never understood the killing. I mean, on an intellectual level, it
makes sense, a compulsion the execution of which gives you pleasure.
Being a slave to my own compulsion, I do, to a certain extent, get
it. But, in my gut, I don't think I'll ever understand why death is
what some seek to inflict.
see a lot of death already. Not so much, since I've gone into private
practice, but my early days as an intern were spent in a facility
that saw more than it's share of man's inhumanity to man. And I've
been angry, ragingly angry, at times. What human hasn't? Never so
angry, though, that murder ever became even an idea. Does that make
me better than other people? I don't think so. I'm a bit different,
is the thing.
mentor, Colin, saw a difference in me. I was an orphan, a street-rat,
with no education and an intellect geared only towards finding food
to eat and safe places to sleep, before Colin came into my life. Had
he not taken me in, I've no doubt that I would have ended my days as
a John Doe in the city morgue, or dying in jail. Under his guidance,
I have become so much more than that street-rat could have imagined.
A respected medical professional looks back at me from the mirror,
tall, strong and clean-limbed, well-dressed, with the best teeth
money can buy.
scars that would shock and disturb those who think they know me best
appear. Scars that paint a picture of a life much different than that
which they assume I've lived. But no one sees me undressed, other
than Colin. When I take care of my esteemed mentor, I wear as little
as possible. I feel I owe it to him. After all, most of the scars are
have more personal reasons, of course.
first days together were... difficult, for both Colin and I. When he
took me in, I couldn't see the gift I was being given, for obvious
reasons. I was thrust into a world I didn't understand, and became
angry and intransigent as a result. The more Colin tried to mold me,
the more I insisted on not being molded. I confess, I did all I could
to frustrate him, and the more I did so, the more scars I earned.
Looking back, I can see how close Colin was to simply casting me
aside, giving me up for a bad job. When it all came to a head,
though, we got through it, Colin and I. An understanding was reached,
and our relationship became something altogether wonderful, something
I can say without fear of correction as being the defining thing in
my life. Everything I am comes from it.
years that followed were idyllic, truly. I learned and grew and
became something wholly new. Colin's fascination with the human form
ignited my own passion and led to my career in medicine, and helping
him with his compulsion helped give form to my own.
I never understood the killing.
would spend weeks hunting, capturing and breaking our subjects, just
to murder them. Then what? You have a body to dispose of. There is
meat to be taken, of course, but most of the corpse has to be gotten
rid of, without anyone being able to follow a trail back to us.
Hundreds of pounds of bone and viscera had to go, and hours had to be
spent in planning and executing the removal, all with the threat of
discovery hanging over us. I can't even tell you about how many close
shaves occurred, how many on the fly murders had to be committed, how
much terror was experienced and perspiration shed, during the course
of, essentially, taking out the garbage.
don't remember when I first understood which part of the process
truly engaged me and drove me to continue. I suppose, though, it was
when I first saw the family of one of our subjects on television,
pleading for someone to give them hope. I began to collect such
displays, drinking in the misery of the father, the mother, the
siblings, the children, wallowing in their naked fear of the unknown.
was focused only on our subject, but I found myself fascinated by
what he considered meaningless ephemera. We quarreled, for the first
time in a long while. In our disagreement, our true difference became
apparent. Colin wanted to kill. I believe that, if he could have,
Colin would have simply walked the earth, killing indiscriminately.
Heaven, for him, would be humanity on an endless conveyor belt,
allowing him to murder each person as they drew in front of him,
watch the light die in their eyes, and them move immediately on to
the next. For all his skill in torture, for all his careful
mutilations, Colin only did these things for the same reason a man
puts off lighting a fine cigar, to increase the frisson of the moment
he finally allows himself the pleasure.
need, what I thought of as the meat of the experience, however, was
the pain caused by our exercises. The look in a subject's eye the
first time you caused them pain; the disbelief that it could be real,
the pleading... The change that occurs as the days go by, as their
world contracts to the simple binary state of being or not being
tortured, and how the pain brings terror anew each time it is
confess, I become immoderately excited simply thinking about it.
reacted badly to my suggestion that our modus operandi change. I
can't blame him for that, nor was it unexpected. Words were
exchanged, and finally, blows. But Colin was not the man he had been
when he first took me in, and I, I had grown.
