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Spectrum City is Haunted part 6

WAKE

 

When the dreadlocked barista finished the journal of the man that cut his own face off, he finally understood that before the night was done, he wouldn’t have dreadlocks anymore.

The dreadlocked barista’s name was Cammy. Not even a nickname, his birth certificate literally read Cammy Day Martin because his mom was sick of having boys. He being the fourth in a row, Mrs. Martin had given up on hiding her need for a daughter and so decided her son Cammy would have to do.

Sewer didn’t care, though. That was the name the dreadlocked barista had given himself when he thought he was going to sing for a rock band in sixth grade. He never did find anyone interested in playing instruments for his vocals and so settled for singing acapella in videos he posted on the internet.

Fame was impossible, though. The only way to get famous on the internet was by whoring yourself, one way or another, and he had no desire in trying to win attention. After all, he deserved it. His voice was unique and all he needed was the right crew to stand behind him. As long as someone thought he was good enough, he would be good enough. Quality was all in the mind. It was an illusion like everything else. If only he could figure how to adjust others’ perception of himself. If he could change the illusion to fit his need, anything would be possible.

It was this stream of thought that brought Sewer to the motel. His parent’s basement was alright, except for when family came in town and he had to share it. He lied that he was staying with a friend and used his tips to secure a room for himself because his older brother, second in birth order, was intolerable just like his wife and twin sons.

The notebook was still in his brain. The video of Darren cutting off his face was uploaded, but still with no views. Even the music video versions with the edited footage were drawing nothing. He checked the tags, laying on the made bed of his motel with his laptop, cartoons playing on the muted TV. Nothing. No one had seen it. He’d checked the news, both paper and digital, and there was absolutely nothing. No one knew about the guy that cut his face off but for the people that were there when it happened.

Not enough, thought Sewer. People need to know. People need to see what I saw. People need to understand what it’s like. People need to know. SEVIL LIVES.

The statement was beginning to make sense. SEVIL LIVES meant that everyone lives and everyone dies and it’s all circular. SEVIL is to death as LIVES is to life. Death comes before life, which means that we continue forever in this cycle of death and life and death and on. That was why the guy cut his face off. He got it. He understood that death was the exact same as life. That if it’s all just a cycle, why not just keep recycling? Wasn’t it all just a game anyway? All that shit that you’re fed, all the terrible feelings wasted because feelings meant nothing in the first place, all the grief experienced needlessly because it was intangible and never even existed in the first place.

He changed the tags and renamed the video and turned on the shower, but then realized he didn’t want to get wet and that he kind of liked that he hadn’t showered in a week even though he could feel the slight layer of grime atop his skin. He stared at the mirror, looking at his face.

SEVIL LIVES, he thought. SEVIL LIVES, SEVIL LIVES, SEVIL LIVES.

He hated his nose. He hated his skin. He hated his glasses. He tore them off because it was the only thing of the three he could. He could see well enough without them, though the world did turn blurry, but that was nice. Actually, blurry was exactly what he needed.

He hated his ears, hated his eyes, hated his facial hair. He ran to his bag and began raking the razor over his face before he was even back to the mirror. He would get rid of it. His mustache was stupid. His goatee and neck hair were needless. He’d be done with hair because that would make him feel better.

He couldn’t see the red that started to trickle from his patchily shaved face until he remembered his dreadlocks and understood that those too would have to go. They weren’t his own, anyway. Tied in by some foreign and English illiterate woman because he thought it was cool and worth the money.

When his fingers couldn’t untie the fake hair from his real hair, he pulled, but it wouldn’t tear and so planned for the perfect time to make himself be what he couldn’t wait to become.

X                            X                            X                            X                            X                            X

Detective Michael Roe was getting drunk at The Track and that was okay because She understood.

The work of the day was complete, except for the last deed, and when he sat down at the bar he hadn’t been to in ten years, the bartender young and new, no one realized the significance of the glass of whiskey served neat, which he had to explain to the young girl, all tits and no bar sense because she cared more for tips than her craft, and he sipped it waiting for the sign for She that would come whenever She chose for it to because that was how all the signs of the day before came to him, like flashes of illuminated focus on the object of his deed with a strange feeling of desire and necessity to resolve whatever it was that She was showing him, and so far he’d done exactly what She needed and She said there would only be five because five was her number and with four already done, he was going to be as drunk as possible for the fifth.

That and hopefully drown out the terrible sounds of karaoke coming from the bar stage.

X                            X                            X                            X                            X                            X

Sewer had the karaoke stage of The Track set up with his video camera pointing toward where he wouldn’t be singing as well as his phone propped up and recording when he took the mic from the karaoke DJ. Before that, he went around to other karaoke singers and told them he’d pay them if they videotaped his performance. It was a lie, but most did anyway and he was confident that even if this did lead to his death, his performance would make it to the internet.

Saturn Warship, his favorite band’s hit song, “Generation Vex” played and when the words scrolled across the screen, instead of singing into the microphone, he dropped it to the stage, making feedback ring through the speakers, and missing the lyrics as they became highlighted with no one singing them.

