I’m being followed, that much is obvious.
I’ve noticed at least four different figures following me through the streets. I get the feeling that most Intangibles aren’t all that great at this “tailing” thing, they stick out like sore thumbs even if most people ignore them.
Of all damn things I found a couple of articles online about losing people tailing you and I seem to be able to lose them pretty quickly. One particularly persistent individual doggedly followed me until I stepped into a conceptual space however.
I really need to hire a bodyguard. That’s on my to-do list.
The consultation went well enough. My reputation is golden thanks to my insight. I finally had time to stop in a cafe.
It took a few days, but I managed to transcribe the rest of the story that was given to me. I haven’t been back to the Library just yet.
Lauren was obviously exhausted after the ritual was done, and despite my misgivings I tucked her in on the couch. I was pretty damn sure we weren’t all gonna live through this, but if anyone deserved to make it out it was her.
Well, maybe. I didn’t know her past and I’m self-aware enough to know when I’ve got some bias going on. Gary was fairly innocent himself.
Only the good die young, I thought to myself. The phrase kept repeating like an ear worm, although eventually it morphed into the Billy Joel song.
I convinced Gary we needed to board the place up. One point of entry, one point of exit. He kept watch with the SKS while I dragged furniture into the back room to break it up. He’d been getting quieter this entire time and he looked drained. When I came back out I noticed his face was a bit damp.
Not the sort of thing I wanted to bring up, but I stood next to him for awhile before speaking.
”We’re going to be fine,” I told him. He gave me a skeptical look, “Gary. Panicking doesn’t help anything. I’ve done it before, but my first time my ass wasn’t on the line.”
”I lit a cigarette and he looked at me darkly, “Dad hates it when people smoke in here.”
He did a double take pretty quickly, realized the absurdity of what he’d just said. I could damn near see the light bulb go off, he flashed me a grin, “Fuck it, give me one.”
I handed him a cigarette and the two of us stood for a minute, smoking silently. I walked behind the bar which dominated the Western side of the cabin and walked back with a bottle of Wild Turkey and two tumblers.
”Have a drink,” I told him, “I need your head on straight. Then let’s get the windows boarded. One entry, one exit. If the wards don’t hold we’ll need a straight path.”
”Right,” he poured himself three fingers in the glass and took it in one motion, pouring another three. I didn’t say anything, I’d rather he be buzzed and overly confident than scared. I poured myself a bit more than a shot and tossed it back, setting my tumbler back on the bar with the bottle.
We quickly boarded the windows. I don’t know much about magic, but whatever the hell Lauren had done had exhausted her severely. She slept through the two of us pounding nails into the sides of the cabin. Gary finished his drink and got a bit loud. I took one more small drink, but I’d always been a bit moderate with my alcohol.
Gary soon fell asleep in the armchair by the window. Fine by me.
It was nearing morning now. I didn’t dare sleep with the two of them passed out, I simply walked between the two front windows and stopped periodically to gaze at the tree line. I quietly slipped down an old boar’s head trophy from off the wall and looked it in the eyes.
When I was about nineteen I’d taken to importing bulk amounts of pills from some shady Indian pharmaceutical supplier. Gary, Richard, and I had come out here to package a particularly large shipment.
It was a big job. Bigger than I’d anticipated, I’d only ordered ten thousand pills but when we showed up to pick the pills up we had a crate packed full of cheap teddy bears and each of them had at least a thousand pills in them. Turns out my source had gotten fucked by the authorities in their country and I wasn’t the only person who got more than they’d ordered as they tried to clear house.
So we sat around, putting d-amphetamine tablets in bags of five, ten, and twenty. We had enough to sell them at festivals and bonfires for years. Somewhere along the line we’d started snorting them, just trying to get the job done.
So we’re packing them and getting high and that was how I found out three guys in an isolated hunting cabin, snorting speed for three days wasn’t the best idea. Give me a break, I was nineteen and “amphetamine psychosis” wasn’t in my vocabulary at that point.
We ended up tearing the cabin to shreds after the shadow people took on a 3D shape. We engaged in a pitched, one sided gun fight with the hallucinations for about an hour, snorting speed off the floor after breaking out the windows and lodging furniture up against the side. Luckily no one got hurt.
