short story

Distortion (A Short)

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As I walked through the threshold, of my once childhood home, you could tell that it had been condemned.  It was left behind by the world to fester in its own putrid filth. Blood was still every where. Splattered among the living room walls like an art project. The foul smell of death still permeated throughout the house which caused bile to rise within my throat with every breathe I took. I could hear the rats scampering within the remnants of garbage that was spewed on the floors as I attempted to walk further in. Every little step made me want to turn and run. Every breathe made me want to die.        

When I agreed to revisit my past, I had no idea I’d be physically walking back into it. I guess after the sins committed within the walls of this home, no one would wish to live here again. Why bother removing the damage? They could have at least demolished the house to rid the world of such a disgraced scene. It would have kept me from walking through here now.

But no. Here it stood and here I walked. Reliving every vile memory each time I laid my eyes upon something of familiarity. That may have been the purpose for my visit but it didn’t mean I had to like it.

If my father wasn’t facing a fate worse than death, I would not be here now. He deserved every chance that could be provided to him to avoid his treatment. Especially since he didn’t deserve it. The justice system felt otherwise due to accumulated ‘evidence’ and therefore 15 years later, on April 26, 2042, Ronin Lescalete, was labeled a murderer. 

If they knew my father, even an ounce of him, they would have known he wasn’t capable of the kind of darkness it took to pull off such a feat. They were blind though. Blind with the fury of an unsolved case. My father disappeared that dreaded night, thought to have been disposed of. The more time that passed without finding a culprit or any evidence leading to anyone outside of the house, they began to believe the acts were committed by my father and he fled to avoid capture.

I told them otherwise. I was there. I saw everything. My father and I were cuffed together at the bottom of our stairwell, forced to watch as my sister hung from the ceiling upside down, screaming. Blood dripping off of her body with each tiny slice that monster created. Sprays of blood with each artery he slashed. My brother was next, put out of his misery with a swift jab to the carotid artery and then thrown to the side. Then my mother. Her head nearly taken off with a machete. A clean slice across her neck and then tossed like a rag-doll. My father and I were in shock and clinging onto one another for support. I was only 7 at the time, but I knew what was happening and I knew that I was next. I could tell by the look on my fathers face that he knew it too.

I watched that monster come towards us, preparing to grab his next victim. My dad whispered for me to be brave and held onto me tightly. The second the cuffs were off of me, my dad fought hard. He was still cuffed to the stairs but he did everything he could to give me the time to run. I remember hearing muffled sounds coming from my father as he was being brutally beaten. I tried to drown the world out and focus on the only task that mattered. Getting away.

I accomplished my task, but for what? To spend the rest of my days in fear? In sadness? I went for 15 years believing I was a sole survivor of a horrific event, only to find out that the man who gave his life for me, was still alive. Well, now I have purpose again.

My father emerged on the 15th anniversary of what was eventually dubbed as the “Red Wall Massacre”, bloody, bruised, and unconscious. That same day, another family had fallen victim to the same fates as mine. Obviously the law didn’t take into account coincidences. If they knew my father they would have known better. If they would have listened to me, this wouldn’t be happening. To them, I was a confused, scared, child and they couldn’t take my eyewitness account as creditable evidence.

So, Here I am, standing in the very spot that my sister lost all of her blood. Trying to remember every single little detail. Trying to trigger any little bit in my head that had once been blocked out of that monster. Anything that can help me find this bastard who took my family and my life. Anything to save my father, the man who saved me, from a fate worse than death. To remove the murderer label before time runs out. In previous days that would have gotten you a stint in the local penitentiary for a few years to life. Maybe even the death penalty. Now though, that title will procreate a different outcome. “Distortion”.The new treatment government officials hailed to be the newest miracle cure for the criminally insane. 

At first, the idea of ‘Distortion’ seemed like a breathe of fresh air. A simple injection to take away a persons dark intentions. An injection that would allow jails to be a safer place for rehabilitation instead of a place filled with chaos. It allowed people to be released on probation much quicker which led to less and less over-crowded jails.  When ‘Distortion’ became a natural implement of society, the government became greedy and lazy. Instead of just trying to protect the safety of the citizens from repeat offenders they started to use ‘Distortion’ in attempts to stop the crime before it happened. The idea was a noble one but very unstable. 

It started with lesser offenses and then progressed to simple traffic stops. If you did anything that broke the law in any way, you were subjected to some sort of dose of ‘Distortion’.It may not seem like a bad thing but the treatment did more than take away the bad intentions. It took away all intentions. Depending on the dosage, the outcome varied between feeling overly happy all of the time, to becoming a nullified zombie. It took away the crime but it also took away the purity of the human race. The true happiness, the anger, the fear, the sadness. It took away everything that made us who we were. 

