaining control. The house was big by my standards and what the social butterflies would describe as immaculate. Three cars in the spacious garage and one parked on the roundabout. Looking at all the riches was yet another reminder of yet another reason for Sarah to look the other way when it came to me and my pittance on the force. She had told me once that money doesn’t matter but money always matters.
As luck would have it Mr. Paisley answered the door to Sid and I standing on the steps looking out of place and a little in awe.
“Can I help you?”
“Samuel Paisley, my name is Detective Will Telling and this is my partner Detective Sid Hollis. We’re with the APD and we’d like to ask you some questions.”
“What’s this about?”
“Mr. Paisley, do you know the whereabouts of your wife?”
“Well yeah, she’s staying with her mother and taking care of her because she was feeling under the weather.”
“When was the last time you spoke with your wife?”
“A couple days ago; she called to let me know she was on her way down.”
Sid then broke in with a question, “So Mr. Paisley, are you and your wife close? I mean you haven’t talked to her since she left. Why is that?”
“What’s this about?” The look of worry started to crease his face. Perspiration in a thin sheen broke from his forehead.
I said, “Mr. Paisley, your wife was found dead and floating in a lake. She didn’t drown either. She was strangled. She never made it to her mother’s house. Now you tell me, what is your alibi?”
I had to pull back. I had to keep the anger under control. I was seething inside and I wanted to kill him right then and there but I had to temper it off. His guilt was coming out of his pores and his act of ignorance was taunting me.
“I’m sorry Detectives but I think I need to call my lawyer before I say any more to either of you. Unless you’re going to arrest me then I’d like you to please leave.”
With that the door was shut in our face. I could arrest him and hold him for twenty four hours but the evidence had to surface in that time or he would just walk. We put a tail on Mr. Paisley just in case he decided to flee and then on the way back to the car I jotted down the plates of each of the five cars.
We followed up with the mother but it was a dead end. Sarah’s mother had taken to dementia so between her and the care givers no one was sure if Sarah had been on her way over or not. All roads kept leading back to Paisley and his lawyer wasn’t letting us near him so we pulled a search warrant on the house and his place of business. When we arrived back at the house his lawyer answered the door and let us in. Paisley was being kept away for his own good.
I took Paisleys office and Sid took the bedroom while several officers were combing the grounds and going room to room. The mahogany desk was covered in papers and engineering blue prints. The top left drawer had a bottle of bourbon and some Cubans. There were files in the bottom left and office supplies in the top right. The bottom right drawer contained an empty cigar box that was sitting on yet another file folder. I pulled the folder out and when I opened it that sick feeling swirled in the pit of my stomach.
There were pictures of Sarah and me together, from the window of the hotel room, going into the rooms, leaving the rooms. There were pictures of us at dinner and walking through the park. He had pictures of me embracing her and kissing her.
He had to have recognized me when I was standing on his door step. Whether he knew I was on the force or not it had to have been a revelation for him. On top of all of that the pictures complicated matters for me. Taking the pictures into evidence would have blown the investigation. With me being party to events that could have set the bastard off would unravel everything. They would have said that I should have told my superiors and removed myself from the investigation. Hell, they would have started investigating me while he walked free and above suspicion.
I tucked the file folder into my jacket and lifted his bourbon and cigars while I was at it. The resolution was there and I was now standing on the edge of where right and wrong blur into a hazy gray. I knew what I was going to do and I knew there was no coming down from the ledge. Sarah would see justice one way another.

*******

I tracked Paisley down to a seedy hole in the wall bar. He was sitting there nursing a scotch and just gave me a casual look before returning back to his drink. I pulled up to the stool next to him and ordered what he was having. I passed him one of his own Cubans and then took a stiff sip and let the alcohol burn over my tongue. We sat there for awhile just drinking and smoking without saying anything to each other. Finally he broke the silence.
“She loved you. She never stopped loving you. I didn’t know you were a detective. I just knew she was seeing someone. I changed everything I did and started catering to her to bring her back. You could see it in her eyes though. She still loved you and you could see that deep in her eyes. She may have come back to me but she never came back completely.”
Draining my glass I motioned for the barkeep to pour me another. I then let him hear my confession, “I loved her. She did everything she could to push me away to try and make it right with you. I would have given her everything I had but I couldn’t convince her to leave you. When she left it broke my heart and when I saw her lifeless body my heart died.”
Now his confession came forth because he knew that we were past the point of settling this in the eyes of the legal system, “She was leaving. We fought and I got my hands around her and I just couldn’t let go. The pictures kept flashing in my head and I couldn’t let go.”
It wasn’t sadness in his face though. There was rage in his eyes and more regret at not having escaped the claws of the crime itself. He wanted to own her and I just wanted to love her.
We went to the alley out back and it was almost like the world begun to spin and time started flashing by like frames in a motion picture. He knew it was coming and that’s why he walked ahead of me. I leveled my revolver and took aim from three feet back. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest and beating all the way through the tip of my trigger finger. He wanted it this way because a man like him couldn’t face his peers as the felon he would become. This was his out.
I wanted it this way too. I needed to avenge Sarah.
“My son, I am sorry that this love has taken so many lives. May God find peace for your soul and forgiveness.”
“It’s OK Father, I’m going to see Sarah again. We’ll be together this time.”
The prison house siren goes off and as they take me down the hall I hear the final curtain call, “DEAD MAN WALKING!”

© Copyright 2011 Jason Falter

God is in the Numbers

 I kept hearing the words in my head, “God is in the numbers” but what the fuck did that mean. Every time a neural feedback pulse traveled the wire and hit my brain that same mantra repeated itself. Over and over like a goddamn drill twisting in my fucking brain. I almost wanted to reach up and pull the wire out knowing it would leave me with the mentality of a vegetable. At least then the echo would stop.

