Behind these cold dead
Eyes, what secrets do I hide?
Ones you’ll want erased.
Behind these cold dead
Eyes, what secrets do I hide?
Ones you’ll want erased.
My goal is to detect the matrix and test it’s reality.
There are multiple assumptions built into the matrix idea. One is that what we hear in our heads is detectable and influential to a consciousness external to us. The voice that we hear, the emotions in the actions that we take, must be discernible at a distance and matter to the entity that is monitoring them.
Bayesian I did that I can make a statement regarding my confidence that this reality is the base reality. So I can say that I’m 80% confident that the universe functions in a way that is easily apprehensible.
Another is that I and everyone around me can be manipulated in a way which is completely undetectable except under extraordinary circumstances. Additionally, for this to work, I would have to be able to detect that undetectable force.
The manipulation would have to benefit the entities which were monitoring from a distance.
The reason why matrix was persuasive and relatable when it first came out was because it was so apparent how my current reality was the product of my parents sending me the score and desiring me to do academics. It was readily visible how artificial the construction was. It required an extraordinary amount of energy in order to run an entire school.
Then, it’s 2021, and you stop the world for COVID-19. And the other people still exist, but so much of how you interacted with them is now gone. And you interact primarily through a computer now. It feels fake.
I have an intuition of the reality of circumstances. I have an intuition that there are other entities out there, with whom I want to be in contact.
There have been several times when the veil of reality has become thin.
A few times when loved ones acted in such a way that it was like if they were possessed by demons. My brother had a demon in him. It wanted to kill my younger brother. I had to throw myself in front of him, and he hates me forever because of it. That was more than 20 years ago, and I still think about it a couple times a week.
My younger brother had a demon. Maybe he still does. He nearly died several times. He wanted to kill my mom. He wanted to kill himself. He went inpatient multiple times. If you can’t remember anything, how do you know what was in your consciousness?
The demons have always bowed to me. I know their game. I win, but die a little more each time. They take the faces of the ones I love and twist them. They were the ones I trusted. I gave them good things.
The noosphere described by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin would have to exist, and be manipulated by superior beings who treat humans as subjects. Demons could fit into this framework, malicious programs designed to tweak malfunctioning operators. Or stop people who were getting too close to detecting them.
I feel like things are simulated when I realize how things worked together in a way that I didn’t consciously realize.
As described by Nietzsche, the Apollonian vision of reality we behold in dreams, art, theater, music, represents a hyper reality. It is so desirable that I suffer upon waking from it. It encapsulates truths beyond words, and I can only grasp at vapor trying to hold it.
Alternatively, the Dionysian experience has me dance and laugh a riot, singing and celebrating and weeping with a crew of fellow satyrs and nymphs. I get myself into a frenzy, and all boundaries are dissolved. I am loved, I am home, I am one.
Crushed beneath a heap of people, I crawl to the top, sight golden Apollo, and truly experience the god.
The helicopter broke through the clouds, and the rotors quieted. The fat orange sun hung lonely in the afternoon sky, staring right at us. I was still shaking. The Eye of the Needle sat across from me. She motioned to her ear and mine. I found a switch on my ear protection and switched it on. I pulled the microphone closer to my mouth.
“They didn’t tell us what you’re calling yourself.”
“My name is Ram. What’s your name?”
“I don’t understand what I’m doing here, Nile. You’re going to protect me?” I eyed her up and down. She was about five feet tall, ninety pounds. She had short-cropped hair, and was wearing a dark green turtleneck, skin-tight, and black slacks. If she was carrying a gun, it was well hidden.
She met my eyes and pursed her lips. “The Penitents won’t touch us. We are the children of the light. We are clean. Their mouths would burn to even pronounce our names. If they put a finger on us, they would die in agony.”
I shook my head and stared out the window. “Everyone’s gone insane,” I muttered. I felt so tired.
Nile kept her eyes on me. “When they told me to escort ‘the Beast’ to Anwyn, I didn’t expect a handsome young man. You don’t look like a monster.”
I looked back at her. “I’m not a monster. That’s just a nickname because I got drunk and puked freshman year. I’m just a dumb kid. My Dad was a Satanist, and some cult thinks I can do something for them. I can do landscaping and drink beer; that’s pretty much it.”