The government has even been in talks about administering the treatment to family members of offenders as well. A new way of stopping the activity before it happens. Apparently criminal activity is now being linked to DNA and treated as a disease. In my opinion, the only true disease of this society is stupidity and power. 

Some how, with this asinine justice system, I needed to find the true murderer before my father fell victim to their new world advances; so that not only would he be safe from ‘Distortion’, but so would I. Maybe in proving their mislead actions of the treatments use, it would help provoke just enough steam for the right people to take action in a proper, long time coming, uprising. 

“Rosalyn!” My fathers lawyer, Cain, yelled my name to pull me away from my thoughts, it was always so easy to get lost there. 

I was surprised Cain was even here helping, but I think he just felt obligated, once being a friend of the family. It wasn’t very often nowadays that lawyers even existed. Since the treatment, the system was finding their way around trials and therefore no longer needed legal representation. With my fathers case being 15 years old, Cain made a scene declaring that since society was not as “advanced” then “Ronin Lescalete deserved the proper trial of his time but if found guilty would be administered the current punishments.” I still don’t know how Cain pulled that one off because in my opinion he was just spouting off nonsense. It’s not like “Distortion” wasn’t in the regiment 15 years ago and already phasing out the system. Some how, Cain must have had some sort of clout with the big guys in the government. I didn’t bother to ask questions.

I shook my head slightly and turned towards Cain, who was still standing at the front door. I doubt he wanted to risk getting anything on his fancy shoes. He was always one for fashion, even during the days when it was frowned upon. He practically lived in a 3 piece suit. I wasn’t one to complain though. He may have been twice my age but I couldn’t deny the appeal oozing off of him. “Yeah?”

“We really shouldn’t be here. Just look at this place. If I would have known, I wouldn’t have allowed this.”
I walked over towards Cain with ferocity gleaming in my eyes and crunching noises beneath my feet “You wouldn’t have allowed this? I hate to tell you this Cain but you have no control over me. I greatly appreciate your assistance with my father but unless you have any other better ideas, I suggest you just keep your mouth shut. I’m going to do anything I possibly can to help find this person. I really don’t care what you have to say about it or even what the government says about it. I am breaking no laws here so you all are free to go to hell.” I turned back around and started walking throughout the house. Scanning every possible inch that could possibly provoke a reaction to my thoughts.

I started to hear movement behind me and I could tell that Cain finally choked up the nerve to dirty his image a bit. “You’re right. Lets do this then.” He put his hand on the small of back and started to ease me forward slightly. He wanted to show me that I had him for support. I was just happy he didn’t keep arguing with me. “You know Ros, just because we are here, doesn’t mean something is going to happen. There is no guarantee that anything will trigger a lost memory. This could all be a waste of time”

I shivered slightly at being called “Ros” but I ignored it for it was not the time to complain of unwanted nicknames. I just looked up at Cain’s 6’1” body towering over my 5’4” and tried to find his dark blue eyes that I remembered he had. He was too focused on what was ahead of him, so I returned to the same. “Thank you Mr. Negativity. I appreciate your words of wisdom” I rolled my eyes and continued my study.

If I were to be completely honest with myself, I didn’t have a whole lot of faith in what I was trying to accomplish either. It was a long shot but it may have been my only shot.

Thirty minutes later and I had felt defeated. I was standing at the stairwell and just collapsed onto the bottom step. I didn’t even care about the filth I was putting myself in. Nothing happened and nothing was going to. It was useless. “You were right. We shouldn’t have came. This was just a waste of time.”

I looked up in the direction of where I had seen Cain standing, out of the corner of my eye, but he was gone.

I wasn’t unlocking memories but I was obviously going insane. Just a short time back in this house and I was already losing my mind. I guess it was inevitable really.

“Cain!” I tried to yell loud enough for him to hear me from any part of the house. When I received silence as my response, I figured he wasn’t actually in any part of the house. He must have gone outside. I didn’t blame him one bit.

I started to join him when I heard a creaking noise coming from up the stairs. I hadn’t thought once about going up there since my missing memories were all linked to this level of the house. Now, my curiosity was going to get the best of me and detour my thoughts into a direction that would snuff out any chance of remembering what I had lost.

I slowly crepe up the stairs and continued to listen for any other sounds. When I reached the top step I could hear something coming from my parents old bedroom. I made my way towards the room half expecting a giant rat to come running towards me. Instead of a rat, I found Cain walking out carrying a box.
“What are you doing up here?”

