Psychotopia- Season One

“The distinction between children and adults, while probably useful for some purposes, is at bottom a specious one, I feel. There are only individual egos, crazy for love.

No enterprise is more likely to succeed than one concealed from the enemy until it is ripe for execution.

The new ruler must determine all the injuries that they will need to inflict. They must inflict them once and for all.

Everyone sees what you appear to be, few experience what you really are.

How we live is so different from how we ought to live that they who studies what ought to be done rather than what is done will learn the way to their downfall rather than to their preservation.

Anyone who tries to be good all the time is bound to come to ruin among the great number who are not good. Hence a sovereign who wants to keep their authority must learn how not to be good, and use that knowledge, or refrain from using it, as necessity requires.

It ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of people, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them.”

Niccolo Machiavelli- slightly altered by the author to make his points gender-neutral because women and girls can be very scary too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Psychotopia- Episode One- Season 1

    January 24, 1982- Sudbury, Ontario, Canada

      It has been noted in jest that chronicling is a penchant that inevitably afflicts the Pendleton women, and even a few of the men, but not too many. It would appear that my time has come to begin my own contributions, if only to alleviate the quiet and empty seconds that surround me up here so far from home. The one distinction, however, is that this journal will not join the dusty ranks of previous volumes that have been submitted in the dubious name of “posterity”. My inscriptions will remain very well hidden as I begin to speak of my life and how I came to be here. Since Amy has deemed me to be “Apostate” anyway,  I will not hesitate to articulate many unsavoury truths. Allow me to assure you, my death wouldn’t be swift if Amy has me captured alive. My death throes would last a minimum of twenty  years, with a heavy emphasis upon the “minimum”.

     Perhaps it’s only because I’m alone, and far from home, that I’m also making this attempt to speak of my life. Perhaps I’m feeling lonely as I listen to the unceasing Arctic wind angrily howling across this lake. Am I too young to experience nostalgia? Nostalgia for what I’m not entirely certain. Then again maybe I’m just bored. It’s been a good while since I’ve killed and consumed some decent livestock. I’m going to have to hunt again soon, but for now, for the most elusive of reasons, I’m going to have to liven up my cold and dark little world inside of this dilapidated boarding room with this pen and this large, hardbound journal that I shoplifted from a Shopper’s Drug Mart, along with these cigars, and this mug of instant coffee. Maybe I just like hearing myself talk on paper. I am a teenage girl after all. We do have a certain standard to maintain as regards to loquaciousness.

     Enough, Ada Pendleton, begin the tale properly. My life, what is it, precisely? A chronological summary with a precise sum at the end of the equation, if one wishes to make an excessively fine point of it. With that as the foundation my mortal sum would be 14 years, 4 months, and 2 weeks. Upon that numeric foundation, there would have to be a growing chain of life events. Situations that have endeavored to mold and define my essential character. Am I so simple a creature that I can be categorized in such a fashion? Can I at least be a little bit of an enigma? I know that I am indeed a mystery unto myself. Otherwise, why am I here alone in this little Canadian mining city with a dreadful death sentence hanging over me? A final judgement wrought into existence by a tyrant named Amy Pendleton? She insists she’s only The Regent until her son, Robert, reaches the Age of Consent, (13 if you care to know), but I’m not fooled. She is the Sovereign Alpha and she is only the third SA to ever command The Paradigm over a period of some 200 odd years. Forgive me for digressing. We’ll return to Amy and my lonely fate at the proper time.

     Some unanticipated impulse compelled me to come here after I saw a photograph of a girl on the cover of a magazine as 1982 began. All of my predatory instincts told me that this girl was dangerous, and since I’ve arrived my instincts are more than justified in that assessment. The interesting thing about labels such as “dangerous” is how terms of that ilk are applied. Is this girl “dangerous” to me? It all depends on how I approach her, and whether or not I should. If I can do so in a manner that will convince her that I’m not a threat to her, then she won’t be a detriment to my existence. (I have exceeded my quota on detriments to my existence already. I don’t need any more problems that wish to kill me slowly and intimately). She will, however, in my estimation be dangerous to many others, and I for one want to see this girl become as dangerous as she possibly can. She is truly brilliant. She is also very unstable. Without her two stalwarts she’d already be dead by her own hand. We’ll get into that in due course. Every story requires a proper beginning and this is not the appropriate jumping-off place.

     I have no alternative but to begin this entry with a very lengthy historical narrative, otherwise whoever constitutes my audience will be confused. I’ll need to provide an overview that will cover the essential moments. I did avidly explore the journals as a child, admittedly, but now I no longer feel the inclination to remain immersed in that terrain. The world has changed since the Canon was written, and it will change again, I optimistically believe. The past holds no attraction for me and the future that I’m beginning to witness unfolding before me in slow motion leaves me feeling nauseous with excitement. It’s a unique thrill to be the first to come across a situation, a phenomenon just starting to bloom and begin to take her first adult-level steps towards the fulfillment of her ambitions. We’ll speak of that again at another time. Let’s begin at the actual beginning.

     To begin with I have to start with where the Paradigm is located. It’s located in Dade County, Georgia in the north-west corner of the state. We’re rather close to both the Tennessee and the Alabama borders. We are a few miles west of The Pope River high up in the Appalachian Mountain chain. Our mountain peaks at about 4,000 feet. Until 1939 one could only drive to Dade Country if they entered from Tennessee or Alabama. The mountain is still quite isolated, (think Deliverance country only more horrific and less musical), as it needs to be in order to sustainably obfuscate the Paradigm’s existence.

     James and Katherine Pendleton, arrived in this most isolated patch of the new world in 1775 when the American Revolution was still a hot-blooded fantasy contained within a gaggle of minds screaming for social changes that were more suitable to the greedy self-interests of the “freedom fighters” in question. At that time James was 20 and his bride was 14. Katherine did almost all of the talking when it came to the pertinent matters of getting themselves sufficiently set up. It was apparent that the little lady was a very studious and well-learned sort who possessed a keen, and overarching bent towards the sciences. James was more inclined towards being a quiet and thoughtful sort. He spoke little and he appeared to be determined to keep his thoughts to himself.

     There are not too many upstanding people who are wise enough to not betray their ignorance at every opportunity. There are even fewer who are smart enough to not betray their secrets. Secrets such as how they came to be in possession of an overabundance of wealth in the form of gold. Neither of them had ever revealed where they first came from, or what was the reason for them having so much gold packed up neatly in a number of steamer trunks. Only in later years was it revealed by their children that their mother made it a point of speaking in a low and smooth accent, a drawl if you will, that didn’t betray its root origins. They could have been foreigners from deep within the Continent, somewhere around the region of the Carpathians who happened to speak excellent English. (My personal fantasy. Being in the possession of Transylvanian roots excessively feeds into my girlish notions, therefore I always keep my fingers crossed. Being Hungarian would be my second choice. Russian is my absolute final option). They spoke excellent English as though it were their mother tongue but they didn’t possess English accents. All of us within the Paradigm take it as a given that their names were contrived and they had taken themselves into the wind with a staggering sum of gold that they had somehow come across in a less-than-legal fashion. Hence they were astute enough to keep their secrets a secret, even from their progeny.

     At the time of their arrival the Appalachians were occupied by the Cherokee tribes. Since the provincial colony of Georgia was preparing to become a state, Katherine struck a deal with its provisional Governor. She said that they would make a substantial financial contribution towards the struggle for independence, and her husband would also volunteer his services as a military man in the cavalry, if they could have one of the mountains for themselves. When Katherine made the pitch, she pointed to a place where the Appalachians are located. She also provided the condition that the deal would only be in effect if the Revolution were successful and the fledgling Republic took off from its aerie like a baby eagle embracing the unlimited skies of possibility. In short, the Pendletons of Parts Unknown offered the governor a sizable bribe. The Governor took the bribe in question because he thought it was a fool’s errand. Oddsmakers at the time did not rate the probability of a successful Revolution very highly, so for the Governor taking the gold was a rational move because he was going to need some getaway money when the Wrath of The Lion came down upon the conspirators in question. The Governor also reckoned that if the Revolution was a success then what of it? If a couple of wealthy eccentrics wanted to live on their own hill, far from the maddening crowd, deep inside the heart of “injun country”, that was no concern of his. He reckoned that the red savages would make mincemeat of them soon enough. The Pendletons told the Governor that they wanted the entire mountain because they were going to seek out more gold up in them there hills, and when they found more filthy lucre they would be the sole owners of the entire vein because they would be the owners of the entire mountain. No one would be able to jump their claim without getting a musket blast to the face and it would be completely legal. Once more the Governor shrugged, and doubtlessly sighed, “whatever”, as he took the shiny mound of dosh that was offered to him, and then he in turn signed over one mountain that was in the middle of a number of mountains up in the top left-hand corner of the 13th colony in the 13 Colonies.

     Alone, and on horseback, they travelled about three hundred and seventy-six miles diagonally across the state. They both carried bows that were copies of the traditional bows used by the Mongolians at the time of Genghis Khan. Many consider them to be the best bows ever constructed with a range of 500 meters. James also carried two Claymores and Katherine carried only one. In their belts, they carried long blades that could still technically be referred to as “knives”. I can only assume that they were dressed for rough travel within the territories.

     When they reached the mountain, they spent several weeks surveying their real estate. At its widest point, it stretched 17 miles from side-to-side over the summit. It was rife with pines, maples, and birch trees. In her journals Katherine described the moment she first arrived as, “Peaceful yet stirring at the same moment. I knew instantaneously that I was HOME, finally.”

      They were looking for something specific and it took them a fortnight to locate it. On the western slope, down close to the base they found a small flat plateau. Katherine marked it on the topographical map she had been drawing and she wrapped several yards of crimson silk around a number of the trees in a nearly perfect circle. The circle was five yards in diameter. With that completed they exited the mountain and they made the lengthy trek back to Savannah to find an engineer that specialized in excavation-type construction. They found just such a gentleman, a chap named Seamus Halloran, and they gave him an ample sum of gold after they explained what it was that they wanted. He said that he could do it but it would take time. He said it would take two years to complete the project and they would have to pay for all of the provisions during that time. Katherine said that would be fine and that, as they say, was that.

     James reported for duty with the provisional militia for the fledgling state of Georgia. An organization subtly known as “The Sons of Liberty”. Katherine returned alone to the mountain to await Mr. Halloran and his laborers. She could have travelled with the engineer but she was too impatient to return to her home. The connection she felt to it was both deep and real to her, which is saying something because Katherine Pendleton was a scientist who was bereft of degree only due to her age and gender, but a scientist all the same. She was a very rational and pragmatic young woman. She wasn’t prone to consistent fits of blarney but she did have her share of passions like any young person. She was the same age as me when she first came to the mountain that I would be born upon, but my passions for the place are of a darker and more complicated hue than hers. She saw the potential of her vision. I saw the reality of how her vision went terribly awry.

     She was pregnant when she made that journey from Savannah to the mountain, by the way.

     When she got back to what would be the Paradigm she made her way to the summit and she pitched her tent to await the engineer. In her journals, she wrote that she would lie on the grassy expanse and stare at the night sky, ruminating about her plans. One of her offspring asked her, later on, if she was apprehensive at all as she laid there alone admiring the blazingly immaculate machinery of the universe above her as the late-spring breeze blew across her diminutive frame, whilst the utter darkness of the uncivilized night surrounded her. According to the Canon she softly laughed and she replied, “No. I was safe because I knew I was where I was supposed to be.”

     Inevitably, Halloran arrived at the mountain with 200 slaves. According to Katherine they looked at her rather askance as they saw her sitting next to her tent with a small fire crackling away with only her horse for company. She had her Mongolian bow beside her and her Claymore hung off of her small body like a third leg. A Claymore is close to four feet long and she was only five feet, just like me. She was sporting what would be her standard dress for a time, black tweed trousers, knee-length doe-skin boots purchased from an outpost operated by The Hudson Bay Company, and a white blouse-type shirt made of thick cotton. She appeared to be gnawing on some jerky.

     The engineer asked if she had seen any Cherokee. Katherine replied that she had heard things creeping about in the forest but she hadn’t seen a soul. Halloran took that as a good sign. It meant that the natives weren’t all that restless and they’d be able to work with only the challenge of the project to contend with.

     150 of those slaves were apparently private soldiers. They were heavily armed with braces of muskets hanging from their necks pirate-style by long strips of thick silk so that they could carry at least six guns. They also had two long flintlocks per man, and long sabres like a cavalry officer would carry. Katherine advised them to stay close to the Western Grove and under no circumstances were they to demonstrate any hostilities if they encountered any Cherokee. She said that the natives would be content to ignore them providing the engineer and his troops consistently gave off the image of having peaceful intentions. It’s curious that she deliberately used the word “image” within that phrase.

     The project was quite large but it was also fairly straight-forward. To begin with all of the trees inside of the enclosure that Katherine has established with her crimson silk ribbon needed to be removed, including the stumps. That part only took a few days with a hefty number of slaves chopping down every tree for a diameter of five yards, dragging them out of the work area, and then they attached chains to dozens of horses and ripped out the stumps. After that was completed they had a nearly perfect circle of mostly loamy-looking soil surrounded by a thick wall of trees with the branches nearly reaching the ground. One has to get right down upon their belly in order to enter that small space. For all intents and purposes, it was hidden, as per her plans. Unless one knew that it was there they wouldn’t see that small treeless space, and even if they did somehow luck their way upon it, it wouldn’t look like anything other than an empty little patch that would be covered in sod. A suitable place for people to make the beast with two backs if such was their wont, or for young girls to doze off beneath the shady branches and dream of strange worlds filled with mad hatters, even madder Queens, white rabbits, tea parties, walruses, and carpenters.

     Now came the fun part.

     Under Halloran’s supervision the slaves proceeded to dig a shaft that was five feet square. The shaft went straight down 100 feet into the Earth. When the shaft was dug, iron rungs akin to re-bar were firmly secured into the walls of the shaft in order to produce a ladder. When that was completed mortar was applied to the walls of the shaft in order to reinforce the ladder. Only one area, right near the bottom of the shaft, facing towards the summit, and away from the flatlands, was left in its original dirt state.

     Then came the really fun part.

     Halloran measured out an entrance that was 7 feet high and five feet wide on the surface of that dirty region. The slaves proceeded to dig out a corridor that extended for twenty feet. When they had gotten that far, they proceeded to dig out a massive square room that was 7 feet high and that room was 1,000,000 square feet and it is indeed great in its vastness. Each side of the Paradigm is 1,000 feet and it extends into the blackness like a starless conception of eternity. In modern terms, it would resemble a very large bomb shelter, a privately-owned bunker that was adequately camouflaged. As I stated, Katherine had a plan, and that plan was impossible to imagine, let alone believe.

     Katherine Pendleton wasn’t some busybody employer during those two years. She was more than content to let the men do the grunt work while she wandered the mountain and slept upon the summit far from the activity. That didn’t mean that she didn’t converse with the engineer. On average, she would talk to him once a week as he kept her apprised of the progress they were making. In turn, she would give him more gold for supplies. When the project got underway in earnest the engineer asked her where her husband was. She told him that he was a military man who was fighting on the side of the fledgling Americans in the Revolution that was underway. Being Irish the engineer had no sympathy for the British overlords of the 13 Colonies, and he made it a point of reassuring her that God was on the side of the freedom fighters in this Most Valiant of Crusades. Rather than insult him with her personal beliefs regarding such stuff and nonsense, she reassured him that all will be as it should be in the end.

     According to Katherine the engineer asked, with no small amount of nervousness, as he smoked his pipe while she in turn was puffing a fine cheroot, what exactly was the purpose of this gigantic space 100 feet straight down? A space that would have a secured hatchway at the top of it, a solid oak door close to a foot in thickness, plated on both sides with a sheet of cast-iron an inch thick at one end of the corridor, and another door of the same dimensions at the other end of the corridor when one enters the Paradigm. The little pregnant girl with the big plans anticipated this query. She explained to him that she was a scientist. A scientist with a wide range of interests that involved physics, chemistry, astronomy, as well as botany, entomology, zoology, and the study of life on the single-cellular level. She wanted a space that did as little as possible to disrupt the composition of the terrain, but yet it needed to be large enough to accommodate a laboratory, supplies, and the children that her and her husband intended to raise. She augmented her point by stating that only an underground facility would rationally suffice to fulfill her objectives.

     Also, this way the mountain would appear to be as pristine as the day that her and her husband, acquired it. Hence the natives would feel convinced that they weren’t attempting to tear apart the forest like the colonialists had done along the eastern seaboard. Halloran asked her why the shaft needed to be so deep. 100 feet to him seemed a bit excessive. Katherine replied that the deeper one goes into the Earth the warmer the environment becomes. She said it was simply easier to heat up such a large space at that depth as she and her family endured the winter months year after year. It also gave her a personal sense of reassurance that if the natives did choose to get uppity, she and her family would be able to sit out their assaults within that vast and dark cavern if the Cherokee somehow did break through the hatchway, and they reached the bottom of the shaft.

     With a trace of a mischievous smile she asked him what he thought she was up to? With a flush of mortification Halloran told her that he was afraid that she was one of those come-to-Jesus sorts of the Apocalyptic variety. He feared that she was going to assemble a gaggle of hysterics in order to wait out the Rapture and the Tribulations as foretold by The Revelations of St. John. In more modern terms, he was afraid that she was establishing a Doomsday cult.

     Katherine privately noted that the Irishman almost got it right, except that it wasn’t a doomsday cult that she was manifesting. If she had told him the truth he would have either fallen over laughing until he died, or he would have just eschewed the laughter and fallen over dead with horror, as his linear brain tried to grasp the justifications behind why she was doing what she was going to do.

     Katherine reassured him that she was no Jesus-freak, Apocalyptic or otherwise. She told him that studying the processes of life, along with the mechanics of the universe, was her way of endeavoring to understand the immaculate design of God’s perfect machine in as much detail as she possibly could. Being a Catholic she knew that she had to toss the execrable “G-word” into her reassurances somewhere in order for Halloran to relax his suspicions. Irrespective of the sexist nature of the times he thought it was admirable what she was doing. Being Catholic he respected her efforts to further the cause of using science to justify God’s existence. If I was genetically capable of pitying him, I would have.

     When she came close to her due date, Katherine left an ample sum of gold with Halloran and she made her way to Savannah some 376 miles away across the wild frontier with her husband after he quietly arrived one day looking like he had seen some good and bloody action serving the Great Cause for Freedom, (unless you were too poor to own property, or you were black, or a native, or worse yet a mere woman. In that case The American Revolution was really a bleak joke. If you change the name of the prison from “Tradition and Stability” to “Freedom”, it’s still a prison for the majority of its inmates only now as they look at the new name of their institution they’re also looking up the word “irony” in the dictionary.)

     Several months later she and her husband returned and she had a daughter named Grace Gloria feeding upon her ample breast. Apparently, she was in a family way once more. James left once again afterwards and he re-joined “The Sons of Liberty”. Katherine handed the engineer some more gold for provisions, and she headed off towards the summit with her daughter.

       The seasons passed, as they always do. To the Irish engineer he assumed that his laid-back and laissez-faire employer was scuttling about annotating and analyzing the Almighty’s limitless wonders. Actually, she was hunting deer with her baby daughter slung to her breast in a papoose-style garment. The only thing that our “Diana” was adorned in, when she was on the prowl, was her doe-skin boots with her lengthy bayonet sheathed to her side, along with two quivers of arrows as large around as her muscular thighs secured to the upper gams in question. Otherwise she was naked with her pale, voluptuous attributes smeared with dirt as her curly black hair was affixed with leaves. She didn’t carry the Claymore when she hunted. It would have been too cumbersome and our Diana wanted to travel light in and amongst the creatures of the forest primeval. She left her horse and her supplies upon the summit as a calculated gamble that the Cherokees wouldn’t trifle with her gear. She figured she could always get more gear if they did.

     According to the Canon, Grace Gloria was not only dead silent, she was also dead asleep as Diana focused on mastering the art of reading sign, following game, and most importantly stalking the Cherokee hunters. In modern terms she was playing, “Monkey See-Monkey Do.” She took to the bush with a certain quantity of skills that she had already acquired but she knew that the natives had much that they could teach her about how to creepy crawl amongst them undetected. She did possess certain advantages. She was a small woman who was only 5 feet tall and at most she weighed 95 pounds if she had a large breakfast and she was soaking wet. She could get down low to the ground and hide as she exercised her patience as though it were a muscle. She was also smart and considering where she was, incredibly brave. Once she was able to spot the hunters, she studied how they themselves silently moved about. That she took note of, like an anthropologist in her journal, and she began to copy their style of waltzing upon the forest floor with their slow and predatory glide.

     It was Grace Gloria who asked her in later years if she was ever spotted by the Cherokee. Katherine replied that she was spotted from time to time but when they saw her with her bow, her babe, and her aura of naked deliberation, they’d move upon their way expressionlessly. They knew a hunter when they saw one and they gave her her due as such, was her speculation. She wasn’t amongst them in the guise of a soldier or an invader intent upon disrupting their way of life. They could see that she was making a solid effort to live as they do. To them that was a quiet show of respect. Unlike the other white devils that they had had the misfortune of encountering, this one didn’t approach them with booze, Bibles, and baubles. They would have been better off if they had filled her and her infant daughter full of arrows when they had the chance because the naked little hunter in their midst was going to become the biggest, and the most vicious white devil they would ever come to know.

     As it was whenever Katherine was spotted by the native hunters she would review and modify her technique, her “fighting style”, if you will. What she was attempting to accomplish was mastering the art of invisibility. If she could perfect her ability to silently stalk the Cherokee, to track them without them detecting her presence in broad daylight, then stalking them at night with more fatal intentions would be easy.

     If only the natives of the forest saw what she was doing in its entirety. As it was they lost their opportunity to kill her, Grace Gloria, and what would be her second daughter, Lillian, who was still gestating away true to form. Through application and study, she did master the ability to stalk the Cherokee unnoticed. She took advantage of her smallness and she could hide beneath the bottom branches. She could climb trees and situate herself dozens of feet above them. She could crawl on all fours where the grass was tall and lay down flat on her side. She proudly noted that she knew that she had mastered the art of stalking game when she could make her way about without the birds changing their various tunes. When the birds go silent within a forest that’s always the first sign to every predator present that there’s danger within their midst. As long as the birds were contentedly chirruping away then the predators would feel reassured that they alone were the biggest threat hidden within their environment. Katherine mastered that art from studying the Cherokee because they were the masters of being able to move through the forest without disturbing a single blade of grass.

     Now it was on to phase two in her education. Hunting deer.

     According to Katherine the challenge for her when she was on the hunt, wasn’t shooting the deer, per se. Her skills as a hunter improved in leaps and bounds as she covertly studied the Cherokee within their environment. Deer are very fleet creatures, and they’re also very alert. Their ears, their eyes, and their noses operate in synchronicity with each other and they’re constantly focused outwards. With her Mongolian bow, she had the advantage of being able to shoot her prey from a much further distance, like a sniper. According to Grace Gloria, her mother’s accuracy with her bow would have put Robin Hood to shame. Therefore, the challenge for Katherine wasn’t shooting the deer. The challenge was shooting the deer in the right way. Most hunters will attempt to shoot one through the neck and hopefully the buck will bleed out due to a severed artery. If the shot is poorly placed the deer will run for its life, and then the hunter is going to have to track their prey, a laborious grind following whatever signs the deer leaves in its wake in the form of blood spatters upon the leaves and the ground, as well as broken twigs and branches. That deer will run for miles before it drops and it will be running at speeds that will leave the hunter at a distinct disadvantage. Katherine didn’t shoot her prey in the neck.

     She aimed for their legs.

     The natives used arrowheads made out of flint, which will suffice if one is aiming for a soft spot upon their prey. Katherine used arrowheads made out of razor-sharp iron affixed to shafts constructed from solid oak that had been tempered by fire to make the arrows themselves as seemingly solid as re-bar. The string for her arrows was constructed from a narrow strand of toughened doe-skin. A strand that could endure a decent amount of usage before it started to fray. One has to have a strong bow, and an even stronger arm, to fire those arrows with accuracy from a long distance. Katherine had both, along with a keen set of nearly black eyes so that she could cripple her prey in a rapid manner.

     Her arrows, fired by that bow, could probably go through a suit of armour. The challenge for her wasn’t hitting the deer the first time. All she had to do was wait for the breeze to die down, slowly exhale, and release three of her fingers all at once. As long as the deer didn’t hear the twang of the bow-string the first shot would strike straight through the knee joint, shattering the cartilage. The deer would emit a stifled cry and then try to escape as quickly and as quietly as it could. The last thing that sorry loser wanted to do was attract attention to the fact that it had just been instantly disabled.

     The very moment that Katherine had opened her three fingers she was rapidly in the process of reaching down towards her right leg where one of her two quivers was fastened to her naked limb. Again, according to Grace Gloria, “she could produce an arrow, nock it, draw it, and release it in one smooth motion that was an impossibly beautiful blur of fluidity”. It was apparent that the lady had skills before she had hit the forest floor the first time she took up the art of the hunt in this wild new world that she had purchased.

     The very nanosecond that that first arrow had struck the deer in its tiny knee joint, the second arrow was already rocketing towards the second of those four legs. That was what we would refer to in our modern times as the money shot. If she missed then that buck was going to take it into the wind, and even with one leg basically hanging like a shrivelled stick of jerky, that creature was going to go quite far, quite quickly. If it could escape with three functioning legs it could then adapt to its disability.

     Katherine admitted that mastering the second shot took time. She was too much of a rational pragmatist to bother chasing that buck when the second shot missed. She knew it was long gone and chasing it would be pointless. Instead she would make her way towards the place where the deer had been standing only a minute before and she would retrieve her two arrows from the tree trunks that they had deeply embedded themselves into with her bayonet. The one advantage with her arrows was that for the price of a whetstone, some machine oil, and a little physical expenditure, she could sharpen them up again and put them back into the rotation. She did quietly endure a certain amount of frustration at that point. She wasn’t one for prayer but she did hope that one of the other predators was able to take advantage of her unintended largesse as that crippled buck tore off into the deep piney. She hoped that when that hypothetical predator came upon the buck who was now slowed down to a degree, that the predator made it a point, on her behalf, of killing that buck with tooth and claw in a slow and agonizing manner, as a form of punishment. An irrational wish perhaps but she was entitled to issue a curse or two at those moments. I know I would have.

     Katherine Pendleton was a rational pragmatist of the scientific variety. She knew that practice did indeed make perfect. And let us not forget that she was pregnant when she first began the advancement of her education, and by extension she was carefully carting about an infant by the time she was diligently working towards mastering the money shot.

     Practice, reinforced with patience and optimism, does indeed make perfect. Katherine understood that the fault laid with her pregnant self, and she practiced becoming faster on the draw. She noted that mastering the art of stalking Cherokee, as well as the art of killing deer upon her terms while brimming with child, was a good way to achieve the desired results because when she wasn’t under such physical demands she would be much deadlier.

     Then the happy day finally came that she had nailed her prey with that second shot through another tiny patella. She made it a point of inscribing in her journal, in the most robust of details, the exhilaration that she had felt when that second arrow struck, “almost as though I had released both of my bolts simultaneously. When I heard my victim scream I knew inside of my brain that it was screaming with terror far more so than physical agony. I was soon going to reverse that dynamic until the only thing that that quadruped was feeling upon the planes of emotion was the dismal yearning that I would finally dispatch it into the Abyss. I would but only once it fell silent because it no longer had the strength to scream, or to even cry out pitifully. Only when its dark brown eyes were filled with the last of its tears of misery would I even deign to consider such a request.

     After all, I can only enjoy this prey once until they are beyond my reach forever. I very much wanted to make the most of this perfect moment that I had finally achieved through my own hard-wrought volitions. Like the act of coitus, I needed to approach this endgame as though it will be the last time that I will ever be in a position to intimately immerse myself within such a moment. Rationally the unimaginable nothingness of death can claim any one of us at any time. Our finite mortality is our constant shadow, even in the blackest of blackness when Morpheus claims my flesh for his dominion. We cannot outrun Thanatos forever, therefore, these fleeting acts of physical beauty, (coitus and the hunt), need to be savoured to their utmost.

     It is in fact, the reality of death that provides the following inarguable rationalization. If one bears the intellect to choose betwixt being a predator, and being a victim, then being the predator is the lone logical selection. One way or another, sooner or later, we all fall to the greatest predator of them all, commonly known as “Nature”. Therefore, it is incumbent of us to go for it, and be the smartest and the most vicious predator that we can be. Once the greatest predator of them all has claimed our form for its own sustenance, we ourselves are then permanently beyond the reach of what is speciously known as “justice”, and we will be in no position to savour or deplore what is said about us once we are dead.

     The Abyss is our reward for living the best life that we can as predators. Only cowards pray for immortality at every opportunity. To a predator, immortality would be the most hideous of curses. Immortality would only instill a deepening sense of fear that would propagate and petrify inside of one’s consciousness, until the very thought of arising from one’s bed would leave them riddled with horror. The only thing a predator need ever concern themselves with is feasting upon what they have just slaughtered with their own hands, fornicating with the ones that they deem to be of their caste in celebration after the fact, procreating more predators after such celebrations in order to replace themselves with better predators, and finally dying as best as they can upon their own terms. Everything else, with the sole exception of accumulating knowledge, is unimportant.

     Nature is a mindlessly perfect machine therefore it doesn’t care about “society” and its artificial rules of conduct, (rules that are squarely aimed at lessening the fears of the livestock (eg. excessive freedom), whilst the ones in control of Satan’s malengine dance to a very different tune, I might add). Empires emerge and then they turn to ash, then dust, and then finally they are not even that substantial. Nature is the only constant upon this Earth, as it should be, and as it will be, if this biped predator has anything to say about that worthless plague beyond my mountain.”

     Her short and fecund form proceeded to waddle across the wooded expanse towards the deer with the two shattered legs. As Bambi desperately dragged his doomed self towards the cover of the foliage Katherine rapidly fired off two more arrows and he was definitely down. Down and yet nowhere near out for the count.

     As she stood over her prize she forced herself to reduce her respiration as she slowly put her Mongolian bow down and she slid her lengthy bayonet out of her sheath as her first daughter blinked her nearly black little eyes and woke up as though she knew that something wickedly interesting was about to happen.

     “The palpitations of my yearning were physically painful as my first daughter happily fed upon my breast whilst laughing away merrily. I began to softly smile with the irony of it all. I was about to commence the most traumatic of inflictions upon my victim and it felt as though I myself may very well indeed fall down dead from cardiac arrest. Grace Gloria, and my unborn child, saved my life that day for if they were not present, I would have indeed collapsed upon that greenishly-mossy patch that was flecked with deer blood.

     As it was, I forced myself to breathe slowly and count to four, and then repeat the procedure as I clutched my blade within my tiny sweaty fist. Not even upon the precipice of being impaled by my husband for the first time did I feel this physical state of anticipatory intensity. What I felt with him was most natural as though the moment was biologically pre-ordained. What I felt right there and then made me more wantonly hungry for the experience of knowing that I was the IMPALER, and this mewling victim was going to be my first of many bloody brides.

     Slowly I sank downwards to my knees and I plunged the lengthy shaft of steel into the soft brown dirt next to my victim’s head. I could feel myself smirking as I saw that head jerk reflexively whilst its shattered legs twitched uselessly with the effort of trying to mount an escape. It was not going anywhere, at least not within its current configuration, and neither were my children and I until we had our predatory fill of blood and agony.

     With the tenderest of hands, I softly tugged my little she-wolf’s face away from my distended nipple and I slowly rotated her wrinkled little body from within the papoose. Finally, I had her positioned so that she could see the face of our victim as its brown eyes glittered in pathetic supplication to her. The little she-wolf pulled one tiny arm free from its swaddling cocoon and she pointed it at the deer. She knew. She knew how I felt, what I was yearning for from deep within my sweat-drenched and dirty flesh, and she approved of the moment. Never had I felt a truer strain of love from another biped ever being extended towards me, not even when my husband smashed me flat with his seemingly indefatigable passion.

     I plucked up the bayonet and I could feel my heart performing its mechanistic functions at a more acceptable rate once more. Gently I dragged the tip of the blade across the side of the deer’s face. The deer moaned and I poked a white spot close to where the shoulder muscles congregate. Immediately those muscles bunched up convulsively. At the same moment I could smell the panic feces racing wetly from its sphincter as its black nostrils flared in horrified preparation for my first strike.

     “Say when, my perfect predator.”, I gently breathed into my daughter’s ear. Silence hung over us and a chill of anticipation filled the fibers of my biceps with more hot blood, making them swell to mannish proportions. Patiently I waited for my daughter’s command. She pointed her finger once more and she grunted. The command was uttered and I happily obeyed.

     I thrust the blade straight through that deer’s white spot and then into the mossy green dirt beneath it. Our victim screamed piercingly as its main body contorted and twisted. The wound was not mortal but it did indeed produce the desired effect, as I clenched my eyes closed and the moment dominated me irrespective of my silent consent. I emitted a feral moan of indescribable desires that I had never experienced before in my young life. As fine as the moment of consummation was with my husband it was also unsurprising. I knew that the moment was going to be of a certain level of pleasure. This moment, however, as I knelt upon the moss over my first bloody bride, exceeded my expectations beyond any rubric of calculation. And the sweetest part was that it was just the beginning. It was but the first thrust into the recipient of all of my predatory passions. There was so much more to come and I was in no hurry at all to achieve my own release.”

     The rest of her blood-soaked narrative entailed a nearly clinical overview of how she tortured that deer to death as her baby daughter mimicked the pain-wracked cries that filled the air. The blow-by-blow account, went on for a few thousand words so we’re just going to fast-forward to the happy ending.

     “Upon completion of the procedure I thoughtlessly took handfuls of warm blood and watched it viscously fall downwards upon our eager bodies. My slightly plump arms seemed to stretch upwards all the way to the sun, and the deer blood fell hotly, sensuously. Its trickling caresses made the entrance of my birth place enflame itself and my digits of their own eagerly rapacious accord, began to instinctively perform a violently manual function, as my other hand continued to plunge into the deer’s neck and anoint more warm blood upon the joyously happy faces of my daughter and I.

      I cried rapturously as my chamber erupted with ejaculate, and then I screamed with the purest of ecstasies, as I continued to plunge and plunder my way beyond the gates of my Elysium bereft of anything even remotely resembling a sense of rhythm and tempo. This was not some Viennese Waltz with its stiff and formalized choreography. THIS WAS VICTORY, as I shoved deer blood past my slick and blazing lips nearly to my cervix. My two mouths were drinking the blood of my victim and my southern maw copiously and continuously gushed forth more opaque ambrosia mixed with deer blood resembling a murky vintage of rose’, whilst my northern hole continued to scream at such a rate of volume, that I had forgotten that I was screaming altogether. Upon reflection that was a dangerous thing to do because any Cherokee hunter/warrior within five miles would have heard me screaming quite easily. Doubtlessly I would have been quite the frightful sight and probably more than a little arousing, I would hope.

     Pleasures I had never known, never imagined, never dreamed of, engulfed my senses until suddenly there was nothing but a white radiance that was emanating from my flesh and yet penetrating it as well. Doubtlessly, my normally pragmatic and rational brain was being flooded with electro-chemical sensations via my central nervous system, in conjunction with my endocrine mechanism. “Enjoy your bloody reward, woman. Stop thinking and savour your apotheosis.”, commanded a voice with a girlish laugh of pure delight as my southern mouth continued to accept more and more deer blood from my degenerate little fingers. I gladly complied with my mistress’ order, with tears of unashamed joy pouring from my nearly-black eyes, as the white light of my now total self-abnegation impaled me and emanated from me in equal measure. I had found a DEITY too powerful, too profound, and too divine to be limited to any sort of a form or a gender. This DEITY’S name was POWER and I saw that it was GOOD.

     For the second time both of my children had saved my life because if it wasn’t for them I would have pursued those pulses with my fingers until death claimed me. I would have pleasurably exhausted myself to unconsciousness and then my pregnant little body would have become grist for some other predator’s mill. And yet, even as the thought flashed through my blissful mind, I reckoned it would have been such a perfect manner in order for me to return to the Earth, if I was alone and unimpregnated that is. But still, I had a greater responsibility therefore I wrenched my one hand free from those two sodden rose petals, and the girlish voice in my head gave off a squawk of protest. I opened my teary eyes to the late spring sunlight that was in the process of blessing our heads with the truth that we were still alive and still a part of Nature’s grand scheme.

     I could tell from staring at my arms that I had slicked my entire front side most thoroughly with deer blood, from the tops of my knees, all the top to the top of my head. I looked down upon my daughter and I gently rotated her fragile frame once again until I could see her wrinkled little face. She had my eyes, nearly black, and upon her soft little crown she had my black hair, which was already starting to curl. Mellowly she nodded at me and I gently placed her slickly bloody face upon my equally slick and bloody breasts. She drank deep from my well and I proceeded to dress the deer with the most impersonal of motions. The pleasure of the kill was done with for now and the proper business of finishing up was underway.

     I flung the organs as far as possible from our kneeling vantage point. A gift for the other predators. Perhaps “bribe” would be a more accurate term. As long as they allowed me and mine the freedom to hunt upon our mountain unmolested, we in turn would recompense their shrewdness with more guts for them to feast upon. Many, many more guts, and in due course those guts would be comprised solely of livestock.

     In short order, the deer was hollowed out and I flung the carcass over my shoulder, and then I retrieved my bow. Where and how I found the strength, I cannot even conjecture, but I actually felt the sort of strength typically reserved for ants. I was coated with blood and brown dirt, and my daughter was equally slathered though free of the soil. Carefully, with calm deliberation, we ventured forth through the trees, and I curiously noted that my naked and bloody self was sharply attuned to my surroundings seemingly bereft of the necessity of concentration upon my part. I did not need to “think” about what I needed to “do” from within the foliage, in order to return to my canvas lair as it flapped in the breeze from upon the summit of my mountain.

     I was, in my own manner, spiritually (for lack of a better term), at one with the other predators, much more so than my Cherokee mentors. My sense of sight and my sense of hearing were at their very zenith of precision. My sense of motion was an unconscious rhythm of natural choreography as I made my way silently without causing the fowl in the trees to become agitated in the slightest. Their birdsong echoed inside of my ears in crystalline fragments as the yellow-gold sunlight greeted my nearly-black eyes in fragments of their own. Even my sense of smell was enhanced as the stench of the earth filled the nostrils of my tiny button nose. I could detect the waft of feces on either side of me. I could even determine just by the strength of the pungency whether it was predator or otherwise. I could even thoughtlessly surmise the age of the excreta. Strangely I did not find the presence of its aroma repugnant. It aided the soil therefore it had its rightful place. Once I had noted its existence I was able to dismiss it completely until I was unaware of its presence altogether.

     I was as happily unhuman as I could be at that point in time. I was liberated from my limitations. Upon reflection, I was curious and yet unsurprised that none of the other predators attempted to trifle with me. I, a heavily impregnated five-foot nothing biped female mammal reeking of deer blood, dirt, feminine sexual release, and sweat, hauling a fully-grown fur sack of carrion whilst my infant daughter pleasantly slept like the dead against my breast. When has trust and faith ever been demonstrated so perfectly? By rights, I should have been a fat target for a cougar, or a team of wolves, but all of the quadruped predators granted me a berth so wide that I could not perceive their existence regardless of my personal efforts to detect them.

     When we returned to our tent upon the summit, after marching two or more thousand feet upwards towards the summit of my mountain, my horse fearfully stared down at me in a state of frozenly silent intimidation. He was a great and beautiful beast, a rare stallion of the deepest crimson, but I took no small amount of satisfaction out of inarticulately communicating to him who was the supreme predator, and who was the beast of burden, as my daughter and I fearlessly stared upwards at his long and apprehensive face. I was his mistress and his life was mine to do with whatever my intellect deemed to be the proper course of action. Fortunately for him he was an invaluable utility, therefore I chose to permit him to continue serving my purpose.

     I did not bother administering “the whore’s bath” with a rag from my water barrels. I let the deer blood stay where it chose to remain upon my encrusted flesh. I cut up the venison into smaller portions and wrapped most of it in oil cloth, as I conjured forth a substantial blaze. I put on a large cauldron of water and I pitched into it a number of potatoes and dried vegetables, with enough seasonings to give it a flavour, along with a substantial amount of flour. It took a number of hours for the stew to bubble its way forth into an edible concoction but it did yield a succulent repast, made all the more pleasurable by the fact that I had tortured and killed the main ingredient myself.  As the sun set, I proceeded to eat a large bowl of my reward with huge chunks of rough bread troweled with butter. I was ravenous beyond calculation. My one regret was that Grace Gloria could not fully enjoy the meal herself, but I did gently dab her tongue with the broth so that she could at least acquire a small taste of better days to come. Her wrinkled little face cooed as she swallowed the broth and I dapped more of it for her to enjoy. I had resolved to scrape the membrane away from the deer skin over the next several days as I updated my journal. That would be her reward to keep her warm when the winter returned.

     After I stuffed myself, I stowed the rest of the cauldron inside of a steamer trunk and locked it up tightly, along with the uncooked portions of venison. The only prize the predators were going to have a reasonable chance of securing was my horse, and if he was intelligent he would detect them in time so that I could dispatch them with my bow. At that juncture, I placed my daughter within her basinet and I wrapped my dirty self in some light blankets.

     Within the blackness of the mountain night, I reviewed that moment when I tortured my victim to death. The eyes. Those dark brown orbs of terror and misery. I swear upon my daughter’s little raven head, I could actually see my victim’s eyes furiously blinking from the blackened roof of my tent. As I fixated upon that self-induced hallucination, I could hear the wind pick up as it blew through the pines and the maples, doubtlessly fueled by my imagination, as it produced a rough and wild approximation of the screaming that bathed my flesh in titillations like the most sublime form of foreplay.

     Once more, unsurprisingly, I reached into a box beside my bedroll and I produced a white candle of impressive length and girth. With little-to-no ceremonial build-up, I began to perform the sinful act of self-abuse with the candle clenched inside of my left fist as it easily slipped inside of my Elysium with no force or duress required. This time I could feel the walls of my sacred chamber expand as the muscles tightened and loosened to accommodate my friendly visitor to such a degree that she did not want him to leave for a goodish period of time. Firstly, we would feast, and then in the Sicilian tradition we would have an extended discussion as regards to our most personal of business over coffee and cheroots, and then we would allow our meal to digest, and then I would finally, albeit reluctantly, release my special guest from my clutches for only the briefest of whiles.

     As my visitor was rapidly and repeatedly rammed 7-8 inches straight into my core, I was staring at my right fist as it held aloft the bayonet that I had used to torture and destroy my victim with. Slowly, I brought the sharp and long blade down until it rested just beneath my crashing and roiling breasts. I could smell the deer blood that still clung to my cheeks, my neck, and my breasts and its waft fed the flames of my imagination, which in turn fed the orgasmic explosions that tore their way out of my southern mouth, as my victim screamed inside of my memories, as my northern maw was itself screaming, as my memories stabbed that quadruped in all of the proper places whilst savouring the flow of its hot and delicious blood.

     In such a setting, alone upon a mountain, nearly 400 miles away from the closest thing that one could deem a city of any note, (Savannah), surrounded by Cherokee warrior/hunters, African slaves, one Irish engineer, and the infant-sized facsimile of her mother, who else but a biped predator of my stature would blast her way through the night stringing together a crimson chain of unending orgasms as I somehow caressed my torso with my bayonet without slicing off one of my amply lactating breasts?

     I seem to recall that at some point I stopped screaming with pleasure and I proceeded to bestially grunt and snarl as that candle slipped and slid like a piston whilst my squat little legs trembled with my knees bent and aimed in diametrically opposite directions. All the while my victim was begging me for death as I played out the entire torture scene in real time inside of my mind, as starbursts of frenzied spasms spread in every direction from my Elysium. Every thrust of the candle was another thrust of my bayonet into that doomed sack of meat that I had commenced to dine upon shortly before this brutally beautiful assault upon my self.

     Alas, the white radiance did not return but the bolts of orgasmic lightning did reduce my weakened legs to the consistency of warmed-over marmalade, as I savagely howled out my triumphs for the other predators to hear. A warning? An invitation? The only reason why I ceased was because my arm had lost its thrust due to the fatigue that comes with being abused past its physical limits. I was done, and done very well. I smeared my face with my own clear and tangy ejaculate and then I licked it off of my rapacious paw as the salty brine of my own tears made themselves known to my tongue as well. Such ecstasy, such a thoughtlessly unlimited universe of true freedom. For a cerebral woman such as myself, this moment was the apex of my existence. Within my mind I could hear that girlish voice gently humming me rhapsodically towards the arms of Morpheus with a soft lilt of reassurance that all was well and truly right in my life. I trusted that voice. I knew she meant me nothing but benevolence. I exhaustedly submitted to his rough embrace as the hand that was clutching the bayonet fell to my side with a muted impact, and that was the final thing that I could recollect for many black and dreamless hours as my daughter and I drifted within the amniotic fluid of peaceful repose.”

     Katherine wasn’t consistently prone to fits of exuberance but it was the first kill that suited the dictates of her proclivities. She was quite proud of herself, and deservedly so. From my modernist perspective, I have to consistently remind myself that this was a barely 15-year old girl, with a baby, and another baby on the way, alone upon a grassy plateau on top of a mountain in a far-flung location in what was still known at that time as “the new world”. Every Pendleton female going all the way back to Grace Gloria has said at least once, “I wish I had her courage.” I’ve said it many times, especially as I transcribed the entirety of her voluminous journals. I may be a violent criminal of the iciest variety but I know when I’m in the presence of greatness, even if it is only on paper, and I proudly bow before her with the profoundest of gratitude that she took her vision to this isolated piece of Americana. If there was a God, I wouldn’t hesitate to thank Him, Her, or It, for Katherine Pendleton. Since there is no Supreme Being I have to make do with thanking “Nature”, and I do so by being the best predator that Katherine Pendleton admonished me to be. It’s the only rational way to honour her for the gift of my predatory existence, even as I am currently struggling with this death sentence that is illuminating the gateway of the Abyss before me.

     Shortly before the end of the project, James returned to the mountain to take his wife to Savannah so she could have her second baby. Katherine gave Halloran one last payment of a substantial nature and she said farewell because she knew that he and his slave-soldiers would be gone by the time she returned. She said that she was appreciative for everything that he had done, and she told him she would post a detailed letter telling him what she thought of his work.

     Katherine, James, and Grace Gloria left for Savannah and in short order her daughter Lillian joined the pack. James and Katherine did a significant amount of celebrating of their own in the seaside city. Soon enough she was once more impregnated and she jested to her husband that her clean country lifestyle was responsible for her powers of recovery in terms of her fertility. James made his quiet exit once more to rejoin the fight and Katherine bided her time waiting for the engineer to return to Savannah.

     Katherine did walk about the little city that James Oglethorpe had planned with meticulous and beautiful care. Personally, I’m quite fond of the place. Katherine wasn’t so enamored with it in late 1777.

     “Intellectually I know that the 22 planned and calculated squares of this city are supposed to be rather lovely, and from an engineering perspective I can respect the design, and yet the entire town leaves me feeling nothing but repugnance. It is not ugly, it is frankly worse than ugly. It is contrived. It is bricks, and limestone, and glass, and burnished wood, and brass, and iron, and cobblestones all assembled together in order to reveal what exactly? The hollow power of artifice and nothing more. This city is a monument erected in the name of self-deception.

     Nature bestowed upon me certain gifts, my intellect being one of them. I will do my part, as a product of Nature, to see to it that the predators that I procreate will take that vitally necessary step towards becoming far more perfect than myself in terms of their supremacy. They in turn will also procreate predators that will be even more perfect than them. In the meanwhile, cities such as this will produce nothing but regressively worsening weaklings who are induced to embrace an image that has nothing backing its play once one slips past their bright and shining veneer. Deception was crafted by Nature to be a weapon. In the hands of the predator deception is a way of death. In the faces of the weak, self-deception is a way of life.

     The Bard was correct but he did not tell the entire truth because he could not. The world is indeed a stage but it is the predator that will play many parts because the predator knows that when they perform there is a direct and rational point at the end of their moment upon the stage. They become whatever it is that the situation deems to be necessary. The livestock within cities such as this perform before each other like idiots full of sound and fury signifying nothing. They only have one character within their repertoire, and that character is the false image that they have of themselves. It is the quid pro quo of the weak and it shall be their undoing when the mummers of the mountain come to their towns. When we are finished with our pantomimes we shall take more, much more, than the pound of flesh that we are due. We will be the blood-soaked mystery betwixt their non-existent Heaven and the very real Hell on Earth that we Pendletons shall become, and all of their combined philosophies will not be able to stop we happy few from eating them out of house and home.

     My predatory strategy is an equation. Sun Tzu levelled the foundation. Machiavelli built the mansion that will rest upon that foundation. Shakespeare will affix the chandeliers, the tapestries, the rugs, the furniture, the portraits that will hang upon the walls, the colour of the walls, and the very fabric that will constitute the bedding. In short, The Bard will make the interior as beautiful as possible. Science, however, will create the residents of that mansion and they will dwell there in perpetuity. The Pendletons within that exalted estate will improve themselves generation after generation. They will become more intelligent, more beautiful, and more vicious within their aspects. The livestock that they will feast upon shall stagnate themselves into a state of docile imbecility over those self-same generations. I will light the torch and point the way for future Pendletons to follow but it is society that will manufacture our meat. If I did not make this attempt to advance Nature’s cause to procreate perfect predators, society would still produce the same dullards.

     Predators were here first. They were the action. Society came along as the equally opposite reaction. As the products of Nature, predators can adapt perpetually. Society cannot. Being artificial it will decay as entropy erodes it until Nature reclaims it. Predators are the animated agents of societal entropy. Nature made me, and it will craft my descendants as well, and we will feast at our table within the mansion until society is gone altogether.

     But first, I have to destroy the engineer who knows the secret of the mountain. A pawn to be flicked off of the board with my tiny finger. Once I have destroyed that victim, the rest shall be rudimentary. Science teaches that there is a process to everything, a sequence of steps to be adhered to in order to achieve a specific result. This is going to be a long process but once society is gone all shall be restored to its Natural state with one new predator added to the fold to rule from within Nature’s eternally perfect paradigm. We Pendletons will reign supreme. A perfect predatory species unto ourselves and we shall be subordinate to none.”

     Halloran was back inside of Savannah for a short while when she wrote that. While he was gone the pragmatic scientist-cum-predator took advantage of that time to learn the logistical layout out of the city, including Mr. Halloran’s office, which also happened to be his house within the center of the central business district. She knew how to gain access into his domicile and she knew how to quietly escape undetected afterwards. All she required was a navy-blue cotton blouse, loose-fitting cotton navy-blue trousers, her doe-skin boots, and a large leather satchel.

     Halloran returned home to the bosom of his wife and kids while his two houseslaves presumably bowed and scraped. The slave-soldiers were dismissed back to their actual owner, who rented them out to the engineer for the project. Katherine allowed her victim a week to get re-acquainted with his family. It would look less suspicious that way compared to killing him the first night he was home. All he knew was that she was in the city tending to her new-born daughter, Lillian, before returning to the mountain. James was already back with his unit as the Revolution raged onwards.

     It’s more fitting to let my subject robustly regale you with what she did next in her own words. She had a lot of fun with this guy.

     “On the night in question I rocked my babes to sleep as I quietly explained to them that Mama needed to hunt, and she needed them to be good little sleepers for approximately an hour at the most. Both of my girls yawned and they turned towards each other. Grace Gloria being the bigger one placed her arm about the body of her tiny new-born sister, as if to communicate to her that all would be fine, and Mama knew what she was doing. Lillian didn’t seem perturbed in the slightest. She sneezed once and then she was at one with Morpheus. Grace Gloria joined her after she gave me a look of confidence. My babes were asleep and I adorned myself in my hunting gear. I watched the hickory burn within the hearth as it gave off a pleasant aroma that permeated the room. Inside of the flames I could envision what I was going to do. Fire has a way of focusing my thoughts and intentions whilst metaphorically burning away any irrelevant considerations. The clock tick-tocked upon the mantle above and before I was aware of it, it chimed forth the midnight hour. I was not even cognizant that 75 minutes had somehow slipped passed me but even so, I had the entire task visually laid forth inside of my brain and my body.

     I gave my daughters one last inspective glance. They were in the land of nod while Mama was in the land of predatory anticipation.

     Softly I crept from the apartment and I glided down the stairs. I was a master hunter of the forest, and I had brought down many deer at that point to their agonizing doom whilst traversing amongst the Cherokee undetected. This was no challenge to me. This was merely sport with a practical consideration attached to the game.

     From the first moment that had I laid my eyes upon the engineer, I knew he was going to die by my hand at the proper time, and I waited just over two years for that moment to come to fruition. He was the only one who knew exactly where the Paradigm was ensconced upon my mountain. The slave soldiers would forget in due course. To them it was but an assignment and a dull one at that. A hole in the ground hundreds of miles away up in the Appalachians was nothing to them but to Halloran it was a personal achievement. It was something that he could add to his curriculum vitae in order to attract more business. He had detailed drawings of my lair that he could present to future clients, along with exact co-ordinates of where it was located. Hypothetically, he could even send me a request asking for permission to show it off like a prize rose bush to these prospective sorts. No, he needed to die, and as a rationally pragmatic predator I knew that now was the time to commit my first murder of the livestock variety. It was a murder of necessity but I was going to make it worthwhile all the same.

     The streets were as quiet and nearly as dark as the mountain. The moon was new. I made sure to wait for that to occur. Since I was in an urban environment I did not need to slowly lurk providing I clung to the shadows of the many trees that lined the streets. I ran at a quick gallop towards Halloran’s house with my tiny feet barely making contact with the cobblestones. His house, (what they deem a mansion in this city in spite of its unimpressive dimensions), had a brick wall that was six feet high. That was no challenge to me as I sprang upwards and gripped the top of it, vaulting myself over onto the tiled walkway. I knew that any of the entryways would be simplicity itself to unlatch but to my surprise the entrance from the rear enclosure of the petite manse was unlocked. It was as though they childishly imagined that artificially-conceived urban models such as this were somehow magically capable of fending off the specter of Death from encroaching from without.

     Once I was inside the drawing room I closed my eyes and I strained my ears to listen to the interior. Nothing. I could hear nothing about me except the ticking of a grandfather clock situated in a darkened corner. Stealthily, I crept towards the staircase. As I looked upwards at it, I could see a white candle flickering within a lantern glass affixed to a sconce upon the wall above the landing. The wall behind the candle was of a forest-green fabric in a striped pattern. The stairs were covered with red carpeting.

     Quickly and adroitly, I made my way up the stairs until I was in the corridor. Halloran had 6 children. The slaves would be asleep downstairs. Where would Massa Halloran lay his head, I pondered as I stepped slowly down the corridor, listening to hear any clues that were forthcoming from the bedchamber doors?

     Suddenly the darkness was violated by a sharply slicing snore that slashed the stillness. I found my victim but I had to kill it fast before its obnoxiously noisy exhalations awoke the entire street, if not the city itself. I pushed its door open and the snoring was even louder by at least a factor of 50%. I was in luck. Evidently the mate realized many years ago that separate boudoirs was the only rational recourse. My victim was sleeping alone in a four-poster monstrosity shrouded in layers of gauzy mosquito netting.

     As I stood beside the bed staring at my victim, a question emanated from my pragmatic faculties. How far could I push this moment of predatory amusement? I was here on a mission, true, and after I killed my victim I had to pay a visit to its office. In theory this was a murder of necessity, but still, but still, I could do something to signify the moment could I not?

     It has been said that he who hesitates is lost. I wasn’t lost but I did hesitate. I ran many scenarios through my mind as rapidly as lightning. I could not let this moment slip away. This was my first livestock kill and I wanted the memory of it to be good enough to last me the rest of my life. This may be the only biped that I get to destroy because Death is our constant shadow and Nature may kill me in turn ten minutes after I kill my victim. Therefore, I need to make this moment as good as I possibly can. I am a rational pragmatist but this was almost becoming an issue of morality, which is to say that it would be wrong, perhaps even sinful of me, to not exploit this chance to be the best predator that I can be.

     With my bayonet extracted I parted the gauzy netting. I took two steps forward and I let it silently fall back into place behind me as it gently kissed my backside. It was dark inside of that chamber. My night vision is excellent but even so I had to estimate where everything was upon my victim. His head was easy to locate. All I had to do was follow the aural excrement that was grinding forth from its damaged sinuses. My victim was about 5’, 9”. It was excessively rotund in composition. Even after two years upon my mountain it somehow avoided the sort of weight loss that comes with active living. When I paid for all of those provisions, I must have put half of that budget straight into its stomach. Such is the cost of unwillingly dwelling within a paradigm whereby fat is deemed to be a symbol of prosperity and status.

     As softly as possible, I extended the fingers of my left hand until I found its right leg. There, just above the knee. That shall be my first strike point. I crouched slightly in the proper position. With touch memory to work from, I aggressively thrusted the tip of my bayonet as hard as I could, and as rapidly as I could muster forth. I felt the long blade slice its way through the muscle and then it vibrantly scraped off of the femur before it made its exit out the other side of its leg. Like the deer that I had cut down, there was no way that it could make a run for it now.

     It gave off a gasp mostly of surprise as its brain attempted to construe what had just transpired. At that moment, I released the bayonet and I sprang upon my victim, and even as I was in mid-flight, it felt to me as though everything that I could sense began to slow down. Instantly, I struck it in the snout, and I could feel the cartilage shatter beneath my black-gloved fist, as the fingers of my left hand became pincers and I stuffed them deep into its throat, and I began to crush its larynx. Its arms tried to grab me but I had lowered myself close to his face, as though I was going to send it into the Abyss with the kiss of death. My powerful upper legs were pressed into the sides of its weak upper arms, limiting the mobility of its two limbs. Its lower arms flailed and tried to grab my biceps but my thighs are like raw iron now due to hauling many destroyed deer up my mountain. I pushed my fingers deeper into its larynx until I felt the cartilage begin to snap as I continued striking it upon the snout with short and viciously-applied jabs. I heard a ragged cough and I could smell the blood that began to bubble and ooze from its lips. My victim was incapable of screaming. All it could do was gag and sputter as it spat fine misty droplets of blood into my face.

     Impulsively, (since my sense of self-control was a slippery attribute at that juncture), I slammed my open hand upwards upon its mandible and I closed its mouth. I kissed my victim and I madly proceeded to lick the brightly pink arterial blood from its quivering lips. Is such an act infidelity? I am killing it after all and within my mind I was endeavouring to make the moment as personal as I could, if only for myself. This biped would only be in my embrace but the once. Making this moment as intimate as I could elevated my senses as my rousing flesh absorbed my victim’s agony.

     I could feel the tears coursing from its cheeks as I pulled my head away. All that I had accomplished at that juncture took two eternal minutes at the most. Through its smashed and pulpy mouth it garbled, “NO, KATHERINE. PLEASE. GOD. NO.”, in an audibly discernable manner. Hearing the miserable wretch beg set off a torch of white phosphorus inside of my Elysium that threatened to make me faint as I clamped my pincer-like fingers once more upon his constricted esophagus. The fact that it knew who was killing it in the darkness, even as mired as it was in its own misery, made me feel a singularly powerful sense of uniqueness that was deeply flattering.

     “Your joke of a God made me this way, Halloran. Go cry to Him.”, I snarled with just the right admixture of fire and ice. Obviously, I do not believe that at all. I am a product of Nature but I knew that a comment such as that would wound his battered consciousness deeply.

     With a barbarous grunt I ripped the bayonet out of its leg and I severed the femoral artery in the process. As it proceeded to bleed out, I rammed the bayonet straight through one of its eyes and then I repeated the assault upon the other. I could feel the impact of the knife jar itself up my entire limb as it struck the rear of the orbital socket. Now it could not see anything as its lower arms began to gesticulate in terror as more blood gurgled from its mouth and nose. I had a minute and then I knew it would be exsanguinated, so I savagely struck with my knife into its flabby guts so that I could create the most horrific scene possible for the house slaves to discover. I stuffed my hand into the massive rents that I had slashed into its quivering belly and I began to tear out tissue fragments of intestines, liver, kidney, and membrane. I haphazardly flung those bloody items around and I could hear them land against the gauze and then plummet onto the floor next to the bed. In another moment, I heard the death rattle punctuate the air as it trembled through my hand that was still buried within its esophagus, and then it was still.

     Such a sweet and wonderful silence filled that bedchamber, and yet I knew that that silence would potentially be deafening, therefore I had to act swiftly. I grabbed its arm and with less-than-surgical precision I sliced through the gristle along the wrist until I had severed its hand. It should keep for at least a day. I wrapped the hand inside some oilcloth and then I put that inside of my satchel. Then I rolled off of the bed with the nimbleness of a professional tumbler and I parted the gauzy curtains.

     Once more I stretched my ears and listened. Nothing but the distant ticking of the grandfather clock downstairs. Quickly I made my way out the bedchamber door and headed downstairs towards the drawing room. From previous nocturnal excursions, I learned from looking through the windows that Halloran’s office was just off to the side of the drawing room. I crept inside of that space and I grabbed a candelabra from the desk. I lit it with a taper from the hearth and I looked downwards at the large mahogany desk before me. Halloran’s saddlebags rested upon it. Predatory luck was still upon my side. When I looked inside of it I saw a raft of parchments all pertaining to my mountain. Progress reports, detailed sketches, and the like. I wasn’t concerned about that. What I was looking for was a map. Carefully I scrutinized the papers and I saw nothing that connoted of a map. I also saw nothing that indicated that he had given any precise co-ordinates to where he had been for the past two years. Finally, near the bottom of the pile, I found the topography map. There it was. He had circled the peak in pencil. That was all I needed to steal.

     From my satchel, I brought out another map and it too had a peak circled in pencil, only this peak was three mountains west of mine. When my victim is found ripped open and mutilated, the authorities will inspect his personal effects looking for a motive. If it is dead and his papers are missing, I will become the suspect. If it is dead and his papers indicate a false location, then the authorities will look elsewhere for their killer. There’s just one other thing that I needed to steal.

     My victim’s diary.

     I know my victim had one because I have witnessed it scribbling in it at the end of the work day. It may, or it may not have made notations regarding me, but if it did the authorities might be inclined to look my way if it did indeed make any observations about my character. Especially since I am currently within the city at the time of its death.

     The journal was locked within its desk. One swift prying wrench of my knife and I had it. It was as large as a family Bible and it more than covered the dates since James and I struck our deal with it. It was a black leather-bound tome, about four inches thick and it was a foot by eight inches. I closed the desk drawer. It would look obvious to the authorities that the desk was jimmied open and when they ask what was inside of the desk, all and sundry will reply, “his diary”. They’ll make the obvious connection that the killer made off with the book because it contained something that the killer wanted no one to know about. That secret, however, could be anything at all, and the fact that its gone will send the investigators hither and yon looking for secrets whilst the real secret has been obfuscated near the bottom of his project notes.

     It was now time for this beautifully murderous little thespian to quit the stage.

     I was over the wall once more within thirty seconds and I loped through the dark streets of Savannah all the way back to that barely-serviceable apartment. When I closed the dwelling door behind me I inspected my daughters. Both were still soundly asleep, and unbelievably, I was gone for less than an hour. It felt both longer and yet shorter than the actual span of time that the procedure required. Perception is indeed a curious thing when one’s senses have been stretched past the typically impenetrable barrier of mundane existence.

     Immediately, I carefully stripped off my garments whilst standing upon the dark brown rug comprised of some thick woolen material. I could smell the victim’s blood across the crotch of my trousers as well as the entire front my blouse. Fortuitously, it was still wet, (Being here before it dried may very well be the true motivation for my fleeting sprint throughout the post-midnight streets, upon reflection).

     With a most heated gasp I proceeded to rub my victim’s blood across my breasts, my throat, my face, my abdomen, my legs, my arms, and finally I stuffed the bloodiest portion of the still-slickened blouse a decent distance inside of my already pulsating Elysium. Instantly, I could feel the swoon as the coppery aroma slipped inside of my nostrils. The promise of the white radiance dangled before my hungrily aroused and predatory face as I began to instantly growl, grunt, and groan all at the same instant, as I felt the furnace within my sacred chamber reheating my victim’s blood as it commingled with my glistening ambrosia. I was grateful, ever so deeply grateful, that so much of its blood was absorbed into my hunting clothes. Such a gift, such a perfect gift. I felt blessed at that moment and for the first time ever I was truly grateful to be alive. Not even when I bore my first daughter did I feel this level of gratitude for being a living part of Nature’s agenda. A shameful admission perhaps, but there it is. Only a good kill can bestow that sort of rapture. Yet another bonus that I could not ever anticipate or even dream of if I was stricken with malaria and I was in the throes of a feverish delirium.

     I slowly removed that portion of the bloody shirt from within me. “Clean” would not be the proper term to implement at that moment, and yet it was mostly unbloodied. I placed the garments into the hearth, and I have to confess that I only did so because I knew I needed to burn the evidence, but my reluctance to do so was formidable. The final trace vestiges of my victim’s life essence began to smoulder. The combination of blood and ambrosia created a new compound and together the salty-coppery scent ghosted itself along with the hickory. A menage a trois for the olfactory senses to ruthlessly wallow in.

     A raw and primal incense proceeded to fill the little drawing room as I continued to emit the most guttural noises as I knelt before the fire with my thighs splayed as wide as any Parisian ballerinas. My upper half rocked forward and backwards to such a degree that my head came close to smashing itself into the grey bricks that made up the border of the outer hearth. It would then rock itself backwards to such a degree that the back of my head did indeed make contact with the brown rug beneath me. After one solidly cracking jolt, I slowly lifted my head upright and pulled the tangled vines of black curly hair away from my equally sweat-slickened face. I did not wish to startle my babes with the screams that I knew that I would soon be crying forth. Unfortunately, there were also neighbours in this boarding-room establishment. Neighbours that I have endeavoured to avoid as much as possible. Neighbours that I know have been studying me since my husband and I first came to this place. Idle gossips. How I will savour the chance to kill them slowly, someday.

     I was stretching out this moment, heightening the gnawing greedy insistences that snapped and barked from inside of my Elysium. The bitch within wanted her allotment of meat but the bitch without knew that as soon as the celebratory feast commences it will proceed to its inevitable denouement, and I wanted, nay demanded that that climactic conclusion be shoved back as far as my will power could send it. I wanted, at the very, very least to inculcate the illusion of eternal timelessness within that external space, before I began to stuff my southern mouth with the meat that I had butchered.

     That rat-like gnawing burned, itched, screamed, cried, and burned some more as I dug my claws into the tops of my legs just above my knees, and then dragged them upwards towards my cleft. The sight of my own blood mixing with my victim’s blood forced me to clamp my little lips shut, along with my nearly-black eyes, as I lowered my head and screamed from within my throat as I repeated those rents, those deep gouges once more all the way to the ledge just above my Elysium. I could feel my own blood sliding downwards into that cleft until it kissed the lips of my southern mouth. The burning within transferred itself into a physical pain without, and I mindlessly began to lap my own blood off of my little paws as though it were the elixir of life itself. Which, I suppose blood truly is, if one is being rational about it. I was the polar opposite of rational at that moment, however. All I knew was that I tasted like POWER and that POWER tasted GOOD upon my triangular little tongue.

     Enough. Enough. Enough, little bitch. Foreplay comes with a finite span of time. Let the real celebration begin.

     With the sort of energy reserved for the depraved, I sprang towards the bed and I snatched up a plain cotton pillow sheet. My little blood-soaked hands had brains of their own as they furiously twisted up the center of the sheet until it formed a sizable knot nearly the dimensions of my fist. I wrapped that pillow sheet around my mouth as tightly as I could, with the large knot filling my mouth as I bit down upon it, and then I bound it tightly into a painfully-fastened knot. The little bitch bit down upon that knot with all of the ferocity that her jaw muscles had to spare as though I were about to have one of my own limbs amputated upon the battlefield bereft of either whiskey or morphine. I aimed my knees east and west and then I produced my victim’s hand from the satchel beside me. He had good sized fingers, certainly far larger than my own diminutive digits, and the paw was still lukewarm. I looked at the bloody end of its wrist and I could see tendrils of stringy tendons and ligaments that hung from the end of the vicious-looking stump. The little white bones of its wrist displayed themselves as well, not resembling much of anything discernable.

     I pulled out my bayonet and rested it beside my leg. I then began to bend all but the middle finger inwards. Since the hand was severed the digits were pliable. Once that was done, I had one digit that roughly bore the dimensions of an average-sized penis, approximately 6 inches with the circumference of a cigar. I hefted my trophy in my soft little right hand whilst I hefted the blade that severed the trophy in my left.

     As I stared at the fire inside of the hearth only a couple of meters before me, I savagely plunged my trophy straight into my core, and instantly the fire before me was now the fire within me, as I bit down upon that knot as though I was in labour yet again. Oh, how bloody good it felt having that thick purloined digit impaling me as I shoved it about in and out, up and down, as my rose petals clamped onto it with even more tenacity than when I clamped onto the creature that that hand had belonged to before I slaughtered it. The flames inside of me fed the images in my mind of me ripping that thing open as I heard it gurgle and spasm in muted agony. The screams I was struggling to stifle inside of my throat made me imagine the screams that I wish I could have made my victim emote if the circumstances were only different. But even so my spine arched like my Mongolian bow upon the hunt as the first orgasm nearly crippled me from my sizable breasts downwards, as I felt the lightning of the most criminal of pleasures spread itself forth from within the darkest recesses of my sanctuary. How can I describe it any better? All I can do as one with a gift for the sciences is record the results of this phenomenon as they manifested themselves, whilst I continued to thrust and plunge with that stolen hand of my first biped victim.

     Every so often, after a particularly riveting explosion from the hearth within my southern mouth, I would stop with that digit completely buried in rose petals and velvet muscles, and I would stare at the bayonet within my left hand as it glittered within the glow of the outer hearth. Oh, how I wished that I had that creature lashed to a slab before me in some subterranean vault whereby I could violently disassemble it slowly and thoroughly. When it comes to the pleasures of the hunt I am a most greedy little bitch, and as I stared at my blade I swore that I would improve my hunting techniques so that I could wreak the utter most out of my captives as I possibly could before they finally expired. This evening, as beautiful as it was, as orgasmic as it was at that exact moment, was but a prototype. I did as much as I could within that manse, which was quite a bit all things considered, but when it comes to POWER little bitches like me always want MORE. I want so much POWER that I will be forced to vomit its residue all over my voluptuously blood-soaked body and then consume MORE POWER in order to make up for the shortfall.

     After I made that oath I could hear that girlish laughter inside of my consciousness as it trilled and rang so beautifully.

     “Enough with the oaths, little bitch. Return to your task and carpe noctum.”

     And seize the night, I did.

     From there the orgasmic releases arrived faster and faster until once more it became a chain of bio-electrical-chemical reactions whereby one began before the previous one had quit the stage. This was Hell because the very last thread of my rational pragmatism knew that I had to cease what I was doing, and yet my southern mouth continued to greedily suck upon that digit like the French art of fellatio, and my preferred killing hand kept stabbing it back into that perfect wound as the unspooling memories of that murder kept spinning like a carousel that had my victim impaled upon a rough wooden cross, Vlad Tepes-style, and he was hanging slumped face up with his shining grey guts dragging behind him in the dirt several feet below. The carousel spun at just the perfect rate of velocity so that I could savour the view of my handiwork, as I kept plunging and shoving and wrenching and slamming my trophy back and back and back into that greedy maw that knew no satiety, or at least I hoped that it did not know its own limitations. I was not in control.

     I was blissfully damned to the Hell of my recklessly indulgent celebration. The vision of the carousel was so utterly complete that I could no longer see the hearth, or my arms, or my legs, or my babes slumbering within the black pram, or anything at all that would constitute my external reality. I was well and truly somewhere else, and for all I knew if my babes were capable of pulling themselves upright and staring towards the brown rug they wouldn’t be able to view their damnably depraved Mama because the little bitch’s physical form would have been vacated from that space and re-located to some other dimensional plane within the universe.

     I even began to suspect that I may have been dead with that severed hand stuffed so far inside of my Elysium that it had caused some sort of a hemorrhage, a ruptured abdominal artery perhaps. Such a way to die. Whatever shall the neighbours say when they find my tiny, blood-soaked corpse curled up upon the brown rug with my thighs tightly locked together, clutching my bayonet with my post-orgasmic rictus sardonicus stamped upon my face. If I was dead then Heaven and Hell were synonymous, and if Jehovah and Satan violently wanted to share me betwixt them, forcing me upon all fours like a captured little bitch, I would happily take one in my Elysium, or my rectum, and the other in my mouth as an eternal thank you for a death well-lived. I would accept their constant rapes of me as my due punishment for denying their existence in the first place. It seems only fair after all. Celestial justice has to be meted out, inch by inch, over and again, to a filthy sinner of my magnitude.

     And yet still, I could feel that finger wrenching its way in and out of me, expanding and contracting the walls of my chamber with the most relentless sense of abandon. The carousel proceeded to expand revealing to my blood-soaked face that there were thousands of those crosses, unbaptised and yet ready for more livestock for me and mine to mount. As I stared at the promise of my potential, I noticed that I myself was shrinking until I was but a girl of 8 with my black curly hair blowing madly within the breeze that the massive amusement ride produced like a windmill. A creeping flood of blood began to expand from the base of that turbine in a uniform rate of progression towards my tiny feet.

     I was wearing a white cotton night dress that draped my small and shapeless form all the way down to my ankles. The sort of thing that I honestly did wear as a girl when I used to retire with my textbooks inside of my bed chambers. Had I somehow recaptured my own innocence? Was I ever innocent? If I ever was, and I harboured doubts about the existence of that concept, I definitely was not anymore. Was the vision a message or was I now at one with the mad? Was Bedlam now to be my destiny whilst my husband carried on with his life with my two perfect daughters? Better to be raped by Jehovah and Satan forever than to be incarcerated inside of a madhouse for a number of decades. There is nothing but Hell, bereft of the agonies of pleasure, inside one of those torture chambers.

     And still the explosions of release escaped from my hand into every corner of my fleshly self as my hair bounced off of my cheeks as I continued to bite down upon that cotton knot stuffed within my mouth, screaming into my throat one more.

     And then, at long, long last, the white radiance that is apparently awaiting at the end of the universe took me for its own. I was now beyond time, space, and even sentience. For an aeon I was nothing. I was encased in nothing. I thought of nothing. I exuded that radiance and I also reclaimed it. The predatory little bitch formerly known as Katherine Pendleton was now blessedly lost within the alabaster void of her deepest most immaterial self. My darkest act, (to date), summoned this radiance of light that isn’t light as I have been trained to comprehend it. It was more profoundly exquisite for the fact that it was a phenomenon that I did not, and could not, anticipate. It left me feeling as though I did not discover the white radiance like some new scientific reality, the white radiance discovered me and it invited itself up to me but only under certain strict conditions.

     I could understand, and appreciate, why certain Catholic monks of the most fanatical variety would lock themselves away from all human contact, subsist upon nothing but hunks of rough bread and water, deprive themselves of sleep, dwell within the coldest and the most austere of cells, kneel for hours at a time painfully praying upon rough stones, and then finally flagellate themselves with brutal focus upon the back with a knotted piece of rope soaked in oil until they continuously bled. According to the few notations available these zealots would experience “ecstasies” that induced within them emotional sensations that made them feel as though they were indeed floating upwards to Heaven. Achieving those exalted states, however required the most stringent of regimens within their order. For me, the white radiance was Heaven and only under certain conditions whilst I was alive would I be able to go there until I died.

     For lack of a better term, I awoke upon the floor and I was once again weeping with joy with my naked flesh splayed in every direction. The amputated hand was still within my grasp and the bayonet was still within my other hand, (how it didn’t find itself buried within my guts straight out of my backside is both a mystery and a miracle). I had not the strength to relinquish my grip upon either of these items. The makeshift gag was still firmly affixed beyond my parched lips as I slowly respired through my tiny snout.

     The clock distantly continued to tick away and I could discern from the chill that the fire within the apartment’s hearth had ebbed considerably. I could hear the gentle soughing of my babes, and I could feel my breasts rising and falling with slow respiratory predictability. At last, my hands released their tools of creation and destruction, and with a puny push I was sitting upright before the hearth. The clothes that I pitched within it were now black and grey heaps of ash. The only evidence that remained pertaining to my little night upon the town were the diary and the makeshift marital aid. The clock struck the hour of three am.

     Feebly, I crawled towards the bed in the corner, next to the pram that housed my babes. As I drunkenly shambled on all fours towards them, I noted that they were at peace within their little world, and I gave them a sublime smile as my black curly hair hung past my face in hanks of glistening ropes. Discreetly I tucked the diary beneath their slim mattress as they slept. Their frail and tiny bodies would adequately serve to conceal the bulge where the incriminating tome was now hiding from the potentially prying eyes of the authorities. As for the purloined paw of the most forbidden of pleasures, I took it to bed with me, spread all five of the fingers, and then rested the side of my contented head against it, as I felt it coolly press itself into the side of my face. Pure blackness stole me then and I was insensate to the clamouring that commenced without a few hours later. The house slave at Halloran House made his horrific discovery, and there really is no proper manner in which to inform the lady of the manor regarding what was now decaying within that rather large and most inviting bed. My victim’s mate ran screaming into the street, as her ebony captive disguised as her lady-in-waiting, pursued her. Apparently, the hysterical white matriarch of the clan was not so easy to run down and subdue.

     My last conscious thought made me laugh childishly, making that severed hand feel as though it were caressing my face as it jiggled with mirth. The girlish voice within my head said with the insouciance of a sprite, “Can you imagine what you would have done if you had stolen your victim’s entire arm? A humerus is quite a bit larger than a middle finger, my dear? Not even a little bitch of a sinner of your magnitude can break the laws of both physics and anatomy to such an extreme degree.”

     “Give me time, Sprite. I am just getting started, but thank you for the suggestion. Next time I shall purloin a femur and then I will truly frighten you.”, I mumbled as Morpheus yanked me into his rapacious embrace.”

     TLP awoke at 9 am to the sound of her giggling infant daughters as the sun shone through the large windows that faced the street below. She was tired in a good way as she gave herself a whore’s bath and wiped the dried and flaky blood off of her body. She then requested that one of the house slaves that were part of the boarding house staff bring her a pot of New Orleans coffee, a good pint of thickened cream, and some cane sugar. She noted that the house man appeared to be quietly unsettled but she didn’t make any inquiries. She also noted that she could hear murmuring whispers from down the stairway where the dining area was located.

     “The rents upon the tops of my thighs were vividly livid and quite deep. I had truly gouged them nicely and walking was painful but not unpleasantly so. There were five crimson grooves on either leg and I calculated that they would not heal anytime soon. Even once they do there will be ten lines, whiter than my normally pale tone, to serve as a lifelong reminder of this most memorable of nights, far more so than the first night that James and I consummated our illicit union. Speaking of which, I shall have to inform my husband that I had been afflicted with poison ivy and the itching drove me mad. He may, or may not believe my tall tale. I construe that he would prefer to hear a quasi-plausible lie over the truth.”

     Like any full-time mom, Katherine started her day breast-feeding her babies as she drank coffee, smoked cigarillos, and proceeded to read the diary of the Irish excavation engineer that she had brutally killed and mutilated during the witching hour, as she sat near the hearth and absorbed his private concerns. She had loaded up the fireplace with a sizable stack of hickory staves and she had a good blaze happening momentarily. She scoured the writings of the former Seamus Halloran for a good three hours as she fed her daughters the milk that they needed, while she herself sucked in a lot of sweet smoke, and drank down a prodigious quantity of tasty caffeine.

     Did the engineer have some burning, unrequited yearning for The Lady Pendleton as she enigmatically made her way about her mountain? Did he find it arousing, discreetly watching her exuding that aura of strength, intelligence, and independence that belied her tiny-yet-comely frame in her black tweed trousers, her tan doe-skin boots, her white blouses, and her uncovered head of black curly hair wildly blowing about in the mountain breeze, with her Mongolian bow rakishly slung diagonally with the drawstring stretched across her ample bosoms, her two quivers of arrows lashed to her coltish 15-year old thighs, her Claymore hanging from her belt upon her left hip, and her bayonet sheathed like a gladiatorial weapon as it loosely hung from her right side? Did the doomed engineer pen some doggerel verses as he gave vent to the lust-stricken blarney in his guts? Did he stare at the summit in the night, wondering with an aching obsessiveness, what The Maiden of the Mountain was doing? Did he dredge up the nerve to make his way forth in said blackness, up the wooded slope, fortified with Dutch courage, courting a gruesome death from the heathen red savages that occupied the same foliage, only to make an unsettling discovery like some penny dreadful novel of the gothic variety? Did he watch her anxiously, lasciviously, as she furiously slaked her darkest needs most primitively while slathered in deer blood beneath the fullest of moons within her canvas tent? A discovery that he kept to himself because first and foremost, she was The Lady Pendleton, and the stultifying rules of civilized middle-class conduct do not apply to bewitchingly elevated barely teen-aged pagans, especially if they are voyeuristically witnessed giving homage to their dark deities in a most erotic manner.

     Katherine would read a page, and then crumple it before she lobbed it into the hearth like a snowball only to watch it burn.

     “My victim scrawled about nothing but its petite-bourgeoise middle-class aspirations. It insisted that its offspring, four young daughters and two slightly older lads, infiltrate the inner social circle of Savannah. Its status-seeking ambitions was of the purest of comedy to me, as I read this excrement aloud to my babes. Excrement that this creature deemed to be so vitally important until last evening when he died most brutally screaming my name..

     The life-or-death need for its daughters to marry at least two rungs above their station was of paramount concern to it, (naturally). As an extrapolation of that premise, it deliberated about whether or not it was too soon for little Janey Rose to make the acquaintance of the eligible swains of the Southern Aristocracy in a series of gatherings revolving around the traditional afternoon tea. The little bint is only 10 years of age. Was little Janey Rose sufficiently coached in the art of polite conversation, my victim worried concernedly?

     What my victim is referring to, for future Pendletons that are remotely curious, is the social phenomenon known as, “apin’ yer betters”. Paterfamilias had construed that Janey Rose needed to elevate her matrimonial prospects at the finest finishing school in Savannah. An expensive academy for underdeveloped nymphs who wish to be masterful coquettes when they finally reach puberty. My victim was both pleased and proud to note that JR was securing red ribbons in public speaking competitions. There was also a growing demand for the bint in question within the local Drama Society to tackle bigger roles in the upcoming productions. Her dance and singing recitals were revealing a talented sense of promising potential. Little JR was indeed establishing her presence within the city of self-deception. The question remains however, will she gravitate towards being a predatory deceiver, or one of the permanently lost within the lifelong quest for social status?

     And that was just one of its many painful issues of contention.

     Which university should its sons attend, Harvard, Princeton, or Yale? The fate of the Clan rested upon which academy would yield the most beneficial opportunities for advancement, (obviously). As a scant afterthought, it did concede that something akin to a sound education would be of some minor benefit to Charles and Simon, but the need for establishing solid connections was truly the greater priority. It goes almost without saying that both lads have been consigned to the joylessly lifelong fate of becoming attorneys and there would be no debate about the matter. Domestic dissension of that stripe would result in the most violent of responses, to be sure.

     The comedy reached its zenith when it articulated whether or not it was time for its house slaves to discard their uniforms for something new? Were the scarlet Spencer jackets passe’ now in 1777? Worse yet, did they betray some sense of materialistic vulgarity? Was it time to perhaps switch over to a less vibrant shade such as forest green? Needless to say, my victim opted to wait and see what the neighbours had decided to do with their slaves, and it admonished its mate to bear the closest of scrutiny, albeit discreetly, over this most vital of issues. That particular anecdote concluded with the house man becoming one with the wallpaper in his forest green livery. Amazingly the female slave was not attired in dresses and caps that perfectly matched the lounges and the chairs. A shame, really. She would have been quite fetching in oxblood.

     The only time that the name of Pendleton was inscribed was when we first met with the victim and we discussed the terms of the project. The victim had the good grace to say some positive things about James’ bearing. My husband stands at two meters and has 20 stone proportionately arrayed about his long and strong frame. He has my hair and eyes, which fits in nicely with his quiet demeanour. James, I will say, always makes a suitable impression bereft of the necessity of “apin’” anyone. His secret is that he says little to others, and yet he appears to be thinking deeply.

     It had said nothing dangerous as regards to either me or my character. I was merely but the fecund spouse of a client. A client with only the filthiest of lucre to offer. I was “a nobody” in Georgia Society with a capital S, therefore I had no advantages to offer beyond providing the means to wallpaper the house man, and to further little Janey Rose’s education in the feminine science of social manipulation. I was not worth seriously noting. When the victim and I smoked and conversed, it was just the most idle of conversation, apparently. He spoke to me merely because he was expected to. It was an act of professional courtesy, nothing more.