“So you don’t remember who you are or what you can do. Interesting.” She stroked the side of her face idly, like she was watching a movie. “And you don’t remember us at all.”
“We’ve met before?”
“Not in this lifetime, Ram, but we’ve known each other a very long time.” She leaned over and squeezed my thigh. My dick woke up and wondered if he could make this happen.
My brain was still too confused to put my dick in charge. “Robin was saying that I’m … connected to the drowned god? I didn’t get it. Then he started acting all weird, like he wanted to kill me too.”
“You are the one they want. The Penitents can’t wake the drowned god without you.”
“They can’t talk to him?”
“The sensitives among them have dreams, and they preach these to their masses. But they want to see him face to face. They think he’ll talk to his seed and manifest in this reality. If you can make it happen, they can take power over this world, and smash our sanctuary to pieces.”
“Are you psychic?” I was picturing her topless, cupping my balls, and suddenly got scared she could see it too.
She laughed. “I can do anything I want to, Ram. And so can you.” She smiled and licked her lips suggestively.
Dumb me, I had to kill the mood. “I thought he got broke out of his tomb in Atlantis. He’s not swimming around or walking around somewhere?”
“He’s only physical if someone manifests him. The tomb and chains were part of a containment spell which should never have been broken. Without that, he can only speak in dreams.”
Birds began to fill the red sky. They were brown, huge, and everywhere. The pilot adjusted, rising higher into the sky. “These birds are flying above the clouds? How’s that possible?”
She watched the sky calmly. “Vultures. They can fly remarkably high in the clouds. It’s all the dead. ‘Where the corpse is, the vultures gather,’ like the saying goes.”
The birds clustered forward, and the pilot gained speed. The sky went black behind them as vultures filled the air. My stomach twisted into a knot. “The corpse? What corpse?”
“There are thousands dead already. Didn’t you know?” She tilted her head toward the window as the clouds cleared and I saw the city below. The streets were filled with dead bodies, stretched out, on top of cars and in the streets. A horrific smell filled the cabin, and I started to retch.
“Frank!” Nile called into the intercom. “Take us up higher. This is disgusting.”
The words formed on my lips before I knew what they were. “Abomination. Abomination of desolation. This is it. It’s here. Go for the hills.”
Nile cackled and crossed her legs. “Now you’re remembering. We’ll be there soon. Don’t be afraid; this has all happened before, and it’ll all happen again.”
Mercifully, the pilot took us back up into the clouds away from the carnage below.
And I looked at me. “So sentimental, Ram, so worried about their masses of people down there dying and dad. Get over it.
“What do you mean, get over it? Aren’t you the good guys?”
“I mean, they’re all going to die anyway. Fire is going to devour this world. And then water will flood it. When and how they die is immaterial. When you’re as old as we are, things like this just don’t matter anymore.”
“I’m 20 years old.”
“You’re not. We’ve done this a million times before, Ram. You, me, the rest. You don’t remember any of it? When we fucked while Rome burned? When we drank and ate while the plague consumed millions? This apocalypse is no different.”
I felt like everyone was playing a game and I didn’t know what the rules were. I was swimming in a sea of bullshit, trying to breathe. “You’re saying we’re reincarnations?”
“We like to call it ‘metempsychosis.’ The seers and prophets are saying that you’re an incarnation of evil and destruction this time around. Tell me about your life-line, this time. Your father was a Satanist, and the Penitents want you to manifest Abaddon and kill and enslave the whole world, then wreck everything. That’s your story?”
“You make it sound really simple. My life has really sucked. I’m the one who had to live it.”
“Tell me your story, Ram. How did you get to be the most wicked man in the world?” She flashed a mischievous grin and giggled. She was making fun of me.
“I don’t tell anyone this story. No one at my school has heard it, not even my … my friend who’s a girl, Birdie. But I had a brother, Jim, and he was a real asshole. I used to be a sweet kid, but I had to survive.