my new path was undertaken alone. So be it. I must be true to myself,
don't you agree? Our workshop had always been a theater of pain, but
now the pain became primary. Pain would begin here, and spread
farther and wider than Colin could have imagined.
you ask? By eliminating death! Death is an end, that is all. As a
medical professional, death was the enemy, and so it was with my
hobby. Death ended the experience of pain, and my enjoyment of that
experience. Inevitably, death had to go.
the Pianist, for example. A young, fresh-faced girl, not a genius but
unarguably skilled, a person who obviously lived for her art. To take
her, watch her as her hands were destroyed, simply to kill her? A
waste. But to do these things, then return her to the world? To see
the happiness of her loved ones curdle into horror as the full
implications of what has been done to her become apparent. To watch,
as the mother begins to drink, as the sibling becomes afraid of the
world, as the father becomes a martyr to the needs of his damaged
child? To observe the classmates try to understand how such a thing
could occur, to see the teacher who doted lose faith and retire...
this was something worthwhile.
music lover? Damage the eardrums, let tinnitus make a mockery of
their former joy. Singer? Remove the tongue, damage the jaw, destroy
the throat. Athlete? Joints never heal correctly. Surgeon? Destroy
the fine motor control in the hands and possibly the eyes.
Keep him alive. Remove the feet, arms, and one eye. He was
fastidious, so remove his ability to control his bladder. He was a
dedicated vegetarian, so force him to survive on meat, often from his
own body. He loves to kill, so force him to watch the torture of
others without the sybaritic end he needs.
'You come seeking answers, yes.' A statement, not a question. The voice came out of the dark, emanating from the wizened form just barely visible through the smoke and shadows of the small hut. The close air seemed suffocating to the supplicant.
'Yes. Yes, there are things I wish to know, things only one such as yourself can tell me.'
'Heh heh.' A dry sound, devoid of all humor, like the sound of a foul insect rubbing its legs together. 'I can answer your questions, yes. I know things you cannot imagine, things that would send your feeble mind screaming into insanity to protect itself. Yes.'
'This I know, venerated one.' He used the title not out of respect, but fear. 'I have come far to seek your wisdom.'
'I shall answer your questions, yes. I will give you knowledge and wisdom you think you want. It will destroy you. Your end begins here, yes.'
'I must know, venerated one. I must.'
'Oh you think you do, yes. Heh heh. You think you do. All who come before think they must have the knowledge they seek, but I tell you now, it shall do you no good, yes. It shall destroy you, yes. You are destroyed, and yet you know it not, yes.'
'I have come so far, venerated one...'
'Far, yes, you have come far. They all came far. I told them what they thought they wanted to know, yes. What shall I tell you? Would you like to know the time and date of your eventual death?'
'No, venerated one, first I seek the answer to...' He stopped, as the venerated one grumbled something. "I'm sorry, venerated one, I couldn't hear you?'
'Nothing. Ask your question, yes.' The elderly being said, but when the supplicant once again began to speak, it cut him off with an exasperated sigh.
'I'm sorry, venerated one, is something wrong?' The ancient sage shift, and mumbled again, just below the level the man could understand.
'Venerated one, I couldn't hear...'
'No one ever says yes!', The old one said in a peeved tone.
'I'm sorry?' The supplicant was bewildered.
'Do you know how long I've been doing this, boy?', the being said, leaning forward, allowing an errant beam of light coming through a space in the gnarled wooden wall to glint off a huge, red eye. 'I've been here since before your home was even a thought, since the days when your kind was just learning to speak. I've been here, at the ass end of all things, for long enough that, if your puny mind could comprehend the number of days I've seen, it would force everything else out of your head and you'd starve to death as a drooling moron. Which I would then eat. I've been here, communing and making deals and bartering fragments of my very soul to gain information that has brought you over immense distances and through ordeals which no sane being would endure, for so goddamn long that I wouldn't be able to remember my own name, even if I hadn't traded it for more wisdom. And for that entire time, a parade of idiots, just like yourself, have wandered by, with their petty problems and halfwit conundrums. And each one who comes to pester me and interrupt my work, I ask if they would like to know when they're going to die. Not one of you nimrods has ever, not once, not a single time, said yes!'
'I'm sorry, revered senior, but why would anyone say yes?'