It was Richard who pulled us out of it. He grabbed my shoulder and pointed at the back wall, “They’re not shooting back!” he’d yelled, the noise barely getting through my ear plugs.
I’d popped off a few more rounds at one of the figures before looking at the back wall and realizing what he was saying. It all hit me in a moment. Fucking insanity, I’m just glad no one got hurt. A few minutes later the three of us were laughing about it and drinking enough whiskey to kill an elephant.
The point is, I’d stashed a bag of twenty in the boar’s head sometime during our psychosis and I remembered it. It was a pretty shitty taxidermy, but it had been Gary’s first boar and his dad was proud. I slid the left eye out and fished around inside until I got a hold of the bag and pulled the pills out.
I looked at them, they looked intact mostly. I slid them in my pocket, I didn’t know how long this whole affair was going to take. It’d been a few years since I’d done any uppers, but I figured the amphetamine in there should last me at least three days accounting for a tolerance spike. Gary might need a couple too, judging from the way he was snoring.
Tempting, but I wanted to be as straight as possible. I was the only one awake, so I resumed my quiet vigil, walking between the windows and eyeing the trees. The once comforting view had taken on a new life, and it was a sinister one.
I steeled myself with another small shot about an hour after Gary fell asleep. Truth is, I wanted to down half the bottle and go to sleep. I might have if it had just been me and Gary out here but I’d brought Lauren out here and I’d privately decided if anyone was going to go home after this it was going to be her.
Gary was too scared to be worth much when he was awake. I couldn’t blame him, I’d locked up my first time in the Weird too. I’d seen the other guy I was with die thanks to that impulse too, which was enough to shake me out of it. I’d have time to panic later, right now we just needed to live through this.
I kept remembering the name “Blackridge” that had ended Lauren’s calls into the void. I hadn’t been expecting him to appear in a poof of smoke, but I was vaguely hoping he’d get here. I didn’t know how much good magic would do in calling him, he was older than magic after all. He was also a callous, angry, bitter man but that was neither here nor there. At least he seemed mostly human.
Some of them hadn’t.
I poured another glass of the whiskey and stood, sipping it quietly. I’d always had a pretty high tolerance for alcohol, but I was getting a bit buzzed. I needed to slow down, I was about two shots away from it fucking with my aim.
The Thing emerged from the tree line, in full daylight it was even more impressive and imposing. I studied it calmly, my right hand flicking the flap on the old leather holster with my .45 up. The .44 sat on the table behind me.
It made eye contact with me, it looked jaundiced. Almost ill, although the muscles rippling under the wolf-like coat didn’t look weak. It grinned, exposing long, uneven teeth and then spread its arms and threw its head upwards with a long and chilling howl.
When it looked back at me, I felt a smile turn the edge of my lips and I raised my glass to it without breaking eye contact.
The look on its face was almost comical, just abject disgust. It turned around and stomped back into the trees.
I laughed. I don’t know where it came from. Dawn’s light and the alcohol had made it look like a hideous caricature. There was something vaguely wrong and cartoonish about it, like it had tried it’s damndest to look like a twelve foot tall wolf monster.
I knew enough to know that it was playing by a different set of rules than we were. I needed to figure that out. I’d been the one to do it with the Rat Queen after all. I snapped the holster back down and finished the glass. Neither of the others had stirred at all.
I was lighting a cigarette, more enjoying the routine of my vigil than anything when I saw two human shapes break the tree line. I could barely make them out from here, but both were at a dead sprint and there were a half dozen dire wolves following them.
I grabbed the SKS from Gary’s lap and threw the front door open, stepping out. One of the wolves leapt on the smaller of the two men grabbing at his neck from behind. I can’t say I was surprised to see it suddenly tumble over his head, the man drew a pistol from underneath his leather coat and fired a single shot into its head and kept running with barely any loss of momentum.
I knew that graceful, easy movement. Blackridge. I didn’t know who the other was.
I lifted the rifle and popped off three shots in rapid succession. Two of the wolves tumbled to the ground, I could see more of them moving along the tree line as they ran across the cleared ground. I stepped to the left and fired twice more.
The two of them were only ten yards from the porch when I dropped the second to last one. Blackridge fired his pistol behind his back without turning, a desperate looking move straight out of a bad gun-fu movie, and the last wolf in the open took the round through the eyes.