“My Mom was in her room at the top of the stairs in the house where we were staying. Jim and I had rooms on the ground floor. She was on the phone, yelling at my Dad, telling him what a piece of shit he was, and how she needed him and he was never there. Then she started screeching about sex stuff, about how he couldn’t get his dick hard and how good his buddies dicks tasted. Jim and I were sitting in the kitchen, and I was watching his face get darker and darker. He was so pissed.
“Jim finally jumped up and charged up the stairs. My mom must have gotten scared and shut herself in her room and locked the door. I went up after him, and he had already ripped the molding off the top of the door.
“Jim always liked to say, ‘I’m bigger than you, stronger than you, and I always will be.’ He had already blackened both my eyes that year on the way to school for saying something that he didn’t like. I was fourteen, he was sixteen. He had forty pounds on me and he might have played football in college, according to his coach.
“Jim was screaming at Mom to let him in. I told Jim I wasn’t going to let him get to Mom. She was crying behind the door, telling him she had already called the police. He was raving, ‘I just want to hit her once, and teach her a lesson. I just want to hit her once.’ I was afraid he was going to really hurt her. I put myself between him and the door and told him to back off. Jim grabbed me by my shirt and dangled me over the stairs, demanding for me to let him through.
“The police weren’t showing up. They’re never there when you need them. I got my arms up. I heard a little voice in my head saying, ‘pull him down with you.’ I grabbed his forearms and yanked, and he fell over me; we both tumbled.
“I pushed him off me as we fell and he hit the first floor landing first, fast and hard, with his neck. I slid to the bottom and crumpled into him. I heard the sick wet sound of his breathing, and I smelled his shit. I got up as fast as I could and tried to turn him over. His head flopped back and forth loosely as the police walked in the front door. I had broken his fucking neck.”
“The police finally showed up, and they walked when my Mom was scrambling down the stairs, screaming and crying. I stood next to Jim’s twitching corpse. They pulled me toward them, cuffed me and led me to the car. I didn’t say anything. I didn’t have anything to say. They saw everything.
“I got booked and put into juvie, the juvenile detention facility. I sat around for a couple hours before Agent Robin showed up. I didn’t expect him to, but he got me out and took me to a hotel. My Mom was waiting there, and she couldn’t even look at me.
“Robin explained that Jim was dead, and that instead of me going through a trial, or whatever through the court, we were just going into witness protection. He said it was an accident and I was defending my mom and defending myself. Which was true but it was bullshit. They just didn’t give a shit about us, and they didn’t want me or Jim wrecking their court case. My Dad was just about to testify against the Satanists for those kid murders. He testified, and I never saw or heard from him again. Robin thinks he’s dead.
“I got stuck in a new school, and my new name was Bobby Beezle. Here’s what I figured out: No one wanted to hear what I had to say. I learned to shut the fuck up and lift heavy ass weights. I got started boxing. I got started lifting. I ate like a motherfucker. I made my body huge. I got strong as hell. Nobody was coming to save me. Nobody gave a shit about me, so I got my kicks where the fuck I could. Yeah, I was a bad kid. I am a bad kid. But that’s what they made me. Been good would’ve got me killed.
“I got wicked so I could earn the shame that I felt all the time. If I can murder and get off with no consequences, then I could do anything. Maybe I could make God come down from heaven to smite me if I was evil enough.
“What I really loved was hurting people. When I was boxing, I would hit them in ways they hadn’t dreamed of. I could make him hurt so fucking bad. Then I started fighting at nights, underground boxing and wrestling. I got the shit beat out of me enough times that I learned to beat them even harder. No rules, no mercy.
“I got so aggressive I scared people. I got so big and strong and ugly. Because I’m not afraid of them. I’m not afraid of anyone. Death and I are friends. You can’t hurt what’s already dead. Having no expectations or feelings to hurt made me invincible.”
Nile licked her lips and smirked at me, like she was about to start opening my pants. My sins were turning her on. I kept going.
“What I liked to do the most, though, was humiliating guys. Someone picked a fight with me, I took his girl. I’d find her when she was out, make her laugh a little bit. I’d get real close and put my hands on her. Maybe she’d tell him about it, maybe I would, just to fuck with him. up his life, even if you know, I didn’t get with her. But I usually did. Girls really like the whole bad guy routine. They don’t want some little pussy.