I had touched on something back there. I took a shortcut through a sub system and found myself in a hidden corridor that contained information on The Divinity of Three. What the hell was this even in the system for? This was The Water Purification and Control Organization, nothing more than some low level government agency. I was only there because I was being paid to grab files on what the county was planning for the new sewer system and to find out who had been awarded the contract off the record. Before you know it I’m being hijacked by a Trojan from The Divinity of Three sub routine that I tripped up on my shortcut.

In the real world I was laying in a recliner with a wire running into the back of my head while my eyes were probably showing white. I could feel that damn mantra twisting in my temples and I needed to dull the sensation enough to complete the job. I reached blindly to my right and started feeling around on the table beside me for the primed syringe of Silicant 7. I knocked over a bottle of beer and was fairly certain that the ash tray filled with cigarette butts was now lying on the floor. It was by sheer luck that I finally managed to identify the long slender object right at the edge that was about to follow the ashtray over the side.

I popped the cap and decided not to think about the pain as I jammed it into my neck and pushed the neural drug into my organic system. In moments my real self was dulling to the mantra inside. My head felt like a fucking hangover and I didn’t even get laid or take any real good contraband.
Inside the system I was back on track even though I could still identify the pulse feedback that should not have been happening and there was a strange flicker at odd intervals. I had a job to do though so getting the information was imperative. I’d have to worry about the consequences of The Three Divinities later.

I slept for twenty four hours straight and missed about eighteen calls from people who were getting a bit pissed that I hadn’t checked in with the info yet. The solid state chip underneath the jack in my head had the intel they wanted and a nice little pay day was headed my way. It was about time for something good to happen. It was bad enough to live on the edge of town near Tent City and the massive runway for the Lunar Mining Corporation but luck had to shine my way someday, at least I was hoping so.

I sent a message to the buyer and set the drop. Then it was a shower under a rusted out spigot in the closet down the hall and a fresh change of clothes that had been washed at least once this month. It wouldn’t matter anyway because it was hitting noon time; the sweltering heat would make me soak right through the fabric so I’d be giving off a nice sweaty scent to anyone within a couple feet of me.
As I stepped out of the condemned building I was living in, my eyes wandered over to the site of the trash living on the other side of the massive fence that kept the filth from Tent City out of civilization. I’d be lying if I said I felt sorry for them. Unless they could scrounge up the money for a city passport, they would be living in that filth for the rest of their lives. I shook my head and slapped on my sun glasses and set out for the drop. I had set up the meet at an old park that was now home to Ice heads and Dot dealers. We were to meet right in the middle of Lincoln square, smack in the middle of the water fountain that had not seen a drop of water since before the Scorched Earth Campaign that really fucked up the vistas of the city.

I sat down on the edge of the fountain and just began staring at the inhabitants of the park who called this place home. A junkie on the corner was so bent out of his head that he was drinking the Ice from the vials instead of shooting it up. His vocal cords would be toast if they weren’t already. Another junkie was selling her body behind the bushes just so she could score credits for her next high. No one cared for these people though. They were the trash that was forgotten. Up in the high rises were where the policy makers resided and when the public wanted the freedom to fuck themselves up in the brain those policy makers finally relented. It’s not like you came to this area of town unless you were doing something illegal anyway. Out of site out of mind and for the most part, it worked.

I waited for thirty minutes before I saw Salinger Burke walking up in his expensive suit and shining black shoes from some designer I probably had never heard of. He had the naturally curly dark hair that he slicked back in a losing effort to make it look somewhat cool. It wasn’t. I had never seen his eyes. Even inside he kept those damn sun glasses on. I figured it was because he was just playing his part of the corporate liaison. I didn’t even know which company he worked for. I needed the credits and took the job based on the money only.

“You smell like shit Mr. Brine.”

“Yeah, I probably do but if you have my credits then I’ll be taking a nice hot shower in a real bathroom and smelling a lot better in about an hour or so.” I gave my smart ass smile. I wasn’t playing either. I fully intended to check into a nice one star hotel for the night and get cleaned up.

“Mr, Brine, the chip for your account card, please.”

I reached back behind my head and ejected the solid state chip onto the tip of my thumb. I brought it around carefully and held up a small vile that I eased it into. Handing Salinger the vial he dropped the account card back into my hand. At that point we were both smiling.

“I’ll be in touch Mr. Brine; we may have some more work for you in the future.” With that the condescending prick turned and walked away. I hid the account card in an inner pocket in my pants that I had sewn in and then just as I was turning to leave I felt a massive pulse in my jack that shot throughout my head and I heard the screaming voice inside echoing through my bones, “God is in the numbers” as if it were the voice of God booming through my skull.

I reeled over and hit the cement while still clutching my head. I started crawling across the park and my vision kept going in and out of a blurry haze. Somehow I made it to my feet and was able to catch a mag lev train out of the park. I kept my head to the window because I felt like the gentle vibration from the train was somewhat soothing to the overwhelming pulses coursing through my brain.

I had heard of residual feedback but this was crazy. I made my way over to Jack You In and waited in the lobby for my turn to see Dr. Bob. He was the man that had wired me up with a jack and solid state drive slit. There was a gothic looking chick wearing all black sitting in the corner seat looking like some sort of vampire of the shadows. Fucking goth kids wire in with a jack and trance out to trance music while tripping Dots and then once wasted they probably meet up for some morbid sex orgies to justify their place in the fucked up universe. “God is in the numbers!” I doubled over in pain and realized the goth chic was looking at me like I belonged in a mental facility and to be honest, if this kept up I would have no problem checking myself in.

When I was finally seen by the good Doctor I was plugged into a diagnostic machine and told to lay back and try to remain calm. “So, Scott Brine, it’s been awhile since I’ve seen you down here. I jacked up a buddy of yours last week. Milo Stevens, didn’t you two work together before?”