“Just looking around for some old memories of my own. I actually found an unopened package sitting on your fathers old desk. Here.” Cain handed me the box and I began to tear off the tape to see what was inside.

“Cufflinks. Huh. I wonder why he never opened them.” I flipped them around in my hand to view them better and then began to hand them over to Cain. “Here. You should take these. You were his friend and you also have more of a use for them then I would.” I dropped them in his hand and turned to walk back down the stairs.

“Ros, wait. Are you sure?”

There it was again. I cracked my neck and ignored it the best I could. “Yeah, of course Cain.”
I continued my trek back down the stairs, thinking it was time to head out. As I reached the bottom, I decided to wait for Cain to join me. As I waited, I glanced around my old home, one last time. I would never allow myself to walk back into these walls once I walked out of them, I knew that. I also knew that my chances of helping my father were now non existent. Another painful acknowledgment I had to continue to live with.

As Cain reached the bottom steps, I headed towards the exit with a huge sigh escaping my lips.

“Its alright Ros, at least you tried. That’s what counts.”

I stopped at the door and glanced back at his face. “Ya know, I never really liked that.”

“Liked what?”

“Ros. I don’t like being called that. Ever since…” But I couldn’t remember. There was a reason why I hated that, I knew it, but I couldn’t make it come forward. I cocked my head to the side while still looking at Cain, trying to rattle something lose. He started to narrow his eyes in my direction and then placed his hands in his pockets while tilting his head back to me. “Since, I don’t know.” I couldn’t fight the feeling that it was time to leave the house now. I turned quickly and started to take that last step away from my past.

Within seconds, instead of fresh air on my face, my back was to a wall and a knife was to my throat as he gripped me tightly so I couldn’t escape. I never saw it coming but maybe I should have. Ros, that was it. That was the trigger, and now, with his eyes staring into mine and the feel of cold steel on my throat, I saw it all.

“It was you.” I furrowed my brows and glared back into his deceiving eyes. Even with a knife to my throat and arms around my waist I still wouldn’t stop looking for answers.

“Why kill them?”

“I was bored?” He shrugged his shoulders and chuckled. “Why would I tell you anything? Why give you the satisfaction of knowing? No. I’d rather keep you wondering until the day you die.”

“In like a minute? That sounds like pure torture.”

“Such a smart mouth Rosalyn. Even at a time like this, your sarcasm seeps through. I actually have something far better than death for you my dear. Since I have lost access to my previous test subject, you will now be as so kind to take his place. With a murder under your belt, that will be easy to accomplish. All will be well once again within the Faction. Close your eyes dear it’ll be over soon.”

“You’re full of shit Cain. I’ve never killed anyone and I will not be reduced to becoming a test subject.”

“Whatever darling. You have and you will. You just don’t know it yet. I have many powers and persuasion is probably the best.”

I tried to turn my head to the side so I no longer had to look in his eyes. The second I moved though, I could feel the blade begin to slice upon my throat. I knew I had no way out. “Please just tell me what happened then.”

“So I’m supposed to give you my big confession now? Give you every ounce of ammunition that I have to be used against me? Why the hell not, right? You won’t be getting out of this anyway.” He gently cleared his throat and continued his egotistical ramblings. “Your father and I were close friends until Distortion came into the picture. When things started to really take off for it, they offered your father and I jobs in the research department for Distortion. They thought that lawyers who already had first hand experience with criminals would come in hand. We both accepted the jobs and within doing so, started the creation of the Faction. When we learned more about the advancements they had planned to make in the coming years, Ronin wanted to back out. Those a part of the Faction agreed that we obviously couldn’t have that. He knew too much of what was planned.”

“So your plan was to kill us all? The Faction? The ones who we have been told are supposed to be so against any and all crime?”
“Well no, the plan was to threaten the deaths of your family to get your father to comply. I thought he would listen to me. His long time friend, but no. So the torture began. I had intended to make it stop but it seemed like something inside of me awoke and not only couldn’t I stop it, I didn’t want to. I enjoyed every bit of it. The slicing, the screaming, and most of all, the blood dripping.

I cringed and felt my stomach gurgle. I wanted to vomit but I also wanted to keep him talking. If this was the end of the line, it would be nice to at least have some closure.

“And my father? Why not kill him like the rest?”