     Alas, I was not a secret source of repressed desire for the author of this journal who was far and away from the bosom of its mate within the wildly dark and potentially lethal wilderness. But then again, I was in a family way, twice, and I do have a rather intimidating-looking husband, and it was blatantly obvious to me now that the only thing that my victim truly lusted for was gold and social mobility. There, now I feel less rejected. Obviously, I jest. I’m in a rather positive frame of mind and I feel the urge to lean towards expressions of jocularity. It’s a very rare emotional state for me and it is obviously connected to last evening’s killing. Yet another unexpected bonus for me to savour.

     Good. If I meant nothing to my victim, then that would indicate that my daughters and I mean less-than-nothing to the good burghers of the city of self-deception. I am but an item of mild curiousity if only because my husband is currently serving with distinction within the hastily assembled state militia with the less-than-thrilling moniker known as, “The Sons of Liberty”. He is one of “the good’uns” within the Revolution. As such, I am but his diminutively fragile spouse kept far and away from the horrors of war in some usually unknown locale. I am a pure nobody, an immigrant from parts unknown bearing a substantial quantity of financial means bereft of any special rank or status. I can tell you the truth upon that front, James and I installed a tremendous sum into achieving that very-needed end result. Anonymity shall be our watchword forever.

     I pitched the journal’s brown leather cover into the fire, and as I stared at it, whilst breastfeeding Lillian, I thought of my victim’s family. What are they to do now? Sparing their lives in this social climate is just as heartless as killing them in the most horrific manner possible. Did my victim leave a proper will, or did it fritter every sovereign that I gave it upon material inanities in order to project the image of middle-class prosperity? I’m sure that the Widow Halloran would very much like to know the answer to that question. Securing a husband with six children in tow is going to be a formidable challenge. Can she play the role of the tragically-blighted coquette with stellar aplomb? She is going to need to, unless she wants to sell off all of her fine possessions piecemeal to the jackals who will pay her as close to nothing as possible. Jackals such as myself would be the first within the queue to pick her bones clean. Witnessing her tearfully witnessing her fine and comfortable life bleeding itself away in increments would be viciously gratifying to me. I would feel as though I were killing her slowly and the bulls would not be able to stop me. It’s a rather unique motive for killing a man, come to think of it. I slaughter the Paterfamilias, join the wolves to come to their door, and then purchase all of their fine and lovely things upon the cheap. This is indeed shaping up to be a fine day, Katherine Pendleton.

     Since I have not done so yet, today is the perfect day to venture forth and experience a sizable luncheon somewhere at least moderately acceptable within the city of self-deception. I am feeling most ravenous. Upon reflection, I did expend a tremendous amount of energy over the past twelve or so hours. Murder, and the celebratory aftermath, does take its toll upon a girl of my undersized stature. I shall inscribe more pertinent details as they unfold, but for now my babes and I require fresh air, sunlight, and I could stand a substantial feast comprised predominately of meat.”

     At about 1:30 pm, a small young woman with two infants in a black baby carriage walked into The Pirate House, the oldest restaurant in Savannah. The young woman was wearing a crushed-velvet full-length dress of dark crimson, a dark forest-green bonnet, flat black little shoes, and a pair of thin black Italian-made leather gloves. All was quiet in the tavern, which catered to merchant seaman who were on shore leave. Port Savannah was a strategic harbour during the Revolution. The little mother was seated at the center table and she removed her bonnet. The slave-waiter asked her if she needed a menu and the crimson lady politely replied that she would appreciate a pitcher of ice-water, a pot of coffee with the proper fixings, the biggest steak that was available cooked rare-to-bloody with extra salt and pepper, and a small order of fried potatoes and onions. The waiter asked her if she would care for the latest edition of The Royal Georgia Gazette. The crimson lady politely accepted and she proceeded to sip her coffee with an ice-water chaser as she looked at the front page and smoked a cheroot while her babies goo-gooed cutely beside her.

     The crimson lady had done the impossible. She actually pushed the Revolution off of the front page just when things were heating up.

     MURDER MOST FOUL SHOCKS SAVANNAH

      The greater bulk of the top half of the gatefold was a black and white drawing of a huge four-poster bed with the mosquito-netting pulled upwards. Surrounding the bed were five gentlemen, presumably cops, who were looking at a body that was grotesquely contorted. His face seemed to be blurred and there were rough snaky lines extending away from the victim’s abdominal region that vaguely resembled intestines.

     The seamen, meanwhile, were none-too-discreetly checking out the crimson lady as she daintily smoked and slurped her non-alcoholic beverages of choice. She was peering at the story intently when she made room for a plate roughly the size of a large pizza that had a pinkish slab of hot meat that weighed about five pounds, and was at least an inch thick, with a small order of fried potatoes and onions dolloped in au jus for extra flavour. The crimson lady produced from the sleeve of her dress a silver bayonet that was over a foot long and it almost resembled a stiletto. She proceeded to rapidly slice and masticate her slab of hot bloody meat, as she continued reading the story about an Irish excavation engineer who was repeatedly stabbed and mutilated in his bedchambers sometime in the late hours of the night. When the seaman saw the big knife, and how adeptly the crimson lady handled it as she wolfed up her steak off of the tip of the wicked-looking weapon, they knew she was a bad bit of business, and then she was no longer an item of mildly erotic curiousity.

     In a matter of minutes the meal had disappeared into her diminutive frame and she all but licked the plate, but she did drain the bloody meat juices into a tiny bowl and she dabbed it into the toothlessly happy mouths of her daughters.

     Fortuitously, like something out of a movie, a newsie barged into the restaurant just then with the mid-afternoon edition of the local paper, all but shouting, “Extra, extra, read all about it.”

     The crimson lady tucked the first paper into the baby carriage and she waved the kid over. The kid got a gold sovereign for his efforts, the biggest gratuity he had ever seen, and he thanked the crimson lady profusely. Dismissively she waved him away like a fly with the tip of the bayonet flashing itself maliciously somewhere in the region of his face, and then she checked out the headline.

SONS ARRESTED IN HEINOUS SAVANNAH PATRICIDE
“THE OLD B—–D NEEDS TO DIE.”

     The top half of the gatefold showed two lurid black ink drawing of what were supposed to be two young teenage lads. Fairly longish hair, wide-set eyes that were narrowed, wide faces, wide mouths. The artist none-too-subtly made these boys look like something betwixt Blackbeard and Bluebeard before the full onset of puberty granted them permission to actually sport facial hair.

     “With a belly full of well-prepared bovine and potatoes, I examined the story. Simon 15, and Charles 13, had been arrested for the murder of my victim. I read the revelation three times in disbelief and then I clamped my hand tightly over my mouth in order to quash the burbling laughter. It could not possibly be true, it cannot, and yet it was there in black and white type. I continued reading with my hand soldered to my full and tiny red lips.

     To elaborate for future Pendletons, the authorities found a diary. It was Simon’s. Allegedly, him and his younger brother, Charles were planning to kill their father. The gazette did not reveal the why of it in any great detail. The article would only imply that there was some, “bad blood betwixt the boys and the hard-working Paterfamilias.” Incredible. It’s intriguing that my victim did not impart in its own diary any indications of strife betwixt it and its male offspring?

     I was too fattened to push myself away from the table therefore I had ample time to rationally cogitate the situation. The bulls had an apparent motive and that was all they had. Though historically prone to corruption, the gendarmes are allegedly educated to be rationally pragmatic as it pertains to homicidal matters. They are taught to follow the evidence. If they were on their game they would have separated all of the members of the household and questioned them privately. Naturally, they would not have deemed the daughters to be suspects as such, but they would have pressed them for information. They would have asked them if they knew of any trouble within the House of Halloran?
Was this a case of two lads inscribing their darkest wish, and then subsequently I, like the Djinn from ancient Persia, coming forth and granting that wish? If so then the outcome of that wish turned out bad for those lads, for that is how we Djinn operate, when we make our way about meddling in the fantasies of mere livestock.

     My predatory guts issued up a scenario. The entire story within the gazette was a falsehood in order to induce the real killer into believing that they had gotten away with murder. Plant a false sense of security and then wait for the murderer to make an error. What kind of mistake would that be precisely? Would the killer boast of their conquest to an audience? I have only three confederates and two of them are not yet able to form words. Also, those two confederates would never grass their mother. They are predators just like she is. The third confederate is away fighting to, “unshackle us all from the bondage of colonial serfdom”. He is astute enough to not ask personal questions and to keep his own counsel safely embedded within his cranium. I, in turn, was astute enough to not impart to him beforehand what I was planning to do with my victim when we first met it and struck a deal. The strength of our marriage, thus far, rests within the fact that he knows what not to ask and I know what not to volunteer. It takes more than mere infatuation to prevent a union such as ours from going asunder. It requires intelligence of a different manufacture than what the livestock ascribe to. They say too much in order to sustain their self-deceptions. We say only what is necessary and our actions speak for us. Liars articulate and the sincere demonstrate.

     If the bulls are praying for a stroke of luck then they are doomed. The purloined hand of my sexual glory was pitched into a gutter wrapped inside of a square of burlap along the way towards this tavern. A one-night assignation was all that I could afford. The diary is ash. The bloody clothes are ash. The secret of the mountain has been muddied. All that remains is the weapon and they cannot prove anything with just that. No lady of any respectable station would walk into a dive such as this without some personal protection.

     Either the Brothers Halloran were too stupid to destroy their diary upon discovery of my victim, or the bulls are attempting to be duplicitous with a powerfully-told lie within this gazette.

     Now I had something to contemplate as I pushed myself upwards from the tabletop. I tucked the gazette into the pram and my daughters smiled and reached upwards at me. Yes, my perfect predators, we are going to return to our modest little apartment, momentarily. But first we need to casually stroll past the tollhouse and become one with the looky-loos. We need to see if we can get a good glance at the faces of these two lads. If we can have thirty uninterrupted seconds we can get a bead on whether or not the bulls are trying to be clever little bunnies today.

     Comic theater of this magnitude is rarer than Halley’s Comet. We may as well enjoy the show along with the good burghers within the city of self-deception. After all, my little she-wolves, we are both the producers and the directors of this violent melodrama. Providing we are not exposed within the footlights, we can enjoy the play from the cheap seats contained in the rear with the rest of the commoners. To all and sundry this is a violent melodrama. Only we three little witches know that this is actually a farce.”

     And so, TLP, embarked towards the local jail with her two infant daughters in the late afternoon sunshine. If only Professor Moriarty could be as incredible as this woman. And let’s not forget, she was only 17 when she kicked off this bit of theater for the fat and bored housewives of Savannah to savour.

     “That evening I stared at the fire as I breastfed Grace Gloria whilst enjoying a cheroot. The two accused killers have yet to make a confession, but from what I saw amongst the throng of the hausfraus, they have definitely sustained a sound thrashing. Their faces were purple bordering on black. Their pulped noses had yet to be set. Their lips resembled poorly-crafted rubber, swollen and dark. Their gait was painfully shambling as their warders dragged them before the barred windows. No doubt they experienced a fierce pummelling upon their private regions. Their eyes were swollen shut as their heads struggled to remain upright with their greasy light-brown hair stuck to the sides of their tortured faces. Though they were wearing blouses, I was ready to wager that their ribs, at least a third of them, were cracked, if not broken. The screws were all smiles and they paused for a full two minutes only a few meters from the barred windows so that the curiously-thrilled hausfraus could get a fine look at the pair of them. They were wearing their house clothes which were the standard dark trousers and a loose white blouse that sported an impressive swath of drying crimson that was at least a foot wide. The blood stains were uniform in composition and it extended from their chest all the way to the hem of their leggings. Both of them were barefoot.

     And yet, and yet, something occurred as the pair of mangled misfortunates stood there before my nearly-black eyes. The taller of the two lads stared at the floor. To be frank, though the science of medicine is not my forte per se, he looked as though he was ready to drop dead from some sort of cerebral damage. The shorter of the two lads, however, the thirteen-year old, he was holding his beaten and quite hideous face up rather proudly. Though it resembled nothing more than an involuntary spasm of the Platysma, it looked to me as though the shorter of the pair was attempting to smile. The very corner of his swollen and bloody mouth twitched arrhythmically as though his flesh was not up to par with his will. Rapidly I wrenched free the draw strings of my bonnet and I quickly removed it. My black hair fell to the sides of my face and I attempted to “read” this defiant young man’s face. He then did something that shocked the hausfraus but it made me laugh quite pleasurably with childish delight. Though his large hands were smashed as though with a baton upon a table top, he was able to extend two fingers upwards in the English style, as he achieved the supreme act of getting the corner of his mouth to actually arch itself into a broken smirk of criminal rebellion. The bull smashed his hand with his billy club and the rebellious little beast head-butted him soundly, snapping the copper’s beak and sending him to the floor with gouts of blood rushing from his face.

     The erotically anxious housewives gasped as the vapours collectively fell upon them. I raised my proud little fist and proceeded to roar forth three huzzahs and a tyger as the bulls pounced upon the smaller youth and began to smash him with all of the cowardly brutality that they had to muster forth. They could not pound him to the floor, however. It looked to me as though in spite of his diminutive stature, he was rather powerfully proportioned. Some grow up, others grow sideways, but there was no denying that this little criminal was indeed a criminal. Just not the killer of his father. Hastily, they dragged the lads back to their cell as they carted away their smashed and bleeding comrade-in-cowardice.

     Oh, how my daughters and I secretly savoured the hypocrisies that were hissed and shouted over our heads. Those cows hurled their curses even as I noted the flaming desire in their eyes for something altogether different. We trio of raven-headed little witches laughed all the way homewards. We even made it a point of strolling past that gutter where I chucked my victim’s severed hand. I retrieved it under the belief that the danger has passed as regards to my possible apprehension. Those boys were tenderized like a pair of steaks. That cannot be feigned for the express purpose of attempting a deception against me, personally. The bulls are desperate to appear significant to all of those hausfrau in Savannah. They too want to seem heroic, especially in the midst of a historic revolution, as actual heroes are killing and dying for, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.

     The bulls want a confession to this crime in order to support the meager magnitude of their “evidence”, in terms of their hypothesis as regards to what exactly had transpired. A diary full of hateful fantasies would look much more impressive before a magistrate for having such an incriminating screed signed with an “X” in the battered blood of the confessors. But still the lads have not made any admissions as regards to committing any sort of crime. The quotation in the gazette did not satisfy the legal definition of “mens rea”. Desire is not the same thing as intent. Its not a crime to hate one’s parents. If it was then James and I would have been hung long before we reached the shores of this colony.

     It can be safely rationalized that when the bulls arrived early this morning to study my handiwork, they had to ascertain what exactly had taken place? Then they needed to question the occupants. They would have questioned the four young daughters and the house slaves closely because they would have possessed the most information as regards to the daily events of life inside the home. After gleaning as much data as they had to give, they would then proceed to search the premises for incriminating items.

     They would have noted that my victim’s diary was jimmied out of its desk and that it had disappeared. This could have possibly lead the bulls to believe that the killer came from inside of the house. From that tangent they could have produced their hypothesis. How did the murderer do it? Any of the hearths would have suited the purpose of destroying the diary in order to eradicate a family secret of some sort. The bulls could have then arrived at the belief that the killer used a blade from the pantry to kill my victim. They could have rationally construed that the killer did the deed dishabille. That way there would be no bloody clothes to contend with. Clean themselves up, clean the cutting knife, and that would be that. The only remaining issue would be the missing hand. A bright spark amongst the detectives could have acquired the rational belief that the missing hand was simply to provoke confusion, a distraction to mislead the investigators away from the very rational purposes behind the mutilation of my victim, and hence mislead the authorities to construe that the killer came from without.

     They could have conceived of a plausible-sounding “how”, yet they would have required a “why” in order to peddle their hypothesis to a jury. In order to substantiate the “why”, a confession would be mandatory.

     The gazette did not impart how the bulls found the diary. A diary isn’t that substantial in terms of its tangible mass. If such an incriminating tome was secreted away it would require a goodly sum of digging about to unearth it. It can be safely rationalized that upon awakening to the screams of the house-slaves at 6 am, at least one of the lads would have swiftly borne the rational comprehension that destroying the tome in question would be the soundest of tactics. If said tome was immediately accessible to them, that is.

     What if someone imbued with apparent innocence presented the bulls with the diary during questioning? A ten-year old girl, for example with a decently budding background in the social graces in conjunction with the performing arts? What if the Brothers Halloran were not even aware that they had scripted a diary to begin with? Was JR plotting to blacken the names of her older brothers and she woke up this morning to an opportunity more wonderful than she could have ever dreamed of? Had she been scribbling fictions in the night for a year or more in their name? Penmanship would have been part of her education in the social graces. Penmanship is also a sound method for one to master the art of forgery. Those lads would have left innocuous notes around the house for her to copy from. All she would have needed then is to mimic their patter and not imbue a girlish tone of voice to those ominous-sounding notations. Securing the proper “tone of voice” would have been her most daunting challenge, yet with application and patience, she could have finally overcome that obstacle.

     One thing that needs to be noted is that the gazette pulled one damning quotation bereft of any indication that a conspiracy was definitely in play. There are no paragraphs in the article to demonstrate that these lads had concocted a well-defined plan of attack. There were no indications in the slightest that these gents had planned to kill their father shortly after midnight with a cutting knife from the pantry, naked, hack off his right hand for the purpose of sowing confusion, clean themselves up after the fact, and bury the purloined paw somewhere. All the bulls have is a possible motive.

     This leads to another line of contemplation. Why would she betray her brothers in such a manner? That answer, as of yet, is beyond the lines of rational conjecture.

     If my hypothesis is correct that JR did them dirty then it will be imparted to the gazette very soon that they have a witness that can, and will speak to the privately nefarious character of those two lads. JR would be their trump card. And yet the possibility exists that the bulls may be beginning to privately doubt that the lads are the culprits. After all, if they are continuing to protest their innocence after the sort of sustained beatings and humiliations that they have received, perhaps they are telling the truth. If such is the case then they would have no alternative at this point other than to maintain JR’s fictionalized account and hence become willing participants in her plot to ruin her brothers to death. Would these gentlemen care to admit, even to each other privately, that they are in the process of being tricked by a 10-year old girl? No, they would not. Would they be willing to admit that they made a mistake? No, their credibility is at stake. They wanted to demonstrate their worthiness to the good burghers by seizing this opportunity to make a swift arrest and solve the crime straightaway. Otherwise, they would begin to appear ineffective when the trail of evidence fades away into the night. They have a pair of killers who committed a patricide most foul, and they have in their possession both a journal that speaks to a motive, and they also have a witness that is a burgeoning darling of the community.

     Two birds in the hand and they will not sing the proper tune. Hang that pair of fowls like pheasants, and the good burghers can rest easy once more within the illusion that justice reigns supreme in the city of self-deception. The bulls will have to unveil more details from that damning diary to the gazette in order to hang those birds with an air of justice having been served. What exactly is the nature of this bad blood betwixt the killers and their victim? It would have to be an issue of the most extreme sort to warrant the mutilated outcome that I delivered to my victim. The bulls are going to have to prefabricate evidence of a literary variety if they intend to make those lads swing and get away with it.

     The reality is, if my hypothesis is sound, that upon the morrow those two gents will be the gravest of young men. It would be much more expedient to peddle this fiction if the Brothers Halloran were to die in a suicidal manner, only moments after they finally confessed all and affixed their signatures to the revelation that they “dictated” shortly before they slipped the noose forever. They will be found in a couple of bloody heaps with open arteries and a tin spoon that they had sharpened into a crude shiv. Then it would only require little Janey Rose to have the final word within the gazette detailing the truly grotesque natures of her detestable older siblings bereft of them being in a position to contradict her.

     Providing she’s willing to maintain this fraud for the rest of her days she can capitalize upon this tragedy in order to enhance her standing, which in turn would make it easier for her to ensnare a very suitable husband in a few short years. A husband of means and status. A husband who is gullible. A husband who would deem it a privilege to be her sympathetic Knight Cavalier, as she conducts herself with that countenance of fortitude built upon a foundation of quietly dignified sorrow every moment that she steps forth from her private chambers and embraces her audience. If I’m right,  I can foresee how she would drive herself to give just such a stellar performance for the rest of her duplicitous days. All she would need to do is never, not even once, believe a single syllable that she utters. If she begins to deceive herself she will lose control of the plot and her fiction will unravel itself. If she maintains the comprehension that everything she is stating is a complete lie then she will always be in control of the narrative and she can steer her story towards the desired outcome.

     There would be only one other component required for this fiction to pass beyond the pale of critical scrutiny. The only malingering detail that the conspirators would have to iron out is how their Crown witness knew about the damning diary and when exactly did she know of its existence? The details behind how the diary was discovered are also missing from the gazette article. What exactly did JR tell the investigators when they sat her down within the drawing room and they made their inquiries as regards to the private state of the House of Halloran? The bulls needed to be lead to that diary and JR is the only rational one to play the role of the reluctant informant. Her sisters are too young. The house slaves would not do anything to disrupt the comfortable stability of their lives because they are very aware of just how much worse their slave-level existence can be. The Widow Halloran would not have possessed a sufficient reason to concoct a false diary to ruin the standing of her sons within the house. This was strictly the labour of one person with a private agenda. Otherwise the other option is that the lads succumbed to a panic-stricken fit of mental paralysis so extreme that they could not construct the simple notion that burning their journal would be in their best interests before the authorities arrived. No, as a rational pragmatist with an extensive background in the hard sciences, I can assert that this was not a case of the bulls having luck upon their side as they uncovered the hidden thoughts of those two lads during a search of the house. JR was planning to ruin the standing of those lads in the eyes of their father, and I gave her the opportunity to do so much more than that. I provided her with a permanent solution to whatever she deemed to be her most vexing problem of the moment.

     Those lads desperately require the services of a Djinn this evening.

     This leads to the only question worthy of contemplation? Why would I bother to rescue those lads from the noose? The concept of noblesse oblige does not exist amongst predators. I owe them nothing and yet my intellect is providing me with an idea. An idea with long-term benefits for the Paradigm. This Djinn, however does not grant wishes from a place of benevolence. Those lads are going to have to earn their freedom for the rest of their lives with the express understanding that my terms will be quite generous towards them. Simultaneously they will need to be impressed with the reality that things will be very detrimental to their prolonged existence if they dare to upset this Djinn. Casting herself in the role of a benefactor to strangers is not inherently a part of her nature. My predatory instincts are screaming within my guts to retrieve my abundant winnings from the table and return to the mountain. I am aware that defying my instincts is a perilous course of action but this plan that has formulated itself is lucrative for all and sundry, if all of the players can agree upon the script. If the lads cannot be made to see reason then they will learn a brutal lesson.

     The bulls would kill them in a relatively expedient manner once they have their confession scripted and notarized. As for the Djinn, she would not kill them so swiftly. She would impress upon them tortures the likes of which have never been seen upon these colonial shores. This Djinn would see to it that the echoes of their screams never completely fade from the blackness of Savannah. This Djinn would teach those two just how wide the gulf is betwixt torturing a specimen of livestock because it is an enjoyable experience, and torturing a predator from a place of pure rage. Therefore, my perfect little predators, let us hope that they can see the benefits of keeping this Djinn mollified as she goes forth once more into the night and learns for herself whether or not her hypothesis is correct. That itch needs to be scratched before I can move more pieces upon the board. I can reconcile being mistaken, for such is the nature of science. A line of enquiry may very well lead to a negative result. I cannot, however, live with an untested hypothesis that has captivated my curiousity. This phenomenon known as “Janey Rose Halloran” needs to be measured and examined thoroughly.”

     Let us fast-forward the cassette a number of hours until we are once again at the midnight moment. Katherine made her preparations and she explained to her two babies that she needed to depart for a few hours. The girls fed one last time upon her breasts and then they fell into a comfortable slumber. Katherine promised them that she would tell them all as she slipped her own damning diary beneath the mattress underneath their slumbering little selves inside of the pram.

     “I sat down inside of my subject’s bedchambers. One of the other bedchambers contained the three younger daughters with the house-slaves slumbering in a pair of armchairs beside them. Those girls are both ignorant and innocent. The Widow Halloran was also abed but she was unaccompanied. Upon the table I spied a bottle of laudanum and a spoon. She was sedated. This gave a shade of credence to my hypothesis that whatever the subject did, it did alone bereft of any maternal protection.

     Gently I lifted the edge of the duvet with the tip of my bayonet as I placed the sole candle upon the countertop of the vanity beside me. Its glow reflected off of the mirror filling that space with suffused Illumination. A pair of disproportionately large bare feet exposed themselves to the faux-moonlight that surrounded the large bed. I found it curious that the subject had neither slave nor narcotics at its disposal. I found it even more curious that it was sleeping quite soundly. Its civilized sensitivities were not unduly unsettled, in my observation. The slumber of the satisfied predator? I’ve become very familiar with that state myself and I have found it to be exceptionally restorative.

     I began to poke the sole of the subject’s right foot with the tip of my bayonet with a slight amount of pressure. I told it quietly to wake up in a steely whisper. The subject gave a sharp moan, and then it opened its light-blue eyes, and then it moved its light-brown hair from its widely white face. When the subject focused on me, and it saw the deathly-looking blade in my little right fist, it quietly sat upright with instant alertness. I could hear the cogitations already commencing within the subject’s 10-year old brain. The subject waited for me to speak. I suspected that the subject was aware that in order for it to “act” it had to “react” to whatever tone I chose to set forth. I noted that it made a physical effort to not look at the bayonet within my fist. It was trying to avoid succumbing to fear. Casually I tossed the blade onto the bed close to its side as a false gesture of reassurance. The subject began to breathe more deeply at that point.

     “All I require is an answer and then I shall leave you to the management of the rest of your life. Just to set the proper tone I will tell you firstly that I killed your father in order to protect the precise location of the facility that he had dug out of my mountain. It will serve an important purpose in the years to come and I require it to remain obscured.”, I said in a quiet voice as I made an effort to appear non-threatening without being falsely cheerful. By opening the dialogue with such an incriminating admission, I was lulling the subject into the false belief that she was safe from me because I was a criminal just like her.

     The subject had prominent eyebrows, a nose that was a shade too big for its triangulated features, wide lips, and a pointed chin with a substantial cleft. The aesthetics leaned more towards adjectives such as “handsome”, or “striking”, or possibly, “aristocratic”, as opposed to being deemed “pretty” or “comely” in the more conventional sense. It swallowed and then it replied quietly in a clear, mid-Atlantic accent.

     “I construed it was because you and Lieutenant Pendleton realized that father was robbing you both.”, she said with a concerted effort to be calm.

     “I was unaware of that.”, I replied with some quiet hint of surprise. The subject raised her eyebrows slightly in disbelief.

     “Father could have finished that assignment in a year, perhaps even less time than that. Most of those slave-soldiers that you saw were labourers. All but 20 of those 200 men worked that facility in your prolonged absences. The assignment was deliberately elongated.”

     “And then he deliberately inflated the expenses for provisions whilst the slaves consumed beans and bread, and he had the extra sovereigns delivered to your mother.”

     The subject nodded affirmatively.

     “He did. He preyed upon the ignorance of you and your husband. In his letters to Mother he noted with derision that you couldn’t even be bothered to inspect the expense reports. He said that wealthy fops such as you two deserved to get skinned. I can see now that you did not care about the expense because you had planned to skin him the first time you encountered him.”

     “That would be an apt assessment. Now sing for me the second verse of the hymn.”, I quietly ordered my subject.

     By being blatantly truthful at the onset I was encouraging the subject to be just as forthcoming in reciprocation. Even so, being honest was not an inherently natural tendency on its part to play. It looked sideways at a downward angle towards the bayonet resting by its leg. It then looked back at me as I patiently sat there with my little doe-skinned feet resting upon the bedframe at the foot of the bed. I was endeavouring to ignore the urge to blaze up a cheroot. A strong cup of New Orleans coffee would have been a fine experience just then as well.

     “Father is not a thief by nature.”, it began from a place of reticence. The smartly theatrical mid-Atlantic accent had slipped a few degrees downwards towards an accent that commingled the brogue of its parents admixed with the drawl of the servants. The subject had not lived long enough with that bought-and-paid-for product of diction and elocution. The affected drawl that my husband and I employ, the one that sounds deep and slow, the one that betrays nothing in terms of where we came from, still requires effort and concentration on my part to implement consistently.

     “Continue.”

     “The house is mortgaged to the hilt. The two house-slaves were quite dear, as well. The carriage and horses, the tasteful furnishings, our wardrobe, and especially our education, it all costs abundantly to acquire. Mother impressed upon Father around the time that Simon was born that most clients, with rare exception, would be astute enough to realize if they were being skinned. All he needed to do was make the assignments at least twice as long as was necessary, and then inflate the provisional expenses.”

     “Mother maintained the ledger, did she not? She had a sharp eye for tamping down wasteful expenditures.”

     “She did.”, it replied with an embarrassed nod as it poured some water from a bone china pitcher into a pewter drinking cup and it took a long swallow. I decided to hang the risk of being exposed and I lit up a cigarillo. Ah, simple pleasures, what is the quality of one’s life bereft of those? The subject could not sufficiently repress the scowl of disapproval from its wide face. Proper little ladies did not take up tobacco. That was strictly the habit of men, especially once dinner was completed and the genders segregated themselves in order to discuss the weightier matters of the day. Even the ingestion of coffee was deemed a man’s beverage whilst the women-folk were expected to sip their tea. I was unsurprised that the subject was more emotionally affected by my noxiously smoky habit than it was by the fact that I had violently inflicted a dismal end to its male progenitor’s existence. Appearances are everything, after all. Inwardly I laughed at the thespian before me as I imagined what it would be like to stab my stogie into both of her light-blue eyes.

     “Mother began to consume laudanum a few years ago for backaches and migraines. The birth of her 5th child was a painfully strenuous experience. Father warned her that liquified opiates made the consumer stupefied and addicted. She tried assiduously to control the habit, but when Father embarked to your mountain, the habit slipped its tether and her downfall became precipitous to the extreme. The rows upon his return were frightful.

     “You took up the maintenance of the ledger once you understood how to add on one side and subtract from the other. Once you understood what the distinction was betwixt an asset and a liability. Did you deliberately feed your mother the stuff that dreams are made of? Did she compound her issues with the green death? Was she chasing the dragon as well?”, I asked sardonically. I have nothing but contempt and disdain for the growing population of lotus eaters and drunkards within the malengine. Self-deception requires fuel in order for the self-deceived to view their phantastically blurry reflection contained within the magic mirror. I will not hesitate to destroy my own if they ever take up the habit of drink or narcotics. Coffee and cigars keep the wits sharp and able to concentrate upon the plane of the intellect. That is the limit, and if my own offspring exceed that limit, their destruction will be of the most brutal variety that I can imagine and physically carry forth. I will not have it.

     “No, I swear to you, no.”, the subject said with a sincerely forceful shake of its head in the negative, “She was securing the drink through the chemist who would make stealthy deliveries in the evenings via leaving the bottle in hidden locations where she would have sufficient coin awaiting him. Father recently put a stop to that with his walking stick and Mother fell into a nervous collapse. She was incoherent when Johnston found Father murdered within his bedchambers and Delores had to chase her down in the street. But, yes, Mrs. Pendleton, I was the one keeping the accounts up to date. I was also the one authorizing the payments to various establishments. Father would say to me frequently in his letters that I was most indispensable.”, the subject stated with a not-so-repressed glow of prideful arrogance.

     “So, father was absent, embezzling from my husband and I, and your mother was chemically indisposed. That left you to be the hub of the family. Fill in the gaps betwixt your father going to my mountain and your brothers going off to gaol.”, I quietly ordered as I continued puffing my sweet smoke.

     And so there it was in the blackest hour of the night. The positive confirmation of my hypothesis was beginning to look all but assured. My subject stared at me with an enforced air of impassivity as it kept its mouth deliberately clamped down.

     “I just admitted to you that I brutally murdered your father barely 24 hours ago. I want to hear you tell me the truth about how exactly your brothers became the apparent murderers. Then I shall depart and you can then enjoy your newfound fame, Miss Halloran.”, I said to my subject with a hint of a soul-chilling grin that communicated that the bayonet wasn’t as far away from me as she would have appreciated. The subject opened her wide lips slightly and she took another deep swallow of water from the pewter cup.

     “You are no one’s fool, ma’am. You know what I did.”, she said quietly as she stared once more at the wicked-looking blade.

     “I only suspect what you did. It’s incumbent upon you right now to elaborate in order for me to realize whether or not those suspicions are correct.”

     “I can scream right now.”, the subject stated with an edge of defiance.

     “And you would be in a most dire spot if you did. I have your card right here, inviting me to your home because you needed to confide in a slightly older member of the community regarding your current woes. A card that you yourself slid beneath my doorway. In fact, it says that you care not at what hour I come by, and it also says that you would be most grateful if my visitation was of the most discreet variety. You would be forced to explain to the house-servants, and then to the authorities, why you needed my counsel whilst I can walk away like Billy-O knowing that there is not a single piece of proof that would connect me to the crime in question.”

     “I wrote no such card.”, the subject snarled. I love it when societal mummers bare their fangs and betray their buried predatory natures. I pulled out a lovely-looking piece of Bristol board approximately six inches by four inches square. It had a lovely black border that was raised with flowered indentations. Penmanship is part of a girl’s education within the art of the social graces. The Palmer Script that all girls of taste and distinction painstakingly master looks rather the same from one hand to the next providing the flow of the words is lovely to gaze upon and the articulation is of the most sophisticated presentation. Derisively, I flicked the card at it and it bounced off of its wide face before it had time to react. It struck it in that slightly too-large snout that would doubtlessly do a better-than-adequate job rooting out truffles within the forest. My subject looked at it angrily and then tore it up into the tiniest of shreds before slamming the fragments onto the little table beside it. Casually I pulled another card out of my breast pocket which was an exact copy of the one that I just flicked at my subject.

     “Shall I scream?”, I drawled with a malignant little chuckle, “I can bring down the house and when Johnston crashes into your bedchambers,  I will make the proper introductions and explain that I was summoned here so that you could confess to a most damning secret. I will then secure an attorney along with a physician, and I will pay the gaol a visit, and I will tell the bulls the same thing. I shall then explain to the gendarmes, under oath, how they were misled by a child who had written a series of execrable verses in her brother’s name in order to have them permanently removed from the family. There is no evidence connecting me to the murder but I can demonstrate to the coppers how any girl can copy someone’s handwriting. Then my attorney will make a show trial out of the situation as the gazette trumpets the news that the diary is but a work of fiction penned by your hand. I would then gladly step into the box and regale all of Savannah with my own fictitious rendition of how this conversation that you and I are currently having came to be. The jury would have to release your brothers due to both a lack of evidence, as well as a lack of a proper motive. The case would remain open in perpetuity but all and sundry would know forever that you had made a game attempt out of murdering your two older brothers. Because of your age you would not see a day within a gaol cell, let alone the noose, but you would be an utter disgrace all across the civilized world.

     Then you can explain to your brothers why you put them in such a bad spot whereby they became arrested, beaten most cruelly, paraded like battered apes for the titillating amusement of bored housewives such as myself, excoriated within the colonial gazette, and are now staring down the business end of being forcefully introduced to the business end of a rope.”, I said with a maliciously quiet lilt as I warmed to my own tale.

     My subject began to become a shade of ivory that is uncommon from a biped that is still alive and full of blood pumping through its heart. I deftly twisted the bayonet in its imagination many times more in a most energetic fashion.

     “Father is dead and Mother is ahem incapacitated. That would make Simon and Charles the men of the household, would it not? If I were them, I would see to it that your pretty and colourful petticoats hid the blistering contusions and lacerations that I would apply to you both front and back from sternum, to hymen, to ankles, and from shoulderblades, to buttocks, to those self-same ankles, with a couple of good and thick razor strops. I can easily imagine you being lashed to your knees as Simon plugs your nose until you open your lying gob, and then with even more vividness, I can imagine you being forced to swallow the hot and bitter magnitude of his wrath, frequently, and repeatedly, while younger brother Charles continues to beat upon your narrow and naked back with that razor strop until your body is the same purple-black shade as their faces and their torsos are tonight. Those gents are young. I am certain it would not require much time for those lads to recover their erections. The one who is recovering can flog your scrawny self whilst the other feeds you his hatred one inch at a time. They can rotate like cuckoos upon a Swiss clock probably all night and then pick up the ritual of your incessant suffering once again after dinner the following day.

      They can do that to you for years on end all night, every night. Not even upon your birthday, nor at Christmas, would you be granted a respite from their rage. That kind of hatred can last a lifetime. Sooner or later, probably sooner, forced bouts of sodomy would also be included within the itinerary of your misery. That way they can both have a go at you simultaneously and still beat upon your lying hide as they rape you coming and going.

     They can even encourage your younger sisters to watch your punishment and convince them, in a kindly way, obviously, to agree that you are just a lying whore who can never ever be trusted nor believed. If they do a fine enough job those younger sisters may even ask them if they can beat on you as well? They would promise to the moon that they will never tell a soul about what those lads have been doing to you. They just want to be a part of the ritual of making your life a living Hell for as long as possible once they learn the truth about how you tried to have them killed. And of course, your brothers will gladly turn over the razor strops to them and teach them the proper way to swing it so that they get the most impact out of their strikes upon your worthless carcass.

     Those sisters would be very eager students, especially after their kindly older brothers explain to them that you would have betrayed them as well in some manner, so that you could free up more money to be dedicated to both your material needs, as well as your educational requirements. When those sweet little girls realize that they would have ended up dead from some prolonged bout of arsenic poisoning disguised as influenza, they will be very eager students indeed. They may even acquire intimate demands of their own once they go through the change just to heap as much humiliation upon you as possible. There will be five of them and only one of you.

     And you will take that abuse from them, m’dear, because you will need the five of them to provide for you because, as I have noted previously, the entire world shall know just what kind of a treacherously lying whore you are. No one of any prominence would ever deign to marry you, and only a brutal man from the very bottom of the social ladder would even bother with you. You would become some battered slab of white trash if you dared to leave your siblings.

     Perhaps if you ran away and took the time to learn a few foreign languages, French, Spanish, and Russian at the very least, you can then emigrate to Europe and make your fortune there as some sort of coquette, but I should warn you, darling, the women who make their living in that enterprise are neither weak nor foolish. They will root out the truth of where you came from and they will in turn run you out of all of the great cities on a rail. We live in a world of printing presses and reliable postal service. Gazettes can travel across oceans. Gazettes with your likeness upon the front page. Many of those courtesans, along with their generous patrons, speak excellent English. They are very curious about life here within the 13 Colonies, I can assure you. No, for you, darling, the devils you know, as angry and as violent as they would be, are still better than the devils that you do not know.

     Simon and Charles would be able to use you forever like a sexualized white slave. They would tell Johnston and Delores that from here on in you would be the one to perform the most wretched chores within the manse. I hope you enjoy cleaning out the privy, Miss Halloran, because you will be seeing it quite frequently. Shall I proceed to scream, or are you going to elaborate to my satisfaction whether or not I am correct in my hypothesis?”

     “I wasn’t going to kill my sisters.”, the subject croaked with her light-blue eyes wide with true horror.

     “Continue.”, I ordered.

     My subject sighed submissively as she placed her face within her hands. It began to reply whilst maintaining that pose in a mumbling manner.

     “It was becoming apparent to me that even with Father alive and working it would not be financially feasible to send my brothers to a top university in the northeast.”

     “Not without curtailing certain expenses.”

     “Yes, not without making severe budgetary adjustments.”

     “Adjustments that would affect you personally.”

     “Adjustments that would affect all of us, Mrs. Pendleton. Charles and Simon could have always gone forth and mastered a trade if I was able to convince Father that they were a pair of ungrateful brutes who wished that he were dead and done with. What are my sisters and I to do if we do not, and cannot, project the proper image of respectability? Our survival as women in a man’s world depends upon these material items as well as learning the proper means to secure a proper husband. I did what I did for all of us, not just myself.”, it said hotly with synthetic moral indignation as it looked straight at me in a challenging manner.

     “How did the bulls come across the false diary?”

     “I planted it within Simon’s closet during the confusion. Mother was pathetically unhinged, the servants were mostly caring for my sisters, and my brothers were staring at my father in apparent shock and disbelief.”

     This was beginning to appear upon its face as though it was supposed to seem as though it was a regrettable business decision, but in reality, it was much more personal. My subject was the indispensable one and the brothers were rivals, secretly-hated competition within the family for my victim’s approval, especially if they became educated professionals and were allowed to return to this provincial backwater and establish their own practice as attorneys. Now, however, thanks to me, my subjest was the manager of the family’s money all by itself. My subject  would have the power to decide who gets what and when. My subject would all but possess power-of-attorney and when she was old enough she would have that as well.

     As I have stated previously my subject would also be able to capitalize upon this triple tragedy, quadruple if you factor in the mother’s addiction to laudanum, and use it to market itself as a heroine born from tragedy to the good burghers of the city of self-deception. My subject would be the one and only. The brothers would be dead before they even saw the noose. Mother would doubtlessly be discreetly sent away to some madhouse far from here when the screaming blue horrors became unbearable. Every time they sent her home my subject would see to it that the addiction reasserted itself until it killed her.

     My subject would be the sole heroine and it would see to it that those other three girls never ever forgot that, even as they wore their older sister’s discarded dresses, and were forced to subsist on beans and toasted bread. Instead of wasting good gold upon all of those lessons to do with diction and elocution, my subject would teach them itself. My subject would also educate them in the social graces so that as they became older they would be able to secure proper husbands. My subject would even negotiate their dowries, perhaps even securing a bribe for itself alone if the suitor’s family were exceptionally eager to marry one of the Halloran girls. And they would be because those girls would be first amongst equals when it came to poise, deportment, charm, and sophistication. My subject would see to that most aggressively.

     It goes without saying that when my subject conducted these invaluable tutorials it would no doubt be brandishing a thin oak branch whittled down to its essence. It would be fairly flexible so that when it struck the backside it would leave a stinging laceration that would burn for days. The locals refer to those branches as “a switch”, and they are commonly used as a means to punish children.

     In short, my subject would have been a domestic tyrant until it could pimp its sisters off on three of the most eligible bachelors available in approximately a decade. Once those girls were out of the way then, and only then, would it deign to marry just the proper fellow. A weakling with a good business of some sort. A toady who could use its services managing the finances. Any 10-year old girl who could deliberately send its two brothers to the tollhouse to be hung for a murder that it knew they didn’t commit, wouldn’t be above poisoning its husband-to-be someday and inheriting his business. Along with that scenario would be the handsome settlement provided by Lloyd’s of London in the form of life insurance. The subject sitting before me could blaze its way through at least three husbands if all three of them died prematurely and they were all men of means. As though any other kind exists as far as my subject can perceive.

     My subject could have accrued an empire of enterprises before it had reached its middle years and it could have become a prosperous entity. Given sufficient time, my subject could have become a formidable matriarch.

     The Brothers Halloran were most fortunate. If my subject had a sufficient amount of time to itself within all of that chaos this morning, it would have rewritten that entire journal so that it would include two more entries that would have sealed their fate. The first would have notated the exact plan with a date and a specific hour. The second notation would have crowed to excess about just how pleasurable it was to slaughter “the old b—–d” in question. If my subject possessed the sufficient time to have crafted those paragraphs in the proper sequential order, they would have been beyond the assistance of this Djinn. The subject had to make its wager with what it had and hope that no one believed those two lads. If this Djinn was not within the city of self-deception, my subject would have won that wager and realized a very handsome profit for the rest of its life. My subject was ruthless, no doubt about that. It just happened that this Djinn was far more ruthless still, and far more intelligent.

     To a rational pragmatist such as myself the existence of luck is a dangerous phenomenon. It is beyond the control of us all, irrespective of our personal levels of intelligence, our talents, or even our beauty. How precisely does that coldly indifferent machine known as the Nature account for luck? Thus far science has nothing to say to me about the matter. It was luck of the negative variety that locked those lads within the tollhouse. It was luck of the positive variety that I had gone forth to the Pyrate’s Cave with my perfect daughters and read the gazette whilst masticating my meat and potatoes. I could have just as easily departed that very morning for the mountain instead of going forth to enjoy a nice and bloody spot of luncheon. This entire episode has imparted unto me the importance of never succumbing to the wiles of complacency. Luck is real, and like the mythical Jehovah, it can giveth and luck can taketh away just as readily.

     The conversation appeared to have reached its point of natural termination. I had learned what I had wanted to know and it turned out that I was right. I stood up, gave my muscular little legs a stretch upon the foot of the bed like a ballet barre, and then I reached down and touched my toes. I then stood up once more and readjusted my black curly mane and then I gave my subject one final glance.

     “So now you know why, Mrs. Pendleton. I imagine you’ll be departing for your mountain to the west. For what it is worth, I did not approve of what father was doing towards you and your husband. Your husband is fighting for our freedom and I am forever grateful for his courageous contributions. You have my assurances that the secret of your location will remain buried forever.”, the subject artlessly threatened with its mid-Atlantic accent front and center once more like a proper little gentlewoman. I laughed quietly because not even it knew exactly where the location of my Paradigm was.

     “My husband’s favourite historical figures are Vlad Tepes, Genghis Khan, Hannibal of Carthage, and Atilla the Hun. He is not killing for anyone’s freedom, of that I can assure you. He spied an opportunity to exercise his desire for slaughter and conquest, and as his steadfast wife, I encouraged it. The rebels offered him the sort of freedom and autonomy that the limeys would not. Also, he is rather attracted to the danger of being an outlaw cavalryman, just as I am attracted to the danger of being an outlaw housewife.”, I said to my intended victim as I quietly stepped over towards the side of the bed as she stared upwards at me with dawning horror that she was now going to die by my hand.”

     At dawn Johnston, the house man, once more went off to get a cop. I can only assume he was in a miserable state of mind when he did so. When the cops arrived, they found the Widow Halloran in her bedchambers with her throat wickedly slashed open to such a degree that it almost looked decapitated as her head tilted at a grotesque angle upon the pillow with the side of her face touching her shoulder. Johnston then pointed grimly down the hallway. It should be noted before I continue that the WH was already dead when Katherine paid her social call upon Janey Rose Halloran.

     When the cops stepped into JR’s suite they found the covetous little girl nakedly laying upon her bed with a look of anguished agony as her light-blue eyes were open as widely as possible as she stared upwards at the ceiling. Though they were down fairly close to the nubs there appeared to be a preponderance of white candles blazing around the bed from the floors, the vanity, the night tables next to either side of the bed, all of which were arranged in a perfect circle. JR was completely dishabille and her fingers were tightly clasped around the handle of the large kitchen knife that she had apparently thrust into her own chest all the way to the hilt. It looked to the coppers as though someone had taken a razor strop to her and beat her black and blue, front and back, up and down. When they turned her corpse over they noted that her sphincter region was brutally swollen and damaged.

     The cops found a lengthy note upon the vanity top. They also found a man’s severed hand. They must have wept when they read it. A terrible narrative was contained within that piece of fiction. It appeared that two evenings previously Paterfamilias, whilst deeply in his cups, paid his 10-year old daughter a visit inside of her bedchambers. Do I even need to elaborate on what happened next? Shanty Irish, you know how they are, especially when they’ve been drinking.

     Little Janey Rose cried herself to sleep after being brutally violated, and then she told all to her laudanum-addicted mother the following day. Instead of hugs, kisses, and reassurances from her mother that they would go to the authorities and have the drunken beast locked up, mother beat her with a razor strop like a pimp and ordered her to keep quiet about it. Father ruled the roost and that’s all there was to it. It’s a man’s world after all, right?

     So now here was poor Janey Rose doubly violated due to being abused by both of her parents. She’s angry and she’s traumatized. The poor kid isn’t really thinking about what she’s doing as she walked into her rapist’s bedroom while he was snoring off another drunk and she mutilated him. According to her note she was as though, “in a dream-state, like a marionette trapped within the throes of somnambulance. I stabbed the wretched beast, and then I cleansed the knife and myself, and I returned to my bedchambers as though nothing of consequence occurred. I hid the missing hand within my dollhouse.”

     So, she awakens to the screams of the house servants and it dawns upon her that it wasn’t a dream. She did murder her shanty Irish child-rapist of a father. Her brothers told her that if she wasn’t hung she would at the very least be locked up for a very long time, and then she would be a figure of disgrace within the community, damaged goods and all of that, even though her hymen was still intact. Unbeknownst to her, her brothers had written out their own fantasies of how they would love to kill “the old b—–d” in question. Turns out he didn’t have a problem beating his sons whenever they failed to live up to his expectations. They despised him almost as much as she did. The brothers moved their own collection of violent fantasies into a real obvious place whereby the cops couldn’t fail to find it and they got themselves arrested. It seemed that in order to make themselves look completely guilty they denied having anything to do with the killing, so that the cops would beat on them, and not focus on their traumatized sister. Janey Rose wasn’t aware of the damning diary and the guilt of knowing that her wonderful brothers were going to be beaten and then hung was too much for her to tolerate. She could only think of one way that she would be believed beyond the shadow of reasonable doubt. She had to kill her mother, and then herself, and then the police would be forced to believe that her wonderful brothers were only sacrificing themselves to spare her from exposing her shameful secret and also to keep her out of the tollhouse.

     In her screed she wrote about how “joyful it felt to cut the vile b—–‘s throat. Being hurt by Father with such violent intimacy was bearable in comparison to being beaten by Mother and ordered to remain silent about the agonizing ordeal. Betrayal is the most heinous violation I can imagine. I pray she is in Hell with that vicious brute violently receiving inside of her own posterior what I unwillingly was forced to endure. I’m glad they’re both dead by my hand and I pray to God to forgive me for my sins and to receive me within The Kingdom of Heaven with His Most Generous Heart Upon Display as absolution for my trials and tribulations.”

     Amen, sister.

     By the afternoon all of Savannah was abuzz with the news. Gossip always outruns the press but yet when the rumour hit the cobblestones in the morning a tiny woman pushing a black baby carriage went to the tollhouse with a lawyer and a doctor. The doctor demanded that he be able to tend to the lads while the lawyer demanded that they be released. The doctor took a look at JR’s body and he said that her corpse obviously substantiated her note. The lawyer wasn’t allowed to counsel the brothers to lie, that’s technically known as suborning to perjure and lawyers get disbarred for that kind of thing, but lawyers are allowed to pass their clients notes providing the lawyer isn’t aware of the contents of said message. The brothers were told in that note to admit that the journal really was there’s and they took the rap because their father was an abusive lout, and their beautiful sister Janey Rose had just been brutally raped, and they didn’t want her to get into trouble. As long as they were able to keep a few details straight in their battered heads they would be hunky-dory. The last thing they were told to do was burn the note, which they did from the candle inside of their cell.

     The sawbones patched them up as best as he could. It took a few painful hours to re-set their noses, give them some much-needed stitches, bind their broken ribs in tight bandages, and cut the contusions over their eyes so that they could see again half-decently. Both lads had to use crutches to drag themselves out to the lobby area where they were greeted by their lawyer, who informed them that they were free young men again. The lawyer also advised them to say nothing to the gazette writers. The doctor told them that he would visit them every day and check up on them.

     The last person that greeted them was a little woman, five feet nothing, 95 pounds if she had a good breakfast in her guts and she was soaking wet, black curly hair poking out of the fringes of her dark forest green bonnet, nearly black eyes, and she was wearing a crushed-velvet deep crimson dress with a black lace bodice, black Italian-leather gloves, and flat black shoes. She had a black baby carriage before her and inside of the black carriage were two infants, one who was close to a year old and the other who was obviously a tiny new born. She told the lads not to try and speak and she lead them outside to a crowd of bored-looking housewives who looked at them with an air of disappointment. They weren’t mad beasts after all. They were just a couple of teenage boys who had had the living feces pounded out of them by the cops and they weren’t too pretty to look at up close. Now the real heroine of the story was little Janey Rose Halloran and the times being as morbid as they were, the general public was actually allowed to walk through the examination room and have a gander at all three of the victims. JR’s state of victimization was exposed to all and sundry and the housewives of Savannah spat upon the corpses of Walter and Liza Halloran.

     Almost no one watched the black carriage trundle away from the tollhouse with the little woman, her two babies, and the two battered lads inside as Johnston, the house man, cracked the whip and the shiny well-brushed black stallions began to trot down the cobblestone street in the morning sunshine. The little woman in the dark red dress told the boys that they had a lot to discuss but first they needed to get some decent rest and recuperate their strength.

     Three days ago, they were a couple of middle-class chappies living in the lap of respectability as they imagined their bright and shiny futures inside of the city of self-deception. University, law degrees, passing the BAR, coming home as successful young men, no doubt with many young local debutantes pressing to make their acquaintances, marriage, kids, the admiration of their parents, their siblings, and their community at large.

     Three days later the little woman asked them if they knew how to ride, shoot, and handle a Claymore. Both boys nodded that they were sufficiently trained in the manlier arts. The little woman smiled at them both and her grin was of the wolfish variety. She told them that today was their re-birthday and they needed to cease and desist with their middle-class fantasies. As best as they could the boys spread their cracked and rubbery lips, and they concurred with her wholeheartedly as they nodded their bandaged heads stiffly. Today was the first day of the rest of their predatory lives.

 

 

Psychotopia- Episode Two- Season 1

     I have no idea why the fuck I’m doing this. I know inside my head that writing a diary like this is really fucking dangerous, but I can’t help myself. It kind of feels like I need to tell someone, even if that someone is whoever finds this thing after I’m dead and gone. Whoever you are I’m warning you right now, I tend to write like I fucking talk so this isn’t going to be a smooth piece of work. It’ll be crude in a lot of places and almost intelligent in others. Where I’m taking you now isn’t going to be pleasant or nice either. Things started out ugly and then they got worse. A lot fucking worse.

                        THE FIRST TUESDAY IN SEPTEMBER- 1980- SUDBURY, ONTARIO, CANADA

     Ok, actually before I start out with my life as a 13-year old, let me take you back even further. I was born on September 26, 1966, at Sudbury General Hospital. Sudberia is a smallish mining city of about 90,000. It’s located about 3 or so hours northwest of Toronto. It’s got the biggest lake to be completely surrounded by a city according to Guinness. Because the mining company (INCO) fucked up the forests around town, it has a lot of black rocky hills. This feature, along with the fact that it’s cold as hell here in the winter, made it the perfect place for NASA to test their moon exploration vehicles before they went on their space missions. That’s about all I know about Sudberia.

     I’m the middle of five kids. I’ve got a brother and sister that are older and a brother and sister that are younger than me. The one thing I want to point out right off the bat is that I was never abused, molested, or fucked up in any way as a kid. I grew up in a working middle-class house in the Minnow Lake district. My dad works in the mines at INCO. My mom’s a housewife. Both of my parents are straight-arrow types. The old man likes Colts Mild cigars, which is where I got the habit. Mom is into DuMaurier Lights. Neither of them drink, do drugs, or do anything weird. Mom’s biggest vice is the occasional trip to the bingo. I can only assume that the old man’s biggest vice is Mom. My folks aren’t church-goers, thank fucking Christ for that. In fact, Mom despises Christianity so much that I sometimes wonder if she’s a closet Satanist.

     I guess you could say they were kind of reserved. I mean they weren’t cold and unaffectionate but they wouldn’t be the life of the party either. The old man worked, came home, ate supper with us, we’d all watch our crappy black and white tv, (the old man called it “the idiot box”), and then everyone went to bed, and soon enough it was another day.

     Like I said, my childhood was pretty uneventful, except for one violent summer but even then, I wasn’t a victim exactly. Other than that, I can tell you for a fact my childhood was boringly normal.

     I started out at Adamsdale Elmentary School. Apparently, those few years of watching Sesame Street, The Friendly Giant, and Mr. Dress Up, were enough to give me the reading skills, and the math skills, to get bumped up into the enriched classes. I know as you’re reading this you’re thinking that I sound like a meathead but I was actually tested and apparently, I’m brighter than average. I only sound like this because everyone talks like this. I live in a very vulgar culture. Also sounding like a meathead has certain advantages. Depending on what kind of game you’re playing it doesn’t hurt when your victims think they’re smarter than you.

     Ok, so that’s my life from ages 0-12. We didn’t go on family vacations. We didn’t go camping, or hunting, or fishing, or snowmobiling, or cross-country skiing. None of us were forced to play hockey. We pretty much just went to school, did kid things in the summer, watched movies and tv, read books, and none of us got into any real trouble. We respected our parents to the extent that we didn’t fuck with them openly, (except for my sister Cait, she’s a bit of a spaz). Life was stable and unexciting.

      And then came high school.

     I was starting to shoot up and things were starting to happen inside of me, and I’m not talking about the obvious shit either. I’m talking about really dark and scary impulses. Don’t ask me where they came from because I couldn’t tell you at that time. These feelings just happened.

     Right before I turned 14 it really began to get to me in home room. The thing you have to understand is that this is a small city. The people you start out with in grade school are going to follow you to middle school, and then high school. Yeah, you’ll meet some other kids but really all I ever saw were the kids that I’ve already known for years. We all lived in the same area and we went to the same places.

     It started with Wendy-Louise Pelletier on the very first day of school. I was sitting in home room in the back, (I always sat in the back), and she was up in the front. The teacher took roll call and we were waiting to stand up for Oh, Canada and The Lord’s Prayer. Wendy-Louise, (you could never just call her Wendy. She was a cunt that way), was sitting at her desk in a pair of Jordache designer jeans and some kind of a flouncy blouse with a high neck and pink stripes. She had goldy-blonde hair that was curled up with a lot of waves, (the Farrah Fawcett thing is still big in 1980, especially for mall chicks), and she was wearing way too much rouge. I’ve known her since kindergarten and I suppose we did things together like group projects and team sports in gym class, but it wasn’t like we were friends. Up until that particular day I couldn’t say I had anything against her. She was just there.

     As I quietly stared at her from the back of the classroom it was like everything around her got darker and darker. Things also began to fall silent. Tunnel vision I guess would be the technical term. She was staring down at her notebook and it seemed to me like she was moving really slowly. As I stared I could feel a truly cold sense of stillness creep up my legs and then my abdomen began to get really tight. Then that cold feeling got up to my chest and then it made its way into my head. Wendy-Louise kept scribbling some shit in her notebook and punching buttons on her brand-new Texas Instrument calculator. Don’t ask me why, it was the first day of school and we hadn’t even gotten to math class yet. Maybe she was psychic and she already knew what homework we had to do without the benefit of a textbook. We all had that same calculator. I could see that Wendy-Louise actually wrote her name on hers with White-Out. When the cold feeling completely filled my head one certain revelation came to me.

     She needed to die.

     She needed to be murdered in some horrible way.

     She needed other things to happen to her.

      I needed to do these things to her.

     That didn’t enter my head as some kind of a fantasy. It came to me as a fact. I had to do this. The weird part is even as I kept staring at her, I didn’t feel any kind of hatred or rage. It was just a thought coated in ice and as heavy as cement, but it wouldn’t go away. By that point everything around her was black. I don’t even think I was breathing at that point. But my cock was as hard as the thoughts in my head, and it stayed that way the whole day. I know that’s medically difficult to grasp but I was a 13- year old boy and apparently Satan had some special fucking plans for me. At least that’s what I was thinking at the time.

     The guy sitting next to me punched me in the arm.

     “Hey, man stand up.”

     I pushed myself upwards and it felt like the hardest task in the world to pull my head away from Wendy-Louise and face the front of the classroom. Since me and her were going to be in a lot of the advanced classes together that tunnel vision wouldn’t go away. Looking back the most amazing thing about that day was that she apparently never busted me for staring at her. Good thing too, otherwise she might have gotten the idea that I liked her, and then she would have been an even bigger pain in the fucking ass.
Somehow, some way I got through that first day. All I did all day was stare at her and then for a few seconds I would look somewhere else.

     I went home and dumped my shit in the closet and then I took a brutally cold shower. That cleared my head a little. I bullshitted my way through supper, saying as little as possible. My oldest brother, Bob, had already moved out because he was studying Business Administration at the local university, (Laurentian). My older sister, Cait, was gearing up to graduate that year and she was going to go off to Laurentian to study nursing. My younger brother, Benny, was only 10, and he was already on his way to being a fucking retard. Finally, there was my youngest sister, Miriam. She was only 9 at the time. You’re going to be hearing a lot more about her.

     After, supper, we usually sat around and watched a little tv but I could feel that cold feeling starting to intensify again. And of course, when it did the boner was right behind it so I excused myself and went to my room to do my homework. Through gritted teeth I pushed my way through the assignments that I got stuck with on the very first day of school. I read shit that made no impression on me. I wrote shit that I wasn’t certain made any sense. I did calculations that may have been completely off target but I didn’t care. As the sun dropped in the western sky, and my room got dimmer and dimmer, I just did bullshit work as I tried to ignore the image of Wendy-Louise-Pelltier beaten, raped, stabbed, sliced, and finally dead in a heap of ripped and broken flesh in a deep hole in the woods somewhere. I tried to ignore it but that image of her in the ground became more and more real to me. I could smell her fucking blood as it stuck to my naked flesh. It was like copper and something else that made me even stiffer, and that smell was making me dizzy.

     Finally, it was dark in my bedroom. I was sitting at my desk and I could feel icy sweat coming down both my chest and my shoulderblades. My hands were flat on the desktop and my feet were twisted around themselves beneath my chair. The feeling was actually getting stronger. It was like with every heartbeat it became more powerful. There was no chance that I could push the feeling out of my head by thinking about anything else. I didn’t feel guilty for having these violent fantasies. I just wanted the thoughts to go away because I felt like I wasn’t in control of myself, and I really hate feeling like that. That’s why I’ve been a sober guy all of my young life so far.

     I had to do something and I had to do something fast. My thought process was split in half at that point. Part of me began to tear through my school bag until I found a sheaf of paper. I grabbed a fistful and threw it on the desktop. I then tore through my pencil case and found a red Bic pen. There was no real significance to it being red, it was just the first thing I grabbed. My old man always made sure that if there was a blackout there would be candles in every room of the house, along with flashlights. I went to the closet and grabbed three white candles and a flashlight along with a pack of matches. I then began to creep towards my bedroom door.

     I said my brain was split in two and was thinking two different things. The other half of my brain was already creeping along the backstreets, up Second Avenue towards one of the nicer side streets. Wendy-Louise lived maybe half a mile away from me. It’s like half my brain was drawing out a plan on how to do this.

     I moved really, really slowly down the hallway towards the stairs. It was dark and quiet in the house. I could hear Benny snoring in his room but otherwise it was all silent. When I got to the stairs I moved like a shadow putting as little weight as possible on each step. I didn’t rush it even though in my mind I could see myself actually getting closer to Wendy-Louise’s house. I knew where she lived.

     Step by silent step I slithered down to the main floor of the house. Thank Christ we never had a dog. It was just a short 15-foot walk down the hallway to the basement door. In my mind I was already at Wendy-Louise’s house. I could see it clearly. Red fake brick, black shingles, two-storey jobbey, little concrete stairs with that green carpet shit leading up to the front door. Garage on the right side with a little driveway. Down the side of the house, where the driveway was, I could see a window for the laundry room.

     And as I saw this I was also slipping down the basement stairs in the dark. I didn’t turn on the lights. Slowly I made it to the bottom of the stairs. I pulled out the flashlight. Even as I made my way to the furthest corner of the basement, I could also see my myself popping the latch on the laundry window and pulling aside the mosquito netting. Christ, in the vision I was even wearing gloves. It was like my brain was laying out the whole plan and the really scary thing was that it was actually quite simple to rape and kill her.

     So, I went to the furthest corner and I kneeled on the carpet. I lit the three candles and I put the sheets down. Then I grabbed the pen. I don’t know how exactly a 13-year old kid comes up with an idea this sick and yet this sophisticated but as one side of my brain began creeping down a strange, dark hallway, I began writing down on the first sheet what was happening.

     “As I slip inside the laundry room I slowly and quietly creep towards the main hallway of her house. I open the door and I cautiously look left and right. Everything is dark and still. At one end of the corridor will be the kitchen/front door. The bedrooms will be upstairs.

     I remove my shoes and leave them in the laundry room. I’m wearing a black sweat-shirt, black sweat pants, and black socks. I’m wearing thin black woolen gloves and I’m carrying an ordinary-sized kitchen knife that could have come from any store in town. It’s untraceable.

     I quickly make my way to the stairs. Carefully I start to climb them. When I reach the top of the stairs the hallway is dark. There’s a little nightlight plugged into the wall next to the bathroom but otherwise it’s blackness. I stand completely still for a full minute and I just listen. The door that’s closest to the stairs has snoring coming from it. It sounds like an older guy. I’m guessing that’s her parents.

     Only then do I begin to move down the corridor. These houses usually only come with four bedrooms. She has a younger brother and an older sister so all three of them must have their own room.

     The second door down the corridor, which is next to the bathroom, is silent. I’m going to have to risk opening the door. Slowly I turn the knob and I quietly open the door only a few inches. I stick my head in a little bit and look towards the bed. The body in the bed is too small to be her. I close the door and creep further down the hall.

     There are only two doors left to try. Both of them female. One victim would be just as good as another but I really want it to be Wendy-Louise. I want to rape her and stab her to death, and then go to school tomorrow morning and pretend to be just as shocked and saddened as everybody else. The best part, (next to actually raping and murdering her), will be going to the funeral and telling her family just how sorry I am that this terrible thing has happened to them. I could do that with a straight face. I know I can and then I’ll laugh my fucking ass off when I go by myself into the woods.

     Slowly I turn the knob on the second last door in the hallway. I actually have my fingers crossed. I stick my head in. I can see a body snoring softly on the bed. There’s frilly shit on the edges of the duvet and some posters on the walls but I can’t tell what they are. I’m in luck though because her desk is next to the window and there’s a small amount of light coming in from the streetlights. I can see the textbooks neatly stacked with another neat stack of notebooks. I could tell just from the colours and dim images on the covers of the books that it’s hers.

     Suddenly I’m hard, really fucking hard, but I have to be deliberate at this point. I can’t just rush in and do this. I take a step into her room and slowly close the door. Fortunately, she sleeps on her left side so her head is facing the window and away from the door.

     I close the door behind me, softly. From here on in I have to be really careful because the secret to do doing this is surprise. I take a step towards her. Then I stop and stand completely still. I listen for a minute. Then I take another step and I stop again. Wendy-Louise is perfectly still, snoring away quietly, totally unaware that I’m only about 7-8 feet away from her. I take another couple steps and my leg is touching the edge of her bed.

     I take a couple small steps up along the edge of her bed. Now I’m looking straight down at her. I’m so fucking hard right now it hurts. I can feel the sweat breaking out on my back and my forehead. I’m only going to get one shot at doing this right and if I fuck it up she’s going to scream and I’m going to have to escape out her window in my socks and run like hell through all the back streets to get to my place.

     No, I’m not going to fuck this up.

     I’m going to fuck her up.

     Slowly I bend over and I reach for the duvet that she has pulled up close to her shoulder. I have the knife in my left hand. It’s gleaming a little bit from the ambient light coming in through the window. I stop with my hand right above her face, maybe 6 inches away. Slowly I count down from 60 in my head. One shot, that’s all I’m getting here.

     As soon as I hit zero I yanked back the duvet, sprang on top of her, forced her onto her back, and put my right hand over her nose and mouth while I placed the knife across her throat. Her eyes suddenly open with instant surprise and then they become really fucking scared. She can feel the blade against her throat.

     I whisper to her. “You make one fucking sound, slut, and I’ll kill you.” I tried to disguise my voice by making it as deep as possible.

     She’s kind of twitching a little at that point because she can’t breathe. Otherwise she sort of nods like she understands what’s going on.

     “Put your hands behind your head, slut.”, I whisper to her.

     She pulls her hands up and puts them under the pillow under her head. She does this quickly because she knows who’s in charge right now. She’s about to pass out from oxygen deprivation so I pull my hand back a little bit, (but I make sure to press the knife more firmly into her throat), and she takes a huge breath but she does it as quietly as possible. The moment she exhales I put my hand back over her mouth and nose but this time I use my left hand after I switch hands with the knife. With the knife I start slicing down the front of her nightgown. I slice through the bra strap and I can hear the material ripping quietly in the darkness. Fuck that sound is so fucking erotic. Her eyes widen and I can see a growing sense of horror in them. She knows what’s coming, or at least she knows part of what’s coming. With the knife I flick aside the sliced fabric and her young little titties are exposed in the ambient light from the street.

     Again, she’s about to pass out and while in some ways that’s a good thing, that isn’t good for me. I want to see her screaming from her eyes. I lift my hand up and she takes another deep breath. She then grabs another and another.

     “Please don’t hurt me.”, she whispers.

     “You keep your fucking mouth shut and I won’t hurt you much, cunt.”

     With the knife pressed to her throat with my left hand I reach down with my right until I can feel her cotton panties. With one good ripping yank I tear them right off of her. She starts breathing quickly. Good, she’s fucking scared. She knows what’s coming. What she doesn’t know is how this is going to end.”

     You can pretty much guess the rest of it, eh? I think I used the line, “As I thrusted into her repeatedly I was like an engine of sexualized rage.” Yeah, I know it’s cheesy shit but I was only 13 and I wasn’t shooting for any literary prizes here. I just wanted to get this feeling out of my head, and my body, before I really did take a moonlit stroll into someone’s house and ruin my entire future.

     When I got to the part in the story about when I started stabbing her in the chest after I raped her, that’s when I began stroking myself, and somehow, I was able to hold off until I got to the very last line where I wrote, “Before I crept out of her room I looked around one last time. There was blood all over the fucking place. I was covered in her blood too and it felt fucking beautiful.” And then at that point I just started to erupt with spunk. I wasn’t consciously aware I was doing it but I had aimed my dick down at the sheets of paper and I just kept coming and coming and coming. And the waves of ecstasy that passed through my body were, what’s the word? Transcendental. That’s it. I had transcended my own flesh. I was out of my own body and I was like energy, I was like light and I was scattered throughout the basement, reaching into every corner. I just kept on exploding with jizz all over these sheets and the pleasure just got more intense. It wasn’t just in my dick. I’ve heard heroin addicts say that the first time they did it their whole body comes. It was like that. It was only when I started to slow down that I actually fainted and fell sideways.

     I don’t know how long I was laid out like that with my dick in my hand but I finally made a noise and I felt totally weak. I mean, I was spent. All I wanted to do was just lie back down on the carpet and go to sleep. Every single part of me weighed 5 tons and I felt a sense of calm and peace that my boy mind couldn’t even dream of. I actually felt safe. I felt like I had walked through the shadow of the valley and the devil didn’t even know I was there. Or maybe she understood and approved of what I did. Either way it felt like Satan was my new best friend.

     It took all of my strength to push myself upright onto my knees. My arms hung like dead pieces of meat in a locker. I was barely breathing at that point. As I looked down at those sheets of paper I was stunned. They were totally slathered with goo. Every single millimeter was coated with the white stuff and it was thick like Elmer’s Glue. Slowly the power of thought began to creep back into my head. Even though I was blissed out with exhaustion I actually felt completely like myself again. I knew I had to get rid of those sheets and I had to make sure they were never, ever discovered.

     It was like there was another voice in my head but this one was kind of sweet and gentle.

     “Burn them”, said a girl’s voice.

     Yeah, burn them. That way no one could ever find them and trace them back to me. Not that anyone would be able to read this thing, not much of it anyway, but still it just looked fucking weird, man. Also, when Lady Satan gives me an order who am I to say no, eh? She was the only friend I had if you want the truth.

     I hauled myself up the stairs. I went down the hall towards the front door and got into my Chuck Taylor’s. I took the key that was hanging from the kitchen wall by the stove and I slipped outside. Somehow, I did this without making a sound.

     The night air was cold and windy. This was early September and in Sudbury the autumn days are really nice but the nights are close to zero degrees. That was fine, the wind woke me up, and I began to hustle towards Sherwood Park. Sherwood Park had two baseball fields, a hockey rink, some swings, and a shack where people could change into their skates or use the bathroom. It was a nice park. The only downer was that it was across the street from the low-rental housing complex, Birkdale Village. I think in England they call them, “council flats” and in America they call them, “the projects”. If there was one of two things my mom honestly hated it was, “those grubby welfare bums in their free houses.”, and for some reason Christianity. We kids in the area heard stories about that place. We heard it was really rough and scary in there. In fact, throughout all of Sudbury it was officially known as “The Ghetto”. I could only hope that none of those people were in the park that night. Otherwise, I’d have to kill them in order to keep my secret and its good and dark in that park at night. Yeah, I was ready to do that, no fucking problem.

     The streets were quiet overall. This was a Tuesday night and most people had day jobs and families. Sudbury wasn’t really a party town. People did that shit on the weekends but otherwise you could pretty much roll up the sidewalks at about 10pm on a week night.

     I entered the park through the back way and I stood in the shadows near the trees. Slowly I scanned and listened. All I could hear was the wind rustling through the birch and maple trees. I couldn’t detect any movement. Finally, when I was satisfied I began walking towards the outdoor hockey rink. When I reached it I stopped once again and I looked directly towards the penalty boxes. I couldn’t see any flashes of cigarettes or smell any joints being smoked. I couldn’t hear any voices, or bumping sounds. All of us kids heard rumours that sometimes the desperately horny in the area would go to the penalty boxes to have sex. I couldn’t detect anything so I hopped the boards and headed for the penalty box.

     I stepped inside and it was just a concrete shack with a big opening in the front and a shitty old red bench. I sat down and began rolling down the garbage bag. I pulled out the nasty, sticky sheets and I dropped them to the floor. When I had the garbage bag inside-out I put it aside and I started scrunching up the paper. When I had what looked like a sick looking ball of trash I poured a hefty amount of barbecue fluid on top of it. Most of it kind of slid off due to the jizz but that was ok. I could smell the fluid in the dark and I took out the matches. I lit one wadded up corner of the papers and it didn’t want to catch at first. The fluid that had slid off the spunk caught on fire though and it kind of went underneath the pile. Slowly the papers began to catch and I had a decent little blaze going. Man did it stink though. It’s impossible to describe, kind of like burnt smelts or something. The smoke coming off it had a weird colour as well. Kind of greenish. Still as the sheets burned a sense of relief began to fill me. I felt like I had gotten away with a huge and terrible crime, and that made me feel fucking invincible.

     It took forever for that shit to burn. I was convinced I was going to get caught. Finally, it was just a small little pile of ashes. Those I stomped under my shoes and kicked them into the corners. I grabbed the garbage bag and took off towards the back entrance again. At the garbage can I stuffed it in and then I ran like hell all the way back to the house. The heavy feeling was gone, and so was the serenity to a degree but now it was replaced by a huge sense of joy. I was truly and totally happy as I ran like lightning through the silent backstreets. I was laughing as I sprinted to my house. It was the laughter of absolute freedom.

     When I got to my house I snuck back in, hung up the key, and I crept back into my room. Beneath my bedsheets I felt a warm sleepy vibe come over me 30 seconds after I laid down. My last intelligent thought as the blackness took me was, “Well at least I took care of that out of control feeling. That’s probably going to be the end of it. Just a one-off hardcore jack-off session.”

     Nope.

     Not even close.

     I slept like a dead young boy and it took me a good ten minutes just to pull myself out of bed when my mom kept calling for me. I grabbed another icy shower and then for the first time ever I made a cup of coffee. Strangely I wasn’t hungry. My mom commented that I must have been up late studying. I allowed her to think that. My old man was already gone to work and my siblings were kind of in the background doing their thing.

     In a couple minutes I was outside on Second Avenue waiting for the bus with all of the other kids. At that time, I still felt like myself, drained but still me in my right mind. All around me there was chatter from little clusters of kids. When I saw Wendy-Louise I felt absolutely nothing. I felt no sense of desire to rape or kill her. I felt no sense of guilt or anxiety. She was just there like a sheet of wallpaper wearing too much rouge. That to me gave me the feeling that last night really was a one-off kind of situation. An aberration as the professionals would say.

     The bus came and I got on and sat near the front. I just looked out the window and thought about nothing. The houses just rolled by like two-dimensional pre-fab models on a movie set. Finally we got to Nickel District and I went straight to home room even though we still had several minutes before the bell.

     And then it happened again.

     Her name was Laurie McKinnon. She wasn’t part of the Minnow Lake crowd. She was a New Sudbury girl. New Sudbury was a suburb that was close to the high school. Some parts were supposed to be nicey-nice but to me it just looked like the same basic middle-class crap that was in Minnow Lake. Most houses came in a small number of basic designs and they were well under 2000 square feet. The only exception was the really rich part of town way out by the university but very few people had any dealings with that part of the city.

     Anyway, that isn’t important. Laurie was a chubby blonde chick with kind of a piggy face. She wasn’t pretty but she already had tits like pizza dough so I guess that got her some attention. She was wearing some kind of light blue short-sleeved jersey and a loose pair of Levi’s. She had the Nike high-tops though so that gave her a little status. She was blazing through her homework just tearing up the sheets with her Bic pen while she was looking at her math book.

     I plopped into my desk and I just casually looked at her. I just looked because she was there. She could have been a fly buzzing around the windows and I would have looked at that as well.

     And I could feel the coldness starting again in my feet. Suddenly I was riveted to the image of Laurie as she kept scribbling and quietly cursing. Once more everything around her began to get darker and darker. All of the background noise was starting to fade as well. The thing that made it worse was we were in the classroom alone. I don’t think she even knew I was there. I couldn’t have raped her but I reckon I would have had 2-3 minutes to kill her with my bare hands.

     I pulled my head away and quietly said, “fuck this”. I pushed myself up from my desk and it felt like my feet were cemented to the floor and my head just whipped towards her, again. The door to the hallway was just 15 feet away and I could feel the icy hardness starting to fill up my dick again. With extreme will power I pushed my way through that door and I went to the bathroom down the hall. Cold water on the face didn’t help at all. I could actually see her in the mirror, broken, bloody, naked, ripped open, and dead. The cold feeling had filled up my chest and head by then.

     The desire to rape and murder her was the only thought that was allowed to fill up my mind. In a way I was lucky because she was in all of the “general” classes while I was in the “advanced” ones. Still I knew I’d be thinking about her all day and I’d be looking for her in the hallways.

     The bell rang and I had to go back to homeroom.

     Laurie was still going apeshit on her homework and I kept fighting the urge to look at her, and losing. I would lose the fight for a few seconds and when I did look at her piggy profile everything was completely black and silent. There was nothing in my world at that point but her and the irrepressible urge to destroy her. Again, the geek beside me had to tell me to stand up and I did while I kept looking over at her. Her cheeks were flushed and she kept squeezing her white pudgy fists. Clearly a nervous sort of girl and right now she had every reason to be feeling uneasy. Then something happened during the anthem.

     She looked over at me, caught me staring at her, and she smiled.

     It wasn’t a nervous smile either. It was more like a “Oh my God that tall cute guy is actually checking me out.”, kind of smile. The smile didn’t make her look any prettier even though it seemed sweet and genuine. It just made me want to smash her fucking face in with a brick and then rape her while she was dying. The only conclusion I got from that little interaction was that apparently, I didn’t look like a leering psycho even though I was under the spell of some part of my brain that was obviously not developing in a normal fashion. Laurie actually started to blush and she stared down at her feet.

     The roll call was taken and then there were more announcements. Christ, this was just getting weirder. Every time I lost the fight to not look at her I’d catch her sneaking looks at me. Finally, the bell rang and I ploughed my ass out the door as fast as possible.
The same thing would happen throughout the day except that Laurie wasn’t in my classes. Still as the dark, cold feeling kept feeding me the urge to rape and brutalize her to death, I would look around for her. At lunch I grabbed my brown bag baloney sandwiches and I stayed the hell away from the lunchroom. Instead I went out by the smoking area.

     Even then as I grinded my tasteless sandwiches, I kept looking around for her. I knew where she would be but I fought the urge to a standstill. There were moments throughout that day when I swear I could hear icy laughter, not in my head but in my chest.

     The afternoon was the same way. I couldn’t absorb anything that was being said. I heard it and I forgot it immediately. I would stare at book pages and the words were foreign to me. The only thing that kept me going was the fact that at least I had some kind of a functioning way of dealing with it.

     The school day finally died the shitty death it deserved. All I had to do was go down the granite steps with the hundreds of other kids and get on the bus.

     And then Laurie popped up right in front of me.

     “Hi.”, she said in a bright friendly way. She looked eager. I could only assume that I didn’t look both homicidal and fucking desperate.

     Everything around her was suddenly black again. It was like everything else was a fake dimension, and this dark, silent void was where my real life was, and the only thing expected of me in this place was to rape and kill school girls. There was no sound at all. Because of all of the blackness around, Laurie herself seemed brighter. Her blue eyes glittered like the sun coming off Lake Ramsay. That’s not as beautiful as it sounds to be honest.

     It took an extreme effort but I stepped around her and gave her both the hard and the cold shoulder. She spun a good 90 degrees and then I was out the door. The sun instantly appeared and there were other shapes and muffled noises again. People swirled around me and I shouldered a few of them as well. I thought I could hear Laurie telling me I was a fucking asshole somewhere behind me in the crowded distance. At least you’re not dead, bitch. What would you think of me then? Chances are you’d go to that shallow grave that I dug for you thinking you must be some kind of hot shit because I picked you out to fuck up on a Friday night instead of sitting on my ass watching music videos, and even then the fucking joke would be on you because to me you’d be nothing more than fucking target practice.

     Needless to say, I went through the entire routine again that night and the result was exactly the same right down to the midnight run home as I leapt like a gazelle who actually fought a lioness and ate her completely. The joy was just as intense and the orgasm in the basement after I wrote out every sick detail actually made me feel like I had temporarily, albeit pleasantly died. Needless to say the next day at school Laurie wouldn’t even look at me. In fact, ever since then she has never said a word to me ever again. I can’t help but feel a little bit relieved about that because y’know even psychos have to maintain some kind of a standard, right?

     This went on for a month. Every day, including the weekend I would get hit with the icy blackness and there would be some girl who completely filled my body with the urge to rape and kill her. Even on the weekends I wasn’t safe. I’d see a girl in the neighbourhood and then I would get possessed. I went through every chick in homeroom and then I’d come across others in my classes who were in other homerooms. The pattern never changed. It was all-consuming and the night time runs made me more and more convinced that I was going to get caught at some point.

     The thing that freaked me out though was one Sunday I was just walking around and I saw a girl come out of the little convenience store on Second Avenue. I didn’t know who she was. If she was from the area then she must have just moved there. She looked about the same age as me. I had just turned 14. She had red wavy hair and lots of freckles. She was really cute to be honest and if I wasn’t an antisocial psycho I would have asked her out. I silently said to no one, “Watch it happen now.”

     And then it happened. You know the spell by now but this time there was a scary difference. She was walking about 30 feet in front of me heading south towards Bancroft Road. She was smoking a Player’s Light. I kept following her and I really wasn’t very subtle about it. Everything got dark. Then it got weirder. I swear she was actually slowing down.

     “She knows I’m following her.”, I said quietly to the blackness, “She wants me to catch up to her.” I kept my pace and the 30 feet became 20.

     And then 10 feet.

     And then 5 feet. I was right on her ass at that point.

     I know it sounds like something out of a movie but the only thing that stopped me was some guy from my General Science class suddenly came out of his house and intercepted me. He began bugging me about Newton’s Three Laws. I honestly didn’t even know this guy’s name but he knew mine. You know what the fucked-up part was? When I tried to focus on what Nerdboy was saying she actually stopped, turned around, put her hands on her hips, smiled, and gave me this look as though to ask, “Are you coming, or what?”

     One lone sane thought struggled to get into my head.

     “WHAT ARE YOU FUCKING DOING?”.

     It sounded like a shout from a great distance from way way down at the bottom of a mine shaft. I mumbled something to Nerdboy and it must have made sense because he smiled and said thank you. By then the pretty red-haired girl was a good ways down the street and I wickedly fought with myself to turn around and walk back to my house. All the while I kept looking backwards until she was out of sight. I would stop and halfway turn around. The demon in my chest started laughing. Then I would turn back the other way and force another dozen or so steps and then I’d stop again. I must have looked ridiculous.

     Now I was getting scared. I wasn’t scared in the sense that I knew what I was thinking and feeling was wrong. I truly didn’t give a shit about any of those cunts. There was no guilt here. There was no desire to go to a counsellor and start babbling about my evil thoughts. What scared me was someday I was going to do it, not because I wanted to but because I needed to, and that made me feel like I wasn’t in control.