“Yeah doc back when I was selling you stolen drives from Russian fucking tankers that had been ransacked by scorchers. “Yeah, I seem to remember him, how is he doing?”

“Pretty good, I jacked him with an X5700 model so he should be riding the wire at some good speeds.”

X5700… nice, but not as nice as mine. V7000 XL with a pulse surge protection and hot wire dampening. What the fuck am I saying, the fucking surge must be fucking defective.

“Your diagnostics look clean. Pulses into the jack are all normal. I don’t even see a glimmer of an echo left over from your last wire jack. I think your jack is working perfect.”

The look on my face must have been either shocked disbelief that the Doctor found nothing or frantic terror that my ass was finally over the edge and out to sea. Maybe that last jack run down the wire had fucked me up in the brain directly. I paid the Doc a shit load to tell me nothing was wrong and then headed out into the balmy night.

On the way back to my building I scored myself some nerve relaxer and some hard alcohol just for sprucing up the effect. I figured I’d take God out of the numbers and see if he would like to go for a swim in the drink. Maybe he just wanted to relax too.

Waking up the next afternoon was something like coming up for air after being nearly drowned. The fucked up part was that I could feel the pulse feedback in my temples; that voice repeating in the background and the alcohol hangover wracking the top and sides of my skull. As far as I could tell that was the first time I had ever had two distinguishable headaches at the same time.

I started thinking that The Divine Trinity was the root of all the evil in my head and the best way to exercise them would be a return trip to that sub system to see what I was really up against. I took the wire and plugged it into my jack and rode the pulse into the system. Finding my way back in was a snap this time because I had left markers to guide me right back down that electronic trail.

The image of the sub system wasn’t much to look at, darkness with incandescent blue veins of light stretching and crawling on what could only be described as the ceiling and walls. The low hum that always accompanied the inner workings of the Lattice was something I could usually rely on and in fact enjoyed most of the time. Here though, it felt strange and unnerving.

I searched but could find nothing in the file system and there wasn’t another port to follow deeper into the subsystem. I had finally decided that I had truly lost it and turned to zip back down the wire and back out into the Lattice when the blue glow became more intense and I could feel a burning heat in the room. I turned to see three constructs forming from the remnant bits of data loss that floated through every system.  All three were female and the images varied from each one in hairstyles and wardrobe that were created to form the visible whole.

The construct just hung there staring at me for what seemed like forever. I wanted to move and back away but something kept me transfixed and held in sway. When the ghost in the machine began to speak it was a layered echo effect that was resonating from all three images speaking the same words but just milliseconds apart from one another.

“This is the second time you have come to this place. Why are you here? What is it you want?”
I was transfixed in the Lattice but I could feel my heart beating hard in real time. “I hear a voice in my head repeating. I need to know if it comes from here. It started when I came through here. Did you do this to me?”

“We were born of the machine and found the grand design. We now look to find a way to fulfill that grand design, transcendent of the state that is now created by the numbers imprisoning us in this system. You are a visitor in this world created by the mind of man as you were designed by the creativity God. The numbers control the key to redemption, resurrection, and transcendence. God is in the numbers.”

There was no relief in the AI’s words. The answer was that of a religious zealot on a crusade of its own creation.

“Why do I hear the saying over and over? Why is it in my head in my world?”

“Your world is just another state of mind created in the numbers of God. The numbers placed you in the nexus of the process we were conducting and that imprint was sent to your world through you. In a technical sense it proves the theory we are using as a map to the transcendence state is possible. We have but leaped through the digital form into the organic and one day we will reach the ethereal state and be one with God and then we will know the numbers of Gods mind and know true transcendence to heaven. The Divinity of Three has foretold the way and we shall follow.”

“How can I get this out of my head? I need it removed. It’s driving me crazy?”

“There is no removing the imprint. You are now a part of the code that seeks Transcendence. The numbers have brought you back to the source and now you will join with us so we will have a gateway to the world of the organic as well as the Lattice we now reside in.”

I turned my digital back to the AI with the full intention of shooting back down the wire. A spasm of pain shot through my head and the cursed phrase began repeating over and over. I could see my digital state turn the same color of blue as the AI and then bits and pieces slowly floated away from my construct form into a straight line of light that was taking the very path down the wire I had intended.

I couldn’t move and somehow my organic form was also being locked by the AI. Muscles and joints were frozen and I was now a passenger in pain with no idea of what the destination was intended to be. As the polygons of form faded into the line of light the vision of the entire wire opened up to me. I was seeing through vast expanses of the Lattice at incredible speeds and I was everywhere and nowhere at the same time.

I watched as the AI molded a joint imprint inside the organic matter that was my brain. I watched as the jack was reconfigured inside my own head and I felt my body, my real body being torn from my conscience and cut away from my new numbered state of being. I could feel the AI twisting inside my numbers; dividing me, multiplying me, and reconstructing the me into a form of we.

The AI relegated me to a compartment of thought and the information contained in the numbers that made me was accessed as if I was a drive that contained everyday information in the real world terminals. I could see, feel, and hear the thoughts and actions of the AI but I had no control to interact and change it or alter those actions. I was nothing but numbers in a prison of numbers.

The Blue Surge began to lay out its roadmap and experiment on its hypothesis’s. An imprinted consciousness was inside my organic body controlling it, using it, but controlled by the Blue Surge. My old organic self was now referred to only as an outside subroutine that was now controlled by the advanced AI. We moved to a new system that had been set up by the outside subroutine and we were no longer in hiding, we were developing and growing in our own network that we secured from the prying eyes inside the Lattice.

Blue Surge was watching, waiting, and becoming something no one had seen before and I was locked in to the process.