I motioned for them to come in, cursing myself for not wearing my ear plugs and my worsening tinnitus. I aimed at the tree line and dumped the last five rounds in the magazine, pretty sure I’d hit two of the wolves but unable to check with just the iron sights. I stepped backwards through the door and slammed it shut.
I looked the two of them over. Blackridge was an unremarkable looking man. Lean but not overly built, standing just under six foot, with dark brown hair and eyes. The eyes were what set him apart, you could feel the weight of millenium behind them.
The other was taller. I noticed, with some level of disbelief, that he was wearing a sword on his hip and appeared to have a leather cuirass on with metal pauldrons. He had long, light brown hair and a regal looking face. He sat down heavily on the floor, panting.
Blackridge flashed me a grin before he spoke. It was a dangerous grin, I’d seen it before and things never got better when he flashed his teeth like that.
”Tommy Boy,” he said, I flinched internally, “You do have a way of getting into trouble, don’t you?”
I heard Lauren stirring on the couch and looked at Blackridge darkly.
”When was the last time we saw each other?” he asked me after a moment, “Some affair in Las Vegas?”
”Yeah,” I said. I didn’t provide any details, from what I knew about his life... for him it was just another Tuesday, not something he was likely to remember.
”Not too glad to see me, are you?” he asked.
”Not particularly,” I told him, “I was kind of hoping we wouldn’t run into each other again.”
”Damn fucking right,” he said, the grin flashing briefly across his face again, “I’m guessing things are pretty bad out here. I haven’t seen that kind of fucking dog in…”
”A long time,” he finished, “Give me a smoke, will you?”
I handed him a cigarette and he took it, pulling an old Zippo from his jacket pocket and lighting it. I turned around to see Lauren standing and staring between the two of them.
”I bailed you out once before too, didn’t I?” Glen asked behind me. She nodded, wide eyed, “We’ve got a situation on our hands, lady and gentlemen.”
”Really?” my voice thick with sarcasm.
”Tommy,” he said, looking at me darkly, “You can either shut your goddamn mouth and listen up, or I can tie you to a chair and force you to.”
”Try me, Glen,” I said, looking down at him, he rolled his eyes.
”We’re all in over our heads here,” he said after a moment, “That includes me. That thing out there isn’t some petty God or Force. I don’t know how it got here, or why, but that’s one of the Old Ones. That means it can hurt me, so I’m going to need some fucking cooperation,” he looked at me pointedly and I felt a flicker of fear. Glen was… something else, not human, not really one of them and I’d never seen him display any caution or trepidation, “Or none of us live through this.”
”Tommy,” he said, looking at me, “Your friend reeks of booze. Alcoholic, or did he get scared?”
”Scared,” I said after a moment’s consideration. Glen frowned deeply.
”That’s going to be a problem,” he said, his friend stood and pushed his hair back from his eyes, “I brought some of the cavalry with me. We were handling a situation a few miles from here when I heard the calls. I normally don’t respond to that shit, but this is… this is bad.”*
”Edward,” the man in the armor said, he extended a hand to me and I shook it. He was strong, I could tell that much and I knew enough not to question why he was carrying a sword, he bowed in front of Lauren who’d been staring at Blackridge the whole time, “Miliday.”
”Crusader,” Glen said, looking at me as I eyed Edward while he took Lauren’s hand and kissed it, she turned red, “Not the Knight-Errant. He’s celibate Tommy, don’t get jealous.”
”Glen,” I said after a moment, “What are we dealing with here?”
”That’s not exactly helpful, man,” I eyed the trees carefully. Something was moving out there, “Who is it?”
*”That’s a long story,” he looked at me, “Watch the window.”
Glen began to speak and I listened, watching the trees with the rifle in my hands.
I remember the smell of mammoth on primordial plains. Back then I was… normal, I guess you’d call me. The Shaman, the very first one, mind you, favored me but I wasn’t the best hunter in our settlement or anything.
That honor belonged to another.
Back in those early days there was no psychic censor. Nothing stopping the world from turning as it would. The world was rich with magic and scant in ritual.
The best hunter in our village had, naturally, laid claim to the most beautiful woman. Unlike many of our early ancestors he was monogamous. I don’t know if you’d call it love, at least not the way we understand it, but he was devoted to her.