     My 14-year old boy logic went something like this. If simply being pulled in by the urge, writing it all down in the dead of night, jerking off all over it, and then burning it in the penalty box at Sherwood Park could make me feel so ecstatic, what would actually raping, torturing, and killing a girl feel like? I mean we’re talking exponential units of euphoria here. Whatever this urge was it was getting stronger and if I finally gave in to it I would probably look like a weirdo afterwards, even if I got away with it. People would know there was something seriously wrong with me then and then the cops would show up. People would talk about this weirdo kid who probably drooled when he smiled, especially if he was checking out a girl. They would say that after the girl in question died I had changed. Also I was smart enough to realize that if I did give in to the urge the addiction to do it again would be instantaneous, especially if I somehow avoided giving myself away with my weirdo behavior. No doubt, I would end up in prison for life before I was 16, maybe even 15. I could have been tried as an adult just like Steven Truscott when he was falsely accused, and almost hanged, for raping and murdering a girl when he was only 14.

     After a month I didn’t even go outside on the weekends. By then it was pretty close to Halloween.

     I was sitting in the kitchen reading my assigned book for English class. I think it was Brave New World. Yeah, I’m pretty sure it was. It wasn’t bad actually. The only problem I had was why the two guys didn’t like it there in their society. The Savage I could understand because he came from somewhere completely different. The other two guys had all the free pussy they could handle and they had the best dope that science could manufacture. Their jobs were really just a hobby and they had all kinds of entertainment. I thought that that place was pretty cool.

     My mom walked through the kitchen, took a look at me and then she went into the living room to watch tv. I didn’t even watch tv because I thought that if I did even that would set me off. Really, I was that paranoid. I thought that Holly, my favourite model on The Price is Right, would give me a boner and then the next thing I knew I would be trapped waiting until everyone went to bed and then I would have to go through the ritual again.

     I thought I could hear some noise nearby. I didn’t pay much attention, really. Then I could hear little feet stomping into the floor. And then she was standing in the entryway to the kitchen.

    Miriam.

    My baby sister.

     She was kind of breathing weird and she was staring straight at me. She was four feet tall at this point and maybe 60 pounds. She had large deep brown eyes, and a good deal of sort-of wavy dark brown hair around her face. It was fairly long but not crazy long. She was a beautiful child. She could have done catalogue work for Zeller’s or Eaton’s.

     “What’s the matter, Miriam?”, I asked her nicely. I had to say something. She was just standing there staring at me like she just discovered me in the woods trying to bury Wendy-Louise Pelletier.

     “I need to talk to you.”, she said firmly as she wiped her nose and looked at me. I think she was expecting me to tell her to get lost judging by the way she was trying to stare me down. All the cords in her little neck were tight like she was forcing herself to make eye contact while she waited for me to reject her presence. It was at that point that I spontaneously made a fateful decision that would change both of our lives forever.

     “Ok, what do you say we go outside and do something?”, I said casually.

     “Really?”, she asked nervously.

     “Yeah, really. What do you want to do?”, I asked her pleasantly.

     “Can we have a picnic in the woods, please?”, she asked with a little bit of desperation like I was going to crush her fantasy.

     “Sure, we’ll pack up a bunch of sandwiches and we’ll get some pop from the little store. Do you still have any toys? If you do you bring one.”

     She said something then that I didn’t expect.

     “No, I’ve never had toys. I just want to walk and talk with you.”, she said seriously. Holy shit, how could I have not known that?

     “Ok. Let’s get the stuff together.”, I said decisively.

     She came into the kitchen and we began slapping together peanut butter and raspberry jam sandwiches. She was waving the butter knife around like she was a conductor. I told Mom we were going to go out into the woods. She gave me a weird look and then she smiled. She told us to be home for supper. At the time I thought she was privately glad that us kids were going to leave her alone on a Saturday. It turned out there was a lot more going on than that, but I’ll get into that later.

     So, you might be wondering, why would I be eager to take my 9-year old sister into the woods, given all of the evil thoughts that have somehow found a home inside of me? The simple truth is I was a 14-year old boy still. I wanted to walk around in the great outdoors, go to the lake, feel the sun on my body, sit and look at something other than the shitty paisley wallpaper in my kitchen, and maybe have a new experience. I wanted to move and feel my body in motion. Also, and I know how fucking stupid this is going to sound, I wanted to get to know my sister.

     You might also be wondering didn’t I have any friends? The truth is, no I didn’t. I mean the other kids knew me and, they’d say hi, and they’d even invite me to go and do shit with them, but truthfully, I enjoyed being by myself. I really didn’t mind being separate from the gang. I could do my own thing, read books, watch movies, go off on my own, go in the woods, go to the lake, go to the library and the movies, or even lie on my bed all day and do jack shit. My mom used to joke that sending me to my room wasn’t a form of punishment. I was a self-contained unit for years long before the evil thoughts found me. Only one person tried to crash that game when I was 8 years old and I nearly killed her. I’ll get to that in a bit.

     Miriam came down the stairs with a little red knapsack. She had on an old pair of jeans and a red sweater. She jumped into her running shoes and tied them up in under ten seconds. She then put on her red windbreaker, marched into the kitchen and stuffed the sandwiches in. And about ten seconds later we took off into the day with our grub. Miriam immediately took my hand and she started talking as we quickly walked to the little store to get a few bottles of Pepsi. Basically, she started talking and her mind went from subject to subject like it was natural for her to blow through a wide range of topics.

      We got the pop and then we cut over to First Avenue and then we took one of the many trails into the bush. There were at the time dozens of square miles of forest along with the black rocky hills where the toxic residue from the mines killed the trees years ago. It was like a huge swampy bush with a moonscape on top.

     As we walked the trail the huge white birch and maple trees shadowed us, Miriam continued talking almost non-stop about science stuff. Even though I was tested with a 122 IQ, it was impossible to keep up with her. All I did was ask questions and she would cheerfully answer them and then she would bunnyhop to the next subject. My sister is a fucking genius and I mean a real fucking genius. When I thought that a couple distant memories from that violent summer came back to me. Memories that I had boxed and shelved in my metaphorical closet and piled more bullshit on top of.

     I only learned certain things later on but according to my folks she didn’t start talking until she was 3 years old. My parents were actually scared she was retarded. The doctors told them that really smart kids need more time for their brains to develop before they start walking and talking. Apparently, the very moment she started to talk she could read, write, and do basic arithmetic.

     As we walked through the woods, while holding hands, she was going on about the impossibility of time travel. A strange thought hit me then. I tried as hard as I could to recall if I had ever had a conversation with her before today. I mean she had birthdays (July 12, 1971, if you care to know). I must have been at the table when she blew out the candles. Did I say anything then to her? I must have signed the card at least. Christmas? I seem to recall her holding up a large book and smiling happily. Sonofabitch, I couldn’t remember a single time before today when I actually spoke to her. I heard her voice at the supper table, I know I experienced that much. Nothing. No memories at all.

     At the time that we were walking in the woods, Miriam was having problems at school. Actually, she had been having problems for a couple of years at that point. Even though she was in the enriched classes she was destroying the lessons. She would sit at the back of the classroom and read science books when she was supposed to be listening to the teacher rap about why Ottawa was an important city. When she was confronted about these things she would flat out say to the teacher, “Did I do the homework assignment wrong? Am I disturbing anybody? Did I get perfect on the last test once again?”. One day the teacher made a serious mistake. She did the old, “If you think you’re so smart why don’t you come up here and teach the class?” Miriam didn’t hesitate for one second. She walked up and grabbed the teacher’s syllabus. She looked at the current lesson for like a minute and then she dumped the fucking book in the wastebasket. Then she began to do the lesson from off the top of her head only she added a lot more details that weren’t in the teacher’s lesson book. Then when the bell rang for recess she just stopped and walked out of the classroom as everyone stared at her. Needless to say, even though acts like that should have made her some kind of a cool little maverick it actually alienated her from the other kids. Remember she was in the enriched classes with all of the other social fucking retards. I was in the enriched classes at Adamsjail so I know what those kids are like. She made them incredibly jealous and the only way they could rebel against her was to shun her completely.

     Back then my mom was called in because her youngest daughter had behavioural problems at least 3 times a week. The thing that made it even shittier was that she was apparently the target of the mean girls at school. Even then though Miriam would curse them out and fight back. She didn’t just go off like a suck and cry. In fact, she apparently busted one fat slut’s nose with her Charlie’s Angels lunchbox. Strangely what made the situation worse was the fact that she was very pretty. There was one other thing. A thing that she never confessed to anyone, apparently, that was blatantly obvious to me as we walked through the woods.

     She was incredibly lonely.

     She had no friends at all. She never got invited to birthday parties. No one ever came over to ask her outside to play. She never got a single Valentine. To me it looked like she took all of that loneliness inside of herself and sat on it. I was a loner because I was a loner. I had no problem with that. I preferred being by myself. I always had even when I was a kid. Miriam, however was alone and when that thought struck me, as she warbled away about the inherent difficulties of space travel, I felt a violently growing sense of anger. Even if it took a personal effort on my part I was going to see to it that she wasn’t lonely anymore. I mean, I know, I get it, I’m a fucking psycho. I walk around every goddamn day with my entire fucking body filled with 3-D fantasies to rape, torture, and murder girls. I know what the fuck I am and I don’t need anyone’s bullshit morality. This is just how I’m fucking programmed. Miriam’s a genius and I’m a psycho, but that doesn’t mean I can’t fucking feel bad for her. I’m an outlaw, an outsider and I honestly fucking love it, when I don’t feel totally out of control, that is. Miriam was an outcast for no good fucking reason. I was a monster and she was a freak, and I was finally seeing her for the first fucking time, ever.

     And she was fucking beautiful.

     And that was why she was super happy just to be sitting on top of the highest rocky hill in our area, gobbling peanut butter and raspberry jam sandwiches, and slurping her Pepsi. Down below us was all of the neighbourhood. The red row houses of the “grubby welfare bums” were there beside Franco Jeunese, the French public high school. All of the side streets stretching off from Second Avenue were there. We could see Sherwood Park. After that there was just horizon. We weren’t up high enough to see further. Basically, we were looking down at what to us kids seemed like our entire world.

     For the moment she was quiet but only because she was eating. Her thin little legs were swinging and bouncing off of the flat square rock she was sitting on. It was at that point that a really strange thought hit me. We did see other people coming in and out of the woods. It was actually a pretty popular area. We saw families going on nature walks. We saw older teenagers going off the trails to their secret places to smoke dope and fuck around. We saw elderly people getting their exercise and walking their dogs. I honestly saw a fair deal of girls.

     And not once did the cold evil feeling hit me.

     When that thought hit me I actually put down my sandwich and looked down at my sister. She was staring at the horizon with peanut butter and raspberry jam around her mouth. It was kind of weird. She was staring at it with a real serious look on her face. It looked to me like she was trying to telekinetically will the horizon to come closer to us, like Carrie White. Her deep brown eyes were like fucking lasers and she had this real set look like she could see something there that no one else could.

     “What’s up, Miriam?”, I asked her curiously.

     She didn’t answer for a minute. She just kept breathing and staring outwards. The she looked down at her little hands for another two minutes. Finally, she started talking again.

     “There’s an entire world beyond the horizon.”, she said real solemnly like a prophet.

     “No shit. Are you going to tell me in December that it’s fucking cold outside?”

     She stared at the horizon for a few more seconds.

     “We’re not staying here.”, she said with quiet authority.

     “What, you want to leave?”

     “No, what I mean is me and you aren’t staying in this city. Someday we’re going to leave this place and never come back.”, she said firmly with a really hard expression on her face.

     She was dead serious when she said that. She had made a decision and to be honest I was kind of creeped out and a little too spooked to argue with her about it. Still I couldn’t let the subject go completely.

     “Where are we going to go, Miriam?”

     She put her sandwich down and wiped her mouth with the sleeve of her red windbreaker. She took a hefty drink of her pop. After she put the bottle down she turned and looked up at me. I think she privately felt grateful that I at least seemed to be taking her decision seriously.

     “It’ll probably be the States because they have a lot of people there, and it’s somewhat like here. I think Los Angeles would be good for us.”. she said thoughtfully.

     “No shit? So, we’ll go where everybody is an asshole. What are we going to do there for money?”, I said as kind of a joke.

     She kept looking at me really intensely. She didn’t move at all. She didn’t blink and I’m pretty sure she wasn’t breathing either as her deep brown eyes studied my face.

     “I don’t know yet but I’ll figure something out.”, she replied thoughtfully.

     Man, that is fucking confidence.

     I had a question for her and I had to know.

     “Hey, Miriam?”, I asked kind of quietly.

     “Yes?”, she replied in the same thoughtful tone.

     “This is kind of a question but it’s also an apology.”

     “For what? When have you ever done anything wrong to me?”, she asked curiously.

     I took a huge drink of my pop and I looked down at her. I put my arm around her shoulder and pulled her in a little closer. She leaned her head on my shoulder.

     “I owe you an apology because I can’t remember a single time that I’ve ever talked to you in your entire life. I’m sorry for being an asshole. I promise you I’ll spend a lot more time with you.”. I leaned over and kissed her on the cheek and gave her a hug. She gave me a squeeze and then she pushed me back so she could see my face. A minute later she kind of started whispering.

     “It’s true you never talked to me. Me and you have never had a single conversation in over 9 years and yet we lived in the same house. I’m going to tell you a secret, though. I studied you for years. I used to watch you come and go. I used to sneak into your room when you were out and look through your drawers, and in your closet, and under your bed. I found your report cards. I was impressed that you were in the enriched classes, with an A-average no less, but I was disturbed because I kept seeing the same comment being written every year. “John is a bright, compliant, well-behaved boy who seems to be coming along nicely in terms of his studies. Having said that he seems to be incapable of forming emotional attachments with any of the other pupils. He is very quiet and he always strives to be by himself. He does not converse with anyone and he only speaks to his teacher when he is called upon. Otherwise he will actively seek to separate himself from everyone else. He will require some form of counselling if this tendency continues.”

     “You’re right that is disturbing.”, I said humorously.

     “Yes, but It also heightened the mystery of you. I used to fill up entire notebooks wondering what you did?”

     “So, you thought I had a secret life? Was I boy spy? A boy cat burglar? A secret boy astronaut?”, I joked.

     Miriam looked down at her hands and she sort of blushed.

     “It’s going to sound silly.”, she whispered.

     “Please, tell me. I bet it was amazing.”, I said encouragingly.

     She stared at her hands for a minute longer. She flexed her fingers a few times and wiggled them. Finally, she looked up at me.

     “Promise you won’t laugh at me?”, she said quietly.

     “Absolutely. This is going to be good.”, I said enthusiastically.

     She took a breath and then she began to whisper even more quietly. I had to lean in close to her face to hear her.

     “I imagined that you were a philosopher/poet. I saw you as a boy who needed space and quiet in order to work out for yourself the mechanisms of existence in an artistic fashion. I saw you as someone who silently studied the activities of people in a variety of settings, and also the ways of nature as you slowly moved around in the neighbourhood, and then you would write it down in long beautiful verses. The reason why I never took it personally that you didn’t talk to me is because you never spoke to Benny, Bob, or Cait either. You would talk to Mom and Dad but really only when they spoke to you first. Even then your responses were always rather perfunctory. Then you would say something like, “I’m going out, I’ll be back for supper.” When I read your report cards that’s when I began to imagine that you had an entire secret life that was just as intellectual as mine.”, she said nervously.

     “And you snuck into my room looking for my secret notebooks because you thought I had the answers to the questions you couldn’t answer at the time for yourself.”, I whispered next to her ear thoughtfully.

     She blushed and nodded her head. She almost looked ashamed.

     “I’m sorry I disappointed you. Now I feel like a total fucking jerk. The truth is, Miriam if I had an actual thought it would have died of fucking loneliness. I’m not that bright. You, however are a fucking genius.”

     “That word gets bandied and abused far too often.”, she said critically.

     “Ok, can we agree that you’re unbelievably smart?”

     She instantly scowled, and it was a pretty ugly one at that, and she waved her left hand in a dismissive way.

     “I’m nothing but a fluke of genetics inside and out.”, she said bitterly.

     “Ok, that’s your opinion and you’re entitled to it. If anyone is getting out of this fucking city it’s you.”

     “NO.”, she yelled furiously. She was instantly angry. She stood up and turned to face me. Her face was kind of scary-intense. Her large deep brown eyes were blazing and even though she wasn’t embarrassed anymore her cheeks were flaming.

     “We’re leaving together. We don’t belong here. We weren’t programmed to live a life of banal mediocrity. I won’t allow you to stay here and slowly become some kind of a nothing-man. We’re leaving, and we’re staying away, and I will not allow you to say no.”, she yelled angrily. She was actually clutching my biceps tightly when she made that statement. Again, that was a clue and I wasn’t getting it.

     “Ok, Miriam, we’re leaving. We’ll go to L.A. and we’ll find some interesting jobs and we’ll have our own kind of fun.”, I said slowly as I tried to calm her down. She sat down again beside me and she began to relax a little.

     I still had the thought in my head that I didn’t get the cold killer feeling and I wanted to test my sister.

     “Hey, Miriam?”

     “Yes?”, she said sounding like herself again, suddenly.

     “Are you having any kind of fun so far?”

     “Oh yes. You’re a great listener and you don’t pretend to know something when you don’t. You’re not afraid to ask questions. Also, you don’t condescend to me.”, she said sounding perky again. Her mood swings should have been some kind of a warning but I was a little busy thinking about my evil nature.

     “You could have just stopped at yes.”

     “Okay, yes. Why do you ask?”

     “How do you feel about taking a walk down to the lake? We still have a few hours before supper.”

     Once again, she lit up and she sounded like a 9-year old once more.

     “Really? You mean you’re not bored with listening to me? Everybody else gets bored, or I get into fights.”, she said with a mix of anger and sadness. She then followed up with an even sadder comment., “Actually nobody gets bored with me because nobody bothers to talk to me. If I approach them they turn and run away.”

     For an evil sonofabitch I did want to make her feel good, or at least better. I gently put my arm around her and pulled her closer to me, again. She looked up at me with her deep brown eyes sort of glowing, kind of hoping I’d say something profound.

     “Miriam, I’m not smart like you.”

     “According to your report cards you’re kind of smart.”, she said supportively.

     “I’m not telling you this to make you feel better. I’m just telling you the truth. You’re the most fascinating person I know and I fucking love you.”. Ok, so it wasn’t a profound rhyme but it was true.

     I don’t know why I dropped the f-bomb there. I guess I thought it made what I said sound sincere. To be honest though, at that exact moment in time I really meant it. Somehow over the past couple hours I really felt connected to her. The reaction from my sister was incredible. She suddenly buried her head in my chest and started to cry. Like I said I wasn’t aware of the problems she had at school. I wasn’t aware that she was pretty much fighting with everybody, or else she was being completely ignored. I felt like an ignorant piece of shit just then.

     She was flat out wailing at this point. It was the kind of wailing I’d expect if someone told her her dog just got crushed by a pickup truck. She was loud about it too. There was no point telling her to be quiet so I just held her and let her cry. She hung onto me with some desperate strength like I was one of those life rings from an old cruise ship like the Titanic and she was in the Atlantic. I started rocking her a little bit and I ruffled her hair. She just kept going. She wasn’t making any words. Her voice was cracking and then she’d give off something like a scream, and then she’d start making these weird huffing kind of sounds. I guess a psychiatrist would say she had been burying all of this anger and sadness for a long time. I couldn’t help wondering how many times did she wake up with the attitude that it was another day to get into more fights and it was never going to end? That I figured she did all of the time.

     I think she went on non-stop for like half an hour. Finally, she just got quiet but she still hung onto me like this was some kind of a dream and she would rather be dead than wake up. We just sat like that for another half an hour. My shirt was soaked.

     Finally, she pulled herself upright. She looked like shit. Her whole face was all red and swollen. Her eyes were bloodshot. Her hair was plastered to her forehead. I reached out and tried to move some of it out of her face. She kind of smiled a little. Slowly she got back some paleness to her. Her eyes began to clear up.

     “Do I have to tell you why I cried? I don’t really want to talk about it.”, she said softly.

     “No, you don’t have to say anything. Do you feel better?”, I said quietly as I kept moving her tear-stained hair out of her eyes.

     She nodded. I figured I was going to have to dig deeper to cheer her up.

     “You sure? If we’re going to be fucking surf bums in L.A. someday you’re going to have to be perky and chipper.”, I said as I poked her in the ribs. She snorted and giggled at the same time.

     “We’re not going to be surf bums.”

     “Actors? You can do all that weepy shit that Meryl Streep does.”, I said as I poked her again. She giggled.

     “No, we’re not going to be actors.”, she said as she started to giggle some more.

     “Drug dealers? I heard that a lot of people do coke in L.A.”, I poked her some more and she began to laugh uproariously.

     “No, if we’re going to be professional criminals we’ll burglarize banks.”

     Now I was just tickling her outright and she was squealing with laughter. I scooped her up and lifted her over my head as we stood on top of that hill.

     “Sanctuary, Sanctuary, Sanctuary.”, I yelled to the autumn clouds.

     “Ohmygod it’s Quasimodo.”, she screamed delightedly.

     “Yes, and you’re my Esmerelda, and I will keep you prisoner at the very top of the Bell Tower”, I yelled evilly. Don’t ask me how I remembered the chick’s name from that story. I must have seen the movie one night on tv.

     “Wow you actually made a literary reference.”, my sister yelled happily.

     “Wow that almost sounded like a compliment.”, I yelled sarcastically.

     What I did next was kind of crazy but I threw her over my shoulder and I began bounding down the rocky hill. One misstep and we both would have broken our necks but she was beyond happy at that point and I was having too much fun to stop. We made it to the bottom and then I eased her down amongst the trees.

     “Do you still want to go to the lake?”, she asked, secretly hoping I’d say yes as she started rocking back and forth on her heels.

     “Yep, but we’re going to have to hustle or else we’ll be late for supper.”

     “Ok, let’s go.”, she commanded as she grabbed my hand and started dragging me back towards First Avenue.

     Her little legs began to get tired from the hustle as we pounded down First to Bancroft and then we began to march along towards the lake. So, she ended up on my shoulders. I told her she was an explorer in India and I was the elephant. I began to roar like one and she told me to watch out for cobras and tigers. I kind of got into it actually but I didn’t forget the real reason why we were going to the lake.

     Even though we were in the ass end of autumn people would still go to the lake. For one thing Ramsay Lake is huge so you can walk around and look at the geese. For another thing the part we went to, which everyone called Sandy Beach, had some trees and in the fall they were like red, yellow, and orange and they looked real pretty next to the water. All along the way we saw people, a lot of girls. I even saw that red-headed chick from the other day. She even smiled and waved. Miriam blew her a kiss like she was royalty.

     Nothing.

     Not a single dark, icy urge. Not a single thought being forced upon me to rape and kill anybody. Somehow, some way, my little sister was keeping that demon at a distance. She just, I don’t know, she filled me up with something. I don’t really want to call it innocence because I think she was too smart to be innocent. Still it was something and I thought that I could take advantage of it.

     We walked along the lake shore for a ways and then we both started to get bored. I took us up across the train tracks and then we hit another trail into the woods. By now Miriam was almost hanging over me. She was pretty tired at that point. We went up and over some hills and then we were back on First Avenue. A little while later we were entering the house just as the meatloaf was hitting the table.

     Miriam was dead beat tired but she seemed to be in a good place. Right after supper she went straight to bed. My parents were looking at me kind of differently. Not in a bad way. It was like they were thinking of something, or at least thinking of telling me something. After supper I watched a little tv and then I went to bed early. I knocked off Brave New World and I fell asleep fantasizing about living in that society. The fact that there were no lust-killing criminals there was kind of turning me on. I would truly be a lone monster and if they caught me they’d just send me to some island paradise, like Cuba and I could basically be a lone monster there just as long as I didn’t try to escape and I could fight off all of the other inmates who tried to hunt me down.

     I don’t know what time it was but it was late and dark. I could hear someone calling my name as I was way down deep in the blackest sleep state. The voice kept repeating my name.

     Then I felt a little finger poking me in the face.

     Then I felt that finger poke me in the eye.

     “Ow, fuck, what the fuck Miriam? What’s wrong? Did you have a nightmare?”

     She was standing right beside my bed. A tiny silhouette in green plaid pajamas.

     “No, I never dream. I just wanted to ask you something.”, she said thoughtfully.

     “Everybody dreams, Miriam. You just don’t remember them when you wake up. If you didn’t dream you’d go fucking crazy.”, I said tiredly.

     “I never dream but anyway do you remember what you said on the hilltop?”

     “I said a lot of thing on the hilltop, mostly fucking swear words.”

     “You said it right before I started to cry.”

     “Yeah, I said you were the most fascinating person I know and that I love you.”

     “Did you mean that?”, she asked sternly.

     “Yeah, I meant it. Why the fuck would I lie about something like that? You got to remember though, everybody in the family loves you, even that fucking retard Benny in his own retard way loves you. You’re not as alone as you think, Miriam. I know you feel like a freak but everybody here loves you.”

     Considering I was 80% asleep when I said that I thought I sounded pretty good.

     “But do you love me?”, she asked pointedly.

     “Yeah, Miriam, I love you. You’re a genius and someday you’re going to be building colonies on Mars and I’ll tell all of the grunts at work that you’re my sister and I’m really proud of you and you’ll have like 5 Nobel Prizes on top of your desk.”

     “I won’t allow you to just be some grunt. Why do you think you love me when you’ve only spoken to me today for the first time ever?”, she asked seriously.

     “Let’s just say me and you are the only people in this family that are different and I love the way you think. Also, and I know this is going to sound fucking perverted, but I think you’re beautiful.”. Considering I was still at least 60% asleep at least she knew I was being honest.

     “Ok.”, she said with a thoughtful nod as though being complimented like that by her older brother was perfectly acceptable. Yet, another clue that I didn’t grab onto.

     Then suddenly she kissed me on the cheek.

     “I just wanted to make sure you meant it. I love you, too. I’ll see you tomorrow.”, she said happily.

     And just like that she left.

     Sunday was just a repeat of Saturday except we walked somewhere different. Miriam talked about everything she knew and we ate pizza slices at Cortina. I was more than convinced now that somehow, she was keeping the urge away. There were girls and women everywhere and nothing. They were just somewhere in the background while my sister’s voice just kept zipping along from one idea to the next. Y’know what’s funny? She was honestly an interesting person to listen to. Maybe it was because she was excited by everything she was saying or maybe it was because she could talk about anything except herself for long periods of time. Either way it wasn’t a drag hanging out with her, and though she didn’t know it she was going to keep me out of prison.

     That night I just finished up my homework. Miriam was already asleep and this time she didn’t poke me in the eye in the middle of the night. Tomorrow was going to be like a test day because I was going to be solo at school.

     Needless to say, the urge hit me and this time it hit me harder than ever. It was almost like it was angry at me for cheating the system. This time it was one of my teachers. Miss Graham, 9th grade English. She had long black hair and was kind of a sickly-looking bitch. Really thin. Her eyes looked unusually big because her face was really narrow. Too much mascara, too much rouge, not enough protein. She wore hippie kind of shit like black turtle necks and long necklaces with big stupid symbols like Egyptian Ankhs and peace symbols. For the entire English class, I just stared at her and there wasn’t a single sound that I could hear and there wasn’t a single ray of fucking light anywhere in the room. She was tall but she was probably a vegetarian so I figured I could knock her on her ass if I was in a fucking coma. I was already getting up towards 6 feet and I could tell that I was going to be a really big guy someday.

     As I stared at her I could hear the icy laughter in my chest. It was a triumphant laugh. The kind of laugh that you hear when the trap is sprung and the monster grabs you. This time the monster was feeding my imagination as we watched this bloodless old hippie bitch ramble on pointlessly about Brave New World. Not to give too much away but I was cruising on visions of severed limbs, sustained fits of agony applied to her in a lot of different ways, blood everywhere, and of course sexual assault. And once again I was as hard as concrete and cold as a fucking iceberg.

     Once more the bell rang and I don’t know how I found the strength to get up but I did. As I walked towards the door, Miss Graham kind of stepped in front of me and put her hand on my chest. I imagined when she did that her skinny hippie fingers would get scalded.

     “I want you to stay behind for a moment, please?”, she said quietly.

     Oh Christ, I figured this is it. There must have been something about the look on my face that freaked her out and now she’s going to start giving me shit. There were always a few minutes when you had the one class leaving and the next class coming in. We weren’t alone but the blackness made it look to me like we were in a tomb. Miss Graham stood about 3 feet away. The icy urge to rape and murder her got stronger and I could feel the desire starting to fill the muscles in my arms. It kind of made me feel like The Incredible Hulk.

     “I just wanted to say that you looked very attentive today in class. Did you find Brave New World a particularly good book?”, she said pleasantly enough.

     You know what the weird thing was. As she stood before me in total darkness, I could hear every word she said perfectly but everything I said sounded like Charlie Brown’s teacher. I had no clue what I was saying.

     “Wah wah wah wahwahwah. Wonk wonk, wah wah wah.”

     “Yes, that is a valid criticism. Others have said that that particular society didn’t seem particularly oppressive especially when you compare it to Orwell’s 1984, or Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.”

     “Wah wah wah wah wah wonk wonk wonk.”

     She laughed lightly.

     “I think you’ll appreciate our next book. It’s more relevant to the youth culture. It’s Anthony Burgess’, “A Clockwork Orange”.”

     “Wonk wah wonk wah wonk wonk wonk.”

     “Yes, there was a film made from it. It’s a rather good movie but unfortunately it’s a little too racy for a Grade-9 English class.”

     She then put her hand lightly on my arm.

     “I’m glad you’re taking your studies seriously. You can come to me anytime if you ever want to learn about some good books that you would enjoy.”, she said almost in a secy whisper. I could actually feel her breath on my face. It was kind of minty as I recall.

     “Wonk wah wah wah wah wonk wonk.”

     She laughed again and then she turned towards the blackboard. I pushed myself towards the door while the icy blackness was doing contingency work plotting how to get her alone. I bet with a few more wah wah wah wonk wonk wonks I could find out where she lived.

     When I got in the hallway, Rob Carter and some of his fag buddies were standing there. Rob was the cool guy of the 9th grade. He was about as tall as me. Blonde. Played a lot of sports. His old man owned the car lot on the Kingsway so he was pretty much set for life. Total fucking preppie. He, and subsequently they, had the pink and green sport shirts with the alligator on the breast. Stone-washed jeans and a particular type of leather shoes known as “deck shoes”. They kind of look like moccasins. I stopped and gave him a look like I was ready for whatever he had in mind. Miriam wasn’t the only fighter in the family. I’ve beaten the shit out of a lot of people, actually. Rob gave me a funny smile.

     “Soooooooo, did you get the invitation from the lovely Miss Graham, or is it Ms. nowadays?”, he asked humorously. The fags began laughing like monkeys.

     “Yeah.”, I said tonelessly as I took a couple steps towards him just to let him know I wasn’t scared of him.

     Rob laughed, and the fags joined in, again. He nodded at me approvingly.

     “Good shit. Now I have a rival for her perverted affections. You should come by my table at lunch time. I think you’re interesting and you look like you have a lot going on upstairs, and yet you don’t come off like a fucking spazz.”, he said in a friendlier way. He offered me his hand and I shook with a little extra steel just to remind him I won’t be fucked with by anyone. Lord Carter nodded slightly as if to let me know he got the message.

     They turned and left, and me and my homicidal hard-on went in the other direction towards my next class. I guess nobody could see it on my face what was going through me right now. In fact, it seemed like I was looking kind of attractive for a 14-year old boy. Weird, man. Now the cool guys were interested in me and where there’s cool guys there’s pretty girls who may end up being victims if I hang out with them long enough. I don’t think anyone else was having this dilemma. At least not today.

     So, I hung out with these goofs at lunch time. I wasn’t surprised to see Wendy-Louise sitting at their table as she gave me her cunty, “Like, why are you here?”, face. I didn’t say much. The icy darkness was still pushing my thoughts towards Miss Graham’s pervy invitation and how to take advantage of it. All around me it was just noise and bullshit. I must have done something right because when lunch broke up the guys told me they’d see me tomorrow. Which was kind of weird because they were all prepped out and I was wearing a black Levi’s button-down shirt, straight faded Levi’s jeans, and my black Chuck’s. The Chuck’s didn’t really fit the look. Only punks wore black Chuck Taylor’s and that was only if they couldn’t afford Doc Marten’s. What I really wanted was a pair of grey snakeskin shitkickers but when you’re only 14 that kind of shit is a little out of reach and I wasn’t flipping burgers just for a pair of boots. I don’t know why I gravitated to that look. I hated fucking country music. Maybe Rob was impressed that I would wear punk shoes with a country-style look and not care what people thought.

     Somehow, I got through the day and I was back on the bus. At one point I did notice Wendy-Louise and some other slut looking at me but I just looked out the window. The icy blackness had pretty much mapped out a functioning plan for raping and killing Miss Graham. When the bus stopped at our usual place Wendy-Louise walked past and said to me, “Schools out. You can stop trying to be so cool and nonchalant. That means distant and unaffected.”

     “What I was being was preoccupied. That means I was thinking about something far more interesting than you.”, I said back with a bit of nastiness. Wendy-Louise made a bit of a shocked face, called me a stuck up, and then she walked off.

     When I got off the bus I turned and saw Miriam standing there. This was going to be interesting. It was time to see if she really had some secret power. She suddenly began running towards me at full speed. Her little legs were pumping the dirt on the side of the road into clumps behind her, kind of like a race horse. For some weird reason she began yapping like Dino on the Flinstones, like when Dino would freak out every time Fred came home from work. From about 5 feet away she sprang like a lioness and she crashed into my chest and flung her arms around me. Her satchel nailed me in the side of the head and she shouted, “I’m sorry” and then she then began kissing my cheek a lot as I held her closely.

     And you know what?

     All of the icy darkness began to leach out of me. I could feel it physically leaving my body starting at my head. Meanwhile my sister was kind of strangling me but it felt good as I held her as tightly as it was safe to with my eyes closed.

     “You have to put me down.”, she said happily.

     “Ok, you’re ugly and your mother dresses you funny.”, I replied humorously.

     “Not that kind of put down, silly.”, she said jokingly.

     “I know. Just give me a minute here, please.”, I said more seriously.

     She shrugged and I started walking towards our street as I carried her. The icy blackness fell out of my feet at that point and I placed her back on the ground. She took my hand and we began to walk home as she swung her leather satchel.

     “Did you have a good day, Miriam?”

     “It was pedestrian. How about yours?”

     “Dull, nothing to write home about. The cool guy invited me to eat lunch at his table. He’s a bit of a gonad.”

     We kept talking back and forth during the short walk to our house. Now I was completely convinced that Miriam somehow had a nearly magical effect on me. Instead of my brain forcing itself to plot out violent crimes I was consciously trying to figure out how to maximize my time with my sister without looking like a fucking perv.

     And it was then that my parents helped out a whole lot.

     We ate supper and then we all sat around and watched some tv. Miriam started to get sleepy and she kissed me goodnight and went upstairs. When M.A.S.H was over Mom and Dad were looking at me in that funny way, again.

     “Son, can you come outside for a minute. We need to talk to you about something.”, my dad said quietly like he had a secret.

     Shit, what did I do now, I thought. I couldn’t have been in trouble. If I was in trouble my mom would have just blasted me as soon as I got in the door. This had to be something else.

     The three of us went out in the backyard and my dad directed us towards the side of the house away from the bedroom windows. When we stopped he pulled out his Colt’s Milds.

     “I figure you’re old enough for one of these.”, he said as he handed me a cigar. It wasn’t odd for youths to smoke with their parents. In fact, if my parents were drinkers it would have been seen as normal for my dad to give me a beer at 14. It would have been his way of saying that he no longer saw me as total child even if I wasn’t a total adult either.

     I lit up and I have to say that first drag was delicious. Nice, smooth, and sweet. The aroma was pleasant as well. My mom took over the conversation at that point and she started to fill me in on Miriam’s behavior issues at school. Then she brought up why we were outside smoking in the dark in a hidden little corner.

     “The school called me today. Her teacher wanted to know if Miriam was seeing some kind of counsellor. Of course, I thought that she was in trouble again. Her teacher said that she had never seen her so well-behaved.”

     “Did she get into any fights?”

     “No and I’m not going to give her shit for sticking up for herself. What your mom is trying to say is that she seems happy and that’s a good thing.”, my dad said calmly.

     “The only thing we can figure is that you spent the whole weekend with her. You took her out all day and you did things with her. Even tonight she looked happier when she went to bed. We all know that she’s a brilliant girl but she can be demanding too. I mean her mind is everywhere and she can go on like that for hours. Is it possible that you can keep spending time with her, please? She’s only going to be a kid once and it’s nice that she has somebody to enjoy herself with, even if it is her older brother. It would be a huge favour for us to not have to go to the school and see her sitting in that office looking so miserable and lonely.”, my mom said vulnerably.

     Hmmmmmm how to play this? I decided that I should just play it straight.

     “She’s actually not that hard to deal with. The secret is just listen to her and if you don’t understand something just ask her to explain it.”

     “I know, son, but I think it would be good for you as well. You were always a quiet child and very remote, and you never seemed to want any friends. You and Miriam are the only two kids that Adamsdale wanted us to send to a psychiatrist. I really think she looks up to you now.”

     “She’s fun to be with. Does this mean I can take her to the movies, the library, and some of the other things around town that she might like?”, I asked casually hoping they would up our allowance in the process.

     “Of course, I just want her to be happy.”, my mom said and she really meant it.

     “It’s not a problem guys. There is a problem though. She’s too smart for Adamsdale. Aren’t there any schools for like the really smart fucking kids? She’s going crazy there.”

     “We’ve been looking.”, my dad said with repressed frustration.

     Wow I dropped an F-bomb in front of my folks and got away with it. They must be desperate.

     “You know what’s going to happen, right? They’re just going to shove her up the ladder. I bet she’ll be in high school by the time she’s 11.”, I predicted.

     “That’s what we’re afraid of.”, my mom said in a nervous whisper, “At least if that happens she’ll have you there for a few years. I just want her to be happy.”, she repeated as she looked at me kind of desperately. Mom was scared. I wasn’t getting the whole story about how fucked up Miriam was, but then again, she wasn’t getting the whole story about me either.

     I had to admit, Miriam in high school had its advantages but also a lot of challenges. I stubbed out my cigar. My dad gave me the rest of his pack and patted me on the shoulder. From him that meant I was a good little man and I could do no wrong.

     “It’s nothing to hang out with her. She’s a lot of fun. What she’s going to need soon are friends that are smart enough to keep up with her.”

     “Just keep being her friend as well as her brother. You’re considered bright yourself.”, my mom said proudly.

     We all went back inside and I went to my room. It was dark by then and I enjoyed that cigar so much I lit another one. There’s something about a good smoke that helps a man think. Ok, I wasn’t a man but it still helped me concentrate.

     About 5 minutes into my stogie, as I flicked it into an old Pepsi can, I heard my door open. I wasn’t surprised to see her come in and silently walk up to my bed. She was in one of her serious moods. I could tell by the way she was standing in the dark. Very straight, shoulders back, hands in little fists in front of her abdomen.

     “What did Mom and Dad want with you?”, Miriam asked me quietly with an edge of suspicion.

     I figured that lying to her was a bad idea.

     “Well, the old man gave me some cigars so I guess he thinks I’m a little closer to manhood.”, I said casually.

     “What did they say about me?”, she asked firmly.

     “The school called. They said you seemed happier.”

     “I am happier. What else did they say?”, she insisted.

     “They think that your idiot brother is the reason why you’ve been happier lately. They were just saying thank you for hanging out with you. They want me to keep hanging out with you. I told them you’re a lot of fun to talk to and I enjoy being with you. I know I’ve already told you this, Miriam, but I’ve never had any fucking friends. You’re it. You’re the one.”

     “Am I a burden to you?”, she asked suddenly nervous.

     “Come here.”, I told her softly as I put my cigar down on the pop can.

     She came over to the bedside. I gave her a big hug and kissed her on the cheek.

     “You’re not a burden. I love you and from now on things are going to be different.”

     “I love you too.”, she whispered as she started to relax and soften up.

     I gently pushed her back a little but I kept my hand on her arm.

     “I did some negotiating for us though. We’ll be able to go to the movies, the museum, the malls, the library, pretty much anywhere that’s interesting, and Mom and Dad will pay for it. They’ll be like field trips. We can go almost anywhere we want.”

     “Really?”, she asked excitedly.

     “Yeah, but this is a two-way street, Miriam. You have to be good at school. Sometimes you have to pretend you’re something you’re not in order to get along with other people. Sometimes you have to sit quietly and wait for the right moment when you can really be yourself again.”

     “I know. Are you going to take me to school tomorrow?”, she asked curiously.

     “You’re always way ahead of me. Of course, I’m taking you to school and I want you to wait for me when I get off the bus as well.”

     “Ok. I’ll be good at school, but the other kids are incredibly inferior.”, she said sincerely.

     “Aren’t you in the enriched classes?”

     She nodded, “Yes but they’re still dumb. What happens when the bullies ef-you-cee-kay with me?”

     “Dad says knock their fucking heads off.”

     “Really?”, she asked suspiciously.

     “Nah, what he said was he didn’t have a problem with you defending yourself. I’m telling you to knock their fucking heads off.”

     “You appear to have a disturbingly high opinion for committing acts of extreme violence.”, she said like a psychiatrist.

     “That’s because me and the Devil have been on speaking terms since I started high school.”, I said mysteriously.

     She got that thoughtful look on her face again as she stared at her hands.

     “So, I have to treat school like a job. I go in, do some paper work, mind my business, attempt to get along with my inferior co-workers, and then I can have fun with you afterwards, as well as on the weekend.”, she said with an air of precision.

     “Yep, that would be the long and short of it. I want to ask you something, please?”

     “Ok?”

     “How do you feel about being sent to Nickel District when you’re 11?”, I asked her seriously.

     She thought about it for a good minute as she looked downwards at her hands again.

     “I can handle it as long as you’re there.”, she finally said as she looked up at me and nodded.

     She yawned then. She came up and kissed me on the cheek.

     “I love you. I’ll see you tomorrow.”, she whispered.

     “I love you too. See you tomorrow.”, I whispered back at her.

     She walked out of my bedroom and I took a few last puffs on my cigar. I went to sleep immediately.

     And then within minutes the dreams started.

     Imagine the very opposite of nightmares. Imagine every single one of those things I wrote in the basement coming back in visual form with screaming, ripping sounds, blood dripping and flying all over the place, the very physical sensation of sticking my dick into something, and finally a body that’s been mutilated and violated in every way possible. All of them came to visit. Wendy-Louise, Laurie, Miss Graham, the red-haired girl, all 30 of them had their turn beneath me.

     On the surface it sounds good but the fact is it went way too far. I was waking up every hour, covered in sweat and other shit, my head would be pounding, and my heart would be banging in my chest. Sometimes I was breathing shallowly, kind of like hyperventilating. Then I could feel something like a fist inside of my head pulling me back down to the mattress. I’d close my eyes and within a couple minutes a fresh scene of total violation would engulf me and I could see myself vividly spreading death in my wake.

     By the time my mom was telling me to get up for school I could barely sit upright. My entire spine felt like it was disconnected. Somehow that thing that was wrong with my brain was getting even for using my sister to push back the icy blackness. It was like all of my fantasies kept coming one after the other, non-stop. There was no break from it and my sheets and my blankets were fucking disgusting. All of my muscles felt doughy. Just putting my feet on the floor took all of my concentration. I rested my face in my hands and I started breathing. In-out-in-out. I was beyond exhausted.

     I was deep enough into the situation by now to know that this wasn’t going to be a one-time thing. I had written up enough rape/torture/murder fantasies that my brain could just rotate the faces and simply change the action around until the dreams ended the same way.

     Death.

     And plenty of it.

     I threw all of my bedding into my hamper and I grabbed my clothes. Every muscle hurt. I took an icy shower and that made me maybe 3% more alert. And now I had to put on a good face for Miriam. I was in a truly shitty mood and now I had to embrace the princess of mood swings. As I walked downstairs I just kept breathing as I dug around inside my consciousness for a smile that I had fucking misplaced.

     She was at the kitchen table and she was smiling away. I grabbed a cup of coffee and lit up the third last cigar in the box and I went and sat in the livingroom. I sat on the couch and I fought to get some energy. At that exact moment I think I could have easily gone back to bed and slept all day. Miriam came racing into the livingroom and kissed me on the cheek.

     “Hi, what’s wrong with you?”, she asked curiously

     “I didn’t sleep very well, Miriam.”, I said tiredly.

     “Bad dreams?”, she asked suddenly concerned as she examined my face.

     “They were extreme”

     “Were you scared?”, she asked as she studied my eyes.

     “Let’s just say it got emotional.”, I replied cryptically.

     She made a sad face. I had to pull out something positive even if I was completely faking it. The fact that she would know I was faking it probably wouldn’t bother her if she saw me at least making an attempt.

     “That doesn’t mean were not going to school together though. Do you have all of your stuff?”, I asked with some phony brightness.

     She got excited again. She grabbed her satchel. I got up and grabbed my shit. She took my hand and we left the house. As soon as we were outside she was talking about the various mountains on Mars, all because I said she would be colonizing them someday. I made sure to ask questions and make the right responses. At Adamsdale she kissed my cheek., told me she loved me, and then she raced inside. She looked happy to me. I, on the other hand felt like complete shit. Wendy-Louise said something and I just breezed past her. I might have given her the sideways finger as well. I can’t say I was paying all that much attention to anything.

     The rest of the school day dragged but there was no icy blackness to speak of. I kept falling asleep though. I discovered at lunchtime, while once again sitting at Lord Carter’s imperial table, that vending machine coffee tastes like heated, fermented horsepiss. I had three cups. When I got off the bus Miriam Dino’d me again. At least with her I could find some kind of positive energy now that the shit part of my day was over.

     “You still look tired.”, she said concernedly as we held hands and started walking home.

     “Long day, Miriam. Tonight, I’ll be going to bed at the same time as you.”, I replied as I pulled a smile out of my ass.

     “That’s 7pm.”, she said curiously.

     “Yep, tonight we’ll probably be having spaghetti. You better sit beside me and make sure I don’t fall face first into my plate.”, I said as I made like a splitchy sound to enhance the image of me sleeping in my food.

     She started laughing.

     After she was done guffawing she brought up a weird subject.

     “When are you going to give me a nickname?”, she asked with a bit of emphasis.

     “Huh?”, I replied tiredly.

     “You have to come up with a special name for me, something affectionate and intimate. Something that you never call anyone else, or would ever call anyone else.”, she said almost making it sound like an order.

     Shit, what the hell do I say to that?

     “Uh fuck Miriam. Here’s the thing about nicknames. It has to be something y’know, natural. It has to come uhm y’know-“

     “Spontaneously.”

     “Yeah, it has to just come out one day and it’ll sound perfect. I can’t just draw up a list of possible nicknames and whittle it down. It’s got to be perfect, especially for a perfect girl like you.”, I said. I thought I had dodged the bullet there.

     “Ok, but from now on we’re going to keep an ear out for the perfect nickname for me.”, she said firmly.

     Again, I should have been paying attention to the clues but I was way too focused on my own growing evil self. Also, I guess she should have had a nickname. Calling her Miriam sounded formal when you think about it. Calling her “sis” sounded like what Richie called his sister Joanie on Happy Days and I hated that fucking show. Somehow, I ate a plate of spaghetti and meatballs, mostly in silence. I made it a point though of apologizing and explained that I was tired. The old man said I should try working the mines. Cait said I needed to meditate to some new-age positive energy bullshit. Benny farted and started laughing. Mom smacked him in the head and then Miriam and I started laughing.

     As soon as I got down the last mouthful I said I was going to bed. Miriam said she was also going upstairs. I crawled upstairs as my sister started rubbing my lower back. I got some fresh bedding from the closet. I made up a new bed, stripped to my shorts and fell into it. I thought that Miriam had gone into her room. I then heard something scrape slightly against the floor. I looked over and Miriam was sitting next to me.

     “What’s up?”, I asked as the relaxation started to sneak into my flesh.

     “I’m going to read you to sleep. I got “The Fountainhead” by Ayn Rand. It’s pretty good. It’s about an architect named Howard Roarke who will only design buildings his way because he’s convinced that he knows what he’s doing and everybody else is stupid.”, she said pleasantly.

     “Sounds like a certain little girl I know.”, I said cheerfully.

     “I was good today. I was nice to everyone. Ok, I’m going to start. You just close your eyes and listen. I’m not going to leave until I know for a certainty that you’re asleep.”, she ordered.

     “You don’t have to do this.”, I said feeling kind of guilty.

     “It’s not a problem. I love you. Would you do it for me?”, she insisted.

     “You know I would do anything for you. Fine, you win. Go for it.”, I replied. The fact is she was right. I would do anything to make her feel better except sacrifice my evil desires.

     In a clear voice she started reading about this Howard guy. By page three I was in the blackness of pure sleep. I didn’t hear her voice. I didn’t hear her leave. I was good.

     For a while.

     Blood everywhere. Screaming. In one scene, the little red-haired girl’s head was on the kitchen counter. Her green eyes were open and even though they were dead they still gave off a look of complete terror and misery. I walked down a hallway and I found her decapitated body laid out in the bedroom. I was naked and soaked in fresh, slick blood and I was standing over her headless corpse. Her breasts were sliced off. I had no idea where they were, they could have been in the microwave for all I knew. I’m not sure why but I flipped her corpse over. Was I double-checking something? The meat on her back and her ass was also sliced away. I could see her ribs connected up to her vertebrae. Strangely her flesh looked more pink than red, kind of like hamburger at the Loblaws. Was I going cannibal now? I didn’t care. If I did that was just another layer of horror that I found satisfying in the dream. I could hear laughter, low guttural chortles like grinding metal in a tunnel.

     And that was just one dream. There was a lot more to come (literally).

     They say that in dreams you can never see your hands but I think that’s bullshit because I could easily see the Ginzu cutting knife slicing open Miss Graham’s abdomen as she screamed inarticulately for mercy. Part of her inarticulation may have had to do with my left hand crushing her voice box as I clutched her scrawny throat. I could hear the cartilage snapping and bending beneath her gargled screams like the bass line in an out-of-control disco song. Even though I hadn’t been laid at that time I could feel my dick pumping in and out of something warm and wet. I just couldn’t say for an absolute certainty if it was her cunt or maybe somewhere else on her body that I improvised on the spot. Whatever it was it got me off and it felt just as intense and just as Satanically beautiful as those moments when I was awake in the basement. Once I ejaculated to my fullest extent I began to prepare for the kill. Her eyes were wildly bulging outwards from her face. I thought that a straight hard slash right through the side of her neck where the carotid artery was would be a perfect ending.

     I raised the knife for that beautiful blow. Strangely enough that dream started to go black. Miss Graham’s face started to get snowy like our shitty black and white tv when the reception starts to get weird. Slowly I felt like I was standing still but it seemed as though the death scene was being pulled away from me by an army of invisible hands. Miss Graham faded out first. She just became snowy glints in the background. Her bed then began to disintegrate. The walls started to blacken until they had no dimensions.

     And then everything began to blacken, including me.

     Once again before dawn I woke up. I was tired but to some degree I felt better than the previous morning. This time when I woke up prematurely I just said screw it and I lurched towards the bathroom. Halfway there I had to stop and hold onto the wall with my right hand as I stared at the floor and tried to get myself centered. When the urge to faint passed I went to the bathroom and took the coldest shower I could. Immediately the sting of the cold started to clear my head and I could feel a certain amount of energy in my limbs. I wasn’t quite as sore as yesterday. When I got out I was reasonably convinced that today was going to at least be a better day. Maybe not a good day, but a better day.

     When I got out I went back to my room. I grabbed all of the bedding from the hamper as well as the fresh mess from my bed. It reeked like old sweat mixed with fermented jizz. I went down into the laundry room and stuffed it all in with three huge cupfuls of Tide. After that I went into the kitchen to make a cup of instant Maxwell House. My old man left me a carton of Colt’s Milds on the kitchen table along with a note.

     “Keep up the good work, son.” I must have just missed him.

     When my coffee was ready I went out on the porch. It was only 5:30 in the morning and it was still dark out. The air was chilly and as the cold northern wind blew over my still wet hair and it woke me up further. As I drank my coffee, and smoked my cigar, I could hear the working guys up and down the streets getting into their vehicles and going off to deal with Mama INCO. Some of them were hungover and they were wishing they were dead. And that was just the husbands. I could only imagine what the wives were experiencing.

     Two more coffees and two more cigars later and I felt half-way functional. By then Mom was up and so were Benny, Cait, and Miriam. I came inside and scooped Miriam up from the floor. I put my lips to her stomach and started blowing out fart-sounding noises. She began to squeal with laughter and Mom told us to shut up and eat our breakfast. I forced down some toast with butter and another cup of coffee.

     “Is that your bedding in the washing machine?”, Mom asked curiously.

     “Uhm, yeah.”, I replied embarrassed.

     She gave me a weird little smile and went back to loading up the dishwasher. Mom’s little man was growing up. She was probably going to check between the mattresses when she cleaned my room today. Sorry, Mom. Normal porn doesn’t cut it with your little boy. He has to make up his own ultraviolent smut to get off on.

     A little while after that Miriam and I left for school.

     “So, how did you sleep?”

     “Better. Not great but better.”

     “But you still had the bad dreams. That’s why your bedding is in the wash.”

     “Yeah but you helped out a lot. Thank you, Miriam.”

     I gave her hand a squeeze and she smiled up at me.

     “So, have you come up with a good nickname for me, yet?”, she said curiously.

     “Nope, it has to be especially perfect for a perfect girl like you. It’ll come to me, it’ll take a while but I’ll find it.”

     “Ok, as long as you’re trying.”

     “Well that’s the thing, isn’t it? I need to be like fucking inspired to find this perfect nickname.”, I said thoughtfully. I almost kind of thought I had said something intelligent enough for her to appreciate.

     “What are you saying? I don’t inspire you?”, she said with an edge of anger. I have no idea where that came from. I mean I kind of figured being a genius and everything she had an ego but this was kind of nutty.

     “Don’t give me a fucking attitude, babe. When it comes to me I’ll let you know.”, I said irritably, but also mindlessly. I don’t know why I said “babe”. At the time there was like an image going around that everybody in Hollywood called each other “babe”, like “Let’s do lunch, babe.”, or “Good news babe, the project has been greenlighted. We’ll start filming in two months”.

     Suddenly she stopped. She stopped and her expression got really thoughtful.

     “What’s wrong, Miriam?”, I asked as she looked at me.

     “Even though it’s not a perfectly personal endearment I want you to call me babe from now on.”, she said like we had just decided what to eat for supper.

     “I’m not calling you, babe.”, I said sternly.

     “Why not? It’s a nice term.”, she said angrily.

     “Babe is what you call someone if you’re married to them or in some kind of a romantic relationship with. Maybe, maybe if you’re a girl you can call your best girlfriend babe, but I’m your fucking brother. If someone heard me call you that they’d think I was the biggest fucking pervert, at least on our street.”, I said strongly.

     “Well I wouldn’t expect you to call me that in front of everybody. I know there are certain mores that have to be adhered to. I’m talking about when it’s just us, like when we’re on the black hilltops, or when we’re talking alone at night, or when we’re on one of our long and special walks.”, she said as if she was trying to teach sign language to a chimp.

     “No, it’s fucking weird.”, I said adamantly.

     “Please? I know it’s unconventional but when you call me that then I know you really love me and that I’m important to you.”, she said with a slight tone of desperation.

     “I told you the other night that you were special and important to me.”

     “Yeah but that was a speech. That’s something that a brother has to say to his little sister because of familial obligation. That doesn’t mean you’re being sincere. When you call me, babe then I know you’re being sincere. The very fact that you’re maybe not supposed to call me that, and you do anyway, is proof that you really love me. The fact that it’s somewhat forbidden makes it special and meaningful. Do you see what I mean?”

     By then she was standing right in front of me looking upwards with a twisted little smile because she knew that her logic was inarguable. She knew that on the intellectual plane she had the advantage.

     “It’s not like I’m telling you to call me your little sex-doll.”, she said mischeviously.

     What the hell?

     “Ok, now I just feel sick and dizzy. Whatever crazy shit you’ve been reading lately you better make sure that Mom doesn’t find it or else they’re going to check you into the fucking sanitarium across town.”, I said as my head tilted down to focus on my feet as my stomach began to twist and spin slowly.

     “I’ll just talk my way out of there. That last comment was my feeble attempt at humour but I really have to insist that you call me babe from now on in private moments. I’m also telling you that you can also link that term to the phrase “I love you.” In fact, it sounds rather sweet with a nice hint of innocence, and respect.”

     The sick feeling was just starting to ease up. I couldn’t fault her for having a raunchy sense of humour. The idiots at Rob’s table said things that were far more tasteless and a lot more retarded. Now I was just fucking mad.

     “And what if I don’t, Miriam? What if I object?”, I said coldly.

     The one question you might have at this point is, was I mad at her because that particular label was inappropriate? She wasn’t asking me to call her darling, or honey, or snookums, or pookie, or sweetheart. She wasn’t even asking me to call her that in front of other people. She knew it was a risky term and she only wanted me to say it in private. We were already kind of touchy-feely with each other, in a non-sexual way, but in time it was going to look to almost anybody that knew us that Miriam and I were very close. No, the truth is it wasn’t the term. I had finally been hit with the thunderbolt and I couldn’t ignore it. If I caved on this issue what happens next? The really strange part was that we had only been around each other for less than a week. In a month she would be running my entire fucking life like a really demanding girlfriend. I had enough fucking demands inside of my head and my fucking dick. I didn’t need anyone outside of me calling the shots as well. No, screw this. I’ll deal with my sick urges like I did at the start of the school year if I have to. I’ll burn my jizzed up fantasies every goddamn night and at least then I’ll feel like my own boy. At least then I’ll experience some ecstasy and I’ll laugh like a happy lunatic all the way home. Until my brain decides on its own to take things further and I get fucking busted.

     This time she stopped and she gripped my forearm with some serious strength.

     Over to the side of the sidewalk was the little convenience store. It wasn’t open yet and the blinds were down on the windows. There was a payphone there but it was empty.

     “Come over here.”, she ordered me as she made a good attempt at pulling me over into the tiny parking lot of the store. Up and down Second Avenue I could hear other kids and their parents walking towards Adamsdale. I went along because……….I don’t know, really. Because she had the right to defend her position? Because I didn’t want to be a major prick and just leave her behind? Because I didn’t want her freaking out at school and then have Mom and Dad would bitch at me? Yeah, that was it. If I told Papapa and Em the truth that their pretty and precocious little 9-year old genius of a daughter had the hots for her older brother, that conversation would get real fucked up, real fast, especially if Miriam twisted the story to make me sound like the designated fucking pervert taking advantage of a lonely and vulnerable little girl. Compared to that the actual truth about my situation almost seems morally-acceptable because at least I was taking steps to avoid being a 14-year old lust killer. I had to operate on the idea that a pissed-off Miriam was capable of anything.

     When we got into the parking lot, right beside the store, she whipped around and faced me. The look on her face was confrontational.

     “You say you slept better last night than the night before, right?”, she said with a firm look of “I’m-Not-Fucking-Around-Right-Now”-ness. Her deep brown eyes were like black coals because her pupils were suddenly a lot bigger. Everything about her posture was stiff and set in concrete. Her fists were firmly planted in what would someday be her hips.

     “Yeah.”, I replied calmly. I wasn’t intimidated.

     Yet.

     “Do you want to know why that is?”, she said with a low kind of steel in her voice. I was getting the feeling that this was how she looked and sounded when she was facing off with the mean girls at school. I was getting the hinky vibe that there was as much to her that no one knew about as there was to me.

     I had the sick feeling again. I knew what was coming. She continued in that low steely voice.

     “I set my alarm for midnight. I wanted to check up on you in the middle of the night because I truly do love you that much. Do you want to know what I saw and heard when I went in your room?”

     Now the sick feeling was getting worse.

     She stepped in close as she looked up at me. Her face was blood fucking red.

     “I saw you, standing in the corner of your bedroom. You were naked and your hands were kind of waving around in the dark. It looked to me like your left hand was struggling to hold onto something, like somebody’s throat, and your right hand was making vicious stabbing motions. Sometimes you were making sounds like a combination of snarling and laughter put together. Other times you were actually speaking. Do you really want me to tell you what you were saying? I can assure you, my beautiful babe, the words coming out of your mouth would have been really terrifying to any other female in the house if they came across you just then.”

     I was getting closer to puking just then. My mouth was slick with saliva. The fact that Miriam had discovered my true secret self, made me as close to scared as I could possibly get, and frankly I don’t scare that easily. I took a deep breath to push back the nausea.

     “No, I seem to remember what I was saying.”, I said quietly.

     Miriam nodded and she went on. Before she continued she made a fist and gave me a solid jab in the crotch. I felt too sick to feel the pain. She went on in the same steely tone.

     “Your tumescence was quite prominent. You were slowly turning around this way and that, and your cock was-“

     “Don’t talk like that?”, I suddenly shouted.

     “What, do you want me to be clinical? No, I’m not going to. Your prick was waving around like a cudgel even as your seminal fluid was dripping from the end of it like the venom of a fat little snake. The residue of your sick dreams was copiously spattered about the floor and even the tops of your feet. Your eyes were open but you couldn’t see me. They looked demonic. There was no colour in them. There was no light. You were truly unrecognizable. As intelligent as I am I had to actually remind myself that this was the same creature that had picked me up and then ran down a mountain with me. This thing was supposed to be my beautiful older brother, the one who could make me laugh. The one who reassured me that my world was significantly brighter and more colourful suddenly. This depraved beast told me he loved me. And there he was standing in front of me with his cock on display acting out his most brutal, his most insidious, his most monstrous fanta-”

     I couldn’t hold it anymore. Stomach acid, coffee, and little bits of toast erupted from my mouth as I lurched forward. Miriam side-stepped it as I leaned over. She gently placed her hands on my head and rubbed it soothingly. Suddenly it was getting difficult to breathe. I heard a roaring kind of rush overwhelm my head. Sweat sprang off of my forehead and down my back. My heart felt like it was exploding. I was convinced I was having a heart attack at the ripe old age of 14. Miriam started rubbing the sides of my face.

     “Let it out and breathe. Just breathe. You’re having a panic attack. It’ll go away in a couple minutes.”, she said gently. She kept rubbing the sides of my face and I kept wheezing and staring at the gravel of the street as it became blurry.

     “Miriam, I’m……..dying. Or I’m going insane.”, I hoarsely whispered.

     “No, neither is happening. You’re just being overwhelmed with adrenaline and your brain is convinced that you’re in incredible danger. Which, if I may so, you are.”, she said gently as she continued rubbing the sides of my face.

     It took several minutes but I was finally able to breathe again. Strangely I couldn’t will myself to stand up straight. Though her hands felt very gentle, I felt like I was locked into this leaning position as her face got closer to mine.

     “I’m not done yet.”, she asserted. Suddenly she was all business again and she was standing right in my face.

     “Do you know what I did next? I walked straight up to you, I ignored the fat little snake that was in front of me, and I took your hands. I started to gently call your name. I kept whispering to you that it was okay, and you needed to get back into bed. You stopped waving around and you just stood there. I whispered to you that I had you and it was going to be ok. I stood there with you, holding your hands, and I kept whispering that everything was alright. Then I slowly lead you back to the bed and I positioned you into it on your left side. I then crawled in behind you and I started rubbing your back. Your entire back was like one solid slab, like a headstone. All the while I kept reassuring you that it was okay and that you were safe, and that I was with you, and that I loved you, and I was going to make it alright. I kept telling you to go back to sleep. It was just a really bad dream and you were going to be okay. You fell back asleep and I held onto you from behind for a good hour, all the while I was lying in something that personally felt disgusting but I didn’t care because I love you that much.

     What would have happened if Cait, or Mom went to the bathroom and they heard you saying those evil things from the doorway? What if they came in and saw you the way I did? They would have woken up Dad immediately and when he saw you that way he would have taken the day off work to drive you to the sanitarium. You’re only 14. Mom and Dad could have had you checked in for a psych hold. Then it would have been up to you to convince a psychiatrist, and a small team of child-care workers, that you weren’t a danger to yourself or anyone else. They would have had you under observation. You would have betrayed yourself in probably one day.

     Then you would have been locked up for a very long time. You would have been under some powerful drugs like Thorazine, and they would have given you Electro-Convulsive-Shock Therapy to scramble your neurons so you wouldn’t be able to form an intelligent thought, let alone a violent one. It isn’t beyond the realm of imagination, even in 1980, that they could give you a pre-frontal lobotomy like that black astronaut in Planet of the Apes, in order to suppress your violent psychopathic tendencies. Benny would be as smart as me compared to you if they did that. To use one of your crude expressions, you’d be a fucking retard for the rest of your life.

     You’d be one of those sorry creatures pushing around the shopping cart, mumbling inanities to yourself, drooling, reeking of old crazy person even though you would be 18 years old because by law they would have to release you then, but that would be alright to them because they would insist that you were cured and you weren’t a threat to anyone. People would give you spare change as they try to get away from you as fast as possible. You wouldn’t be living at home, that’s for sure. Mom and Dad would be too ashamed to have you around. You would become the secret freak of the Miller family except Sudbury isn’t that big of a place. Your new school chums would find you downtown. You would become a source of mockery and amusement for them. They would taunt you relentlessly and they would do it for years. They’d make you drink Scope mouthwash, and rubbing alcohol just so you would make an even bigger fool of yourself. They’d steal your grocery cart and then you’d cry like a wounded animal because all of your material possessions, the detritus that you had collected from various dumpsters, would have been stolen. They would offer you a whopping five bucks if you’ll soil yourselfboth front and back for their cheap pleasure. Who knows, maybe like a real carnival geek they’ll give you twenty bucks if you’ll bite the head off of a live chicken.”

     She got in really close then and her face became even scarier.

     “I will not allow that to happen because I love you that much, but, having said that, I will have what’s mine.”

     When she said that her mouth was practically touching mine. When she said, “I will have what’s mine.”, she made it a point of slowly enunciating each syllable.

     “All I want is for you to demonstrate that I am the single most important person in your life. All I want is for you to love me back with as much intensity and as much meaning as you have within you. All I want is for us to continue being the way we have been for the past week, only with a little more intimacy. We are all the other has. Our family is just an accident of fate. There is only me and you. No one else. You’re not the only one with a secret side, young Mr. Miller. I know, it’s devastating for you to accept that, but as we get closer you’re going to learn things about me that no one knows, not even Mom.”

     She stopped talking then and she was staring straight into my eyes as her forehead was pressed to mine. Do you want to hear something crazy? I could actually feel the tears coming down my face and it struck me that I was crying for several minutes.

     “What are you experiencing right now?”, she asked me gently.

     It was kind of difficult for me to talk.

     “Guilt and gratitude.”, I croaked.

     My sister smiled then and it was a truly beautiful smile. Her eyes began to shimmer and she kissed me on the mouth. I put my arms around her and I held her as tightly as I could safely get away with.

     “I’m three times your fucking size. I could have killed you, babe. I could have-“

     “NO.”, she yelled as she pushed herself back and put her hands over my mouth.

     “You would have done no such thing. I always know what I’m doing and I always know what I’m talking about. I will keep you safe but you have to allow me to be in the lead.”

     She then held me again as I quietly cried some more. The guilt was easing away and the gratitude was growing rapidly.

     “That meeting in the kitchen was no accident, was it babe.”, I whispered in her ear.

     “I needed to do that and someday I’ll explain why. First, we need to get you under control.”, Miriam said calmly.

    “I love you, babe.”, I whispered in her ear. And you know what? I meant it.

     “I know you do. I love you too. You’re safe with me. I will never betray you for being the way that you are, John. Never. Ever.”, she said with quiet steel.

     All I could do as I held her was silently cry. Her rage was spent and she was her warm and loving self again.

     But still there was one horrifying question I had to ask her. It was the question I didn’t want to ask but I needed to know.

     “Babe?”, I whispered.

     “Yes?”

     “How far do you intend to take this relationship of ours?”, I asked feeling sick and dizzy again.

     She let go of me and looked me in the eyes again. Her expression was thoughtful but it was also kind.

     “I don’t know. This journey has only just started. I think that right now we have something good.”, she said thoughtfully.

     “You’re not always going to be a child. In a couple years you’re going to go through the change”, I said feeling really sick again imagining what she might want someday because she thinks it’s “her right” to claim whatever “intimacy” she thinks she’s entitled to.

     “I can’t think that far ahead when it comes to us. I can plan and set goals but when it comes to what we do together, I’m as much in the moment as you are. The most important thing right now, is to keep you out of the sanitarium, the prison, and the morgue. Anything else I’ll deal with when I have to. Right now, my needs are very simple and very legal.”, she said pleasantly.

     She paused at that point and began staring at her hands. I knew by now that that meant she was seriously thinking about something. Her deep brown eyes kind of moved slightly from side to side as though her entire brain was processing a certain issue deeply and rapidly. After about two minutes of this she looked up at me and she summarized her stance.

     “But still, if the day ever came that I decided to offer myself to you, I will still have what is mine because I love you that much and I can promise, you, sir, I would have thought it through and then I would have decided that whatever we do is perfectly okay because we’re not them. We’re something else, something better, and we make our own fucking rules, and we decide what’s good for us, not them, never them.”, she said with a hint of that steel in her voice. I don’t recall what my reaction was. I’m pretty certain I wasn’t enthusiastic about the idea though.

     By then I had stopped crying and I stood up straight. Miriam took my hand we started walking slowly towards Adamsdale. Very little was said then. It appeared that all of the unspoken issues had been adequately addressed to her satisfaction. What the shrinks would call “a breakthrough moment”. My stomach was giving me the whim-whams but Miriam looked quite mellow and content. I felt physically burnt-out from the panic attack but I was confident that I could manage the day. When we reached her school, I kneeled down and gave her a tight hug and a kiss on the cheek, and said, “I love you, babe. Thank you for saving me.”

     “I love you too, babe. We’re going to be fine. You’ll see. Your beautiful babe will take care of you.”, she said with the sweetest whisper as she kissed my cheek.

     She went inside walking very much like a top executive going off to handle some more mundane matters at the office. She turned and waved at me with a bright smile. I waved back and pulled another grin out of my ass.

     I turned and started heading towards the bus stop. I had to hustle to get there on time. As I quickly paced I could hear the demonic voice in my chest. This time it wasn’t laughing. It actually spoke words that I could clearly hear as the syllables drummed their way out of my sternum.

     “Who truly needs who?”

     The answer to that question was beyond me so I stopped thinking about it.

     When I got to the bus stop I was smiling for real.

     “And what pray tell is making Mr. Stuck-Up so happy this morning?”, Wendy Louise said in a snarky way.

     I turned up the smile and I walked towards her. Her blonde mall chick hair was lightly blowing in the wind. She still wore too much rouge but she was looking semi-decent, I guess. Her blue eyes got a little twitchy as she waited with repressed anxiety for the comeback zinger.

     “It must be because you’re here Wendy-Louise. Are you going to be gracing us with your lovely presence at Lord Carter’s table today?”, I said with a smile slashed in insincerity like the killing wound I wanted to rip right across her fucking skinny throat.

     “Like, of course I’ll be there. It’s not like you can like, stop me, Johnny.”, she said defiantly but she also sounded a tad nervous. It kind of made me wonder if I had enough pull with the Lord himself to have her booted from the cool table. He’d do it but then I’d owe him a lot of deference, so fuck him. I can tolerate Wendy-Louise as I worked out the perfect way to fuck her up and get away with it.

     I made the smile even wider as I pulled out a cigar. Pure bullshit began to ooze out of every pore on my face.

     “Maybe I just enjoy seeing you there. In fact, I’ve started to look forward to it. You have this magical way of brightening my day, darling.”, I said as I walked away to smoke in a quieter place. Wendy-Louise tried to kill the smile that wanted to escape from her mouth as she looked away. Let that brainless hosebag think about that for the rest of the morning as she gossiped to her slutty girlfriends about how I was like maybe, possibly, like y’know starting to come around. In your dreams, bitch, or better yet, in my fucking dreams.

     As for Miriam my feelings were all over the place. She saved my ass, that much was true, and it was obvious that I wasn’t going to get away with exploiting her Miriam-ness without giving her what she in turn needed. I loved her but my love had its limits, or at least that’s what I thought just then. It was starting to become obvious that hers might be unlimited, and also more than a little all-consuming.

     And that came with some very dangerous ramifications. Very, very dangerous ramifications for both of us.

     And as I thought about that I could hear the demon in my chest chuckling once again as I kept smoking and quietly looking at Wendy-Louise on the sly. I could feel a chill inside of my flesh and there was a nice dark aura around her head that I found quite pleasing to look at. It was a halo made by Satan, (for lack of a better name), just for my victims. I began to concentrate and I quietly told the demon in my chest to help out my imagination. Bingo, my demon buddy kicked in and I could actually see blood dripping off of that black halo around its head and it began to fall in nice thick crimson streaks onto its heavily rouged-up cheeks, and then it began to slide down towards its jawline. This time I welcomed the boner that began to fill up my Levi’s. I quietly asked the demon for another favour as I drew upon my stogie.

     In a minute, quite clearly, I could hear every single word of that brutally murderous fantasy I had written on the first day of school about it. It pleasantly echoed in my mind as I kept watching the blood falling onto its face from the blackening halo that surrounded the top of its head. The sight of that, plus the fantasy gently echoing inside of my head, gave my whole morning a nice and rosy fucking glow. There was one major difference though and it made the moment perfect.

     This time, when I heard the words that I had written, I could hear every single evil word being recited by my brilliant and beautiful sister. They no longer sounded like the sick and twisted fantasies of a 13-year old boy. Somehow, like a sorceress, Miriam made those words sound like a promise that she would keep as she crossed her heart and hoped to die. I was ready to believe just then that her and I were telepathically connected and she was sitting at her desk consciously reciting the words like she was reading me a story at bedtime.

     All I had to do was love and accept her as she was and she would return the favour. She would even see to it that I didn’t get caught. As long as I didn’t think about the sexual part, I didn’t feel sick at all. I’d confront that at another time, hopefully way down the fucking road. Right now, I was just enjoying the moment listening to Miriam in my mind while my victim’s face was coated with blood and it was now falling onto its just-starting-to-grow tits in huge blotches, and then it dripped off of the ends of those and onto its still new-looking pink and white Reebok sneakers.

     Miriam was just as fucked up as I was. There was no getting around that. She all but said so. Her being a control freak was a part of her genius. The demon was right, she needed me. She had years to approach me and she didn’t. I didn’t know what she needed from me but she needed something, and it must have been pretty major for her to not lose her mind when she found me in the bedroom in the middle of the night nakedly murdering my English teacher inside of my 3-D imagination. The demon didn’t tell me to trust her. It simply told me that we could do each other a lot of good even as I fought to get a handle on how to be a very bad boy, someday.

     There was a bigger point though, and it was powerfully important as I watched my victim standing in a huge puddle of blood as its entire front side was soaked with it like a retarded version of Carrie White.

     I was no longer alone.

     And I would never be alone ever again.

     No matter how evil I became.

     All I had to do was trust my babe,……………eventually.

 

 

Psychotopia- Episode Three- Season 1

 

     It didn’t require any coercion on Katherine’s part to convince the Brothers Halloran to go along with her idea when the lads returned to that manse of suddenly unbelievable tragedies. The three little girls, Annie 4, Little Liza 5, and Katey 7, were in what would we would describe as “shellshock”. In just over 24 hours they lost both parents, saw their brothers get arrested, discovered their oldest sister nakedly dead via a self-plunged kitchen knife to the chest, and apparently their father was a brutal child-rapist and their mother was his drug-addled accomplice. It’s to Charles’ credit that when he crutched his way into that house of misery the first thing he did was summon those three girls into the drawing room.  He couldn’t speak much but he held them as best as he could. It was all the reassurance that he had to offer but the girls had something to cling to at least. It was the first tangible sign to them that the nightmare was finally over.

     Katherine told them that she would be at her apartment and she instructed the house man, Johnston, to call upon her if there were any adversities to be contended with. She said that when they had healed up she would be back and they would have a long and frank discussion as regards to their future.

     There was a funeral at the local Methodist church, (Which at the time was the church that the majority of the most influential burghers attended, which unsurprisingly was the only reason why the now butchered and disgraced engineer insisted his brood join), and all five Hallorans were there in their suitably black attire even if the brothers looked like something out of a horror movie as they secretly gloated over their dead sister.

     Candles were burned. Hymns were sung. Eulogies were given extolling the virtues of that most tragic of heroines, Janey Rose Halloran. As Simon Halloran stated later, “Considering the tone of those tediously endless speeches it was obvious to me that all of those school girls in attendance despised our dear dead sister while she was amongst us. Perhaps not as much as Charles and I, but their hateful disdain for her shone forth with every fake tear and with every insincere utterance. The milieu began to feel as though all of the speakers were in competition to upstage each other in their theatrical attempts to seem the most devastated by her “heroic sacrifice”.

     Charles and I lead our sisters towards the casket but we ourselves quietly requested that we be the very last ones to look inside of it before the lid was closed forever. As we shielded each other we each spat into her countenance of “peaceful repose” as she laid there in her virginal white dress like a child bride of Christ.

     Charles and I had already come to the agreement that when things quieted down once more in Savannah, he and I were going to go to Bonaventure Cemetery with a pair of spades and we were going to conduct a more proper celebration with our dear dead sister after we filled in her casket with stones and made the gravesite to appear undisturbed.”

     Katherine was at the funeral with her two infant daughters. Only JR got the royal treatment. She was indeed a star on that day even if she never got to grow up and become a power-mongering American Queenpin. As for the parents, the church refused to conduct a service for them, and their bodies were sold to the closest medical school to be used as a couple of medical models for various lectures to do with anatomy. It was JR’s big day and she didn’t have to share it with anyone. Katherine invested a significant sum to get her a beautifully large headstone in Bonaventure Cemetery with her likeness accurately carved from white marble as an all-loving angel of perfection with her white wings symmetrically extended behind her. Predictably she had inscribed upon the green marble stone: “But Jesus said, Suffer the little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

     JR was interred into the Earth and the brothers became functional-looking humans once more after several weeks of R and R, as their sisters took care of them. It was therapeutic for those girls to do such things. It gave them the sense that the world hadn’t ended after all and things were going to get better. Katherine didn’t visit but she did send the boys and girls individualized notes of hope and encouragement.

     Finally, the day of the big meeting took place. It was actually two big meetings. One for just the brothers, and then one for the brothers, the sisters, and the two house-slaves. Simon and Charles stepped into what was their father’s office and they saw Katherine diminutively sitting in their father’s chair with a massive map of the eastern seaboard spread out across the desk. Sitting just to the side of that desk, in what was supposed to be a huge oxblood chair, was Lieutenant James Pendleton. He was deemed to be the most formidable of “The Sons of Liberty” within the provincial colony of Georgia. A jest had been circulating about him, amongst the troops, a witticism rooted within gallows humour of a darker shade. The jest is that he had more to say to the men that he brutally slaughtered upon the battlefield than he did the men he fought alongside with.

     Some cavalry officers inspire their soldiers to fight the good fight. Katherine’s husband frightened his troops into fighting as aggressively as he did after the flintlocks had been fired and it was time to take the field with both Claymores within his massive fists as he clenched the reins within his teeth and butchered British redcoats on either side of him. He seemed to have a penchant for hacking off arms and leaving the soldiers to flounder about as their blood rocketed from the stumps. It was then, once the battle had reached its zenith, that he would dismount from his equally massive steed, and he would walk up to the redcoats as they fell to their knees, and he would have a private word with them as they bled to death before him. No one knew what he said because his own soldiers had thought it a wise idea to allow their commanding officer the luxury of privacy at such moments. Since this was a provisional militia his own superior officers chose to allow their devil to have his due since he was financing the upkeep of his horses and his quarters with his own coin. He was the enemy of their enemy, and if he loved warfare to excess then that was his bailiwick. Because he was floating his own expenses he had the freedom to come and go as he saw fit.

     He even flew his own colours. He wore a dark forest green blouse beneath a deep crimson longcoat, along with tastefully applied touches of black in the form of his trousers, his gloves, his boots, and a large leather hat with a folding brim. The large and powerful-looking Lieutenant wore two Claymores and a brace of muskets that spanned four guns per side as they hung strung to his crimson greatcoat with dark forest-green ribbon. Lashed to his leg was an authentic Roman short sword, which he sometimes implemented as he had those private conversations with the enemies that he had laid low on those rare occasions when he was feeling merciful.

     The lads found him to be impressively imposing as he sat there taking his leisure in that armchair. Doubtlessly Mrs. Pendleton deemed him to be more than that considering that it was becoming physically obvious that she had a third baby on the way. As per their dynamic she did all of the talking as she stood her tiny impregnated self and she waved the two brothers over towards the desk. She then proceeded to explain to them what they were going to be doing in order to earn their freedom.

     Essentially what Katherine had done was she secured a strategic map from her husband that had provided the most reliable and up-to-date intel as regards to the state of the Revolution covering the entire east coast. If the lads could shoot, fight, and ride hard there were plenty of banks and businesses that were openly supporting the Loyalists. All those boyos had to do was start way up in New England and rob everything they could reach that was flying the Union Jack above its door. Katherine advised them not to be genteel about it either. Whenever they couldn’t carry anymore gold they were to return to Georgia and disburse their violently-earned swag. Half of the loot was to go to Lieutenant Pendleton, who would redistribute it to the militia in order to purchase powder, shot, provisions, and the like. Another 25% would go to Katherine so that she could augment the prodigious sums that her and her husband had spent thus far in the past three years getting themselves set up. The remaining quarter belonged to the lads so that they could properly take care of their sisters and invest in their futures.

     Katherine told them that the Revolution wouldn’t last forever therefore it was incumbent of them to be as criminally industrious as they could. The lads had no issue with that. They were to report to the manse every time they brought more booty back south. James would see to it that all of the Revolutionaries up and down the coast would know who these two were, therefore once they were away from the cities they wouldn’t have any serious problems dealing with the farmers and the ranchers. As long as they only robbed Loyalists they wouldn’t have to worry about posses although they were warned that the English would hire bounty hunters to give them chase and drag them to another tollhouse up north if they were caught. They had to use a hit and run guerilla approach to these robberies. Get in, do what was necessary, and then get out with the swag. They were told to move hard and to move fast. They were to start in New York and then work their way towards what would someday be the Mason-Dixon line that outlines the states of Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.

     According to Katherine there would be many fat targets for them to assault and she made it a point of stressing that they wouldn’t be deemed to be violent robbers per se. Thanks to the Revolution they would be considered freedom fighters in the service of The Sons of Liberty, doing what was just, right, and true in the cause of republican independence. But even so they would be flogged and hung like a pair of thieves if they were caught even if a growing demographic would see them as “the good guys”. Therefore, it was incumbent of them to be nice to the rural folks and try to avoid the lovestruck farm girls who would see them as a couple of criminal rock stars. Katherine needn’t have concerned herself about that issue but we’ll get to that momentarily.

     “Simon and Charles said very little as I laid forth the plan for them to adhere to. They paid the closest of attention and I did have the advantage of knowing that the lads were the beneficiaries of a sound primary education. James was going to sharpen them up over the next month. Basic training as it were, in order to see for himself just how adept they were at the art of combat. If they passed muster they were to begin violently thieving up and down the eastern seaboard immediately.

     At the conclusion of my lecture I told them that now was the time to ask any questions or express any reservations. It was Charles that respectfully raised his hand first. He asked if I could teach him how to shoot the Mongolian bow.

     “My husband was the one who taught me how to shoot that weapon. Why do you wish to learn from me how to handle it?”

     “Father told us you hunted your own venison upon the mountains whilst bearing and caring for children. Stags are fleet, which means you must have a powerful sense of skill in order to kill one from a distance whilst encumbered. My brother reckons you must have more direct knowledge via experience on how to shoot fast and straight against a target that is quick. He construes that knowledge of that depth upon the subject will serve us in good stead against pursuers in the open countryside, along with being able to fend off night-time attackers in the event of an ambuscade. The truth is, he’s been eager to have you explain to him various details to do with weapon craft for well over a year, ma’am.”, Simon replied like the boot-licking student that I figured him to be.

     I looked directly at the younger brother who was smiling and nodding enthusiastically.

     “That was a suitably diplomatic response but I want to hear from you why you wish to learn from me these things.”, I said with a level tone extended towards the youth. I should be more judicious with the usage of such terms. He was only 4 years younger than me. It was only marriage, multiple bouts of maternity, and a deeply accelerated education that made me seem significantly older than him. I was only 17 years of age at that gathering and my husband was only 23. But still it did indeed feel to me as though I had compressed a tremendous number of powerful experiences into a mere half-decade. I could only hope that my predatory life did not age me prematurely. I was going to require ready access to both my wits and my strength for a very long time to come.

     “My brother has a better way of saying things than I do. I tend to be vulgar, ma’am.”, he murmured with as much deference and self-consciousness as he possessed as he stared at his feet.

     “Tell me why you wish to learn such things from me in your own words, please?” The young man paused for a few seconds, shrugged his wide shoulders, and then he dove head first into his response.