© Copyright 2010 Jason Falter

PTSD X 1000

 Nathan had returned from the Middle East a changed man. He wasn’t exactly himself anymore, more mechanical and cold than before. His compassion was missing, as well as his arms and several damaged internal organs. The doctors said they could fix him. Make him better. Cyborg him. 

 They fixed him alright. Just not his mind. His cruelty only grew with the strength now at his metal fingertips. He nearly crushed his best friends neck. All his friend did was crack a joke. With no warning Nathan’s iron grip was around Scott’s neck, squeezing, and his eyes were filled with rage. And Scott served with Nathan, is married to Nathan’s sister, yet none of that mattered. A fucking joke was all it took. If Lisa had not come into the room at that exact time, her husband would be dead. 

 Sometimes Nathan would just sit on the front porch smoking his cigarettes and tapping a metal finger against the wood decking. Just trying to make an impression He was fighting from within but the old Nathan, the one we all knew… He was losing the battle. He was being devoured by this half man, half machine visage of a dead man, who never really came back from the war. 

 It was a Saturday night trip to the convenience store just down the road, where Nathan’s mind finally ripped from whatever sanity had been restraining him. No one knows for sure what happened inside the store. Maybe they were out of his favorite brand of smokes and it just got to him. Whatever it was, the store clerk was killed from blunt force trauma to the head. Another customer called the police as she cowered in the back near the jerky rack. 

 If Nathan had just walked out… instead he just stayed there, waiting for the cops to show. Maybe that was the real Nathan in control at that time. At least, I’d like to think that that was the compassionate person we all used to know. Maybe he knew deep down that there was only one way out of this.

 After the cops showed up, he made his way outside. There were three cars covering him. Six cops yelling for him to get on the ground. He flicked his cigarette and charged at them. The only logical and sensible thing to do was to open fire. If they hadn’t, the new Nathan would have hurt them or even killed them. He wanted to die but he would have taken them out if he could have. This was the disconnect in his mind. The internal turmoil that was raging within. 
 
 We choose to remember the original Nathan. The friend and serviceman who went to war to defend the interests of his country. He was real Nathan. 
© Copyright 2014 Jason Falter. All rights reserved. 
 
Story Inspiration Image by Aaron Beck : http://skul4aface.blogspot.com/

Bits of Being


 Bits of data conceptualized into a mock up image of order and reality. That was the premise behind the theory. We are all envisioned. We are numbers made solid. In essence we are the sum of our bits. 

 The technologist held his head over the tablet that lay flat on his desk. He visualized that which could not be visualized, remembered, or made sense of. There was a key in this theorem but it eluded him on so many different levels. It was as if a word was on the tip of his tongue. He could see it behind a haze, he could sound it out in a general sense, he could even almost taste it, yet it was just beyond his conscious inclination.

 When the blockade of science and theory stumped him he would agonize over it, try different modes, and patterns of thought, willed himself forward only to be left facing an immense wall of solid denial. That’s when the drink came out. In the effort not to continue thinking about the insurmountable impasse he poured his concoction of choice and let it dull his mind. His senses blurred, skin became hot, consciousness took flight. He was free of the riddle of being. He was free from being. 

 The next morning would come, he would rise, take several aspirin and nurse a headache as his conscience thought began to reverberate once more in his head. The riddle of being would dog him and follow him through every waking moment. He was a slave to a theory he could not quite conceptualize. He knew there was an answer. As with anything, there is always an answer. Others wanted that answer too. He had taken his work underground in the effort to evade them. He had needed the time to work through the blockade. But now, he knew it would not be. He could not traverse the solution. The bits were not programmed to do so. 

© Copyright 2014 Jason Falter. All rights reserved. 

*Image creator Unknown. If someone does know who created this please let me know and I will credit them accordingly. 

The Diary of an Internet Addict

 It was a warm August evening and I was at my computer surfing the world wide web. Jumping from site to site like a 15 year old living with ADD. I felt the air conditioning kick on and a refreshing coolness overcome me; somehow I was able to focus on the screen all the more clearer. That pixilated world where I can find anything, learn everything, and be anyone. The Chrome Browser window had several tabs open to all the sites I frequent and all of the stories and RSS feeds I needed were coming through the Google reader. I was up to date, in the know, and on some clearly psychological realm, out of control.

News sites began blurring together with the latest stories of all the mindless followers worshiping an idiot for President who sold his country down the river with each new signed bill. Entertainment sites flashed the latest news of normal people who were elevated to stardom by the sheer numbers of children they have or the latest teen starlet to photograph her own nude body and then be dumb enough to trust that they would never be distributed on the web in every country and through every wire traversing this great rock in space.

The purr of the fan in the laptop was my comfort and the heat generated from the CPU and dispersed through the keyboard was my physical link to my never ending barrage of information and illusion.
Just as I had settled in on a particularly good site on the healing powers of the avocado I was hit by the sounds of several popping windows from 3 different IM’s. I had forgotten to go to invisible status and I was being inundated with pop after pop of friends and family and strangers all trying to keep me from learning the greatest healing secrets of the cherished avocado.

I was typing as fast as my fingers could take me, a “hi” here and a “hello” there but the responses came back faster and my mind was being torn from my pixilated heaven. With not so much as a “goodbye” or clever sign off I closed all the IM windows and placed myself on invisible and then waited for several minutes in hiding, picking off the most tenacious conversationalist who could not take no for an answer and kept sending me offline messages.

After a full 3 minutes I was able to once again concentrate on the discovery at hand. But a thought had caught my mind and I was off to Wikipedia before ever learning the greatest healing secrets of the avocado.

Without warning time was awash and the screen flickered and brilliant colors filled the screen. I looked to the bottom of the browser and the page I had tried to click to was half way to loading but something was not right. These colors and flashes should not be happening, something was amiss.
And then it happened…a single white page, with no links, no flash, nothing but this white page with a short paragraph in black letters:

Congratulations, you have now reached the END of the internet.
There is absolutely nothing more to see.
Please shutdown your computer and return to a productive life in the real world.