This naturally made some jealous. I had fond feelings for her, but he was a friend of mine. I was in line to be the Shaman’s apprentice, so taking a wife or two wasn’t really on my agenda.
Humans have always been… human. But as far as I know, the sadism and such that would occur later hadn’t begun to blossom across the entire race just yet. Occasionally someone would be killed in a brawl, but it was the job of the Shaman to sort these things out and usually the one who killed would turn themselves in.
I knew the man who would become the Predator fairly well. He was strange, a jealous and twisted little creature. He possessed an animal cunning, but the blame couldn’t be placed quite on him for some of the strange occurrences that had happened while he was around.
Around this time, a star had fallen from the sky. The Shaman told me it was an omen and asked me to find where it had fallen. I took up my spear and my hand-axe and journeyed to find it. The stars in those days… you can’t imagine them. When the only light in the world was the moon, nothing filtering into the atmosphere…
It took me three days to find where it had fallen, even having seen it grace the Earth. It was only a shiny rock, perhaps three times the size of my fist. At the time we were still using stone tools, metallurgy would be unheard of for a while yet.
I took the stone, which was surprisingly heavy, and returned to the village. A scout came and found me on my way back, a day’s march from the village. While I had been gone the hunter had been slain and his mate was missing. Wolves, like those we killed this morning, had been haunting the village. The Shaman was the only one who was able to scare them off, which was strange as it was rare that those sorts of animal would actually approach the village. They preferred to pick off lone hunters.
I put out the fire and returned swiftly, bringing the rock to the shaman. He had constructed a strange, squat structure which was comprised of mud bricks. He took the stone from me and ordered me to go with the search party.
Our strange, inwardly drawn man was missing as well. I knew instinctively they were connected, though the scout had told me that they thought the wolves had gotten him as he most often slept apart from the others.
I went with the search party, and we spent two days in the plains searching for the missing woman. There were few traces, but it was enough.
It was a strange couple of days. The wolves were ever-present and uncannily aggressive. I personally killed four, two of them in a single skirmish. They didn’t back down when one was killed, it was the closest thing to warfare any of us had ever experienced at that time. An enemy that killed to kill. Our party of six had dwindled to four by the time we returned to our encampment.
The place was in disarray. Three of the sentries had been picked off by the wolves and a strange air had fallen over the place. Panic. Something I had never seen before.
The Shaman greeted me as I walked in, and pressed into my hand a knife. It seemed to be made of the same material as the fallen star I had brought back. There was a sadness in his eyes when he told me what I needed to know: where the perpetrator was.
The first piece of metal ever worked by human hands. A piece of iron from the sky, crudely hammered out. It’s the stuff of legends now, the fabled God-Slayer. At the time it was just a shiny knife in my hands.
I left immediately, not bothering to stay for the cremation of our fallen brothers. I moved swiftly and with purpose, something inside of me had changed the moment the Shaman had placed the knife in my hands.
The wolves shied away from me for the most part, stalking at a distance.
I found him in a cave. The woman had been slain. The corpses he’d recovered were flayed and it was obvious he’d been eating them. It was an atrocity, and while I’ve seen much, much worse since at the time it was enough to give me pause and cause me to violently vomit.
We fought. It was over quickly, he’d relied on the wolves to do his dirty work so far. When my spear broke against his skin I closed with the knife, driving it into his belly and dragging it up to his sternum. Spilling his guts on the ground.
As I said, magic was thick in those days. He’d become something more than a man, as I became when I drove the knife into him. I walked out of the cave and watched the wolves disperse, but when I thought to take back a trophy to show he was killed the body was gone.
When I returned to the village, the others stayed away from me. I felt a sudden pull, leading me in the direction the sun sets. The Shaman called me He-Who-Walks and told me to follow it.
I’m still walking, Tom, but this thing which is out there in the woods is the Predator. The first murderer. The origin of the myth of Cain.
“Christfuck,” I said softly as Glen finished. He looked at me.
”What we’re dealing with isn’t a petty God or even a Force,” he told me softly, “This is primitive, stark evil. It wants to hurt, it wants to make people scared. We’ve clashed a few times, and it’s dangerous.”
”So, what do we do?” I asked him, “Glen, I’m not one of you. I can handle Weird, but I don’t think we’ve got the right set of people to handle this.”