     “I want to learn from you because you scare the f—–g s—t out of me, ma’am.”, the youth said, bereft of hesitation, with the sort of direct relief one feels when they are free to tell a truth that is deep and real to them.

     “Please continue, young sir. I know you have more to say.”, I replied as I lit up a cheroot from my victim’s humidor.

     He had much more to say as he elevated his expletives to the levels of poetry. The smart-sounding mid-Atlantic accent that he had stamped onto his tongue made his choice of words more pleasant to hear, which is a rare feat since I normally deplore the usage of the Common Tongue when I’m amongst the livestock.

     “All of us in this room know that you know how to kill anyone that f—s with you, and you know how to get away with it. You know how to f—–g feed yourself in the wilds and Dad said you were doing this with a baby in your arms and another one in your belly. You were doing this alone with a bunch of red f—–g savages around you in the woods. That means that even those f—–s knew better than to f—k with you. I ain’t much bigger than you, ma’am and I reckon I ain’t going to get much bigger than I already am. Killing on a battlefield ain’t the same thing as killing in the streets, or when you’re on the run from the bailiffs and the redcoats. I reckon you need to know how to survive when you f—k with those c—s. I need you to teach me how to hunt the f—–s trying to hunt down me and my brother, y’know what I mean, ma’am?

     You know what I remember? You standing before that window in your blood red dress holding up your babies to see me and my brother when those lousy c———s dragged us around like f—–g dogs. Something in your face, your black eyes, the way your little mouth was like a little f—–g twisted up like you didn’t like what you f—–g saw going on. When those c—s dragged us back to our cell I said to Simon, “Did you see the lady in the red dress? Satan has come for us and I reckon she means to get us out of here.” I don’t think he heard me very well. He was kind of f—-d up in the head at that point. I mean, no offense Simon, but I can take a hit better than you. I play a lot of rugby and I get into a lot of scraps, ma’am.

     Anyway, ma’am, I figure that a black widow like yourself knows a lot more about how to be a real killer than a big wolf does. You know what the f—k you’re doing and wolves get shot all the f—–g time. Black widows know how to move around and nobody sees them till its too f—–g late. I want to be the black f—–g widow because she can scare the f—k out of a wolf if he’s got any f—–g brains to work with. You have to figure ma’am, wolves are only good in a pack. So, what of it? Kill the f—-r in charge and the rest of them scatter like b—–s. The black widow, she works alone and she relies on herself. She never gets f—–g scared. She knows what she’s doing and she knows what the f—k that she wants. And she will f—–g get it too. She’ll figure it out and she’ll f—k up anyone that’s stupid enough to try and f—–g stop her. She doesn’t need a f—–g pack to make her look f—–g frightening y’know, because she ain’t no f—–g coward. That’s what I want to learn, ma’am. I want to learn how to kill people by myself and I want to learn how to scare the living s—t out of them just like you do because knowing stuff like that will come in a lot f—–g better for me and my brother when we attack those a——s inside of their businesses and then run like Hell with their gold.

     I mean, I know ma’am that a lot of a black widow’s power come from the fact that she’s f—–g beautiful. No offense, guvnor, but the black widow here ain’t no f—–g dog y’know? You’re quite a lucky f—–g wolf. I hope you f—–g know that, boss? I know I’m an ugly f—–g kid and the black widow can’t do nothing about that. But she can teach me how to kill beautifully. She can teach me how to think beautifully. She can teach me how to survive beautifully.

     Anyway, uhm that’s why I would be y’know grateful if you would teach me how to be as much like you, as possible please, ma’am? It would help a lot and I promise I’ll do whatever you tell me to do.”

     His older brother was shocked by the response as his lying diplomatic mouth hung agape. I could hear my husband chortling deeply from the armchair and I didn’t have to look at him in order to bear witness to his massive frame shaking as he sat there with an exceptionally rare countenance of bemusement. I could not completely repress the grin that threatened to escape from my full little lips like a collapsing dam. I was impressed with the manner in which young Charles blended both aggression and vulnerability as he stared straight at me as though he was waiting for me to strike him down with my bayonet like a wand within the tiny fist of Merlin’s Satanic granddaughter. He attempted to appear fearless without being arrogant. The boy had guts and he had backbone. He demonstrated that to my satisfaction within the tollhouse when he gave the screw a bit of aggro as he gave the hausfraus the two-fingered salute. He was also intelligent enough to be afraid of me, and he was astute enough to not attempt to pretend to be something that he was not. He may have been a genuine criminal but it was the “genuine” half of the equation that was shining forth just then. I pointed towards the chair before me.

     “Please sit down, Charles.”, I said as I reclaimed my own seat across from him.

     Obediently the lad sat down and I handed him a cheroot.

     “I’ve never had one of these before, ma’am. Father said they would stunt my growth.”

     “It’s just like killing or coitus. There’s always a first time and then it rapidly becomes a pleasurable habit.”

     Charles lit his cigar from the candle and he took in a huge draw. He blew out an ample blue cloud of sweetly-scented smoke.

     “This is delicious. Thank you, ma’am.”, he said happily.

     “You’ve said many lovely things attesting to my character, but through no fault of your own, you do not know enough to base those assertions upon, therefore I’m going to impart a few items that I would deem a personal kindness if you kept them to yourself, please? In keeping with your impassioned speech I’m going to make these revelations to you in the form of a fable.

     It was that wolf sitting over there that taught the black widow sitting before you how to handle the Mongolian bow. He also taught her how to handle muskets. He also taught her an ancient form of fighting that was invented specifically for women of a small stature. He taught her how to fight with a knife and he taught her how to handle a Claymore with two hands in the tradition of the Samurai of ancient Nippon. He also taught her how to survive in the forest. He taught her these things because the black widow and the wolf had to escape from a prison that they were incarcerated in at the moment of their birth. He’s the sole reason why I frighten you so thoroughly.

     I can promise you, young sir, that wolf can stand upon his own. I can also promise you that if it was not for him none of us would be in this room right now. Being but a tiny black widow I was able to come here upon his back without him experiencing any undue strain. If it was not for him your lying whore of a sister would have had you two pitched into the street and henceforth you would have lost your entire family for they would have written you two off like a bad debt. You would not have even been able to become revolutionaries because you would not have possessed the coin to support yourselves whilst fighting the Loyalists. You would have been forced to become thieves and then you would have gotten captured and hung. If it was not for him your sisters would have been sold like concubines to the most lucrative middle-class despots available. Your mother’s addiction was fed by Janey Rose in order to accelerate her death. She was also working on increasing her stranglehold over your father.

     That wolf over there saved your lives. He saved your sister’s lives, and finally he saved my life.

     I believe you when you tell me that you wish to become more like me. Your first step towards becoming more like me is to do what I did and do everything that the wolf tells you to do. What you have learned is nothing when it comes to the art of killing. By the time he’s done with you will know how to kill. You will also know how to escape from traps and you will know how to destroy your enemies efficiently. Before you can learn how to think like a black widow, you first have to learn how to kill like a wolf. If you pass muster you will be well upon your way to becoming a formidable arachnid yourself. You impressed me already within the tollhouse. If you impress the wolf you will find the black widow to be a very generous educator, young sir. I can promise you that.”

     “I won’t fail you ma’am. Thank you for everything.”, he said to me as he stubbed out his cheroot. When he mentioned the other day at the tollhouse, I vividly recollected the image of him standing there momentarily before me. I was surprised he could see anything at all since his face was pulverized. I wanted this youth on my side, permanently.

     Simon raised his hand next.

     “Ma’am, you advised my brother and I a few moments ago that we should not be soft with the people we rob. Do you want us to only be as vicious as is necessary, or can we be as vicious as we wish with these victims?”

     “Being brutally efficient as opposed to simply being brutal would be best.”, I replied with a drawling draw from my cheroot.

     The most powerful weapon in their arsenal is the fact that both lads do not appear to be of a predatory nature. As I’ve stated previously in the hands of a predator deception is a weapon and both lads cut a deceptive swath. Simon was about the same height as my first victim, about five feet-nine inches, and of a slender cast. He had the same light-brown hair, of fair length, and the same light-blue eyes as my last victim. I did not find it difficult to envision him purposefully walking the grounds of some northeastern university with a prodigious satchel ladened with textbooks. He bore a touch of the scholar and as such no one would deem him to be a murderous thief.

     Charles was only about five feet-five inches, if that, yet he bore the stout physique of a rugby player. He had the same hair and eyes though his hair was longer and he seemed to be constantly smiling. This was a lad built for adventure and he preferred to leave the serious thinking to his older brother. Anyone who leans towards the more aggressive athletics is also by default a natural fighter. He may have been diminutive but he was rapidly becoming as wide as he was tall. He is a big boy in his own manner and he had an intimidatingly large set of mitts to fight with attached to an impressive set of arms. I could see that when it was time to get down to the wet and dirty work he would demonstrate a jolly sense of eagerness for the task. That would be his pathway towards inspiring fear.

     Simon functions from a newfound sense of predatory hate for the malengine of society almost akin to a spiritual conversion. He is now a Crusader serving beneath my banner. The sovereigns that he’ll bring forth to support his sisters are at best a secondary concern, and a distant one at that. Charles, I construe, was changed very little by his experience at the hands of the bulls, except that they made him stronger within his constitution. To him being a violent thief is yet another source of fun and amusement that he may have never considered before. I’m convinced that he is definitely a born criminal. I could tell though, that his was the sort of disposition whereby being capable of supporting his sisters, and making their lives as decent as possible, is indeed a major priority. He is capable of love for a select few. His older brother, not so much. He now has a cause celebre to devote himself to for the rest of his life. He would not hesitate to cut his sisters down if they dared to impede his march to the Promised Land with their tearful pleas of a moralistic variety.

     Simon then made another request and this kindness that he was soliciting was of a far darker shade. He asked that I provide them with a written account of what I did to their murdered sibling at the time of its death. When he asked that, I could see his light-blue eyes narrow and there was a flaming need contained within them that the livestock would have found more than personally distressing.

     “What purpose would such a damning admission serve?”, I inquired icily.

     “We wish to visit our dear dead sister with a pair of spades, ma’am. Truth, we would appreciate having the chance to properly say farewell to her. A farewell that we could not really say during the public celebration of her death, if you know what I mean, ma’am.”, Charles said with a cheerfully wide-mouthed smile as his brother glowered balefully beside him. Both lads were resolute in their nocturnal intentions. I did not require any sort of threatening elaboration to be imparted that they were going to go forth with their plans before they went forth with mine.

     “Is it the normal manner of the Irish to take retributive justice to such extremes, or are you two gentlemen of an exceptional caste?”, I rhetorically inquired dryly.

     “We prefer to believe that such a secret ceremony would make us nearly as exceptional as both you and your husband, ma’am.”, Simon said with a low growl and his light-blue eyes were now a conflagration of the blackest of desires. Even more intriguingly Charles looked as though he were in love with the plan like a groom fantasizing about his wedding day.

     This was a phenomenon that I needed to kill in its tracks.

     “You gentlemen are entitled to your outrage but your desires are foolhardy. The cemetery employs sentries to prevent graverobbers from stealing corpses for the medical schools. You would have to kill them in order to walk away with your prize. Then you would have to find a suitable locale in order to do your worst, which would also expose you to the risk of discovery. Finally, corpses carry diseases. Why do you believe my husband and I laid out an ample sum of sovereigns for a memorial statue made in her likeness? It’s a far simpler process to deface a thing of beauty than it is to dig up something hideous that has already been defaced by Nature. What do you believe that bundle of rotting meat and bones is going to do when you seize it for yourselves? Scream? Cry? Beg for mercy? Plead with you to not jam your phallic member into one of its putrid orifices? The only thing that that pile of putrescence is going to do is stink.

     If you two successfully complete your training with my husband here is what we will do. We will gather at the gravesite with a lovely array of food and beverages. We will lay down a large quilt and we will sit and have a proper midnight luncheon. I will tell you both in excruciating detail how the stinking bundle six feet below us spent the last several minutes of its life. I will tell all bereft of embellishment because there shall be no need to exaggerate anything. It died miserably and its death gratified me immensely. All you two will need to bring is two large buckets and a pair of gloves each. Your liquid waste will adequately cover the stone whilst the more solid fecal matter can be evenly distributed over the face of that granite angel carved in its likeness with enough left over to completely blot out its name upon the stone. That is all the retribution that that stinking bundle deserves.”

     Both lads looked at me at that moment in a silent state of indecision. A moment later it was Charles who nodded happily and he said boisterously, “I like the Lady’s plan better. It sounds more fun and a lot less f—–g work.”

     “And you promise you will tell us everything, ma’am?”, Simon asked with that self-same low mid-Atlantic growl.

     “After you successfully complete your training I will reward you both to excess at your graduation. Then you will both go to work and rescue your still-living sisters from the misery of penury.”

     “We will, ma’am. We won’t fail you or your husband.”, Charles said with a believable tone of solemnity. I bore the impression that for him the catharsis in the cemetery would truly be that. His older brother, however now possessed a white flaming chunk of coal within his fist that he was unwilling to drop. The very agony of that form of rage was serving as his source of energy. It was feeding his very flesh. He had become a Crusader. Crusaders require only two things, an imagined destination that promises to yield a state of perfection akin to redemption, and the requisite hatred his flesh will need to motivate him to march towards that destination irrespective of whatever deprivations he may encounter. In the older lad’s mind my victim, and the society he wants to destroy, were but the same thing. My victim had become the rotting face of everything he had grown to despise, which to my rational way of thinking was an elevation in status that my victim did not warrant. It was just a low, rent-seeking whore. It didn’t encompass the growing sophistication that the malengine of society was rapidly enhancing thanks to both The Agricultural Revolution in the early part of this century, and The Industrial Revolution that had recently begun to take the British Empire by storm. It was better off where it was feeding the worms. My course of action should salve the sting for Charles whilst feeding the beast that now snarled within his brother’s eyes.

     Charles had one last request. It was an indication of the criminally boyish attitude he had for the project.

     “May I have a hat like your husband’s please, ma’am? I reckon it’ll make me look both older and taller. Also, it’s a very dashing piece of headgear.”

     The lad actually made my husband laugh uproariously. I am inconsistent when it comes to that accomplishment. With a wide smile of approval James flicked him the hat and it sailed across the office. Charles snatched it out of the air with his huge fist, effortlessly. He was distressed to discover that the hat was a bit too large for his cranium. I removed my long dark-crimson scarf and ordered him to wrap it around his head and then try on the chapeau. This time it fit him nicely, and the scarf trailing down his wide shoulder and over his broadening chest made him look stylishly fearsome. The boy was touched by these gestures and he thanked us both profusely. The men my husband slaughtered were killing and dying for little bits of ribbon and metal in the service of a fictitious god, a mad king, and an empire that did not care for their existence in the slightest. Why should a hat and a scarf be any less significant in the eyes of the youth who was going to kill and steal for me and mine? I was warming to him. I liked his honesty, and I liked his attitude towards the massive task that he was about to tackle. His older brother, I did not like at all. Some people can make a bad first impression and then improve their standing over time. I will never grow to like Simon Halloran. I distrusted him and I found myself wishing that there was a way that I could have rescued the one bereft of the necessity of saving the other.”

     The lads had exhausted their enquiries at that juncture and Simon asked the three sisters, along with the two house-slaves, to come into the office. With the gentlest of considerations, the slaves brought in the girls. They still bore the silent apprehension that things could get worse at a moment’s notice. Katherine made the proper introductions after everyone had been seated.

     “The sisters stared at me with a nervous level of attentiveness. As far as they knew I was but a sympathetic stranger and I intended to maintain that myth. They looked over at my husband with more than a bit of awe as he smiled slightly at them and gave them each a chivalrous nod of recognition. They were old enough to have heard various tales of my husband’s acts of derring-do upon the battlefield, though they knew not the finer points of how he had butchered his enemies. All they knew for certain was that he was a man of courage and he was killing for their freedom. That was all that they needed to know.

     The house man, Johnston, a tall fellow with a bearing of trim regality, in spite of the hideously green livery he was adorning, was watching me with avid curiousity. I could discern that he knew more than what was being imparted. He certainly knew whether or not my first victim was capable of committing such a violent crime towards my latest victim. I could tell I was being gauged and measured. It did not matter to me whether or not he believed me. All that mattered was that he understood that my benevolence could be withdrawn at a moment’s notice. He and his equally dignified wife, Delores, now belonged directly to me and mine.

     With a warm and friendly face, I explained to the three girls that according to the Lieutenant the English were in the process of making their way southwards towards Savannah because the port was a major locale for the enemies of our enemies, namely the French, to bring fresh supplies and much-needed provisions. The English harboured the belief that if such a port could be captured it would be a crushing blow towards the success of the Revolution. Savannah was in danger and it was imperative that the girls and the house slaves be transported to a safer place. I also emphasized that given all of the tragedies that they were forced to experience it would do them a tremendous amount of good to be somewhere else and away from all of these miserable reminders. Johnston nodded agreeably but he was still endeavouring to get a bead upon my true character. He can try from today until tomorrow but he would never know the reality of my actual character until I drew my bayonet and said otherwise. Still, I appreciated his thoughtful nature. It seemed to me as though he and his wife, Delores sincerely cared about the girls. The little white waifs obviously served as substitutes for the children that they themselves refused to birth into a lifetime of slavery.

     I told them my husband and I had acquired a large house in Asheville, in the provincial colony of North Carolina. It was a fine home in a fine part of the city. They would be safe there until the revolutionaries had evicted the English from Savannah. I then told them that their brothers were joining the Revolution as scouts in the service of the Lieutenant. They would be absent from the home for lengthy periods of time as they took to the territorial trails and spied upon English troop movements up and down the east coast. The girls became scared at that point and Charles jovially reassured them that they would be safe. It was just a lot of a skulking about like Cherokees and taking detailed notes. There would be no actual combat involved. The girls then began to giggle as they looked at him in his new headgear. Charles crossed his eyes and stuck out his tongue and they began to laugh even more loudly. Even my daughters began to laugh from within their pram and the three girls scampered over to look downwards at them.

     “They are beautiful just like you Mrs. Pendleton.”, Katey quietly exclaimed as the other two girls gently touched their little finger tips. Grace Gloria and Lillian smiled and reached up to touch their fingers. Already they knew how to be charming when the situation called for it. Just then I felt a surge of burning pride for my children. They were indeed natural predators.

     I advised the house staff that the girls had a month to pack up whatever they deemed to be significant. Johnston replied in a smooth and deep drawl that he would take care of it personally. He then inquired if James, my daughters, and I would be remaining within Halloran House. I informed him that we would be and I told him that we had no issue assuming what was my first victim’s suite since accommodations were somewhat spare inside of the manse. A meaningful glance passed betwixt us for a flash and he replied that the suite had already been cleaned out as though nothing untoward had ever taken place. I felt a pang of regret at that news. I was hoping that the house staff were too mortified to have changed the bedding. Wishful thinking, but there it is.

     The meeting was concluded at that juncture. All and sundry knew what was going to take place. Simon and Charles were going to commence with their training at dawn hence I requested that dinner be prepared by 6 pm. The girls kissed the fingertips of my babies and they said good-bye. They then said good-bye to me, and they shyly waved at my husband and said good-bye to him as well. James bestowed them with one final courtly nod and a slight smile. Charles walked out with his sisters as he held two of their hands and they began to giggle at his hat and scarf ensemble. The servants followed them out and that left only Simon and we Pendletons.

     He looked at me as though he wanted to say something of a private nature and yet he said nothing at all. I ignored him as I inspected my babies’ nappies. They both required a change and I started to clean them upon the desktop where the map still sat completely forgotten. James rose from the armchair and he walked over to take a closer look at his children. He saw them only rarely and he was nearly afraid to touch them. I handed him Grace Gloria and he held her in his large hands as though she was a bucket of nitro-glycerine while he stared into her smilingly happy face.

     “I have seen this face before, a long time ago.”, he quietly drawled. Our new lives had made my husband nostalgically introspective whilst gingerly embracing his daughters. New lives that he helped to create had made him more thoughtful. Those self-same lives have imbued me with more determination to do what was necessary upon the mountain. I know that I’m right regarding the Paradigm. All I need is time and some more support from that uncontrollable phenomenon commonly known as “luck”.

     “I am certain I was not that beautiful, sir.”

     “When you landed inside of the hands of the midwife you opened your eyes and you stared into the faces around you for a moment. Then you raised your fist and you roared. You were angry. You did not cry. You were too proud to do that but you were angry.”

     “I was having a terrible day, sir. I had just been evicted into the cold and callous world. What I said to Charles is true. All of this is because of you and I never tell you that enough.”

     “You were the one with the plan. Without you I would have been dead.”

     “Without you we both would have been dead. Escape was our only option.”

     I took our oldest daughter from him and handed him the tinier version of her. James lapsed into silence as he stared downwards as his nearly black eyes met hers. All the while Simon stupidly stood there as he ruminated on whatever inanities passed through his livestock head.

     I had an impression I knew what Simon’s issue was. My brood had effectively taken over his home, his family, and his very fate. Simon was the oldest child, the first-born son. Doubtlessly he had been conditioned to believe that he bore some sense of special rank and privilege. Whatever illusions he had borne regarding his place at the top of his family scaffold were now eliminated. Now he was receiving a lesson in the concept of what life is like within a meritocracy. Charles had earned the tentative approval of myself. If he passed muster, I was more than willing to promote him to being a predator, which meant he would no longer be livestock in my estimation. At that point I would see him as a criminal colleague. I would never confide in him my plans for the Paradigm upon the mountain. Keeping such things private would elongate his lifespan immeasurably. The three girls were to be treated like porcelain figurines protectively-encased within thick cotton strips of deception for their own emotional well-being. The house staff would carry out those lies upon a daily basis in order for those girls to acquire a sense of peace and equilibrium once again. Charles would reinforce those deceptions. That meant that they too had some special status in their favour. So where did that leave the bookish Crusader with the angry light-blue eyes?

     Where indeed? He no longer had any rank within the familial structure. He was now being forced to earn the approvals that he had taken for granted for all of his 15 years. He was nothing but a commodity to me and he was astute enough to be aware of that. And yet he had that anger now. The anger of a Crusader. He had the desire to wreak a tremendous magnitude of havoc and give vent to a depth of hatred that would be insatiable. How long could he maintain a grip upon that white-hot coal within his fist? How much havoc could he craft if he had his brother beside him to keep him aloft? How closely could he approach the precipice of madness once he has tasted blood? How long can he maintain a modicum of self-possession? It’s certainly an intriguing phenomenon that warrants investigation. He will not be able to suck Charles down into the maelstrom of his pending insanity. The lad was too solidly sure of himself for that outcome to ever be realized. Also, I will not allow that to happen. I will destroy him slowly before I will grant him the chance to pull his brother down into the morass of his hatred.

     Upon their graduation I was going to have to have a very private and frank discussion with Charles. I had also decided to give him a very special gift. He will need to know what to watch for so that he can affect his own escape at the right time from his brother. Grace Gloria will not be walking for two more years. I have time to spend here in the city of self-deception now that I have a sufficient reason to be here. The Paradigm is not going anywhere and the Cherokee will not be able to penetrate its secrets. I am the only one with all of the keys for the hatchway and the pair of oak doors at the bottom. I can modify the instructions so that the lads spend time with both my husband and myself. Once the girls are safely tucked away in Asheville it will just be the six of us until the seventh comes along. They can spend a few days here and then re-visit their sisters every time they deliver to us our quarter of the loot.

     I ensconced our daughters once more within the pram. We had some time before the early evening meal. My husband’s introspection infected my thoughts to a degree. The only major distinction being he was dangerously drifting towards the web of the past whilst I was eagerly sprinting towards the hurricane of the future. My husband stretched his lengthy frame upon the lounge that the girls, Johnson, and Delores had sat upon only moments before. This was a habit we had acquired years before. He would disrobe and lay himself bare. I would then cast away these constrictive garments and then lay myself upon him dishabille as his protective embrace encased me. All we did was think and we said nothing to each other. These moments of physical quietude have become rare as I felt his powerful hand knot itself gently within my curled black hair. In the none-too-distant past we did this daily for hours at a time when all we could do was impatiently wait until the time was right to escape. It gave us both comfort to do so. Now our lives are rife with action and what we were doing just then felt like an item of nostalgia to me, an item that I could feel myself outgrowing, at an accelerated pace.

     I slowly dozed off with the vision of myself upon my summit, as I watched the sun rise in the east whilst Venus, the morning and the evening star of Lucifer, slowly faded away. As the sunlight slipped over the horizon, I held my first babe to my breast and I whispered to her:

     “In the beginning the universe came to be in a mindlessly perfect accident. Of that I am certain. Then the universe created the natural perfection of this Earth. Then, like a cancerous single-celled mutation, came Satan. A metaphorical label that suffices to serve as an adequate comparison for human nature. Satan is indeed a clever creature. Satan crafted the malengine called “society” and called it “good”. Satan crafted what would eventually become known as “capitalism” and declared that to be “good”, as well. A system that within its artificial state produced a toxic by-product equivalent to a chemicalized pollutant destroying a once life-sustaining river. It created a growing plague of inherently worthless creatures whose sole purpose is to service the malengine in the form of cheap muscle along with becoming a spender of whatever coin that it possesses from day to day.

     You are my first-born, Grace Gloria Pendleton. You are me, only better. You are your father, only better. The impurities within ourselves have been filtered away for the majority within the creation of you. None of us are perfect but you are far closer to that physical destination than your father and myself. I can see it within your tiny face. You are already far wiser than I am because you are not saddled with the burdens that I was cursed with upon my own day of reckoning. Burdens that I have been actively cauterizing from my consciousness. It is now simply a matter of me imparting upon you the necessary skills to actualize your predatory nature. The day will come when you shall lead from the mountain. I exist to create and to educate. My role is limited. Your role shall inevitably eclipse mine. As it should be. As it will be.

     You will only require one thing and the moment that he manifests himself from within myself, you shall grow to know him as I have grown to know your father. He shall grow to know all of his sisters, truth be told, and the quest for predatory perfection will take yet another great step towards that larger goal. My son’s arrival, however, I can neither calculate nor ascertain. All I can do is continue trying until the proper cells assemble the proper infant. By rights I should bear more than one son. That will aid the Paradigm significantly. More pure offspring will produce even more pure offspring in turn. The closer the generations can get to 100% the better. I am aware that the closer the generations get towards that absolute percentage the smaller the gains will be. The process will drag after a seemingly rapid growth of predatory improvements. As long as the machinery of the Paradigm itself does not break down then time shall be upon our side.

     This only leaves the issue of your father. As I have stated previously he is unaware of the exact nature of my plans for the Paradigm. He is not even aware of that specific term. He deems what we have at the moment to be “a family”. To me it’s much more than that, and as such I viscerally deplore that appellation. He and I have an agreement. I would get a mountain in order to raise our offspring to be strong, self-sufficient, and educated at a much greater level than they would be within the malengine. He in turn would get to participate in whatever military actions came along bereft of any interference from me. We both got what we wanted but at some point, I will need to inform him of the greater good that I am going to implement. The question lingers can I induce him to appreciate why this Paradigm is necessary? How much of an adherence does he bear for the conventions of arbitrary moralities? He appears to possess a wider state of moral flexibility than the livestock around us, yet I know not the complete range of that continuum. For now, that discussion can keep but I know that when I do broach the subject of the long-range strategy of the Paradigm, the result will possibly tilt towards an adversarial outcome. In fact, if I was being rationally pragmatic, I would have to assert that the outcome falls somewhere betwixt a probability and a certainty that James’ emotional response will not be of a positive manner. I will have to make preparations before I engage in that dialogue. He deserves to know, if for no other reason than he is a part of the plan and he deserves the truth. But even so, the Paradigm will become a reality with or without his presence. It needs to be therefore it shall be.

     But you, my daughter of woe, you shall be the first one to lead us all towards that final place. None shall be above you. Not now, not ever. You will lead an army of predators in time. First, we shall need to clear out the current inhabitants of our mountain in order to preserve our secret. I shall teach you and your siblings, and then you shall take my knowledge directly to the livestock. The ones here within the city of self-deception, they know no different therefore they deserve no better. They will be clueless as regards to our gestating movement upon the mountain. We will improve whilst they in turn degenerate. The greater good commences with you and the example that you lay forth for those future generations will look to you, not me, for inspiration. As it should be, therefore it shall be.”

     And so it was that Grace Gloria Pendleton was destined for greatness. Destined or indoctrinated? I’ll leave that up to you to decide.

     For the next month James Pendleton did indeed kick the brothers Halloran into high gear with very few words and an abundance of demonstration. Katherine instructed her husband to be hard on them, and he was. Simon privately groused that being worked over by the massive, mostly-silent soldier was worse than being worked over by the bulls. Charles jested that if it was Katherine doing the training he’d be dead, and Charles would be begging her to kill him.

     James, however did show them everything required from the Mongolian bow to the Claymore. He noted that the lads were already fairly decent with guns and horseback riding. In order for them to learn how to swordfight like Samurai’s they first had to forget almost everything they knew about the art of European fencing. James taught them how to blend that style with wing chun, the martial art form that was designed specifically for small women. In accordance with that their bayonet skills were enhanced as well. This went on every day for 12 hours, for a month. James confirmed to his wife what she already suspected. Simon was a martial mediocrity, at best, who pushed himself along with hate-driven determination. Charles, however, did indeed impress him.

     “The boy has the talent to be a true killer. All he lacks is experience. I’ve only had one student who fared better.”

     That was all that Katherine needed to hear and she promoted Charles to both colleague and predator. She left it up to her husband to afford Simon the same privilege. A ranking that TLP never considered the hate-driven “Crusader” to be worthy of.

     They did indeed have their “graduation ceremony” at Janey Rose’s grave. The angelic statue that was done in her likeness in white marble had just been completed and it sat upon a large rectangular stone of green marble imparting all of the pertinent details regarding her brief ten-year existence, along with that quote by the mythical Jesus.

     “There was only one authentic graduate, in my estimation. Charles was beaming and I could see that there was a new confidence brimming from his happy countenance. Simon alone would have failed by my standards, but he will adequately suffice until Charles acquires enough experience to rob Loyalist establishments by himself.

     Bonaventure Cemetery was silent. The spring breeze had absented itself and the birds had quit the massive oak trees that were planted in strategic locations. Once again, the moon was full and it hung low in the sky whilst the brothers Halloran, my babes, and I stood before my last victim’s grave. The artisan that sculpted the angel did a commendable job. It gratified me tremendously to look upwards at my victim’s stonily eternal face. The artisan who crafted its likeness had earned the excess of sovereigns that he insisted upon for undertaking this task and bringing it forth to completion as rapidly as possible.

     Bereft of effort upon my part, I could envision its countenance of pure panic that had widened its light-blue eyes, as I sprang towards its bed with the kind of reflexes that only the large cats of the jungle are capable of. I clamped my hand over its nose and mouth and then I straddled its narrow little body. It struggled weakly with my knees locked around the edges of its shoulders, pinning its arms to its sides, just like I did with my first victim. Its lower extremities began to convulse as I placed the tip of the bayonet to its throbbing, bulging carotid artery. I did that just to see if I could intensify the terror inside of its light-blue eyes. I would have to assert that I succeeded as they became even wider. The plucked and sculpted light-brown brows ran themselves ragged racing each other to seek out a hole to hide in within its scalp-line. Instantly it became very still as the hypoxia took effect and it fell into a state of temporary unconsciousness.

     With a pillow sheet for a gag, along with a few meter’s worth of rope, I had my victim stripped and bound in a matter of seconds, face down upon its pillows. Though it was not rationally necessary to do so I stripped off my garments with the exception of my doe-skin boots. I’ve always preferred hunting in my natural state. A state whereby my “animal spirits” are summoned from the dungeon of my civilized consciousness. For a moment I stared at its pointed scapula as they rapidly rose and fell beneath its bloodless-looking skin. The most beautiful things are the ones that are uncontrived. Those moments just seem to serendipitously occur irrespective of actual intentions. Watching its shoulderblades anxiously bob held my attention with seamless ease. This moment, this precipice, is always one that fills my head with awe, and it makes my Elysium ignite with a deathly hunger. My pectoralis region, both major and minor, began to painfully constrict beneath my breasts. That would be the adrenaline as I felt my heart accelerate whilst all of my muscle groups began to engorge, as my blood began to yearn for the blood of my victim. By then it was partially conscious as I wrapped the small fingers of my right hand around the back of its scrawny neck and pinned the side of its face into the pillow. The darkness that surrounded us both became denser. A black fog that was palpable as it brushed my breasts, as well as my posterior and my face. I tore my head away from my victim and I looked straight at that blue and yellow flame upon the vanity. The one lone candle that flickered upon it appeared to be struggling to reassert whatever diminutive dominance it possessed but a moment before. The flame was me striving to become first a conflagration, and then a star in its own right. The candle silently screamed forth its ambitions at my nearly-black eyes, and I heard that scream within my breasts.

     I had deliberately placed that white candle before the vanity mirror in order for it to reflect off of the glass. I could see my reflection within the mirror. Allow me one fleeting concession dedicated towards my conceit, but when was my reflection so beautiful before? The previous evening when I destroyed the paternal unit responsible for my current victim? An hour ago, when I ran the sharp and steely length of the kitchen knife across the maternal unit’s throat in such a manner that it looked as though the deed was committed by an angry and unhinged child? The first stag that I methodically destroyed upon my own terms? One would rationally think so, would they not? Therefore, I could only logically conclude that I am only at my most alluring not when I am dishabille, nor when I am not noticeably impregnated, or bloated with fecundity for that matter, or sufficiently cleansed, or suitably attired, but only when I am in the midst of this most intimate of acts. This ritual whereby I am once again the mortal bridegroom, and the bloody bride before me will be consummated and then disposed of once it has been permanently broken in its involuntary dedication towards my sole satisfaction.

     The manner in which the faint candlelight illuminated my eyes, along with my hair, and my cheekbones made me feel at one with the myths of the vampyre, or mayhaps the wendigo, the shape shifters that are an integral aspect of the mythology of the Cherokee. I was liberated from the constrained reality of my humanity. I was something else, something more, something superior. It was not the same as the self-abnegation that I experience when the white radiance emits from me and impales me simultaneously. Upon that plane I am nothing but formless energy. Here within my victim’s bedchambers, I did have a form. I did possess mass. Here I was “something”, but what precisely?

     I was something “good” based upon the auspices of Nature. Nature is the closest thing we lowly humans have to a living deity that is eternal, and its perfectly mindless wisdom shines forth in its creation of the biped species. Nature bestows bipeds with a powerful choice. We can be our true selves or we can be subservient frauds. We can be the exploiters or we can be the exploited. We can be the wolves or we can be the sheep. Charles proclaims me to be a black widow. A beautiful predator that stands alone. It is a lovely image and I have chosen to embrace it as my identity, my “totem” if you will, my spirit animal as per the dictates of the indigenous peoples upon this continent.

     The consequences of Satan’s malengine be damned. Satan has his web and yet I’m the one that is walking along its malignant strands unimpeded, and doing so quite beautifully in my own dainty manner, if I may say so. Satan is but the collective manifestation of the petty ambitions of the livestock. Does the wolf aspire to be the President of the ULA? No, the wolf aspires to be the best wolf they can be. Does the tigress aspire to be the grand dame of polite society? No, she hunts and she feeds her young, and she revels in her freedom. The shark, the peregrine falcon, the polar bear, and the king cobra, they only aspire to be the best version of their truest selves. That is good enough for them and it is good enough for me, and by my example it shall be good enough for the even more predatory Pendletons that come after me.

     I am the black widow. I am small. I am dark. I am beautiful, and most importantly I am intelligent. I only seem fragile to the casually ignorant observer. I rule from within the very darkness that Satan has cast over us all. Satan shall inevitably grow afraid with every fleeting dawn that encroaches upon his malengine even as the darkness of the Paradigm eclipses his faltering machine at noontime’s zenith. My existence is Nature’s decree that this path is right and true, and therefore its success is guaranteed.

     During my lifetime the Paradigm, led by my daughter, shall be the invisible conflagration that will burn forth from the mountain. After I have returned to Nature, the Paradigm shall be the black star crafted by Nature heralding the entropic destruction of Satan via the many Pendleton hands that shall come after me. I myself am but that lone candle upon the vanity. I have no issue with that. Mine is but a small role upon this vast and growing stage. A stage that will be populated by predators and their copious victims. I am proud of my little light. I will scorch the darkness that surrounds me. The frame of my flame is tiny, like my stature, but I will provide enough light for my offspring to see the pathway. The pathway that will lead the Pendletons that I will sadly never know to that faraway shore where they will prevail in a Natural state where absolute power and absolute freedom are synonymous. After Satan has died beneath their hand, like the scheming little whore that is struggling pitifully beneath mine right now, the Paradigm shall be complete within its perfection. Its form will be incapable of being any more beautiful. Its intellect will be unable to be any more sagacious. Its viciousness will be as sharp as it can ever be, and it shall never grow dull and rusty with age. Some long away day, the Paradigm will be as eternal as Nature, and hence the name “Pendleton” shall become its synonym.

     I wanted nothing more at that moment but to fall upon my knees and worship the image of the predatory young woman within the glass. I was in love, enraptured with that pale and dark specter who gazed upon me so fetchingly. She was the image of that girlish voice that dwells inside of my mind. She continued smiling at me as she tilted her beautiful head forward slightly. Her black curly hair obscured the sides of her face as her nearly-black eyes emitted an incendiary glow of their own. Her chiselled and pale right arm angled itself slightly away from its curvaceous form and it pointed towards the shivering little victim. She nodded at me suggestively and I knew she was right. It was time to assert the supremacy of my predatory self once again, and kill this mewling creature that was staring upwards at me with one faded blue eye imploring me for mercy.

      I crouched down to my clothes and I extracted the thick length of the razor strop that I had brought with me. That was to be the prop that I was going to employ for Act II in this domestic tragedy that I was scripting. I also pulled up my bayonet. The handle was a good 5 inches in length and as thick in circumference as a broomstick. That would serve for the climax of Act III after I had scourged my victim in no small measure with the strap. The severed hand, the note, the kitchen knife, and this pair of corpses would all tell the proper fiction in tandem with each other. I looked once more at the reflection of my beautifully-idealized self. She was standing as straight as her tiny frame would allow with her breasts protruding proudly and her broad shoulders set and squared like the great main-sails upon “The Victory”, a three-decker warship with 100 guns primed and ready to annihilate her enemies. My image was flawless and I was going to carry the Paradigm towards the place of battle for as long as I could remain afloat.

     I could hear my voice dulcetly whisper with the purest tone of gratitude, “thank you”, at my image, and yet I could not detect the movement of my image’s small full lips. Nor could I detect the movement of my own mouth when my reflection slowly nodded at me with a wide and beautiful smile. She then said to me, “As ye should be so ye shalt be, as divined by Nature in its mindlessly perfect wisdom.”

     And just then the darkness began to recede as the candle flame grew in intensity as though the universe was slowly exploding before my eyes. All of the stars became one in aggregate and the bedchamber was blindingly infused in golden rays of blinding wonder. The golden light was not the same as the white radiance. I was neither emitting nor was I impaled. The golden light touched me just like sunlight and it was neither hot nor cold. I looked downwards at my left hand and it was shimmering. I spread my little fingers and I slowly made a closed fist. I could feel peace within that fist. The peace that comes with supreme confidence. The peace that comes with knowing that I am in control of the moment. The image of my ideal self was lost within that golden light. There was but myself standing there as she returned to the confines of my mind whilst the yellow light slowly retreated back to its original form in the configuration of that lone candle performing its small but very necessary function.

     I turned away from the mirror and I gave my full attention to my victim. I proceeded slowly with my left hand. My victim screamed into the pillowcase gag wedged deeply into its wide mouth. The sharply resounding cracks of the strop fell in a slow and brutal manner. The tears that were streaming from my victim’s eye sluiced over its cheekbone and down over its mandible. It fitfully fought to break free from the talon that was gripping its thin neck. My fingers were digging into the flesh there and I had to consciously ease up lest my victim fell unconscious once again due to its brain not being able to receive the blood that its heart was drastically pumping.

     That was the moment that was warmly swimming through my mind as I stood with Charles as my babes giggled within the pram whilst that hate-driven miscreant, Simon, was snarling as he smeared copious fistfuls of his own feces over the face of that exquisitely-carved statue. He was beyond intelligent speech at that juncture, and I smiled widely whilst savouring the schadenfreude. His emotional agony was an unexpected bonus. It was low theater at its grandest apogee.

     I could not help noticing something that surprisingly gratified me when the boredom of watching Simon’s gratuitously overwrought, and self-indulgent emotional exhibitionism, began to wear thin. He needs to learn when to leave the stage and to not overact whatever “big scenes” are scripted for him by circumstance. I could detect the subtle aroma of a particular French scent. Immediately I recognized the scent in question. It was labelled, Allure de Lucifer. It has a subtly covert manner of tickling the olfactory with a musky hint of exotic orchids that’s mildly sweet upon the surface and yet earthy underneath. Instantly, because of my sex, I assumed that the scent was emanating from me as I raised my slender wrist to my little button-nose. There was no discernable fragrance that I could detect making its way forth from me, which was surprising if only because Allure de Lucifer is my favourite scent. Discreetly, I looked over at Charles and he was staring at the feces-smeared angel with a happily ruthless smile. He appeared to be content to merely be a spectator at his own graduation. Or perhaps he too was enjoying watching his fop of a brother become an utter fool for our unintended amusement.

     Carefully so that he would not notice, I tilted the end of the deep crimson scarf towards my nose with the top of my finger. All was made sensuously clear to me at that juncture. The day inside of the office when I informed the lads of what was to be their future. I had purchased that scent within the city of self-deception upon arrival before I gave birth to Lillian. I did so mostly to obfuscate the stench of horse and biped feces in the street. I had made a habit of applying a few ample dollops of it to my scarf. It must have been still discernable when I had given him the scarf to go along with his new rogue’s hat. The very same hat that was now sitting at a rakish angle that my husband himself never implemented. The deep crimson scarf was tied around the top of his crown with the end hanging down close to his waist. Now he looked more like a rapacious young Cossack than he did a pyrate. It suited him. The born-again predator had learned which scent I had used and he must have acquired his own bottle. I had to bury the smile behind my black-gloved little paw. Every day of his training he must have re-applied more of that scent for some personal reason. I was rapidly beginning to realize that there was a depth of emotion to the young man beside me that compensated for what he deemed to be his lack of intellect. I cannot deny that I was flattered. It was flattering because it was meant as a personal thing to him that I was not supposed to be aware of, unless the solidly-built little Cossack was sending me some kind of a personal message. He was only 13, therefore I do not believe he was attempting to pitch any sort of woo towards a young married mother who was not even 18 yet. The application of that scent was meant for his nose alone and he must have gotten so used to its presence that he forgot that it was there.

     The hack before us fell to his knees, and with a badly-intoned bestial wail he smeared even more bodily waste straight across my last victim’s name, filling in the grooves of the characters as though he was plastering a lengthy crack within a granite wall. Since the hack was well and truly lost within his own terrible performance, I took the opportunity to gently tap Charles’ hand. He looked over towards me with that pleasantly disturbing smile as I leaned in a bit, catching the essence of Allure de Lucifer once again. I smiled upwards at him.

     “Thank you for doing this, sir.”, I said quietly.

     “You saved our lives, and my sister’s lives. It’s the least we can do, ma’am.”, he replied with a warm look of sincerity. “Thank you for the journal as well. I will read it every moment when it is safe to do so.”

     Charles impressed me with his desire to learn how to think like myself. He had no wish to be a pack animal, even one that was part and parcel of the predatory world. He wanted to be his own criminalized man and he deemed me to be my own criminalized woman. I promised him that I would be his mentor if he survived my husband’s regimen, and he did so quite ably, in spite of the rigors that James had imposed upon him. I had filled a notebook with my most personal beliefs in terms of how one should conduct themselves as a lone criminal. I stole bits of wisdom from Machiavelli and Sun Tzu but I also added my own insights as well just to give the tone of the lessons a modernist feel. I did stress upon him, however, that he absolutely needed to keep that journal a secret from both his fop of a brother, and even my husband. I promised him I would provide a more detailed explanation as to the why of it at a more appropriate time.

     “I am remaining in the city for the duration. I want you to visit every chance that you can, sir. Anything you do not understand in that book I will clarify for you.”

     “I would deem that a privilege, ma’am. Thank you.”

     “You have graduated, sir. There is no need for you to stand upon ceremony. I rather appreciate my profane compatriot’s gritty articulations.”

     The smile remained upon his face but his light-blue eyes became more thoughtful.

     “I think I am changing, ma’am, but I ain’t sure what I am changing into.”

     “You are becoming your own man, sir. You are not one of them. You are neither a revolutionary, nor are you one of the Loyalists. You are not an American. You are not Irish. You are part of an international confederation more commonly known as, “the criminal class”. You and I are part of the proud scum of humanity. As it should be.”

     With all of the quiet passion that he had to safely bless me with he spoke his truth.
“I am whatever makes you f—–g proud of me, Katherine. That is all I want I f—–g want from now on is for you to think well of me, and to take care of my sisters. Everything else is f—–g b——t. That is what I learned when those f—–g c—s beat the f—–g s—t out of me inside of the gaol. It is all f—–g b——t. Everything that they taught me at the academy was a f—–g lie. Life ain’t fair, ma’am and everyone just wants to f—k everyone that they can f—–g get away with f—–g, and not in a good way neither.”, he said with an incredible load of quiet anger that I instinctively took seriously as opposed to the pathetic bathos that his fop of a brother was screaming and crying forth before us.

     Before I could stop myself, I clutched his massive bicep.

     “You need never fear that outcome from me, Charles Halloran.”, I silently intoned and I honestly meant it at that moment, as I squeezed that powerful limb emphatically before I slowly released it.

     The sturdy young Cossack gave me a nod of comprehension but he neglected to reply. Was I but seeing what I wished to see? One does not become invisible to the opposite sex simply because they are married and they have embraced the challenge of motherhood. I made a powerful impression upon him, there was no denying that, and if nothing else I am of a singular caste. My contemplations left me feeling mildly unsettled. What woman does not secretly savour feeling desired for?

     I was a married woman though. My husband and I had done a plethora of things together that no one could understand, let alone approve of. We had smashed through walls that had been in place for centuries. Walls made of propriety. Walls constructed of laws and rules that we never got to veto before their inception. Walls mortared betwixt he and I by family, by religion, and by socioeconomic class. We grew together, we escaped together, and we are now rebuilding our selves together.

     I knew what it was that served as the foundation of that unsettled feeling. The truth was, I was lonely. Loneliness cannot be distilled downwards towards the sex act alone. There is such a thing as companionship. There is such a thing as conversation. There is such a thing as comradeship and I did regard the young man beside me to be not only a comrade-in-crime, but also a friend who was worthy of that appellation.

     I had my own methods of dealing with my carnal desires when James and I were apart. Something had changed within me though since I had arrived here at the city of self-deception for this extended stay. My husband is an incredibly passionate man. It may not seem to be such when one observes him in public away from the battlefield, but I can assure you, he knows how to emit extreme emotions as he roughly handles me like a meat puppet. Until recently I have deeply enjoyed every experience that I have ever had with him. I could unceremoniously drop my crown, my sceptre, my armour, and my sword, and allow him to be the dominant force smashing into my diminutive flesh as he howls and rages with an intensity that is not feigned for my benefit.

     And yet recently I have been painfully forced to modify my position. Since the Halloran brothers have been released from the tollhouse, James has been in Savannah. There have been many moments within the past few weeks when I have had those intense situations once more at my disposal. As I felt him pin me face down to the mattress in very much the same manner that I pinned down my last victim, I found I was not having the same experience anymore. Specifically, there were two moments travelling upon parallel pathways but at different rates of velocity. There was the external moment. The one whereby my husband was energetically impaling me as his gigantic hand was wrenching at my hair whilst his other hand was pressed betwixt my shoulderblades, holding me firmly in place as his willingly eroticized victim. As he was doing that, however there was an internal experience that was unfolding itself far more slowly as though I was being mentally impaled underwater.

     The internal experience revolved around the images of my bloody brides. Those images vividly traversed all the way through time and space. The stag as it screamed upwards at me as I methodically rammed my bayonet into its flesh in such a manner that it would do everything that I was violently demanding. It would bleed, it would scream, it would cry, it would tremble fearfully, and it would bleed some more. The only thing it would not do was die because I was in control of its fate.

     Then there was the paternal biped that I had mutilated within its bed. The crashing scraping sensation that tremored up the forearm of my preferred killing hand when I violently stabbed it in both of its eyes. The glissandos of agony when I punctured its leg all the way through its flabby limb. The manner in which I ripped open its guts with unrestrained fury. If only there was even a single candle to illuminate my masterpiece at that juncture. I could feel my victim twisting and writhing beneath me and I felt the waves of blood erupting from the severed femoral artery in its right leg as it splashed upon my hunting gear.

     As my husband pummeled away at my Elysium, and by extension my entire body as I shook and twisted beneath his assaults, I could hear the tendons snapping in that biped’s wrist as I ripped off its hand with aggressive artlessness. My prize, courtesy of my bloody bride. A prize that was well used and savoured once I had returned to my babes within that apartment.

     Then there was its mate whom I had nearly decapitated as its blood sluggishly gurgled onto the pillow, and then sideways as it slithered upon the floor. The laudanum would be responsible for that effect. That biped did not emit any actual response, truth be told. Its eyes did not even open as its frame began to slightly shiver. It gave off a slight choking gasp for only a second and then its dry lips closed themselves once more. Its death was less dramatic than the others by far, but the subtleties and the nuances of its demise were still pleasant to witness.

     And then there was the last one, the female offspring of the previous two victims. With the razor strop I beat that creature black and blue, front and back, up and down, as I held it by the throat in such a manner so as to not leave any contusions upon its neck. I did not hurry with that one, and once I began to swing, I did not speak either. Four times that biped fell unconscious as the black and purple impressions were all but changing it from a Caucasoid biped to a new and different race altogether.

     Finally, it was ready for Act III, which I implemented upon its rectal cavity with the handle of my bayonet. I could have used a more suitable device, I suppose, but I wanted to use something that I was going to keep for the rest of my life as a reminder, much like those ten ugly white lines upon the tops of my thighs. By then my victim was too dispirited to make any serious protestations. It wept quietly as I continued with this viciously personal ministration. All of its fantasies of killing its brothers, and assuming dominion over the family purse, as well as its future as a power broker of note, were now being washed off of its cheeks.

     All of those impressions were what were bubbling through my mind as my husband furiously rammed home his passions as I was screaming into the pillows and crying with ecstasies best screamed and yet untold in any intelligible fashion. The passions that I was feeling though were blazing from within, not without. It was feeling to me as though my husband was but some sort of a sexualized engine. Something that I had invented from a pile of cogs, pulleys, gears, conveyor belts, drive trains, and a paddle-wheel deeply embedded within the rapids of a loud and raging river in order to turn the engine at the most intense rate of revolutions-per-minute permissible.

     At the conclusion of the act, the last time we did so, whilst his seed reluctantly exited my Elysium upon the discovery of an already developing foetus, I came to some more disturbing impressions. My tiny self was propped up against his side as his hand idly stroked my sweaty black curled hair. I was smoking a cheroot that I did not particularly crave for. The only time I ever smoke within the bed that I am sharing with him is after we make the beast with two backs. Otherwise, I respect his space and perform my only vice somewhere else away from him. My husband does not imbibe in the tobacco habit but if I did not smoke just then he would be of the assumption that the moment was less-than-pleasing for me, so I puffed away, and I watched the fragrant blue clouds burn themselves up as they waltzed amongst the yellowish candle flames.

     As I have boastfully declared my husband is 2 meters tall and weighs 20 stone, and by no means is he corpulent. He is very large and quite powerful physically, and his aspect is quite handsome to look upon whether he is attired or dishabille. And yet, having applied the scientific method, I’ve arrived at the same outcome for the past 11 sessions within his embrace. The dead hand that I had amputated from my victim, felt more “real” inside of my Elysium than my husband’s very living body. I felt more attuned to that stolen paw of meat wrapped around several bony sticks than I did my husband’s entire fleshly form. It was as though when I rammed that middle finger past my rosy gates, I had bestowed some semblance of “life” to that otherwise dead slab of tissue. That sexual device was mine by divine right as a predator, and as such I had imbued it with some special sense of status and meaning.

     Only the images of my victims, and how I destroyed them, are capable of igniting my flesh to its orgasmic destination many times over when I engage with James, and yet his passionate approach to the sex act has not diminished one iota. In theory, if my husband were a complete stranger who had caught my small self unawares within my bedchambers, and proceeded to brutally rape me, those beautifully black memories within my mind would serve to bring my flesh to the same pleasurable destination. And yet, if I had somehow lost the ability to effortlessly conjure forth those sights, those sounds, and the sensations of those sensuous caresses of my victim’s blood upon my body, then all of my husband’s most ardent of efforts would leave me feeling cold and dead within. My Elysium would be desert dry and unpleasantly rough to the touch. Like many young women, I had equated the sex act with passion, and for a brief sum of years, I was more than satisfied within that belief thanks to James. Now, I had to accept that for myself the deepest, the darkest, the sweetest, and the hardest ecstasies were contained within the visceral comprehension that the foundation for the best sexual experiences were no longer rooted in passion.

     They were rooted in power.

     Specifically, the power of life and death by my hand and my hand alone.

     And as such when my central nervous system trickled back downwards to its more normal rate of functionality, there was also a slow and sinking sensation within my guts, a certain gloomy form of anger. The white radiance would beckon for me at those times. She was my new best friend, the reflection that I had fallen in love with within the glass inside of my last victim’s bedchamber, and she knew all of the best games to play that she knew that I would find to be endlessly joyous. Telling my new best friend that I could not go without and play with her within someone else’s manse was a deplorable thing that silently left me feeling low and mean. That half of a loaf that my southern mouth was being fed by my husband was no longer maintaining my emotional existence and I could not tell him the “why” of it. I could not because I knew that hunting bipeds for blood and sport, as well as my private celebrations afterwards, would unduly unsettle him.

     To my husband war was the only viable venue for the express release of “the animal spirits” that rule human beings from deep within their minds. As far as he knew, as far as he insistently wished to know, the murders of those three bipeds were murders of necessity. The first to preserve our secret, and the other two in order to have a pair of thieves released from the tollhouse in order to violently acquire gold for our benefit. His preferred conception of those killings is that they were coldly carried forth with the dispassionate manner of the surgeon along with the touch of an artist. They were made to seem a certain way for the express purpose of achieving a pragmatic outcome. I knew better, thanks to that stag upon my mountain. I knew that I could achieve that pragmatic outcome whilst at the same time feeding my newfound needs. James never requested that I elaborate for his satisfaction what exactly took place when I performed those wonderful killings, but I know how he thinks even if I do not always know what he thinks. To him war and crime are opposing forces. To me they are synonymous.

     Needless to say, Charles Halloran was not the only one in the midst of a metamorphosis. The only question that lingered for me was, short of the grave, where does my metamorphosis end? What is the end result for the character of “Katherine Pendleton” within this latest volume that she is crafting with the blood of her victims?

     As a compounding complication my new best friend was a very jealous girl. She did not want to share me with anyone when it came to the hunt. That meant that even if I could entice my husband to join me in my revelries she would not have it. Those moments were for us alone and she would whisper to me that we neither needed, nor required a man to lend us any form of assistance. To augment her assertion, she would visit me in my dreams and I would see myself from without, adorned only in my doe-skin boots, caked with an admixture of stag blood and dirt, my black curled hair hanging unkempt slathered with sweat and even more stag blood as some of those ebony hanks were plastered to the sides of my face, whilst the lengthier coils sought out my shoulders and my breasts. Across my broad shoulders was the stag that I had brought down, alone, with only my infant daughter to serve as an extra set of ears within the forest. The stag was dressed down with a hollowed-out cavern where its vital organs resided shortly before I took out it legs and tortured it to death. The dead face of the stag was perched upon my breast and my daughter was slumbering just beneath that countenance of lifeless misery. I could see my distended, blood-soaked belly where my second daughter, Lillian, was close to making her auspicious debut.

     Upon reflection, I was amazed that I could walk upright considering how physically unbalanced I must have appeared. My Mongolian bow was diagonally draped across my back and my quivers were lashed to my thighs. My bayonet was sheathed across my abdomen for immediate access. I could see the well-formed muscles ripple and undulate within my legs as I slowly stepped with a soft and svelte grace that only required a Bach nocturne to perfect the vision. Through the leaves upon the branches I could hear the breeze softly rustling and it was from within that audible source that my new best friend would whisper to me, “Look at that beautiful girl. The only thing that that lovely phantom requires is the dogmatic adherence towards the belief that absolute power is equivalent to absolute freedom. Nothing more.” In turn, I could see my feral face whisper, “I need you as well. I need your power because intellect alone is not enough to win these games.” For a second that breeze took on the strength of a gale and that voice seemed to blow itself straight into my face. Inside of that second, she uttered only one syllable, “DONE”. And when I awoke I understood that my internal course was set in accordance with my external ambitions. I was going to be what I needed to be, and the Paradigm was going to happen as per my calculations, but the price for playing these games within the darkness was that I could not take on any partners. I had to hunt alone.

     My ruminations were sharply disrupted when the hack gave off one last scream and then he stopped as his battered and bloody fists fell to the sod. After he had deleted my victim’s name with his waste, he hyper-dramatically proceeded to pound the granite. Regretfully he was intelligent enough to not pound his knuckles into the feces. If he did the pathogens would have invaded those contusions and then his hands would have become mortally infected with septicemia. At the very least half of his forearms would have been amputated. The application of morphine would have to be applied upon the judicious side lest he slip into a narcotized state of shock. Meaning he would have been in no small amount of agony when the surgeon took the bone-saw to his radius and his ulna, then he would have to cauterize the stump with hot black tar. His screams then would have been very authentic and most pleasing to my ears. Then I could have shipped him off to Harvard, (assuming he survived the procedure), whereby he could learn how to read case law whilst flipping through the pages with a pair of hooks for hands. Doubtlessly he would have made for an attractive catch for some local cow in Cambridge.

     Charles settled for urinating upon the angelic representation of my last victim and then the celebration of its demise came to a close.”

     Charles Halloran ruthlessly demonstrated that he was no gentleman when it came to taking down banks. Within the first three months of their new career the Brothers Halloran became the scourges of New England and Charles had killed no less than a dozen redcoats and another 10 Loyalist paid-swords employed by the banks to protect their gold.

     Charles added an extra flair to their robberies. At the first bank that they robbed he brought with him a wine bottle filled with whale oil plugged with a cork. His brother asked him what that was for and Charles told him it was a surprise for the Loyalists. When they arrived at a suitable establishment Charles pulled out of his coat a flag, the original “stars and bars” of the 13 Colonies implemented by the Massachusetts Navy in 1776. He stuffed a portion of the flag into the wine bottle and he lit up a taper. They then went inside and before anyone could say a word, Charles blasted a pair of armed guards in the face with a set of his 8 muskets. That was Simon’s cue to jump the counter and go for the gold.

     Charles would then wave around another musket as he boyishly giggled whilst bouncing upon the balls of his feet. Obviously, no one gave them any trouble at that point because the bank’s patrons were in a state of stupefied shock to see the hired gun’s brains leaking down the walls as their bodies laid slumped upon the floor like a couple of sacks of garbage.

     To give Simon his due, he was both fast and thorough as he grabbed every single gold coin in the place in less than two minutes. As they proceeded to make their exit, Charles would light up his Molotov Cocktail, and he’d hold his flaming firebomb aloft with the red, white, and blue merrily blazing away within his massive fist. He would then shout in that smart-sounding mid-Atlantic accent. “DO YOU KNOW WHAT THE F—K THIS IS, A——S? THIS IS AMERICA, M———–S AND WE DO THINGS F—–G DIFFERENTLY HERE”. He would then fling it straight at the back wall behind the counter. Instantly it would create a wave of fire that would frighten the entire city as they took off with their loot rocketing down what would someday be known as Manhattan. You had to give the homicidally rambunctious young man his due. He knew, if only upon the instinctive level in conjunction with his still-childish imagination, that the symbol of a flaming flag being used as a weapon would make him and his prissy-looking brother seem more like rebels, and less like a pair of murderous thieves. It was a stroke of genius, really and its propagandistic value couldn’t be underestimated.

     When the stories began to spread about the brothers Halloran, the Revolutionaries knew that the Irish boys from the deep South were definitely on their side. They had heard through the grapevine, via James Pendleton, that they were using stolen British gold to finance the war down there in the colony of Georgia. To the northern farmers it was both fine and fair what they were doing to the banks, brokerage houses, and other prosperous establishments that were openly Loyalist. Whenever those lads hit the open country they knew that there were friendlies surrounding them and that they would take them in when their horses became ragged. They tended to ride hard with very few rest periods, if at all possible. Typically, they would hit up a farm, slip the farmer a few sovereigns, acquire a huge meal of the meat and potatoes variety along with a massive mug of coffee, trade off their spent horses, reload their muskets, get whatever intel the farmer had regarding revolutionary activity in the region, and then blast off until those horses became ragged, and they would repeat the process. To be fair to Simon that was his idea based upon the post riders that Genghis Khan would use as a rapid means of communicating with his troops over great distances.

     What they had established was a circuit because they would swing into other major cities such as Boston, Philadelphia, and the like, and burn down a bank there as well before whipping off into the countryside once more. Those lads didn’t sleep if at all possible. Charles was far too manic to crash and Simon was way too paranoid and angry. When they did bed down, finally, they made it a point of sleeping inside the stables encased within the same stalls as their fresh horses. One of them would be awake, with his Mongolian bow at the ready, and the farmers would have someone working the night shift as well watching the dirt pathways that people referred to as “roads” back then in 1777. Only when their saddlebags couldn’t hold even one more sovereign did they focus on getting back to home base and then they would just ride as hard as they could as close to non-stop as possible.

     According to Charles every farm that they hit the farmers would give him more flags and bottles of whale oil. Again, that surprising young man would exercise that apparent savant that he had for public relations. He would get the farmers to inscribe their most profane utterances upon the bottles and the flags with a grease pencil. He would promise to use that firebomb at the next bank that he and his brother robbed. Believe it or not, he actually kept that promise. He would keep his fiery messages chronologically lined up in a large leather backpack, like files in a cabinet, and when he did slaughter more cops, soldiers, and mercenaries he would make it a point of gleefully reciting the vulgar sentiments inscribed upon the bomb before he flung it and burned down the bank.

     If he ate a quick meal he would wipe off the greasy remains from the plate that he ate from and then he would sign and date it. He would also autograph newspapers when they made a return trip to those farms. Simon wasn’t so much a stick-in-the-mud as he was simply freaked out that they had gotten away with another robbery. Frenetically he would be watching the countryside as though the hellhounds truly were on his trail. It was an interesting psychological phenomenon, really. It was as if there was a direct relationship betwixt his hatred and his paranoia. This was going to become a growing problem as time went by.

     Those guys would hit home base in a matter of a couple weeks doing that and the financial outlay for using that method wasn’t all that much compared to how much swag they were stealing.

     Katherine’s three-year investment paid itself off in those first three months and then after that it was all profit. That was only made possible because the Pendletons of Savannah were ripping off the Sons of Liberty over the course of those three months before the southern revolutionaries started to see a single gold coin of their own. Only after Mr. and Mrs. Pendleton made back the massive sums that they first spent on their personal expenses were they then content to take only their 25%. The SoL were quite pleased at that juncture to see their war chest rapidly begin to fill up since they were struggling to acquire provisions from their French allies.

     Entering the city of self-deception was a bit tricky for them. They could only enter at night as they walked their horses whilst trying to be as unobtrusive as possible. They knew that Loyalists were everywhere and even Charles had to concede that they were lucky more often than not. James Pendleton would meet them under the cover of night and then accompany them as an extra set of eyes and arms in case there was some sort of an ambush. It was becoming more and more apparent by the day that the English were in fact coming to the port city. What Katherine said to the Halloran girls wasn’t pure bunkum. Simon did accrue the latest information regarding troop movements from the farmers who witnessed the marches of the redcoats. He also made a note of what it was that they saw for themselves. Simon would hand Lieutenant Pendleton a detailed report based upon the latest intel. There was no room for doubt within the cavalry officer’s mind. The city was going to be captured in the foreseeable future.

     Then they would finally be able to rest once again as they stowed away their horses and took to their beds. Both lads would be in a coma for nigh upon 24 hours as the swag sat within the office upon the desk. The Lady Pendleton herself would be the one on sentry duty as she nursed her babies and quietly read the latest science journals with her Mongolian bow at the ready along with her Claymore, and a dozen muskets cocked and locked upon the drawing room table. James would be about the city meeting up with other members of SoL, and sharing with them the latest data about the activity that was going on more-or-less just above their heads. This in turn led to a spending binge with the French suppliers as they too were warned that the British were coming down to attack the city. That meant that the dreaded English navy would be on the way as well. It cannot be stressed heavily enough just how important Savannah was during the Revolution. If Savannah was permanently lost then the Revolution would be doomed.

     Irrespective of the “hows” and the “whys”, when Katherine killed the mother and the daughter, and subsequently got the brothers sprung from the joint, that was a stroke of pure genius on her part. Those lads played a very vital role in many ways, which went a long way towards exonerating the fact that they were just a couple of mad-dog killers who were enrichening their family in a very violent way. On the one side of the sovereign they were celebrity “freedom fighters”. On the other hand, they were just scum as far as the Loyalists were concerned. If those two had gotten captured they would have been tortured in retribution for the Hell that they were raising up and down the 13 Colonies. Every time they hit the trail their young lives hung in the balance but only Simon was capable of grasping that reality. To his younger, psychopathic brother, it was all fun and games. Good vibrations and wavy-gravy as he got to play cops and robbers on horseback like modern livetock boys and girls with their cap pistols.

     When the lads finally regained consciousness they would stumble to the kitchen to get some New Orleans coffee and then shuffle towards the office. When they got there, they would find two neat stacks of sovereigns on either end of the desk and one big stack in the center. They would also find a giant steak with fried potatoes and onions for each of them. If only because of Charles, Katherine always made sure that the BH faction got their 25%. The count was always right, and the cut was always accurate. She never ripped them off and Charles reciprocated by never burning her and her husband when they were on their way to the city of self-deception. The lads never buried a portion of their pirated treasure and TLP trusted Charles completely in that regard.

     Typically, members of the SoL would be meeting in the drawing room with Simon and James Pendleton. As detailed as his reports were, they would question him further regarding British troop activity. What the Georgia revolutionaries were trying to calculate was how much time did they have? Personally, I think Simon just enjoyed sitting with the big guys. Their deference made him feel important and it gave him a sense of place, as well as validation that he wasn’t just a mere thief, like that was a bad thing, or something.

     As for Charles he would have found such a meeting to be a tedious drag. So did The Lady Pendleton, truth be told. Once she read Simon’s reports she could make a solid calculation as regards to how long they had. She knew that the men needed to mull all of this over to excess because they were worried and mulling gave them a false sense of control inside of the moment. The reality is they were already doing everything they possibly could. They were buying up as much shot and powder as the French had to sell, and they had already moved their loved ones as far away from Savannah as they possibly could. I suppose it’s a shame that they weren’t aware of the Paradigm upon the mountain close to 400 miles away from the action. A million square feet can hide a lot of people. Katherine scotched that idea before her husband could even bring it up. She insisted that they would be trading one enemy for another because the Cherokee would assume that they were being invaded and they would react unfavourably. There wouldn’t be enough troops available to protect them if the natives attacked. She said it would be better to send them to places like Asheville instead.

     And so, while the men were grumbling about the situation above them, Katherine and Charles would be sitting before the hearth with their coffee, cigars, and pastries. Grace Gloria would be crawling about upon the Persian rug and Lillian would be napping within the pram.

     “The stout young man who sat only six feet away from me had lost some weight even as he was becoming wider and more muscular. Hard riding and even harder violence were having a benevolent effect upon the healthy posture of his bearing. Even so, I had to chastise him for the reckless risks he was undergoing, as I held aloft the front-page articles in the various gazettes that I had come across at the book and periodical shop. Unlike his inauspicious debut several months before, the artist’s rendering of his likeness was rather accurate, now. The hat, the scarf, and the flaming firebomb with the republican flag for a fuse were nicely detailed. The cheerfully happy smile was a touch too wide but it went well with the murderous gleam in his eyes, a noteworthy achievement when you consider that this was a reproduction of a woodcut pressed into the paper with only black ink to immortalize him. I’ve contemplated framing one of those portraits but I deemed that act to be too personal, too intimate for my husband’s liking. But even so I did sit before the fire on many evenings alone, and I did stare at that woodcut as I silently hoped that my intimate companion was safe and sound somewhere within the blackness of the 13 Colonies.

     “Tell me what you experience when you approach the bank, sir?”, I told him concernedly. He knew where this discussion was leading and his light-blue eyes frowned as he looked away towards the fire. It was that evening that he had bestowed upon me a new appellation.

     “I become something else, Sovereign. It ain’t me going in there. As I am walking up to the door I feel………..I feel what I am supposed to feel when my parent’s used to drag us to f—–g church, but I ain’t never felt it then, y’know what I mean? Those f—–g dolts they go inside the church and they reckon that the bloke on the stick is watching them, and he loves them, and he is going to take care of them. It ain’t true, Sovereign, but they get really f—–g happy pretending that some fake ghost loves them. I get happy like that when I am about to walk into the bank and start killing any f—–g a—–e with a weapon who happens to be inside the place. I get excited and I feel like a god lives inside of my guts, except it is a lady god, and she says to me, “Make them believe in you, Charles Halloran. Make them believe with fire and blood that my chosen few are the real gods of this world.”

     And then we walk in and everything gets quiet. I cannot hear the muskets when they fire. I cannot feel the recoil. I cannot hear the screaming and everything is moving really slow. The strangest thing, Sovereign, I’m standing there, jumping up and down with a fire bomb in one hand and a musket in the other, and I cannot feel my feet touching the floor. The lady god in my guts is doing all of the listening for me. A couple jobs ago I was standing in a bank in Pennsylvania and she said to me, “Behind you, Charles.” I turned around and it was like I was moving real slow but the two f——s with the muskets behind me were moving slower than I was. I pulled the trigger and the one f—–r’s face just turned to f—–g raspberry jam and a good chunk of his head just disappeared. The other f—-r was closer and he had the musket aimed right at my face, and just like your husband showed me I just dropped down, took two steps under his arm and as I did so I whipped out my bayonet and I ran it right across his f—–g guts. I got a face full of blood and y’know what, ma’am? That I felt. I felt that really good. It was hot and it was kind of………I don’t know, soft, I guess. It felt nice though, it did. I could not hear that f—–g dummy screaming, and even more, I could not hear myself laughing, Sovereign. The lady god in my guts she said, “It is time to leave, Charles.” Simon kind of grabbed my arm and he was screaming the same thing in my bloody face. So, I look at the firebomb in my hand like a f—–g dummy and people start running like Hell. I read what’s on the bottle and I ain’t going to tell you what it said because it was bad and it was y’know, sexual, but I threw it at the back wall like I always do, and it was only then when I heard the FOOOOMF, as the flames shot up the f—–g wall and it caught on the wooden beams, that everything was normal again.

     I always charge out of the door first and I blasted a couple more f—–s and Simon shot a few too. Then we just jump on our horses and I draw the Claymores with the reins in my teeth, and I just get down low with my swords pointed kind of sideways. After we got away Simon said to me that I was laughing like a lunatic as soon as we got inside and I shot those two birds but I did not hear anything, Sovereign. Nothing at all.”

     I found his concept of the “lady god in my guts” to be an intriguing notion. It reminded me of the voice in my head when I killed my first quadruped upon my terms. I did not think of that feminine voice as any sort of a deity but I did deem it to be a faithfully protective companion. It was the first of many times that I heard that voice and I have always welcomed it.

     “The lady god in your guts, does she speak to you often, sir?”, I said to him quietly as we sipped our New Orleans coffee and smoked our cheroots. Charles shook his head in the negative, “No, Sovereign, just when I’m on the job. Otherwise, I do not hear from her at all. I wish I did though. If I did I’d feel a lot less lonely.”

     He uttered that indication quietly and he was no longer smiling. He was pensive. I could feel the stirrings of something sympathetic within my chest as he stared at the blazing staves of hickory as the commingled waft of the spicy wood, the sweet tobacco, and the Allure de Lucifer that was creeping upwards from within his hat, swirled around and betwixt us both. Beyond that immediate region comprised of the polar bear skin, the two mammoth Oxblood leather armchairs, the black pram, and the now slumbering babe who was snoring softly upon that self-same fur rug, all else was darkness, and only the crackling of the firewood and the ticking of the imported grandfather clock from London, audibly served to remind us both that we were not speaking gentle truths from within the Abyss, beyond time and space. We were alive and we were both trapped within a complicated compendium of the most personal of needs. Some of those needs could only be expressed violently. Other needs were of a prosaic nature and they could only be confessed to in the rarest of moments, and I helplessly felt more than a bit flattered. It is not an easy task for a young man to make a confession of that variety. The fear of being perceived by the other sex as a weakling is too monumental. Unless the young man in question is laboriously hunched over his parchments with his quill dripping with the ink of his heartfelt yearnings, he is honestly in a bad spot when it comes to such articulations. What did he have at his disposal to alleviate his sense of emotional emptiness?

     The only girls he met when he was on the case were all farmer’s daughters, and doubtlessly, at least statistically, a slight minority would be pleasing in their aspects, but they were all mooning over boys that they could entice into becoming husbands. Worse than husbands to be frank. They wanted to slam a yoke upon my Cossack’s broad shoulders and drive him like an ox upon their daddy’s farms 6 days a week for 16 hours a day. A slave, worse than an indentured servant from the old sod, if only because those unlucky Irish losers only have to serve a definite sentence of usually ten years, and then they are liberated from their shackles whereby they become free citizens in the new world that they had been transported to. Charles would have been a slave forever, and the worst kind of slave. He would have been the sort of field hand who was deliberately deluded into believing that he was “the man of the house”, the Paterfamilias, the boss of all things domestic as opposed to being the fop that was gently broken, and yet ruthlessly dominated at the soft and sweet hands of a Machiavellian.

     As miserable as life is for a slave of African origin at least they are under no illusions as regards to their status. They know exactly what they are, and they know who exactly is in control of their existence. Naively ignorant livestock lads, once they succumb to the lure of the rural siren, become incarcerated within a bad joke that will kill them before their time.

     On Sunday this hypothetical feminine overlord would stuff my emotionally-intimate companion into a stiff black suit with the starched white collar threatening to slice his throat whilst the chafing from his grey tweed trousers would burn the insides of his legs from his nether region to his knees. The black shoes would compress his feet like a pair of boa constrictors. The missus could then drag her trophy across the threshold into whatever fantasy factory that she paid homage to within, as her mama beams at her proudly for ensnaring a trainable ape of her own with her dulcet promises of unwavering fidelity, flattery of the most synthetic brands of sincerity, and of course quim but only for the express purposes of procreation as per the dictates of the “fake ghost” nailed to the wall looking down upon him like an obscenely mocking clown of the most reprehensible sort.

     All of the good burghers in whatever wretched little town that he became trapped within would always treat him like the stranger, the outsider. They would say he was, “A good sort but he’s not one of us. Not exactly.” The little woman would plead upon his behalf to allow him to join whatever clubs and associations that this respectable little prison colony would have to offer. Doubtlessly, he’d become a Mason and they would endeavour to fill his head with their mystic-sounding nonsense. In reality, clubs like that exist strictly for the purposes of the old men telling the young men that destroying their bodies upon daddy’s farm, and expanding that farm with purchases of more acreage in the years to come, is part of the Universal Plan as per the admonitions of the Supreme Being, the Grand Engineer who guides the fates of all and sundry with His Divine Hand upon the Square and the Level for some sublimely esoteric purpose. The real joke of course being that while “de menfolk” grunt and gurgle away pointlessly like Roman patricians, it’s “de womenfolk”, who in reality have their hands upon the square and the level, and they are the ones who are the real engineers, social engineers if you will, because they have an entire gender, with the rarest of exceptions, convinced that they are the lords and masters of everything.

     No sane man would take on the crippling burdens of becoming a farmer, a profession that kills and maims men more brutally than any war that has ever been fought in the past two thousand years, unless he was first mesmerized into believing that he was somehow of a superior gender, almost a member of a separate race hammered into existence upon Vulcan’s anvil and sent down from Olympus to rescue all of those lowly inferior women from the threat of extinction, and as such he had a moral responsibility to his God, his country, his family, and especially to his woman, to willingly place that yoke upon his own shoulders and subsequently die an agonizingly slow and pointless death whilst being placated at every turn with the most hollow of praises to go along with his “male privilege” of sitting at the head of the table and carving up whatever meat the little woman laid forth for the sustenance of his living responsibilities.

     And the truly distressing part of that vision is that if Charles did in fact accept the bait and marry one of those curs, once she had him nicely broken in like a pair of riding boots, she would spend the rest of her life envisioning him as he first was. The wildly exuberant criminal that he currently is when she first met him, every time she spreads her doughy limbs like a starfish, and deigns to offer him his “due” because he was “the man of the house”. If the matron had any imagination at all during those magic moments, she would use the same trickery that I use, except that instead of filling her otherwise empty head with actual memories of actually bloody deeds, she would be recalling when she first spread her trap open for the wild boy who was now a broken ghost of a man.

     No, I would personally destroy that entire hypothetical family before I would allow him to be made a fool of to that degree. He was not livestock, he was a predator, and I felt a surge of silent gratitude that at least he was intelligent enough to quietly concede that he needed something else to quell the emptiness within his heart. I know what he wants, what he feels he needs, and truthfully, I regretted that I did not have more to give him just there and then. I honestly wish that I had something more for him to hold onto when the black dogs of loneliness seized upon his thoughts.

     “What do you do when you feel lonely, sir?”, I asked quietly.

     “I read your book every day, Sovereign. Not the one that you wrote. I make copies of what you wrote. Your copy is in a strongbox locked inside of my room in Asheville, but I read the words that you wrote every day. I have seen Simon do that with his school books before we got arrested. He used to say to me that that is the best way to learn something is to write it out and then read it out loud until you understand it. That’s what I do with your book.”

     “Does your brother suspect that you have that book?”

     “No, no, Sovereign. I only read when I know he’s asleep. It’s not a very long book but it says a lot. I want to learn to be like you and it takes my mind off of things y’know?”

     I reached over and I grabbed his massive hand. It startled him and he looked at me with wide-eyed surprise as I gripped it with no meager amount of emphasis. When I knew I had his complete attention I gave him a short speech that I had prepared ahead of time for a moment of this nature.

     “Anything that is good, anything that is worth having, comes with a steep price attached to the item in question. The steeper the price, the better the item. You can always go to a brothel when you feel the need to vent the sort of urges that young people such as us are prey to. You can even secure the services of a doxie that more or less resembles me. Small, voluptuous, dark-eyed, she might even be able to provide you with a certain level of conversation. It may not be intelligent conversation but it will bear a certain quantity of entertainment value. If you provide her with enough sovereigns she will even allow you to hold onto her while you sleep, though it would be in your best interests to hide the rest of the swag where she cannot steal it. Being robbed by a whore would be a mortifying experience for you to explain to me, and it would have an adverse effect upon my estimation of you, truthfully.

     The point that I am getting at, sir, is this. Only one man has ever been inside of me, and only one man will ever be inside of me until he dies. Having said that, Charles, only one man has ever been inside of my mind, and only one man will ever have access to that part of me. Not even the man who has plied my flesh abundantly for a number of years now has ever had access to the ways and means of my thought patterns. I have provided him with advice numerous times, but that is nothing more than me solving a riddle. It is not the same thing as confiding in him. It is not the same thing as allowing him to see what transpires behind my nearly-black eyes. That journal that I gave you is my attempt at allowing you to get to know me. It is a first step. If I physically offered myself to you, the gravest risk I take is that you would not be able to gratify me. That journal, and the private conversations that you and I have been conducting, harbour much greater risks for me than the mere lack of an orgasm. A whore can fill in those parts of your loneliness that I cannot. I promise you, however, I will always remain faithful to you in the ways that truly matter, and you will be the only man who will know me as I truly am as time goes on.”

     Charles swallowed and then he took a deep draught of his coffee. He then hauled upon his cigar and he gave me a serious look. I knew I was about to be tested.

     “Do you pretend to be someone else with your husband, Sovereign?”, he asked with an edge of dread.

     “No. Having said that though there is much more to me that he does not need to know because it would be personally distressing to him. If he completely knew me as I am, the results would be catastrophic. Just telling you that much is a tremendous risk for me but that is how highly I regard your friendship.”, I said to him sincerely.

     “You have nothing to fear from me, Sovereign. I will take from you whatever you have to give me and I will keep it to myself, like the book that I have locked up in my strongbox. There is no one like you anywhere, certainly not in some f—–g cathouse. I honestly cannot believe you said that, Katherine.”, Charles said as he started to laugh and his boyish smile returned as his stout body began to tremble within the armchair. I passed the test and I was being honest with him. The only thing I was never going to tell him about was the Paradigm, but that was a singular fact. He was going to honestly know who and how I am though as a singular woman. He was going to know just how I operate as a black widow sovereign, and he was going to know just why it is that I frighten him so even as I arouse him simultaneously.

     I began laughing alongside him and it was a genuine laugh, it truly was, and to me that was better than an orgasm. I can take care of my own needs in that regard but I needed my young criminal Cossack to lighten the emotional burdens that weigh upon my consciousness. I was a selfish woman but I did reciprocate on par with what I took from him, as well as what I took from my husband for that matter. The laughter became louder and my first daughter rolled over onto her back betwixt us and she began to laugh along with us as her little nearly black-eyes opened up widely and she pointed one arm at each of us.

     “Better the cathouse than the farmhouse, sir. At least with a whore you can leave after you have achieved your release without any resistance. At least with a whore if you get her pregnant you have no obligations to her. The universe gave you opposable thumbs for a reason when you are at the farm and temptation saunters by whistling a lovely tune as she gives you a deep curtsy whilst eyeing you up and down like you are the solution to all of her problems. All you need to do is excuse yourself and go into the privy. Do I even need to explain the rest of the procedure to you, Charles?”, I asked as I began to guffaw some more as my very pregnant belly began to wobble and jiggle. Charles actually sprayed a mouthful of coffee into the hearth and he began to laugh and gag simultaneously as his light-blue eyes began to protrude from their sockets. He began to cough as I squeezed his hand.

     “Breathe, young Halloran, breathe.”, I jested and his laughter began to dominate the air betwixt us.

     “The farmers always have their sons hanging around me like a cheap suit of clothes, Sovereign. They say it is for my protection.”, he semi-wheezed as his laughter began to abate.

     “They are right. They are protecting you. Find yourself a halfway-acceptable doxie, and I will take care of the rest for as long as we both shall live.”

     “And you would not lose any respect for me, if I did that?”

     “Why, for being intelligent enough to follow good advice when I give it to you? Of course I would respect you. Betwixt the doxie and I, you would have two honest relationships in your life. One who cannot stop from you from leaving when the sun rises, providing you give your wayward angel her well-earned sovereigns first, and this black widow next to you who will always be happy to see you and spend time with you providing you remain loyal to her in the ways that truly matter.

     As long as you do not fall in love with the doxie you should be copacetic but even if that potentially negative situation occurred at the very least you would know beforehand what kind of a girl you are dealing with, and the last thing that such a creature will desire is to be trapped upon a farm somewhere birthing a slew of wee bairns and performing a host of gruelling chores all day. Such a creature will want to dwell in the lap of luxury in a cosmopolitan setting, quite probably in Paris. Paris is the Mecca of whores and only in Paris can a whore establish her own salon and entertain many suitable gentlemen callers who will serve with distinction to her advantage if they can afford what she has to offer. In short the doxie that takes a fancy to you will deem you to be a stepping stone towards bigger fare within a bigger world.

     That does not mean, however that you cannot find one that you enjoy talking to before and after the magic moment. Some of them, I imagine can be rather amusing, if they are any good at their craft. I imagine that being rogered by Charles Halloran, The Scourge of the 13 Colonies, would be a rather powerful status symbol for them. Mayhaps they will even offer you a discount for their ahem intimate services.”

     “That is not going to happen, ma’am. I can promise you. Like you said, a whore is just a thief, and those farm girls are just f—–g liars looking for a husband.”, he mumbled as he finished his cup of New Orleans coffee.

     “Infatuation is a pernicious disease, Mr. Halloran. It is worse than syphilis.”, I said with a level does of gravitas.