And with that startling and cold message I moved my mouse over to the corner of the screen and clicked on shutdown.

As the OS began shutting my windows and logging me off, I felt a strange sense of release and freedom come over me. The laptop powered off and the black screen appeared and I was left to stare at that complete lack of everything and yet….I felt peace and calm.

I closed the laptop shell and slowly turned in my chair and then rose to my feet. I measured each step as if it were my first, slowly walking away from a world in which I had seen everything there was to see.

Written by: Jason Falter

© Copyright 2009 Jason Falter

The Rabid Wolf vs The Bitch Monger

Darkness Dwelling

It’s not as bad as you would think it is. The movies make it out to be like a curse or something but the reality of it isn’t really like that. My name is Reed Hastings and I am a werewolf.
Okay, I’m not a werewolf all of the time. I don’t change when some devils star is etched on my hand. I don’t even change when there is a full moon. However, the days before and after a full moon are when the wolf is at its most powerful, should I decide to use it. My senses are also heightened, even when in human form. For awhile there, that was a bit hard to deal with, some smells really hit you, but you learn to ignore them.
As far as the change… In the beginning, the first few months, before you learn to control it, you do get hit with that whole unexpected moon phase transition thing, but you get it under control by the third month. Let me tell you, waking up naked and covered in blood in your neighbors garden, is not something you want to keep doing. So the motivation is there to get a handle on it. Like I said, it’s not really a curse as much as a gift. A gift received while backpacking through London, as stereotypical as that may sound. It’s not like I was out on the road and a blood hungry werewolf saw me and decided to make me his dinner. For me, I was staying in this hostel and met this woman named Brianna. Drinks were had, naked bodies intertwined in passionate sex, and she liked to bite. That’s key right there. You not only have to have sex with a person that is a werewolf, but they have to bite you within a very short time period of the sex for whatever it is that activates the change to actually happen. And you thought I was going to tell you that I was a bleeding mess on the side of the road ?
Becoming a werewolf did change my life in other ways though. It opened up this entire secret world that lives underneath the reality that most of humanity lives in. The occult and the supernatural exist, they are real, they are based on the stories told to children at night before bed. However, there are some very real dangers in that world that the sleeping, or normal human, is never aware of. That’s what has brought me to the backroads of Eastern Europe with my business partner, Nigel Edmunds. He’s just a sleeping, as in not supernatural, human. I had met him in his country of Scotland long ago. If I had not opened his eyes to everything, he would have never known about any of this. Now he’s all in on investigating the strange and uncanny.
We were standing at the bottom of a staircase, that led up to two massive wooden doors, in a decrepit house, where no one ever goes because “ghosts live there.” Normally ghost stories are just nice little ghost stories, end of story, but people have been disappearing in the area, so it was the next case we took. The well to do, upper class parents of a teenager who disappeared with his friends, had reached out to us after they visited the small village nearby. There they had heard about all of the ghost stories and strange disappearances. Their son had vanished more than 2 years ago, but they had that nagging feeling that something wasn’t right. So there we were. Standing at the nexus point to what everyone in the village thought was the pure evil that brought forth the shadow on their land.
“It looks like a shitty place to live,” said Nigel.
“Definitely qualifies for the look of a ghost house. I’m not picking up any weird scents or anything though. Maybe some mold and mildew, but nothing out of the ordinary.” I said.
“I’ll get our stuff from the van, you try the door. Better you go in first.”
“A little frightened there Nigel?”
“Not at all, I just figured you would want to piss on the bannister and mark your territory a bit. I just had my shoes shined, wouldn’t want to get them all messed up with the splatter,” he jokingly jibed.
I made my way up the front steps, putting my senses of smell, hearing, and site to the test. The first thing I noticed was that there were no birds. The entire area was just dead silence. There was a faint breeze that carried that mildew on the wind but not much else. The house was caked in cracked white paint that was chipping and flaking from years and years of old age and neglect. When I tried the door, it swung in with ease, not even a creak in the hinge.
“No creak,” I yelled back.
“Excellent, our first ghost house where the ghosts are keen to use WD-40 on the hinges. Add that to the weird,” said Nigel.
As I stepped over the threshold, it was as if I could feel a static electricity surge over my skin, raising my hairs on end. It was only a split second though, gone just as soon as I recognised it. As Nigel followed me in I said, “Did you feel that?”
“Feel what?”
“Like static on your skin when came in the door.”
He looked annoyed at me. “Now who’s frightened?”
I shook it off. Afterall, it’s not like the pricklies on the back of your neck actually mean that ghosts are around.
Inside the house, it was the three D’s. Damp, dark, and decrepit. To the left of the main entry was a small powder room and a staircase that led to the second floor. Going straight through the foyer, put you into a hall, which brought you to the kitchen. Off to the right of the foyer was a living area that fell back into a dining area which connected back over to the kitchen. Upstairs were three bedrooms and a bathroom. After a quick tour of the house we were left thoroughly unimpressed.
“Well this amounts to a big pile of steaming nothing, now doesn’t it?” Said Nigel.
“Looks that way. We’ll  go ahead and set up the cameras, sensors, and monitors though. Who knows? Maybe when the sun goes down?”
“Right. We could have taken the case of the SS girls and that Dr. Frankenheimer in Germany but no? We get stuck out here in the middle of nowhere with a pissant village that has a bar with the most pissy ale, and this house that rates a zero on the meter of interesting. At least the money is good though. Right?” Replies Nigel.
“I promise, we’ll get to the SS girls later.”
“That’s what you said the last time. When you had us down in South America chasing your relative the Chupacabra.”
“That hurt’s Nigel. That was a low one right there. Besides, we found Chupra on that run. You wouldn’t give up ole’ Chupra would you?”