“Sometimes I would kind of stalk the guy, find pretty women in his life, his sister, mother, whatever. I’d find a spot to watch through their windows while they changed and jerk off. Eventually I start creeping into their houses, stealing their panties, their diaries, whatever was intimate and personal.
“Eventually I got to college, and the guys like somebody who can fuck and fight and party. So I’ve been doing whatever the fuck I want for a long time. The problem comes when there are girls who really like me, and I can’t even come anymore if I’m not humiliating somebody. It’s like I have to hurt somebody just to get off.”
Just struck by how many old TV shows on Nick at Nite when I was a kid had strange occult premises.
Mr. Ed: a foolish young man and his familiar, a horse
I Dream of Jeannie: astronaut marries a succubus
Bewitched: man married undead crone
My Mother, the Car: haunted automobile harasses bereaved son, impersonating his mother
The Flying Nun: levitation proves problematic for a novice nun
Today hadn’t turned out like I’d planned. I was eating out the nude Leyla, and Hilda was lowering my panties down my ass. “Hey,” Leyla said to me. “Look at me. Keep your eyes on me while you’re fucking me with your mouth.”
I looked up and met her eyes. She gave me her million-dollar smile and grabbed Hilda by the lapels of her blazer, pulling her in for a deep kiss. Hilda’s thick fingers pressed deep in my throbbing snatch. I felt waves of pleasure course through my abdomen, up to my tits. I arched my neck and drove my mouth further into Leyla’s pussy.
Leyla’s nimble fingers had quickly shucked Hilda’s jacket and blouse off her powerful shoulders. She undid the clasp in the front and released her large pale breasts. Leyla kissed down her neck and chest, then leaned forward to suckle and stroke. Hilda moaned, and twisted her fingers in me, increasing her pace; I torqued my hips back onto her hand. Leyla reached beneath me and cupped and pinched my breast. I hung my tongue out of my mouth and lapped at her sex hungrily.
Hilda’s uncharacteristically girlish giggle rose above the sounds of sucking. “I never realized how tiny you were, June. The two of you here, now; it’s a fantasy for me: two tiny bitches at the same time.” Hilda gave my naked ass a rude slap, and I leaned into Leyla’s snatch harder, nuzzling against her mound and prompting her to run her fingers through my hair.
Leyla asked, “Hilda, did you have anything to drink? I feel like we should be celebrating.” Hilda nodded and moved away, toward the refrigerator in the security office.
Leyla gripped the hair in the back of my head and pulled me up to her. She kissed me roughly and ran her finger along the length of my neck. She pulled her mouth back and bit my lower lip. God, I was turned on.
She pushed me toward a nearby couch, where I sat, submissively. She sat down next to me and put her thumb on my mons, rolling my clit once she found it. “Hey, take your fucking clothes off. I’m not going to be the only one naked.”
I looked down at my naked crotch, and realized I still had my blouse on. She motioned for me to stand. “Do it slow and sexy.”
I did my best to do a strip routine while already bottomless and covered in pussy juice. I stood, arched an eyebrow, and rocked my hips as I slowly unbuttoned my blouse. “Promise me you’ll fuck me hard, Leyla.” I thrust my chest out as I discarded my bra. She giggled and took my hips, guiding me onto her knee. I rolled my cunt back and forth on her thigh as we kissed, more tenderly than I’d had for a long time.
Hilda sheepishly cleared her throat to announce her return. We looked up at her. She presented a magnum of champagne. “Left over from the banquet,” she explained, as she undid the wrapper and released the muselet. POP! The cork was out, and the fizz overflowed.
“Those were $150 a bottle,” I sniffed, still pulsing my crotch on Leyla’s thigh as she played with my tits.
“Then you should enjoy it, June,” Hilda grinned as she tilted the magnum toward my mouth slowly. I opened wide, and the ice-cold fizzy sweetness dripped into my mouth, down my chin and my chest. Leyla greedily sucked the drink from my neck and chest and smiled up at Hilda.