     “I do not know what that is, ma’am.”, he quietly said as he stared straight at me and he squeezed my hand with a tightly firm sense of assurance. The smile on his face somehow magically took on a form of depth that crept upwards into his light-blue eyes. This was all of the direct physicality that we were allowed to have and even then, a gesture rife with such a depth of intimacy would look incriminating to the extreme if my husband walked into the drawing room just now. I squeezed his hand back with all of the power that I had. I wanted this moment and I was going to take it and hang onto it for as long possible. As far as I could see, I earned it, and as I continued to stare into his pleasantly boyish face I construed that passion and intimacy weren’t the same thing, but they were both powerfully equal realities. I needed both in order to reinforce my motivations to push forth with my ambitions for the Paradigm.

     The difference betwixt the moment that I was silently enmeshed within just then, and that quiet moment that I had shared with my husband upon the lounge, was profound within its simplicity. When I was laying upon James, as he held me whilst drowsing, I was ensconced within my own contemplations. I was within myself, the self that my husband is not aware of. The self that I am committed he will never know. With Charles just there and then, I was externalizing the experience. Upon reflection I cannot say that I was actually “thinking”, or contemplating anything. I was in a state of being, a state of emotional communion with a young man whom I had rescued from a miserable fate. I made that decision from a place of rational pragmatism. In a matter of only a few short months the young man I was holding hands with whilst staring into his eyes had recouped every sovereign that I had spent to purchase the mountain and construct the Paradigm. Now he was in the process of expanding the fortune that would sizably augment the considerable sum that James and I already possess. From the perspective of biological imperative my husband was unwittingly assisting me to build a much bigger future than he was aware of. From the perspective of economics so was Mr. Halloran, and truthfully, he too was at sea as regards to my personal machinations. And yet it dawned within my very pregnant guts that because of my predatory nature, my discovery of the very physical lust that I have embraced for the hunt, I had become my own source of passion. I had uncovered a methodology towards assuaging that pitch-black need that is always slowly circling my thoughts. And yet it was apparent, as we held hands like young lovers at the church dance, I was confronting James’ limitations as I myself was continuing my metamorphosis, and hence I was expanding upon my own limitations. I could not deny, and frankly I did not wish to deny, that his prominence was diminishing whilst the young man beside me had gleefully jumped the fence from being a merely tactical investment into becoming a companion that I was deeply beginning to appreciate. There and then I had reconciled within my breast that Charles Halloran would be irreplaceable if there was some sort of an unforeseen event.

     How did this state of mind happen so rapidly?

     “You need to be more careful, Charles.”, I said to him sternly, “This is not a game that you are playing with your chums upon the rugby pitch.”

     “I cannot help myself, Lady Pendleton. Like I said, the lady god in my guts takes me over when I approach the bank and everything becomes like a wild dream. I cannot do it any differently. She will not let me and honestly, I do not want to do it any other way. If she was trying to kill me I would already be f—–g dead, y’know? Me and her have been in a lot of affrays and we have killed a lot of a——s already. I trust her like I trust you. You and her are all that I have got.”

     “You do not have faith in your brother in a combat situation?”, I inquired severely.
“No, Sovereign, I do not. I am not saying that he is a f—–g ponce, or some kind of a coward, but he is not that good of a fighter, not like me or your husband, and the only reason why your husband is a good fighter is because he is big and he has a reputation for being a f—–g madman on the battlefield.”

     I was surprised by the shock of dread that instantly coursed through my pregnant guts when he spontaneously said that. The very suddenness of that vitriolic criticism was all the proof I required that he was being fatally sincere. The alarum of warning was ringing loudly within my brain.

     “You do not want to engage with him, young sir, I can assure you, you do not. James has definite talent and skill when it comes to the art of death.”, I said concretely as I privately hoped I could stuff that Djinn back within its lamp.

     “If you say it is so then I believe you, Sovereign, but it seems to me that the secret to his victories is the fact that he scares the s—t out of his opponents. I cannot help wondering if he has ever danced with someone who was not scared of him? If you say he is good then I believe you, but I want you to believe me when I tell you that I am getting better, and your husband does not f—–g scare me at all.”

     The thing that made his comment secretly unnerving was that he had that wide boyish smile on his face when he said it and his light-blue eyes were glittering as though he was actively fantasizing about what it would be like to engage in a death duel with James. What was even more unnerving than that was the fact that he wasn’t speaking from a place of mere braggadocio. He was speaking from a place whereby he has already commenced the habit of killing men who were doubtlessly bigger than himself. Men who in all probability were not as large as my husband but who were at least 6 feet in comparison to Charles’ five feet-five inches. Men who carried themselves with the swaggering attitude that they were hard men in a mortal situation until they had to face off against a stoutly diminutive boy of 13 who has begun to relish the experience of killing giants, and then as his reward, he could savour having their hot screaming blood baptising his happily murderous face. Would the day come when Charles would challenge my husband for no reason other than he was there and he had a certain reputation? There was no lady god dwelling inside of my guts along with my child, but I did indeed possess a feeling from that region that stated that he probably would.

     “I would deem it a kindness if you did not pursue that line of thinking, sir. I would be the one who would be suffering for it for an inestimable amount of time because I am the one who would be expected to tolerate the loss of either one of two men who mean a great deal to me. Please do not do it, Mr. Halloran. If you emerged victorious from such a battle you would find out quite slowly why your fears of me are justified. If he emerged victorious I am the one who would have to make-believe for the rest of his life that your death was of little significance to me. Allow me this one selfish situation that the three of us currently have within our possession. You, your brother, your house servants, and your sisters will profit from it immensely if you release this phantastical desire of yours. I can promise you that, sir.”, I said with a quiet hiss that released no small amount of icy venom betwixt him and myself. There was no brag within my inflection. If Charles picked a duel with my husband and he won, I would destroy his brother, his house servants, and his sisters, and I would make him bear witness to their destruction before I took him apart piece by piece. I would feed his family to him before I broke him apart physically. An empty belly has no conscience. It would require an act of retribution of that magnitude to assuage the rage that would be roiling within my flesh for having my Paradigm thwarted.

     The smile faded from his face. I could not know for certain what sort of countenance I bore just then but if his reflection was any sort of an indication, my own visage must have been of the lethal variety. Once more there was a silence and it was deathly cold to the extreme. I have to grant Charles credit where it is due. At least he had the intelligence to inform me as regards to his opinion of my husband. He did not keep it hidden away like that original journal within the strongbox of his mind. He did not conduct himself within the shadows plotting a brutal death of someone who was important to me. Hypocritical, perhaps. After all, I myself did mentally do something much like that when I plotted the death of my first biped, who happened to be Charles’ paternal unit. Yet even so, the death of either James or my sturdy young Cossack, would be catastrophic to me, especially if it was the result of something incredibly pointless to begin with. There are many giants out there that my one and only confidante can destroy with my blessing. I only need two giants in my life for as long as possible and like the selfish woman that I know that I am, I intend to keep them both within the comfortable compartments that I’ve constructed for them for as long as they are capable of remaining faithful unto me.

     The possibility did flicker through my mind that he was in fact testing me to see if I was sincere as regards to allowing him to bear witness to the blackest contents of my actual mind. My rationally pragmatic self after several seconds of quietude concluded that that was not the case. Charles was not that devious when it came to games of the cerebral variety. In fact, I do not believe he was a manipulator in the slightest. He simply spoke his truth in a confidential moment and now he was witnessing my reaction to that truth. By then his face was solemnly pale. He gave a slight nod of comprehension as he looked back towards the fire.

     “You have no conception just how profound my gratitude is at this moment, sir. Thank you for trusting me with this ominous opinion.”, I softly whispered.

     “He does not deserve you, Katherine. No one f—–g deserves you, if you know what I mean. Black widows do not work like that. Killing me and my family ain’t going to change the f—–g truth about that one.”, he replied grimly.

     I had to concede I was impressed that he had the courage to say something of that ilk. And yet it was a peculiarly unique derivation upon the typical model of sexually-based jealousy. Instead of pedestalizing me in the manner reminiscent towards the odes dedicated to a Helen of Troy, a thing of untouchably superhuman beauty, he was asserting that my power was such that the conception of being faithfully committed to any man was somehow anathema to him. He honestly felt that I was somehow belittling and demeaning myself being in such a commonplace relationship. Charles wanted to look upwards towards me and pay me the proper homage as I occupied the center of my web in lieu of a throne, bereft of any attachments that even subtly reeked of commonplace domesticity. His Irish-based sense of blarney had taken a macabre detour to the extreme. He equated feminine beauty with evil, and to him evil was a force unto itself, like gravity. I was certainly being objectified but the question was, did I disdain the living symbol that he had made of me? I cannot say that I felt offended by his view of me. To him I was POWER in both intellect as well as physical beauty and POWER must reign alone.

     I have to confess the young man had a natural gift for surprising me. I was his supreme authority. He referred to me as a “Sovereign” so often that he was no longer conscious that he was doing it. He was not cognizant enough to flatter me, which paradoxically was the secret to his flattery. That made his brand of worship potentially dangerous if I chose to splay my consciousness widely and grant the quietly passionate thrust of his devotions access to my limited reserves of love and affection. A lack of deviousness does not equate with a lack of dangerousness. A liar can never be trusted hence one can always mentally safeguard themselves against them. A lover, even one of the strictly emotional strain however, is always able to destroy you because their sincerity makes them trustworthy. Trustworthy enough that they can establish a powerful position within your consciousness, whereby the unuttered threat of withdrawal lingers like the waft of one’s favourite scent upon a casually-extended gift. Charles Halloran was far more dangerous than he was aware of, and truth be told, the slow lull of his unintended seduction had begun to germinate within those chambers of my mind that my husband would never ever know. If James ever did uncover that growing reality, that death duel betwixt my one confidante, and my one bedmate, would be horrifically assured, and the triangulation of my ambitions would be murdered.

     “What I deserve is you both, and you will become a better man for leaving this arrangement as it is.”, I replied sternly, “Abide by me and you truly will have the best of me, much more so than what my husband is privy to. Otherwise, you will see me at my worst and there is no imprecation that I can conceive of at this moment that will even remotely be capable of elaborating what my definition of “worst” would be at that point in your truncated existence. Let it rest and trust me when I tell you that I always exist as a sole authority, regardless of my marriage. My husband does not dictate the terms of my reign, Charles. I promise you that. I make my own decisions, much like when I liberated you and your brother. Let this current reality remain as it is. Even if you win you shall lose, and even if you lose, I shall lose much more than you can imagine with your dying breath. As your Sovereign, I need you to step away from this desire of yours, immediately.”, I ordered him forcefully as I squeezed and shook his hand violently.

     Just then I could hear the office door proceed to open from down the corridor and I released his hand. Several loud and heavy footfalls began to echo towards the drawing room and instantly both my young Cossack and myself had our most pleasant faces firmly affixed once again. The American revolutionaries bore their glowering countenances of purposeful resolution. James appeared to be in an exceptionally baleful state. My husband bade farewell to half a dozen of them at the main entrance, and I could hear Simon tread his way up the stairway towards his bedchambers. With my aching vertebrae crackling and grinding in tandem, I stood upright and I could feel my third offspring lurch and kick within my uterus. Charles gently picked up Grace Gloria and placed her within the pram. He did it with such a soft and smooth flow of dexterity that she did not awaken as she draped her arm across Lillian’s shoulder.

     I could hear James making his way down the corridor as Charles scooped up his hat and scarf from the Persian rug beneath his feet. My husband entered the drawing room and he gave my sturdy young Cossack an appraising look as he looked downwards at him. It emoted a tone of severity. Charles squared both his feet and his wide shoulders as he stared straight back at James in a silently confrontational posture. To his credit, at least he didn’t rest his hands upon the pommels of his Claymores. and at least he was smiling. Since this was Charles Halloran we were referring to however, the smile was not reassuring, upon reflection. I could only contemplate if the lady god within his guts was telling him there and then just how exactly to make his attack, or mount his defence depending upon the situation at play. I rather had the dreadful impression that she was indeed telling him that he could defeat James if he succumbed once again to her sweet siren song of homicide.

     “Your notoriety will make you and your brother a pair of corpses long before the revolution is won. If you can disarm the adversary then you should and avoid acting violently if you can. Cease and desist with your penchant for needless slaughters.”, my husband said lowly with a grumbling edge that was not going to tolerate any dissent from his listener. Privately I had to condemn James for bearing that attitude. He himself did not bear a reputation for disarming his enemies upon the battlefield. Taking prisoners of war was not his penchant. Why should my Cossack be any different upon his personal battlefield?

     “Your wife has already roundly chastised me, and she pointed out the errors in my approaches, sir. I promise you, I shall try to do better in the future. I apologize for disappointing you so grievously, Lieutenant Pendleton. With the permission of you both I shall now bid you both good evening and retire to my chambers.”, Charles replied pleasantly with a patronizing edge of sarcasm as he walked towards my husband with a slow and chilling deliberation in order to physically articulate that he felt no sense of intimidation in the slightest towards the giant soldier before him. As he did so he did have his large mitts resting upon his Claymores and he made it a point of sustaining eye contact with my husband, along with a slight “Shall we dance?”-style grin at the corners of his wide mouth. Charles lightly brushed past him whilst my husband looked downwards at him, as though he was contemplating whether or not he had made the correct statement in the correct manner. The answer to that silent inquiry was a resounding “no”, and as far as moral victories go it was my confidante who had secured the victor’s circle in that verbal set-to that my babes and I paid witness to.

     Privately my pride in him was equivalent to the disappointment that I had in my husband just then. Such was the depths of young Mr. Halloran’s ardent penetrations into my most private of chambers. All three of us were inarguably existing within a precarious dynamic whereby the balance was resting upon a foundation of the flimsiest of fragilities. But still, at the very, very least my intimate companion did not succumb to anger. I had to concede that that moment told me all that I had required regarding how faithfully sincere Charles was in terms of how seriously he respected my authority. And yet, I had perceived my own husband as though I was looking at him and listening to him as though through the eyes and ears of my one and only friend. It was apparent to me that Charles was unfortunately correct in his assessment. My husband had somehow acquired the tendency of believing that he should have his own way in all things because of his fearsome reputation. James, it appeared to me, was undergoing a metamorphosis of his own. A change that he was not astute enough to keep hidden from anyone because he felt he did not need to.

     In my rationally pragmatic opinion it was my corner upon the summit of the triangle that was the fulcrum of the potential for disaster. The fate of the Paradigm, if not my very existence, was resting upon how I negotiated this web. I had to somehow make an ally out of luck. A dangerous friend at the best of times and not the sort of enemy that I ever wished to confront.

 

 

Psychotopia- Episode Four- Season 1

SUDBURY- LATE OCTOBER 1980- FRIDAY EVENING

     Well the rest of that week was alright, I guess. Miriam seemed to be in her happy place for the most part. She didn’t press her intimate demands on me too hard. Personally, I kind of figured she would have gotten an attitude over her apparent victory, of sorts, but she was actually pretty gracious. The days were spent dealing with the icy blackness and at night my sister would watch me sleep until the first dream hit, and then she’d monster-handle me until the violent dreams broke up and blew away like a good blizzard. By Friday she was able to stop the dreams pretty much the moment when they began. So as far as that went I was decently rested from there on in.

     I made some powerful discoveries about my sister come Thursday night. It was the day before Halloween and “John Carpenter’s, Halloween” was debuting on tv for the first time. I’ll admit at the time I was seriously interested in Jamie Lee Curtis ever since she was on a tv show called Operation Petticoat. Don’t ask what the show was about. It was fucking dumb but she was nice to look at.

     JCH had been out for a couple years. The trailer for the first movie used to give me a wicked thrill when I saw it on tv a couple of years ago back in the 70’s. I thought this would be a really cool movie to see. The interesting thing was that I wasn’t really a horror guy. I’d watch them but I would also watch westerns, (especially Clint Eastwood’s early stuff), comedies, sci-fi, action, and even romantic dramas if there was really nothing else to look at. You have to remember we only have three channels, and one of them was French. You take what you can get and you make the best of it. This, however, I really wanted to see.

     I just had to convince Miriam.

     We were hanging out in my bedroom quietly reading before suppertime. Miriam was at my desk and I was stretched out on the bed. It was the day before Halloween and the flick in question was going to be on in a few hours. It was either now or never. No guts, no glory. Go big or go home.

     “Miriam, babe?”, I said with a bit of a wheedling, conniving tone.

     She looked at me with a mix of suspicion and good humour. She put down the textbook she was reading on her own, Basic BASIC (An Introduction to computer programming in BASIC Language), and she looked at me kind of sideways. She caught the tone of my scheming voice and one corner of her mouth kind of arched slightly as though she was still deciding whether or not to be amused.

     “Yes?”, she replied in a friendly way as she turned towards me.

     I wound up on the mound and fired my first pitch straight down the middle.

     “There’s a really good movie playing tonight at 8 pm. We can glom the old portable from the kitchen and watch it in my bedroom. We’ll whip up some popcorn, get some Pepsi, and it’ll be a lot of fun. It’ll kind of be like a date except we’ll be watching the movie in bed and we’ll have dinner first at our usual table at Chez Miller. You’ll like it.”, I said putting the best spin on it as I possibly could. Using the words date” and “bed” in the same sentence with my 9-year old genius sister made me feel a little queasy but I knew she’d respond well to that.

     She smiled at me and walked up to study my face more closely. Her sense of humour was holding. That was a good sign. She placed both of her hands on my cheeks. That was becoming a regular thing with her. I think it was her way of heightening the intimacy between us.

     “Why is my beautiful babe trying so hard to convince me to watch a movie? He knows that anything we do together will be fun and intimate. He could have just said, “Here’s what I’ve got planned for tonight.”, and I would have been very agreeable. Haven’t I been completely reasonable lately?”, she said warmly. Friendly-sounding or not, she kept focusing her deep brown eyes on me as though I was holding back something really evil. Truthfully, she was more reasonable. Her mood swings had calmed down and she seemed to be feeling more reassured that whatever we were doing I wasn’t about to cut and run, or withhold my affection from her. It was time for me to look a little self-conscious as I swallowed and smiled shyly while I stared at her little Betty Rubble-sized feet.

     “Uhm, well, babe. It’s a scary movie, and I don’t know how well you do with scary movies.”, I said with some embarrassment. She maintained the crooked little grin and she still had the look of studious curiousity.

     “Well it’s the day before Halloween. There are plenty of scary movies on tv at this time of year. Scary movies are what make Halloween fun. Is it one of the Universal classics?”, she asked curiously. Jesus Christ, it was 1980. Who watched monster movies anymore? Once Abbot and Costello got in on the act that was pretty much it for those fuckers. I cranked up the embarrassment factor a few notches.

     “Uhm, no. It’s a modern film. It came out a couple years ago and it scared the fuck out of a lot of people. It looks really good though and I want to see it really bad but it might seriously freak you the fuck out.”. I said with some trepidation.

     “What’s it about?”, she asked more suspiciously as her deep brown eyes narrowed. My sister only brought her face closer to mine when she was either feeling extremely loving, or when she was trying to read my face for the truths I wasn’t telling her. Now came the fun part. I had to maintain eye contact while selling this idea.

     “Uhm, well, it’s about a guy who’s been locked away in a mental institution for a long time and he escapes the night before Halloween, and he goes back to his hometown, and he murders some people. Mostly girls.”, I said nervously.

     Miriam continued looking at me. She was stone still by now and her amused little grin began to break up.

     “So, we’re not talking about Alfred Hitchcock’s, “Psycho” here are we?”, she said levelly.

     “Uh, no. This movie is a bit more brutal than that, and how do you know about Psycho?”

     “Psycho is a cinematic masterpiece. I’m getting the impression that this is more of a slasher film. Are we essentially watching your fantasies writ large like secret pornography?”, she asked with a hint of steel.

     “Fuck, I don’t know, babe. It just looks fun.”, I replied with an edge of defensiveness.

     “Fun.”, she said woodenly.

     It was time for me to capture the debate.

     “Look, babe. I watch all kinds of movies. I read all kinds of books. I listen to whatever is on the radio. My………inner self feeds itself on what it sees in the real world. If we don’t watch this movie I will still feel the icy blackness on Monday morning. Probably not tomorrow night however, when we go trick or treating.”, I said with a charming and sneaky fucking grin.

     “We’re going out tomorrow night?”, she gasped with instant excitement. Holy shit, did the whole point of Halloween go right over her head? I tried to remember if she had ever gone trick-or-treating in her life. If she hadn’t, I was definitely going to be a fucking rock star tomorrow night.

     “Fuck yeah, we’re going out and we’re bringing two huge garbage bags because we’re starting at 5pm and we’re not coming home till at least 9pm because it’s a Friday. We’re plundering everybody in Minnow Lake.”. I said excitedly.

     See how I snuck the bribe in there?

     “You’re trying to bribe me so you can watch this movie.”, she suddenly said with some more steel in her voice.

     “Nope, I’ll take you out regardless of what we do tonight. Personally, it might be best if you hung out in your room and I can watch this thing by myself. Maybe you’ll finish that textbook you’re reading and then you show me how to operate my fucking calculator.”, I said trying to sound reasonable. Notice how I brought up a rational suggestion that would exclude her from doing something with me? She stared at her hands for about 30 seconds.

     “Sooooo, you reckon this film will only be a source of mere entertainment?”, she said thoughtfully.

     It was time to be funny.

     “I predict it’ll be a profoundly moving cultural experience. We’ll laugh, we’ll cry, we’ll learn how to love all over again, babe.”, I said cheerfully.

     “Are you attempting to be more articulate?”, she asked with a bit of a smile. Ha, I had pierced her armour of skepticism.

     “I’m trying to improve my fucking vocabulary.”, I said as I grabbed her and kissed her on top of the head, “Is it working, babe?”

     She looked at me and shook her head as she kind of blushed a little. She looked away for a minute and then she looked back.

     “Fine we’ll watch this cinematic extravaganza.”, she said with mock exasperation, “But I’m warning you if this scares me I’ll be sleeping with you for a long time.”

     Now I was starting to wonder who was working a fucking angle here. Oh well, she’s small, she won’t take up too much room. I’ll just make sure she’s wrapped in a blanket. It’ll feel less oogey that way.

     “And yet you were okay with Psycho?”, I said humorously.

     “Oh God no. I was so completely terrified I stopped bathing altogether for weeks. I was beginning to stink like a hippie and Mom thought I was trying to grow dreadlocks.”, she replied candidly.

     I couldn’t make myself look too eager. The worst time to get slack is when you think you’ve closed the deal.

     “Are you sure, babe? If it’s going to be a problem for you I wouldn’t want you to experience any kind of a freakout, y’know?”

     She gave me a steady look.

     “I would never dare watch something like that alone or with anyone else, but I would do almost anything as long as I was with you.”, she said solemnly. I pulled her in for a huge hug and kissed her on the cheek.

     “If it gets too intense for you we’ll turn it off, babe. Thank you.”, I whispered in her ear.

     At that time Mom called us down for supper. We ate our pork chops and mashed potatoes quietly. The scam was that Miriam was going to go to bed at her usual time at 7pm. I informed Mom and Dad I was taking her out tomorrow night. They seemed happy with that. Cait was going to some Halloween bash. I think she went out as a slutty witch, or a cat, or a frigging peeler. Whatever it was my parents weren’t impressed and it became some kind of high-pitched teen drama. She looked like a hosebag, I remember that much. Benny the Retard was just going to watch tv and play with his Hot Wheels.

     After supper I helped clean up. Once everything was put away I grabbed the portable black and white tv and I went upstairs. Miriam went in her room. She said she’d be coming at 7:45 pm. I quickly ran to the little store and grabbed some pop and popcorn. Once I got back home everything was coming together nicely.

     A few minutes later I had a huge bowl of popcorn and I zoomed upstairs. When I slipped into my bedroom Miriam was sitting on my bed with the tv on. I could hear the tv announcer on MCTV telling us Sudberians to not miss the world premiere of “John Carpenter’s, Halloween”. Quickly I threw on some sweats and an old black t-shirt. I put the bowl in front of my sister and then I put my sister in front of me while I sat against the headboard. I gave her a glass of Pepsi and turned out the lights.

     “This is going to be great.”, I said excitedly. I was practically butt dancing on the bed.

     “Just make sure you’re ready with those hands when you see the scary scene coming because if you’re too slow I’m going to scream.”, Miriam warned me anxiously. I pulled her backwards some more until she was fully leaning back against me. She had the blanket up to her chin and she was eating very slowly.

     “I’m right here, babe. It’s just a movie. This’ll be fun.”, I said reassuringly.

     Needless to say, my genius sister spent at least half of the movie with my hand over her mouth and my other hand over her eyes and she still tried to scream through the palm of my hand. Even just the music was freaking her out, which I have to admit sounded pretty fucking good. The heavy piano notes made her tremble against me. Every time I told her it was okay she would look with one squinted eye as her head was tilted kind of sideways. Every time Michael Myers threaten to appear I would cover her mouth and her eyes. Again, my meathead ignorance came through. It never occurred to me that she could still hear what was going on and she could make up her own horrifying conclusions.

     As for me, I fucking loved it. My favourite scene was when Michael Myers pinned the geek to the wall with the kitchen knife. How the guy didn’t just fall over was always a mystery to me. I mean we’re talking about fucking gravity here. Anyway, the best shot was at the moment when Michael Myers tilts his head sideways as he looks at the dead guy pinned to the wall like a master artist studying his latest creation. I can honestly say that that silent moment resonated with me. Slowly but surely, we made our way through the movie. We finally got to the climax.

     “Ok, babe you can watch, the obsessive psychiatrist is coming up the stairs right now, it’s almost over.”, I whispered to her. She pulled my hand down and she looked at the tv sideways through one eye. She squeeked and squirmed when she saw Michael Myers strangling Jamie Lee Curtis as they did the waltz of death in the hallway. When the .357 Colt Python boomed she turned full on towards the tv and she shouted:

     “Shoot him again.”, she yelled, “DIE YOU EVIL FUCKER.”, she shouted viciously.

     One thing now about my sister, as I attempted to at least be semi-articulate, she in turn had begun to embrace the poetic power of profanity, but only with me. I think that heightened the growing sense of emotional connection between us for her. Or maybe she was just being a standard Sudbury chick.

     Michael Myers fell off the balcony and he was laid out on the lawn. Then Jamie Lee Curtis was with Donald Pleasance, and she asked him if that was the boogeyman, and he said it was. He then went to go look outside on the lawn once more.

     And of course, the evil fucker was gone. It was a good scene but it felt kind of predictable.

     Immediately I slapped my hand over Miriam’s mouth before she could scream. Even then I could hear her pretty damn clearly throughout the bedroom. The creepy theme music made her start shaking again. When the credits started to roll she finally stopped screaming but still she shook and her eyes were wide with fear. She turned halfway and buried herself in my chest. It was like now she could freak out fully because the movie was finally over and she could express her fear without ruining my fun. I kind of felt like an asshole as I started rubbing her back. I just held onto her and I kept reassuring her.

     “It’s over, babe. We won’t watch another scary movie ever again. We’ll just watch The Three Stooges from now on.”, I said to her quietly as I rubbed her back. She was shaking like we had just witnessed a horrible car accident. But even then, she fought to rise above it. She was a fighter and I respected that about her.

     “Actually, I like The Marx Brothers. They’re wittier.”, she replied as her teeth chattered.

     I wrapped her tightly in the blanket and held her next to me. She was starting to slowly calm down some more. I was kind of rocking her. I knew if I let her calm down then in time she would start talking. After a few more minutes she reached over and turned off the tv. Then I reached over and set it on the floor. We laid like that in the darkness for a couple minutes, and then she started talking lowly and slowly.

     “I tend to absorb things and then they remain within me. It’s like I can’t release them.”, she whispered, “Those things, fearful things, angry things, stressful things, overwhelming things, depressing things, they just go down deep deep within and they fester. I can’t stop them from metastasizing. They weigh inside of me like a black fetus and then those things make dealing with everyday life intolerable.”

     “So, you can’t just push them away?”, I asked quietly. Her mouth was next to my ear at that point.

     “No. It takes some kind of an external element to induce the catharsis.”, she replied factually.

     “The what?”

     “The emotional release. It takes an external factor to drive it out of me.”, she said softly.

     “Ok. So, when I told you I loved you on the black hilltop was that an external factor?”, I asked curiously.

     She nodded. I could feel her soft, dark-brown hair brushing the side of my face as she did so.

     “Yes. Do I have to talk about that?”

     “Just one thing.”

     “Ok.”, she said nervously.

     “How did it feel when you were crying? How did it feel inside?”, I asked as I whispered the question into her ear.

     I could hear her swallow.

     “It felt like a great vacuum was sucking all of the poison out of my flesh. It felt like I had escaped from……………………..”

     “A demon that lives in your chest.”, I said grimly.

     She gasped and then she pulled her arms out of the blanket and buried her face in my shoulder as she held onto me as tightly as she could.

     “How did you know?”, she asked in complete wonder like I was the genius.

     “I have the same problem, sort of. Your demon enjoys feeling you suffer.”, I said factually.

     “And yours enjoys making others suffer until they’re dead.”, she replied with her own brand of certainty. Strangely that thought should have scared her a billion times more than the movie did but she seemed to take it in stride.

     “If you knew you were going to be affected this badly why did you agree to this?”, I said sternly. I could hear her exhale by my ear.

     “Because I love you that much. I would rather be with you than sit in my room and not be with you while you watch this movie. I figured maybe if I watched it I wouldn’t feel so scared………….and fucking weak.”. When she said “weak” she made it sound really bitter. “I thought maybe……..maybe I could absorb from you if not some of your sadism then at least a modicum of your apathy for human suffering. I know it was only a movie but still when the acting is good, and the cinematography is excellent, and the music is perfect it feels real to me. I thought I would be able to deal with it better. I was wrong.”, she said glumly. Telling her it was only a movie, a very well-made movie, wasn’t going to get her over the hump. Even imaginary experiences can become “real” to a certain kind of person. This was going to become very important in about 24 hours.

     I began brushing her hair with the hairbrush that I started keeping on my night table. After a couple minutes she seemed mellow enough but I had a tough question for her. I gently turned her around and lifted her into a kneeling position until I could see her face. I then placed my hands on her cheeks and looked straight into her eyes. Even though it was dark I could see the ambient light from outside glittering off of the right one.

     “You need to ask me something.”, she said calmly.

     “Yes”, I said slowly.

     “I know what you want to know. I’ll say it if it makes you feel too sick to ask.”, she said with a great amount of kindness as she placed her hands on my face as well and she placed her forehead against mine. To us this was the most emotionally intimate thing we could do. Normal adults would be doing something else that I didn’t want to think about.

     “No, I can say it. If absorbing negative situations makes you feel trapped and miserable, and also upset, how were you able to deal with me when I was in the corner of the room trapped inside my murderous dreams, considering y’know everything you saw and heard?”

     Admittedly asking that made me feel a lot closer to chundering. The unwanted image of her standing in front of me like that, god damn.

     “I just did what I knew only I could do. You needed me. I can’t explain it any better. Are you starting to understand just how deeply connected we are to each other? Who else can ever understand us like we understand each other? Who else would even accept us if they knew what we were really like?”, she said with quiet emphasis.

     “Well I can understand any other girl losing her fucking mind if she knew me as I was.”, I said with some humour.

     “She’d lose more than her mind, wouldn’t she?”, my sister asked gravely.

     “Yeah, she would.”, I replied as I tried half-assedly to bury the dark smile that suddenly lit up my face.

     “See, babe. I am the only one you can be honest with. Doesn’t that give you any sort of comfort? Doesn’t that give you any sense of security?”, she asked rhetorically. Actually, it did, sort of, but it was still a pretty weird fucking situation to be in considering that it felt like my whole life had changed in only a couple of months. Also there was the whole trust thing. As stupid as this is going to sound you can love someone, you can admire them, you can respect them, you can like them, and you can find them desirable but that doesn’t always mean that it’s a good idea to trust them.

     “And what about you, babe? Okay, so you absorb stress and negativity and you can’t release it. Doesn’t that mean that someday you could just meet some really nice guy who can make you feel better anyway? Someone who can make you laugh? Someone who can make you feel special and beautiful? Someone who can hold you like this when you’re an adult and listen to your problems until you feel better?”, I asked gently.

     She looked downwards at her hands and she was quiet for a minute. She then looked up at me and I could feel her hands pressing on my face again. She said something then that I didn’t quite understand.

     “I don’t think I have it in me to respect a guy if that was all that they had to offer.”, she said so quietly I actually thought that I was hearing it in my head like a thought bubble in a comic book.

     She suddenly took a big yawn just then. I re-wrapped her in the blanket and placed her against me as I laid up against the headboard. My arms were wrapped around her front and I could hear her yawn once again. We stopped talking then. That was one thing about being with her that was cool. We both knew when to shut up and just let the silence take over. There was another reason though why I wrapped her up in the blanket like that.

     I didn’t want her to notice just how exactly I had been affected by the movie. Just confronting that thought within myself made me feel ill, at least if I was around her that is. The sick fact is she was right once again. It really was like secret porn for me. Michael Myers had become my new instant god. He couldn’t be killed. Apparently, he could go pretty much anywhere. He didn’t seem to need to eat, drink water, take a shit, sleep, or feel any kind of connection with another human being. He seemed to be completely asexual as well so he would never be a slave to his dick, (unlike me, apparently). He also didn’t seem to need a job or an education either.

     Miriam’s eyes were closed and she mumbled something.

     “What?”

     “Is that what lives inside of you? Michael Myers?”

     I kissed her on the forehead.

     “No, my evil is just me. I love you, babe. Get some sleep.”

     She mumbled something and then she began breathing deeply and softly. I couldn’t sleep. I was completely jazzed from the movie and I really wanted to perform a cathartic act of my own but there was no chance of that. I suppose I could have snuck into the shower but I didn’t want to disturb her.

     I actually had a question for the demon in my chest, “Where do I go from here?”

     Once again, the demon chose to laugh and I could feel him vibrating off of my sternum.

     I looked down at my sister and she was as still as a rock. She didn’t move and she was blissfully comatose. A brain as powerful as hers probably needed a lot of rest in order to function at its best when she was awake.

     I still couldn’t sleep. I reached over to the night table and grabbed my Colt’s Milds. I lit one up in the dark and started to enjoy my smoke. As I enjoyed the sweetness of it I looked over into the darkest corner of my bedroom.

     I could see him standing there.

     Michael Myers.

     I knew I wasn’t hallucinating, exactly. I was just projecting my fantasy-god onto the corner walls. And yet still he stood there in those dark navy-blue coveralls that he stole from that mechanic after he killed him. The outside light reflected off of the right side of the mask so that I could see one eye-hole, a cheek, and a tuft of fake hair. I could even hear him breathing. Like in the movie his arms hung limply and his posture was arrow straight.

     Since this was my fantasy vision, as fucked up as it was, I figured I was in control. I reached out my right arm as I took a couple tasty puffs from my stogie. I gestured with my fingers towards me as I summoned him.

     “Come closer.”, I ordered him quietly.

     He took about 5 steps towards me. I could hear his heavy black work boots, (courtesy of said dead mechanic), softly creak along the floor. He stopped and I could see him fully. One thing I found interesting was that he was the exact same height as me, which at that time would have been 6’, 1”. In his left hand he held a large kitchen knife and there were thin streaks of blood on it that slowly dripped onto my floor. He stared straight at me but I couldn’t see his eyes in the dimness. He continued to stand there and his breathing was a little louder.

     “Closer.”, I quietly ordered again as I tried to blow him a smoke ring.

     Michael Myers took another five steps.

      Now he was near the edge of the bed looking down at Miriam and me.

     I looked at him and continued smoking. I felt absolutely no sense of fear. I knew I wasn’t having a crazy experience even if I wasn’t sure what exactly was going on. If anything, I felt an incredible sense of calm. I knew it was just a fantasy vision but he looked pretty real as he stood there staring down at me and my sister as she softly breathed pressed up against my chest as I sat back against the headboard. I guess when you’re a 14-year old psycho you’re able to envision a lot more than some mundane kid, which says to me that a normal kid has a boring fucking fantasy life. Since this was my vision I figured I could, and should, talk to it. It’s rude to ignore your houseguests after all even if they are the product of your twisted imagination.

     “I know you’re not real but that isn’t important. There are boys my age that want to be The Incredible Hulk. There are boys my age that want to be Han Solo. There are boys my age that want to be James Bond. There are even boys my age that want to be fucking Jesus. The fact that you’re not real doesn’t take away from my wanting to be you when I grow up. How do I do that, Michael?”, I asked him in a quiet tone. When I was done my little speech, I looked down at Miriam and she was still completely out of it, quietly snoring. I felt a little envy looking down at her. She was as peaceful as a human being could get, which is funny considering she had the living shit scared out of her a little while ago. I guess I made her feel safe, which is pretty ironic considering I was having an imaginary conversation with the guy that totally fucking frightened her. Yeah, that’s the kind of sense of humour that I have.

     Michael pointed the kitchen knife at my sister like some kind of a teaching aid. He held the blade out towards her for a good 30 seconds. He then flipped the blade up in the air and I could see it glinting as it rapidly spun like “The Zipper” ride at the Midway. Without even having to look at it he caught it by the tip. He made the gesture look natural and easy. Holding the knife by the tip he leaned over and took a good look at Miriam. He then held out the handle of the knife for me. As I stared at his face I could see his eyes. I knew those eyes quite well. They were a dark hazel.

     “Is that the only way? Is there a Plan B, Michael?”, I asked him sternly.

     Slowly he shook his head “no”.

     To be as powerful as him I would have to destroy the one person that suddenly mattered. I was kind of assuming that it was going to be expected of me to make her death more horrible than any other murder I would ever commit. It would be a rite of passage. If I had succeeded with destroying her, and getting away with it, I would be able to wash off every trace, every sense of humanity, no matter how slight, with her blood.

     The one person I’m capable of loving and relating to was the price tag to having absolute power over anyone and everyone anywhere in the world. If I completely ruined her so fucking badly that she wouldn’t even be recognized as a human being by the time I stuck her in a very deep hole, then I would have absolutely no sentimental attachments to anything. I would be free to roam the world and take as many lives as possible because their lives would be insignificant next to hers. No one would be able to ensnare me in their emotional bullshit or trap me inside their web of one-sided needs. The only needs that would matter are mine. No one would have any kind of an edge, or an advantage with me. I could lull them into a false sense of security and then tear them apart when the time was right. I would truly be my own man someday if I did this. No one would be above me. Even if I got caught somewhere that had the death penalty, and they strapped me into the chair, I would still be smiling because death and agony would have no sense of mystery to me. I would be the master of those concepts and they would be melded into my core self. I would be executed simply because I had chosen to be a god amongst cockroaches. I would have lived a goodly existence stomping as many of those ugly little fuckers as possible into the Earth with my completely heartless persona. But then again, they would first have to catch me and if I destroyed the one person who suddenly mattered to me, and got away with it, that would make me more than a little fucking ruthless, I figure.

     I looked down at my sister and she kept on sleeping. Gently I brushed some hair out of her face so I could see it better. My fingertips grazed her cheek and traced her small yet full lips. Slowly my fingertips traced their way down to the side of her tiny neck. As softly as I could I pressed them into where her carotid artery was. Every few seconds I would feel a tiny blip beneath my fingers. Then another, and yet another. Her life was so small and yet so great. There was no denying that there were big things in her future, if I chose to go in her direction.

     As I continued feeling her pulse I worked through all of the logistical issues required to ruin her completely. There were a lot of hurdles. I would need a very safe place to brutalize her for at least 12 hours, not including the time it would take to fill in the hole after I tossed what was left of her into it. I would be a prime suspect in her disappearance. I would have to have a very tight alibi. A story so simple and yet strong enough so that it couldn’t be contradicted or disproven. My parents would be devastated. They wouldn’t want to believe that I had anything to do with her disappearance but they wouldn’t want me around after that either. Search teams would scour the entire region so her burial place would have to be somewhere way out of the way. That would require some kind of a vehicle.

     It was at that point that Michael Myers stood up straight while still holding the knife by the tip and he walked over to my clock radio and he pointed down to it. He then walked over to the calendar that I had hanging by my desk. He pointed at the clock and then he pointed at the calendar.

     “This would go a lot faster if you just fucking talked. You could presumably speak in the movie, at least when you were a fucking child. Did you go fucking mute in the loony bin for medical reasons?”, I asked with a bit of an growl. The fact that I didn’t make him speak at the time never occurred to me. I guess I wanted him to stay in character.

     Clock, calendar, clock, calendar, clock, calendar.

     Time.

     “I have time is what you’re saying. I don’t have to do this immediately.”, I said thoughtfully.

     Michael Myers nodded in the affirmative.

     A strange question came to me then, “Is it mandatory that she be my first victim?”.
Again, he nodded “yes”. I guess that test runs like Wendy-Louise Pelletier were out of the question, y’know just to work out the kinks and sharpen up my killing style. I suppose what he was getting at, in his own mute way, was that if I did the worst thing that I could possibly do first, then the rest of my victims would be nothing. I would have the proper mindset to destroy them almost effortlessly. All he wanted me to do tonight was commit to the idea and then start slowly working towards it, no matter how long it took. I could wait until we left Sudbury. If we were in the States then we would be strangers surrounded by shitloads of people. A small beautiful girl like her could easily disappear one day while coming or going from school. All I’d need is a safe place to fuck her up, a car, and a good alibi. The best alibi would be I was home alone. Cops must hate that answer. I was home alone reading a good book, and when my sister didn’t come home at the usual time, I waited a while and then I got worried. Then I went out looking for her all night, and then I went to the police to report her missing. If I could hold off until she was 18, she’d be an adult and then the cops would make me wait 3 days before reporting her missing. I wouldn’t even have to bury her, in fact it would probably look better if I didn’t. Just stick her away somewhere out in the bush and when that old man with the dog found her, I could ID her remains and answer some basic questions. The cops would look for a motive and if the motive was the standard-issue abduction-rape-murder then who would suspect that her own brother committed the crime? As for why we moved to the States together, my family, including Miriam, asked me to go with her because she was so young while she studied on some massive scholarship. I could score some idiot job while I was there, like a fucking security guard. I’d have a lot of free time while she went to a real university in the day time. It’s nothing for Canadians to go to the States. Christ, I could practically go there with nothing but a fucking library card.

     After they found her naked and rotten little body, I’d just have to put on a black suit, squirt a few for the cameras, and handle the arrangements. If I did it right people would actually feel sorry for me. Then her tragic death would just become another unsolved mystery and the US has shitloads of those. And then after that I could just move on to parts unknown with a whole new attitude. I’d be as free as the breeze. The whole wide world would become my playground after that. In time, people would forget the news items surrounding her and I as fresh tragedies filled up their tv’s and their newspapers. By then I would be far far away. A total stranger known only to myself using her grisly end as inspiration for many more grisly ends.

     I suppose you want to know if I was tempted? Did I feel the urge to heed the very real commandment of my fantasy god? Well, I’ll tell you I could seriously see the promise of living in a Heaven saturated with blood as the corpses of my victims limply hung impaled from the tops of a huge set of wrought-iron gates. As I thought about that image it became as real to me as Michael Myers standing by my bed once again as he patiently held out the knife for me to take. I definitely wanted to reach that place, that divine destination of constant death.

     I could see an infinite row of slaughtered women impaled from those wrought iron spikes face-down so that I could see their rotting states of absolute misery. Their grey ropy intestines hung down for the animals to consume. Many of those stiffs were missing limbs. Some of them had no heads. All of them were bleached from blood loss, even the ones who were not Caucasians. I mean why be a fucking racist, right? Their legs looked shrivelled and their ribs stretched the skin across their backsides until they started to break through in slivers of sick looking yellow.

     Beyond the gates I could see my home. It wasn’t some huge mansion. It was actually a very simple-looking little house. The fact that my fantasy estate seemed to be endless made the house look like the size of one of those alphabet blocks that 2-year olds like to bang on the floor. The house looked a lot like my parent’s house, really. Just an ordinary 4-bedroom 2-storey place with a basement, a small yard, some kind of a domestic vehicle in the driveway, a couple rows of flowers like some roses and something else that was yellow. In the back I knew there would be a small patio-deck with a barbecue and probably a dog sleeping under a good-sized shady tree. I knew if I walked on my lawn it would squish beneath my feet and I would see thick blobs of bright red arterial blood come up from beneath the grass. The house would look very very ordinary and hence very very harmless. The house was obviously a symbol. The house was me. A very ordinary guy, well-maintained and orderly, but very unexceptional, and most importantly, very anonymous. Like that house I was just one amongst millions. The corpses of my victims were obviously not symbols. They were the real thing. They were the promise if I took that knife from Michael Myers like King Arthur accepting Excalibur from the Lady in the Lake.

     Oh yeah, man, I wanted it. I wanted it a lot.

     That level of empowerment was truly the summit.

     I wanted it very fucking badly and the petrified boner in my sweats was seconding the motion quite loudly.

     Casually, I looked over at my desk as I stubbed out my cigar in the Pepsi can that was sitting on my night table. I saw a book sitting on it that wasn’t one of mine. The book for some reason was holding my attention. It’s like it was trying to tell me something. There was something about it that was triggering a chain of important ideas. Very, very slowly I tilted my sister forward as I slid out from underneath her. It took five minutes just to get out of bed as she continued to softly snore away. It hurt to walk due to that killer boner but I shuffled over to the desk and I picked up the book. It was Miriam’s textbook about BASIC computer programming. At that point I kind of had an impulse and I began to pay attention to that idea. Painfully I made my way to the bedroom door.

     “Come with me.”, I ordered Michael Myers as I waved my hand forward.

     Together we quietly went down the hallway. We reached a door at the end of the hallway and I opened it quietly. I flicked on the light and we entered. I shut the door behind me. I automatically said to the product of my imagination, “Don’t touch anything.”

     We were inside Miriam’s bedroom. In one corner was her tiny bed. She had a dark blue duvet. Underneath there would be bone white sheets. Her pillow cases were also bone white. Her sheets were tucked in using the hospital corners method and they would be tightly stretched. Her duvet was completely without wrinkles. A little way away from it was a small wooden dresser. There was nothing on top of that dresser. In the other corner was her closet. She had some stuff hanging up in there like jackets and shit but they had no wrinkles either. She had a perfect row of shoes and boots along the floor inside the closet. There were absolutely no pictures on her light blue walls. There were no posters. You would think she’d have one picture, something inspirational, but no there was nothing to look at. No bands. No teen idols. No ponies, or kittens, or dogs. No Barbie type shit. Nothing from the Flintstones or Scoobie Doo. No Kermit the Frog. Nothing. There was also no dust anywhere in this room.

     In the middle of her room was a kitchen table with one chair. On top of that table, in three of the corners, there were three stacks of books.

     “Hmph, there used to be only 2 stacks.”, I said to Michael Myers as we walked over to her table. The usual 2 stacks were in two categories, math and physics. She loved hard numbers. All three of the stacks were perfectly flush and each stack was at least 3 feet high. I looked down at the third stack. It was all computer shit, programming and that kind of thing. In her brilliant little hands that was probably the kind of stuff she took to the bathroom when she had to drop a brick.

     “I think she’s starting to focus on a career. When you’re 9 you have to seriously start thinking about your future.”, I sarcastically whispered as Michael Myers stood right beside me.

     There was only one other thing in her room and I walked over towards it. My old man must have gotten it at a Board of Education auction. It was one of those massive blackboards that were at least six feet wide and about 6 ½ feet high. It was the kind that was on wheels and it had the hinge so that you could flip it over. She had different colours of chalk and they were lined up perfectly. I swear each piece of chalk was the exact same length. We looked at the blackboard and it was loaded up all the way across, in perfectly straight lines with numbers, Greek symbols, the odd word here and there, math symbols, fractions, decimal points, and in the very bottom of the right-hand corner there would be a combination of all of that shit, and it would be heavily circled in blood red chalk. Whatever it was she was doing that was apparently the solution. I had no clue what the solution was on that blackboard, as I kept staring at it like some curious fucking monkey, but I had just acquired a solution of my own in my head and its truth wasn’t going to be denied.

     You want to hear a funny secret? That was the first time I ever stood inside of her bedroom. I’ve stood in the doorway recently but I was always reluctant to enter.

     “Okay, let’s go.”, I ordered as I jerked my head towards the door.

     Once more I painfully shuffled down the hallway back to my bedroom. We went in and I closed the door. I looked over at my sister and she looked like she was in the exact same position that I left her.I stood directly in front of Michael Myers about 2 feet away from him. We were the exact same height and I could see my own hazel green eyes staring at me from inside of his mask. Slowly my fantasy god began to grow before me. He proceeded to get taller and wider as I stared up at him unimpressed. He finally stopped when he was about 7-feet tall and he must have weighed in at about 400 pounds. I guess that was supposed to indicate that I was going to be fucking huge when I finally stopped growing. And yet the coveralls and the work boots grew right along with him kind of like the Incredible Hulk with his fucking pants. Go figure, eh? He stared downwards at me as he held out the knife once more.

     “No, I’m not doing it, and you can’t make me. You can go fuck yourself. She’s real and you’re not. You’re just something that I made up.”, I said to him brutally.

     He shook his head down at me like I had disappointed him. So what, fuck him. I walked past him, and I attempted to give him the hard shoulder, as I shuffled to the bathroom. It took me a good half hour underneath the hot water to purge the vision of that version of Heaven. Do I even have to explain to you what I mean by “purging”?

     All of those corpses. All of that blood. Some of those bodies were even recognizable from school. And do you know what? Not once, not even within the privacy of that shower, did I fantasize about destroying my sister. I even tried to conjure up all of the horrifying possibilities to do with her and I couldn’t make a single picture. It may not be love as mundane people think of it but that’s what it felt like to me. That was the thing that was going through my mind as I stood at my desk as I held up her computer book. I could visualize 30 different rape/torture/murder scenarios with 30 very real females. I could conjure up a horror movie character like some kind of paper fucking demon. I could graphically check out all of those murdered and mutilated females hanging from my wrought-iron fence. And yet I couldn’t imagine Miriam in any kind of a state of fucked-upedness. My sick and monstrous mind couldn’t give me one single image of her dead, destroyed by my hands, along with another part of my anatomy. How important could her destruction be if I couldn’t even imagine it? Isn’t that what your fucking imagination is for in the first place, so that you can see what it is that you want the most?

     You know what I could imagine though, as I stopped purging for a minute. I could imagine her in her green-plaid two-piece pajamas trying to settle me down as I nakedly stood in the darkest part of my bedroom living out my murder dreams like a sleepwalker. I could imagine all four feet of her grabbing my hands and telling me it was time to go back to bed as she consciously tried to ignore the presence of my dripping dick.

     I fell to my knees in the shower and I fucking barfed all over the tiles. Not that there was much to bring up other than popcorn kernels and some watery-looking shit. I could feel my throat burning with stomach acid as my abdomen began to spaz out. I thought about Miriam settling me down that day she told me the facts about how my life was going to turn out if I didn’t listen to her. With my fists pressed into the pink and blue porcelain squares I just tried to breathe. It took a good while for the black sheets of lightning to go away but I could finally stand up again.

     As sick as this is going to sound my very limited supply of real emotions decided to take her up on her idea of a more intimate relationship. That doesn’t mean I wanted to go in there, wake her up, profess my undying devotion to her, and then make love to her 9-year old self. What that meant was I was going to start at least trying to treat her more as an emotionally intimate companion and less as a sister. She was something else outside of myself who was apparently just as fucked up as me. I was even starting to think that that whole vision was nothing more than some kind of a test to see if I was aware for myself just how much she mattered to me above and beyond keeping me out of jail, the morgue, and the fucking loony bin.

     There was also something else, kind of a trade-off. I had no idea what she was planning, or seriously thinking about but I could hear the wheels turning inside of that huge super-brain of hers. Whatever it was that she was starting to plot out it was definitely something big. Real fucking huge. Like that Supertramp song she was planning the crime of the century and if I followed her I would get to see her pull something off that would completely bury whatever I did even on my most depraved days. I was a small-timer. Miriam was the big time. All she needed to do was grow and that crime of the century would be a done fucking deal. I couldn’t even imagine just how many bodies she would leave behind her as she walked into history. I just knew that there would be a lot of them and that would be something worth seeing as I held her hand on that particularly dark and violent journey.

      When I got back to the bedroom Michael Myers was gone. Again, with careful and gentle ease, I lifted Miriam up and I slid in beneath her. She was still tightly wrapped in the blanket and she was still at one with the universe. I felt so mellow after that masturbatory-vomity shower that I decided to have another cigar. Once more as I smoked, I smoothed the hair away from her face and I held her a little tighter as I looked down at her still and flawless face once again. I have to be honest. Even if it sounds a little perverted, I love looking at her face. Especially when she’s sitting off to the side of my room reading a book. I like to look at her profile and wonder what’s going through that brain of hers as she absorbs whatever knowledge she’s tearing out of the pages in front of her. Long lashes, sharp and pale cheekbones, little nose, cleft chin, and a small full red mouth. I just kept staring at her for several minutes while I smoked and savoured the moment. Finally, I stubbed out my cigar in the Pepsi can, and I thought about how close she was to the abyss. I didn’t feel guilty but I did feel grateful that I said no to the offer. I leaned over and kissed her on the forehead. I think she murmured something and then it looked like she had a shadow of a smile on her face. And then magically I was asleep.

     Safe within my state of perfect blackness.

     Several hours later I opened my eyes and I could see Miriam staring up at me.

     “I have to pee.”, she said quietly.

     I was still tightly holding onto her. I released her from the blanket and she ran off to the bathroom. A couple minutes later she came back as I stood up and then touched my toes trying to get the kink out of my back. I heard something snap and crack in my vertebrae. When I stood up Miriam jumped up into my arms and kissed my cheeks.

     “You slept like that all night?”, she asked in amazement.

     “I didn’t want to wake you up. You looked very peaceful.”, I said as I kissed her on the forehead.

     “I have an idea for tonight. I think I know a way to take back a little control of what happened to me last night.”, she said decisively.

     “Okay, hit me.”

     What time is it?”, she asked with a little bit of urgency.

     I looked at my clock radio.

     “It’s 7am.”

     “Perfect, I have plenty of time to tell you. Let me down, please.”

     I put her back on the floor and then she took off into her bedroom. About 30 seconds later she rang back in with two fistfuls of money.

     “Jesus fuck, babe, you must $200 bucks there.”, I said in amazement.

     “$226 and another $114 in change. Christmas and birthday money. Other than books my material needs are non-existent. Here, stick it in your wallet for safekeeping.”, she explained casually. Made sense to me. She told me part of her plan as I stuck away her loot.

     “After school we’re going to go to every department store downtown until we find my costume, and then we’re going to go to Leisure World Hobby Shop.”, she said decisively. At that point she took my hand and began leading me downstairs to the kitchen.
When we got to the kitchen I could hear Mom singing a country song in the laundry room. She had the kind of voice that only alcohol would improve, and unfortunately for us kids, Mom didn’t drink. No one else seemed to be around. Can’t say I really cared where Cait or Benny were. Rapidly Miriam began frying up a hefty load of scrambled eggs in the frying pan with lots of butter and pepper. She had toast going in the toaster and the kettle was just about ready to boil. She worked that stove like a sorceress as she stood on a chair. All the while she explained her plan to me.

     “Tonight, I’m going to implement some confrontational therapy. It’s actually an offshoot of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. I have to change the way I think about my experience last night by making it more real and tangible until I can accept that it’s merely make-believe, and hence is no real threat to my personal security and well-being. I know that’s a bit of a paradox, making something more real in order to accept that it’s harmlessly fake, but I’m rather like Walt Whitman that way. I’m great enough to contain contradictions.”

     You’re not the only one, babe, I thought as I listened to her latest lecture while watching her whip up our breakfast on a couple of plates. In another minute I had eggs, toast, and coffee in front of me. I could easily imagine her being the kind of housewife that could knock off all of her chores before 9 am and then spend the rest of the day finding a cure for cancer in the basement just for fun.

     “So, here’s the plan. We’re going to hit every department store until we find the little harlequin costume that the young Michael Myers was wearing at the start of the movie. I think you’re smart enough to figure out what we’re getting at the hobby store.”, she said as she began to stuff her breakfast into her face like it was a task she wanted to get out of the way.

     “You really think they’ll have the mask?”, I asked curiously.

     “They should. They sell all kinds of stuff that nerds like to collect, mostly Star Trek and Star Wars memorabilia, but they also do a lot of horror merchandise as well.”, she said with a mouth full of breakfast.

     “And you think you can handle this?”, I asked as I imagined myself dressed up like my disappointment of a temporary fantasy-god. I have to say the one thing I love about her is she never failed to surprise me.

     “If I can’t then I’ll figure out something else. The important thing is to confront it.”, she said with no small amount of courage. I had to admit my respect for her was going up.

     “You know what sucks? They’re playing some really wicked flicks this weekend at the Odeon. Dawn of the Dead, Maniac, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Last House on the Left. It would be fucking wicked if we could get into that.”

     “And how, my beautiful babe, would we get into a string of restricted movies?”, she asked with her crooked smile of amusement.

     I looked at her sideways and made that hand gesture that movie directors do when they’re framing a shot.

     “Oh, Lord he’s really thinking about it.”, she said with a bit of a chuckle.

     “I’ve got it.”. I said with the mock tone of an evil conspirator.

     “Tell me, please tell me your evil plan, Master. My mind will not rest until I know all of the dirty details.”, she said in a mock excited whisper like Peter Lorre.

     “They have a Sunday matinee of all of those flicks this weekend. It plays at 1 in the afternoon. We’re going to have to bag up our disguises and then change into them in the woods. It’ll be two days after Halloween. There will still be enough Halloween spirit for us to wear disguises and people will think we’re going to some kind of a kid’s costume party.”, I said as I tried to impersonate the thoughtful tone she uses when she tries to be thoughtful.

     “Disguises.”, she whispered. In spite of herself I knew I was hooking her imagination.

     “Yes, my perfectly lovely accomplice. We’re going to put a dress on you and then we’re going to pad you up in all of the right places. We’ll use a lot of Kotex pads and duct tape for your hips, and plenty of Kleenex for your chest. We’ll get you a pair of heels today and some fake jewelry. We’ll throw some make-up on you as well. A little eye shadow, some foundation, a hint of rouge for colour. Nothing excessive. We’ll make you look mature without being slutty. We’ll do your hair so that it hangs around your face like adult women do.”

     “What exactly is slutty?”, she asked humorously.

     “Never mind, I’ll tell you when you’re old enough to get married. Ok, so we’ll get you decked out like a serious professional. I’ll put on one of dad’s suits. I should be able to fit into his shoes. Then we’ll just go.”

     “Please tell me I’m not a circus performer.”, she said with a groan.

     “Fuck no, then they’d know we were bullshitting them. You will be…………Doctor Evelyn MacKenzie. You’re a physicist from the University of Toronto, and you’re visiting your colleagues at Laurentian University, and you thought you’d take in a fun bunch of horror movies in the afternoon.”, I said excitedly. Got to be honest. I was getting into this. The thought of making my sister into a little liar was pretty cool.

     “And you’re my steadfastly loyal husband, Bob MacKenzie. You’re a tax accountant at Deloitte and Touche.”, she said as she started to laugh a little.

     “Okay, sure. Sounds like a boring job compared to being a fucking scientist but alright. Any scientist who is a little person, and a woman, can give off the vibe that they haven’t gotten as far as they did by taking shit from some fucking nerd teen-ager selling movie tickets. All you have to is act like you always get your way.”

     “I always do in the end.”, she said in a factual way. She gently reached across the table and grasped my hand, “But the problem is we have no decent ID. I know that fortune favours the brave, and that you possess a tremendous amount of brazenness, but how is Doctor MacKenzie going to explain that she has no ID from UofT? It’s a fun idea, babe but we’re going to have to wait until I at least hit puberty.”

     “Ack, the voice of reason. I hate the voice of reason.”, I said with mock bitterness as I threw my hands up in the air above my head.

     “Well the voice of reason loves you and we’ll have a lot fun today and tonight, regardless.”, she said affectionately. “Ok, let’s get this school shit out of the way. Tonight, we’re going to confront my terrors.”, she commanded.

     “Wow, you’re really on fire here, aren’t you?”, I said as I jammed my cakehole. In a minute I was done my breakfast as I stuck my plate in the kitchen sink, “Ok, let’s go you self-determined little minx.”

     “Your articulation is getting better.”, she said as she jumped into her runners.

     “I have an incredible role model.”, I said as I gave her what the fancy writers call a meaningful look.

     She didn’t say anything. She took my hand as we left the house. She squeezed it pretty tightly though. I’m guessing she doesn’t get a lot of compliments at school.

     “FIFTY FUCKING DOLLARS. ARE YOU FUCKING HIGH, MISTER?”

     That was me at the hobby shop when the fat old slob behind the counter told us how much the Michael Myers mask was going to cost.

     “It’s a rare collector’s item and it’s the only one I have. If you have one more outburst you’ll have to leave my store.”, the fat greedy bastard said to me as he sucked on a cheap Century Sam cigar.

     “Give me the wallet.”, Miriam ordered me.

     “But, babe, he’s got like 10 more of those fuckers in the back of the store. He’s lying about this being the only one.”, I protested.

     “Is this really the only Michael Myers mask you have?”, Miriam asked the prick firmly.

     “It is indeed, young lady.”

     “Give me the wallet.”, she ordered me again as she held put her right hand.

     Miriam counted out the cash and tossed it on the counter. The sonofabitch put the mask in a paper bag and handed it to her as he dropped cigar ash onto the counter and half-assedly swept it aside.

     “Okay, let’s go.”, she said in a more pleasant way as we left the store.

     I was still pissed.

     “Do you really think that nobody in this fucking city would have scooped up that mask if it was really the only one he had? It’s fucking Halloween afternoon. Run back in there right now. I bet he’s in the back getting another one out to put on the shelf except he’s going to sell it for $60 and he’ll insist it’s his last one. Go on, you know I’m right.”, I asserted angrily.

     “I’m afraid he had us over a barrel. We need this mask in order to help me with my problems. It’s not about just having a great night trick-or-treating. There’s more to it than that.”

     “Yeah, I know arghhhhhhhhhhh fuck it. You know what we’re doing tonight because it’s the perfect night. We’re going to go back tonight and burn down his fucking store, and we’re going to make it look real obvious that it was arson, and hopefully they’ll arrest him for attempted insurance fraud as well as arson. That’ll show that greedy fucking prick, ripping off a couple of kids.”, I grumbled. Miriam squeezed my hand sympathetically.

     We had some time to kill and Miriam suggested we go into Cole’s bookstore. We had to navigate through the small army of drunken bums that were sitting against the outside wall panhandling for spare change. I made sure my sister was behind me so that these stinking filthy fucks couldn’t touch her. Seeing their disgusting, dirty, rotting, hideously, toothless fucking faces drove home the point that she made to me on that morning about what would have happened to me if Cait or Mom caught me in the middle of the night in one of my dream states. Actually, the way she described it these worthless fucking zombies were a step up.

     “Babe?”, I said quietly as we entered the book store.

     “Yes?”, she asked curiously.

     “Thank you.”, I said solemnly as I looked down at her.

     She understood what I meant and she simply nodded. We wandered around in the store for a bit. I have to admit I’ve always dug book stores and libraries. I could kill a good deal of time just looking and not even buy anything. I might have gotten a little lost looking at various titles. I did notice sometimes that Miriam wasn’t around me. I figured she was probably in the science section. Myself, for some reason, I gravitated my way into the true crime section.

     Pretty much all of the titles meant nothing to me. I probably read more than most people but it was fiction that I read, and much like my taste in movies, I just read whatever got my attention. Non-fiction isn’t really my bag. I looked over the titles. Some were pretty lurid looking and some tried to look like serious literature. I don’t know if this ever happens to you if you’re a book-lover, but have you ever gone into a bookstore or a library and you don’t know what you want, yet the perfect book, the book you didn’t even know you wanted, jumps right out at you? That was the first time I ever had that experience.

     “THE STRANGER BESIDE ME”, by Ann Rule.

     I had to admit the title was catchy. I read the back and I liked what I saw. Like a lot of people in Sudbury I read the local paper, The Sudbury Star, mostly because it was there. I had heard the name Ted Bundy. I knew he was on death row for killing a 12-year old girl but otherwise I was pretty ignorant about his life and crimes. I checked my wallet and I found I had just enough for the book. I went up and paid for it and then I looked for my sister.

     I took a sneaky peek and I saw her in the biography section. She was looking at a biography of Albert Einstein. Suddenly she scowled and slammed the book back onto the shelf. Fun fact, my sister thinks that Einstein is, “an overrated piece of shit”. She then grabbed a biography of Nikola Tesla. She opened it to a random page and she began reading it. Casually I drifted over to her and looked down over her shoulder. She wasn’t aware I was there and she sighed as she slowly closed the book and returned it slowly with both respect and reverence. Softly she said to no one, “So brilliant and yet so foolish. You deserved better, sir.”

     “Babe?”, I said softly so as not to startle her.

     “Did you get anything?”, she asked in a bright way.

     “Yeah I got a book about some guy named Ted Bundy. Did you get anything?”. I wasn’t totally sure but I think she might have nodded with approval in terms of my selection.

     “No, I’ve read all of the good ones already. Oh well, let’s go home and get ready for tonight.”

     We left and I bulldozed our way through the wall of bums outside, while my sister clung to my shirt and stayed close. Once we got past those losers we went back to the bus stop and took the #2 bus back to Second Avenue.

     We had an early supper that night because Mom knew we were going out at 5pm, right before sunset. We were lucky. It was chilly out but at least there wasn’t any snow on the ground. In Sudberia, as far as we’re concerned, Halloween was the last day of autumn. We didn’t give a shit about solstices and equinoxes. On November 1st the snow tires went on the cars and the sandbags would go in the trunks to give the car ballast in order to navigate icy roads. Halloween was like a mass funeral for the corpse that was lying in state known as decent weather. We knew winter was going to bury us once again right afterwards.

     The funniest thing happened right after supper. Mom was in the bathroom and again I had no idea where the old man was. Benny was in the livingroom watching The Muppet Show. Miriam came downstairs in her harlequin costume and I have to say she looked really cute, especially with the little red mask on. We had to settle for that mask because we couldn’t find the clown mask that the young Michael Myers had in the movie. The costume though was exactly right just like in the movie. Weird eh? Cait walked into the kitchen and she gasped with pleasure.

     “Oh my God, like you look so cute, Miriam. You look like a little clown girl. You are like really pretty.”, Cait said as she crouched down and looked at her up close.

     “I’m not a clown girl. Technically I’m dressed like a harlequin and even then, that isn’t my costume tonight.”, Miriam said gravely as she stared at her sister without even a hint of a smile.

     “Really, like what are you then?”, Cait asked stupidly.

     I knew what was coming. I was dressed up as well like Michael Myers as I snuck into the kitchen from the back end so that Cait’s back was to me. I put my finger to my lips, and then I pointed at Cait so that Miriam would keep her distracted.

     Miriam suddenly pulled up the big kitchen knife she had hidden behind her back and she held it right over Cait’s neck.

     “I’M THE YOUNG MICHAEL MYERS RIGHT AFTER HE MURDERED HIS OLDER SISTER.”, she yelled evilly as her deep brown eyes lit up like a couple of fucking phosphorous grenades.

     Cait stood up and began to back away nervously. She was looking a little shaky at that point as Miriam kept staring at her with the craziest fucking smile she could dig up. Her thick eyebrows were damn-near into her scalp and her eyes were blazing. She was even standing on her toes trying to look taller.

     “Uhm, wow. Like, oh my God, that’s like really totally weird. You need to like talk to someone about that.”, Cait said fearfully as Miriam stood in front of her with the knife gleaming off of the kitchen lights. She took a few slow steps towards her sister and Cait backed off quickly. As Miriam kept her distracted, I ghostwalked up behind her using the heel-toe method. I had on the mask, as well as a pair of the old man’s coveralls, and a pair of his old black workboots. Cait backed right into me. I placed my hand on her shoulder and gave it a painful squeeze.

     “What, huh?”, she asked as she turned around and saw Michael Myers standing about 5 inches away behind her. I was a good 6 inches taller than my sister now. She was okay-looking, in a scrawny, pale, shapeless, black-haired sort of way, but Miriam definitely hogged all of the good genes and Cait got the semi-stale leftovers. On the Molson scale you would need at least four beers and a stiff joint before you would consider doing her.

     Instantly Cait screamed and it was a high-pitched wail of pure terror straight out of the fucking Flintstones. I swear her hair went up like broom straw just like Betty and Wilma when they seriously freak out about something. She sprang sideways and she bounced off of the kitchen table, and then she slammed her head sideways into the wall before she fell down in front of Miriam. My cool sister reached down and grabbed a big fistful of my pansy sister’s black hair. She twisted the hair around in her fist several times so that she had a good grip on it. Then with a serious amount of authority, she violently gave Cait’s hair a solid yank and wrenched her head back, tautly exposing her throat as she cried out with pain. Miriam then put the kitchen knife to her throat with a bit of pressure just to get her attention. Cait’s nearly black eyes were wide and shiny.

     “NOW IT’S TIME FOR YOU TO DIE YOU FILTHY TEENAGE SLUT.”, Miriam shouted triumphantly.

     Cait not only screamed again, she also started to cry as I walked over and stood over her with my feet on either side of her ankles, staring downwards with as much malevolence as I could silently muster up. Cait was sobbing and I was secretly starting to get a good boner from her instant state of terrified powerlessness. She wasn’t even trying to resist Miriam as my cool sister started to laugh from the back of her throat sounding quite a bit like the demon in my chest.

     Benny the Retard actually got into the act then. He walked over Cait, between me and Miriam, to get to the fridge and he grabbed a can of Pepsi. He casually looked at the three of us, and then he stepped over Cait again, and then he let off a noxiously wicked fucking ripper, right by her head. It was loud and the kitchen instantly stank like rotting death. He stopped singing the theme song from The Muppet Show just long enough to tell Miriam she looked really cute, and then he started singing again, and he walked out of the kitchen. As far as he was concerned everything was normal in the Miller manse.

     I pointed at Miriam silently while trying to breathe as loudly as possible.

     “Oh please, Master, let me dispatch this foul slattern in this our first blood sacrifice dedicated to all things righteously evil upon this most meaningful of nights.”, Miriam said as she sounded like Peter Lorre again except she made that guy sound pretty sexy, believe it or not.

     I nodded at her slowly like a warden ordering his favourite, most sadistic guard to throw the switch and fry the condemned prisoner to death. Cait screamed again and then she was weeping so hard that her make-up ran all over her face like Alice Cooper. Miriam began making some sawing motions with the knife as it was pressed deeply into her throat. Cait was too dumb and freaked out to realize that Miriam was holding the knife backwards so that the non-bladed edge was what was against her throat now. She turned the blade around when Cait saw me approaching. Cait was trying to say something but her voice was all crackly and annoying as she cried and screamed like she was really being killed.

     Then came the best part, and that gave my psycho boner what felt like an extra three inches, kind of like phantom pain. I could see the wet spot starting to grow from the crotch of Cait’s jeans. It got as big as a large pizza from Cortina’s and then I could see a nice trickle streaming down the legs of her jeans until it flowed from the bottom as she made a mess on the floor, like a dog. Cait was so frightened she couldn’t even bother to feel humiliated as she kept crying and screaming, and she was practically convulsing. Miriam continued digging the kitchen knife into Cait’s skinny neck and there was an impressive pool of yellow piss right between her feet. I was already calculating what it would take to get her to shit her pants. That would have been seriously fucking choice if we got her to do that.

     But alas, that was when Mom walked into the kitchen in her beat-up old white bathrobe and her chewed up pink slippers. She was perfectly still as she took in the three of us with a totally nonplussed look on her face with a DuMaurier Light hanging from the corner of her mouth, and her dark-brown hair full of curlers.

     “What the hell are you crying about, you frigging, baby? They’re kids, you blubbering little goof. Get off the goddamn floor and go clean yourself up. Did you piss on my floor, Caitlyn Miller? Jesus Christ, it’s Halloween, girl. Kids play pranks, it’s no reason to lose your frigging mind. Holy Hell, I’ve had five children and I didn’t cry as much as you are right now.”, my mom said with some real disdain as she took a rag from under the sink and wiped up the nice little puddle of piss that was glistening on the linoleum.

     “She called me a slut.”, Cait cried out as she stood up looking like a clown that had been gangraped in prison.

     “Maybe she saw that frigging costume you wore last night when you pitched a fit and stormed out of the house.”, Mom said as she pulled another smoke out of her pocket and screwed it into her mouth. That was one thing about Mom, the lady was a bit of a chainer. I pretty much take it as a given that she’ll be smoking up a fucking storm at her own funeral.

     Cait screamed again with teengirl rage, and get this, she actually stomped her foot like Shirley Temple, put on a fucking pout, and stormed out of the kitchen. A few seconds later we could hear her pound her way up the stairs, and then pound her way down the hall, and then slam her bedroom door. Then we heard her open her door, pound down the hallway, open the bathroom door, and slam that as well. Then we heard the shower. Mom blew a cloud of blue smoke at us and things got really quiet in that kitchen as the child-sized, and the man-sized version of Michael Myers, stood there waiting to get their asses kicked by their mother. I figured we were in some serious shit but it turned out my mom could be really cool when she felt like it.

     “I swear that kid is too damn sensitive. Now let me get a good look at the two of you.”

     We stood with Miriam in front of me with my hands on her shoulders. Miriam held up the knife with the point facing downwards as she smiled beautifully. Mom got the old Polaroid camera and she cranked off some shots.

     “You should have taken pictures when Miriam had Cait on the floor.”, I said with a laugh.

     “That would have been too sad if I did that, especially since you two made her piss her pants. Ok, so what are you two?”

     “I’m him as a child. I murdered my older sister when I was 6 and I got sent to a mental institution.”, Miriam said happily.

     “And then 15 years later I escaped and came back to my hometown to murder some more teen-agers.”, I finished.

     “Uh huh, okay, I get it. That’s my good knife, Miriam. If you kill anyone with it tonight, make sure you soak it in Javex when you get home and make sure you wipe off the fingerprints. John, you’re going to have to be her alibi and lie to the cops when they come here looking for her.”, she said with a crazy smile.

     “I will Mom but I’ll only kill people who have loose morals and really bad habits. I promise I’ll spare the virgins.”, Miriam said with fake sincerity.

     “That’s my baby girl. Make sure she doesn’t eat anything that’s been hand-wrapped, and throw away any kind of fruit as soon as you’re away from the house.”, she said to me in her serious Mom voice.

     “Definitely, thanks again for being really cool about this, Mom. We were just screwing around. We didn’t think she’d be such a spaz about it.”, I said with some impressively fake sincerity. The fact was we both knew Cait would be a total fucking suck about it. Otherwise, why would we bother?

     “I know, it’s Halloween, you’re supposed to have fun tonight. Make sure she’s home by 9:30 at the latest.”

     It was at that point that Cait came storming down the stairs. She came into the kitchen wearing something that I can’t even describe. All I can say was that there wasn’t much to it and she didn’t have the body to pull it off whatever the hell it was. Oh, and it was black. Predictable.

     “You think last night’s costume was slutty, check this out.”, she declared with a huffy burst of teengirl immaturity.

     “YOU GET THE FUCK UPSTAIRS RIGHT NOW OR I SWEAR TO FUCKING CHRIST I’M GOING TO BELTWHIP THE FUCKING MODESTY INTO YOUR FUCKING HIDE YOU STUPID FUCKING LITTLE GIRL.”.

     Not only was it the first time I ever saw my mom lose it. It was also the first time I had ever heard, and seen, a woman actually fucking roar. I leaned down and whispered in my sister’s ear, “Babe, it’s time for us to go.”

     “You’re right, we shouldn’t be here when the police show up. I’m not sure I could tell the cops a good enough story to explain how exactly Cait got all four of her limbs, plus her head, ripped away from her body.”, Miriam said seriously.

     I could hear my dad in the basement yelling up the stairs, “What’s going on up there?”. I couldn’t help but wonder what the fuck the old man was doing for the past ten minutes considering how we made his oldest daughter scream in the kitchen.

     “Come see what your daughter intends to wear tonight, John.”, my mom yelled angrily as she screwed another cigarette into her mouth. I swear I didn’t even see her smoke the last one. It was almost like she ate it.

     “Oh, Jesus Christ.”, my dad yelled as he began to stomp up the stairs. I steered Miriam towards the front door from behind by the shoulders. As we were leaving we saw Dad come up. He waved at us and we said we’d be home by 9:30 pm. As we closed the front door, and before we joined the massive parade of kids trick-or-treating, we could hear my mom and my idiot older sister yelling and cursing up a storm in the kitchen.

     When we were in the front yard I steered Miriam into the dark shadow by the side of the house. Spontaneously I scooped her up, pulled up the mask and kiss her on the mouth. Then I hugged her tightly.

     “That was beautiful. I fucking love you, babe.”, I said with as much feeling as I had to give her.

     “I told you, when I’m with you I’ll do almost anything.”, she declared proudly and she sounded happier than I had ever heard her before.

     “You made your older sister piss her pants in the kitchen.”, I said as I pulled my head back and kissed her again all over her face. Miriam began laughing and she started kissing me too.

     “You are officially fucking evil, welcome to the club, babe.”, I said as I looked at her again. She was smiling widely as she looked at me joyfully from behind her red mask when she pulled it back down.

     At that point there were about 15 kids ringing the doorbell to our house. This is what they heard coming from the kitchen window:

     “I HATE THIS FUCKING FAMILY. I WISH YOU WOULD ALL DIE. “

     “I HOPE ALL OF YOUR FUCKING KIDS ARE JUST LIKE YOU.”

     “Is every family in this city as dysfunctional as ours?”, Miriam asked curiously with a certain amount of embarrassment.

     “Actually, babe, a lot of the families are worse. At least our parents are sober. It’s pretty much going to be up to me and you to drag the family reputation to a new low. I’m sure if we put our heads together we can figure out how to pull that one off.”

     “Does that sound like sobriety to you?”, she asked skeptically. All I could do was shrug at that one.

     Suddenly Cait burst out of the front door still wearing the exact same outfit, whatever the hell it was.

     “MOVE YOU LITTLE FUCKING SHIT MONSTERS.”, she screeched as she ploughed her way down the sidewalk as a gaggle of 12-year old boys were checking out her non-existent ass as it wobbled away into the night.

     “Great, now everyone will think we live in a brothel.”, Miriam said with more embarrassment.

     “Naw, brothels have standards, babe. Cait would strictly be on the corner selling herself for Crappy Tire money and beer empties.”

     Mom stood in the doorway with yet another DuMaurier Light hanging from her mouth. She focused on the kids, and just like that she forgot all about Cait as she handed out little bags of chips to them.

     “Okay, let’s cut around to the back yard, slice diagonally across the Seguin’s back yard, and that way no one will have to know tonight that we live here.”, Miriam said decisively as she grabbed my hand.

     “Cool.”, I said as we crept away in the shadows like the monsters that we truly wished we were.

     When we were safely away from our house, as we approached the first house of the night, we both stopped and started laughing again. It got out of control for a couple minutes as I fell to my knees and hugged her again. I don’t think either one of us had ever felt such a ridiculous sense of being alive in our lives at that point. Whatever it was it was fucking great and we couldn’t stop ourselves as Miriam hung off of my shoulders as she kept laughing her ass off like a drunk.

     The next 4 hours were a blur as we hit up close to 1000 houses. We went up and down every street along Second Avenue, (except for The Ghetto because we were evil not crazy. Actually, I would have gone in if I was alone just to see how white trash they were). When we were down by Second and Bancroft we actually debated going to Second Avenue South where the upper middle-class folks lived. It’s pretty dark and creepy down that way. It would have been good for atmosphere. Then we decided to hit up First Avenue instead and make our way back to the house.

     By the time we got home both garbage bags were stuffed. Miriam was surprisingly wide awake. We went in and we saw Benny watching tv.

     “Benny, why didn’t you go out tonight?”, I asked.

     “I didn’t know what to dress up as.”, he replied as he kept staring at the tv from about two feet away. Coming from him that was the height of his logic skills.

     Mom and Dad were apparently already in bed so we lugged our loot upstairs to my bedroom. As we sat on my bed we surveyed the mountain of crap we had between us. Neither one of us wanted the chocolate bars so we tossed those into a bag for Benny. We split the chips and I gave her the Twizzlers. I took the Rum and Butter Lifesavers but I let Miriam have the cherry ones as well as the ones that were assorted. We tossed all of that shitty hard candy with the cheesy orange Halloween wrapping right into the garbage. Any odd shit we tossed into the Benny bag.

     “Well it looks to me like we made out like bandits.”, Miriam said proudly.

     “Definitely. Ok, I’ll bring this shit down to Benny and you can hide your goodies in your room.”

     I went downstairs and dropped the bag beside Benny. He stuck his head in and cheered. I calculated he was going to be wired on chocolate until Christmas. I zoomed back upstairs and I saw Miriam sitting on the edge of my bed holding up a small gift. She didn’t have actual wrapping paper for it so she cut out ads from newspapers for Halloween stuff with witches, jack-o-lanterns, ghosts, vampires, mummies, and werewolves, and she taped them together. She seemed a little nervous as I sat down beside her.

     “What’s this, babe.”, I asked curiously.

     “It’s a Halloween gift for you. It’s nothing special but I thought you would like it.”, she said feeling kind of oogey and self-conscious.

     “Wow, shit, you didn’t need to do that, babe.”, I said in surprise as I took it from her.

     Carefully I removed the tape. I didn’t want to be a greedy prick and destroy the wrapping job. She obviously worked on this thing for a while. When I had the paper folded beside me I could see two paperback books.

     “Halloween” by Curtis Richards.
“The Dark” by James Herbert.

     Instantly I grabbed her and kissed her cheek.

     “You sneaky little minx. This is why you wanted to go to Cole’s. This is fucking perfect. Thank you, babe.”, I said as I kissed the top of her head and hugged her fiercely. She kissed me back and squeezed.

     “I know you really tried with your idea to go to the Odeon and I felt a little bad. I figured that most movies come with books, and the books are usually better.”, she said thoughtfully. I could see she was glad that I loved her gift.

     “Except for Jaws, and The Godfather. In those cases, the movies were definitely better than the books.”

     Miriam got up and slowly walked to the door.

     “Where you going, babe?”

     “I imagine you’re going to want to start reading right away.”, she said trying to put on a good face but not quite succeeding.

     “That’s correct and I want to read it to you. This is now officially a part of your confrontational therapy stuff. She started to squirm a little. She stared at the floor and then the doorway leading outside.

     “I don’t know if I can handle it. I think I had hit my limit for tonight.”, she whispered anxiously.

     Suddenly I got the most powerful inspiration next to actually fucking up a high school girl. The whole thing came to me in one complete package. It gave me a sense of authority I didn’t know I possessed.

     “Come here.”, I ordered her.

     “Why?”, she asked fearfully.

     “Because I told you to.”, I said with the iciest tone possible.

     As I stared straight at her she began walking towards me reluctantly. It was almost like she had lost some control of her movements. The last five steps she made with an over-exaggerated sense of precision on the balls of her feet, almost like a silently frightened ballerina until she was standing right beside me.

     “Look at me.”, I told her in the same icy tone.

     She pulled her head up and stared at me as she fought to keep her expression neutral. Her face twitched a little bit. She almost looked like she thought she was going to be punished like a dog.

     I reached out and I wrapped my hand around her little throat as I stared hard into her dark brown eyes. I wasn’t exactly strangling her but my grip was a little tight. I was going on instinct but I thought this would be a good way to lock in her attention. I interestingly I could feel her pulse beneath my fingers and it began to quickly slow down.

     “Do you want some serious truth? Some truth that’ll help you out?”, I asked her grimly.

     She licked her dry lips.

     “Yes.”, she whispered.

     “Are you sure?”. I asked.

     “Yes.”, she whispered even more quietly.

     “You might find this in a book someday but I doubt it.”, I said as I gently removed her harlequin mask and placed it on the night table. As I looked at her face it seemed to me like her deep brown eyes were starting to glaze over. Her pulse was incredibly slow by now. I was almost afraid she was going to faint as I maintained my grip on her throat. She kept staring at me as her little chest occasionally rose and fell.

     “What I’m about to tell you will help you out but you have to keep it to yourself. Are you ready for what I’m about to say?”, I said a little more gently.

     “Yes, please tell me.”, she whispered as her lips barely moved.

     I reached over with my left hand and picked up the Michael Myers mask. I released her throat and placed the mask on her head. Obviously, it was too big so I moved it around a little so that I could somewhat see her eyes through the eyeholes. She stood there dead still. I couldn’t even see her chest rising or falling. I pulled her closer to me until my face was only a few inches from her eyes. At that point they looked like they were retreating to a very private place in the bottom of her mind.

     “If you want to beat the monster, you have to be the monster.”, I told her quietly yet directly, “Only then will the monster fear you and look for a weaker victim. Repeat what I just said.”

     “If you want to beat the monster, you have to be the monster. Only then will the monster fear you and look for a weaker victim.”, she said from within the mask with a solemnly dark sense of conviction.