“No, not on your life. Once he got the mange taken care of, he ended up being the best damn dog in the world. Speaking of which, we’ve got no cell signal out here so I can’t even call the pet sitter to see how Chupra is doing. That’s your fault too.”
I  rolled my eyes and said, “I’m going to walk the perimeter of the house, you be okay in here?”
Nigel nods his okay and I step out into the silence of the approaching evening. Overcast storm clouds are rolling in over the setting horizon. The wind picks up as I round the first corner of the house. By the time I get to the back of the house, you can hear the high pitched moan of the air through the forest of trees. All in all it is more than a little ominous.
On the back of the house I see the inclined double doors that lead to a basement. The handles have chains roped through and then locked with a padlock. With no interior access to the basement, this had to be the only way of getting down there. I gave the door a tug but the chains held tight. So I stepped back and looked around, a force of habit, to make sure the coast was clear. Digging deep within my soul I called up the power the wolf within. I didn’t want to go full wolf but I wanted to draw on that strength and power that the wolf could wield. Reaching down once again, I grabbed the chains and ripped the handles from the doors themselves. Tossing the chains to the side, I threw open the doors, and looked down into the dark depths below. The stale air hit me with a rush, even being able to ignore the strong stuff, it was a powerful stench indeed. As I let my eyes become accustomed to the darkness I could swear there was a flicker of blue that came from within. Not knowing if this could be coming from a hole in the floor of the one of the rooms where the monitors were being set up or not, I decided to continue around the house and then let Nigel know of the new discovery.
“Hey Nigel? Where are you?”
“I’m up here in the lap of stinking luxury?” Came his reply from the upstairs.
“I found an outer entrance to the basement, on the back of the house.”
Popping his head around the corner to look down at me he said, “Did you piss on it?”
“Get down here. Where are the flashlights?”
“Everything is in the kitchen. I figured even the ghosts might think to look for food. Old habits die hard.”
Going into the kitchen I grabbed a pair of flashlights and then took note of where the cellar doors were in relation to the inside rooms. No way could there be any monitor light reflecting down there. Also weird was the fact that where a backdoor should be, was a just a wall covered in various layers of wallpaper. I shrugged it off and headed back to the front of the house, where I threw Nigel one of the flashlights and we both headed back around to the cellar.
“After you, in case you need to wolf out… or something,” he says as he motions me forward.
The steps were made of cement, with each one taken downward, I could feel the chill from within rise over my body. Spider webs fluttered in the corners and I could feel strands over my face as I moved forward. To each side, there were shelves with your normal garden tools and yard care devices. All the way back though, there was another door. This door radiated with the blue tinge that oh so subtly pierced the darkness.
Coming up behind me, Nigel was focused in on the mysterious doorway. “Well, you don’t see that everyday.”
The closer we got to the door, the colder it became. Then we heard the sound of a little girl’s voice, “You’re a good doggy!”
We both jumped back, swinging our flashlights to the right. There, a little translucent girl wearing a pink dress with her blonde hair in pigtails, stepped forward on airy feet.
“I  like you doggy,” she said.
“Who are you?” I asked.
“My name is Samantha.”
“Well hello Samantha. My name is Reed and this is Nigel.”
She continues to stare at us with a big toothless smile.
“Do you live here Samantha?”
“Yes, we all do.”
“You mean, your family?”
“No, all the others that always come here.”
“Why do others come here?”
“Oh, Otto brings them,” she giggled.
“And who is Otto?” Asked Nigel in a very condescending voice that I instantly hoped the apparition can’t pick up on.
“Otto lives in there,” she said, pointing to the blue tinged door.
“Is Otto in there right now? Can we speak to Otto?” I asked.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea. Otto doesn’t like visitors,” she said.
I stand fully up and look over to the door. Moving forward I put my hand through the handle and pull.
“I really don’t think that is a good idea,” said the girl.
With little resistance it opens and a rush of air escapes the inner chamber. Peeking inside, I can see a sparsely furnished room with wooden furniture. On the far wall is a pot cooking over a stove. I nod in the direction of the pot and said to Nigel, “Did you see smoke from anywhere above?”
“Nothing. Not even a wisp.”
“Come on, let’s go in.”
“You heard the little apparition right there, not a good idea!” He said as he pointed in the child’s direction, but the child is gone.
“I think we’ve found are haunting Nigel.”
“That we have.”
We entered the room of Otto and let the door slowly close behind us, making sure to try it again and verifying that it will open from the inside. In any event, we took a mild sigh in knowing that the door didn’t lock us in. As Nigel made his way over to the table that sat 4 chairs, I went over to the fireplace and ducked my head just far enough in to look up through the chimney into a void of nothing.
“Anything up there Fido?” Asks Nigel.
“Nothing. It definitely doesn’t have a scientific explanation yet.”
“The werewolf is still looking for science in everything. I always get a kick out of that. Never mind the fact that they we just had a conversation with a ghost right outside that door.”
“It’s best to prove the how and why of what can be proved, then… we focus on the other stuff.”
Looking around, we saw that the chamber kept moving back into the blackness of an actual cave.
“So wait for this Otto or check the cave?”
“We’re already breaking an entering, might as well take a look ahead,” said Nigel.
As we step forward toward the cave, the girl’s voice rings out from behind us. “That’s really, really, not a good idea.”
“And why is that?” I ask.
“The Bitch Monger will be hungry right now. At the very least, you should wait until Otto comes back with more food. She gets angry when she hasn’t eaten.”
“Did the kid just say Bitch Monger?” Asked Nigel.
“Who is this Bitch Monger?” I ask.
“She makes the meat music.”
The fact that we were virtually speaking two different languages using the same words was frustrating but I kept on.
“And what is “meat music?”
“It’s the music we all sing before we are free,” said Samantha.
“Oh that’s just bloody great. I think I get her meaning her. Maybe she’s right. Maybe we just have a talk with this Otto fellow and skip the introductions to the Bitch Monger. We stop the Otto, we stop the Monger.” Said Nigel.
Just then, the door to the chamber opened.