“Give me that bottle and get naked, then get your ass in here,” she ordered. Hilda complied, stripping off her slacks and g-string in two quick movements. Leyla fed me some more champagne and sucked it from my mouth before I’d fully swallowed. She gripped the side of my head and neck and whispered in my ear, “bitch, lay down on the couch.”
I slid off her lap and onto the couch as Leyla put her crotch in my face, pinning my hands beneath her knees. “I remember something from when you were hypnotizing me. Didn’t you say, ‘you are subject to my gravity, beneath me, permanently less?’ How did that work out for you?” She laughed and poured iced drink down her chest, drizzling through her full bush and into my waiting mouth. Never had it tasted sweeter than now.
Hilda ran her hand down Leyla’s back and kissed her softly. “Look what I found by the fridge.” I looked up to see a huge black dildo hanging from a harness. They cackled, and I clenched my pussy in anticipation. Hilda stepped into the straps and secured it to her hips. “Remember this, June,” she said, presenting the dildo to me. “Your employees are going to be the ones fucking you from now on.”
As if on command, Leyla started fucking my face even faster. I wondered how long it’d been since she’d had her pussy eaten by a woman. I pulled her plump little clit between my lips and sucked, bobbing my head back and forth. I hummed a little tune to myself and goosebumps leapt across her creamy, tan skin. She let go of my arms, and I gripped her voluptuous asscheeks.
Leyla’s glowing nude body blocked my vision, but I felt my pussy being fingered; Hilda was going to work. My legs were lifted and spread across her muscular shoulders; the strapon opened me, slowly at first, gently. Hilda drew my ass even with her hips, and the sound of slapping flesh filled the security office.
My mouth and fingers were in overdrive. I snaked a finger into her juicy pussy and fucked her for a minute before settling on that round squishy pad on the front inner surface of her cunt. “Oh my god!” Leyla shouted. “Yes! Yes! Fuck!” She leaned back to thrust her crotch further into my mouth and hand. Hilda’s powerful arms wrapped her from behind, squeezing her soft tits. Leyla turned her head to the side, and they kissed passionately.
Hilda lifted the magnum of champagne, pulling back from Leyla and taking a large swig. She fisted the neck of the bottle to dribble some into Leyla’s mouth, before pouring the rest of it down her chest, into my waiting mouth. She discarded the bottle and rubbed the sticky liquid into Leyla’s chest, pinching her tits. She reached down to my head and fingered through my sweat and champagne damp hair, then grasped my head and drove me further into Leyla.
I could feel my orgasm building. I wasn’t going to be the first to come. I put my full strength into the fishhook and started yanking on her g-spot with as much force as I could muster. I bared my teeth to gently bite Leyla’s clit. She gave a deep moan first, followed by quick panting. “God, oh god, fuck, fuck!” I tasted the sweet warmth of her squirting. She was mine.
With that off my mind, I couldn’t hold back my orgasm any longer. I bore down on Hilda’s rubber cock, swiveling my hips so I could get it more and more in contact with my clit. Leyla slid back on my chest to plant both hands on my tits. Our tongues entwined; I grabbed a handful of her shining black hair and pulled her tighter into my mouth.
When I came, it was so hard and deep, my whole body shuddered. I screamed into Leyla’s mouth, and she kissed me sweetly. Tears welled in my eyes. This was so much more intense than when I got myself off. It was such a change to be surprised by my employees, my kittens.
Hilda pulled out of me, and we shifted positions, sticky with the champagne. I fucked Leyla from behind with the strap on while she ate out Hilda. After we came again, we finally collapsed, exhausted and happy.
I found another bottle of champagne in the fridge and brought three flutes over to where they lay in each other’s arms. They sat up and took the flutes, smiling; they both looked wrecked, with hair and makeup smeared with sweat, come, and champagne. I must have been a fright myself. I was really happy, for the first time since I could remember. I toasted them. “To my new partners: together, we’ll fuck the whole world!” They drank and applauded.
Plunging through space I
Fall into infinity
Sometimes I wonder
How the fuck this all happened.
My life. All the shit.
The good, the bad, the
Strange. It is as unreal to
Me as sci-fi is.
Whose dream am I? Do
I dare to wake? When will I
Lose the thread and fall?