     As gently as I could I grabbed her by the biceps and lifted her onto the bed until she was standing with her back to me.

     “Kneel.”, I ordered her.

     Immediately she dropped until her ass was resting against her heels.

     Again, as gently as I could I straightened her spine until her back was like a line. Then I tilted her head back until her neck was lined up with the rest of her vertebrae. I then tried to ease her shoulders back. I reached over and grabbed the knife. Reaching around in front of her I manipulated her arms until they were extended in front of her while slightly bent. Then I wrapped her fingers around the handle of the knife so that she was holding it with both hands with the blade aimed down at the mattress. The knife was maybe two feet above the bed.

     “Stay there.”, I ordered her.

     I went to the closet and got the candles. I brought them back and I lit them over the night table. When the wax started to melt I stuck them right on the night table. I figured I could scrape that shit off later. I turned off the lamp and placed my legs on either side of her as I rested against the headboard.

     “I’m going to begin reading in a minute. I don’t want to see a single muscle twitch. You will keep that knife in that position until I tell you otherwise. You will remain in that position until I say you can move. Do you understand me?”, I said directly.

     “Yes. I’m not to move until you tell me to.”, she said clearly yet distantly.

     “Then let’s begin.”, I said.

     I started reading to her as her shadow flickered largely on the walls. It took a few hours to go through the book. Fortunately, it was kind of a skinny paperback. It turned out to be a really good story. When he was 6 Michael Myers was possessed by the spirit of Samhain. Samhain is a Celtic festival that lasted from sunset October 31 to sunset November 1st. It was believed in places like Ireland, Scotland, and Wales that during that 24-hour period the line between the living and the dead was much more porous and that spirits could cross back to the world of the living. Food and drink were left outside to satisfy these spirits and to help insure that the farmers had a good winter, and that their livestock survived the cold and dark period. Michael was taken over by this powerful spirit who in turn demanded sacrifices. My favourite scene from the book was when he was in the loony bin and he apparently drowned a girl in a punchbowl while she was bobbing for apples during a Halloween party. Somehow, he got away with it. That was when Dr. Loomis started to suspect that there might have been something supernaturally wrong with this kid. When he was killed by Laurie Strode, Michael’s physical body was indeed dead but the spirit of Samhain was quite at home in this dead guy’s flesh. I mean I guess he would be after 15 years. The rest of the book more or less followed the movie.

     Sometime during the reading, I could hear Cait and Mom talking in the kitchen. It sounded like Cait was having a cry and I guess she was saying she was sorry for being such an asshole. My mom was a tough old bitch but she was also forgiving. I found Cait’s voice kind of annoying and I was wishing she’d shut the hell up and go to bed. Finally, I heard her come upstairs and I heard her bedroom door close.

     I finally closed the book and I put it down. Miriam’s back was perfectly straight. Her head was up and when I looked over her shoulder the knife was in the exact position that it was when I put her in position. I decided to try an experiment. As gently as I could I grasped her by the biceps and lifted her straight up. The heels of her feet remained glued to her ass. I held her up like that for about a minute. Not a single muscle twitched. Her posture didn’t change at all and she kept the knife in the same pose as well. It was like lifting a little garden statue of a beautifully homicidal little samurai in a harlequin costume wearing a Michael Myer’s mask.

     I sat up higher against the headboard and I placed her right in front of me. Gently I placed my head between her shoulder blades and I listened. She was barely breathing. Her pulse was unbelievably slow. Softly I began to rub her biceps.

     “Babe?”, I asked her quietly.

     “Yes?”, she said in a calm faraway voice.

     “What do you want to do right now without me telling you to do it?”, I asked curiously.

     Needless to say, her answer fucking freaked the shit out of me though I made sure not to react.

     From a very dark place in the furthest corner of her subconscious she said:

     “I want to go into Cait’s bedroom. I want to approach her bed. I want to grasp her by the hair with my left hand. Then I want to cut her throat with the kitchen knife that I’m holding right now from right to left. As her blood begins to spray I want to then grasp the knife in both hands and ram it straight into her heart. Within a minute she should be dead. No one should be able to hear that I just killed her. When I am satisfied that she is lifeless I then want to walk back into your bedroom, crawl into your bed. and then you can do with me whatever pleases you.”

     Needless to say, that was not the answer I was expecting. Somehow, I was able to outmaneuver her ego, which was quite strong, and hit the spot within her that disturbingly wanted something else.

     I removed the mask from her head and tossed it on the floor. Then I slowly separated her fingers one at a time from the knife and I placed that on the night table. I lifted her up again and straightened her legs out in front of her. I wrapped the blanket around her up to about her chest. Then I tilted her back until she was leaning up against me.

     “Why do you want to do those things?”, I asked her as nicely as possible.

     “Because I love you that much and I know that it would please you.”, she said. She still sounded mostly hypnotized but I could hear her usual self coming back to the surface.

     “I don’t want you to do any of those things.”, I told her as I began to brush her dark brown hair in long slow strokes.

     “Is there anything I can do to please you?”, she asked without any hesitation.

     “All I want you to do is listen to me, and I’m warning you right now what I’m about to say will be very frightening.”, I said as nicely as I could.

     She nodded like she was ready for anything. That would change dramatically in a minute.

     I paused for a minute to find just the right wording. Finally, I was ready.

     “You are the exact opposite of me, babe. Your normal self, your ego self I guess would be the word, is very rational and smart, very confident, very much on the ball, and you move through your world like you own it. It’s very direct and goal-oriented. Underneath that though there’s your subconscious self. Some might even call that your real self, or your secret self. That self secretly wants you to self-destruct.”

     I said all of that as gently as I could.

     I could feel her squirm against me. She fought with that truth like it was a boa constrictor in her soft little hands.

     “It’s true.”, she finally said in a scared little voice. I held her a little tighter.

     “If the wrong person were to ever figure that out about you they would first enslave you and then they would destroy you slowly. The worst part is if you don’t find this person you’re going to end up destroying yourself because your secret subconscious self wants you to die and it wants you to die a fucking failure. On your own you would probably end up dying young as an alcoholic while at the same time getting the living shit beaten out of you constantly by some guy, or even a bunch of guys, that you subconsciously chose to be with because you instinctively knew that these guys would be totally fucking vicious. It’s kind of a suicide thing, babe.”

     Miriam screamed and she slammed her skull into my chest, and I’ll tell you it fucking hurt when she did that.

     “NO. NO. NO. NO. Please no, please don’t let that happen. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don’t let that happen to me. PLEASE NO.”, she began to wail as her entire body began to shake violently. I held her tightly and she was actually worse than she was on the black hilltop. The really screwed up part was that I meant every word I said. I wasn’t trying to manipulate her in the slightest. I mean holy shit she was ready to murder her sister and then fuck me afterwards and she was only 9 years old. If I could get that kind of control over her so could some other asshole who really wanted to see her die slowly.

     I let her wail like that for a long time as I just quietly held her as tightly as possible. There was no point trying to reassure her. When she gets like that the only thing I can do is just hold on to her and let her get it out of her system. This time she went on for over an hour. The noises she made were gut wrenching. I was convinced my eventual victims wouldn’t make noises that pitiful, even if I used a torch and power tools. Finally, she settled down again if only because she couldn’t produce any more tears. At that point she was just sniffling a little bit and I started talking again as I smoothed the wet hair away from her red blotchy face.

     “We are the exact opposite of each other, babe. When I leave the house I’m not trying to dominate my environment. I’m just kind of mellow and relaxed, yet distant. Laid back I think is the term nowadays. For some fucking reason people at school seem to like me. The geeks talk to me, the cool guys want me to sit at their table, girls talk to me, and frankly I don’t give a shit about any of them. If they dropped dead in front of me I would look down at them and the only thing I’d be thinking is that I wished I had killed them first. For some reason people just seem to like me. I guess I seem pleasant.”

     “But underneath, your real secret subconscious self is full of powerfully violent desires. Desires to hurt people a lot until they’re dead. There is where your true will exists.”, Miriam said thoughtfully.

     “Exactly. At heart I’m a really evil boy and someday I’m going to be a very evil man.”, I said factually.

     “But you’re not completely evil.”, she asserted.

     I held my thumb and my finger about a millimeter apart in front of her deep brown eyes.

     “I honestly have about that much love and decency and it all belongs to you, babe. Everything you said was totally true. You asked me what can you do to please me, here’s what you can do. I want you to do for me what you told me to do for you when you talked to me in front of the little store. I want you to trust me. Everything you said was true. We truly are all the other has.”

     “I want to have that experience again with the reading as much as possible, please?”, she said with a hint of begging.

     I kissed her on top of her head.

     “Done. Did you even hear the story?”, I asked curiously.

     She gasped excitedly like the 9-year old that she sometimes was and once again her answer kind of freaked me out.

     “It was amazing. After a few pages it was like I stopped hearing your voice and instead I was inside Michael Myers’ head as the story moved along. I was looking through his eyes, just like in the movie at the start when little Mike stabbed his sister to death. I was committing all of those horrific murders in the book, as I stared down at my victims and I watched them bleed to death while they screamed in fear. I saw everything as he saw it. I could even feel my long masculine arms shoving the knife into my victims. I could feel my long masculine legs walking through the Strode house as I chased after Laurie. I could feel my fingers around her throat. I could feel the eternal spirit of Samhain inside of my mind demanding sacrifices and I felt like a total monster fulfilling the needs of my personal god. I even felt myself get shot at the end. I could feel the bullets penetrate my already dead flesh. I could see myself looking upwards as I fell off of the balcony. I saw nothing but eternal blackness then for a minute and then I could see myself sit up on the lawn. I then walked off to re-position myself for the next time I wanted to try and kill Laurie Strode.”, she said in a quiet tone. The part I found kind of disturbing is that she sounded like a blissed out 9-year old girl describing what it was like to encounter Santa Claus by the tree in the middle of the night.

     “Did you feel anything for Laurie Strode?”, I asked curiously.

     “If you mean did I feel sympathetic for her? No, not at all. I just wanted to destroy her.”, she said with that same factual tone. Miriam then looked up at me in a state of complete awe. Her face was shining, that’s the only way I can describe it and she was more beautiful than ever.

     “You told me to be the monster, and I truly was the monster, and it was beautiful. I want to be the monster again, please? That was my Nirvana.”, she said with a smile that would melt a non-evil person’s heart even as it scared them to fucking death. I reached down and kissed her on the mouth.

     “Anytime you need that I will take you back there and set you free. I love you, babe. Whatever this is between us the only thing I never want to do is ruin you.”, I said as she slowly geared back down to a more child-like level again.

     “I love you too babe. You’ll never ruin me. You had your chance last night and tonight and you chose to save me instead.”, she said quietly.

     “What?”, I replied with a bit of confusion.

     She crawled up the bed and she wrapped her arms around my neck. She placed her face right in front of mine.

     “Ever since I’ve been taking care of you when you have your brutal dreams, I’ve become sensitive to your movements. I felt you get out of bed last night and I started to wake up. I heard you leave the bedroom and I became nervous. I heard you go in my bedroom. By the way you didn’t touch anything did you?”, she suddenly asked in an agitated state.

     “No, I didn’t touch a thing. I promise.”, I said emphatically.

     She started laughing quietly.

     “I’m just kidding. Ever since I’ve fallen under your evil influence I’ve been trying to cultivate a sense of humour. I’m aware that I have anal-retentive tendencies. You then came back into our bedroom and I could hear you talking to the darkness. You stood at the precipice of your destiny and you chose me over whatever promises your subconscious offered you.”, she whispered. She then kissed me gently on the mouth.

     “You rejected the promises of your personal Satan for me. I’m yours forever. Together there is nothing we can’t do. I can even draw it on the blackboard for you Ada Lovelace-style if that’ll give it some semblance of intellectual legitimacy. You factor in love, plus mutual need, multiplied by balance, and what you have is an unbreakable union. Forget about our ages and forget that we have the same surname. Focus on that equation and ask yourself two questions, what is love and what is a relationship?”, she said thoughtfully. It was a good question, and I thought about it as aggressively as I could, but nothing was coming to me.

     “Uhm, was that question supposed to be rhetorical, babe or is there an actual answer?”

     Miriam gave me a sneaky smile as she leaned her forehead against mine.

     “There’s an actual answer and this answer encompasses any kind of relationship that matters no matter what the two people in question are doing. Try it again, big guy. What is love and what is a relationship? I’ll give you a hint, it’s only one word. We’re doing it right now.”

     “Togetherness.”, I suddenly whispered as I wrapped my arms around her little body and pulled her in.

     She yawned at that point.

     “Wow, what a day. So much activity and emotion. I need some sleep”, she murmured as she slid down me and got into position. Quickly she began to drift off. For some reason the stupidest question in the world came to me.

     “Babe?”

     “Yes?”, she asked sleepily.

     “Wasn’t Ada Lovelace a porn star?”, I asked curiously.

      She opened one sleepy dark brown eye.

     “You really don’t know who she is?”, she asked tiredly.

     “Uhm, no. I’m kind of a meathead.”

     “She was Lord Byron’s daughter. She was a brilliant mathematician and also a writer. She’s credited as being one of the co-inventors of the first computer, when it was known as a rational thinking machine, and she’s also recognized as the author of the first computer program in 1843. In spite of the fact that she died in 1852, and Nikola Tesla was born in 1856, I’m convinced that Tesla invented a time machine strictly because he saw her picture, read her work, and in a frenzy of obsessive inspiration he risked his life to go back to the 1830’s and steal her away from her husband with his phenomenal brilliance, and they are my real parents. This world I’m in right now is just an intensely elaborate opium dream. None of this is real, which unfortunately means that you’re just a product of my very stoned and romantic imagination.”, she said wistfully.

     “So, you’re 9 years old and you’re already chasing the fucking dragon?”, I asked skeptically.

     “All of us geniuses back then were smoking the hookah. It was kind of mandatory. Actually, I only smoke opium to wean myself off of the absinthe and the laudanum that I frequently binge on. My decadent lifestyle is a holdover of my real grandfather’s hedonistic “free love” period when he used to get high with his best friend Percy Shelley, and his wonderfully brilliant wife, Mary, and they would participate in group sex with Mary’s step-sister, Clare Claremont and Lord Byron’s physician, Dr. Polidori. Right now, I’m adrift in a Chinese opium den on the East Side of London mourning the death of Edgar Allan Poe as some half-bright urchin is reading to me Charles Baudelaire’s, “The Flowers of Evil.”.

     I don’t think you want to know how I seduced and destroyed all of my professors at Oxford. One of them hung himself from a sturdy branch right outside of my window. In his dead fist was his suicide note. All it said was, “Is this the only way that I can make you happy? Is this the only way that I can curry any kind of favour with you?” Frankly, my dear, it was. Dr. Leighton was becoming tediously obsessive. He kept begging me for one original idea in order to base his career upon, and of course his marriage proposals were rapidly becoming more and more bombastic. It was scandalous, my beautifully perfect hallucination, it truly was. Even I couldn’t decide after a while if I was a 9-year old genius who happened to be a heartless coquette or if it was the reverse. Either way, I was both.

     Back in my own time prodigies like me are worshipped as living deities. We can do anything we want and get away with it just as long as we continued to create new breakthroughs in various sciences. It’s fucking great. I can see, however, when I finally rouse myself from my latest opium binge, and update my notes regarding my visions of the future, that I’m going to have to inscribe many detailed warnings regarding the eventual demise of civilization. Then again, fuck it, let it all fall down, and just gimme the pipe.”, she said in a sleepy quiet voice.

     “Uhm, wow. Not sure what to say to that, babe.”, I said. I was impressed, in spite of myself, over just how much thought she put into this fantasy., “But you said to me quite elaborately that time travel was impossible.”

     “My real dad is brilliant enough to defy my scientific prejudices even though that evil sonofabitch won’t let me examine his notes. With my real mom doing the programming he was able to perfect his machine to make it more precise. It was really a fluke that he survived the journey at all but the fact that he did so for her swept her off of her feet. Oh, one other important detail, Mom also starred in the original stage production of Deep Throat. Apparently, she brought down the house.”, she whispered in a sleepy murmur.

     “Oh, okay. Hey, wait a fucking minute. How do you know about Deep Throat?”, I asked in a freaked-out way.

     “Deep Throat is a cinematic masterpiece. I’ll tell you more about that as well tomorrow. I love you, babe. I’ll see you in the morning.”, she said with a sneaky smile as she instantly fell asleep.

     I had my bedtime cigar as the candles were starting to get down towards the nubs. There were no heavy thoughts to speak of. I was honestly just cruising in the moment as I listened to Miriam breathe as she slowly rose and fell on my chest. I was just starting to realize that there were a lot of layers to her. Me, not so many. I had my surface self, which was starting to become manipulative, and then there was my secret self, which was growing stronger with its bloodthirsty desires. There weren’t really a lot of facets to my personality. Personally, I was fine with that. I didn’t need a lot of introspection.

     When we woke up it was just another day. We ate breakfast and then we took off into the wilds. Miriam did in fact tell me about Ada Lovelace and she sounded like a pretty cool woman. She also told me about Tesla and he sounded like a fucking superhero even if he was fucking nuts. She was really excited talking about those two and she went on for hours as she explained in incredible detail all of their work. As for Deep Throat all she said was that she reads newspapers and she can figure out innuendos.

     I did drop a serious question on her as we sat on the black hilltop. It was getting cold and the sky was a bleak-looking grey. Up here in Sudbury we talk about how the coming winter has a certain smell. No one can describe it but everyone knows the scent when the north wind hits them in the face right after Halloween. We were bundled up pretty well, especially Miriam as she wore her blue winter parka, a white scarf, black knee-high boots, a big red toque, and a pair of thick black mittens. We were sitting on a large flat rock holding hands and looking at nothing in particular. This was like that day at the little store. I felt kind of sick but I had to ask her something that I needed to know.

     “Hey, babe?”, I asked.

     “Yes?”

     “A little while back you said you couldn’t imagine doing anything uhm…..well …..y’know. You seem to be a lot more open to the concept now without any direct uhm……..influence from me. Any idea why that is?”, I asked feeling like a fucking goof for even bringing it up.

     She looked up at me thoughtfully.

     “Well to begin with things are already starting to happen to me.”

     “Puberty?”

     “Yes. For another when we had that talk in front of the little store, I was in crisis mode. All I was thinking was that I could lose you because you were under the spell of your subconscious. I had to work on that issue first and foremost. Now, after a few weeks of application, as well as a lot of freestyle therapy, we seem to be getting a handle on that issue. We’ve also gotten to know a lot more about each other. It’s like I can ease up a little. We’re starting to form a relationship groove, a dynamic. It’s kind of hard to be amorous when you’re frightened. Also, I just think you’re a sexy guy.”

     “You could have just said handsome.”, I murmured as I felt the sick feeling again.

     “I guess, anyway you treat me good without being an obsequious ass kisser. I’m only 9 from the neck down. Still, I can feel things changing within me. Now, since you brought it up, and I’m quite relieved that you did, why are you freaked out by the concept of uhm like……..y’know when it comes to me? And don’t even tell me it’s a moral issue because if you do I will punch you in the dick.”, she asked curiously.

     And here it was, the moment of truth time. I lit up a cigar and took a few drags as I stared at the blue smoke as it mixed with the white vapour from my breath. I put my arm around her and pulled her closer to me.

     “Just take your time and tell me everything, please. I promise you, I’m not leaving.”, she said tenderly as she took my hand.

     “Well, babe, it is a moral issue but not quite like you imagine.”, I started out slowly.

     It took a couple hours but I told her about the icy black urges that started in September. I told her about my late-night rituals when I wrote out those 30 violent fantasies, including the whacking off part. I told her how I would sneak out of the house and go to Sherwood Park and burn those cum-splattered fantasies. I even told her how giddy I would feel as I ran back to the house. I told her everything.

     “So that’s why you used to sneak out of the house in the middle of the night.”, she said as if a shoe had hit the floor.

     “You knew about that?”, I asked in amazement.

     “I told you, I’ve been studying you for years, right up until the day I actually dared to talk to you in the kitchen. I was terrified that you were sneaking out of the house because you had some slutty little girlfriend and you would sneak to her place and have sex with her. I was seriously gearing up to kill someone, especially if it was that fucking preppie twat Wendy-Louise Pelletier. The fact that she was your first violent fantasy actually makes me admire you even more than I did a moment ago.”, she said thoughtfully, “Anyway, please continue.” I had to laugh at that one even though we were having a wickedly serious moment.

     “All of my sex fantasies end the same way. They end in death and on the way to that death they’re laced with rape and torture.”, I said quietly as she leaned her head in close to my mouth because I was being quiet about it.

     “And you’re afraid that if we started to get a little too touchy, and a little too feely, and a little too kissy, that some kind of rage, what the Germans call lustmord, would overwhelm you and you would fuck me up.”, she said as gently as possible. “In fact, you convinced yourself that I was the only person that could remove this icy blackness from you so that you could feel like you were in control again. That’s why you used to hold me so tightly at the bus stop and just stand there, because you desperately needed me.”, she said softly.

     “Yeah.”, I said with a bit of a croak as I nodded and kept smoking. “I was being a selfish fucking asshole.”

     “Shhhhhhhh, don’t say that. You knew something was wrong and you were reaching out. It’s not like when we went on our first foray into the forest you could tell me these things. I wouldn’t have believed it. I had to see it for myself and realize that you were in serious danger.”, she said with unbelievable kindness.

     She linked her fingers inside of mine.

     “That thing that you think I was doing for you was just the power of suggestion, babe. I’m not a magical wood nymph that can ease anyone’s psychopathic urges. What you experienced was the placebo effect. That’s why your violent urges started to come out in your dreams. The desire was still there but your subconscious used another avenue to force you into an action that you weren’t ready to deal with. I mean you were ready, which is why you started following that red-haired girl, but you would have gotten caught. You would have made plenty of mistakes and then you really would have ended up at the sanitarium because you’re still young. Then everything I predicted would have happened and you would have been lost. You were scared and you did what you thought was best by hanging out with me. You know what I recall vividly, they way you looked at me in the kitchen when I was standing in the doorway. It was like you were finally seeing me. It’s the first time I’ve ever felt beautiful.”, she said softly.

     “You really are beautiful, babe. I never want to ruin you. You have a very bright future ahead of you and I want to see you achieve it.”, I said directly.

     “You’re not going to ruin me. You can’t depersonalize me into a two-dimensional object that you can destroy when I get older. I’m too real for you, now. To you I’m a whole person. I’m the one thing outside of yourself that you can’t classify as an object. You can’t “other” me. You’ve never had this icy blackness come over you in my presence. You’ve never fantasized about destroying me, even in the shower. How many times have I been alone with you? I’m safer with you, regardless of what we’re doing, than I am with anybody else. Right now, I just love being with you, and I’m certain you love being with me as well. The only thing I ask is that I keep spending the nights with you, please? Let me just be close to you. When the change happens then I reckon you’ll see me differently. Right now I look……..well I look like a 9-year old. A brilliant 9-year old with a pretty face, and you seem to love my hair, but still, I can understand why that makes you feel queasy. We have time. I just want to be with you.”, she said quietly.

     My emotional range is pretty shallow and limited but that didn’t stop me from picking her up and putting her on my lap as I looked up at her with appreciation.

     “You know, once you go through the change sleeping together will become a major hassle. Every night there will be a risk of getting caught. Mom would lose her fucking mind and the old man would fucking kill me. I wouldn’t even make it to the fucking nut barn. Dad would want to stick you in a nunnery somewhere in the fucking Arctic and Mom would want to stick you in the loony bin.” I said seriously.

     Miriam sighed.

     “Agreed. We would have to make alternate arrangements. I would have to start out in my room, sneak to your room, spend a few hours with you, and then sneak back to my room. But if your prediction about me going to Nickel District by the time I’m 11 comes true, and it will, we’ll be spending a lot of time together anyway. We’ll figure something out. We’re the fox and the lion. Together we can deal with anything.”

     At that point she paused and she started staring at her hands. After a good minute she looked up at me.

     “Can you recall those 30 fantasies from memory?”, she asked curiously.

     “Word for fucking word. As soon as I hear the name of one of those fantasy victims the words come right back out again. I may not have a photographic memory but it’s like I have one roll of negatives in my head and I can develop those pictures anytime I feel like it. Why do you ask?”

     “Someday you’re going to see me differently, we’ve already established that. The thing that sucks is that until you do, and you’re more comfortable with taking things further, you won’t write out those 30 fantasies and take me through them with this newfound knack of yours of sending me into Nirvana. By the way we’re doing “The Dark” tonight right after supper.”, she said decisively.

     “Why’s that, babe? The 30-fantasy thing that is.”

     “I’ll leave the answer to that question to your imagination if that’s alright with you.”, she replied and the smile on her face wasn’t mischevious in the slightest. It was brutally serious and it was making me as horny as it was making me sick. I had to look away.

     “We’ll burn that fucking bridge when we get to it, babe, but if it makes you feel better Wendy-Louise will be the first one that I take you through. Like you said things have taken off really fast. It’s time for us to find a stable plane and just keep our shit together. There’s another problem as well. Sooner or later it’s going to start to look obvious to everyone that there’s some kind of a connection between us. We can get away with it for now because you’re a kid and I’m just being a good brother. Once the change hits, or even before then I suppose, people are going to notice the way we look at each other, the way we pay attention to each other. That’s going to become a fucking problem.”, I said thoughtfully as I tried to be as articulate as possible with her.

     She nodded.

     “It would be easier to fool Mom and Dad because they won’t want to imagine anything aberrant going on between us unless they actually see it. The outside world will be more objective. There are two kinds of solutions to a problem, temporary and permanent.”, she said thoughtfully.

     “What kind of problems are you referring to, babe?”

     She answered the question with some heavy steel in her voice.

     “Many people will simply see you as the good protective brother doing his duty as his brilliant, and very young sister, makes her way in a world of significantly older youths.”

     “Which is what I would be doing? Ok, so what’s the temporary solution?”

     “The temp solution is to just simply act like nothing weird is happening. Siblings go to school together. They talk to each other. They eat lunch together. Siblings can even be best friends. We just have to make an effort to “behave normally” when we’re at school. No burning meaningful glances as we pass each other in the hallway. No slipping notes in each other’s lockers filled with illicit physical yearnings. No making out underneath the bleachers.”

     “Uh yeah, I think I get the point.”

     “I’m going to have to expand on this premise in more detail. Give me some time to work on this and I’ll have a much more detailed schematic for us to operate from. I have to admit this is making me excited.”, she said with a wide smile.

     “Ok, so we’re going to be undercover lovers by the time you start high school.”, I said thoughtfully.

     “Hmmmmmm, I like the sound of that. Say it again, please?”, she said with a bit of a husky growl.

     “Ok, so we’re going to be undercover lovers by the time you start high school.”

     “Oh, yes indeed. This is going to be fun.”, she said as she started to get some colour into her face.

     “Ok, so I get the temporary part. What’s the permanent part?”, I asked if for no other reason than I wanted to un-arouse her a bit.

     “Well, not everybody is going to be convinced. Some people just have sick imaginations. Also, some people are going to get bitter when they can’t seem to snag my tall sexy brother. They’ll see us together and they’ll just start saying things about us regardless of how we behave. Their jealously will fuel their imagination until it runs away from them. They’ll start talking to other girls and then those girls will start talking to the guys, and then everyone will be openly mocking us. The permanent solution will have to be exercised before it gets that far. That’ll require careful observations and I’ll work up a threat assessment that’ll fit in with our personal paradigm.”, she said contemplatively.

     “So, what exactly is the permanent solution?”, I asked as I began to feel a dark sense of excitement glowing within my guts.

     She smiled at me as the wind ruffled the stray brown hairs around her face. Her deep brown eyes narrowed a little as they took on a scary gleam.

     “Fuck’em up, with my blessing.”, she said with a cold and ominous tone that I knew was murderously sincere, “You wait for the order from me and then you can feast on their blood. There will be a few of these sorts who will require a permanent solution over the next few years. I promise you, babe, you will have victims before we leave Sudbury. But first you need to learn a few things, starting with self-discipline. Trust me and follow my advice, and you’ll be the finest monster the world will never know about.”, she said with that icy whisper as her lips brushed mine. She stopped talking then and she just looked at me with a lot of love in her deep brown eyes. We had hit another one of those natural silences when there wasn’t anything else to say.

     With that I stood up as I held her in my arms. We started walking down the black rocky hill towards one of the trails. Miriam had her eyes closed as she smiled widely. An interesting physical thing struck me just then. I was feeling that black chill inside of my guts and yet I couldn’t feel the frigid northern wind as it hit me in the face. I didn’t simply love her at that point as my feet landed wherever they chose to on that icy hill and yet my steps were firm and sure.

     When we reached the bottom, she opened her eyes and a white cloud of winter vapour came out of her small red mouth.

     “What are you thinking about right now?”, she asked in a quiet whisper.

     “You.” I answered solemnly.

     “Think about us instead. There is no more “me” and there is no more “you”. From now on we are one entity and not even death will change that. That’s not a promise, that’s a fact.”, she said with complete conviction. I raised her up and I pressed my lips to her forehead.

     “I don’t have the words.”, I whispered.

     “I think I love you says it all.”, she said with a devious smile.

     “Actually, I do have a word.”, I said with a slight enigmatic smile.

     “Say it.”, she ordered.

     Suddenly I thrusted her upwards towards the black and grey clouds of Canadian ugliness.

     SANCTUARY
SANCTUARY
SANCTUARY

     And just like that I gently placed her on the ground, took her hand, and we walked home saying nothing at all. Every time I looked behind me at the hard and frosted dirt in the forest I could see a freshly wet trail of blood that snaked around the bare birch trees and made its way up the black rocky hills.

     This was definitely the start of a beautiful friendship.

 

 

Psychotopia- Episode Five- Season 1

 

     And so it was that hundreds of tomorrows pettily crept forth from day to day for the Pendletons of Savannah, as they awaited within the city of self-deception for the inevitable English occupation. Katherine seamlessly transmogrified from a sexually sadistic serial-killing scientist/wife/mother from the deep piney of north-west Georgia, to an urbanely sophisticated American Queenpin, quite effortlessly. Though none of us are aware of her personal roots, we modern Pendletons take it as a given that she was obviously raised in a setting that provided a high degree of taste and cultivation before she struck out with her husband for the mountainous backwoods of the provincial colony of Georgia as an impregnated young bride of 14.

     Katherine had her third baby, a lovely little girl that she named Margaret. Black hair, nearly black eyes, cute as the proverbial button, and undoubtedly just as evil as her two barely older sisters, Lillian and Grace Gloria. Within two more months after that blessed event she was in a family way once again. She was barely 18 when she succeeded to go up the duff for the fourth time. If nothing else her powers of recovery, along with her powers of fertility, were nothing short of formidable. The health of her infant daughters was impressive as well when one considers just how many diseases that babies were prone to 200 years ago. There must have been something hidden within the Pendleton genes, even back then, that made them a superior species of hominid compared to the livestock that they were surrounded by. Some of my people within The Paradigm have even gone so far as to surmise that even the formulation of the breastmilk that we Pendleton women produce has certain strengthening properties that livestock women don’t possess.

     The Sons of Liberty muddled along fighting skirmishes here and there within the backwoods of the colony. Lieutenant Pendleton continued to hack off limbs and then conduct private conversations with his red-coated victims whilst watching them die from an intimately close distance. Confusion, it seemed, prevailed over the entirety of the revolution at that juncture up and down the eastern seaboard. Coherent strategies were in the shortest of supplies, and if it wasn’t for the gut-frosting cavalry officer and his two “scouts”, reliable intel, (along with tons of money to bankroll the cause), would have made the situation tremendously worse for the good guys who were fighting the good fight upon the right side of history.

     Charles Halloran continued to flourish in his youthful career as a jovially hyper-violent bank robber and his brother Simon was a firmly accepted member of the Sons of Liberty. Simon got to be “one of the guys”, and Charles had a black widow of a sovereign that he could serve and worship from an intimately close distance of his own. As such the relocated Hallorans of Asheville prospered at a rapid rate to such a degree that his three sisters knew a level of personal comfort that was quickly bordering upon being actually wealthy. They could afford the finest of educational opportunities as they dwelled within a mansion that was worthy of the term. When Katherine sent the Halloran girls and the two house-slaves to the provincial colony of North Carolina, she ordered Johnston to burn his green livery jackets. She then had him and his wife, Delores wear tastefully-designed uniforms of deep crimson. Apparently, they received frequent compliments for their new threads.

     Charles continued to criminally evolve beneath the guidance of his personal sovereign. At every opportunity he spoke with Katherine about the various details that she had outlined in the journal that she had gifted him with. Their relationship, to say the least, was becoming warmer and more emotionally intimate. Katherine was by now frequently expressing in her personal journal how she was always happy to see him alive and well upon his returns to Savannah House. One can only speculate where she hid that incriminating tome because she was also expressing at the same time her frequent needs to access her personal treasure chest of her most personal memories in order to properly get off with her husband every time the lightning struck the oak. At least she wasn’t fantasizing about her stalwart companion during those athletically torrid moments within the boudoir, but then again, she also wasn’t exactly pining for her husband’s company either when he was away amputating English limbs from English bodies.

     Charles didn’t cease and desist with the magnitude of his killings in those large northern cities. He just simply started telling the big and baleful cavalry officer that those men-at-arms always drew first before he could say anything in order to deter them from their life-shortening decision. He would stridently insist that he made every effort to say something before the muskets went off but those older, and more experienced man-killers, always tried to slap some leather before anything could be said at all. Katherine knew he was lying, and she would admonish him roundly and soundly during their fireside chats, firstly for taking unnecessary risks, and secondly for lying (badly) to her husband. Her stout young Cossack knew better than to deceive her when they were alone. All he would truthfully say is that the lady-god in his guts needed blood to keep her happy, and if she was happy then he got to live for a while longer. Frequently he would state that to him the lady god in his guts was all that he had for his own, a comment that never privately failed to sting Katherine’s deeply repressed sensitivities even though she knew precisely what he meant about having something of his own.

     Within her personal journal, The Lady Pendleton was forced to resign herself to the reality that the only way that he would change his approach to knocking over banks is if she was his partner-in-crime. Considering her state of incessant maternity that wasn’t in the cards for her. Also, her husband probably wouldn’t have been too enamored with her risking her wee self in an urban combat zone, especially with a homicidal teenager who was more than a wee bit of a manic maniac, and who was by now the most-wanted young man all over the 13 Colonies. Katherine had a fat stack of newspapers that had some very accurate black-and-white woodcuts of the wee maniac in question with the words “alive”, “reward”, “or” “Wanted”, and most ominously the very unambiguous term, “dead”, attached to the pictures in very large type. Many of those newspapers have been preserved within the Paradigm, and I have to say, the stout young Cossack certainly knew how to wear a hat and a scarf. Some of those woodcuts also did an admirable job of making him look like something that had been evicted from the blackest corner of Hell by Satan herself for being too rambunctiously happy in his most violent moments. Good-looking boy, though, even if the Law of Bestiality says in no uncertain terms that I am forbidden to know him in the Biblical sense of the word. (We’ll get into the Laws of the Paradigm, later on. There aren’t that many but the punishments are more than a few light years beyond Draconian.)

     In due course, however, Katherine and Charles would have some blood-soaked episodes together that would bind them closer than any sexual act one could dare to imagine. Episodes that would have mortally direct benefits for James Pendleton, whilst at the same time setting him mortally at odds with Charles forever. We’ll get to that story later.

     Charles only paid deference of any depth and authenticity towards his sovereign. He wasn’t quite openly sarcastic with James Pendleton but the two young men had fallen into the deadly habit of silently sizing each other up every time they were in the same room together. Quietly the bloodthirsty soldier would look way down at the bloodthirsty bank robber whilst he, in turn, would make it a point of staring straight upwards into the face of his sovereign’s husband, as the blood-chillingly happy smile on his mug went even wider, as though to quietly communicate what he would like to do to the giant before him if the circumstances were just a little bit different. The giant in turn would then grimly nod at him as though to reply, “Someday, kid, someday.”

     “When my men engage in this sort of confrontational set-to, I find it disconcertingly unsettling to note the countenance that my intimate companion always radiates towards my husband. It’s as though he is informing James with the most pleasant of expressions that it would be in his personal best interests if I outlived him as opposed to me expiring anytime in the foreseeable future before he did. Silently they always shake hands, Roman-style, and James barely endeavours to appear welcoming, but his strengths are not particularly strong in the art of insincerely-applied social graces to begin with. Charles for his part, doesn’t even attempt to emit any true sense of warmth or camaraderie. For him the greeting is a mere formality and for his part, my husband is but a nuisance to be tolerated as he puts forth the barest of minimums as regards to social pleasantries. The entire pantomime is but Charles’ methodology of communicating towards my husband that he is neither impressed nor intimidated by him. I ordered him to not engage in any sort of direct challenge with James, but I cannot in good conscience command him to pay the sort of deference that my husband has grown accustomed to from his comrades. Charles is no house slave to be driven about this way and that as far as issues of deportment go. Also, James could stand a little bit of reality as regards to the fact that not everyone trembles within his titanic presence. I never have. If James wants Charles’ respect as a man he is going to have to construe a proper strategy as regards to the acquisition of it. Or, at the very least, he’s going to have to submit to the truth that the courage of a soldier is no more significant than the courage of a criminal.

     Charles is making us wealthier than we can ever imagine, and he never demands any sort of tributes from the SoL like some returning Roman general with yet another chest of prizes for the Senate to ogle over. In point of fact, Charles does not evince any sort of indication that he even cares what the revolutionaries think of him, which is a good thing because my husband is of a rather stingy nature when it comes to expressing his own appreciation towards anyone with the occasional exception of me. The SoL are doing their part to achieve a dubious abstraction known as “liberty” when we all know that we were not exactly Hebrew slaves beneath the Roman yoke to begin with. The “liberty” that Charles delivers to us without fail time and again, is of the very real variety because nothing liberates the individual from the yoke of Satan as effectively as gold. Gold is the true god of the livestock species that they secretly, and sometimes not-so-secretly, pays the strictest of obeisance to.”

     No doubt the angry fop has kept James apprised of their criminal forays every time the SoL had one of their gratuitously grim gatherings within the office. Katherine herself never inscribed whether or not her and her husband had any sort of dialogues within the confines of the boudoir regarding the matter of young Master Halloran’s homicidal proclivities as a 14-year old “freedom fighter”. The absence of any such notations indicates to me that they in all likelihood had no such conversations upon the matter. As has been noted several times previously, James was intelligent enough to keep his thoughts to himself. I can only assume that James was also intelligent enough to realize that Charles was Katherine’s “guy” and if he was going to follow anyone’s admonishments it was going to be hers. I can also assume that Katherine never brought up the subject of her intimate companion either. Strategically it would have been best to keep those two elements well and truly compartmentalized. I know I would have.

     I stated a moment ago that there was going to be an event that would openly and permanently leave James and Charles at odds with each other. Well, there was a foundation that would lead up to that event, a pre-event, if you will, and it was more than a bit of a doozy. In fact, it was rather life-altering.

     The pre-event manifested itself one blustery evening in early December, 1778. The Brothers Halloran made their periodic rest stop at what used to be their family domicile, and as such the SoL, along with Simon, held their latest debriefing session inside of the office.

     “That evening, once the revolutionaries adjourned themselves from the drawing room, Charles knelt before the hearth and he proceeded to build up a pyre worthy of many pagan sacrifices beneath the orange harvest moon of October. There was something about his posture, the manner in which his squatly-broad back rose and fell rapidly, as he fretfully arranged the logs. He was tense and it was the first time I had ever paid witness to him being immersed within such a state. Something was definitely awry, and I quietly watched him as he needlessly shifted around the stumps and the staves in a repressed effort to quell his pending anxieties.

     I mentally re-envisioned how the brothers appeared when they entered the manse shortly beforehand. Simon seemed to be ensconced within his typical bearing of the “middle-class aristocrat”. He was fatigued, and yet eager to share once more his insights as regards to the troop movements of the English, who truly were just above our heads by this time. Charles had his usual happy grin as he had both sets of saddle bags hanging heavily from both of his broad shoulders. Both brothers had lost weight due to their actively violent career. Admittedly my stout young Cossack needed to sacrifice the rugby-based pudge that hung about his mid-section. Simon however, now bore a pale gauntness that belied a newly growing entity within his consciousness. A cancer of the mind had begun to metastasize inside of his imagination. The 16-year old freedom fighter was galvanizing the hatred within his frame in a new manner that was worthy of both concern and contemplation.

     Even as Charles’ back was to me, as I rested my coffee mug upon my once-again bloated belly, I could see that his brother’s mind tumour was going to lead to a very different discussion this evening. I felt the pangs of disturbance all the way down to my swollen little feet when I heard what he said to me in a low growl that sounded nearly exactly like my husband’s. He was respectful, as always, but also a shade abrupt in his tone.

     “I need to speak to both you and your husband this evening before we retire. Simon cannot be aware of this discussion, Sovereign.”

     “It would be wise if you told me first what the subject is before we bring James into it.”, I replied levelly.

     Charles nodded appreciatively, and with a few healthy dollops of whale oil, the hickory pyramid of orange and yellow flames suddenly sprang upwards with a joyously roaring exclamation. Carefully he retreated to his usual armchair whilst my two oldest babes slumbered upon the alabaster polar bear skin before the conflagration. Their raven black hair shimmered in the firelight. Grace Gloria’s was down past her scapula while Lillian’s had reached the nape of her tiny neck. In the larger-sized black pram that we know own, little Margaret snored away gently. I know only one manner in which to achieve that level of blissful security. I must acquire another victim betwixt offspring. It’s been much too long and I cannot do without feeling the internal embrace of bloody Thanatos for much longer. My own passionate needs demand the fullest of expression, and they shalt not be denied for much longer.

     From the interior of his range-rider my intimate companion extracted an impressively collected sheaf of parchments, curled up into a tube and secured into place with a length of rough twine.

     “I apologize for the bad script, Sovereign. I hope you can read it. Writing out what I need to say to you and your husband was the only way I knew to stop myself from cutting his f—–g head off while we were into the wind. I wrote it out in pieces while he was asleep in whatever rabbit hole we were buried inside of. We have a huge problem and this problem isn’t just you and me, Katherine. This problem involves those f—–s in the office, too.”

     By the blazing glow that had effectively illuminated this half of the drawing room, I could see that his countenance was brutally severe as his light-blue eyes radiated with the fratricidal desire that he had denied himself so that he could secure my authorization beforehand. I could tell that bringing my husband into the discussion was merely a matter of etiquette, the sort of polite formality that criminals engaged in when they wanted the violent death of a confederate to bear an element of legitimacy and sanctification. Simon was James’ scout, his acolyte who always sought out his approval and validation. Without him saying so outright, I knew that he was requesting that I speak on his behalf with James, and I suppose that in turn it would be James’ duty to defend the position as regards to why Simon’s life needed to be spared, if at all possible. Before I had read a single paragraph, I had already committed myself towards using the full weight of my intellect towards making my husband assent to the truth of my intimate companion’s judgement.

     “For what it’s worth, before I read your missive, I want to express my gratitude to you for not doing anything drastic. Thank you, Charles. Thank you for everything that you have done thus far for me and mine. You do not receive much in the way of credit or recognition but I do appreciate what you do, even if you do worry me to excess with each gazette screaming for your head.”, I said chidingly just to inject a shade of humour into these grim proceedings.

     “Yours is the only credit that matters, Sovereign. You were the one that taught me to think things through before acting. I know that when I hit a bank I need to give the lady god in my guts her blood but I swear to you, I do try my f—–g hardest to not be hasty about things, but after you read that, I think you are going to see it my way. Simon has to die or else there is going to be a s——-m raining on all of our f—–g heads. He is going f—–g mad up there in South Boston. It is getting to the point that I am starting to f—–g hate just being around that f—–g a—–e along with all of those other f—–g a——s that he now has around him up there. Just dragging him away to give those f—–s in the office their updates is becoming a chore.”

     “Are you saying he has been gathering disciples?”, I asked as a new jolt of suspicion coursed through my fecund little body down to my feet.

     “It’s all in that letter that I wrote to you, Sovereign. It would be faster for you to read that than it would be for me to tell you why we need to f—–g kill him before it is too late.”

     I pulled the rough twine knot open and the sheaf of parchments spread themselves before my eyes. The letter was actually even more profane than his usual patter, an indication of just how incensed he was in whatever horse stall he was laid down in as he scrawled these paragraphs by lantern-light with whatever quill and inkpot that he could acquire. In spite of his homicidal excitement when he wrote it, I could see that he made an effort to make his missive as legible as possible with his block letters of a goodish size, and I was pleased to note that there were few spelling errors or any serious problems with his grammar.

     “I’ve read your journal hundreds of times, Sovereign, and I have taken to using the dictionary so that I do not sound like a complete f—–g dunce.”, he mumbled self-consciously.

     “You sound fine, young sir. True fools do foolish things. There is nothing foolish about what you have done here.”, I replied factually.

     It only took but a few moments for me to read his entire screed and I had to admit it was a most damning account.

     “And he refuses to listen to your reasoning about why this course of action is the wrong route to take?”

     “He only listens to those shanty Irish pieces of s—t up north and the only thing they tell him is that he is the greatest thing since f—–g Jesus. Those people are f—–g gross, Sovereign. They are disgusting even from a distance when the wind is blowing the wrong f—–g way. They still think that bathing will f—–g kill you. I actually tried to teach one of their c—s how to use a knife and a fork and she accused me of being a catamite, and you knew she was the belle of the tavern because she still had half of her f—–g teeth. Those people are f—–g sick and they f—–g stink worse than the f—–g dead. F—–g foul creatures, absolutely f—–g foul.”, he said bitterly with a depth of hatred that deeply belied his privileged middle-class upbringing.

     “Did you ask him what the SoL would think of his intentions?”

     “I said to him that your husband would not like it. Simon said he would tell him when the time was right but I think he was just b———-g me. He wants to be a big f—–g wheel in his own way. He says he wants to be remembered as being more than just a f—–g bank robber, like there is something f—–g s—-y about being a good f—–g criminal.”

     “Is the slag with only half of her teeth his official tart, now?”

     “F—k, of course she is, and I can already tell he is going to get her up the duff before too long.”

     “And you feel certain that he will not confide in my husband upon his own?”

     “Would your husband go along with murdering f—–g slaves, old people, women, and children, because that’s what they are talking about doing, Katherine? Of course, it will not be anything personal. They just cannot leave any witnesses y’know, not like when that a—–e and me knock off a f—–g bank. Simon says that that way we can rob these estates and scare the s—t out of the limeys at the same time which will distract the redcoats from the revolution if they have to protect the wealthiest families in the colonies.”

     “I cannot see James going along with that tactical course of action. I agree with you, the outcome of such assaults would discredit everything the revolutionaries have been fighting for.”, I quietly replied. “You do not believe that James and I can reason with him, do you?”

     “You cannot reason with a f—–g idiot, Sovereign. We need to kill him along with those f—–g curs up in South Boston. Simon put the stupid idea into their heads and if they lose him they’ll have a go at it without him, I reckon. I can handle them. A couple firebombs in that s——e and that entire chunk of the city will burn up nicely. If you try to talk to him he is just going to run up there and hole himself up like a f—–g rat. Then he will just go on with his plan anyway and make us all look like f—–g monsters. I think it would be best if you talked to your husband and just told him to be ready to lose his best scout. I mean the f—–g limeys are probably already within the colony trying to get set up and I am sure the French are coming with their warships. In a matter of days, it is going to be bush-fighting for all of us and we need to get you and your f—–g babies out of here.”

     “My place is with my men. This child will be along shortly and then I will be ready to do my part after a week’s recuperation. It’s not as if I am unfamiliar as regards to the ministrations of violent death, sir.” I spontaneously stated with no small foundation of adamance.

     “Yes Sovereign, I know. I just do not want nothing to happen to you, Katherine.”, my intimate companion mumbled fearfully. I would have been most gratified by his apprehensions if it was not for the reality that this was a dire situation. If the English were down here then now would be an excellent time for Simon to gather up his army of white trash Irish dogs and lay waste to as many estates as they could reach in the northeast.

     “Then you are just going to have to remain close to me and mine. With all of this “dead or alive” talk within the gazettes you have to assume that at least some of your Anglo rugby chums have already given your name to the authorities. There may be a reason why the names of you and your brother have been kept a secret thus far from the gazettes. The presence of English troops above us in tandem with the SoL coming and going from this house, may be the only thing stopping the bounty hunters from snatching you from your bed.”

     “The presence of English troops gives us a perfect chance to kill Simon. Then I can wipe out those greasy c—s in South Boston. If Simon dies down here from a couple muskets to the f—–g face, we can bury him beside my c—t sister, and then my other sisters can think he died a war hero. Then after we get rid of the f—–g limeys from Georgia I can go back to hitting banks. I know the circuit now and I can clean out those places by myself.”

     For a lengthy stretch of time silence hung betwixt us. There was much to consider and hard decisions had to be made swiftly. The hearth cracked and popped before us and I unconsciously reached over and clasped Charles’ hand. He gave my dainty paw a solid squeeze of solidarity as we both continued to brood over this looming crisis.

     “Sovereign?”, Charles finally asked me gently.

     “Yes, sir?”

     “What exactly is the plan when the English take the city?”, he asked me in a serious whisper. Now we had a second problem to mull over but at least on this front I had a plan prepared. I lit up a pair of cheroots, handed him one, and stretched out my swollen little feet.

     “We are going to act as though we are grateful to have them amongst us. You are going to have to hide your trademark hat and scarf and content yourself with only two muskets and a bayonet hidden within your range-rider. You will also need to harvest your mane all the way down to the skin and then you are going to have to sport a peruke just like a proper English gentleman. We are also going to have to get you some false spectacles. You will have to dress much more conservatively, brown breeches, black buckled shoes to match your black tri-corner hat, and the like. We will have to hang the King’s Colours from the doorway, naturally. You will be known as my personal ward since your parents, and your sister, were tragically taken from you when you were but a lad of only 13 summers. Of course, I felt a certain moral obligation towards you and your family. I certainly could not leave you to languish in the aftermath.

     It also happens that you have been very helpful since I have a powerful disdain of urban environments. I much prefer the openness of a natural setting far off amongst the mountains, whereby the confinement of having so many bodies pressed around me is not an item of contention. But alas, I am here in the city, striving mightily to hold my marriage together, even though I have no conception what it is exactly that my husband is involved in. All and sundry are aware that he is a closed-mouth sort of man, therefore it should not be difficult to promote the idea that I have no notions as regards to his whereabouts, or his activities here within the city of self-deception.

     Your brother will have to hide himself away within the interior along with my husband and the rest of the revolutionaries. Since no one can actually peg you as being involved with this most historic of conflicts, you should be able to move about with a certain degree of liberty. You will always remain with me and mine, and for the most part we will remain indoors. Vague insinuations will have to be quietly sent aloft into the ether. A troubled marriage, y’see. A beautiful young wife with a burgeoning army of living responsibilities who is starting to acquire the early stages of the dreaded neurological disorder known as neurasthenia. Are you familiar with that term, sir?”

     “No Sovereign, but I like the sounds of it. It sounds dreadful.”

     “Yes, it is a terrible-sounding affliction to be sure. I always feel exhausted now and more and more frequently I appear to be of the lowest of spirits. Migraine headaches leave me painfully fatigued until close to the evening. Terribly horrid mood swings have begun to puncture my emotional states. I find myself drawn towards anger, and then just as swiftly, I find myself feeling rather terrified to be alone by myself, especially as the encroaching shadows of nightfall begin to traverse the floors. The slightest squeak of noise can induce the most frightful of starts within my tiny frame, which then leads me back around to being angry and exhausted. Sleep comes hard for me, if it even comes at all. I deem myself quite fortunate to have a strong young man such as yourself to lend me some desperately-needed support and assistance, as the bleak reality of marrying far too young sits upon my constantly lactating bosom like a headstone.”

     “Of course, and as your faithful young man-servant, as well as the son of a woman who was ensnared within the daemonic grip of laudanum, I am hell-bent to see to it that you yourself do not go down that same f—–g path.”

     “Which is why you pay me the strictest of attentions and with stoic, loving silence you endure my heightening moments of the impending madness of my capricious wrath. It is terrible, really. A lively young blade such as yourself shackled to the side of a tormented young bride and mother. A girl, really, but now she feels as though she is nothing more than a combination of the worst elements of a brood mare and a cow who is in turn shackled to a gigantically unappreciative brute.”

     “Your husband seems to be getting angrier and angrier that you have not produced a son yet.”, my stalwart young Cossack noted with faux-concern as he nodded with equally false-solemnity towards the fire. If anyone was actually concerned about that matter it was the metaphorical brood mare in question.

     “Yes, it is true. He has begun to stare at me like I am one of Henry the VIII’s failures. His glowering features are beginning to grievously unnerve me, truth be told. If this latest product of his unstoppable lusts comes forth bereft of the proper genitalia, I have no idea how he will react, sir but I fear it will be most unsavoury. He has not outright ever beaten me, yet, but he definitely blames me for our three inferior daughters whom he believes he will be forced to financially support for the rest of his life. Of course, a divorce is out of the question. I have no means of my own, and sadly you are quite young and you have no marketable skills to speak of. It would be Queer Street for us both with four babies to tend to if this latest child turns out to be yet another daughter. “Sin in haste, repent in leisure”, is what shall be etched upon my headstone some dark and dreary day if I take up the strait razor and draw one final bath. I am afraid that my life is all but expended and I being but 18 years of age. Never fall in love, young master Halloran, for that is the surest and the truest road towards madness and personal damnation.”

     “This sad story will have to be told slowly and very quietly.”, he said thoughtfully.

     “Every so often there will have to be an embarrassing public display of my looming instability. You will indeed do everything you possibly can to quell my outbursts for the sake of preserving my dignity, but alas there will be witnesses, and they shall form some very definite conclusions that are contrary to my weakening efforts to remain somewhat poised and dignified. If our performances are executed well enough, I shall be dubbed, “The Ophelia of Savannah.” Be warned, my young male lead, when I perform I tend to give it my all as I assume the character that I portray.”

     “Then, my Sovereign, you will need to give it your all at church as you pray to God to remove all of your pains from both your breast as well as your head.”

     “Indeed, young sir. Only the Lord Jesus Christ can save me now from the very damnation that I find myself trapped within due to my girlish immaturity. There is however, some good news for us criminal mummers to mull over. The English are now mired within a war that they initially did not take very seriously. Unless my guess is wrong, they are trying to find a graceful exit from this conflict altogether bereft of the necessity of actually surrendering nor accepting any culpability for the conflict in question.”

     “So, you reckon they will be on their best behaviour when they take Savannah?”

     “It would be a good idea for them to blow the dust off of their good English manners and let the world see that they are not the ruthless oppressors that their enemies have been saying they are.”

     “Will they not demand to know where your husband is?”

     “If I honestly do not know where he is then what can I really say to them? Have you ever tried to interrogate a neurasthenic woman? We can be quite exasperating once we submit to the hellish throes of our burgeoning anxiety. If you honestly do not know where your brother is then you shall be in the same boat as me. All we can do is plead ignorance via our lawyer and sing, “God Save the King”, every time the redcoats march past this house. They will not be here for very long, I can assure you. Once the French arrive with their navy, and they proceed to cannonade the harbour, the battle will shift from the land to the sea. Things will become confusing at that juncture, especially at night, and then, my partner-in-crime, we revolting little crims shall do some revolting of our own.”, I quietly declared most eagerly as I gently punched him upon the bicep.

     “Will there be much in the way of killing, Katherine?”, my stalwart companion asked me darkly as his light- blue eyes began to sizzle whilst his happy-looking smile finally began to resurface upon his widely-boyish countenance, once more. To see that wide and full-lipped grin make its return, in light of the question he had just uttered, ignited a very different hearth just then that my very pregnant belly was not going to allow me to stoke once I was alone. Blast and damnation, I should have stolen that femur when I had the opportunity. Upon the planes of torture, it was a thing of genius if only because he was not aware of the intimate agony that he had just instigated.

     “Providing that we produce no witnesses, once those guns begin to boom, we shall be joyously soaked in the blood of our chosen victims. We will have to make the most of those nights once they commence. It will be a veritable two-person massacre, four if you include the death goddess that dwells within your abdomen along with the girl who has been feeding me the loveliest of inspirations within the dungeon of my mind. We will need to strike fast and keep our heads low, but the copious draughts of hot blood that we will drink shall definitely warm our icy hearts back into the pinkest of ecstasies. Of that, my intimate companion, I have absolutely no doubt. If we hopscotch through and around those 22 squares adroitly, when the cannons start to blast, we can even kill a smattering of the good burghers inside some of those fine little manses. Thanks to your loyal house man, Mr. Johnston, many of the house slaves here in the city of self-deception have imparted onto me which ones are secretly supporting the cause of our enemies. They shall need to be punished for their foul duplicities, and their homes will need to be ransacked for every golden trinket that they contain. That will fatten the coffers of both of our families quite nicely and it will also weaken the support base of our local enemies. The only thing we need to bear in mind is that we will have to refrain from the use of firearms. This will strictly be the wettest of work. In the evening hours we will both perform drills within the cellar with our Claymores and bayonets. Those drills are for my benefit much more than for yours. I shall have to purge the rust from the hinges of my joints before I take up the hunt once again.”

     “I prefer to slaughter men who dare to fight me, my Sovereign.”, Charles said lowly as he squeezed my swollen little paw.

     “Then you shall serve as my eyes and ears for I am a hunter and I derive the sweetest of pleasures out of destroying my prey slowly within their chambers when they falsely believe that they are safe from the true predators of this world. But I will lend no small magnitude of assistance in whatever conflicts we encounter against any misguided warriors who struggle to maintain order when our French allies arrive to wreak their havoc. You will find me a most able little soldier in those manly moments. You need to completely understand this however, Charles. Your Sovereign Black Widow has her needs and those desires must be quenched when we take to the pitch within the pitch blackness and we show them all what a couple of diminutive monsters such as ourselves are capable of. You wanted to see what was behind the nearly black velvet curtain, that is what you shall find at the furthest end of my abyss. That is when you will see me in my truest state. An arachnid hungry for blood and agony because only those two elements can feed to her the sweetest of passions that she has ever known. Nothing is finer to me than those moments, sir. Nothing at all”, I said to him with the iciest of sincerity. That statement alone should communicate to him just how deeply committed I was to the truth when I told him that he would know my truest self. Stripping off my garments for his visual pleasure after I have this baby would pale to the extreme compared to what I am allowing him to see inside of my nearly-black eyes.

     “I can live with that, Sovereign. I just cannot hunt the same way that you do, truth be told, ma’am.”, my stalwart companion said smilingly with a self-conscious shrug.

     “It’s neither a crime, nor is it a sin to be truthful with me, sir. I prize self-awareness very highly, as I have indicated within that journal that I gifted you with.”, I said with quietly vigorous sincerity as I gave his massive hand a strong squeeze and a good shake, along with a smile that was legitimately warm and accepting, “But first we shall have to play our parts and pretend that we are just a pair of Loyalists blown together by the winds of circumstance. Keep mum, and you shall receive a first-hand education as regards towards the proper care of this growing army of baby girls that lay scattered about our feet.”, I jested mirthfully as I pointed at the two infants softly snoring upon the polar bear skin.

     Charles snorted a sharp chuckle as he glanced downwards at Grace Gloria, who had her arm protectively about her sister Lillian’s shoulder. With the same careful ease that he has always implemented he stood up and he gently scooped up first one infant, and then the next, and he placed them within the pram with their tiny sister, Margaret.

     Automatically both Grace Gloria and Lillian each draped an arm around Margaret in order to reassure her that she was neither alone nor unprotected. Softly he smiled at them as he stood over my evil trio of raven-haired little moppets.

     “I think I would very much enjoy being a father.”, he gently whispered.

     “You are a brother to three lovely sisters who need you to remain unattached. Soon enough those lovely little daemons shall be calling you, “Uncle Charlie”. In due course you will be a rather popular figure, young sir.”

     “I will try not to use profanity around them, my Sovereign.”

     “I enjoy hearing your colourful patter, and I am certain they will enjoy it as well. Our refined ears can stand to be defiled by your jolly curses.”

     It was at that point in their personal conversation that the office door opened down the hallway and the revolutionaries once again temporarily disbanded. Simon, the new voice of Irish independence within the struggling Republic of the ULA, took to his chambers once again with little in the way of fanfare. The other freedom fighters bade their good evenings as well and then they took to the slightly blustery Savannah night.

     Once again, James Pendleton quietly strode into the drawing room and he surveyed, from the rear, his impregnated wife, sitting as comfortably as she possibly could within the huge throne-like oxblood leather armchair with her swollen ankles stretched towards the gargantuan blaze that continued to snap, crackle, and pop as the miasmic hickory wafted throughout the seemingly cheerful space. Her swollen little feet were propped upon an ottoman as she propped a mug of New Orleans coffee upon her well-rounded gut. A few feet away, upon his own matching armchair, sat the happy-go-lucky robber of banks, and according to Katherine he made a supreme physical effort to remain in position staring at the blaze as opposed to succumbing to the temptation to eye the mate of his black widow sovereign, and silently challenge his imposing aura of supremacy once again.

     Katherine raised the sheaf of parchments above her raven head like a little livestock girl confidently submitting her report card to her grim and cranky father.

     “Forgive me for not adjusting myself, sir but I’ve finally found a position that suits my assaulted vertebrae. I’m afraid that we have an extreme problem that will require an extreme solution of the swiftest variety. These parchments are a detailed report inscribed by Charles pertaining to his brother’s newfound ambitions in the Irish district of South Boston. It would appear that several weeks ago our bank-robbing scouts stopped in the area after a hasty escape and they entered upon a tavern of the most unsavoury sort. Young Charles found the establishment to be insufficient as per his needs and his brother thought that the locale would be a suitable place to lie doggo bereft of the fear of the improper authorities making an assault upon that part of town after nightfall. Charles disagreed and he departed for a more fitting venue whereby he could bathe and safely consume a hot meal.

     After securing just such accommodations at a conveniently combined opium den and brothel, Charles ate, cleansed himself, and bedded down for a period of time, with implicit instructions that he would be awakened before sunrise so that he could return to his brother at the unsavoury tavern down the road.

     Upon his return to said tavern he stepped within to discover that his sleepless brother was holding court within the dining area as he was carrying forth about all issues pertaining to the liberation of Ireland from its English overlords. He seemed to have a very eager congregation gathered about him as he filled their greasy and ignorant heads with the most frightful tales as regards to how their forebears back upon the old sod are being cruelly maligned. Instantly realizing that this was a serious problem in the making, young Mr. Halloran here quietly sat at the rear of and he quickly took notes. He then transcribed his notations onto a proper piece of parchment at his earliest convenience.

     That, sir, is just the setting of this unfolding tale of impending misfortune. Thus far, there have been three such gatherings in this tavern and the tone and tenor of these lectures is becoming more and more violent in terms of intent. At any rate, it was at the third and latest meeting at this tavern that Simon told his flock that a small army of them, an army comprised of over three hundred men and women, could indeed take down many fine Loyalist homes in such a manner in rapid succession. He told them he could accumulate enough gold to purchase proper weapons, powder, shot, horses, provisions, and the like, in order to finance an urban war against the ones who hold power over all of the colonialists from within the cities. Simon told his bloodthirsty crew of land-based Irish pyrates that it would be necessary to desecrate and destroy every single living person within each of these homes in as horrific a manner as possible before setting those homes aflame. That would include the bodies of raped and mutilated women, children, the aged, and finally slaves. As a token gesture of Judeo-Christian benevolence, Simon insisted that the corpses of the slaves should be dispatched unto the flames of terror undefiled. Their throats would only be swiftly slashed open. The White Man’s Burden and all of that.”

     I paused just then for dramatic emphasis as I continued to hold aloft the sheets for my husband to inspect. I could hear his slow and heavy footfalls creaking across the wooden floor as he strode towards my intimate companion and I with what sounded to me like angry reluctance. The crushing tread of his boots slowed as he made his approach. I could discern that he had no wish to read the heinous truths that Charles had painstakingly inscribed. The very high-pitched groaning of the pine wood floor told me that my husband was becoming more and more displeased with every step. Predictably, he was going to endeavour to dismiss my stalwart’s assertions, but I was not going to allow that eventuality to happen. As my sole friend stated, informing my husband was merely a procedural courtesy, a matter of ethical protocol. I was neither seeking out his permission nor his agreement as regards to this issue. I was merely keeping him abreast of what I knew needed to be done this time, as opposed to what I wanted to do.

     Due to his criminal nature, Charles was wily enough to attend those morning lectures and write down what he heard and witnessed. He did not suddenly act as though he was devotedly taken with his brother’s cause. The lady god in his guts told him that that would induce suspicion. It was better to appear quietly disdainful of Simon’s intentions, which in turn would motivate his brother to lecture him upon the territories about why the cause of Irish independence was right and just. He manipulated his brother into lecturing him at length about why these desecrations needed to be done.

     I felt the sheets being softly and slowly tugged from my swollen little fingers. I could tell just from how long that it took James to navigate from one page to the next that he was slowly devouring every syllable. He was looking for the lie, the discrepancy, but there was no lie, nor contradiction to be uncovered. As my husband read these parchments, Charles lit up a cheroot for both him and myself. He handed over the blazing stick of sweet indulgence to me and I pensively sucked upon it as I proceeded to drain my lukewarm mug of New Orleans coffee. Charles smoked in rhythm to my own actions. He was not even conscious of it as we both silently awaited my husband’s predictable opinion.

     My intimate companion stared into the fire but I could see the cords in his thick neck becoming tautly rigid. The lady god within his guts was advising him to be ready for a possible battle. The heavily impregnated sovereign beside him was slowly trailing her pale and swollen hand towards the two muskets she always had secreted within her maternity dress, just in case she had to do the undesirable in order to preserve the Paradigm. Please Charles, do not force me into committing such an action. I would blow out both of your kneecaps and in a rapture of absolute rage I would savour your screams before I slowly killed you with my husband’s Claymore as he and your brother watched me with an abjectly growing sense of terror and disgust. Even the child inside of my womb would be convulsing upon the paroxysms of my wrath. Heed my silent wisdom upon this issue and find whatever solace that you can from the flames before you. I believe you, and I shall handle this regardless of what my husband chooses to construe.

     After several silent minutes, James finished the notes and he flipped them scornfully into the fire. Charles’ jaw muscles, along with his huge fists, bunched themselves as he drew upon his cigar and willed himself to sit still and let me do the speaking.

     “You and I both know, sir that he is telling us the truth. If Simon proceeds to lead his gang of raping killers across the top of the eastern seaboard it will be a disaster for the revolutionaries.”

     “He is Irish in name only. What does he truly want?”, my husband growled deeply as the immensity of his shadow blotted out the wall to the left of the hearth.

     “He wants to be important.”, I replied icily, and even though I did not say the words, I would swear upon the heads of my babes, I heard the roaring hearth itself say with a mocking chuckle, “Just like you.”

     According to Charles’ notations, the idea behind slaughtering everyone within those citadels of Loyalist power was rooted in the belief that if there are no witnesses then they can stealthily move about carefully bereft of detection throughout the territories. That is, if they travel about at night, whilst keeping themselves silently camouflaged within the daylight hours, which are low in numbers when you factor in that the winter has just barely commenced, therefore there is an abundance of night for those wretches to make their way about.

     Fiery, blood-drenched assaults of that magnitude would create a sense of panic that would in turn sow confusion. That terror would swamp the northern colonies as the stories spread themselves upon all points of the compass. And with the majority of the English troops well over a thousand miles away, the ones who feared that they were next would crowd themselves within large cities like New Amsterdam, which would make it easier to rape and butcher the lot of them if Simon’s army was large enough, and he laid many torches throughout the entire city.

     There was definitely an evil logic to Simon’s plans but I know the real reason behind his desire to kill everyone within those splendid mansions. Leading the charge with his gang of angry curs would make him appear to be the hardest of men, which would fanatically bind his Irish dogs to him and him alone. They would dogmatically take him seriously and make him a de facto emperor, just like the Praetorian Guard did with Claudius, and yet like any rabid animal, once he had acquired the appetite for rape, torture and murder, the addiction towards violence would acceleratingly spiral out of control.

     “I do not want you to do anything to him until I tell you otherwise. People talk and once I receive word from our people in Boston, I will have a better idea just how serious this conspiracy is.”, my husband growled commandingly. I immediately filed and receipted his admonitions at the very bottom of my priority list.

     “He is not phantasizing, Mr. Pendleton. He intends to carry this forth. Unless my strategic calculation is somehow incorrect, which it is not, he intends to slip off and instigate this bloody rampage as soon as the English take the port of Savannah. That would be the most sensible moment for him to wage his attacks. Most, if not all of the English troops will be down here struggling to hold onto the one port that supplies the revolutionaries, which means that those wealthy burghers in the northeast will be virtually defenseless. That will be his one opportunity to prove his leadership mettle, especially at Christmastime when no one would be expecting just such a massacre to transpire. He can proceed to horrify the pampered burghers in question with several successive lightning strikes throughout the first half of the winter that will leave burned and broken corpses of the most innocent variety in his wake by an order of magnitude within the triple digits, perhaps even the quadruple digits, if he also takes to the countryside and obliterates any Loyalist farms and ranches that those mongrels come across. Only Simon and Charles know where all of the targets are situated. They have combed the entirety of the 13 Colonies for well over a year.”

     I paused once again for dramatic emphasis and I cut a quick glance at my intimate companion. His countenance was rigidly affixed to the blaze, which was where I wanted it. I did not even want him staring at my husband’s monstrous shadow upon the wall. I felt a measure of reassurance that his substantial paws were not resting upon either his Claymores nor his muskets. The only indication that spelled the potential for grisly death was the wide, full-lipped smile that was blazing away upon his mug. The killing mood was indeed upon him, as the lady god in his guts doubtlessly whispered all sorts of seductive promises to him if he would spring from the armchair, draw his swords, and attempt to amputate my husband in at least five different ways. He would draw his Claymore even though the muskets would be the more rational choice. He would want to demonstrate to my husband that he was the better warrior. Only my slow and deeply contrived drawl was keeping him at bay. I proceeded to speak once again.

     “If you are reluctant to dispatch him in his bed this evening, Charles will handle the task with one musket blast to the face. It must be done tonight, James. If he loosens himself from his tether he can singlehandedly force the English into converting this revolution into a blood war. They will summon every man jack from England that they can scrape up, then they will call forth every single ship, and every single soldier from every colony under their dominion. And I can assure you, sir, England has many colonies right now. Finally, they will rapidly enact an Act of Conscription within Parliament and they will stuff every peasant that’s drawing a breath into a red coat and ship them here by slave galley if they have to. When the populace back there hears about the burned and raped bodies of the women, the children, and the elderly, even English women will beg the King himself to come here forthwith and mete out English justice. We have ample funds now to cover our modest lifestyle many times over. If Simon dies tonight, Charles can lie doggo and cease with his confrontations upon Loyalist banks at least until we evict the English from Georgia.”

     “Your scout is on the front page of every gazette for over a thousand miles. There are over a thousand gibbets waiting just for him.”, my husband replied with a grumble of defensiveness.

     “A stout boy in a cocked hat with a crimson scarf. Be rid of the hat and the scarf, put him in somberly different clothes, shave his head, give him a pair of false spectacles, a tri-corner hat, a peruke, make him scarce, and he would look different enough to confound whatever bounty hunters are in the region. Charles knows the territory just as ably as his brother. He can creep forth through the terrain and write down what he sees just as easily if the SoL requires the services of a scout.”

     “He cannot provide the sort of analysis that Simon can. Simon’s reports are not a mere headcount. He has a sharp head and he is adept at making logical deductions. We need every available advantage at this moment since we are about to be captured.”

     “I am assuming that Simon made no mention to you as regards to his ambitions, sir?”, I inquired pointedly.

     “No.”, my husband slowly snarled lowly with repressed reluctance to answer the question.

     “Do you not find that curious in light of this revelation, Mr. Pendleton?”

     “I want corroboration from outside sources before we commit tactical assassinations. In the meantime, Charles will stay with his brother, and they can both act as scouts. Simon will require the protection, and Charles’ presence will reassure you that his brother cannot just run away if the talk from up north appears to be accurate.”

     “Once the English make landfall here in Savannah, he will run, of that I have no doubt, sir. What happens if Simon kills his brother in his sleep and then slips away, and coerces the English into making this a personal war? What then when your confederates discover that you knew what he was going to do, and you gave him carte blanche to do it? It will destroy your credibility, James. It will be as though you lead those white savages yourself. History will remember you as the one who allowed the most hideous massacres imaginable to take place during this republican uprising. You will be remembered for eternity for all of the wrong reasons. History spins around moments such as this when hard decisions need to be made swiftly and executed posthaste. If it must be so, let Charles kill Simon, I will birth this child, and then Charles and I together will be the scouts that the SoL require. I have hunted upon the mountain alone surrounded by Cherokee warriors far more fearsome than either those red coats or your revolutionaries. With Charles beside me, I can provide your forces of righteousness with calculations of a far greater exactitude, and the English troops will never be aware of our presence. We can transfer our children to Asheville and they will be safe from all adversities in the care of the Halloran house servants.”

     Only the iciness of my tone betrayed just how stormy with vexation I was becoming beneath my maternity dress. Was James’ obstinacy well and truly regarding the revolutionary war effort? It is true that if the rebels win the day then the Paradigm’s existence will be assured. In fact, our very ownership of the mountain rests upon the enforced birth of the ULA, and yet even so, we can kill this aspiring upstart and still accomplish those ends. Why was my husband making such a difficult matter over this one youth?

     “Our children need a mother. Charles can handle him if Simon attempts to do him dirty. If Charles is hiding within the territories with his brother then you do not have to fear the bounty hunters coming to our door with a rope and a warrant for his arrest, along with ours for harbouring a known fugitive. When we acquire the corroborating reports from Boston the three of us will meet once more and we will make a final decision as regards to Simon’s fate. I do not speak to Charles often enough-“

     “You have only spoken to him once since he has graduated from your training regimen.”, I coldly retorted with no small amount of disdain.

     More silence ensued as the hearth and the grandfather clock served as the only audible source within the drawing room. For a substantial length of heartbeats my husband was stone still. Upon reflection, it seemed as though he was summoning the requisite energy to perform a particularly demanding soliloquy.

     “Charles, you are a fine warrior. You have proven that. You possess both courage and skill. I need my wife, sir, and I need you to not kill your brother, if at all possible. Can I rely upon you to be reasonable about this, please?”

     The very velocity of the lightning-fast shift in tone induced me to be instantly suspicious. My husband was trying to check my argument by appearing to affect a seemingly sincere voice of conciliation. Charles shifted his diminutive bulk within the armchair until he was looking upwards at my husband as he rested his large and powerful hands upon the back rest.

     “Katherine is indeed right, sir. If he goes around up there and f—s up those families, it’ll be a f—–g disaster for all of us. But still, you are right too. She is far too important to risk being captured in the woods by the red coats, or being arrested here by the bounty hunters because of me. The f—–g guilt would eat me up if either of those things happened, James. How about this, then? Simon and I will rest up for a few days while you send a post rider up north with a note. Within a few days time Simon and I will head off to Asheville to spend some weeks with our sisters. The girls and I will keep him busy as we have a bit of fun, and with Christmas coming about we can spend it together as a family. Before New Year’s we should have an answer and then we can make a decision. If we have to wait until after we punt the limeys out of Georgia, then that is fine with me, sir, just as long as he does not try to make a run for it. Your husband is right, ma’am. Simon cannot sneak upon me without me blasting him from my bedroll. He is rather clumsy and I am rather not. What say you, James?”, Charles pleasantly inquired as he extended his open hand towards my husband. I could not be bothered to turn due to my maternal infirmity, but I could see from the looming wall of shadowy blackness James’ hand reach forth and both of my men clasped each other with a firm sense of apparent, or at least alleged, agreement.

     “Thank you for being fair-minded about this, Charles.”, my husband said warmly.

     “We always need to think of the lady first and last.”, my stout Cossack said and I knew him well enough to know that he was being utterly genuine in his sentiments.

     “I’ll send out a messenger at dawn. All of us need some rest, especially Mrs. Pendleton since she is about to go into battle herself for the fourth time.”, my husband jested. The very fact that he made such a humorous comment, which for him is extremely rare, raised my suspicions even further. The rotten smell in Denmark had made landfall upon this side of the Atlantic.

     “It’s no battle at this stage, sir. It is the oldest of chapeaus by now. This one will probably slip out whilst I am sleeping off a steak dinner at the Pyrate’s Cave. We should all go there upon the morrow. If the English are nigh upon us it may be a lengthy stretch until we can have such a public feast again. It will have to serve as our Christmas dinner since we will be sadly separated for the holidays.”, I said with an affected tone of both positivity and girlish dismay.

     “The Pyrate’s Cave is a den of scalliwags, whores, and cutthroats, ma’am. It is no place for a lady of your station.”, Charles asserted with humorous disdain.

     “I have many friends amongst those scalliwags. We will be well-treated.”, James replied with a low and deep laugh.

     I then pushed myself upwards with a feral grunt of annoyance.

     “So, it’s agreed then, gentlemen. Messenger at dawn. Luncheon with the upper crusts of Savannah society. The Brothers Halloran will adjourn to their family estate in North Carolina to spend Christmas with their angelic sisters. I shall go into battle and add one more Pendleton to the pram. The English shall invade. My husband, and his men will punt their backsides back northwards with no small amount of assistance from the French navy, as well as the Brother’s Halloran serving as highly-valued scouts. And then at the appropriate time one of the brothers in question will shoot the other brother in the head before this revolution can become a blood war that no rational American would ever desire to engage in. I’m already phantasizing about that steak tomorrow. The fried potatoes and onions are rather delectable, as well. If you gentlemen cannot keep up with me then in all likelihood I shall be forced to consume your luncheon as well, rather like a fat and greedy little shark.”, I said with a lascivious leer as I rubbed my bulbous orb of a belly.

     For a moment the fiery air echoed with insincere expressions of mirth from my men and I. Charles excused himself and he stepped outside towards the privy in the rear enclosure of the small walled-in estate. Painfully I extended my neck upwards and I attempted to read my husband’s countenance. His dark glower was muted and he appeared to be both thoughtful and also relieved as his nearly black eyes gazed down upon me. We have each other’s eyes and nearly the same brows as well, and it was my eyes that was telling my husband’s that I was not jesting in the slightest when I declared that at some point within the foreseeable future Charles was going to kill his brother. My expression of murderous determination must have spoken loudly into my husband’s mind because he felt the need to relay some semblance of reassurance.

     “It is merely tavern talk and Charles is taking it too far to heart, Sparky. Like a lot of boys, Simon likes to carry forth when he has a ready audience.”, my husband said with a forced smile of reassurance that failed to allay my apprehensions as he gently laid his rough and huge hands upon my broad shoulders as I reached upwards and embraced them. As seemingly intimate as we were, I did not believe him, and truth be told, I did not wish to. Simon still possessed an ocean of buried rage that I was always cognizant was slopping upon the shores of his crippled conscience. The only thing that this worthless fop of a Crusader needed was a target for him to vent his rage upon and he was just astute enough to have found the perfect foil for his wrath.

     Charles bounded back into the drawing room and he bypassed us as he took a long look inside of the pram at my three daughters of woe. He quietly made those amusingly cooing sounds that never fail to amuse my babes as he cheerfully tickled their little fingers whilst he was bent over. I could hear them giggling happily away as Charles tickled their soft and wrinkled faces with the ends of his lengthy light-brown hair. Margaret sneezed and then Charles ceased with his amusements.

     My stout young Cossack bent over and retrieved his hat and scarf from the floor. As he readjusted the scarf upon his head he snuck a discreet sniff of Allure de Lucifer. From the end of the armchair he reclaimed his Claymores along with the harness that held his eight muskets. It had come to the point in our association nowadays that he seemed naked and incomplete to me when he was bereft of his weapons. Now my focus upon him had sharpened to a vivid exactness as the fire reflected off of the side of his wide and smiling face as his light-blue eyes glittered with that boyish expression that bespoke of the constant potential for jovially-applied mayhem and death. I felt a powerful sense of relief throughout my selfish guts that I did not have to sacrifice him tonight in order to preserve my personal ambitions for the greater good of me and mine.

     “Well till the morrow, rest easy Lord and Lady Pendleton. If should you require me you know where I will be.”, Charles said with a pleasant salute as he quietly strode from the drawing room and then he proceeded down the darkened corridor. Ever since my husband and I had assumed possession of this house, Charles had taken over what used to be Johnston’s and Delores’ boudoir upon the main floor. Strategically it was a sound choice. If the bounty hunters had forced their way inside, Charles would be able to make a stand of it, and thus allowing those of us upon the second floor to take up an adequate defensive position.

     By rights since I am very close to going into battle once again, I should also be ensconced upon the main floor, but my new best friend and I enjoy slipping past the gauzy webs that surround what used to be my first biped victim’s bed, and as we lay our dark little head upon the very same pillows that it had used the night that I mutilated it, I can feel those primal urges of power and destruction begin to course once again throughout my Elysium as it spreads its warm way northwards, dimly illuminating my true being from within in the blackest of flames. Those embers of lustmord serve me well as my internal anchor when I’m away from my external anchor, which is my mountain.

     As my husband and I entered that most special of chambers, I parked the pram closest to my side of the magnanimous four-poster bed. James undressed his large and muscular frame in a perfunctory manner that indicated that Morpheus would be blessing his dark and lengthy mane in short order. At that moment I was hoping that the god of sleep and good dreams would not thwart my own needs at that moment. He did not as I heard the first deep breaths escape from James’ nose as he turned towards his right side away from me. I sat upon the edge of my side of the bed apparently inspecting my babes as they too frolicked upon the planes of celestial serenity with their little wrinkled faces cherubically twisted sideways so I did not have to fear any of them suffocating as they slumbered. Both Grace Gloria and Lillian had one arm about Margaret. Soon, Margaret would be doing the same with the next one. Please, let the next child be a son. I need a male progeny in order to finalize the foundation of my Paradigm. Grace Gloria would be the heir but my son would be the final component that would insure the future of all of the Pendletons to come in perpetuity. That wish, (I never pray. Making desperate wishes to fictional deities is solely the habit of the livestock.), had become a nightly ritual to me that I had begun to adhere to with dogmatic fervidness ever since I had taken up my lengthy stay here within this house.

     There was another ritual as well that I didn’t wish for but it rather enjoyed erupting into fruition from deep within. For some medical reason the pressing need to urinate always made its most screaming demands as soon as I had prepared to retire. One of the more minor curses of pregnancy but even one mosquito within a tent can grow into a towering annoyance if it is not promptly swatted. Normally a chamber pot would suffice but when I am this far along the reproductive path only the privy will be capable of accommodating my squat and bulky form.

     Adorned in only my white cotton night dress, I shuffled my slippered feet towards the bedchamber door, taking the whale oil lantern with me to enlighten my way towards this bit of business that would not be denied.

     At that moment, however upon this specific evening, there was a very powerful reason for making my exit towards this most private of places. I knew Charles very well upon the level of emotional intimacy. His mannerisms were rather simple and straightforward. Given the nature of this evening’s conversation, I was immediately aware that his journey to the latrine was not rooted per se within any apparent biological need. Charles Halloran always carried upon his person the same items at all times. Cigarillos, a fair-sized stiletto, a good compass, a hand-written copy of the journal that I had gifted him with, and a good flint. Upon my advice he had also taken up the habit of carrying a minimum of two grease pencils and a small notebook. In the journal that I gave him I told him to always inscribe any thoughts that had ever struck him as being of the pertinent variety. This was why he was ready to take notations when he first heard his brother carrying forth within that tavern in South Boston.

     Stuffed deeply into the pocket of my nightdress were the tightly folded little pages that I had uncovered tucked beneath Margaret’s head as my husband fell asleep. I am confident that my daughters are of the precocious strain but the art of calligraphy is still a few years away from them as far as acquired skills go. The midnight chill of the pre-winter wind lashed me upon the face and bosom as I stepped forth into the rear enclosure. Instantly it shook up my consciousness and it made me feel more awake.