'Why? Why? Because, you slobbering pinhead, it's important! Knowing when your life ends is the kind of thing that allows you to plan! To make the most of your time! You pea-brained simpletons all want to know simple, idiotic things! Where can I find the Nut of Wisdom? How do I dethrone my brother? How can I make Griselda the pig-keeper love me? Why do the seasons change? And to each of you I offer a nugget of real wisdom, something that, unlike whatever stupid question you've dragged your ass hither and yon to find out where I was, and then even farther to get to me, you wouldn't be able to figure out on your own if you took two damned minutes to ponder it. I offer something ineffable, and all of you say, nope, I'd like to know how to keep ants out of my butter!'
'But death is frightening, old one... OW!' The man yelled as the creature struck him of the forehead with the knobbled end of its ancient wooden staff.
'Not knowing when you're going to die is frightening, clod! Death is easy! It's slipping into a warm bath! It's laying down in a cool, welcoming bed! Waiting for it to happen is the hard part. Knowing when it's going to happen means you can end it how you please, insulting everyone who annoys you, owing everyone money, and in bed with someone elses wife, or daughter, or cow!'
'Still, I don't see...'
'Shut! Up! You don't see anything! You actually thought it was easier to hie out to the middle of goddamn nowhere and risk your soul to ask ME to solve your problems! Of course you don't see! That goat you passed outside, the one I use for clothes and milk and heat in the winter and love, it's got more wisdom in one of it's cloven hooves than you ever will! You can bet, if I asked it if it wanted to know when it was going to die, it would happily and humbly take the information! It would be over the moon knowing that such a gift had been given to it by one so ineffably wise as myself!'
The man sat, wide-eyed, as the ancient form in the shadows panted, out of breath from its tirade.
'You know what? Screw it.' The being waved its stick at the door the man had entered through. 'Get out. Get out! No wisdom for you, dummy. No actually, there is some wisdom for you. You came all this way and you risked a lot and you don't get your question answered. That's it. All you get is yelled at. You know why? Because life isn't fair, you puddingheaded son of a bitch. Now screw, before I turn you into a frog."
I hit the bottom of the empty pool flat on my back,
hard enough to knock the wind out of me, if I'd had any. Dropping
twelve feet onto concrete wouldn't have slowed me much, normally, but
the three holes in my chest would and did. Even for someone with my
'condition', large caliber slugs weren't the kind of thing that you
could just brush off. I might be a gorilla, and a vampire to boot,
but pain is pain.
world went fuzzy for a bit. When it slid back into focus, first thing
I saw was one of the bonobos who'd ambushed me swinging down the
ladder hooked to the side of the pool. I could hear him hooting to
himself as he rolled over to where I was splayed out, bitching about
being sent down to put another round into a guy just took three in
have felt bad for him, if he and his pals hadn't just tried to punch
my ticket. Low ape in the pack always gets the crap jobs flung at
him. Also meant he was going to be the first of them to die.
looked surprised when his eyes met mine, and even more when my hand
shot out, faster than he could track, and grabbed him by the wrist. I
twisted, hard, his elbow dropping and his shoulder pulled towards me.
I got the hand holding the gun pointed back towards it's owner, just
as the order to fire reached his trigger finger. What was left of his
face looked most surprised of all.
round that killed him had severed an artery, and I clamped my mouth
over the pumping spray. I don't like to feed on my own kind, but I'd
need the juice to survive the next few minutes.
gotten a good bit of the blood down when the first shape appeared at
the edge of the pool. It took a second for the scene to register with
this fella, but when it did, he let out half a swear and reached for
his cannon. While he'd been goggling, though, I'd pulled his dead
friend onto me, and used my legs to shove the body up over the lip of
the pool, and it was still rising and moving fast when it hit him in
the chest. Both the living and the dead vanished from sight.
used the momentum to roll forward onto my feet, crouched, and leaped
upward. No normal gorilla could have passed the edge of the pool and
still been rising, but a vampire with a load of fresh blood in him
can do all kinds of amazing things. The other four bonobos seemed to
be moving in slow motion. As I passed the closest one, I made a long
arm and wrapped my fingers around his head. My momentum pulled him
off his feet, and his weight brought be around in a circle, until I
landed on my feet. It felt like something cracked when my hand, still
holding his head, came down hard on the tile floor. I was already
moving, even as I registered that, leaping forward and throwing a
balled fist into the chest of another bonobo. Ribs and sternum gave
way, and the force of my hit took him over the edge and into the
pool, a line of blood coming out of his mouth.
turned toward the last two would-be assassins. They were standing,
one behind the other from my perspective, all three of us in a line.