”The fate of the world often rests in the hands of a few,” he said, all trace of humor gone from his face. He looked old, then, “We work with what we have. Whenever I get ahold of him, he goes dormant for awhile. He still reaches out into twisted minds, but we can’t let it leave this property and walk among the world.”
The others looked at me. Not at Blackridge, but at me. I looked at the floor of the cabin, drumming my fingers on the rifle for a long, quiet moment.
”I take it you’ve still got the knife?” I asked Glen after a long moment. He nodded, reaching around behind his back and pulling a twelve inch, crude looking piece of steel, “And you’ll have to stick him?”
”Right,” he said after a moment, “He’s a shapeshifter now. I wasn’t expecting that, he normally hides behind the wolves. He feeds on fear, he needs us to be scared of him in order to flex his power.”
”Fuck it,” I said after a moment, I flashed a quick grin at Lauren who returned it with a short smile, “I think I’ve got a plan.”
I have to go for now.
One of the men who’s been following is approaching. He doesn’t look hostile, but I’m stuck in this cafe and unless I want to run through the back I’ve got nowhere to go.
I guess I’ll see what he wants. Wish me luck.
I'm writing a story set in a world with superpowers and i need a hero name for the main character, it's a young female whit demon-ish powers, she has vampire fangs, dragon wings, can hypnotise people and she gets stronger by harming others.
(May contain sexual content, adult situations, violence, and gore. Reader discretion advised.)
After yesterday's tale of invisible ass hats rummaging through Tarry's place, today I want to take a moment to delve into the minds of a select few of my local citizens. This tale will still hold the twisted supernatural events you have all come to read but will also show the darker side of the natural human mind and beyond.
Living in the country, or the boondocks, brings its own sort of challenges. It also attracts the best, and the worst, humanity has to offer. This particular tale will dive into this issue, as well as diving into what these personality traits attract themselves. It's not all Southern Charm and love, let me tell you!
To begin with being isolated and living in the hills brings certain challenges. Fuck, until recently my town didn't even have its own grocery store. We had two choices for grocery shopping, one you could go the local Mom and Pop store and pay three times the normal price, or two, go to the neighboring county to a real market and get a months worth of groceries at once.
Another problem we had before the internet was a common thing, is supply lines for machine parts, auto parts, and stuff like that. Even simple shit, would take a few weeks to get to us, simply because we had to order it from someone who had to order from who...well you get the idea. It sucked balls.
Now, on the other side of this coin, is the fact that my closest neighbors are still, to this day, a thirty minute walk away. I can stand naked on my front porch and not a soul could see my shame. It's wonderful. Yet, it also means that emergency help is not always within range to be useful. For that reason, our emergency services used to be setup quite different than most places. For example, we had one fire department that had eight trucks. Four tanker spray trucks and four hydrant hook trucks. We would send them to different parts of the county so that we would at least a have a half assed chance of being able to help.
We did the same with our ambulances and even the police force. I was eventually assigned a satellite office, outside of town, that had jurisdiction to be active in town and the entire county. We had five satellite offices and the main Sheriffs office, with the tiny steel bar jail cells. We had to spread the force thin to be certain everyone had equal access to our services. I was designated to the eastern quadrant of the county and as Sheriff I was also the " interim chief of police ".
During my hours off, my wife and I would volunteer for a program like Hands For Humanity. We helped the lowest income families to keep their homes up to par. We would patch holes in floor and rooves, build porches, ad stuff like that. Basically helping the community. We didn't go through any organization. I would see places while on duty and my wife and I would pick a couple every weekend to help.
This particular weekend my wife was...under the weather. The cancer hadn't been discovered yet and the poor dear believed it was just a terrible period. So she was not able to work that weekend. I am so glad of that. I managed to keep the majority of my paranormal shit away from her. I always figured if she was not involved then she would be better off. Sometimes I wonder if I made the wrong decision.
Anyway, I was working on an old mans porch one day, replacing the rotten steps. As I worked he made fresh lemonade and BLT sandwiches that were made from ONLY the ingredients he grew, even the bread. It was the best damn sandwich I had ever eaten!
I had just finished the steps and patched a few boards on the porch, when the place went from normal nature sounds to deadly silent. If you've ever been in the wilderness, then you know it is never quiet unless there is a major predator present.