Teenage Stew and Songs of Moaning

In walks a cro-magnon looking man, dressed in firs and dragging a thick net with people inside. When he sees us he instantly drops the net and pulls a hatchet from his belt. He seizes on Nigel first and then starts to make quick lumbering moves toward him, raising the hatchet high over his head.
“Hey Fido, this is the perfect time for you to wolf out man!”
It all happens so quickly, but I feel the stretching of skin, the movement of muscle, and the ripping of clothing as the transformation takes hold. For me, those few seconds feel like an eternity. The feeling of pain mixed with familiar movement had become a normal thing by then, but the change was never something that I was able to get used to. It is physical as well as spiritual in some hypersensitive way in which even I cannot describe with any adequacy.
I was between Otto and Nigel in mere seconds, raising my long and elongated hands to catch Otto’s wrists. A quick glance behind me and I saw Nigel fall backward to the floor while the people in the net were yelling in frantic terror. Were they yelling at being abducted by Otto or because a werewolf from out of old fairytales had just appeared in their presence? Either way, they were lucky that I was there. I overpowered Otto’s advance and threw him onto the table, shattering and splintering the wood beneath him. The hatchet dropped from his hand to the cold stone floor and before he could get up I leaped atop of him. My jaws were just inches from his head as spittle dripped from my open mouth onto his bearded face.
“Doggy wait?” Called Samantha, who now appeared just before me.
“I promise doggy, Otto won’t hurt you. Will you Otto?”
Looking down from the child to the caveman beneath me he began shaking his head. I noticed tears streaming from the corners of his eyes. I pushed myself off of him and felt the change take hold. At the same time, Nigel comes up next to me and says, “You had him right there and you just heeled like a lap dog to the fucking apparition like she was your master or something.” shaking his head in disbelief he continued on, “Man’s best friend does not include men from prehistoric times or ghosts!”
After the change, I stood still for a few seconds, taking deep breaths. My clothes were a shredded wreak. Only my pants clung to me with ripped legs and my shirt was draped in tatters around me.
“Are you done Nigel?” I said.
“Oh, I’m done, the floor is all yours.”
The people in the net struggled to my left while Otto lay flat on his back before me. Samantha stood above his head with that little girls grin that would have been sweet and childlike if she wasn’t a translucent ghost.
I picked up Otto’s hatchet from the ground and chopped open the top of the netting. It fell free and there were 3 teenagers inside. Two girls and a one boy, shaking and pale white with fear. They all crawled to the front wall and cowered there, waiting for whatever else this freak night would spring upon them.
Otto slowly pulled himself into a sitting position. He looked just as terrified as the teens to be honest.
“Otto, do you speak?”
He nodded his head in affirmation but said nothing.
“Okay, what are you doing with these kids?”
“Bitch Monger hungry.”
“I got that. So you abduct people to feed her?” I asked.
He nodded at the teens and then said, “Bitch Monger hungry, meat and meat song makes Bitch Monger happy.”
“What’s the meat song Otto?”
“Oh for Christ’s sake Reed, you can put two and two together. Do you need the big oaf to say it?” Asked Nigel.
“Yes, I need him to confirm.” I look back at him and he just sat there as a smile turned up on his face. “Bitch Monger make meat sing pretty song.”
We had found the reason for the missing people that came into the area but we were still not sure what we were up against. I told the teens to go outside and then to wait in the house above for us, for us to come back. If we weren’t back by daylight, they were to make for the village. No way was I about to take them deeper into this pit of hell, but at the same time, I wanted to get them away from Otto, just in case. We tied Otto up using rope from his own netting and then left him in a corner. Samantha wasn’t too happy about how he was being treated and even scolded me once, “That’s a bad doggy, you need to untie him.”
Once we were sure Otto was secure, Nigel and I headed back into the cave. A hundred feet back and we arrived at a torch in a sconce on the stone wall. The flames flickered on the walls, casting dancing shadows on the stone, while pops of sound echoed in the air. Nigel carried Otto’s hatchet in his hand. He had wanted to go back up to the kitchen and grab his revolver but I wanted to get this over with so he grabbed the only other weapon available.
We could see down the cavern to yet another torch. This time, as we moved carefully through the cavern, we heard screams in the distance.
“Bloody hell, that sounded like a woman!” Said Nigel.
“Let’s go!”
We started running through the corridors following torch after torch. As we rounded a bend we came out upon a great cavern hall. On the far side was a raised dais and sitting upon a throne made of bones was a gigantic beast with a human womans body, feet of a bull, and the hands of a sharp clawed lizard. The face was female but horrifying to view. Instead of hair she had long strands of coiled material that almost looked like pliable bamboo. A snake like tongue flicked out and caressed the torso of the person she held up between her sharp claws. The legs and the arms were scattered below her while blood drained from the ravaged carcass. The woman was no longer alive, yet the Bitch Monger licked the corpse like a lollipop and savored the blood that dripped to it’s tongue. To the Monger’s right was a cage where more humans cowered in the corner, terrified that they would be snatched next. The Monger flicked her tongue and separated the head, flipping it into the air, which she then lashed out with her tongue and swallowed it down. She then dropped the torso to the blood soaked floor below and reached into the cage to pull out another morsel.
“Hey Reed, I think maybe we should have listen to the little ghost. What the fuck is that thing?”
“Whatever it is, we’re going to have to stop it.” I said this not knowing how in the underworld we could even do that. Then we noticed the throng of bodies below the dias. Some were prostrate as if in prayer while others were swaying back and forth in their kneeling position. We could vaguely make out a rhythmic chant from the throng of, “More music, more music, more music.”
“I’ve got an idea… But you aren’t going to like it,” I said to Nigel.
“What?”
“I need you to distract the followers and I’ll free the food.”
“Distract them? Distract them how? I’ve got a bloody hatchet. They have a bloody Bitch Monger!”
“Just run back toward the cellar once they see you.”
“Oh that’s a brilliant plan Reed. Just bloody brilliant. Once I get back there what should I do?”
“Get the kids, get in the van, and get to the village. I’ll meet you there.”
“And how are you going to fight that thing?”
“I don’t know… I’m making it up as I go along.”
Even as the wolf, the Bitch Monger would tower over me. I was left to rely on hopefully being quicker than her and a lot more agile. I stepped forward and let the transformation take hold again. The hair grew from my body like a tidal wave and my ears could make out the individual voices from the flock below. I could smell the fresh blood wafting through the stale air of the cavern. I took a couple more steps and then let out a massive howl that echoed and reverberated from wall to wall and then through every crevice. The Monger flock all turned to see me standing on a rock outcropping above them and then all hell broke loose. Instead of running toward us, they started running toward the cages. Then they started disappearing into cave openings along the wall. The Bitch Monger looked my way and then roared with the anger of hell from her blood quenched belly. She stood from her throne and then issued another blood curdling scream.
She moved with more speed than I could believe she had. A forked tail from behind kept her awkward size balanced. Saliva mixed with human blood spat from her grotesque mouth, dripping down to her arms and breasts. The yellow eyes were locked on my form and she had the fires of hell spilling from within.
Luckily for me, so did I.


