“They’re going to rape you,” said the girl right before she touched Mark Chambers’ forehead. “Whether you run or give yourself in, either way, you can’t stop them.”
Mark Chambers was at Full Spectrum Diner with his family and pretended like he didn’t spill coffee down his chin when she interrupted them. His wife asked, “What?” and he didn’t acknowledge her as he asked the strange girl the same question.
“You don’t remember and that’s not all your fault, but at one point you had a choice and you didn’t make the right one. So you’re going to be raped and it will hurt you a lot. Not just your body, but your brain. You’re never going to be the same again.”
Mark Chambers didn’t know how to respond to the girl. By his estimation, she was no older than ten, but then again, her wrinkled face and slight graying of hair almost led him to believe otherwise.
“I don’t feel bad for you,” she said. Her face was stern and Mark felt strange, as though he were being scolded for something he couldn’t remember. “I feel bad for your family. They’re all going to have it bad, but at least better. At least not as worse as they would have with you around.”
“Who are you?” asked Mark. It came out low and confused sounding. And he himself didn’t really know what he was asking.
She turned to his wife, Mrs. Chambers, pointing her index finger which stuck out from the cut-off yellow gloves she wore. Around her wrists were bracelets that stretched halfway up her forearms. “You’re going to stop being so dumb,” she said, her bracelets jangling as she shook her finger with conviction. “When they tell you, believe them. They aren’t lying. He really is that bad. Protect your children and never let anything like him happen again.”
“You need to leave,” spoke Mark Chambers sternly.
The girl lowered her arm and took a step forward. “No,” she said. Her dirty blonde hair was accented just slightly with gray, but she was still not even five feet tall. She was a girl, but somehow so much older. “You’re the one that’s going to leave.”
Mark’s mouth was open to respond when he was stabbed in the head by the girl’s pinky finger.
When they finally got his eyes open, the girl long gone, all he wanted to do was go to the police department.
* * * * *
Detective Roe wasn’t a detective today. Just Roe. Not that he didn’t like his first name, just that he thought it was useless. What could a name matter if everyone shared the same name? Nicknames were even worse. No, Roe was it. After his ex-wife changed her last name to her new husband’s, he liked his last name even more than ever before.
Roe was on vacation. Well, a day-cation as he overhead it being called by the dreadlocked coffee shop barista when he told him he took the day off. He sat in the corner of The Mound, far away as possible from everyone, drinking black coffee. “Just the regular kind,” is what he always told them. Flavors meant nothing to him. It was nice just to drink something hot without sugar that made being alive feel okay. Something that could make him forget how much he hated everything.
After coffee, he caught the first showing of the day for Widow, the new movie from director Chance Baphom. He liked everything Baphom made, even if sometimes they pandered to teenagers with a PG-13 rating. There was something about the way the camera moved, utilizing slow motion at just the right points and keeping everything so cleanly in frame. It was as if Baphom were the conductor of an orchestra and everything on his moving canvas existed intentionally.
Widow was strange, but still nice. Visually amazing, but not really the action picture he expected. Manson Feverjean was surprisingly impressive as the lead character and Miss Need, while tiringly self-aware, still did a manageable job of fitting into the atmosphere of the movie. Even afterward, he struggled to understand the director’s point. Sure, it was about sacrifice and a Satan worshipping secret society within the government and media that was going to enslave all of humanity. But why? What was he really trying to say? It was almost as if that was really the message of the film. Give in and let the masters do their job. Even stranger that Manson Feverjean died during filming the movie. And in basically the same way his character died in the film.
Life is strange, thought Roe. But not like it’s ever not been.
Roe didn’t see the girl until after he was eating his banana, almond and Kit-Kat ice cream in a waffle cone, wiping his face even though he hadn’t made a mess of himself at all.
“You have to stop him,” said the girl, her yellow fingerless gloves were dirty and her bracelets jangled.
Roe’s right eyebrow raised as his left sunk low. He continued to eat his ice cream as the girl sighed and sat down across from him.
“You don’t want to do anything,” she said. “You’re lazy and you think you can just forget all the bad things you know are going to keep happening. You push them out of your mind and pretend like they aren’t there. But they are and they’re going to get worse unless you do something.”
Roe crunched into a piece of Kit-Kat and looked away. Her face bothered him. He didn’t recognize it. It looked too old for her short and thin frame, and her clothes only led him to believe she was homeless.
“You have to do what I am about to tell you to because if you don’t it will hurt a lot of people. I don’t like when people die. You don’t either. My Mother told me so. She picked you because it’s not my place to stop Him and he who He’s infected. The cycle will continue. The man who left his face. The man with the nomed face. The man you shot in the face. They were all infected by an evil that is going to become worse. The next one is the fourth. Four is His number. He is worse now that He is a He. He will do much worse now. I could not stop the first or the third. The second was already done, but Mother has grace for children. She lives in black water now and she doesn’t want to get out. Not yet. She can do more there through me and now through you.”
Roe had absolutely nothing to say, but he couldn’t pretend like he was ignoring her anymore.
“Sometimes we don’t have a choice. Sometimes we do. The choice wouldn’t matter if you knew because the choice would be easy. You still get a choice, though. Mother wants you to choose. She already knows.”
With Roe’s focus now completely on the girl, noticing now how dark brown her eyes were, not completely black, but very close, the atmosphere turned to mud and he found himself slow to move as everyone around him disappeared from his peripheral vision. He was in a tunnel and the only end was the dynamically brown eyes of the girl.
“When I touch your forehead, you will know Mother’s will,” she said, everything else so distant and only her existing. “Stop me now if stagnant waters are where your soul will lie.”
Detective Michael Roe was still. There was electricity in his lungs. There were bugs in his muscles. There was mud inside his veins. He couldn’t breathe and then he realized he didn’t need to.
The pinky finger touched his forehead and the color yellow became all the world entirely.