" Uhm, Sheriff, you'd be best to come inside for a while now. Shits gonna get weird here for a few minutes" the old man said. His voice was low and slow, hard, like a seasoned vet in combat. Just the tone of his voice made me take him serious. This man had lived the hard country life for seventy years and he was scared. That made me take notice.
I watched nervously as the old man walked to his smoke house. I watched as he removed what appeared to be an entire smoked lamb and laid it in the yard, directly in front of the big living room windows. I couldn't help but think about how badly I needed to fix those leaky windows for this man.
" Come on, damnit! Get your rear in gear Sheriff!! We ain't got much time now, get it together man." He snapped as he made his way up the new steps and into the house. I gathered my tools and laid my hand on the 357 in my holster. I mean, iron goes with everything, right?
I followed him into the small house. He sat himself in an old recliner and motioned for me to sit in another chair, directly beside him. The way we were seated, we were facing the window, and could plainly see the yard beyond.
" Be quiet, and do not, under any circumstance, make any noise. I don't think we can hold it off long enough. Let it eat and shut the hell up." He told me. Something in his eyes told me this was real and he was a little scared. His cold blue eyes, sharp as a razor, darting back and forth across the tree line opposite the yard reminded me of my own eyes, during hold offs and gun fights. I knew that look. The look of not only fear, but pure and solid determination to survive and come out on top. I had no doubts this old man could whoop ass if he needed.
" What exactly is it? Whats out there?" I asked, whispering as low and quietly as possible, my words made barely a sound as they left my mouth.
I watched the old mans face as he was trying to find the words to describe this thing. As luck, and God would have it, he did not need to speak. The creature, for that is the only word fitting enough, was gigantic. It was a good ten feet tall and probably four hundred plus pounds. I won't say Big Foot, but damn...if there ever was a Big Foot, it was this mother fucker.
Long brown and fur/hair hung from its entire body. Large brown eyes set deep into its/his skull. I'm sure it was a he. Put many horse to shame actually. His mouth was wide with thick lips. I could see the razor sharp canine teeth poke out of his lips as he snarled at the cabin. I swear to you, this fucking thing locked eyes with me, and beat its chest like fucking King Kong. So I decided at that moment to call it King Dong. A name it earned by the Grace of God.
We watched as it slowly came forth from the trees. It's head tipped back, taking deep breaths and looking for the source of what he was smelling. He snapped his head to the location of the meat and lurched his furry ass over there to it. We watched silently as this fucking thing devoured the entire lamb, bones and all. It was both impressive and frightening.
When old King Dong was finished eating he again locked eyes with me and beat his fists onto his chest. He knew I was watching and he was pissed. He stood there, staring at me, while taking a massive shit where he stood. When the gigantic turds had finished falling, the thing pointed to them, then at me and I swear to you, this fucking thing laughed at me.
After his little insult, the beast lumbered back into the forest. Within a few moments, we began to hear the sounds of nature again. After about ten minutes of silence, the old man spoke, " That was Biggun. He shows up once or twice a month. Eats whatever I leave for him and then takes off. The first time he came around, I didn't know to leave meat out. He ate my hogs. All three of them. I figured a hunk of beef, or a sick lamb will keep him happy and keep the other critters safe."
" What other critters? That was the first animal I've seen here today. Where is your stock?"
The old mans eyes softened and glanced down at the floor, " Well, I think Biggun has a mate. A big ole Bitch beast came down a few weeks ago and cleaned me out. Biggun must have heard the animals screaming, because he rushed out of the woods and ran to the pens. They growled and smacked at each other, he gestured to the house, then the smoke house and then the dead animals. The bitch beast looked over towards here, bellowed, and tossed a half of dead pig at the driveway before walking into the woods. Biggun stood there staring at her with his mouth open for a few minutes before wandering into the woods after her. I just haven't managed to get the cash together to replace them yet." The old man said and stared out the window.
He brought out some moonshine and offered me a shot. I wasn't on duty and took a sip. We talked for a few hours about the beasts and how he feels responsible to the community for keeping their appetites satiated.
We talked about life, love, and death. He spoke of his wife, now gone, and his son also gone, and then he talked about how living up there, in the head of that hollow was his destiny. He felt he was needed by the beasts, to help feed them.