     Strangely, I felt more criminalized shuffling my swollen little feet towards the latrine than I did the night that I bedecked myself in my navy-blue garments, as I slipped about upon the streets of the city of self-deception straightaway to this very manse to commit a murder most deliciously foul, especially once I had celebrated the moment back at that drab little apartment with my amputated prize. To me, that evening was playtime at its loveliest. Tonight, however, I could feel within my guts that I was indeed “sneaking about” in a secretive fashion, even as I closed the door of the privy and clasped the latch. As the mighty Niagara began to roar downwards into that most putrid of Hells, I allowed myself to savour that nearly-orgasmic rush of pleasurable relief with my battered vertebrae propped backwards against the pinewood wall behind me as my pale little feet dangled several inches above the floor. As I continued to drain myself I retrieved those tightly folded parchments from my nightdress. With the lantern sitting upon the little shelf next to my left shoulder I unfolded the sheets. I had a grim idea I knew what my intimate companion had inscribed:

     “SOVEREIGN:

     YOUR HUSBAND ALREADY KNOWS WHAT SIMON IS GOING TO DO. HE’S PROTECTING HIM. HE WANTS HIM TO DO IT. WHEN YOU ARE DOING THE DIRTY F—–G WORK THAT ONLY A MOTHER DOES MY BROTHER IS WITH YOUR HUSBAND. YOUR HUSBAND’S TONE WOULD BE REALLY F—–G QUEER UNLESS THERE WAS A GOOD REASON FOR IT. THE LADY GOD IN MY GUTS SAYS JAMES WANTS SIMON TO DO THIS. THE REPORT FROM THE NORTH IS GOING TO BE F—–G B——T. THE LADY GOD IN MY GUTS SAYS THAT AS SOON AS THE ENGLISH LAND THEIR TROOPS HERE SIMON AND YOUR HUSBAND ARE GOING TO F—–G KILL ME. THEY WILL SAY THAT THE BOUNTY HUNTERS GOT ME. I DON’T KNOW IF THE OTHER BLOKES KNOW BUT YOUR HUSBAND IS DEFINITELY PROTECTING SIMON AND HE WANTS HIM TO DO IT. I KNOW YOU DO NOT WANT ME TO KILL HIM BUT IF IT COMES DOWN TO THOSE TWO A——S TRYING TO F—–G SNUFF ME, I’M GOING TO BE DIGGING A BIG F—–G HOLE FOR THEM. MY SISTERS NEED ME, SOVEREIGN. CAN YOU UNDERSTAND THAT? I PROMISE YOU I WILL ALWAYS TAKE CARE OF YOU EVEN IF YOU F—–G HATE ME BUT THE LADY GOD IN MY GUTS HASN’T BEEN WRONG YET. PLEASE DO NOT HOLD THAT AGAINST ME. I DO NOT KNOW WHY JAMES WANTS HIM TO DO THIS. YOU ARE HEAPS SMARTER THAN ME SO YOU HAVE TO FIGURE THAT ONE OUT. ME AND YOU ARE CRIMINALS AND WE KNOW WHEN WE ARE BEING F—-D WITH. YOU ARE MY SOVEREIGN AND I WILL ALWAYS FOLLOW YOU BECAUSE I LOVE YOU BUT TONIGHT YOU HAVE TO DO YOUR BEST THINKING AND SORT THIS S—T OUT. SOMEONE IS GOING TO DIE AND IT AIN’T GOING TO BE ME. TELL ME WHEN IT’S SAFE WHAT TO DO, PLEASE?

CHARLES HALLORAN”

     If ever there was a juncture in my life that I wanted to bellow forth the vilest of profanities that was the point, as I closed my eyes and I tried to push back the migraine that was slithering about my temples. The waterfall had finally ceased for the moment and with an angry snarl I pushed my bloated self upright. I lifted the bottom of the lantern glass and I touched the corner of the sheets to the wick. This note could not leave this latrine. Rapidly the sheets burned as I dropped them downwards into the black hole of bodily waste as the flickering yellow flames reached upwards towards my nearly black eyes whilst a dark and frigid rage began to churn up my guts.

     Was my intimate companion merely being afraid? Even crims can become frightened, if only for the first time ever. Charles was not the sort to quail easily. That was one quality that he shared with my husband in abundance. He was rough as guts but it was the “guts” part that had stood him in good stead, thus far. This issue I needed to take seriously. Morpheus was going to have to wait upon me and I was not pleased about that reality.

     With an angry resolve I pushed my way forward back into Savannah House ignoring the inclement chill that was swatting my backside and sending my black curly hair into my face. Through the drawing room I shoved my way up the stairs and down the corridor towards what I had commandeered as to be my “smoking room”. As I have stated previously, the only person other than myself who had taken up the tobacco habit was my stout young Cossack. Simon and my husband were both staunchly against the vile practice. Therefore, having a tasty smoke in bed was not in the cards when my husband was beside me except after the sex act. That was fine with me. When I smoke alone I like to think, or at least that’s my favoured excuse for making the very air blue and noxiously sweet. I had a room now for those moments and truth be told, I rather enjoyed being within it.

     All of the tell-tale signs of violence had been long removed but within my thinking room the dollhouse reproduction of what used to be Halloran House still sits upon a large round oak table with a crisp and clean red and white checkered cloth beneath it. I kept another square of white cloth over the toy-sized replica. I can only assume that my first victim had constructed the toy version of what the dead little biped in question had erroneously assumed was going to be its ultimate destiny. Much like life itself, death is also rife with surprises. Halloran House, now simply known as Savannah House, was indeed its ultimate destiny but I was the one who had won the red ribbon whilst the biped in question was forced by my little hands to settle for a lovely granite statue in its likeness covered in the excrement of the brother that it failed to stitch up for a murder that I had committed.

     Upon those many evenings while my men were both far and away killing and robbing for the greater glory of my Paradigm, I would spend many evenings within that bedchamber staring at that well-constructed little model. Like all dollhouses it had hinges upon the backside so that I could open it up and gaze into the interior of the very house whereby I had brutally killed three bipeds, and then subsequently claimed the manor in question for myself.

     Originally contained within were little porcelain figurines of what used to be the entirety of the Clan Halloran. After I took occupation, however, I had made some modifications in order to reflect the current reality of this domicile. The three younger sisters were first portrayed cavorting within the drawing room as though they were running in great circles chasing faeries within the Georgia sunlight. They seemed to be at the zenith of both merriment and innocence before La Domine Morte, descended upon their lives in a most heinous manner. Charles was positioned without within the rear enclosure with his rugby ball, and he was made to look as though he was grass-stained and bedraggled from another onslaught upon the rugby pitch of his private academy, as he ambled before the rear entrance into the miniaturization of this miniature mansion. Simon was shown within his bedchambers studying with vigorous intensity with a pair of stacks of brownish-looking textbooks perched upon the tiny desk that he was sitting before. Initially Johnston was standing inside of the office holding a tiny silver tray that bore what appeared to be a silver coffee urn, a very tiny cup, and the typical accoutrement that would go along with such a display. Within the drawing room doorway stood Johnston’s wife, Delores, smiling at Charles good-naturedly with all of the love and affection that a slave could imaginably exhibit for her owner’s son.

     My first victim, the Paterfamilias who attempted to rob my husband and I, was originally seated at his desk with a large half-drawn design that I preferred to believe was my Paradigm. I had carefully plucked its form from the great oxblood chair and I then transferred my first victim to its bedchambers. Carefully I had snapped off the bent portions of its body and then placed them back together with the tiniest dollops of adhesive upon the bed. Admittedly, it was an imperfect reconfiguration but with the tiny light-blue duvet covering its knees it was acceptable enough, I suppose if the lighting is dim. There was an ample application of crimson paint haphazardly spattering the blankets and the floor to the right of the bed. The victim was red from the eyes downwards to the knees. Regrettably I could not affect any of the other wounds that I had administered to it, but it appeared sufficiently gruesome enough providing I only stared at it via candlelight.

     My second victim was originally sporting a bright blue dress that I had personally deemed to be utterly hideous. Lady Laudanum must have been well into her cups when the sales representative told her that that disgusting garment was the craze of the season in Paris, and she apparently believed him assiduously. The pretensions of the grasping middle-class will always amaze me. At any rate my second victim was originally standing within my third victim’s bedchambers as my final victim was sitting before a large vanity mirror in the standard ankle-length white nightdress. Doubtlessly my second victim was ignorantly holding forth upon the subject of the proper deportment of young ladies within Society with a capital S. Now my second victim was broken and somewhat re-assembled lying within its bed. The nauseating blue dress was carefully re-painted white in order to approximate a night dress. Its neck was painted crimson and the faux blood covered its flabby bosoms as it slid off of the side of its neck all the way downwards until it made an ample puddle upon the floor. Regrettably, I could not properly affect the way I had posed the corpse of my third victim. I could not make it appear dishabille. The best I could do was lay it down with a tiny kitchen knife handle adhered to its chest with a tiny circle of crimson surrounding it. I did paint the tiny porcelain corpse in flesh tones, and once that had dried, I did add many pin prick dollops of dark purple in order to roughly resemble the deep contusions I had beaten into its squirming flesh with the razor strop before I went to work upon its backside proper with the handle of my bayonet. I was unsatisfied with the end result but there was nothing more that I could do in order to sufficiently affix the tangible memory of that lovely 48 hours. I certainly could not approach an artisan and commission him to craft up proper figurines. I may as well have just waltzed into the tollhouse completely starkers and offer up a full confession as regards to how I had tortured, mutilated, and butchered those three bipeds.

     The figurines of the three younger sisters, as well as Johnston and Delores, were removed and placed inside of the vanity drawer, wrapped within a silk crimson scarf. Simon still sat at his desk, plotting his bloodthirsty assaults since law school no longer seemed to be upon his itinerary. Charles was still without within the rear enclosure and as I stared at him I felt a deep sense of discontentment.

     I could have easily approached an artisan to craft up a pair of figurines of my two oldest babes slumbering upon the polar bear skin inside of the drawing room. He could have easily also created a tiny black pram affixed to the floor next to them. He could have crafted a pair of saddlebags that seemed to be bulging with another installment of the most ill-gotten of gains. He could have even manufactured two more representations, sitting in a pair of oxblood leather armchairs, holding hands and staring into the great blaze as they silently dreamed of all their tomorrows together being as perfectly bright as the fire that they were happily gazing upon. Our weapons would be hanging from the corners of the chairs. My little porcelain feet would be propped upon the matching oxblood ottoman. There would be a little hat and a tiny crimson scarf next to my slumbering babes. Feminine vanity would have demanded that I would be unimpregnated so that I could appear as my normally small yet shapely self. For all of my violent desires, infused with my scientific intelligence, and of course my children, I am still barely 18 years of age. Allow me to be a girl about this.

     I would have enjoyed that immensely, but alas if my husband chanced upon such a scene there would indeed be a scene, and for my part within that unwanted drama, it would progressively become the loudest of unwanted scenes. That representative model would have been a confession that I can never ever dare articulate. Even penning those issues within this journal is a risk but I refuse to deny any and all visual representations of the truth completely in terms of what it is that makes me feel those fleeting moments of authentic emotional pleasure.

     Charles makes me happy and my husband does not. There, I have said it. When Charles wrote that he loved me, I intellectually knew what he was saying. He loved me in the position of being his sovereign, his guiding star as he made his way along this newly paved pathway as a teenage re-born criminal. He is my confidante, even if I can never dare tell him about the Paradigm. But still, as I read those words, I desperately wanted to believe that there was more to what he was inscribing. It would be torturous for him to imagine anything other than me being his Black Widow Sovereign, but still, but still, my womanly selfishness wanted him to feel that yearning, if only to a manageable degree. I am a terrible friend for wishing such an affliction upon him.

     I have hinted at it to some degree, but I can no longer deny the truth that my husband is rapidly losing favour with me, especially if my intimate companion is correct in his intuitive assertions that my husband is actively encouraging that homicidal imbecile to bring down upon our heads the entirety of the wrath of the English war machine. That is not to say that James makes me feel miserable, misery would at least constitute some semblance of a strong sensation. Beyond his singular function, a function that can now only achieve its pleasurable conclusion if my true best friend fills my consciousness with our bloodiest of memories, whilst my husband fills me with his still-impressive appendage armed with all of his bestial passions, I honestly have no urge to be in his presence. I have no desire to instigate any sort of a conversation unless it is of the most pertinent of issues. There are now moments when I have to repress the urge to exit a room upon his entry. Fortunately, being heavily impregnated allows me to have my smoking room upon many nights when he is here within Savannah House, and even more fortuitously he is frequently busy with the SoL.

     How did it come to this, Katherine Pendleton? Was it always such? Were we both infatuated with the desire to escape moreso than the desire to establish a true and real life together? I am the first to confess that my ambitions for the Paradigm have kept my thoughts mostly filled for a decade now, but was there not a time when I was honestly and truly happy being intimately committed to my husband? I believe that we were, once upon a time, but as I have noted, we have both begun to engage in our own personal form of metamorphosis. We are not the same even though I feel that I have changed more dramatically than James has. The only distinction being his changes are apparent to all and sundry that know him. My changes are hidden for the most significant of reasons.

     At one time, not so long ago, I found his quiet and taciturn demeanour somewhat disconcerting. Now, I am rather grateful for it in much the same way that I am gladdened that he is not a particularly affectionate man when it comes to physical gestures of emotional intimacy. Engaging in the sex act is all well and good, for at least there is a positive outcome contained within the exchange that is to my benefit nine months after the fact. Otherwise, I could do very nicely without having to share time and space with my husband. I deeply miss the seasons that I had to myself upon my mountain. That is where my transformation began and my husband’s must have started when he joined the pitiful-looking cavalry that the SoL had and provided it with some much-needed backbone.

     Just for the record, however, I do not regret marrying him so young, nor even marrying him at all. Most girls of good breeding wait until they are betwixt 16 and 18 years of age before they betroth themselves. Necessity demanded that we jump the gun and I did so most willingly. The way that things stand however, it is not I, but the Paradigm, that requires my husband’s assistance, but only for now.

     And that is as much factual truth as I am going to impart upon this most complicated of triangles that I find myself enmeshed within. The Sovereign Black Widow has her web but even she, especially she, needs to be most careful where she places her little legs as she negotiates its emotionally elaborate dimensions, and she must always maintain a steady watch for traps comprised of frustration, impatience, and worst of all, impulsivity. I can never say or do anything spontaneously in terms of how I manage those two men who are equal halves of the one relationship that I am emotionally wedded to.

     Gently I closed the modified doll house and I draped it once more within the white bed sheet. With many animalistic grunts of displeasure, I waddled over towards the little biped’s bed. I had taken the liberty of purloining many of the pillows and the cushions throughout Savannah House, and I had stacked them along the headboard so that I could sit upright with my lumbar region properly supported, as I gingerly lowered my incubating self upon that child-sized bed with my bloated little feet spread widely. From the humidor to my left, upon the smallish night table, I extracted a cheroot and lit it from the lantern before I placed the lantern next to the humidor, and I dimmed the wick to its lowest ebb possible. If it was mandatory that I make these dark contemplations, I wanted my thought space to be as lightless as my mood.

     I had known my husband for my entire life. He was a child of privilege just as I was, which meant that he had access to a quality education courtesy of the finest tutors that the university could provide for us. I knew he was not a stupid man. His intellectual fascinations took him in a different direction, history, the art and science of military applications, and to some degree philosophy, but he was as well-read as any young gentleman to ever come forth from any of the great cities to be dominated by European influences. He must have known that what I had asserted as regards to the outcome of Simon’s assaults was the only logical end result. It would be a historic disaster that would stain our name forever.

     Was Charles merely being foolish? Was my husband simply protecting a valuable asset to excess? He seemed to sincerely believe that Simon served an important function within the SoL, and perhaps he did, but that did not negate what Charles had witnessed in those meetings. I trusted Charles’ observed opinion that Simon was indeed serious about going forth with these insane depredations.

     All right, Katherine Pendleton, let us assume, hypothetically, that Charles’ intuitive beliefs are correct. If my husband was encouraging Simon to do these things with his scum army what would be the rationale behind it? Where was the chain of logic? In the short run, it would indeed horrify and demoralize the Loyalists, along with the English army. It would serve as a distraction from their efforts down here in the southern reaches of the 13 Colonies. They would have to choose betwixt continuing their skirmishes down here, and quickly returning to the northeast in order to provide a protective cordon for the terrified elites who were still breathlessly drawing a breath after hearing word regarding the latest nightmare massacre to afflict their wealthy tribe. That would indeed offer up some breathing space for the revolutionaries in order for them to re-organize and press their way northwards towards whatever fortifications that the English had set up. Of course, the combative republicans would have to disavow admitting any involvement in terms of Simon’s massacres, but they would still be able to take advantage of his unwantedly blood-soaked results. This would explain Charles’ impression that perhaps my husband was the only one that knew what it was that he wanted to do. He would simply have to make a show of actively seeking out the wretched little rat even as he was secretly informing him of where the revolutionaries were looking for him.

     If the various provisional state militias could homogenize themselves into a single mass and push themselves, they could in effect drive the English army out of the 13 Colonies altogether. They could send them north across The Great Lakes into British North America. Just to the east of that colony was the former colony of New France, which has been in the hands of the English since the Battle on the Plains of Abraham, 18 years ago.

     And that was as far as my rationale went because that would not stop the English from sending the news back to England that the republicans had made this revolution into both the bloodiest and the dirtiest of wars. The English would never forgive the revolutionaries for allowing Simon Halloran to have his way upon non-combatants in the most reprehensible of fashions. Slaves, women, the old, children, if they were all raped, broken, and burned within their mansions there would need to be a rendering of accounts of the severest variety. The English would have a staging point just north of these colonies. They have the greatest navy in the world even if their army is mediocre at best. Their animalistic need for revenge would propel them for generations. The only ally that the revolutionaries have is the French.

     Elizabeth Tudor gave licenses to pyrates such as Francis Drake to sack and destroy Spanish colonies. There is no reason why King George, or at least one of his saner functionaries, could not repeat that trick and recruit a new fleet of privateers to raze and rape the colonies whilst the English navy disrupted the trade routes of the French ships. All of the Loyalists would have fled northwards, therefore anyone that they found within the colonies would automatically be deemed an enemy of the crown. Fair game, as they say nowadays. In a blood war The Lion would raze every one of those urban communities here within the 13 Colonies before allowing the revolutionaries to claim them for themselves.

     It would be chaos of the bloodiest dimensions. The only thing that would be missing would be Death riding upon a pale steed leaving thousands of corpses in his wake. The short-term gains would be viciously erased if Simon was allowed to carry forth, and my husband must know that. If Charles’ lady god is correct then what is the endgame from James’ perspective? I cannot see it. I cannot even sniff a hint of a clue as to what my husband would gain from such a nightmare event. Because my hubris cannot detect any sort of rational outcome it wants to insist that my confidante is wrong. If am not intelligent enough to discern what the benefit would be to my husband then it must be a mistake upon Charles’ part.

     And yet, and yet Charles was utterly certain about this being the case. Those sermons did transpire within that tavern. Simon did in fact tell his congregation that they were going to perform these ill-conceived massacres in the name of Irish independence, although the logic of how exactly such a needless wave of killings would liberate the citizens of the old sod from their English masters is glaringly elusive to me, therefore Simon must also know that performing such massacres here in the 13 Colonies would do less than nothing for them. In fact, the English would punish them for what that fop does here in order to ameliorate their sense of frustration for losing control so utterly and completely here across the Atlantic. He must be manipulating those white trash fools in order to motivate them to kill, rape, rob, and raze in his name. The endgame for that idiot is acquiring a cheap and counterfeit form of power, therefore lying to his congregation for his own emotional gains is perfectly acceptable.

     Charles is correct in his observation. My husband did not react in a manner that would indicate that he was authentically surprised, nor even actually disturbed by what Charles had revealed within that missive. James’ sense of annoyance was slight, at best. He did not even broach the contingency of confronting Simon there and then and then force him to account for these meetings within that tavern. In fact, he did not even state that he would have a private word with him about the issue. He did not feel distressed to even that degree. Taken a step further, he did not even deign to concur with Charles and I that this campaign that Simon was working upon was a terrible idea. He could not even bring himself to agree that the ramifications of such a massacre would be disastrous. Instead all he did was insist that my intimate companion was taking the matter far more seriously than the situation warranted, like it was somehow Charles’ fault that he chose to believe that his worthless fop of a brother was sincere in his intentions. One genuinely could almost assume that he was expecting that particular topic to be broached sooner rather than later, and that he was mentally prepared for just such a serious conversation to eventually commence.

     My husband is a master of circumspection. He can keep his own counsel and not verbalize what he truly believes as regards to a particular issue. That is a form of deception that is at least first cousins with the art of telling outright lies. If I was standing within James’ massive riding boots, I would have made at least a bit of a dumbshow out of feigning some sense of shock and surprise, and then I would assert that I will confront the fop in question privately. This begs the question, is my husband just being honestly stupid about not believing Charles’ revelation, or is he aware that he is not a very good actor and hence he is being as intelligently deceptive as he can be from within the framework of his authentic personality? Wheels within wheels.

     Charles did strike upon one fact that was definitely noteworthy. When the brothers Halloran were at our house, after one of their forays, Simon did spend an inordinate amount of time with my husband. In fact, over the past few months Simon increasingly spent more time with James than he ever had before. (At the time I thought nothing of it. Truthfully, I was grateful). My husband, as per his quiet nature, more than likely did all of the listening, which meant that Simon could talk about whatever he deemed to be significant to excess. I was aware of that interaction betwixt them but I was indeed doing those things that mothers do the clock round. Charles was the only assistance that I had as he performed the errands about Savannah, which is why he would have seen James and Simon conversing without whilst I was engaged in otherwise maternal matters. What exactly could that chirruping magpie warble about for hours on end, time after time? The only thing that James is an educated expert of is the art and science of war and combat, and to some degree political theory and economics. He would not subject himself to having to listen to what he would deem to be pointless inanities, which goes a far way towards explaining why I have never held forth with him about subjects to do with the sciences because I knew that they would bore him to tears. Simon has to be telling him something that James would deem to be pertinent.

     Simon must have known that at some point his brother would have told me what was going on in South Boston. Faulty judgement skills aside, he was not an entirely stupid fop. The thing that I find interesting is that according to Charles, not once did his brother demand that he keep silent about this issue.

     James was protecting Simon and I was protecting Charles. As it is there is no way that that fop could kill my stout Cossack on his own and make it appear as though something else entirely had transpired. He would require assistance and even then, Charles would make a good and bloody fight out of it.

     He also cannot go forth and rally his dogs of war until the English army is actually here in Savannah, and hence tied down nearly a thousand miles from their established base, therefore killing his brother prematurely would be the wrong move. He needs to wait until the English landfall is a dead certainty. With, or without, my husband’s support that hate-driven sack of scum intends to sally forth with this plan of his. The only thing that he knows for a fact at this time is that Charles knows what he intends to do, therefore Charles is an impediment to those violent desires that he plans to manifest. In order to carry out his ambitions Simon has to do something with his brother, sooner rather than later.

     All of this speculating was becoming tediously pointless. Rationally there was not enough tangible evidence to render a verdict one way or the other as regards to what it is that my husband is doing, or what precisely he knows about his scout’s violent phantasies. There was only one pragmatic solution that I could discern at the present moment and it needed to be implemented immediately.

     I dropped the nub of my cigar into the brass ashtray. I then wrote a list of items within the notebook that I had stored within the bedside table and tore off the sheet. I then angrily abused my battered little body once again as I forced it to vacate the comfortable position that it had fanatically fallen in love with. I could not allow my lone friend to continue stoking the belief that he was in danger from both my husband and his brother. That apprehension would logically lead to a massacre beneath this very roof. Charles was begging me to prefabricate some sort of a tactical course in order to avert a looming disaster, and I was personally obligated to give him a solution to follow upon. Upon the shortest of notices my plan was the best that I could muster forth from my weary and beleaguered brain. The Paradigm must always come first, and both of my men are integral to the elevation of that personal ambition, therefore my intellectual response to Charles’ demand had to be of the variety that conformed to that reality. The amusing thing about that reality is the only thing keeping that fop alive tonight is my ambitions for the Paradigm. Otherwise, I would blast him in the face with my muskets and force my husband to deal with the aftermath as it rots inside of its bedchambers.

     Once again, I trudged downwards towards the main floor of the manse. When I stood outside of his door, I tapped it quietly with my finger. Within a nanosecond I heard his chair scrape lightly across the floor and then he opened the door. I was not surprised to see that he was still fully alert and adorned in his gear, save the range-rider, which he had hung from the chair before the desk. I could view a copy of the journal that I had gifted him opened to about the middle of my philosophical beliefs of an antinomian nature, for lack of a better term. It may have been the only tome that he had ever read but he had studied it hundreds of times in his quest to become a more intelligent criminal. Seeing the black journal sitting there gratified my internal sense of vanity along with something else. Every evening he honestly did have the very best of me within his large and powerful hands. That is all that I am going to inscribe regarding that aspect.

     “You need to depart for Asheville immediately. Ride hard and fast, and eschew traveling by daylight. You must avoid arousing suspicion from even the most casual of observers, at all costs. Once you arrive give Johnston this list and prepare to have your appearance radically altered as swiftly as possible. Even then remain indoors during the day as much as possible. Tell your sisters that you have a touch of ague and you do not wish to aggravate the situation. I cannot say that you are either correct or incorrect, sir but I definitely believe that if you remain here something will go irreversibly wrong. The danger may be from without or within but it is definitely present, and I cannot, and I will not allow that to happen.”, I declared adamantly before I summarized my point with the strongest insistences that I had to bear from within my diminutive frame as I grabbed his arm for emphasis, “I need you to ride as though my husband himself is pursuing you and only Asheville can provide you with a safe haven. This is strictly to be an evasive maneuver unless you come across any bounty hunters. If that happens, then by all means destroy them, and keep moving as fast as you can. As I have stated, Charles, you need to fly as though James is actively trying to hunt you down. He is skilled at bushcraft and he can kill you from half-a-kilometer away with his bow. I am not stating that he will come after you but you need to act as though he is coming after you.”

     “And what if he does, Sovereign, what then?”, he asked as he tried to repress the desire to play “hide-and-go-seek” within the territories with James.

     “If he does then you will know for a fact that your lady god is right, and then we will handle that problem at a more appropriate time. Right now, I need you to be safe and James would never dare attempt to kill you in an urban setting. It would be a logistical quagmire to do so. If he cannot peg you within the territories then he will have to wait for a better time to snuff you. Remember how I wrote about the fox and the lion? You need to be the fox and evade the lion. I need you more than you can imagine and I need you to be safe, sir.”

     Charles stuffed the list into his pocket and he grabbed his range rider, along with his weapons. If his rapidly quiet actions were anything to go by, he appeared to concur wholeheartedly with my strategy.

     “What am I to do when Simon returns to Asheville, Sovereign?”, he asked me thoughtfully.

     “You can easily handle him if you need to, but in such a case the narrative demands that it be utterly convincing, or else my husband will respond in a brutally dramatic fashion that will have just as much of an effect upon me as it will upon you, sir. I do not think your brother has the backbone to try and kill you by himself. Please do not be offended but I’m hoping you are wrong about this. It is not an exaggeration upon my part to assert that my peace of mind would be resurrected if you were completely mistaken in your assessment.”

     “I am neither wrong nor offended, Katherine.”, he replied grimly as he proceeded towards the door of the bedchamber. That was one thing that I respected about him is that he was not afraid to stand his ground when he felt the belief that he was correct in his viewpoint. He was not afraid to be wrong even as I was afraid that he was right.

     Together we strode quietly towards the main entrance. At the doorway I stopped him and I gazed slightly upwards at his boyish countenance. The smile of reassurance was wide, and yet it was a forced effort. The light-blue eyes however were crackling with the ever-present anticipation of violence. The only thing that my intimate companion apparently feared was me. Unlike the gutless livestock, he never feared the unknown in terms of his own well-being. The dark and dangerous path before him aroused a powerfully confrontational sentiment that I deeply wanted to share in, but sadly I could not, at least not at that present moment. There was a host of things I wanted to say but there was no time to say anything of any significant import in any sort of elaborate detail.

     “Expect a packet of Christmas cards from James and I. Each card will be individually addressed. See to it that you temporarily bury yours and then burn it after the Yuletide festivities. Whatever it is that is coming within the darkness of our lives, you and I will not allow it to manifest itself. Keep your muskets cocked, your Claymores sharp, and your wits even sharper than that, Charles Halloran. I will not allow any situation to impinge upon our dynamic. I will not have it.”, I softly intoned with all of the icy rage that I had to spare, in abundance.

     “And what of your husband, Sovereign?”, he paradoxically asked me with firm gentleness knowing full well that that was the question that should not have been addressed, and yet I was aware that he needed some sort of a reassuring response.

     “We can only burn one bridge at a time. Let us take care of the one made of the flimsiest of wood before we attempt to ignite the one forged in iron.”, I deflected.

     Charles nodded and he gave my hands a tight embrace. I was afraid, like the pathetically selfish young woman that I knew that I was. I was afraid that he was right even though the “why” of this conspiracy is beyond my ken at this time. I did not wish to release him to the potentially lethal vagaries of the cold and lonely night, and yet I had no alternative. My ruthless selfishness was checked by my rational pragmatism, barely. Right now, he needed a strong face beaming with both confidence and certainty, and that was what I gave him, as I hoped that my skills as a criminalized little thespian were up to the scene that ill luck had scripted for me.

     “We are criminals, Mr. Halloran, and we, and only we, can destroy ourselves. No one else, never, ever, anyone else.”, I whispered as I squeezed his gnarled fists with authentic conviction as I stared slightly upwards into his wide and emotionally open face. His smile became legitimate as it made its way upwards into his light-blue eyes. He believed me, even if I myself remained incarcerated within the cell of uncertainty.

     “No one else.”, he replied in the same steely tone and I fearfully knew he was referring directly towards my husband. Somehow, I had to halt that Armageddon from ever commencing and I could feel within my impregnated guts the grandfather clock within the drawing room beginning to increase the velocity of its tempo. I could only hope that he would follow his sovereign’s commands precisely as she gave them to him.

     My intimate companion quickly released my hands and then he turned away. He swiftly made his exit as I quietly closed the main door and turned the bolt with an exceptionally angry twist as I closed my eyes. I did not pray, barely.

     In a moment I heard him leading his horse out of the little stable attached to the front enclosure and together they quietly walked down the cobblestone thoroughfare. Asheville was just over 300 miles away, nearly the same distance as my mountain. He would have to change horses every day and sleep lightly. In the night he would have to fly straight through a blackly starlit void comprised of natives, Loyalists, bounty hunters, redcoats, and possibly my husband.

     Slowly, painfully, I made the funereal march up the stairs as I gently stroked my pregnant belly. As I was performing that maternal act a powerful truth slammed me in the breasts. The bleakly amusing thing about possessing ambitions is that we like to conceive that we are the originators of such desired-for goals, therefore we must be the sole authority of these particular passions. I knew there, and I knew then, the bitterest of truths of my still-young life. I was but a mere slave towards my need to manifest the Paradigm and erect it above all of my other personal considerations. Like any slave I was allowed certain small favours in order to maintain my morale, and hence allow me to continue being consistently productive, and yet those crumbs of contentment could not, and would not ever induce me to abandon my master.

     The concept of staggering wealth, hearth, home, husband, and children would be a venomous mockery bereft of the plan that I have been carrying, and currying, within my frigidly black consciousness for at least a decade. Even if I augmented that scenario with a string of illicit assignations with my intimate companion, just to keep my selfish heart satisfied within every capacity, would I be happy absent my master dragging me in chains towards the summit of my mountain, whereby the justification of my existence was waiting for both me and mine to flourish like a finely-bred army dedicated towards the cause of destroying Satan’s malengine? No, I would be bitterly miserable and I would vent the self-hating wrath of my acidic cowardice upon all of those people that have made my life as sterling as it currently is. Those were the terms that my master had powerfully slapped me across the mouth with. I can either submit to his will, or I can exercise my own and utterly destroy myself after I’ve obliterated all the ones who mean something to me. Considering the crimes that I have committed thus far, the destruction of my husband, my intimate companion, and finally my children would become exponentially more heinous to the extreme with each death along the road towards my own self-induced execution if I chose to abandon the Paradigm, and take up the full-time lifestyle of some sort of grand dame within Society with a capital S. Like that emotionally erratic savage, Countess Bathory, the exercise of my own will would have to logically terminate with my capture, and I can guarantee that my subsequent confession would make the hardest of livestock weep because my blood-soaked words would drive home the truth that there is no such thing as God but there is definitely such a thing as me.

     The experience of emotional dissipation is a very rare one thus far in my life, and yet my heart was indeed truly heavy as I returned to my smoking room. I needed to be alone with the exception of my true best friend. She was always a welcome occupant within my thoughts as I took up my position once again upon my wall of cushions, and I lit yet another cheroot to scald the bitterness from my throat. My ambitions chose me and every decision that I erroneously imagined that I had somehow freely made since earliest childhood were actually made in order to appease my master. I suppose if I had told Charles this he would say that I had a man god within my skull, and if I obeyed his every command, I would be fine. I have to concede that I was more than a little bit jealous at his knack for being able to follow the dictates of the lady god within his guts bereft of the need to feel any sort of melancholia for not being well and truly his own man. He seemed rather grateful for having just such a mistress keeping him alive in the most arduous of situations. Why was I in turn feeling such a gloomy sense of ingratitude towards my master?

     I cannot in all honesty recollect the moment when I sat there with my science books and declared, “In my rationally pragmatic opinion this is what I calculate must be done in order to make things right once more as regards to the further continuance of the human race.” I just simply knew one day, when I could still claim to be a girl of the tenderest of years, that my master’s hegemony over my consciousness was right and true upon the planes of rational pragmatism. He dropped the conclusion upon my pate and then he forcefully shackled me to his truth because I had no truth of my own in order to counter being within his captivity. But why, why, why did he feel the need to lash me so brutally with these unwanted and uninvited emotions that have begun to assault me like Newton’s Third Law? For every action there is an equally opposite and negative reaction. Why could he not have made me as cold as an iceberg and as machine-like as the diagrams of the steam engines that I have studied with happy fascination? After all is it not the master’s obligation to protect the compliantly submissive little slave from any and all threats towards the slave’s well-being? Is it not his task to keep his housebroken bitch as strong and as healthy as possible in every manner necessary?

     I need to kill very soon. Only the direct application of death blesses me with the hottest pleasure of empowerment. Only the act of wreaking agony upon a victim is strong enough to bestow me with the illusion of pure freedom. Even my master has to step away and avert his unapproving gaze when my best friend comes to court and she tells me that it is time for us once again to slip without into the night and play with the screaming flesh of some livestock specimen.

     It was then that my true best friend began to conjure forth the loveliest of visions of what we can, and should do, to Simon Halloran as soon as this child is formally introduced to me. She proceeded to blow upon those neglected embers within the hearth contained within my Elysium. So close, and yet just out of reach. So be it, the fault is mine for not acquiring that femur from any of my three biped victims. At least she allows me to gaze upon the phantasy like a map etched in my next victim’s blood. X marks the spot where I shall finish it off. Not even my husband will be able to save it, nor will he be able to prove that I was the true killer. He can suspect but no confession will ever slip forth from my small and bloody little lips.”

     And thus, so it was that the mother of all monsters, the one that we modern Pendletons reverently refer to as “The Matriarch”, stoked her imagination while she tried to put out of her mind the apprehension that her husband was actively endeavoring to deceive her. The question wasn’t whether or not James Pendleton was smart. The question was whether or not he was smart enough to keep such a secret from her indefinitely, if it turned out to be true? After all, if Katherine Pendleton had a master inside of her mind that chose to dictate to her the exact specifications of her ambitions, was it not also possible that her husband had a mistress within his own consciousness that dictated to him the scope of his very own ambitions as well? Katherine had to accept more than a little responsibility for this disturbing state of domestic affairs. After all, the fact was indeed prevalent that she never explained to him truthfully why she needed a giant hole inside of a mountain, a hole that’s a million feet square with the four walls each measuring 1,000 feet per side. She also confessed to her intimate buddyroo that her husband never really knew the truth about her thought processes, or the exact nature of her actual self because she always deliberately withheld that aspect of herself from him. Instead she avidly rewarded and distracted him with copious dollops of quim as she pursued being a serial procreator in the name of her ambitions. And let us not overlook that nagging little fact that she was, in the modern parlance, an active serial killer with a psychosexually-sadistic preference for doing away with her victims. It was only going to be a matter of time before the body count exceeded the baby count.

     If James Pendleton had a massively secret ambition of his own, a long-term desire rooted in his own bloodthirsty needs, who was the one who set the example to be secretive in the first place? What a tangled web indeed, especially when the goose and the gander share a bed sometimes. I suppose it wouldn’t have been such a bad thing if his secret ambition didn’t contain the potential to overwhelm her ambition like a raging forest fire upon the mountain. Katherine’s secret ambition was more like a laser beam that could be directed, or hidden away, as the circumstances dictated. James’ ambitions contained a potential for disaster that couldn’t be accurately imagined, let alone calculated. That is, if Charles Halloran’s intuitions turned out to be correct. I can tell you right now the answer to that question but that would ruin the fun of telling you the entire story. You’re just going to have to suffer along for the duration. I’m more than a bit of a sadistic “little bitch”, myself. It’s a genetic thing. Try not to take it personally as I torture you with suspense. On second thought, take it personally, with my approval, and keep on suffering along as I tell you what happened next.

     When dawn broke for her, she tiredly hauled her sorry carcass out of what used to be Janey Rose Halloran’s bed, and she proceeded to do the mom thing while boiling the coffee pot upon the wood stove in the kitchen. Eventually James and Simon made their way into the drawing room and Katherine gave them the news that Charles had hastily departed like the Biblical thief in the night.

     “When I imparted that detail upon them I was already well awake whilst they were both still navigating the early stages of their first cup of New Orleans coffee. What I wanted to observe was their reaction before they said a word. My husband maintained a stoic countenance but there was a definite flash of alarm that ran across Simon’s face.

     “Last evening James and I discussed the possibility with him that the bounty hunters may already be within the city. James noted that harbouring a fugitive would be a capital offense against us all.”, I stated as I looked at my husband concernedly, “Charles did not wish to bring any calamity to this house so he chose to make a hasty return to Asheville. I have to confess, I encouraged his decision if only for our preservation, sir.”, I said to my husband with a calculated tone of sincerity.

     “A wise decision.”, James growled with a nod of approval.

     “Should I remain here, sir?”, Simon asked my husband with an edge of sycophancy that instantly forced me to wonder if he was being a genuine boot-licker or if he was manipulatively playing up to James’ vanity?

     “I think you should.”, James replied after giving it a moment’s consideration.

     “As do I.”, I replied, “The SoL will need you for at least a fortnight to take up a hidden position north of the city and watch out for the English landfall. James can hide out with you in case there is trouble. No one is a more capable warrior than my husband when the fire becomes well and truly hot.”, I stated with genuine honesty. Flattering comments of that nature never failed to at least get me a slight smile of faux-humility.

     “The bounty hunters will move on to Asheville if they know he is not here.”, Simon said nervously. The nervousness was real. The question was what exactly was he nervous about?

     “He can take care of them.”, my husband replied sincerely, “We will have a good meal at the Pyrate’s Cave and then near nightfall you and I will make our way approximately 10 miles up the coast.”

     “I shall have the midwife take up residence as soon as you two depart. I will be fine upon my own and I will dispense with the appropriate disinformation if the bounty hunters do encroach upon our home.”

     At that juncture I excused myself and I put all three of my daughters back within the black pram. The four of us, (five if you include the one who is not quite prepared for their debut), pushed ourselves out into the blustery morning as we negotiated our way towards the Central Business District within the city of self-deception.

     Savannah had one acceptable book shop that also sold gazettes and periodicals. I had enlisted the proprietor to acquire “Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society”, a peer-reviewed journal published by the Royal Academy of Science in London. Within it were the latest discoveries that encompassed every aspect of the sciences ranging from mathematics, to engineering, to chemistry, and physics. The world was changing, and I for one was not wont to commit the sin of ignorance. Also, I had to confess, I always felt an exceptional thrill every time there was a new release. As I obtained the latest issue I always saw to it to purchase previous issues as well ever since its public inception in 1752. I was going to own them all rather soon. It was the only thing that I read with avid regularity.

     This lack of reading options was beginning to vex me and thusly it was also tied in with the realization that creating a seemingly legitimate concern to derive sovereigns from would be a shrewd idea. We could not acquire fresh gold forever solely from being criminals. And it was as such that my true best friend and I agreed that what the literary world seriously, if not desperately needed, was a periodical dedicated to crime. Some sort of a lurid spreadsheet that bled with purple prose and the most detailed ink-drawings of all things to do with death and carnage of the most vicious variety. Large headlines in bold type that screamed of terrors too ghastly to be read in broad daylight would of course be mandatory. This would be the sort of journal that only the true voyeurs of violence would seek out from the wrong side of any town that dared to sell it.

     The vast bulk of its readership would be those self-same hausfraus that I discovered outside of the tollhouse as they lasciviously stared at the battered and bloody frames of my intimate companion and his worthless brother. Women would treat just such a magazine as their personal form of pornography. By candlelight they would host reading parties whilst their livestock male counterparts flatulated and grunted about the same stale issues regarding trade and the ineffectiveness of government within whatever chamber those apes preferred to retire to. I even have the perfect title for it, “American Lustmord”. Not that I would personally restrict the tales to just the 13 Colonies. England has a long and well-storied history of gruesome criminality. Same with France, Germany, Spain, Russia et all. I just imagine that if the term “American” is contained within the title it will garner an immediate readership here within the republic once the revolution has been concluded in our favour.

     All that would be required is a distribution system whereby the best of the latest cases to go to the courts could be gathered up, along with interviews of the various members of the constabulary, and if at all possible, interviews with the crims themselves before they were marched off to their moment of glory upon the gallows. I’m certain that the proud scum of humanity would have many profound things to articulate if they knew that their vile utterances would be deeply slashed into the flesh of posterity. This was a million-sovereign idea and I pursued it relentlessly within my mind if only as a self-induced distraction away from the possibility that my husband was indeed protecting Simon’s ambitions for his own personal reasons.

     But still, even as I considered just how such a lurid tome could come into being, I also studied the early morning activity upon the streets of Savannah. I could not discern any suspicious-looking strangers as I pushed the pram whilst analyzing the ambience. All I could see were the same vapidly white livestock faces, whilst several black ones performed a myriad of chores. Many people did carry upon their countenance a look of apprehension, doubtlessly due to the expected landfall any time now of the English troops. The livestock need not have feared. These were not Vikings who were coming to rape and raze this city. The limeys would be wise to do their utmost to reassure the locals that all they wished to achieve was peace, order, and good government. I could see many doorways draping The King’s Colours as they flapped and fluttered in the pre-winter breeze. Once the French navy arrived I would have many victims to choose from. Good. I was feeling the growing desire to spite my master as often as I could safely get away with it betwixt now and the end of the occupation of this city.

     I made it a point of circumnavigating the little city as I slowly swirled towards the book shop. I could not detect anything untoward upon the streets. I had grown to visually familiarize myself with the good burghers of Savannah and the only faces that I saw were all tediously recognizable to me. Once I had arrived at the shop the proprietor turned over the latest issue from the Royal Society, along with half a dozen previous issues to add to my burgeoning collection. These tomes should feed my need for both edification and distraction beside the hearth once the sun sets and James departs with what I am anticipating shall be my next victim. That fop needs to go before he can trigger this nightmare. Truthfully, I do not even require a reason to destroy him. I just know that a reason is necessary in order to assuage my husband’s displeasure regarding the bloody act. But first I need to ascertain if Charles’ suspicions are correct. Regrettably the only rational course of action in that regard is to wait and maintain a close vigil upon the partially overcast pre-winter sky for falling shoes. The trick is to spot the metaphorical shoe with a good telescope whilst it is still an indistinguishable speck to the naked eye, and then properly position myself to catch it within my dainty ivory paws once it decides to land.”

     The lunch date at the Pirate’s Cave was indeed kept and according to The Lady Pendleton, Simon was too anxious to give his steak a proper workout. Katherine subsequently destroyed about 8 pounds of beef, plus her potatoes, and she picked up the check, in lieu of compensation. There was very little in the way of conversation, which is to say her husband was in his normal frame of mind with his true thoughts stuck within their usual cage behind his nearly-black curtain. Simon’s agitation was a source of deep contemplation to the 18-year old serial killing wife and mother.

     “As I attacked my fare with my bayonet flashing up and down continuously, I kept discreetly noting Simon’s fearful disposition. What exactly was he so frightened of? I noted that his distress appeared to be more acute than it was at the breakfast table. I made it a point to mention to them both that based upon my reconnaissance the bounty hunters were nowhere about within the city of self-deception. Privately my husband asserted that if the hired muskets were nearby they would be encamped in the countryside just beyond the city limits. He said that he and his scout would dispatch them if they came across such unsavoury sorts. He also stressed that if they were about they would come to the manse at night, probably later in the evening closer towards the midnight hour. I told him they could pound upon the gates until Gabriel blows his horn but since they are not constables as such, they will not acquire unfettered access to our house.

     During the course of that self-same discussion I brought to his attention his scout’s growing sense of anxiety. James blithely ascribed his young scout’s apprehensions to “war nerves”, and I silently dismissed that notion before he even had time to utter those two syllables. War nerves? The fop was half of a pair of armed killers who robbed and razed banks to their foundations up and down the eastern seaboard. He had been part of that partnership for well over a year now, and he did not seem to become unduly unglued about that phenomenon within my presence, ever. It was not until I told him that his brother had taken it into the wind back to Asheville that I had ever witnessed him bearing an anxious aspect. There was something about Charles not being available with us that bothered him. Was he really plotting to kill him with my husband’s assistance? Mayhaps he was concerned that Charles was preparing to do him dirty in North Carolina. Something was definitely stirring within the weeds.”

     The lad was a tad jumpy, no doubt about it. The rest of the afternoon was quiet as both guys got their stuff together, and since it was nearly winter it was good and dark by 6pm. When they discreetly left the house, there was a black midwife on the premises named, Helena. Helena had been on hand for the first three babies and Katherine trusted only her to do the job as always with her capable efficiency, which is why TLP always paid her extra for her services. Katherine had seen to it that her smoking room was locked up as she shamelessly stole the entire massive bed of her first victim and smoked her brains out after she analytically destroyed one of her science journals. The babes were kept downstairs with Helena and TLP kept her muskets, her Claymore, and her bayonet within easy reach. She had a nagging feeling that she was going to need them.

     “Now that I am alone in my first biped victim’s bed, I can privately give vent to my own suppressed apprehensions. I gave Charles the strictest of commands to move at night and to move swiftly with as much alertness and as much discretion as he had within his possession. I have no doubt that he will follow my admonitions assiduously. I only have my husband’s verbal assurances that he and that fop are heading northwards for approximately ten miles to wait out the arrival of the first English troops. Even if the specific components of Charles’ fears are baseless, there is nothing to stop James from tearing off this evening towards Asheville alone with the most criminal of intentions. All that would be required is for some other member of the SoL to take up position north of the city with Simon and they can do the actual scouting whilst my husband takes up the hunt for the only young man that he knows of who is neither intimidated, nor particularly impressed with him.

     Does James harbour any sort of a suspicion in terms of the emotional bond betwixt my intimate companion and I? He must. As I have stated previously, the man is no fool. He is not only educated but he bears the requisite wits that make a sound education possible to begin with. Even the most casual of observers would be compelled to note that there is some form of communion betwixt he and myself. It is not that much of a conjecture upon my part to envision that foppish scout of his playing the hand-wringing, whispering Iago as such a dirty domestic scene of that ilk would call for. That alone would give him probable cause to hunt down my stalwart little criminal. James has never brought up the issue of Charles but that is no symptom of equanimity in his case. It just means that he honestly is the master of circumspection. What if Charles’ lady god is wrong about the cause and yet she is correct about the conspiracy? Since James is not a wanted criminal, (blood-lusting butchery in the name of freedom, aside), he could cover lost ground upon the rising of the sun, and he can also make discreet inquiries along the way in his quest for his chosen victim. An ample purse of jingling sovereigns can loosen any tongue.

     Both of my men have been silently challenging each other for over a year. I could never, in good conscience, command my stout young Cossack to pay my husband any abundance of deference. To do so would doubtlessly inspire the most rational of suspicions within my husband’s secretive thoughts, even if Charles proceeded to do so. Charles needed to silently remind my husband at every turn that he was not the be-all-and-end-all of masculine supremacy. He needed to be told that there was one other young man now within the masculine firmament who was happily willing to test his mettle against James, with his most boyishly buoyant aura upon display. Now would be the best opportunity for their private Armageddon to take place until only one of them is drawing a breath and the other is just so much bloody meat for the other predators to feast upon. For the sake of the Paradigm that victor needs to be James, if such is the case, (and I am adamantly hoping that that scenario is dead wrong). But if it is meant to be my husband who is slated to be the warrior supreme in that terrifying exchange, I shall not hesitate to give him his proper due at the very moment I birth a son. The afterglow of his masculine sense of vindication will not be capable of warming the multitude of pieces that his corpse would become under my hand once I have what I want from him, and the icier my revenge is to be, the more drawn out I shall make my husband’s death. I swear to both my master, as well as my true best friend, (at least I know they truly exist within me), I will make James Pendleton pay for taking away from me what is mine and mine alone if such an eventuality comes to pass.

     The very thought of such an outcome was making my hands tremble as my temples felt oppressively constricted. I was forced to pause and orally tear up a cheroot until my composure reluctantly returned from its faraway hiding place. Only now can I continue with this onerous entry.

     All I can do at this moment is hope that these thoughts are but the morbid misgivings of a very pregnant young woman who is awaiting the arrival of her latest addition with an excess of time upon her tiny white hands, except that I know these two men extremely well, and I know how they feel about each other. If the growing piles of gazettes are an indication, Charles has proven himself dozens of times over to be an exemplary man-killer of note, and this is bereft of a military unit backing his play. Even my husband noted that my intimate companion would become even deadlier with experience, and he is of the meanest of sorts when it comes to the verbal dispensation of compliments.

     Jealousy, much like love, comes in many flavours. My husband is justifiably feared, hated, and ultimately respected by all within the revolutionary environment, ally and enemy alike. And yet he is not the one selling thousands of gazettes with every successful destruction of every Loyalist bank, virtually by himself. If anything, as I have noted previously, Charles has a rather dandy knack of displacing revolutionary news from the top half of the gate-fold. Being brutally talented at killing is one matter. My husband stands tall within that forum. Being brazen, as well as deadly, is another beast altogether, and that beast always casts an attractive shadow in its wake. Diminutively pre-pubescent livestock Halloran girls aside, my husband can only inspire terror and revulsion by those who know him in spite of his toweringly handsome features. Charm and charisma shall never be bolts within his personal quiver. Charles however, can inspire a much more favourable impression in spite of his own reputation for violence laced with torrents of profanity. The lady god within his guts may very well be wrong regarding the specifics but that would not negate the fact that my husband has at his disposal several reasons to hunt down my stalwart, within his personal estimation.

     He may even choose the coward’s approach and assassinate him from a distance with a single arrow. It would be the more rational tack for him to follow and my husband is more than adept as regards to bushcraft. Charles is more of an urban warrior. He would be at a disadvantage if my husband opted to expediently kill him in the wilds, and then make his corpse appear as though it were the product of some violent brand of happenstance with only his purse, his hat, his scarf, and his head being absent from the scene. He would not be obligated to give him a fair chance to emerge as the victor in an honest fight. It would be more pragmatic for him to kill my intimate companion from a distance and be done with it. Then all he would require is a minimum of three cohorts to firmly insist that James was with them 10 miles north of the city of self-deception, and that apparently the sorry youth in question was the recipient of the most terrible strain of ill luck by persons unknown. If Charles does not safely arrive in Asheville, I will know the truth of it, and at the first opportunity I will make my husband disappear from a very close distance, slowly, but only after I force him to watch what I shall do to his cohorts as I feed their tortured meat to his starving belly from deep inside of the Paradigm. An empty stomach has no conscience, and neither do I, especially when something that belongs to me and me alone is violently ripped out of my claws. I WILL HAVE WHAT IS MINE.

     Once more, the tremors are upon me and my head is starting to pound forth with a painfully tight and crimson rhythm. I have to cease this notation for the moment. I have to push this train of thought aside and both my master, as well as my true best friend, are in complete agreement with the need upon my part to cease with this agonizing speculation.

     I warned Charles as aggressively as I could to fly fast within the darkness and to make an enemy out of the sunlight. An enemy that is best avoided. Not even James can assassinate my fox within the blackness of the rural night if my fox is quiet and circumspect in his own manner. Please follow my orders and ride hard, young Mr. Halloran because what I told you to your beautiful young face was not a product of criminal artifice. I truly do need you. I need you to such a degree that if you knew how much I did, you would be in a position of excruciating power. Do what your Sovereign Black Widow has commanded upon this front and we will both deal with our enemies in the proper manner within the proper sequence.

     Please, let this child be a son.”

     Well, well, well, that is indeed an impressive revelation. Did the Big Bad Wolf chase after the little pig with the brick-solid reputation in order to give him a bit of what-for for not being suitably impressed with him? Oh, and also for quite possibly being in love with his wife, but mostly for not being taken seriously by the little butt-kicking bank robber? I always found it curious that she never dared to write down what she would have done if James caught Charles unawares and yet it was Charles who permanently put down the Big Bad Wolf? Some thoughts are too painful to explore even for a brilliantly beautiful sadist of Katherine’s caliber.

     Many Pendleton girls, myself included, have debated over coffee and cigars what we would do if our intimate companion was forced to kill our only available sperm donor in the wake of being waylaid in the deep piney? Not a single one of us, 200 years after the fact, has ever been able to come up with a solidly final decision. The only thing we can agree on is that we would be righteously angry for the rest of our lives. Still, speaking for myself, the one thing that always impressed me about Charles is that he swore to his Sovereign, in writing, that he would serve her faithfully even if she despised him in such an event. He would be within his rights to plead self-defence, and there’s no doubt that he loved his sisters. I can see why Katherine would be willing to go to the wall in order to preserve his life by all means necessary. Loyalty of his brand is a very rare, and a very precious commodity that requires the utmost of attention.

     As for the outcome, I’ll put it to you this way. Pendletons don’t subscribe to the notion of fate or destiny, (with the exception of genetics), but we do accept the reality that there is such a thing as luck, and like jealousy that too comes in a wide range of flavours. Luck was on its way to Savannah House even as Katherine was writing out her most personally distressing thoughts. There would be no rest for that wicked little lady on this particular night, I can tell you, and very little of it to be found for many nights to come.

     Katherine was going to need Charles Halloran very badly to unwittingly help her maintain the desired-for outcome of the Paradigm, as she proceeded to navigate a web that was much bigger than the one that our Black Widow Sovereign had spun for the propagation of her darkly scientific ambitions. She had one stalwart whose dominion over her was becoming stronger, which made him more dangerous than he realized. Fortunately, he wasn’t aware of just how much power he was accumulating as he began to hold sway over two of her three personal chambers. There was a lot at stake here for the Paradigm, and he was all that she had because the truth was much bigger, and a whole lot darker as the English troops were less than a fortnight away from physically seizing Savannah for themselves.

     There was something though that the limeys, as well as certain other geo-political factions, had neglected to take into account. Just as the English had no proper methodology for fighting a guerilla-style war within the deep piney against an educated enemy that was just as alabaster as they were and spoke their language just as mellifluously, they also never took into account that the ahem “civilized world” had become much more urban, much more prosperous, and much more educated. A world whereby crime of both the organized as well as the chaotic variety were starting to grow new muscles and new brain cells. The terrain was changing and there was a new class of educated individuals upon that terrain who had very new, and violently different ideas, of how the world should be.

     The limeys at that time were accustomed to grubby-looking buggers who were forced to congregate at the center of the cesspit as they lived out their pathetically little criminal lives. They looked, and no doubt stank, like crooks and their methodologies were very direct and unsophisticated. If they sang and danced using Cockney rhyming slang then I suppose the image would have been perfect. Those kinds of crims did what they did in order to survive from day to day. There was now a growing breed of criminals who did not look, or presumably smell, like criminals and they did not do what they did just to buy a loaf of bread, a fish, and another night in some miserable doss-house in Whitechapel. These new criminals did what they did because they enjoyed it, and they had the means at their disposal to afford good lawyers, good homes, good clothes, and all of the other accoutrement that allowed them to project the image of both prosperity and innocence. These new bad people were driven by the need to experience the darkness of existence in whatever way suited them, but that darkness always revolved around regularly engaging in acts of personal violence in one form or another in the name of nihilism, anarchy, and libertinage, as opposed to the need to acquire a little coin in order to survive for one more day.

     Just four years after Katherine penned those words the Marquis de Sade would publish a book called, “Justine- Or the Misfortunes of Virtue”, and every one of these new criminals would forgive his clunky prose styling because the ideas he had put forth legitimately vindicated their very evil lifestyle. Katherine was ahead of that curve but she was not the only one by any means.

     The reality of what was going on during the American Revolution in 1778 was much bigger than what Charles Halloran feared but it was more than just the stale old game of “Empire” being played out yet again upon the turbulent shores of the United Livestock of America. It was a collision, an Armageddon of sorts between the same-old-same-old stuff and nonsense revolving around conquest, colonialism, mercantilism, and the violent seizure of invaluable resources of both the natural, as well as the livestock variety, and this new attitude that was beginning to rise up from the psychopathic minds of these new criminals, who wanted a world where they could play their violent games with as little interference as possible from the good burghers that they wanted to victimize for as long as possible until nature reclaimed them.

     As an extrapolation of that premise there was one other reality.

     These new criminals were starting to emerge everywhere.

     They were manifesting themselves from Russia to the fledgling republic of the United Livestock of America. They were in British North America and they were coming into being as far south as Argentina. All of these new monsters had one thing in common. They were the product of what those old-timey types would call, “the middle classes”, which didn’t mean the same thing as it does now. In those days the middle classes were actually quite prosperous. They were successful business people, or at the very least successful professionals. A lot of those people were quite rich but because they were born into a world bereft of a title they were seen as being “less than” their aristocratic superiors, which was quite funny considering that all of those fops were chronically short of money and they were always lingering around with their soft and lazy hands out looking for more cash to finance their deadbeat lifestyle.

     These new crims knew that as long as they stayed on the good side of these impoverished elites, they could get away with anything. The fix, as we say nowadays, was definitely in.

     America’s first full-blooded serial killer had her work cut out for her, but if we’ve learned anything thus far about The Lady Pendleton she was neither lazy, nor stupid. She also had very few scruples and she wasn’t afraid to get wet and dirty if that was what the job called for. Her Paradigm was going to depend upon her willingness to be more evil than she has ever been up until that point, (which is saying a lot when you consider what she did to a 10-year old girl in order to free her brother from the noose). And as you already know, she had a lot of evil to spare.

     It was also going to depend upon her becoming more and more emotionally dependent upon the only friend that she had. To say that Charles Halloran was merely a minion/utility is an unfair misconception. He was much more than that and the emotionally inter-personal risks that TLP was going to have to take in order to rescue her Paradigm were going to be formidable to the extreme.  The sex act alone does not own a monopoly on the concept of love. Love, when its authentic, comes from somewhere else, and it makes its presence known in a multitude of ways, but its sincerity is incontestable.

     Depending on how you choose to view the situation, her evil was to be her saving grace but her malevolent need to manifest the Paradigm came with a few questions that she was going to be forced to address many times. Is the love of power strong enough to kill the power of love? If you can only have one or the other, which would you choose, and how high of a price would you be willing to pay in order to have what it is that you think that you want? Ultimately rational pragmatism can only take you so far and then you have to rely on faith that what it is that you think that you want really is what you want the most.

     Who said that evil was a simple beast? Evil has complexities to its nature that the supposedly good burghers of this world can’t dare themselves to consider. In order to do so they would have to uncouple themselves from the simplistic misconceptions that they eagerly allow Hollywood to spoonfeed to them. The Matriarch was not a simple woman and the most daunting challenge that she had to face upon that night was the battle to hold her entire self together in order to fulfill her master’s ambitions. She knew that this would be the most vicious fight that she would engage in. All of the violence that she was going to commit soon would actually serve as both an outlet, as well as a distraction, from that internal Armageddon. If I was genetically capable of pitying her upcoming victims, I would. Needless to say, I owe my very existence to the decisions that she made, so forgive me if I’m more than a little sympathetic to her plight.

     I’m tired so I’ll continue this narrative later.

 

 

Psychotopia- Episode Six- Season 1

Sudbury, Ontario, Canada- 1980-1981

     After that fateful talk on November 1st 1980, Miriam hit the ground running as fast as her little legs would carry her. Things got very busy, very quickly. It turned out she had an entire shitload of plans.

     Her plans started to kick in one day, in the first week of November. I was sitting in my room reading “The Stranger Beside Me”. It wasn’t a bad book. I have to say, I was into it. The very idea that Ann Rule knew absolutely nothing about the young university guy she was working with on a suicide hotline on the night shift was pretty wicked. I could understand why she had a very hard time believing that this guy was a murdering monster. I heard my old man call out for me from downstairs in the kitchen. He said that mom and him needed to talk to me.

     I must have been seriously into this book because I looked beside me and I noticed that Miriam was gone. We had fallen into the habit of reading together on my bed like an old married couple. I was either reading this or “A Clockwork Orange”, and she was chewing up more and more textbooks to do with computer programming. I said to her that I guess computers are where it’s at in 1980, and she joked that computers had been the thing since WWII and she was just trying to catch up.

     With the two of us it had gotten to the point that I had simply become used to always seeing her near me, except when she was in the bathroom or when we were both incarcerated by law at different schools. How the hell did she become my entire life so quickly? I asked her that the other day and she said, “The best way to kill something beautiful is to analyze it.” Some German guy named Goethe said that. I have found now that since we had the talk on the black hilltop, the dreams had become pretty manageable if we crashed at the same time. The icy black fits still come on me but they still disappear the second I meet up with her so she must be doing something, which is why just to be a playful prick I’ve started calling her “nymph”, sometimes. She’s started warning me that if I keep calling her that I better be ready for the ramifications.

      When I wake up for school I always find her staring at me from a few inches away as she holds onto my arm. It’s beginning to feel like we’ve been like that for years, and that this was the routine that we’ve always had. When I think about the fact that I had never said a word to her for the first 9 years of her life, I still find myself feeling ashamed. Certain things definitely would have turned out differently if I had talked to her earlier in her life, but I’ll get to that shit later.

     So, I walked downstairs wondering what was up. My mid-term report card had me sitting at 82%, which is an A average. Miriam was doing very well at school. No behaviour issues at all. She was paying attention to the teacher, though no one could say for sure what was going through her mind. She still got in the occasional fight and her Charlie’s Angels lunchbox got a couple more dents in it. All in all, the Miller kids, (or at least 2 of them), weren’t openly being disappointments, (by some fucking miracle). I have to admit in a house that was maybe 1100 square feet, I kept wondering how long we could maintain this charade we had going on. For example, we would be sitting across the supper table with two of our other siblings and our parents, and we would be repressing the urge to sneak those “meaningful looks” at each other. Sometimes Miriam would start laughing for no reason at all and then she would smash her little fist onto the table top. Then she would have to cover her ass by pulling out some hardcore science thing that none of us would understand and then try to explain to us dummies why it was so funny. Her bullshit skills were definitely getting better. Later on, in private, I’d ask her what was so funny and she’d say that she just felt like laughing at just how amazing things have suddenly gotten for the two of us. The only thing my parents saw was that she was happy now, which meant that I was allowed to be happy too.

     I went into the kitchen and I saw Miriam sitting between my parents. She had a bright and happy look on her face. My parents didn’t look angry or nervous, so I took that as a good sign. I honestly did worry to some degree that at any moment my parents were going to say that the connection between Nymph and I was getting weird. I mean shit, if we weren’t outside in the wilds, we were in my room either reading or talking about things that would scare the shit out of normal people. We barely even watched tv with the family anymore. Right after supper I’d say I was going to do homework and she would say she was going to bed, which was technically true. I did do my homework at the desk while Miriam sat on the bed reading her computer stuff. That’s another example of how it started to feel to me like we had been doing this for years instead of just over 2 weeks.

     I saw a cup of coffee in front of an empty chair. I figured that was for me and I sat down. I produced a fresh pack of Colt’s Milds and I lit up as I slurped my java.
“What’s up, folks?”, I asked with a perky attitude as I tried to discreetly scan Miriam’s face for a clue as to the nature of this meeting.

     Normally when there’s some kind of a family meeting my mom does most of the talking. You saw evidence of that when my folks took me outside to talk about Miriam. Once again, my mom kicked off the conversation while I smoked and quietly paid attention. Miriam sat across from me looking fairly pleased with herself as she gently kicked my leg under the table. I’m sure that was a signal but I wasn’t quite getting the message.

     “John, before we get going here your dad and I just want to say thank you again for spending so much time with your sister. We know that you prefer your own company but it is really nice you being such a good brother, and actually a good friend as well to her. You have no idea just how much happier she is nowadays and the school is really happy with her attitude.”, my mom said warmly as she lit a DuMaurier Light off of the heater of another smoke before butting it out. How none of us kids got lung cancer is a serious fucking mystery.

     “I’ve told you guys before, she’s a really sweet kid. Honestly, it’s not like a job being with her. I think she’s great.”, I said with a lot of sincerity as I looked at her. I tried to look nice without looking intense. One of the benefits of being a psychopath is that I can act in whatever way the moment calls for. Miriam smiled back as she looked down at the table.

     “Are you doing his homework?”, my dad joked.

     “No, sir, those are honest grades. He’s in all of the advanced classes, did you know that? He does all of his own work which is why he goes to bed so early. I’m very proud of him.”, Miriam said as she gave my hand a quick squeeze. I gave her a fast warning look as though to say, “Don’t get too touchy.”

     “Your sister came to us a while ago and there’s a few things that she would like to do but she can’t do them alone. She needs someone to go with her as like a chaperone.”, my mom said.

     “Ok, sure, what does she want to do?”, I asked as I started to get that nagging feeling that she was up to something.

     “Well, we can all agree that she is probably going to be starting high school by the time she’s 11. The mean kids there are going to be a lot bigger than the ones she still has to deal with sometimes at Adamsdale.”

     “Yeah, that Charlie’s Angels lunchbox is looking a little beat up isn’t it?”, I joked as I kept discreetly reading her face for a clue as to where this was going. The little bitch wasn’t giving away anything. I wonder if she’s too young to take advantage of her genius and her growing beauty and become a professional poker player? I’ve heard they have big tournaments now in Vegas. Nymph would seriously clean up.

     “Your sister wants to start studying self-defence classes. Honey, can you explain to your brother which ones you had in mind, please?”, my mom said in her kindliest voice.

     “Well”, Miriam began like a student about to give some kind of an oral presentation, “There are specifically 2 types of martial arts that I think will be quite good for a small person like me, and I think they’ll be good for you as well, John. The first one is called Krav-Maga. It’s a form of upper-body self-defence that is used by the military in Israel. It only takes 3-6 months to learn what’s called Urban Krav Maga. This will teach me the essentials especially when it comes to avoiding getting hit in close combat, as well as how to strike back more effectively and also wrestle my way out of tight situations.”, she said pleasantly.

     “Ok, not getting hit is usually a good thing.”, I replied thoughtfully.

     “The second form of martial arts that I would like to study at the same time is called Wing Chun. Wing Chun was designed for smaller people, specifically women, but aspiring giants like yourself can also learn it as well. The premise behind Wing Chun is that you aggressively attack your opponent, slip past their defences, and then proceed to strike them as fast as possible between the throat and the solar plexus. Masters of this art form can punch somebody 14 times in a second. You can strike the face with the open palm but the closed fist to the body is more effective. The whole point to Wing Chun is to end the fight in under 5 seconds. I think a hybrid of the two art forms would be very beneficial to us both.”, she summarized concisely.

     “Sure, yeah man, I’m in. It sounds like you thought about this a lot.”, I said supportively. Had to admit it was a good idea. Nymph was always going to be a small broad and by the time she hit high school she would have to square off against bigger kids who actually knew how to duck when they were about to get fucking smoked by a Charlie’s Angels lunchbox.

     “A little.”, she replied thoughtfully as she looked downwards.

     “Ok, so what’s this other thing she wants to do?”, I asked curiously.

     “Well it appears that your sister is interested in a sport and she would very much like to do it. Admittedly it’s a bit of an unusual sport but your father and I don’t have a problem with it if it makes her happy.”, my mom started.

     “Ok, so what is it? Lawn bowling? Darts? Dog-sled racing?”, I asked humorously.

     “Target shooting?”, my mom replied straightforwardly.

     “Say what?”, I replied in disbelief as I physically avoided giving her the “Are-you-fucking-kidding- me”, face?” Instantly Miriam began to sell the idea.

     “I’ve developed an interest in target shooting. I think it’ll help me with my concentration and focus.”, Miriam said factually as her deep brown eyes communicated that “Don’t-fuck-this-up-for-us”-look as her big eyebrows kind of got together in the middle of her forehead. Personally, I thought her explanation was pretty funny, and I was laughing a lot on the inside. Absolutely no one was more focused than she was when she set her mind to something. Seriously, when she was into something the whole world could burn down around her and she wouldn’t notice, and even if she did, she wouldn’t give a shit.

     “Okay, how do we go about doing this?”, I asked with a straight face.

     “The local gun club is the best place to go. They have a program for kids and they’re actually quite eager to get girls interested in target shooting. Now, obviously we’re not going to go hunting or anything like that. I have no intention of killing innocent animals, and you shouldn’t either, but just target shooting would be beneficial. I’ve heard it can actually be quite meditative and it’s an effective way to relieve stress.”, Miriam said with an equally straight face. When she said she didn’t want me to kill innocent animals the demon in my chest began laughing. Scragging a moose with a 30.06 would be nowhere near as fucking satisfying as blasting a human being.

     “Sure, let’s do it.”, I said enthusiastically as I smiled at my parents.

     “Are you sure, son? You’ll be busy every day. The martial arts will take up the week nights and the gun club would be on the weekend. It would be better for Miriam if you had objections now than if you joined up and then in a month you decided you didn’t like to do it anymore.”, my mom said seriously as my old man gave me the “Don’t-be-a-fucking-jerk-boy.”-face. Nymph looked at me with her deep brown eyes raised in a state of eager hopefulness. Slowly her left eyebrow began to rise a little higher as she took on a mysterious gleam that made my guts queasy because there was something wickedly sexy about that maneuver that made me think she had been practicing it in the bathroom mirror. I’m not quite sure what my face was doing but I know I was smiling kind of crookedly. Finally, after about a minute of deliberate silence I broke into a huge smile and I said kind of loudly,

     “Look at that face, man. Who can say no to that face? Of course, I’ll do it. I love my sister and if this’ll make her happy then sure, I’ll do it. It’s not a problem. In fact, it sounds like it’ll be a lot of fun.”, I said sounding happy as the demon in my chest laughed even louder.

     Miriam screamed so loudly Mom had to cover her ears. Suddenly she was filled with joy and she ran around the table and gave me a massive hug along with several kisses on the cheek. The old man clapped me solidly on the shoulder.

     “Thank you, son.”, he said quietly. Mom was beaming so widely her cigarette fell onto the tabletop.

     “Miriam, you’re choking me.”, I garbled as she started jumping up and down as she continued squeezing the shit out of me. Mom was almost getting weepy and like I’ve said she’s a tough old bitch but she always wanted to see her youngest child truly happy just once.

     “Thank you, son. You have no idea what this means to us. See how happy she is right now. You’re really very good to her. It’s amazing how much you’ve come out of your shell, at least with her.”, my mom said with a big smile as she screwed another DuMaurier Light into her mouth. “We’ll make the arrangements and the two of you can start going next week.”

     Nymph stopped jumping and she tried to pull me to my feet.

     “Come on in the basement, I have a present for you, downstairs.”, she said excitedly.

     “Oh, yeah, we forgot to mention, your sister got you a gift. She found it in the want ads of the Star and she got me to go pick it up. She used her own money. I’m kind of curious to see if you’ll like it.”, my old man joked as he stubbed out his cigar.

     “Oh, don’t listen to him, you’re going to love it.”, Nymph said as she pulled me up out of my chair. I had just enough time to grab my cigar and she dragged me down the basement stairs as we closed the door behind us. When we reached the bottom of the stairs, she jumped into my arms and kissed me on the mouth. As soon as the door was closed though my happy face went back into its special box and a very different face began to emerge. One that was not so happy and a lot more sincere.

     “Thank you, babe. We both need this but you’ll need it more.”, she said excitedly.

     “Really, babe, fucking guns?”, I quietly murmured rhetorically.

     “This is part of your self-discipline regimen. Handling guns and martial arts will teach you to focus and it’ll teach you the importance of waiting for the right moment to strike. Another factor is you need to keep busy, idle hands and all of that shit, at least until like……..uhm…….y’know.”, she whispered in a factual way.

     I had a fearful feeling I knew what her gift was.

     “Ok, let’s see this gift.”, I said kind of grimly as she pointed towards the other end of the basement. I carried her over and sure enough it was exactly what I expected. Lots of guys, usually delusional teenage guys, get these cheapie bench presses that were made by this company called York. The weights were of these plastic plates that were filled with cement. The bench presses look rickety as hell. Nymph bought a bench press, a long bar, a couple dumbbell bars, and a lot of those red clamps.

     “There’s 300 pounds of weights. That’ll at least get you started. Also, we’ve got some good cross beams here so you can do a lot of pull ups as well as pushups and crunches on the floor.”, she said thoughtfully.

     “Am I becoming a fucking boxer or something, Nymph?”, I asked dryly.

     “Fuck no, boxing is the only sport where experience makes you a fucking idiot. Ever since you’ve started high school you’ve stopped eating a lot, which is not good when you have all of that lovely testosterone coursing through your system. You’re getting too thin and you need to put on some meat. I can already tell you’re going to be massive by the time you stop growing. I figure you should have a body fat percentage of about 8%.”, she said quietly as she looked me up and down. It was time for me to speak up.

     “I know what you’re doing, babe. I’m not saying I object to the concept but I want to hear you say what exactly it is that you’re up to.”, I said with a hint of an edge as I placed my hands on her wide shoulders and looked down into her unblemished face. Miriam looked up at me fearlessly. Like I’ve said her ego is quite strong and it’s used to not confronting any serious objections.

     “Your desires to rape, torture, and murder are only going to get stronger over the next decade and sooner or later, you’re going to get caught because you didn’t have the self-discipline to exercise discretion. I don’t want you to get caught. I need you free to remain with me.”, she said seriously.

     Being a psycho, I can fake it effortlessly even if I’m becoming irritated. We had to put on a show for Mom and Dad. Fine, I can be the good older brother for them. That didn’t take away from the fact that in one corner of my brain I was getting really annoyed.

     “I’m not some dumb fucking animal that you can train to do your bidding. From now on you’re going to tell me up front what it is that you’re planning to do and then we’ll talk about it like fucking equals.”, I said with every gram of ice I had.

     She licked her suddenly bone-dry lips as she stared up at my not-happy face. She took a couple breaths and she replied.

     “I apologize. I’m not trying to run your life and I know you’re not stupid, but the fact is there are a lot of things you need to do and you need to learn in order to remain free.”, she said calmly.

     “That’s fine. I get that. Just stop fucking blindsiding me. Cops blindside criminals. We’re supposed to be fucking better than that.”, I said firmly.

     She nodded and I could actually hear her ego screaming inside of her mind.

     “Ok, so what else do you have planned for me?”, I said in a nicer way.

     “Well, to begin with everything I’ve planned is from the perspective that it’s about us. We’re going to be together for a long time.”, she said forthrightly.

     “Ok.”, I said as I waited for the rest.

     “Let’s sit down, please, and I’ll tell you what else I have lined up. I honestly think you’ll find it interesting.”, she said as she pointed towards the old kitchen table in the other end of the basement.

     I looked at the table, some old grey and white formica jobby from the 60’s with four ugly green chairs. I got the vibe that this is where the old man goes when he’s feeling really depressed. There was a clear glass ashtray on the table with some old plastic cigar ends in it. There was also a small radio on there and the dial was set to the local fm country station. I kind of got the impression that when the old man was feeling like total shit he would sit here, listening to his country music, and chain smoke cigars. My mom was smart enough to just let him sit down there. I imagined that when the old man had worked through his depression to a degree he’d come back upstairs, eat, hang out with his family in the livingroom, and then go to bed with Mom. I imagine that at that time he probably talked to her about how much he hated INCO, and she would remind him in a nice way about everything that was going right in his life. Then she’d probably give him a little something to get him over the hump so that he could go back to the shit pit the next day. I only had enough decency and love for my sister but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t able to intellectually recognize how decent my dad was.

     So anyway, Miriam and I sat down and I lit up another cigar. She was sitting with her hands flat on the table with her fingers linked. I knew this was going to be one of her executive-style speeches. She nodded, took another deep breath and then she briskly started pitching.

     “Once again, I want to apologize for jumping the gun. We had an agreement that I would do all of the thinking when we were out in the world and you would do all of the thinking when we were home alone. This is kind of a borderline issue but you’re right, I should have consulted you and told you what I had planned. You’re not a dumb fucking animal. You’re my beautiful babe and I fucking love you like you can’t imagine. Having said that though one of mom’s favourite sayings fits you perfectly. You’re just smart enough to get into some serious trouble. For the next few minutes I’m asking you, please just listen to what I have planned because it’s really fucking important both for you as a lone individual with a psychopathic disorder, and for us as a very young couple who are in a very illicit relationship.”

     “Is illicit the same thing as illegal?”, I asked curiously.

     “No, it’s more like romantic with some serious edges to it. It’s quite incendiary in all of the right places, if you know what I mean.”

     “Okay, I’m listening. This is all I fucking want is to be brought into the conversation.”, I said agreeably. Miriam nodded.

     “I understand that. You already know now why guns and self-defence are essential. They’ll give you self-discipline. It’ll also help you develop and enhance a quiet sense of authority. When you have a quiet sense of authority and self-confidence people will automatically trust you and even defer to you. That’ll come in handy when cruising for victims. As a side benefit after a certain point people will instinctively know not to fuck with you, and believe it or not that actually includes the police. If they can detect that you’re not some meathead teenager that they can push around, then they’re going to be forced to deal with you in a different way, especially if they ever try to confront you about some kind of a violent crime as though you’re a suspect.”, she said with complete certainty.

     “Ok, I’m with you so far, and I agree with you.”, I said reasonably.

     “I took the liberty of sending a letter to Laurentian University in your name. As far as they know you’re a 14-year old high school student who’s interested in studying to be a cop. Soon you should receive a letter detailing what exactly the Police Science’s course entails. Apparently, that field of study is quite new and any person who wants to become a detective someday is encouraged to get their Bachelor’s Degree in this course. What I want to see is their course outline as well as the textbooks that the students use. It’s pretty much a given in any city that has a local university that there will be broke students who will be willing to sell their used textbooks cheap. All we have to do once we get the list is check off which ones are relevant to you, and then go out to Laurentian and check out their notice boards to see if anyone is selling their books. If not then we’ll leave our own notice and wait to hear back from someone. It’s just a matter of waiting but we’ll get the books we need.

     You need to learn how the police do their job especially when it comes to murder investigations. Have you ever watched that tv show on Friday nights, Quincy M.E.?”, she asked.

     “Yeah I’ve seen it. He’s a coroner who solves murders every week.”, I said thoughtfully. I was starting to see the logic of what she was getting at and I thought it was brilliant. Even the demon in my chest approved.

     Miriam nodded. “That show is pretty accurate. Science is becoming more and more of a thing in the world of criminal investigations. Forensic detection is being used a lot more to crack cases. If you can learn what they do, then you can avoid making mistakes. Scientific progress is exponential. What that means is that each new development will lead to an even bigger development that’s 2 or 3 times bigger than the previous discovery. We have to learn their rules and then pervert them to suit our ends.”, she said with a hint of evil as she smiled slightly. I could tell she was warming up to this long-term project.

     “Ok, makes sense.”

     At that point she paused and looked down at her hands for a good couple minutes as the lone light at the table made the cigar smoke look like ghostly snakes curling up from the blackness of the abyss into the sunlit world of helpless unsuspecting sheep. I watched her hands and just let her think for a few moments.

     “I’m guessing there’s more?”, I asked curiously after I stubbed out my cigar.

     “Yes, but I’m not sure how you’re going to take it.”, she said nervously.

     “As along as you’re telling me up front I’m not going to get mad at you.”, I said reassuringly. She took a breath and fixed her deep brown eyes on me as she put on her most serious face. At that exact moment I could honestly see what she meant when she said she was only 9 from the neck down because at that exact stage her face came off like a young adult.

     “Ok, but I want to remind you that this is what’s truly the best for us if we’re going to remain together. Please, keep that in the front of your mind. Once we have these textbooks I’m going to have to have you sitting in a classroom-type environment in my bedroom. We will go through these textbooks one by one as though you really are in a police science’s course. That means I will be teaching you. I will also assign you essays to write using the APA style and I’ll also have you write an exam with a minimum pass rate of 80%. If you fail then we’ll go through the textbook again and again until you pass. Once you pass then we’ll move on to another book. We’re also going to find more of those true crime books and we’ll go through those as well. In fact, I have a seminar lined up for you tonight after supper. I took the liberty of reading “The Stranger Beside Me” while you were sleeping.”

     “You read the whole fucking book.”, I said in amazement.

     “Yeah, most people read one word after the other. I can actually process entire paragraphs in one glance. Also, I read science books, which are a lot more detailed than this stuff. Tonight’s seminar is called, “Why Ted Bundy Is a Fucking Idiot.” It’ll be the first official course at the Miriam Miller Academy of Psychopathic Enhancement. You and I will be very busy for the next few years if you factor in the self-defence courses, as well as the work we’ll be doing with guns. I’m going to be a tough teacher but that’s for one obvious and simple reason. We’re talking about rape, torture, and murder here. We’re not talking about shoplifting, stealing bicycles, and peddling little one-gram packets of weed of dubious quality. You need to be ready before you start fucking girls up. Can I rely on you to trust me as far as all of this goes? Can I trust you to not get defensive or start seeing me as some pushy little bitch who just likes to get off on being an authority figure?”, she asked me forcefully.

     I raised my hand.

     “Are you being sarcastically ironic?”, she asked with a hint of steel.

     “Nope, just getting into the spirit of what you’re proposing.”, I said truthfully.

     “Ok, what would you like to know?”, she asked calmly.

     “What are the real reasons that you’re too scared to tell me regarding why you’re doing all of this?”, I asked with a bit of an icy tone. “Here’s another question that’s tied in with the first one. Why aren’t you fucking horrified by any of this, babe? You lost your mind watching Halloween and now you’ve got a whole fucking curriculum lined up to make me some kind of a fucking super-monster. I want to know why you’re cool with all of this? What are you not fucking saying?”, I said with more ice to drive home the point that it was time for her to come totally clean of her own accord.

     Nymph got quiet and a little squirmy. She would look at me for a second and then look away into the blackness beyond the little kitchen table. Then she’d look back at me as I stared at her with what I hoped was a neutral expression.

     “It’s complicated.”, she finally said quietly as she stared at her hands again.

     “Fine, then use small words and take your time.”, I replied with more ice. “You know everything about me and as much as I love you, I keep getting the feeling there’s more to you than you’re telling me, even when I have you deep under. Are you as big of a fucking mystery to yourself as you are to me, Nymph?”

     She squirmed some more and she actually looked under the table for a few seconds. I think she was looking for a hiding place at that point.

     She began to whisper softly, “I just know what I want and what I want is you. I will however ask you a question and that should help answer your question. Since me and you have dared to emotionally embrace each other have you ever wished you were me?”, she asked a little louder as she got up from her chair and walked around slowly towards me. When she was standing right in front of me the little lamp made her look like half of her face was hidden in pure blackness. I could see her dark brown hair hanging down the side of her pale face as one deep brown eye looked at me almost fearfully. I could see she was struggling to be, I don’t know, vulnerable I guess is the word. Her hands were kind of pivoting at the wrist like she didn’t quite know what to do with them. Gently I clasped them.

     “You found me in a dream state and you pulled me out of it.”, I started.

     “Is that supposed to be a metaphor?”

      “I don’t know what that is. All I know is I was having all of my fantasies eating me up from the inside and you found me in a bad fucking way. You could have run away screaming and you didn’t. Instead you rescued me and you got me levelled out. The other day we were on the black hilltops and you had me spill my fucking guts about everything that’s been going on since September. Again, you should have fucking run away screaming and you didn’t. You’ve been telling me that when the time is right you’re going to send me out to destroy anyone who is a threat to us. I want to know what’s going through your head that you’re afraid to tell me, and I’m going to say to you the same thing you said to me on the black hilltop, I promise I’m not going to leave you.”, I said with quiet and gentle sincerity.

     She swallowed and she looked down at the floor. She began to squeeze my hands very tightly. As she squeezed she kept looking at the floor. Patiently I waited for her to continue. Finally, she looked back at my face.

     “No one has ever wanted to know me.”, she said really sadly.

     I lifted her hands and put them on my face. I then put my hands on what would someday be her waist.

     “I know I showed up late for your party but I’m here now and I’m not leaving you. You asked me if I ever wanted to be you and the answer is fuck yes. I would love to have your fucking brain.”, I said with quiet passion.