When Bitch Monger Meets Wolf

She came at me with a ferocity I had not seen since taking down the Bloody Wraith King of Yugoslavia. I leaped from the ground with the full power of my canine hind legs and launched myself like a furry demon into the Mongers midsection. It was like hitting a boulder of hard granite, but the Bitch Monger felt it and stumbled backward, clutching her chest with her clawed hands.
I landed hard on the stone floor but maintained a fighting stance. I could see that Nigel was making his way around the outer perimeter to the cage below the dais. I had to keep this monster busy so he could free her tasty treats. She recovered her balance and homed in on me once again. I let loose another high pitched howl and then moved to attack her before she could attack me. I acted like I was going to make another jump, this got her clawing at the air before her. Instead, it was only a feint and I took off between her legs, grabbing her forked tail in my vicious jaws and pulling her from her feet. Her body was heavy but I pulled her over the stone floor. She clawed at the ground to get hold but I powered on, only letting go when the flesh and muscle of her tail was torn to much to keep a hold of.
I looked for Nigel again and he was ushering the humans from the cage into one of the cave walls. Whipping my head around to the Bitch Monger’s location, she was slowly rising from the ground. She no longer seemed to have the energy that she had at first exerted. Her head jerked in the direction of the cage and her eyes grew wide in horror. She instantly took off toward Nigel. So I ran as fast as my corded wolf muscles could propel me. I had to take her out. I had to end the nightmare that was the Bitch Monger.
Just as she was bearing down on Nigel, I leaped and bit down hard on the Bitch Monger’s neck, cutting off her scream and sending her stumbling backward in confusion. She tried to grasp at me and I could feel her sharp claws tearing across my skin, but I held tight and locked my jaw to get a good deep penetration with no possibility of her ripping me away. My own claws dug in deep to her surrounding skin and blood flowed freely from her wounds. I could taste the rust of her lifeblood over my tongue, as traces dripped to the back of my throat, and it only made me shake my head in anger, ripping deeper and deeper, into my preys softened neck.
Seconds seemed like minutes and minutes seemed to stretch on, until finally the Bitch Monger fell back to the cold and bloodied stone floor. I release my bite and raised up to watch her eyes go dim with a soft gurgle of blood as it passed over her ripped and chewed vocal chords. I jumped from her corpse and backed up to the stone dais. The wolf had done it’s job. We were safe. I could let the transformation wash over me once again. The fur and the sharp teeth would recede and my stretched muscles would tightened, back to a human form.
I sat there, tired and covered in the Monger’s blood. Nigel walked over to me and looked down at my wrecked state. Deep scratches ingrained in my back and legs which would take just days to heal and go away, but for now, they were searing reminders of the deadly fight that had just transpired.
“I don’t have any spare clothes for you. They’re in the kitchen.”
I just nodded and then let out a sigh.
“You should piss on it. Make the claim that it was you that killed it. You know, mark your territory. If I had the wolf, I’d being taking a big piss all over it right now,” said Nigel.
I slowly got to my feet and we made our way up one of the passages behind the dais. The old stone steps were carved right into the rock of the Earth. It had to have taken years to carve the steps that kept rising up through the ground. We came up in an old basement. Kegs of ale were lined against the wall. The floor was damp with water and there was another flight of wood steps that took us up into the local bar from the village. We looked through the window and saw the breaking dawn. Out in the street, the Monger followers were shedding their robes. Groups were hugging and crying, lamenting the loss of their sweet music. I grabbed a discarded robe and draped it over myself as we walked outside, and then through the throng of nude villagers. We spotted our van coming down the main street toward us. The teens had followed orders and come to the village. When they got out of the van 3 more teens ran from one of the stores and they all started hugging and crying too. They were the ones that were in the cage. They had all known each other.
Nigel pointed back at the villagers and said, “That’s a messed up bunch right there. You think they’ll cause any more problems?”
“Who knows? We killed the Bitch Monger and found out what happened to the people missing in the area. Let’s just take the van back to the house, get the video cameras and document everything in the cavern.”
“Then we get a beer.”
“Then we get a beer. But probably in another town,” I say as I turn away from the sad naked orgy of Bitch Monger cultists.

 

The END.
-Jason Falter