You enticed me here
With promises of talent
Realized. Service and
A community of like
Minds. Then you locked me
In a sewer, to
Twist and writhe as you giggle
At my agony.
I can’t free myself.
No rescuer waits in the
Wings. If I want a
Ex Machina, it will have
To come from my heart.
The giant man was quickly pulled off me by a swarm of robed Betas, pouring through the doorway, a tangled mass of fists and feet, screaming “fuck you!”
“Ram Jam – show ‘em how you got your name!” Hank shouted at me; I squared my shoulders and rushed at the leader, who had gotten back on his feet. I threw a right cross over his incoming fist, a left hook into his liver, and thrust hard head butt in the middle of his hood, my signature “ram jam.” I heard his skull crack, and he went down.
I settled onto the leader’s chest as he landed, pinning his arms with my knees and smashing his face over and over. I crushed his tall purple hood. The gang of torchbearers in the courtyard quickly dispersed with the onslaught of Betas. Some of the guys had grabbed baseball bats, and were smashing at the Penitents, laughing and snorting.
We were a house that liked to fight, and we were good at it. We had a lot of lacrosse, hockey, and rugby players with us. They loved wading into the middle of a crowd and starting shit. I spent a lot of time as fraternity president just bailing guys out and talking the dean out of expulsion.
I’d done some boxing in high school, and I fight dirty as fuck. You get thrown out of enough bars, and you figure out how to win no matter what. Groins, teeth, eyes . . . people got really scared when you went for the face. The face is the center of our personality. Protecting it is powerful; people don’t want to be maimed or crippled for life, and they see getting a facial scar as a sign of that.
The fight didn’t sound right, though. More screams than grunts, and the Penitents were still on their feet. Toby, one of the Seniors, came stumbling back in my direction. “Bro, you OK?” I asked. He looked dazed. A trickle of blood dropped from his lips, then he fell forward. A huge Bowie knife was stuck between his shoulder blades. “Fuck!” I screamed.
Glass shattered, and a Penitent fell with a beer bottle in his back. Two of them tried to pull me off the leader, and some of the Betas pushed them into the bushes. Where the fuck were the cops? I spent so much time trying to get rid of them, now I needed them.
I heard wet coughs around me and saw Betas falling. I ripped the hood off the leader’s head. Staring back at me was the angry face of a horrible looking man. His eyes were narrow slits of hate, his beard was a wreck, and he had an awful looking scar on his forehead. It was a hexagram carved roughly, still oozing and bubbling. My mouth dropped open, and he threw me off him. “Penitents!” He cried out, standing, as the fighters dispersed. “Wail for these dedicated to destruction! Sing the death of the gods! Give them a taste of what’s coming.”
The Penitents began to sing the worst fucking song I’d ever heard. The sound carried throughout the standing Betas, and I felt a crushing weight on my shoulders. Every depressing thought, every hangover, every guilt and shame I’d ever had came to me. I felt like someone puked on my soul. I remembered my mom passed out on the couch, half naked, with a boyfriend cutting drugs on a coffee table. I remembered my Dad raging, spitting on me. I saw myself with a pill bottle and a pint of whiskey. Dimly, I heard sirens.
My feet stood me up and shuffled forward. I moved into single file and dropped to my knees, one white robed beta facing a line of purple robed Penitents, singing and howling together. Most had lost their hoods. They all looked rough, like homeless people. There were women mixed in with the men. Their faces were Indian, black, white, and Asian. They definitely were not the Klan.
The leader stood between two Penitents. One had a fireplace poker in his hand, glowing red and smoking in the evening darkness. Two others carried huge scimitars. It sounded like they were chanting and buzzing, “mark, mark, get the mark on your head or we put it on the ground, mark, mark.” There were whimpers, screams, gurgles. There was a sizzling smell like bacon, and I felt like I was choking. The sounds of wet slicing and hacking gave way to terrible thumps, then silence. The silence were the worst.
I could move enough that I could see Hank next to me. He was defiant at first, sneering and snarling. I cheered him silently, but then crumpled as I watched him bow his proud head. They pushed the hexagram brand into his forehead. He writhed and screeched as he fell to the ground.