I closed the distance to the nearest one, using one hand to grab the
wrist of his gun hand, forcing it out of line with my body. The other
hand I wrapped around his neck, lifting him slightly off the ground.
His eyes, wide with fear, locked onto mine, and I felt the tendons of
his wrist tighten and loosen as he fired round after round into the
ceiling of the abandoned pool-house.
last bonobo had time to get a good bead on me, and unload three quick
rounds in what felt like a tight group. Pity his partner was between
the two of us, or he might have done me some serious harm. As
understanding spread across his face, I reached out one last time and
gave his head a sharp twist. And that was that.
come prepared for a gorilla, and for a PI with a hard rep, but they'd
never expected a... Vampire
Hes finished his
shot, and repeated, “Heaven is a shit-hole. A slum. A 'wretched
hive of scum and villainy', if I remember the quote right.” then
tapped the shot-glass twice on the bar.
perfect, y'see. Not my perfect, or yours, probably. But perfect in
God's eyes. Not perfect for people.
for a certain number of people, and what those people are supposed to
do is worship God. That's the point of Heaven, right? You follow
God's laws perfectly in life, and you're granted access to the
ultimate gated community. And what you get for being a good little
worshiper, is an eternity of doing the same. You get to love God with
all your heart, forever.
distractions. None. You get a place to sleep, in a crowded barracks.
You get a place to eat. And you get a seat in the big amphitheater.
What's in the amphitheater? A walled garden, with God's throne in the
center. You sit there, looking at the radiance of God, which is like
staring into the sun, by the way, and sing his praises. That's what
you do, in Heaven.”
Hes downed another
“That was the
idea, anyway. A long time ago. God designed heaven, sat down on his
throne, and apparently hasn't moved since.
“So the angels
run the place. Not all of them, most are off doing whatever the hell
it is angels do. The angels of Heaven were made specifically to run
Heaven, and their orders were real basic. Keep the monkeys housed ,
keep 'em fed, and, most importantly, keep the amphitheater full. Keep
those hosannas coming.
“So you get to
Heaven, you get your bunk, you get a seat in the chow hall, and
another in the amphitheater. Then, you're on your own. The angels
don't give a fuck about you, won't even notice you, unless they need
you in the 'theater. And the 'theater? It's only built for one
hundred and forty-four thousand souls.
“You have any
idea how many people have made it into heaven, over the centuries? A
damn sight more than one hundred and forty-four thousand, tell you
that. Which means, you can land in the Holy City, get processed in,
and never see another angel; never set foot in the 'theater. They
send teams out to grab souls when the need asses in seats, but
there's millions of souls around.
“And that, in a
nutshell, is why Heaven is the worst slum you ever imagined. The
angels keep expanding the housing, 'cause more souls keep coming in,
and creating more chow halls, but that's it. There's nothing else in
Heaven but five things: angels, souls, bunks, chow halls, and the
“No bars, or
bookstores, or movies. No parks, no open spaces, no trees.
Everything's made from stone that you can't chip or wear away. The
sky is blank a couple shades lighter than the stone. The robes don't
tear. There's nothing to read, nothing to see, nothing to do.
“It drives people
crazy, all of them, in one way or another. People start doing
terrible things to one another, just out of boredom. You can't kill,
or maim anyone, but you can still hurt them. Some souls fight
constantly, just to be doing something. Souls don't experience sex
like a living body does, but there's a lot of fornication, consensual
and non-. There are streams of people who just run, anywhere and
everywhere, until the drop from exhaustion, and then get up and run
some more. Holy men from all over fight about points of orthodoxy,
first with words, then fists. Some others just sit in the same place,
doing an saying nothing, some plead with God for answers, some pound
there heads against walls over and over... Some do all of these, at
different times. It's madness, and it never ends.
“Unless you find
a way over the walls. Unless you cast yourself into the outer
darkness, and fall. Hell is a balm to the soul, by comparison. Mostly
because Satan seems to have given up on the whole game, and while He
doesn't give a rat's ass about you, either, he doesn't set up any
rules. Oh, you'll get punished in Hell, don't doubt it, but it'll
more than likely be by other souls. It's easier to escape from, too.
Everyone's so caught up in there own little things, see? Nobody's
counting heads, 'cause no one cares.
that if you keep traveling, you might just get somewhere you can
finally get a goddamn drink...”