Cast the spell, never tell, wash me down, wishing well.

Sewer took the butcher knife that was tucked into his baggy torn jeans at his back waist and raised it above his head. He used his other hand to hold up his dreads and then wasted no time in slicing underneath his skin, relieving his scalp from the connection to his skull. Blood formed and then ran down his face and he went straight back from the middle of his forehead, over his dome to behind his neck.

There was an uproar but the music kept playing and the people Sewer paid kept videotaping. The ones he didn’t pulled out their phones and began videotaping too, putting themselves in the frame and showing the excitement play out behind them.

Cast the spell, never tell, wash me down, wishing well.

Sewer finished with the first strip of skin, pulling it away from his head and then dangling it by the finally free dreadlock in front of him like a raw slice of bacon tied to a rat tail. Blood dripped and then he helicoptered it into the crowd before digging the butcher knife beneath another flap of skin and matted hair roll. He continued ridding his skull of concealment and got four strips in before the blood covered his face and he was on his knees, weak as the song was nearing its end.

Cast the spell, never tell, wash me down, wishing well.

Sewer crumpled into the floor as the final cymbal on the song rang and the words scrolled out of view to the left of the screen. Sound was gone and the silence felt heavier than any of the noise ever did. He closed his eyes and laid face down on the stage until neon yellow light crept underneath his eyelids.

The voice, which he couldn’t make out before, kept repeating itself. He wasn’t able to discern that it spoke only five times.

“She wants you. She wants you. She wants you. She wants you. She wants you. ”

X                            X                            X                            X                            X                            X

Mark Chambers woke up with his eyes already open. His body was frozen and the stone table beneath him was cold, though he couldn’t feel it or anything else.  He thought it might be a dream until he saw the masks over him. The chants were loud and familiar. He could have joined in, the foreign words ingrained in his brain, but only if fear hadn’t crippled his already numb mouth.

He saw knives and could tell that his skin was being separated, but it didn’t carry any of the sensation he expected. More chanting and then there was drinking and when the masks came off, he didn’t recognize anyone.

He was pulled off the table so that just his upper body was lying flat against it with his ass up and the backs of his toes on the ground. Then he was moving, back and forth with his face mushing against the stone as a palm cupped his ear and squished the other into its hard surface.

The little girl was right. His plans of suicide to avoid rape were foiled. They wouldn’t stop, he knew, until the whole congregation had their turn. He was weak with the loss of blood, passing in and out of consciousness. The longer it took the more the sedative wore off, and as he regained his body’s ability to feel pain, to scream, to struggle, he was tied at the wrists and ankles. The pull of the ropes levitated him in the air as hands at his thighs guided his torso into performing the ritual he himself had victimized so many others with, so many times.

There were more knives, more cuts, more blood and then there were whips and eventually he could see himself in his own dripping blood that created a reflecting pool beneath him.

While the other faces were unrecognizable, his was as it always was, but he still didn’t see it as his own. His distorted features, wrenched into desperate agony, were just as nomed as the rest.

Spectrum City is Haunted part 5

REAP

“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.

CALM the MADNESS 095-096

The CalmThe Madness

The following is a short story that preludes a series of novels entitled HIGHSIX:

Beneath The Desert of Nails, the young girl shivered. She was not used to the chilled air of the underground and was still dressed nicely for the dinner party she wouldn’t be attending tonight.

“Look at me,” said Mother Devusi. She raised the young girl’s eyes with her chin and forefinger. “No matter what happens, I am your mother now. There are trials in life. You have had many and this will be just one more. I will be right here waiting for you. Trust in Nithya. She has chosen me to choose you. You are special and The God of Hands has recognized that and sought you out.”

The girl knew it was obvious she was crying, but Mother Devusi showed no care.

“You are finally home, child. Now come and wash,” she said. “Your face and hands must be clean before I present you.”

The young girl used her knuckles to rid her eyes of tears and sniffled back her drippy nose. She noticed then that the room they were in was wall to wall and floor to ceiling stone. Etched into the surface was letters she couldn’t connect into words.

Mother Devusi brought her before a raised pool of water the girl mistook for a bird bath. Hundreds of hands were masterly cut from the same piece of stone as the rest of the room and looked as if they all gripped the wine glass shaped structure. Beyond it was a stone throne which too was composed of hands carved from the same rock the room was. It was empty, but still commanded her attention anyway. Her eyes didn’t leave until Mother Devusi spoke again.

“Wash and then kneel before Nithya’s throne. I will leave you to Her.” Mother Devusi reached in to the pool of water. It was opaque, but the reflecting candle light made the surface look like it was covered in a swirling rainbow. She opened up her sleeve and the girl couldn’t understand her new mother’s next quietly spoken words. A reptilian head rose from the liquid and crawled in to her sleeve swiftly, but the girl saw enough to notice its scales were a bright yellow, not reflecting light but shining its own from beneath.