Finally my turn came. The wretched face of the leader stared at me. “Robert Beezle, called Ram, who we know as Xarque Ozyeus.” That fucking name, I hadn’t heard it in five years. Goddamn bastards. They did know my fucking Dad. “We give you the mark, a gift. It is their bondage, but your crown. Take it, and ascend to the throne as our king. We will incarnate the kingdom of the drowned god and burn up humanity as an oblation to his unholy name. If you refuse, we will burn you alive in the fires. You will be sent through the flames to honor his ugliness and horror. You will redeem us in his eyes, that we can serve him forever in Tartarus.”
Black fingers of dread and evil clutched at my torn and broken heart, encased in inky nausea. I felt as low as I’d ever been. I wanted to sleep, I wanted to die. I wanted never to have been born, I wanted to erase myself from existence. I wished my suicides has gone through, I wanted the pain to cease, I wanted the noise to end. I wanted to lie down and take the kicks. I wanted the brand.
From my deepest places, something rose. Something strong and angry and alive, who resented being awakened, but who wasn’t about to bow to these ragged fuckers. This dark fire rose in me, despite the black sadness of their dirge. I twisted my head and smiled wide. “You guys know my Dad? Give him a message for me. ‘Fuck you, motherfucker.’ And while you’re at it, every single one of you motherfuckers can go fuck yourselves and fuck each other and whatever the fuck else you want to do, because I’m not doing shit with you. You better kill me now, you piece of fucking shit, because if I ever get the chance, I’m going to put a knife through every single one of your fucking chickenshit lizard dick hearts and piss in your fucking mouths!”
My shit-talking got through the leader’s surly resolve, and he screamed in rage, words unformed, like a yelping seal. He clamped a giant fist around my throat and lifted me from my knees up into the air. He shook me like a rag doll as he crushed my throat. My vision went black.
Things were peaceful. Gradually I became aware of beeping, slow, quiet. My eyes opened, blurry. I couldn’t move my head. My hands were tied. There was something in my mouth; it reminded me of horses. My head felt like cotton. I still smelled the burning flesh and remembered the screams. I closed my eyes and went to sleep.
Over the next few days, I became more and more awake. I was in a hospital, intubated and sedated. I was wearing a cervical collar because of the trauma to my neck and throat. My hands were restrained because I kept trying to pull the tube out of my throat. Whenever the medicine started to wear off, I hurt like fuck, worse than anything I ever knew. Where were the Betas? Where were my friends?
Eventually they extubated me. They let Birdie come see me, but she burst into tears as soon as she saw me. She showed me a mirror. My face was all puffy with the fluids, and one of my eyes was swollen shut. I had a huge cut in one cheek that had been stitched. Worst, I couldn’t speak. Whenever I tried, it hurt like hell, and I only accomplished a high pitched squeak. I wrote some questions out for Birdie, and she told me a little about what had happened.
The police had shot the Penitent leaders seven or eight times while he was choking me. He let me go and fell. The Penitents were arrested. Six Betas were dead. Three had died in the fight, and three had been beheaded.
Birdie pointed to the door. “There’s a cop out there checking all your visitors. They’re watching you really closely because they expect for them to come after you again.”
I wrote her, “did the leader survive?”
She looked away, and her voice broke as she spoke. “Yeah, they kept him alive. Then he disappeared. Right out of a protected ward. The other Penitents never made it to the police station. The whole police transport van disappeared. The cops who were driving it are gone too.”
I heard my heartrate monitor start to beep faster. Fuck. Fuck. I wrote, “what about Hank? What happened to the guys who got marked?”
She looked me in the eye. “They’re gone too. Hank and the other five. Six guys who took the mark were screaming and belligerent when the police came. They got sedated, put into ambulances, and then the ambulances disappeared. Nobody has any answers. They never made it to the hospital. We don’t know if they’re dead or …”
The nurse came in the room and told Birdie she had to leave; my heartrate and blood pressure were off the charts. I was shaking. They gave me blood pressure medicine and sedatives, and I slept. Everything was so fucked. I made numbers in my head. Six dead. Six gone. One left, me.