     “You really think that highly of me? What would you do if you had it?”, she asked feeling a little braver as I gently pulled her a couple feet closer to me.

     “I’d be the biggest fucking asshole since Genghis Khan. I’d write our names across the world in the blood of our victims.”, I said to her with a fiery stare because I really meant it. A slight smile crossed her face as she looked down at me as though she made a good decision.

     “Since me and you have gotten together, I’ve said a lot of things to you, not everything but I’ve said a lot.”, she paused then and she swallowed anxiously. I pulled her a little closer until her little knees were practically touching my dick. Her face was still halfway in the blackness. “Have I ever indicated to you in any way that I was morally superior to you?”, she asked with a bit of fire mixed with a hint of steel. The one deep-brown eye looking down at me suddenly got really focused and intense. I actually had to think about that question as my brain tried to recall every single conversation we had since October 22, 1980.

     “No.”, I finally replied. She never ever indicated in any way that she was some kind of a fucking goody-goody.

     “There’s a reason for that and that’s where things get complicated.”, she said as I could see some colour coming to her cheeks as her hands pressed into the sides of my face.

     “What would you do if you had my evilly criminal brain?”, I asked her directly as I reached up and gently started to pull her face down towards mine.

     “I would be the biggest fucking asshole since the god of the Old Testament.”, she whispered as her hot breath brushed my lips.

     “Obviously I need to aim higher.”, I said even more quietly as I kept staring up at her. For a good long minute everything was silent as though one of us was frozen at the brink of making a huge decision. Obviously, that someone was me.

     “Come closer.”, I then told her as my own breath brushed her entire lower face.

     “How close?”, she asked hopefully, excitedly.

     “This close.”, I said forcefully as I made a decision and then I attacked it.

     And just like that I kissed her and I put more than a little something into it as I used my thumb to gently push on her chin until she opened her mouth a little. Yeah, you heard that right. I want you to think about something, though. I was committed to being the most evil piece of shit that I could possibly be and Nymph was completely okay with that. She was so okay with that that she was going to teach me to think like her so that I would never get caught. The potatoes that were in that basement at that moment, as we continued kissing weren’t even small, they were sub-fucking-atomic. We knew what we were, and we knew what we weren’t, and even though I was still having a hard time trusting her that didn’t change the fact that she was right. Anyone who knew us as we truly were would rat us out and maybe even shoot us in the fucking head just on general principles.

     A minute later Nymph stopped licking my lips for a second and she hotly asked, “Why now?”.

     “I don’t know, Nymph, because you’re beautiful and I fucking love you. Also, everything about us is so fucking dark and so fucking wrong that ………..”, I said as I brought my mouth to hers again. For some reason whatever gibberish I said just then made perfect sense to her, and apparently it was the perfect thing to say. I can tell you for a fact, she wasn’t exactly being victimized right now. Amazingly the sick feeling was gone. All I wanted to do at that moment was moderately experience her with her consent.

     To me she was perfect. She was brilliant, she was beautiful, and she had a depth of emotion to her that I couldn’t imagine. As I continued kissing her, as she tightly wrapped her thin arms around my neck, my mind went back to October 22, 1980. We were on the back hilltop again with our pop and our sandwiches looking at the horizon. Two kids starting the process of discovering each other. The fact that we were related was meaningless. The fact that she was 9 was unimportant then as well if you want the truth. I was only 14, definitely a minor with a large problem. Clearly, I needed something. Something smart. Something strong. Something beautiful. Something that was just as much of a fucking outsider as I was. As I continued to moderately experience her, I thought about that day when we entered the woods, and I thought about how I was a loner and she was alone, and how angry it made me feel that she was trapped in that position. I thought about how I was determined at that point to make her life better and less lonely. It struck me then in that nearly pitch-black basement that I was honestly in love with her from that moment in the forest. It struck me that I couldn’t bring myself to admit to that reality until the night before Halloween, and even then, I had to do it in such a weird psychopathic way that it involved an actual conversation with an imaginary monster who turned out to be a fucking joke. I couldn’t tell her. I couldn’t even tell myself as we were walking through the trees while the autumn sun filtered its way down to us. Everything at that point over our heads was luminously red, yellow, gold, and green and we were hidden beneath it. I wasn’t brave enough to tell her the complete truth because I thought the complete truth would frighten her away and then I would have nothing. Nothing but my evil visions as I had to face her day after day inside this house. I wasn’t psychopathic enough to experience that. That would have been fucking Hell if you really want to know the truth.

     Gently I turned her head to the side, brought my lips to her ear and I whispered everything I had been thinking at that moment. I summarized it by saying she was braver and stronger than me because when she knew how she felt she didn’t hesitate to tell me and then go after it.

     “I wasn’t brave. I was desperate to know you.”, she replied in a super-heated whisper.

     We picked up where we left off for several more minutes.

     Suddenly she stopped and she looked at me. Her entire face was burning and her eyes looked savage.

     “How much do you love me?”, she asked me intensely.

     “If you’re thinking what I think you are we’re going to need to have a very serious talk about that.”, I said.

     She shook her head vigorously. I could feel the sweaty ends of her hair whipping me across my cheeks.

     “Do you love me enough to trust me?”, she said fiercely.

     “Yes.”, I lied.

     “Do you love me enough to do what is necessary?”, she asked as she drilled her deep brown eyes all the way down to the base of my evil non-existent soul.

     “I love you enough to do everything you need me to do, babe, and since there isn’t a single drop of blood in my fucking brain right now you know I’m telling the truth.”, I said with a snarl and my answer was 90% honest.

     “That’s all I need to hear. I love you too.”, she gasped as she rocketed her face straight back into mine.

     Another half hour went by. At one point she reached for the lamp with her right hand kind of wildly swinging until she almost knocked it over.

     “What are you fucking doing, babe.”, I asked as my heart was pounding in my chest so loudly even the demon in my chest was inaudible.

     “I’m trying to turn off the light.”, she said in a moany-groany way.

     “Why?”, I asked angrily.

     “It’ll be more illicit.”

     “We’re not fucking vermin. Leave it alone.”, I ordered.

     “How can you possibly be that articulate right now?”

     If she wanted to turn off the lights that meant to me that she wanted to get exploratory and that wouldn’t be a good idea with my parents lingering somewhere just upstairs while Cait and Benny were probably around somewhere as well. Gently, and yet firmly I nudged her away from my face.

     “What? Am I doing something wrong?”, she asked fearfully.

     “No, everything you’re doing is right, babe, it’s better than fucking right but we have to stop for now.”, I said as kindly as I could which wasn’t fucking easy.

     To kind of drive home the point I lifted her up and sat her down in the chair. I told her to wait a minute as her thin legs swung wildly underneath the chair. The bottoms of her feet kept thunking off of the bottom of her seat. We keep a fair deal of shit in the basement that my parents can’t bring themselves to throw out. Their theory is that someday when we move we might want some of this old cheesy-looking crap for our own homes. I painfully shuffled over and I grabbed one of those long narrow mirrors that people hang on their bedroom doors and I brought it over. I wiped off the dust with my sleeve. I then stood behind her and I held the mirror up in front of her on the tabletop while I stood behind her.

     “What do we look like right now, babe?”, I asked.

     Nymph gasped with something like arousal. She stared at her reflection with a weird sense of wonder. She didn’t say anything for a minute as she kept staring.

     “The first time Jekyll drinks his secret formula the very first thing he does is he goes to the mirror. I look like fucking Hyde right now?”, she whispered as she reached out and traced her little fingers over her image. Her pupils were open so wide that they made her eyes look completely black. Her entire face, her neck, and her hands were blood red and shiny with sweat. Her dark brown hair hung in wild wavy tangles mostly plastered to her cheeks. Her mouth was also blood red. I reached down and kissed her on the cheek and she closed her eyes and moaned again. I stopped when I heard that moan and I stood up again.

     “Edward Hyde was described a repulsively scrawny little fucker who made people feel sick when they were in his presence. Right now, you look savagely beautiful.”, I said quietly, “Can you imagine going upstairs right now and having lunch?”, I said as I grasped her hand in mine. She squeezed the shit out of my hand as she continued staring at her image. It was obvious to me that she loved what she was looking at. In fact, I honestly think she was falling in love with it.

     “This is the face of my ego.”, she whispered.

     “Can you imagine that face sitting in our well-lit kitchen right now trying to eat grilled-cheese sandwiches and cream of tomato soup?”, I said with a bit of humour.

     “For the sake of preserving the moment you don’t want to know what this face is imagining right now.”, she whispered concretely, “You look like you have a hard glare to you.”, she said with a hungry tone.

     It was true. I did look hard and nasty just then. I looked almost as pale as Miriam normally looks and my hazel-green eyes had a brutal kind of gleam to them. I gave her hand a reassuring squeeze.

     “You were right about how I see you compared to everybody else. You truly are fucking beautiful and I love you completely.” She pulled my hand up to her mouth and kissed it.

     “We need to be careful.”, she said decisively. She stood up then and she walked over to the basement sink. I followed her as she turned on the cold water.

     “Here let me help you, babe.”, I said helpfully.

     I picked her up and stuck her entire head under the icy water. I then flipped her over and stuck her under face first. I swear I could see steam coming up from her cheeks. Finally, the blood rush was gone from her face, but her entire upper body was soaked as she began to shiver. I brought her a towel and began to rub her head.

     “So, you read “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”, by Robert Louis Stevenson.”, she said thoughtfully. I think she was trying to make conversation just to pull her mind back into the boring everyday world.

     “Yep. I’ve gobbled a lot of fiction.”

     “And now you’re going to be gorging on non-fiction. Are you ready for that? A lot of this shit is going to be dry and boring.”, she said truthfully.

     “Yeah but it’s your job to make it interesting so I’m leaving that up to you.”, I replied cheerfully. Miriam smiled up at me as she could see that I was committed to her plan. I grabbed one of her sweaters from the laundry room and tossed it at her and then I turned around while she changed.

     “So, what’s your favourite book?”, she asked curiously.

     “Until recently I would have said, Frankenstein-Or the Modern Prometheus.”, by Mary Shelley-“

      Miriam gasped with child-like delight. It actually took me a few seconds to re-realize that she was 9 years old.

      “You actually know the entire title?”, she said happily.

      “Am I complete fucking spaz to you?”, I asked humorously. “I also know Mary Shelley started writing that story when she was only 18 and the monster never had a name. I always felt bad for the monster, to be honest.”, I said thoughtfully.

      “Because the only thing he wanted was a mate.”, Miriam said quietly as she gave me a weird look.

     “Yeah. Now I’m starting to dig “A Clockwork Orange”, though.”, I said if only to get us off of the bummer track we seemed to be on.

     “I read that too while you were sleeping. It’s very interesting.”, she said candidly.

     “Yeah it’s pretty cool. Alex isn’t a complete idiot, he’s the leader of his own gang, he’s fucking ruthless, and you feel sorry for him by the time he goes to prison.”

     “Well, I’ll never betray you like his gang did.”, she said sweetly as she walked up and hugged me tightly. I looked down into her face as I gently ran my fingers through her wet hair.

      I know you’re probably gagging as you read some of the shit that Nymph  and I said to each other but we’re kids. She was the only person who I actually felt anything deeply with and from that moment on I didn’t hesitate to tell her what she meant to me as I tried like Hell to trust her.

     “Hey, babe?”, I asked her thoughtfully as we sat back at the table again while she checked out her normal face as her hair dried.

     “Yes?”, she asked with a huge smile.

     “I’ve got kind of a weird, stupid question?”

     “Ok, hit me.”, she said curiously.

     “I’m warning you it’s fucking dumb.”

     “It won’t be dumb.”, she said reassuringly.

     “How come you sound so mature for a 9-year old? I swear you sound like you’re in your fucking 30’s.”, I asked her seriously as she kept looking in the mirror.

     “Hmmm, no one has ever asked me that. They see the books I read and they just assume that I think at a different level. Do you really think I sound mature? I feel really flattered that you asked that, darling. Here, put this thing away, please? I’ve had enough vanity for one day.”

     I ditched the mirror and came back to the table.

     “Ok, grab a seat across from me and light a cigar because the answer to that that question is going to take a little elaboration.”, Nymph said invitingly.

     I sat and lit up as she looked at me pleasantly.

     “Do you remember your own life before you went to school?”, she asked me curiously.

     “Yeah, kind of. Mom used to stick me in front of the tv and I’d watch all of the educational shows. She said I was a good kid because I’d just sit there quietly, and not give her a hard time, and apparently I learned about letters and numbers.”, I answered quickly.

     “Ok, so you had the same experience I did.”, she said agreeably.

     “Not really. Mom said you didn’t walk or talk until you were three and when you did you could suddenly read, write, and do arithmetic.”

     “That’s a slight exaggeration but it’s nice that she said that. It took a few months to learn words and numbers but it is true that after a while I began to read everything I could reach. Shortly before I was 4, Mom found me on the couch reading the dictionary. That fall she sent me to kindergarden at Adamsdale. One day, shortly after I started there, I got really bored and I wandered out of the classroom and into the library. No one saw me leave and no one saw me enter. I went to the science section and I saw a book on the top shelf that I thought was interesting. It wasn’t anything special. It was just an introduction to science textbook for elementary school kids. I climbed the shelf and I grabbed it. Nearly broke my fucking neck but I got it. I then went over to a far table and I started to read it. Suddenly I was into it. Everything it had to say made perfect sense to me. I was so into it that I didn’t hear my name being called on the PA. About an hour after that, Mrs. MacCutcheon found me in the library and I was re-reading this book.

     Before she took me back to the classroom she sat down across from me and she asked me to explain the book to her. I began telling her about everything in the book and what it was talking about. I kept going for about 20 minutes and she just let me talk. Finally, we walked back to the classroom and at the end of the day she gave me a note and asked me to give it to Mom and Dad. Of course, I read the note and it said: “Please go to the Sudbury Public Library and get Miriam this book. Please have her bring this book to school tomorrow.”. I’ll tell you the title in a minute. I gave the note to Mom, she read it, lit another DuMaurier Light, and then she got dressed and we went downtown.

     Mom and I went into the library and she got the librarian to bring the book in question. She also figured that since she was there she may as well get me a library card even though I couldn’t possibly travel by myself at that time. She just wanted me to have it for myself. Kind of like a gift. I was eager to read the book because Mrs. McCutcheon seemed to think it was a huge deal and Mom went and got it right away without making a stink about it. I figured it must have been a really good book.

     When we got home, Mom gave me the book and I went to my room with it. The book was “Principia Mathematica” by Sir Isaac Newton. It’s the book that basically re-defined physics until that fraudulent piece of shit Einstein came along.  Now I’m not saying that I got everything right away that Newton was saying but I got tiny parts of it right away. I was starting to see what he was getting at and I woke up in the morning with my face mushed down into the pages. As soon as I got dressed I started to read it some more. Mom had to drag me downstairs and force feed me breakfast. When I got to school with this book, Mrs. MacCutcheon quietly took me aside and she said, “I’ll make you a deal Miriam. If you promise not to disturb the other kids I’ll let you sit at that desk way over there in the back and read that book all day.” To me that sounded fucking great but I asked her why and she said, “I have nothing to teach you. At the end of the day though I would like it if you stayed for a few minutes, please.” I said “sure” and I sat at the desk and I forgot about everything going on around me. I didn’t make a sound. I would even forget to eat my lunch.

     At the end of that day, when the bell rang, Mrs. MacCutcheon sat across from me and she asked me to explain to her what I had read so far. Now it would make for a nice story if I said that I understood perfectly what Newton was getting at at the age of 3, but the truth is I was only getting tiny parts of it and what I felt at that time was an intense desire to keep at it until I understood everything he was saying. I admitted to her, as I went through the pages what I understood right away, and I expressed frustration at the huge parts that I didn’t. She just kind of touched my face and told me to keep at it, that I was doing wonderfully. I asked her why she was being so nice to me and she gave me this really serious look. She said, “I’m 60 years old and I’ve been waiting for a girl like you to walk into my classroom all of my life.” She then tapped the cover of the book and she gave me a more serious look and she said, “Someday, I want to see a book just like this with your name on the cover. I’ll be retiring in 5 years so you have to get started now. Don’t waste time, Miriam Miller. I want to be alive to see what you can truly do because I know you can be truly great if you apply yourself.” I promised her I would do my best.

     So I went home with Mom and she had to force feed me supper, and then I went up to my room right away and I picked up where I left off. I got through it and then I started it again. Every day when I went to school I would sit at that desk and I would keep reading it, and the more I read it the more I began to understand. The connections that Newton was talking about became apparent to me but it took the rest of the year to put them all together. Every day after school though, Mrs. MacCutcheon would sit with me while I ate my lunch and she would ask me to explain to her what I was learning. My explanations began to get more and more involved and more elaborate. She would just listen and then after a few minutes she would lead me to the door and Mom would take me home.

     The thing that I remember was that she didn’t talk to me like I was a child. She talked to me like I was an adult. She didn’t condescend to me. She took me seriously and she got me to take myself seriously, as well. I noticed that Mom was doing the same thing. She wasn’t treating me like a kid. If she told me to do something she said it like I was an adult.

     So basically, that was when I began to educate myself. Mom got me my own copy of PM, which I still read sometimes. She also used to take me to the library every week and I would load up on books to do with math and physics because that was what was lighting me up. I had gotten used to being spoken to in a certain way and I suppose I conditioned myself to believe that if I myself spoke in a certain way then I would get the same in return. Didn’t always work, however. I’ve had teachers actually get mad at me for no reason other than I had a better vocabulary than they did. And of course, I started getting into a lot of fucking fights.

     So, if I sound mature then that’s why because a couple really wonderful women saw something and they just encouraged me to go in a certain direction. Of course, now I sound like a total vulgarian thanks to you, you fucking asshole, but that’s why I sometimes sound like a sophisticated adult still.”

     “I never wanted you to sound-“, I began to say angrily.

     “I’m kidding, babe. Please, calm down. In fact, I owe you a tremendous debt. Ever since we got together, in spite of everything we’ve said, and definitely in spite of what we were doing a little while ago, I’ve felt more like a kid being with you than I ever have in the past. It’s only because of you that I haven’t completely missed the experience. Thank you, John. Thank you very much.”, she said gratefully as she took my hand.

     “I owe you, babe and I’ll do whatever is necessary to make you happy. So, have you started this great book for Mrs. MacCutcheon? She’s retiring this year. The Grim Reaper may grab her anytime. Not the Grim Reaper sitting in front of you but y’know something like me.”, I asked her curiously.

     I kind of thought I’d get a funny-serious answer from her but instead her face started to get dark. Something in her eyes began to come up to the surface. Something that kind of reminded me of……me actually. It was like her face began to change into all of my violent dreams. Her full, little mouth took on a vicious grimace and her face started to get blood red all over again. Her deep brown eyes hardened and she tilted her head slightly forward. She gave me an answer with a lot of steel in her voice.

     “As much as I love her she’s not going to love the book I intend to write someday. In fact, she’s going to be tremendously ashamed of me and herself.”, she said quietly.

     “No shit, what’s this book going to be about?”, I asked excitedly. I’ve got to be honest I was really eager to hear the answer. Nymph didn’t hesitate to tell me. In fact, I think she was grateful to have me to confide in about this side of herself.

     “It’s going to explain from a place of pure scientific reason why 90% of the human race has to die so that the remaining 10% of us can make the world, and subsequently the human race, better. Only then will the remaining 10% be able to fulfill their potential as they push forward the evolution of our species. There are billions of people out there right now who have no fucking reason to be alive other than to fucking consume. I want them gone, forever. I’m going to call this book, Principia Eugenica.”, she said brutally as her little hands got blood red as well.

     “Holy fuck, I love you.”, I said with a lot of awe.

     She exhaled and the smile that came to her face was beautiful but to anyone else it would have been really scary.

     “I’m starting to realize that there may indeed be a lot of people out there who have the same evil desires as you do. I want you, and all of them, to remain free to do your part to help me make that vision come true, rather like a secret army. An army so secret that the soldiers don’t know each other when they’re in the field. It’s only because of you that I’m an outlaw now and I’m no longer merely an outcast. Abide by me, babe and you will be brilliant in your field, as brilliant as I am in mine. In fact, I’m starting to suspect that you might be an antisocial genius.”, she said as she gripped my hand.

     “We will be brilliant.”, I asserted with a bit of a snarl.

     “Forever.”, she replied and the murderous look on her face seriously lit me up.

     We finally went upstairs and we did in fact have grilled-cheese sandwiches and cream of tomato soup because it’s a nice hot lunch to have when the weather starts to get bitter. Miriam put our lunch together as she whispered to me that I should go take a shower.
As per my Mom’s promise the calls were made and cheques written to two very different dojos, and also the Sudbury Gun Club. Inside of a week Nymph and I were full-time students learning how to fuck people up in a variety of ways. My life got really busy but as she promised it was also pretty interesting. Laurentian University sent me a letter at the same time with a course-book detailing their Police Sciences outline. Nymph and I went through it and she checked off every text book we needed to get. After the gun club on Saturdays we would take the two busses all the way to the furthest corner of the city and we’d go to Laurentian’s main campus. It took a few more weeks after that but we glommed a hefty whack of used textbooks covering all four years of the course. Some of them were pretty beat up, and all of them had notes in the margins, and entire paragraphs were underlined, (something that bugged the living shit out of my mentor), but she said that they were usable.

     Something kind of interesting happened then. When my mom saw all of the textbooks for university, Nymph and I explained to her that I was going to study to be a cop, specifically an investigator for the RCMP, and not just some uniformed idiot handing out speeding tickets. We said that I was going to focus on busting sex-killers and monsters like that. Mom was freaked out with happiness.

     “You really are a positive influence on your brother, honey.”, Mom said to my girl as she gave her a big hug and a kiss on the cheek. “You’ve got him thinking like you and planning ahead for his future. I’m so proud of you both right now.”

     The fact that we were bullshitting our mom in a huge way didn’t bother me at all. Who knows, maybe I was even serious about getting a job as a plainclothes Mountie. At that time, I wasn’t thinking about what I wanted to do for money when I grew up. I was just thinking about graduating with top marks from The Miriam Miller Academy of Psychopathic Enhancement, and destroying a lot of people while maintaining a deep relationship with Nymph. As Mom was trying to squeeze the life out of her though I could see the look on her face. She looked kind of disturbed that we were bullshitting her a lot. I had to tell her, repeatedly, that we were making her happy, and that was a good thing. It took some doing but she finally came around to my way of seeing the situation.

     By the time December 1980 rolled around we were both as involved in this project of making me a successful monster as humanly possible. For a couple of kids, we were both extremely focused. Or I should say Nymph was extremely focused, and I was motivated to try and keep up with her. First off, we had our usual school days. Then right after I got off of the bus Nymph would be waiting for me with her satchel and she would have this look of both relief and excitement in her deep brown eyes. There were no more scenes of her jumping into my arms. I’d quietly take her hand and we’d walk away as though the shitty part of our day was finally done with and now the real work could begin again.

     Monday-Tuesdays we went to the Krav Maga dojo downtown. KM is pretty intense. It teaches things like street wisdom, always being aware of readily available weapons, and if you commit your life to it a whole lot of ways to kill people. There are a lot of grades and belts but Urban Krav Maga, teaches a lot of ways to screw people up if you can’t avoid a fight. It overlaps a lot with Wing Chun in that respect. This however was Sudbury in 1980 so there was really only the one school available to us. In fact, the school was brand new. It was better than nothing though.

     The instructor was kind of a goof, however. He had the most nauseating five-finger mullet going on with a wispy moustache that didn’t make him look tough in any way shape or form. He did know his shit though and we did in fact start to learn how not to get hit and then brutally counter-strike. KM combines certain elements of boxing, Aikado, and traditional wrestling. After the first night, as we were taking the #2 bus back to Minnow Lake, Nymph summarized our instructor perfectly.

     “That guy’s a nerd who’s been bullied until he learned the introductory basics to a form of martial arts. He probably plays a lot of Dungeons and Dragons with like-minded nerds while watching Star Trek, Buck Rogers, and Battlestar Galactica.”.

     Wednesday-Friday were Wing Chun nights. This was a lot more formal, probably because it was taught by a little Chinese guy in a starched white uniform. This class was a lot bigger, and all of us beginners were lined up according to size. Nymph was right at the front and I was way in the back. When we showed up she would make it a point of being right in front of the sensei, and when I say make it a point, I mean she would push the other girl over to the side until she was in the spot that she wanted. I told her she was being a bit of a bully. My mentor said if the other kid wanted that other spot bad enough she’d fight for it.

     Because this was an ancient fighting style there was a lot of that flowery Chinesey kind of talking. The kind of shit I used to hear as a small boy watching Kung Fu with my family on Sunday nights. That part I didn’t really care for but the lesson themselves were pretty cool. They would talk a lot about things to do with sensitivity but what they were referring to was being sensitive to your own body’s movements as well as being sensitive to the movements of your opponent. They placed a lot of importance on being relaxed when going into a fight situation. That way you can get more power out of your punches and you’re also able to move with more fluidity when you’re trying to avoid getting hit. Also, being relaxed made your reflexes faster. There was calisthenics and a lot of drills as well. It’s kind of funny watching Nymph do knuckle pushups to be honest.

     It became apparent pretty quickly that I seemed to have a lot of athletic ability even though I didn’t grow up in a sports-driven family. In fact, I didn’t really play sports at all except at school during gym class. Learning the offensive and defensive maneuvers seemed to come easily to me. As for my girl well……….let’s just say it’s a good thing that my parents never stuck her in ballet class. She wasn’t clumsy exactly but she wasn’t co-ordinated either. Still what she lacked in physical co-ordination she seriously made up for with focus and intensity. Her forms and stances were always perfect and when she did do a strike she threw everything she had into it. It was the avoiding getting hit part she had to work on.

     Which of course meant we did a lot of drills in the basement with me on my knees throwing shots at her as she continued working on side-stepping, sweeping, blocking, and learning how to turn from side to side while keeping her feet firmly planted in the floor. One time while we were working in the basement she slipped past a straight shot to the head, (obviously I slowed it down for her), and she immediately came in with a closed fist counter-punch while sweeping with her left arm. I ended up with a wicked looking black eye and Nymph broke three of her knuckles. That kind of drove home the point to her that open-palm strikes to the face were a good way to go. Needless to say, my mom kept looking at us all the way to Sudbury General as she drove us there so that Nymph could get her right hand bandaged up. My girl kept looking at the shiner on my face with a certain amount of self-admiration. It was pretty big too, about the size of her fist. The next time we went to the dojo the sensei told her in a nice way to perhaps ease up on the practicing and maybe start learning how to meditate. The KM fag gave her a high-5.

     After school, but before we left for the dojo, Nymph would have me hit the weights in the basement for a good hour. I was bench pressing constantly while doing lots of knuckle pushups. On other days I would be doing lots of standing dumb bell curls and then lots of pullups. Every day I was doing crunches on the floor. She had a very simple approach to this. Instead of definite reps with a set number, I was supposed to just go until I was exhausted, and then I’d get a break for 3 minutes and then do it again until I was exhausted.

     Then there was the gun range on Saturdays and Sundays. The Sudbury Gun Club was managed by a guy named Jerome Watson, who was some kind of a biker. The only person allowed to call him Jerome was Nymph. The rest of us called him Sasquatch because he was about 6’,10” and close to 400 pounds. I was sitting at about 6’, 3” and still growing. To me Sasquatch looked like a fat old stoner and I used to study him as I contemplated how I would take him down in a fight. His scary vibe made no impression on me at all. There were other instructors there but Sasquatch did teach the most interesting courses.

     The first weekend there we had to take the Hunter Safety Course. Naturally Nymph and I blew right through that class. The reason why she made such a good impression on Sasquatch was because when we were learning how to handle the Remington 12-Gauge shotgun she asked him if she could read the owner’s manual. Sasquatch tossed her a small pamphlet-type thing and she read it over 3 times during our lunch break. By the time lunch was over Sasquatch made the mistake of asking her what she learned from the owner’s manual and my mentor told him the exact mechanics of how the shotgun worked. She listed off every single component right down to the screws that kept the hand grips in place. She then began telling him how the shotgun could be more efficient with fewer moving parts so that it would be easier to maintain. From that moment on she was his favourite student because she took what he had to say seriously.

     Every weekend after we got our Firearm’s Certificate, (basically a permit to own shotguns or hunting rifles), we were learning how to use handguns. Nymph and I were always the first ones there at 7am even on the mornings when it was minus-40 outside. She always gave Sasquatch a Tim Horton’s bag with two chocolate dip doughnuts in it. Then she’d ask him when they were going to learn how to operate semi-automatic rifles and explosives. By then he knew from her that we were also studying Krav Maga and Wing Chun as well, so the joke every weekend was that he was no longer allowed to teach little girls how to become terrorists. When I told him it was her idea to do all of this he wasn’t surprised, especially when he saw the black eye I had and the tensor bandage around her fist. He thought that was funny as he asked Nymph why she was there if she couldn’t shoot. My girl replied that she could always study literature about various guns while also watching me shoot in order to make sure I was doing it right. Sasquatch got her a technical book on AR-15’s. She read it 5 times that day. He didn’t make the same mistake of asking her if she understood what she had read.

     Much like the martial arts stuff it turned out I was a damn good shot, especially with the bigger handguns like the Beretta 9-mm’s. I could even handle a .357 Colt Python and that thing has a wicked kick to it. I could place a head shot at least 80% of the time and the other 20% would hit the body. Miriam could hit the body 50% of the time with the smaller revolvers and semi-autos but the recoil was something she had to struggle with. Silently she would become frustrated. Every time her paper targets were brought in for inspection Sasquatch had to keep reminding her that her targets were well on their way to being stiffs and that all she needed to do was practice. He told me I had natural ability but really, he only tolerated me because of her. That was fine with me. I had to admit popping off a lot of rounds while studying weapons was a lot of fun. I didn’t need to be friends with him. I didn’t need to be friends with anyone. I had what I wanted and needed.

     It was the last part of our new routine that was honestly the best part, if only because we were home. We would be home from the gun club by noon and we’d eat lunch. At 12:45 Nymph would go upstairs, and I’d wait 15 minutes, and then I’d go up to her room. For a good five hours, until suppertime, I’d be studying crime while sitting at her kitchen table about 8 feet from the blackboard.

     Earlier I told you that she had set up a seminar called “Why Ted Bundy Was s Fucking Idiot.” Right after supper she told me to come up to her room in 15 minutes. At that time, I went to her room and knocked on her door. No one, not even my dad just went into her room. She told me to come in and I entered and shut the door behind me. On the table was “The Stranger Beside Me”. All of her other textbooks were put away in her closet.
Nymph was dressed in a white blouse that looked a little flouncy, kind of like what an adult would wear. She was also wearing a black knee-length skirt, white tights, and flat black shoes. Her hair was in a ponytail. In other words, she looked like a teacher.

     “Please, sit down and we’ll get started.”, she said briskly.

     I grabbed a seat and looked at the blackboard. She had filled in the entire board with several points about Ted Bundy. Just to drive home the point that what we were doing was a little different from what aspiring cops would be doing, she wrote the whole thing out in blood red chalk.

     “Can you read this sufficiently?”, she asked formally.

     Automatically I said, “Yes ma’am.”. Don’t ask me where that came from. I guess I just automatically respected her.

     “I prefer Ms. Miller.”, she said with a completely straight face.

     She was holding a yard stick as a pointer. Let’s see if I can remember what she had on the board.

1) Ted Bundy was obviously a hopeless alcoholic. This meant his judgement was constantly impaired.

2) Ted Bundy used the name “Ted” when he abducted those two girls from Lake Sammamish. This in turn lead to him being one of the last five suspects on the suspect list when he fled to Idaho. To exacerbate the situation, he went there on the July 4th weekend when there were 50,000 people at the lake. Many people saw him behaving strangely and they were able to provide a decent composite sketch of him. People in his personal life actually commented to him that he looked like the “Ted” in the sketch.

3) Ted Bundy had a seemingly normal co-habitational relationship with a girl and her daughter but he wasn’t able to sustain it. If he could have he would have seemed less suspicious, almost like a family man. Even worse his girlfriend found a garbage bag full of other women’s undergarments. Finally, his behaviour with her became odd enough that she tipped off the police that he might have been the “Ted” involved in the LS abductions.

4) It became apparent even before he left Washington state that he was pretty much trawling for victims 24 hours a day, especially when you factor in his constant drinking, which not only impaired his judgement, but subsequently lowered his inhibitions.

5) Bundy tried to act as his own attorney in Florida, which went badly when he appeared to get lost in his cross-examination of a police officer who was describing the Chi Omega death scene. When I say “lost” I mean that he kept asking the officer to get more specific about what he found there while Bundy himself seemed to be blissfully re-living the experience while walking around the courtroom. This in turn disturbed the jury significantly.

6) Bundy always operated on the idea that he was the smartest person in the room. Even if he was alone in the room he would still come in second place.

     There were other points as well but those were the ones I remembered. Nymph had me re-read the book out loud and every time we got to a point she would tell me to stop and she would elaborate on what I had just read and what she had on the blackboard. It took a good 5 hours to go through the book but we finally got to the end of it.

     “That was very good, John. For next Saturday I want you to turn in a 1,000-word oral presentation called, “If I Was Ted Bundy Here’s What I Would Have Done Differently”.”, she said crisply like a teacher who was pleased that the lesson went well. She lead, me to her bedroom door and she said that she would see me next week. I went to my room and sat around for a few minutes. After a while Miriam walked into my room in her green plaid pajamas.

     “Hi, how was crime school?”, she asked in her usual friendly way.

     She jumped on the bed beside me and I gave her a good long kiss.

     “We covered the life and crimes of Ted Bundy. I have to do an oral report for next Saturday.”, I said as I went along with the charade.

     “She gave you homework the first day? What a bitch.”, she said with fake outrage.

     “Naw, she’s pretty cool, actually. Tough but fair. She’s a no-bullshit teacher. I really respect her.”

     I could see what she was doing. This wasn’t just some child doing a role-playing thing. Nymph had to create a persona, like an actor, to get me to take the subject matter seriously. I went along with it because she was right. The stakes were high and I was playing to win.

     And just like that I fell into the role of being the busiest student you could have imagined. The entire winter flew by and the spring as well. I was waking up at 4am and doing the assignments that Nymph had given me, and let me tell you we got into everything. In the first 6 months at the MMAPE I studied crime scenes procedures, dead body examinations, how to search a crime scene, how to photograph a death scene, how to gather evidence, how to examine a body dump site, how to deal with bodies that had been buried, how to deal with decomposed remains, how to establish a time-frame for a corpse, and blood spatter interpretations, and most importantly the psychological tricks that cops use when interrogating a suspect.

     I stopped hanging around with everyone at school because I needed my school time to do my boring regular homework. And then of course, there was the guns, the work outs, and the martial arts. For Christmas, my girl and I asked for the same thing, an Everlast heavy bag and a couple pairs of training mitts. In both Wing Chun and KM they teach a lot of stuff to do with knee strikes and low kicks. Nymph had a very hard time with that because she had problems maintaining her balance. She was never going to be a graceful fighter. I told her that because she was small she needed to work on being fast and to become a power puncher. I also told her that she needed to capitalize on her strengths, which in this case was the fact that she was a hard hitter. So, in the basement for about an hour I got her to work both the bag and then me. Just to crank her up I’d put on the Michael Myers outfit and make some creepy noises. That never failed to make her rush at me with a screaming roar as she started to throw some wicked combinations. At least by then she stopped doing the closed fist strikes to my face but everything from my chest to my abdomen started to look like a series of ugly bruises about the circumference of a Campbell’s soup can. It took about 6 months but she was getting good at not getting hit and getting in the first shot. As for me I was just getting better and better at both dojos, as well as the gun range. Nymph told me in an objective way that I had the talent to be a serious killer. Amazingly my final grade average for both semesters was 90%. I had hit the fucking Honour Roll. My mom was freaked out in a good way and my dad was feeding me cigars like they prevented cancer. My parents were looking at Nymph like she had taught a chimpanzee how to write like fucking Shakespeare.

     There was one other rule that my mentor insisted on. When we got in the house on a weeknight, or when “Ms. Miller” wrapped up her class at 6 pm on the weekend, that’s when the studying stopped. I learned this the weird way pretty quickly. We got in at about 9:30 pm and we both went and got into our jammies, which in my case was a pair of sweats and a black t-shirt. Miriam seemed to have an unlimited number of two-piece green plaid pajamas. We crawled into my bed and I immediately broke out the Death Scene Investigator’s textbook. Just between us, I found it fascinating and “Ms. Miller” was a hard marker. I barely got the book open though when Miriam placed her hand flat upon it.

     “School’s out, handsome. This is our time now.”, she said firmly.

     “This is important, babe. The young lady teaching this course doesn’t fuck around. Also, it’s very interesting.”, I said thoughtfully. I was kind of figuring she would have found my motivation admirable. Instead she grabbed the book from me and casually dropped it on the floor, and then she turned off the light while simultaneously sticking a Colt’s Mild in my mouth and lighting it. She was getting pretty fast with her hands.

     “You need to wind down, babe. If you don’t you won’t get enough rest and then everything you’ve been working on will suffer, including this wonderfully illicit relationship that we are happily engaged in.”, she said quietly as she pulled my arm around her and she tucked herself into my side up near my face as I sat up against the headboard.

     Right at the end of the school year in June I got a letter in the mail. The envelope was one of those light-yellow ones, I think they call it cream, and it had like little bumps on it. It was a fancy envelope and it had my full name on it in a straight and beautifully cursive style of handwriting. When I opened it, I found a sheet of thick yellow writing paper. The kind of paper I imagine rich broads using when they write thank-you letters. It had the date and in the right-hand corner it had, “Ms. Miriam Miller- MMAPE”

     “Dear John:

     You have just completed the winter and spring semesters in my intellectually intensive course designed to make you a superior criminal in the field of lust murders. You have excelled admirably and it is a genuine honour being your educator. Having said that your intimate partner has expressed concerns that you’re taking on too many obligations as you try to improve in every facet of your life. This is an all-advised course of action. Normally I operate the MMAPE on a year-round basis to an exclusive roster of students. In your case, however I am going to release you, (with full honours), so that you can focus on some of these other areas.

     At some point we will resume with a more advanced curriculum because I am confident that you can rise to the challenges that I am going to be putting forth for you. For now, enjoy your summer and review what we have already studied. If I may make a suggestion, try to find other true-crime books that are in keeping with your personal ambitions and review them. I might have a major essay assignment lined up regarding all of the mistakes that these failures have made and why you will never be apprehended. Until we meet again, John, don’t get caught.

     Best Regards.

     Ms. Miriam Miller”

     You know what? Even though it was make-believe, I honestly felt proud of myself for surviving those two semesters. When Nymph was in her “Ms. Miller” character she was a really tough teacher. I wasn’t allowed to smoke in class or use profanity. Every time I did an essay or an oral presentation she challenged every little detail. She was brutal when it came to grammar and spelling, along with footnotes and bibliographies. Some of my essays she would hand back with the word UNACCEPTABLE in big red letters, and then she would list everything that was wrong with it, and she’d tell me that I had a week to fix it, or else I was going to have to repeat the entire subject. I took that shit seriously, too. The exams were also wickedly vicious. There was no multiple choice at all. Nymph personally hates multiple choice. I’d have like 30 questions basically asking what’s this and what’s that. Define these terms. Then there would be 5 essay questions and each question required a minimum of 500 words. The exam was 5 hours long. Ms. Miller never joked. She never actually smiled either. She was brisk and even her posture was different from her usual self. Very straight and she actually seemed taller. I wasn’t in love with that persona but I respected the shit out of it. She knew what she was doing and she knew that I needed that kind of structure in order to be a better, more organized thinker when it came to how I should approach my own career someday as a lust killer. And you know what? It worked.

    When I showed her the letter she smiled and gave me a huge kiss. She told me she was proud of me and that really felt nice.

     You’ve probably gotten the impression that all we did when we were alone was talk about gooey kid stuff, but when all of this shit got started, we actually started to say very little at that point. We knew by then how we felt about each other and we both knew what we wanted. There was something about just sitting there in the dark with her, smoking, and feeling her warm small beautiful presence beside me that made that moment feel timeless. We didn’t need to reassure each other anymore that this was really happening and that we both felt the same way. We were both in as deep as we could handle at that moment. After the stogie I would slide down the bed and Nymph was barely hanging in. I would kiss her a good one goodnight and I told her that I loved her. She’s mumble something equally nice and then she was out of it as her head slowly rose and fell on my chest while I idly stroked her hair.

     As for the weekend evenings well let’s just say as far as the family was concerned we were working out in the basement. It would be a lot more accurate to say that we were playing an erotic form of “chicken” as we made out in the dimmest corner of the basement on the bench press. I saw Nymph’s “Hyde face” dozens of times as we kissed up to the line and then we lingered there for longer and longer periods. We both definitely wanted more but it was always up to me to stop the session and break out the long mirror.

     I did, however, get one of those cheapie little disposable cameras from Shopper’s Drug Mart and I cranked off a good dozen shots of just her face after a particularly lengthy makeout session. Being Saturday night, no one told us to come up to bed at 9pm so we might have stayed down there until midnight. Personally, I wasn’t sure I’d get the pictures back. Nymph got off some good ones of me as well. It wasn’t an established rule, but when we took the shots the idea was to not be posey about it. They were just fast head shots. Nymph took the best one of me. It was a pretty good shot, too. I had the glare happening, which was kind of weird because I certainly wasn’t feeling malevolent or nasty. I was horny as hell but I actually felt happy. Still, somehow, I guess when I’m filled with an intense amount of desire I come off looking like I’m ready to do something evil. Considering that I was making out with a 9-year old girl who had my surname without being married to me, that may not have been too far off the mark. Also considering that she was just as into it as I was, maybe even a lot more so when you factor in that she had a lot more emotional depth to her, that just multiplied the whole evil vibe of the situation. As for her, the picture I took had her hair pretty much all over her face but her normally deep brown eyes were black and burning and her whole face was blood red. Sweat was dripping off of the ends of her hair and her entire neck was slick with it. She looked fucking evil like she was ready to eat my soul right out of my fucking dick.

     “I’m keeping this one, babe.”, I told her decisively. I then handed her all of the other pictures. Nymph’s gaze travelled back and forth between her favourite picture of me and her favourite picture of herself.

     “I’ll make sure these remain well hidden.”, she said quietly.

     “Yeah, that would be a good thing. If Ms. Miller found out we were documenting our crimes she would have a fucking fit. That’s one of her biggest killer rules. No pictures, no recordings, no trophies, and no fucking diaries with specific details of the crime.”, I said with a bit of humour. I kind of expected Miriam to get defensive at the word “crime” in relation to being moderately intimate with her but she wasn’t.

     “It’s true”, she said with a firm nod of agreement, “There’s no mistaking what’s going on in our faces. We’d be fucked every which way if anyone ever found these. We may as well be naked and in some very compromising positions. Given the extreme differences in our sizes, I would have to be on top, obviously. I’ll make sure these are never found but I’m keeping this one of you for my satchel. I have a small compartment that I can hide it in.”, she said thoughtfully. She looked over at me and she noticed what I wrote on the back of the picture that I had claimed for myself.

     “MY PERFECTLY BEAUTIFUL HYDE. THE ONE I’LL LOVE FOREVER.”, I wrote in block print.

     Nymph smiled as she looked down at the floor bashfully.

     “What are you going to do with your picture?”, she asked curiously. I think she was expecting the obvious answer but I now had a head full of her HYDE face to take to the shower.

     “Well, babe-“

     “Call me Hyde, please?”, she said quietly.

     “Why?”

     “You said before that a nickname had to be perfectly spontaneous and you were right. I was impatient to make things move forward and I was the one who insisted on “babe”. It’s a nice term but it’s very generic. “Nymph” has a sweeter ring to it but it’s not accurate enough to encompass all of me. Hyde is something that no one will get and it doesn’t sound sexual at all. Nymph makes me sound like an under-sized peeler.”

     She stopped for a second and she got a super-serious look on her face.

     “Your presence is the secret formula and when I drink it, parts of me, the most powerful parts of me, manifest themselves. I love how liberated you make me feel. I can be “me” with you, in spite of my complicated moral imperfections, and my emotional dysfunctions. When you call me Hyde, it not only means you love me it also means you accept me regardless of my personal problems.”, she said with a lot of tenderness.

     “I don’t think you have that many problems.”, I countered.

     “I do, babe, I truly do and someday soon we’re going to have to talk about them but that can wait.”, she said quietly as she looked back at her two pictures. I didn’t want to press the issue but I did feel a certain amount of, I don’t know…….dread, nervousness. Something that made me feel that whatever she had to say, when she was ready to say it, it would be really intense. The mood in the basement was starting to get kind of glum so I changed the subject just to brighten it up again.

     “Well if you’re Mrs. Hyde then I guess I’m the Monster-With-No-Name.”, I joked.

      “You called me Mrs.”, she said with a look of happy surprise as she squeezed herself closer to my side.

     I kissed her on top of her head.

     “Yeah, I guess I did.”, I said quietly.

     “I didn’t create you.”, she said self-consciously.

     “Well, create would mean the job is fucking done. Right now, you’re creating me. In the book, Frankenstein had to hit the graveyard a lot to get all of the parts together and put them into place. You’re putting all of the parts of me together inside and out so that I’ll be the best monster possible. Without you I’d be fucked, Mrs. Hyde.”, I said as I kissed her cheek. Hyde grabbed my hand and squeezed it.

     “He should have had a name. He deserved that much.”, she said with a thoughtful tone of sadness.

     “Fuck it, from now on you’re going to call me Monster.”, I said decisively as I picked her up and held her up against me so that she was looking down at me. She gazed at me with a quizzical look.

     “Really? You want me to call you Monster? You don’t think that makes you sound like some kind of a low-rent fucking biker?”, she said with a crooked happy smile as her deep brown eyes gleamed with pleasure while her dark brown hair framed her pale face.

     “Whatever, you’re the only one allowed to call me that. Mrs. Hyde and Mr. Monster. It sounds cool when you put it together. We’d be like tv cops.”, I said as I smiled up at her.

     “I think we’d make better villains like from a James Bond movie.”, Hyde said with an evil smile.

     “Oh, I get it. You want to be Jane Seymour in “Live and Let Die”.”, I joked.

     “You really think I’m as beautiful as she is?”

     “Nah, you’re better. You’re the best.”, I said as we kept walking around the basement like that.

     “Thank you, my beautiful monster. As long as you believe that then that’s all that matters.”, she said contentedly. Hyde gave off a huge yawn then. “Wow, I need to sleep. It sounds quiet upstairs. Let’s sneak off to bed.”

     I carried her up the stairs and I could see her head starting to droop against my shoulder. When we got to the main floor I could see Cait trying to sneak back into the house. Her eyes were bloodshot and she reeked of beer and cheap homegrown pot. She kind of gave us a panicky look even though Hyde was gently snoring against my shoulder. Needless to say, Halloween night kind of changed her perspective when it came to us.

     “Don’t say anything, please?”, Cait whispered loudly.

     “Don’t worry about it.”, I said as I walked past her and up the stairs. If my folks knew she was imbibing they would have freaked. Catching her with a guy on the couch, or in the basement, would have been bad enough but they could have lived with that because they expect teenagers when they get to a certain age to get a little sexual. Alcohol and drugs though they always said just made people stupid, and I agree. At least they weren’t Jesus freaks about it. Also, it would have been more fun for Cait to get busted on her own as opposed to me being a rat.

     Once I got to the bedroom, Hyde was completely unconscious. Gently I laid her down on the bed and got into my sweats and a black t-shirt. With the light out, I slid her up to my side as I laid up against the headboard and had my bedtime cigar. It struck me in the darkness that it was now the summer of 1981. Where did 1980 go? I tried to think what was I doing last summer when I got out of the 8th grade with an A average while doing almost no work? I couldn’t conjure a single specific moment. All I knew for a certainty was I did a lot of nothing. September changed all of that and then I discovered Hyde shortly afterwards. When I stubbed out my smoke I stopped stroking her hair and I smiled down at her in the dark. I kissed her on her pale cheek.

     “I love you, Mrs. Hyde. Thank you for everything.”, I whispered next to her ear. In a minute I was asleep.

     That summer was a pretty dramatic one for Hyde. To begin with she got shoved into the 7th grade so in the fall she would be going to Prince Charles Middle School. To her that wasn’t going to be a big deal but it almost became a huge deal in September. I’ll get to that in a bit.

     Shortly after her 10th birthday on July 12th her pituitary gland decided it was time for a change and she started having her period. I guess for a girl nothing says your childhood is permanently ruined like feeling like shit 5 days a month. The other obvious changes were starting to manifest themselves to some degree as well.

     We switched up our schedule a little for the summer. We started going to the gun club in the day time and the Wing Chun dojo at night while keeping our weekends free to screw around together. We had finished the Urban Krav Maga course by then. I have to say for such a short course we learned an awful lot about close combat. Frankly the only thing keeping us in the WC dojo was we were starting to learn about how to fight with knives. Hyde got her wish and Sasquatch started to show us how to shoot semi-automatic assault rifles. That was a lot of fun actually. AK-47’s, M-16’s, FN’s, and Hyde’s personal favourite, the AR-15’s. She wasn’t bad at hitting the target up to 100 yards without a scope. She could bring down some asshole within 5 rounds. Of course, I was parking head shots up to 200 yards. Interestingly there was nothing competitive between Hyde and I. She was honestly happy that I had something of my own that I was good at and she always encouraged me. The Gun Club wanted me to enter tournaments and I said no to that. I told them I had too much shit to do but the real reason was simply that the idea of doing tournies bored the shit out of me. Some of the other fags in my age bracket invited me to go hunting and Hyde said no to that. Her moral compass spun in some weird directions, which kind of sucked because blasting Bambi through the eye and then gutting him afterwards would have been pretty nifty.

     Some of the slightly older fags at the Gun Club were gearing up to join the army. They also seemed to like me a lot even though I made no effort to befriend anybody. It seemed to be a pattern wherever I went. I just did my thing and people seemed to gravitate towards me. Once more my brilliant and beautiful Hyde was right. Quiet authority seemed to work for me. After one particularly good session some of these goofs were saying in their own dorky way that I should join the army when I was older. Some of them figured I could be an Airborne Ranger, special forces, some kind of a sniper. Interestingly Sasquatch heard that conversation and he kind of freaked. I say kind of because it was becoming apparent to me and Hyde that he smoked a lot of weed. He told us that if any of us joined the army he’d kill us himself and he wasn’t kidding. He gave us his scariest look, which call me psychopathic, made only the barest of impressions on me, and then he lumbered back to his office, presumably to roll another joint.

     The gun geeks quietly whispered, “He did 2 tours with the Marines in ‘Nam, man. I think it kind of fucked him up.” At that moment the only thing I thought was, “Why the fuck would he go there? He’s Canadian. He had no obligation to go.” Having said that, if I was 18 in 1967, I would have gone for sure, if only because that would be the best way to perfect my skills as an aspiring lust killer. Fucking up gooks in the bush, and destroying entire villages, would have been a close representation of the Heaven that I had envisioned. As a bonus Uncle Sam would have given me a Green Card afterwards so I could go to the States where nobody knew me, and there would be a lot more victims to work on. But, that’s me, and I was self-aware enough by now to know that I was part of a very rare and special breed of cat.

     Now that it was becoming apparent that Hyde was indeed going through changes I kind of started to worry that my parents were going to drop the hammer on us, but they chose to only focus on the positives, and maybe, though personally I doubted it, they just didn’t see anything wrong with Hyde and I being together constantly. I was under the impression that they were in denial that there was something kind of weird between Hyde and I. I asked her her opinion about that and she said that they were only focused on the positives. I was on the Honour Roll, studying to be a federal cop, and she was no longer getting into shit at school. I was also in better shape with a good 30 more pounds of muscle on me and I was a certified 6’, 5” by then and still growing.

     I invented an extra workout. Whenever we left the house I always carried Hyde on my shoulders. Up the black rocky hills, down to the lake, up and down all of the major streets in our section of Minnow Lake. She was always on my shoulders and just like last fall she would talk about whatever was fascinating to her. I know it sounds like she was super busy working on me but she did make time to knock off science books. I suppose the only thing that suffered was her time at the blackboard but she didn’t seem too concerned about that.

     One thing I could say for sure was that her mood swings had levelled off almost completely. To me she seemed a lot more stable and content.

     Unless we were watching “Rocky”.

     “KILL THAT FUCKING ASSHOLE.”

     As soon as she said that my mom spewed a mouthful of tea right across the livingroom. This was the first time, as far as I can recall, that Rocky was on regular tv and the whole family was watching it on Saturday night. Of course, Hyde knew about the movie because it was a massive hit in 1976. Also, since she had been into martial arts for close to a year she found boxing more interesting as a sport, though she still maintained that experience made you a fucking idiot.

     It was the only time in my life I had ever seen my dad nearly piss himself laughing as Benny the Retard was laughing right beside him on the couch. Benny and my dad were like buddies even though my old man, in his own quiet way, was a lot smarter than my brother.

     Immediately Hyde jumped up and stood in front of the tv. Here’s the part that was pretty trippy. She suddenly assumed the exact same stance that Rocky Balboa had and she was suddenly copying his moves perfectly. She was anticipating what he was going to do next and she was throwing the exact same shots that he was at the exact same moment.

     “HOLY FUCK, BALBOA, TUCK YOUR ELBOWS INTO YOUR SIDES AND GET YOUR FUCKING HANDS UP. JESUS CHRIST DON’T YOU KNOW HOW TO SIDESTEP? IS YOUR STRATEGY TO BREAK HIS FUCKING FISTS WITH YOUR FACE? I SWEAR HIS FUCKING HEAD MUST BE MADE OUT OF CONCRETE REINFORCED WITH TITANIUM AND ENCRUSTED WITH FUCKING DIAMONDS. WHY ARE YOU ALWAYS GETTING INTO THE  CLINCH WITH HIM? ATTACK HIM YOU STUPID FUCKING MEATHEAD.”, she yelled at the tv.

     Both my dad and Benny were completely red faced and ready for a stroke as they kept laughing uproariously as my mom stared at her completely fucking mortified.

     “Like oh my God, where did you like such a dirty mouth.”, Cait whined from her rocking chair.

     “Whatever you say, bitch, I’m not the Miller girl that pissed herself on the kitchen floor Halloween night.”, Hyde said as her head snapped back because Rocky took another hard shot to the noggin from Apollo Creed.

     “Like I swear you’ve become like a little dyke ever since you’ve been hanging out with John.”, Cait countered weakly.

     Here’s another funny scene for you. Between Hyde and Cait was several feet and a coffee table. Hyde spun on her heel until she was facing her sister and from a vertical position she sprang towards Cait. She got some good height going as she cleared the coffee table and landed right in front of her. She suddenly put her hands on either side of her sister’s face and the rocking chair stopped. Instantly I was alert in case Hyde got psycho, which she did, but in a verbal way. Hyde brought her face in close to Cait’s.

     “It’s ok what you say about me, Cait. You’re my sister and I love you, and because I love you I promise that when I kill you, it’ll be fast, painless, and you won’t see it coming.”, she hissed with a really chilling smile. As soon as she finished her sentence she gave Cait a quick kiss on the mouth, spun on her heel, and sprang right back over the coffee table to the exact place she was before. She was getting really fast actually. Instantly she got right back into whatever stance Rocky was doing and she was suddenly copying and anticipating what he was going to do next.

     My mom was giving me the, “Can-you-help-us-out-here?” face. Cait was actually scared shitless as she sat there stone still with her nearly black eyes and her mouth wide open. I got up from the La-Z-Boy and walked over towards Hyde.

     “No, man, let her keep going, she’s fucking funny.”, Benny yelled from the couch.

     “BENTLEY.”, my mom yelled out.

     “What? She swore a whole buncha times.”

     “She’s finally being a kid, son. She’s just getting excitable.”, my dad said when he could finally breathe again.

     I picked up Hyde from her waist.

     “Ok, Champ you have to sit with me. Somehow you’ve magically gotten big enough to block the tv.”

     “I know, I’m growing, I can feel it. Someday I’ll hit 5 feet and I’ll be 60 inches of pure devastation.”, she said as we sat down again. She kind of started to relax but I was surprised by what my dad said. I guess she was being more of a kid even though there was a whole lot more going on with her of an adult nature. Once again, she pulled a Walt Whitman and demonstrated that she was great enough to contain contradictions.

     During the commercial I figured I should tell her something serious. I leaned down and quietly whispered in her ear.

     “Hyde, just so you know Rocky loses the fight on points. Try not to freak out when you find out what happens.”

     “I know he loses.”, she said in a nearly silent whisper.

     Shortly after that the movie ended. True to her word she didn’t freak but there was a hard and angry look to her and her fists were clenched up tight.

     “Ok, Champ let’s go in the basement.”, I said as I lugged her downstairs. When we got to the bottom I put her down and she walked over to the heavy bag and put on her mitts. She dropped the Rocky stance and resumed her usual fighting stance like she had been taught as she started throwing closed fist shots to what would be her victim’s vital organs. Then she would whip out some open palm strikes to the face and then immediately go right back to the body. I knew her rhythms well enough by now to know when to shut up and wait for her to talk. Also, I have to admit it was beautiful watching her work the bag. Her legwork sucked but if she got in close she was definitely going to hurt you. That’s why she had been practicing rushing her opponents. She wasn’t going to be a dancer. She was going to be a toe-to-toe fighter. Her deep brown eyes were narrowed and her full small mouth was a straight rigid line. Sometimes she’d work in a sidestep move, or she’d duck, and then she would quickly rush the bag and lay out some more combinations.

     After about a half hour of that she finally geared down. I was sitting on the end of the bench press and she quietly straddled my lap and put her arms around my neck. She was calmed down again and she started talking in a gentle whisper.

     “I know it’s just a movie but there’s a dangerous message within it that will subliminally sneak inside the consciousness of many of the viewers. The night before the fight he tells his girlfriend that he can’t win. He tells her that Apollo Creed is out of his league and that the best he can do is go all 15 rounds just to prove he’s not just another bum from the neighbourhood.”

     One thing I know about Hyde, if you disagree with her and you’re not afraid to disagree with her, she’ll have a lot more respect for you than if she perceives that you disagree with her but you choose not to say anything.

     “He only had 5 weeks to train for that fight, Hyde. In the real world, boxers get like 6 fucking months to gear up for a bout.”

     “I know, Monster. He could have used more time but did you notice, he was training to win. He was doing everything right. His manager believed he could win. Then he made a terrible decision. He decided the night before the fight that he couldn’t win. He decided that the best he could do was endure. That’s worse than running away. In the real world when someone picks a fight with you, you don’t get 5 weeks to decide if you can beat them or not. You’d be lucky to get 5 seconds. Even if you’re cornered in the girl’s bathroom and you know you can’t win you still have to make a decision.”

     I kissed her tenderly on the mouth as I smoothed the hair away from her face.

     “And you’ve always chosen to break out your lunchbox and start smashing fucking faces, is that it, Hyde?”, I said admirably.

     “Yeah, I’ve always fought to win, not just to simply endure, or to get away. I never screamed for help either, although there had been many times when I screamed in fucking rage. I never want you to go into any situation with the attitude that you’re simply going to endure the outcome. There’s no point having a solid plan if you lack the confidence to shove it through to its successful conclusion. I don’t want you to endure. I want you to fucking kill.”, she said firmly as she began stroking my face.

     Again, the natural silence fell upon us for a couple minutes as we kept looking into each other faces as the desire between us began to climb from the dungeons of our subconscious back into our flesh. At the right moment I pulled her in and she knew by now to open her mouth as the first quiet hungry groan escaped her lips.

     And somehow just like that the summer of 1981 slipped away from us. A lot got accomplished but it still sucked to find myself standing at the bus stop once again in a new pair of Levi’s and another black denim shirt. I did get a new black leather jacket, kind of like a biker jacket, and I had new Chucks in a bigger size. Wendy-Louise approached me.

     “Hi, John. How was your summer?”, she asked nicely. For whatever reason I decided to not be an asshole to her, yet.

     “It was too short. What did you do this summer? I didn’t see you around.”

     “I was here, you just weren’t looking. You’ve been awfully busy since last fall. Rob’s been complaining a lot that you’re never around anymore.”

     “I’m sure that Lord Carter will find some kid in the 9th grade to fill my spot.”

     “I don’t think so. He sounded pretty hurt and disappointed that you stopped hanging around our table. He really likes you though like I can’t see why he does. You being such a stuck-up snob and all.” When she said “our table” I wanted to laugh out loud. Whatever social importance she had just then she owed to Lord Carter. Whatever social importance I had I owed to someone much more powerful than him.

     “He’s a big boy. He’ll live.”, I said sardonically.

     At that point the bus showed up and we got in. All of the anxious new 9th graders sat up front clutching their new school bags looking like green recruits going off to basic training. I sat and stared out the window. I didn’t notice that Wendy-Louise was sitting beside me and I heard nothing that she was saying. All I was thinking about was Hyde as I wondered how she was making out at Prince Charles. It was strange how much I missed her. Normally everything around me looks flat and insignificant. Cars, houses, dogs, cats, and especially people. Now it was like not only were they insignificant, it was like they weren’t even real on any level. A year ago, I could look out the window and I could observe things that were unimportant but at least I was aware of their existence. In the book “A Clockwork Orange”, Alex asks something like why is it that colours are only really real on video as opposed to in real life? In the pages of this half-assed journal the question that the character John Miller Jr was asking was “why is it that reality only seemed like it exists in any way shape or form when I was with Hyde?”

     Suddenly I felt a weak and flimsy punch on the arm. After taking hundreds of body shots from Hyde whoever was hitting me right now really did hit like a fucking girl.

     “Have you heard a thing I’ve been saying?”, Wendy-Louise said sounding an awful lot like my whiny sister Cait.

     It took some effort to pull my eyes away from the window and look at her. Same mall chick hair. Same washed out light-blue eyes. At least she eased up on the rouge. Otherwise same everything only at that exact point I got the feeling that if I stuffed a kitchen knife into her ok-looking tits, instead of the bright-red krovvy spilling out all I would see is a ripped hole and the pure blackness of outer space inside that hole.

     “Not a thing Wendy-Louise. I wasn’t listening to you at all. In fact, it’s amazing how long it took you to figure out that I was tuning you out completely.”, I said casually.

     “You are such as stuck up asshole, John Miller Jr.”, she yelled as she jumped up out of my seat and tore her way to some other seat. I couldn’t even find the motivation to laugh at her as I looked back out the window thinking about Hyde and counting down the seconds till I saw her again. Gooey teen bullshit, indeed, but I honestly enjoyed submitting to this sensation of illicit reflection and anticipation.

     Looking back, I should have at least pretended I was interested in whatever mundane bullshit she was talking about. It wasn’t long after that that something really fucked up occurred.

     Before we get to that though let me tell you what happened to Hyde on the first day she went to Prince Charles Middle School. When she arrived, the principal asked her to come to the office. This guy, and I guess it was the guidance counsellor, took her into a meeting room and they had this massive file on her with all of her academic transcripts, IQ tests, and some other shit. They gave her the final exams for every subject in the 7th grade, even the boring shit like Geography and Social studies, along with English, Math, Science, and Canadian History. They told her she had until the end of the day to write all of the exams and she had to nail a passing grade of at least 80%. Hyde had 6 hours to write all of this. She nailed it in 4 hours and 27 minutes. Her scores in every subject were 100%.

     They told her that she was going to have to go to some super-geek school in Toronto. In fact, this school was super fucking horny for the chance to get her in there. They offered her a massive scholarship and she would live in some kind of a private school setting in a nicey-nice part of the city called Rosedale. Sounds pretty sweet, right?

     Wrong.

     Hyde lost her mind and my mom went apeshit right beside her. My mom was right, she was only 10 years old. She was way too young to be away from her family. She was finally becoming emotionally stable and this geek cult would just set her back. She’d pretty much be a prisoner.

     Mom raised a massive stink and Prince Charles said that by law Hyde had to go to school somewhere and they clearly had nothing to teach her, and personally I think they were afraid of her behavioural issues. Mom said there was no way in Hell her youngest daughter was moving hundreds of miles away. The Sudbury Board of Education said that Hyde would be guilty of truancy and she was facing the second time in her life when she was looking down the business end of getting expelled from the public school system in Ontario. Then she would have ended up in a very different kind of school, reform school, also known in the States as “Gladiator School.” Either that or she would have to become an instant Catholic and there was no way Mom was going to allow that to happen.

     Given the choice between the geek-school in T.O. and the “Girl’s Home”, (Cecil Facer is the name of the place, if you care to know), Hyde would have taken the Gladiator School option. I have no problem imagining her being the meanest and the most manipulative little inmate in the place. They’d have to stick her in solitary somewhere in the darkest corner of the basement with a mountain of textbooks and a lot of chalk, and then pretend that she wasn’t there until she was 16.

    Of course, Mom called an emergency meeting and Dad and I attended. Hyde and Mom were fearfully holding hands, and the old man had no idea what to say. It was at that point that John Miller Jr, 14-year old legal genius, came up with the plan to save Hyde’s bacon. I asked to read over the official paperwork they had given my parents. There was a lot of blah-de-fucking-blah in there but the one phrase that jumped out was that she had to be “in attendance full-time at an accredited public school as so recognized by the Province of Ontario”.

     “Ok, guys I have a plan.”, I said as I sparked up a Colt’s Mild. Mom looked at me like I was Karen Black trying to pilot a 747. Hyde looked at me hopefully but with a fat chunk of pessimism.

     “It says here that Miriam has to be in attendance full-time at a school. Ok, you two are going to go and talk to Mrs. MacCutcheon tomorrow.”

     “Ok.”, Hyde said with a flicker of hope. My mom asked why.

     “She’s a crusty old Scottish broad and she just retired. She was the one who discovered Miriam’s brilliance.”

     “I was the one who found her reading the dictionary as a 3-year old.”, my mom protested.

     “Let him finish, Mary.”, my dad said quietly.

     “When Mrs. MacCutcheon finds out about this she’s going to go crazy. Get her to go with you two to Prince Charles and let her tell them that the best thing to do is to stick Miriam in a room by herself with her computer books and one of those computers with the green screen and the tape player.”

     “The Commodore-64. It’s the latest in home computers.”, Miriam said thoughtfully.

     “Yeah, right, that thing. Anyway, according to Miriam computer science is kind of a big deal now. So you guys tell the school to just let her sit there every day and study computers on her own. She can make up programs and show them to the resident geek. That way she’s “studying” in an “accredited school”, and she’s producing quality work. Personally, I’m surprised they didn’t just kick her up the ladder again to Nickel District, at least there they really do have a computer science course.”

     “They said that high school at my age would have a negative impact on my emotional growth.”, Hyde replied with an amazingly straight face. It’s kind of neat how embracing a life of crime straightened her out a good ways. That nerd school in T.O. would make her fucking suicidal. At least the Girl’s Home would give her something to fight for.

     “Go talk to Mrs. MacCutcheon tomorrow. I can guarantee she’ll help us out.”, I said confidently.

     I’ve heard it said that a bad plan is better than no plan at all. I at least gave Mom and Hyde some kind of a direction and it worked really well, if I may say so. They went the next day and Mom explained the situation. The air in my former kindergarden teacher’s livingroom got blue, and not just from the many cigarettes that the two women were chaining. My mom must have fucking iron lungs, man. Not only did Mrs. MacCutcheon think that this was a travesty it turned out she had a brother who was a lawyer. Mostly contract and small-time business-type shit but still the guy knew how to read legislation. Whatever boring lawyer shit he was doing he dropped it and he was there inside of an hour, and they got him up to speed. He then zoomed to some law library, and then he zoomed back, and he said that my solution was acceptable because the law was really fuzzy on what exactly Hyde was supposed to be studying and where she was supposed to acquire new knowledge. And then in the afternoon the four of them stormed into Prince Charles for an informal discussion on why they’re plan to screw Hyde was a bad idea. The words, “litigation” and “civil” were tossed out by this lawyer guy. The word “media” was also thrown into the talk as well. I don’t know if I’ve told you this enough, but Hyde really is a beautiful girl. If this lawyer guy gave a press release detailing how this beautiful 10-year old genius was going to be ripped away from her family, Hyde would have become a star overnight. I’m totally fucking sure of that. She would have had Maclean’s and the Toronto Star eating the peanuts from her shit inside of a week.

     The brain-trust at Prince Charles had a quickie meeting over a huge canister of coffee and at least 4 boxes of Tim Horton’s doughnuts, because when Canadians lose their minds they tend to reach for the fucking doughnuts. Our side were all hanging out in our house. Hyde and I were in the basement. She kind of switched between working the bag and sitting on me as she tried to manage her fear over this whole situation. I kept telling her it was going to be fine. I told her if it became a court thing she was going to be rich and famous, and then she’d move to Hollywood or New York, and forget all about me. She got kind of emotional, like only she can, and she swore up and down that would never happen. I’m not saying I completely believed her but I desperately wanted to believe her.

     We heard the phone ring upstairs and then we heard a lot of laughing and cheering.

     “Sounds to me like you’re fucked, Hyde.”, I joked.

     She made a face and she kissed me a lot.

     Mom called us upstairs and we were told that she was going to go to Prince Charles tomorrow and she was to bring her computer books with her. The fact that it took several hours for these numbnuts at PC to agree on this was what made me kind of mad. In fact, it goes a long ways towards me having a serious prejudice for any kind of committees. It almost felt like we were in the Soviet Union and the ruling committee had to have a unanimous vote on whether or not Hyde was going to be an astronaut, or if she was going to drive a tractor in Lower Bumfuckistan. Needless to say, she felt a lot better, Mom had her happy face on, the old man was quiet as always, but he handed me a cigar and a handshake, and then Mom squashed me inside of her big arms, and finally Mrs. MacCutcheon told Hyde that if PC tried to fuck with her, (and that was exactly what she said since she was no longer obligated to be a pillar of the community), that she was to call her immediately.

     And so, Hyde became an academic legend. She would show up for school and go into a small room next to the admin office and there was a desk and a Commodore 64. She’d sit there and read for half the day and then she’d screw around on the computer writing up programs, and she’d submit them to the science teacher. The science teacher would tell her she had no idea what the hell she was looking at, and Hyde would explain it to her, and then the science teacher would write up a nice report saying that Hyde was doing very well. Basically, Hyde taught her teacher how to use the damn thing and make it fucking do something. At that time the admin office was switching over to computers to do grades, and stats, and shit like that. You want to guess who they had to go to every time the computer got fucking uppity? Hyde had to teach the secretaries how to make it do what they wanted. So in a way PC got even because they got like a maintenance person for all of their high-tech shit for free.

     And it was right after that crisis that Hyde kicked off another crisis and it was no little matter, let me tell you.

     I started this section out by saying that if maybe I was a little nicer, and a little more attentive to Wendy-Louise Pelletier, then maybe things would have been different. Well shortly after Hyde’s academic career was re-established, I hopped off of the bus with a head full of blood-soaked fantasies and I could see my beautiful girl standing nearby with her satchel in both of her hands. She looked like she was in a happy mood at that exact point. Before I continue I want to mention something else. Since she got this gig at Prince Charles, Hyde changed her wardrobe. She now dressed a lot more like “Ms. Miller” except the skirts came down close to her ankles, and she would wear a big crimson cardigan over her flouncy white blouse. She looked like a Jehovah’s Witness-type chick with a really depraved secret side, which personally I think a lot of Jesus-freak chicks actually do.

     So I hopped off of the bus, pulled a stogie out of my pocket, and I saw Hyde give me a wide and perfect smile as the wind fluffed up her dark brown hair and her deep brown eyes had a rosy glitter to them. We started walking towards each other, as I kept trying to light my Colt’s while the wind kept screwing with my lighter, and a certain someone decided to open her big stupid fucking yap behind me. It’s possible she was trying to talk to me on the bus again. I tended to zone out a lot on the bus nowadays like I described earlier.

     “I think I’m starting to see why you’re not interested in any of the girls at school, John. Maybe we’re too old for you and maybe you think that incest really is best.”, she said with all of the cuntiness she had in her. It must have been one of those moments when all of the wrong elements were put together in just the right way. There must have been a combination of Wendy-Louise’s usual shit-for-brains mentality, and the way I perked up the moment I stepped off of the bus and began looking around for Hyde. Like I said earlier, for me reality started and ended with Hyde. To me she was the only thing that not only was beautiful, but was real and worth focusing on outside of myself.

     Hyde was almost in front of me when you-know-who started barking off, and Hyde suddenly dropped her satchel after she pulled out her lunchbox. I’ve told you before that she’s kind of clumsy but right after she dropped her leather case she deked her way around me really quickly and she was almost graceful about it.

     “WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU SAY, CUNT.”, Hyde yelled at Wendy-Louise as she furiously paced towards her. One thing I noticed in that moment. Hyde was deliberately keeping her hands at her sides as she concentrated on making every muscle in her little body relax. That told me immediately what she was going to do because I’ve seen her do the exact same thing right after she puts on her mitts and approaches the heavy bag. She walked right up to Wendy-Louise as I kept trying to light my cigar a little ways behind her.

     Wendy-Louise was looking down at her and she wasn’t saying anything probably because her feeble fucking brain was trying to process the possibility that maybe, just maybe she said the wrong thing. And it was just then that Hyde seriously drifted her one. Since most people are right-handed they don’t expect someone who they’re about to fight to come in with the left as their opening shot. Hyde fired off the left, closed fist, and she hooked Wendy-Louise right in the solar plexus. I swear at least half of her arm went right into that slut’s gut.

     Wendy-Louise gave out a massive gasp of air with a loud whooshing sound and then she bent way over as she struggled to breathe. At that point, as I slowly started walking towards Hyde, I was still shaking my lighter trying to get the fucker to work. I kind of figured that Hyde made her point and Wendy-Louise was at least getting the idea that she had a big mouth. Nope, not even close. As she was lurched over Hyde began unloading an insanely speedy combination of open-palm shots to W-P’s face. The interesting thing was that as pissed off as she was, her entire body seemed loosey-goosey.

     She was not only hitting her hard and fast. She was hitting her a lot.

     Finally, Hyde came in with her signature closer. She got down low, snatched up her Charlie’s Angel’s lunchbox, and then she came up, and when she unleashed that shot she jumped straight up to give it some extra oomph and her weapon of choice smashed into Wendy-Louise’s nose and smeared it to the left side of her face. I heard the cartilage shatter as a huge load of blood suddenly erupted from her smashed and shattered nostrils. Then Wendy-Louise’s head snapped back and I think I heard the vertebrae in her neck give a bit of a crack. And then she toppled backwards and her Andre Michel-covered ass hit the gravel, and then her upper body just crashed into a heap as her nose and her mouth kept spewing lots of blood all the way down the front of her black velour top as it flowed into her heaving cleavage.

     And holy shit did that get me fucking hard.

     She was unconscious and Hyde walked over until she stood beside her head. She raised her little right foot over Wendy-Louise’s face. Her little black flat shoe was about a foot above that cunt’s face and her posture was arrow straight. In my psycho brain I could see her doing the fucking twist with all of her 85 pounds pressed right into that bleeding blob that barely had fucking eyes at that point.

     “Die.”, she said lowly with all of the steel she had in her.

     And that’s when I grabbed her from behind and threw her onto my shoulders. I had her satchel in my fist, and I began to powermarch the hell out of there. She didn’t resist me and the three dozen or so kids that watched this wicked beating didn’t try and stop us at all.

     We went down our street and I was almost waiting impatiently, as I kept walking faster and faster, for the sirens to whip down the road and for the pigs to take us down. Maybe with batons. Maybe with bullets.

     Amazingly we got to our house. Not that that would do us any real good. Everyone knew us. The cops could find us easy. I pounded up the stairs as fast as I could. I had a plan. It was a desperate plan but it was the only one that I had so I said fuck it and rammed it home.

     I put Hyde down outside her bedroom door and I turned the knob. She walked in ahead of me with a very disturbing air of calm to her.

     “I’m going to be right back, Hyde. While I’m gone I want you to get into your green pajamas and your moccasin slippers.

     “Why?”, she asked distantly.

     “BECAUSE I FUCKING TOLD YOU TO.”, I yelled at her with an unusual amount of anger considering my emotional limitations. That made her jump back about two feet. I’m not sure what the look on my face was but she ran to that closet and took her green plaid jammies from a coat hanger.

     “I’ll be back in a minute.”, I said with a lot of ice.

     I closed her door and I raced downstairs. My mom has one of those sewing baskets that are on four little legs with the two doors that open up at the top. It’s old and flowery looking. She usually keeps a couple packs of emergency smokes in there and some needles and thread. She also keeps about five pairs of reading glasses in there as well. I grabbed a black pair that didn’t look like only grannies would wear them. They kind of looked like they would belong to an executive. Frankly I’ve never seen Mom wear them. Did they belong to Dad? Oh well, fuck it. I zoomed back upstairs and I raced to the bathroom. I grabbed one of Cait’s scrunchies and a brush. I then raced back into Hyde’s room.

     She was sitting obediently at her table with her hands flat on the tabletop. I turned her to face me and I squatted down in front of her. Quickly I began brushing the tangles out of her dark brown hair. There were a few knots in places and I wasn’t exactly gentle about what I was doing but Hyde just looked at me quietly. I wasn’t exactly reading her face just then. When I had all of the knots out and her hair was its usual slightly wavy self, I brushed most of it back and used the scrunchy to put it in a ponytail until there was only a fringe across her pale forehead. I have to say that it looked pretty good for a rush job. In fact, for a few nanoseconds I idly contemplated becoming a hair-stylist as a cover for being a lust killer. It would be a good way to get to know potential victims, the ones who lived alone, the ones who were gullible. The fact that I wasn’t a fag wouldn’t have mattered. Warren Beatty was a straight hair-dresser in “Shampoo” only Goldie Hawn wouldn’t be sucking my dick underneath a table. She’d be choking on it while I cut her throat. Then I thought, naw, if ten of my clients disappeared forever, say over the course of 5 years, that would start to look weird.

     I then put the glasses on her. I reached into her satchel and grabbed a computer textbook and placed it in front of her and then I squatted down again.

     “Hyde, I want you to fucking listen to me and I don’t have time to get into a long fucking debate about this. If Wendy-Louise stays in the hospital overnight that’s aggravated assault. Also you knocked her out with your lunchbox so that makes it assault with a deadly weapon. You were about to stomp on her face while she was unconscious. Some might call that attempted manslaughter. Others might even call it attempted second-degree murder. Either way when the cops show up they’ll say to you that if you don’t give them any shit, and you’re willing to plead guilty, they might knock it down to aggravated assault. Then they’ll stick you in the fucking sanitarium and because you’re only ten years old you’ll end up climbing the fucking walls for just under 8 years until they release you as a legal adult.”

     Hyde looked down at me and she placed her hands on my face.

     “What do you want me to do?”, she whispered compliantly.

     “I want you to look as small, and as weak, and as fucking harmless as possible. I want you to look like a socially awkward nerd-girl who would never, ever dare to do anything even remotely sinister, let alone criminal. “

     “Hence the glasses.”, she said softly with a little bit of humour.

     “Yeah. When the cops show up I’m going to go downstairs and they’re going to ask for you. I’m going to tell them right away that I’m the guy they want. They’ll want to know what I did. I’ll tell them I got off the bus and Wendy-Louise said something cunty about me and my small, weak, harmless, nerd-girl of a sister. She said that we were involved in an incestuous relationship and I fucking snapped. I’ll tell them that I privately hated her fucking guts since grade school and I had just fucking had it. Since I’m involved in martial arts I just started working her over while my small, harmless, weak, nerd-girl of a sister desperately tried to stop me. But alas, she was just too small to prevent her 6 foot five, 240 pound brother from fucking up this mouthy slut who had been badgering me constantly for a fucking year. I smoked her with the upper-cut and she fell on her ass and then she went unconscious. It was then that my small, weak, harmless, nerd-girl of a sister got in front of me, pushed her hands into my gut to shove me back and she shouted, “John, stop. You’re killing her. We need to get out of here.” It was only then that I realized what I did and I threw you on my shoulders and got the fuck out of there. It’s a simple story and all you have to do is tell the pigs exactly what I just told you. Do not deviate from that story because that’s exactly what I’m going to tell them.”

I said all of this calmly but emphatically as I looked up into her deep brown eyes.

     “There were witnesses.”, she said quietly.

     “Yeah, well this is where good old-fashioned sexism is going to save your ass. Sudbury pigs are just fucking meatheads. They break up bar fights, they deal with wife-beaters, they hand out speeding tickets, and they deal with drunk drivers who get seriously fucked up and crash their cars. They’ll look at me and they’ll look at you, and they’ll conclude that my story must be true because?”, I asked as I pointed at her.

     “I’m a small, weak, harmless, nerd-girl.”, she said quietly with a slow and thoughtful nod because she knew I was right, and that was what the pigs would see because that would fit in with their prejudicial stereotypes.

    “They’ll just want to arrest somebody and it’ll be me.”, I said thoughtfully. Hyde gasped in terror as her deep brown eyes opened up really wide.

     “No. They’ll send you away.”, she said as she pressed the sides of my face as tightly as she could.

     “I’m only 14, Hyde. I plead guilty and they’ll stick me in the Boy’s Home for a few months and then they’ll let me go. I’ll miss one semester of school, maybe two. I’ll pump weights, read books, play basketball, and rape the new fish. I’ll pick a fight with the biggest asshole in there and fucking beat him Hyde-style. Then all of the older boys will know not to fuck with me and I’ll become the fucking shot-caller on the range. I’ll bullshit some counsellor and they’ll probably make me do some anger-management horseshit. You can visit me on the weekends and we’ll eat peanut butter and raspberry jam sandwiches. We’ll even sneak in a few kisses. It’ll be fine Hyde. It’ll be better than you being in the fucking nut barn for years and years. I’ll write you letters every week. When I can, I’ll phone you. We’ll be fine. I promise.

     What you need to do right now is get into the character of “Miriam Miller”, just like you did with “Ms. Miller”, lead educator at the MMAPE. You have to be a very little good actor when the cops show up. I’m not saying you’re any of those things, I’m just saying you have to pretend, as best as you can, to be those things, the same way that you pretended to be a strict no-bullshit teacher.”

     “I am rather small.”, she said even as her brain began to shape the character in her mind.

     “You weren’t small when you were fucking up Wendy-Louise.”, I said with no small amount of admiration as I gave her a good and hot smooch on her full little mouth.

     “When we were at the bedroom door and you roared at me, were you scared or enraged?”, she asked curiously as she began to calm down a little more.

     “I was really fucking angry.”

     “I’m sorry.”, she whispered as she began to tear up a little.

     “I was angry at myself.”

     “Why, Monster?”, she asked as she sniffled a little.

     “When I saw you walk over towards her, I could tell by the way your arms were hanging, the way you were walking, the way your head was slightly tilted to the right, what you were going to do. That’s how you move when you’re approaching the bag. I should have stopped you but I wanted to see her get really fucking hurt. I wanted to see her bleed.”, I said in a quiet whisper as my mind went back to that blood flowing into her cleavage. I was definitely going to need a shower in a few minutes.

     Hyde began rubbing the sides of my face gently.

     “I didn’t want you to stop me. I told you that someday we were going to have a talk about the severity of my personal problems. The time has come for that talk.”, she said as she brought her head down to mine and softly kissed me on the mouth as her deep brown eyes looked at me sadly.

     And just then the doorbell rang.

     “Fuck.”, she hissed. Gently I pushed her back by the biceps.

     “Start reading that book and get into character. When I call you downstairs bring it with you. Be a very good little actor and we’ll be fine. I won’t be gone that long, Hyde and I’ll think about you constantly.”, I said firmly.

     “I love you so fucking much.”, she whispered gratefully. She turned towards the table and opened the book to where she left off.

     There wasn’t a whole lot to say at that point as she started chewing up the pages, so I quietly left the bedroom. As I began to walk towards the stairs my mind began to focus on what was in front of me. I wasn’t scared in the slightest. The exact story began to form itself in my mind. I began to envision how I was going to stand, how I was going to sound, and how I was going to look when I sold the pigs this story. I was 100% confident that I could make them believe this. That’s how deeply embedded my psychopathic nature is even if I am only 14.

     By the time I reached the bottom of the stairs my mind was completely lasered in on the challenge in front of me. It struck me at that point that this game that I was walking into was no different from approaching a victim. My story was tight, I was going to manipulate my victim, and ultimately, I was going to claim my prize.

     I was ready to fucking play.

     The doorbell rang again just as I was reaching it.

     “Relax, I’m fucking coming.”, I said loudly. It was a perfect opening move. Get the asshole vibe in motion before they even see my face as I worked up a visibly teen-age meathead fucking attitude.

     I reached out and turned the knob.

     I wrenched open the door with a bit of extra energy as though I was pissed off because I was being pulled away from something important. When I saw who it was, I automatically said with that exact same character in my head:

     “What the fuck are you doing here, asshole?”

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