The doors closed behind Mother Devusi and the young girl thought to not touch the liquid. She bit down on her tongue to stop more tears from coming. She was at the Mother’s mercy. If she disobeyed, there was no telling what they would do to her. She had been brought to this place so few had seen and if she refused she doubted they would let her leave. Even if they did and she got back home, come the night she would already be wishing herself to be back here.

‘You don’t have to,’ she heard. ‘Leave and you can go back to everything you once were. Stay and you can be what you never before could.’

The voice sounded like hers, but confident, and so she exhaled, preparing herself to obey.

Her tears were dried and she relaxed her jaw from gritting her teeth down in to her tongue. She ignored the taste of blood and then inhaled deeply before digging her hands in to the swirling rainbow liquid. Her cupped hands splashed the liquid into her face. She did it over and over until she was rubbing it in. She pushed through until she felt the slippery bottom and then rubbed her hands together. She brought them out, satisfied she had done what she was instructed to and ran her wet fingers through her hair. She wiped the wetness from her eyes and walked around the standing basin to kneel before the stone throne.

When her knees touched the ground she tried to close her eyes, but found them frozen. She shook her head, but her eyelids stayed still. The room looked as it had before. She looked down to her hands and they too were the same. She looked up to the throne and inhaled a gasp. There was no throne, but in its place a door. She recognized the pealing black paint and the bronze handle. It was unmistakably the door to her home, even the circle window at the top with the stained glass letter J in the middle.

“No,” she said aloud and rose to grab the handle. It turned and she walked in to the entryway of her home, the same as she’d left it this morning. The maroon carpet was the same, her father’s boots and her mother’s sandals sat as they always did in the corner. At the end of the hall was the portrait she remembered sitting hours for to be painted. Her father’s face stern with pride, her mother’s coarse duty stricken face and her own face, quiet and simple, but ruined and sad.

She heard a yelp and once again was moving before it had registered in her mind to. She turned the corner in to the living room and couldn’t breathe. There she was, wearing the same dress she wore now, but hiked up over the top of her hips, with her uncle, slacks to the floor, ramming his pelvis in to her. She backed away in to the dining room and stopped as she bumped the table. There she was too, her cousin’s hands over her mouth, wearing the same dress hiked up with her limp legs bouncing as he pulled her in to him. She ran through to the kitchen where she was on her knees in front of her neighbor, choking and crying. She turned around again and had to cover her ears as the sounds of herself squealing, weeping, suffering wouldn’t dissipate. They reverberated within her home, bouncing back and forth off the walls, but never escaping.

“Sweety doll!” she heard. “Come here. Come to Daddy.” Her body moved against her will and she was then in front of her father. “You’re filthy,” he said. “How dare you. You don’t deserve these clothes if you’re just going to ruin them.”

His mouth opened wide and his teeth wiggled.

“Take them off,” he said and his teeth fell from his mouth. “Give me your clothes.”

The teeth clinked against the floor, bouncing but never settling, the sound repeating over and over. She looked back up to him and more teeth grew in their place.

“How dare you disrespect me,” he grumbled, but before he could finish, his new teeth were falling and clashing to the ground with the others.

“Fuck her,” growled her uncle from the living room.

“Fuck her,” grunted her cousin from the dining room.

She was dead on the couch and she was dead on the table and their teeth were falling too, hopping across the floor and never stopping.

“I’m going to have to. You need to learn your lesson.”

The teeth were all over, covering her sandals, chattering against her skin and then their mouths were raining teeth. They rose to her ankles and then calves and she couldn’t move to back away.

“Show me yourself,” her father said as his tongue hung passed his chin, teeth sliding down with dripping saliva.

The teeth climbed to her knees and then thighs and the noise hurt more so she covered her ears. The teeth reached her waist and she could feel them consuming her, making her disappear.

Her father said something, but his tongue hung to his chest and the fluttering teeth made it unintelligible. He ripped her dress, his fingernails tearing skin away in stripes, and her hardly budded breasts were frozen exposed.

Then the sound was gone. The teeth still rose passed her tailbone and up to the bottom of her rib cage, but she could hear nothing. She lowered her hands in front of her and in her palms were her ears. She looked up to her father who no longer looked human, only a slobbering and flailing man, his skin sagging, almost melting.

“No,” she said. She was gone from the couch where her uncle’s head was all that was visible above the teeth. She was gone from the table where her cousin stared at her in bewilderment. Her father screamed, but it didn’t matter. She might as well have been watching him with a telescope blocks away.

Her father raised his fist, her uncle climbed over the teeth toward her and her cousin swam atop the teeth to her.

“Nithya,” she said and as soon as she did she felt the heat in her hands. The teeth receded from her and she raised her hands in front of her. They glowed so bright, but she was done with surprise and so clapped them in front of her. The teeth crumbled away into dust as her father exploded and disappeared under the teeth. She outstretched her arms and squeezed her fists, not even watching as her uncle and cousin showed their ugly innards. She remembered her neighbor and it was all that was needed as she could feel his life extinguishing behind her.

The teeth retreated, leaving a path to the door. She took off her dress and opened the door to neon yellow light. She fell in and welcomed unconsciousness like never before.

Her nightmares were gone and so instead she dreamt.