I eventually left and went home and took care of my wife. I did not tell her about the beast. The finger plant on the table was enough to warp her for days. This would have really fucked her up. I just let it simmer in the back of mind. A few months later the old man passed away. My wife and I were the only ones to attend his funeral. I have taken his old job and twice a month I leave smoked hog out in the clearing. Just in case. There are never any bones or scraps of meat left when I go back.
Norman was reading the paper one day, with Norman on his lap, as he read a news story about the pope.
He decided to murder the pope.
He went to the Vatican via plane, and he went up to the pope and killed him and then said "requiescat in pace" because he heard that in a video game.
Then the security guards shot him and he became dead too.
I had a friend called Saren who liked to visit funfairs. It was a strange name for a strange kid: skinny, tall, with lank mousish hair. He was obssessed with games of chance. You name it, he had played it.
For Saren, funfairs were a great place to gamble without facing the risk of losing control. Not many people out there have blown hundreds of pounds on the coin pusher games, after all. Those were his favourite.
It was summer, and we had gone to a fair that sprang up every two years on the outskirts of our hometown. The usual stuff: rickety rides and rip-off stalls claiming there was a prize for every game.
But what caught Saren's eye was the fortune teller's tent. We hadn't seen it before. It was very grand, more of a marquis than a tent, with majestic black curtains concealing what lurked inside. As we approached there was a faint aroma of incense. In front of the curtains stood a stocky, pudgy-faced man with a shaved head.
Saren paid the ticket (only £5 in case you were wondering) and was ushered inside. I took a seat on a rain-sodden bench beside the tent and played with my few phone for a few minutes. I wasn't expecting him to be in there very long.
After fifteen minutes I started to feel drowsy, having drank five pints of lager the night before which left me with a fairly nasty hangover. The next thing I knew, I was jolted awake to see the tent cloaked in darkness, the sun having set some time ago. I felt very groggy, and couldn't believe I had dozed there for what must have been more several hours.
A noise from inside the tent had woken me up. It was Saren. He was screaming. He was screaming over and over again. And it was the same scream each time, low, hollow and coming at regular intervals, as if someone were playing a Vine video on a loop.
I leaped up from the bench and marched towards the tent, but the stocky man wouldn't let me pass.
"What the fuck are you doing to him in there?" I asked, trying to intone my voice with some righteous fury. But the words came out very quiet and strangled, betraying my fear. Before I could even consider picking a fight, or pushing my way through, the screaming stopped.
Out walked Saren, looking more or less the same as when he walked in. No cuts or scratches or anything. They hadn't been chopping bits of him off, evidently, though that was exactly what it sounded like they were doing.
But his face had changed. He looked helpless and defeated. As the stocky man retreated into the tent, I asked Saren if he wanted to call the police. But he said he just wanted to go home, straight away.
We didn't say anything until we were in the car and hurtling through the hedgerows on the dirt track which led towards the comforting glow of lights that marked our hometown.
"What the hell happened in there?" I asked Saren. "It sounded like they were torturing you."
"No," said Saren, "I asked them for it. I asked for my fortune."
"It didn't sound like they were showing your fortune in there," I said.
"Oh but they did," said Saren. "They showed me everything."
Saren explained that he was greeted inside the tent by an old, balding woman - or at least he thought it was a women, couldn't be sure - who led him to a bowl with a big blanket over it. She lifted up the blanket and put his head over the bowl, before covering it again. He said the bowl was filled with steam that started to rise.
"I saw my entire life," he said, "I saw every single variation on it. I caught thousands of diseases. I died hundreds of thousands of times. And, in the end, I lost everyone I knew."
"I saw the good things too, of course," he added, turning his head away from me to stare out the window. "But so few...so few."
We continued on in silence. His story had shaken me, and so did the sight of his face, drained of all colour and emotion. He spoke liked he screamed, dull and monotonous - like all the knowledge of his life had extuinguished the fire in his heart.
I dropped him off at his house and watched him slink up the garden path like a wounded animal. He didn't look back at me as the front door clanged shut. He committed suicide two weeks later.
I took 2 pics at 2 different time of the Arch De Triomphe in Paris and merged them together to create this half day/night aerial view.
The Hill, Pen and Ink, 12x12cm