“That’s the fun part. I made an executive decision to keep him alive to run diagnostics on. It was brilliant really. I mean how else were we going to make advancements without test subjects? Over the past 15 years I have accomplished a lot. I have turned the Faction into a completely separate unit of the government. It has turned into something no one ever expected but everything the world needs. A new face for the world and I am in control of that. Your father almost ruined it all for me.”

“Why’d you let him go then?”

“Ronin? I didn’t. He escaped. You would have thought after so many years he would have given up on that. He was always strong willed though. I should have known really. However, the Distortion was too strong in his system to make it very far. It was the Factions responsibility to get to him first since we let him escape but for some reason, that didn’t happen.”

“The other murders then?”

“That was me. I had taken a small dose of Distortion after I killed your family so I could rid myself of those nasty little thoughts. I mean, I couldn’t very well build greatness if I was constantly thinking about taking peoples lives, now could I? Things were obviously going great but the thoughts and feelings, well, they started to return. I decided to make use of a bad situation. I figured if we were going to lose our test subject then we’d better make sure there was no doubt in anyone’s mind. He had to be put away and kept on Distortion.”

“If you knew that he was going to be locked up indefinitely then why did you even interfere with his case? Why stand up in defense of his name?”

“You started snooping. I Couldn’t take any chances. It was bad enough we had to worry about Ronin spouting off nonsense. I mean, no one would believe him but why risk everything we had been working towards? It seemed like you weren’t going to accomplish much but you surprised me. Its my fault really. How stupid of me to continually use a name I once called you whilst destroying your family. I was worried that you being here alone would have sealed my fate, but in the end, I sealed my own. Its okay. I really do need a new test subject anyway.”

He let go of my waist and in a matter of seconds I felt a pinch in my neck and then all there was, was darkness.
…..

I slowly opened up my eyes feeling as if I had been sleeping for days. I couldn’t even move because my body was strapped down to a bed. I tried to lift my head up slightly to get a glimpse of my surroundings but I was quickly pulled back down by a nest of wires connected to my head and body.

“Oh good. You are finally awake. Guards, its time to arrest her now and get her prepared for her treatment.”

“What!” I frantically tried to get up again but i was restrained by two men wearing all black uniforms.

“Please calm down Ms., you are just making this harder on yourself.” The woman was speaking from somewhere within the room but I couldn’t tell from where.

I didn’t understand what was going on. Why were these guys being told to arrest me. What had Cain done?

The men started tearing off the wires and lifting me off of the bed and carrying me across the room. I started kicking and screaming with ferocity. There was no way I was just going to give up now. “Someone tell me what the hell is going on! Why are you doing this?”

“Because of the induced simulation. We implanted memories in your head to produce possible reactions. Don’t you remember Ms. Lescalete? You did sign the papers after all. You knew this as a possible outcome.”

There was a brunette woman standing up from the desk across the room. She just stood there, staring at me. I was so confused and an explanation of an induced simulation just made everything even worse. The last thing I remembered was Cain holding me. How did that, become this. “What are you telling me?”

In that second, in walks Cain. Still in his three piece suit. “Ms. Lescalete, its so wonderful for you to have finally woken up. We thought maybe we lost you to your other reality.”

“Cain, you bastard. Get me out of here!.” I started screaming violently and glanced towards the brunette “He killed my family! Please.”

Everyone just started laughing at me. They either didn’t believe me or they were all under Cain’s thumb. I would have moved more towards the latter.

“Rosalyn dear, my name is not Cain.” I stared at him blankly not sure what he was trying to pull. “My name is Adam.”

“No.” I shook my head vigorously “You’re lying. All of this is a lie! There was no simulation. Everything that I know in my head, is real! Where is my father?”

Cain shook his head as if he were feeling sad for me “You really remember nothing, do you? Rosalyn, you don’t have a family my dear. They died during a house fire when you were a child. You were at school when it had happened. When you lost your family you were taken in by the Evangeline Church where the sisters took care of you and raised you. It saddens me to see this now. After being raised the way you were and still simulating crime. Oh Rosalyn.”

Cain looked toward the men still holding my arms. “Go ahead and take her away.”

“Wait, no, please. What is going on?” I was pleading at this point. Had I really lost my mind? Is this the truth?

Cain held his hand up for them to hold off and then walked over to the desk to pull out a piece of paper. “This is the signed form you’ve given to allow us to perform said simulation on you. The simulation was to tell rather or not you would be capable to commit a crime in the future.”

“What?”

“Its something we are beginning to implement into the society as a new standardized test. You volunteered to help test the injection based simulation.”

“I would have never of done that!”

Cain then shoved the paper he pulled from the desk, into my face. “This signature says otherwise.”

“No! There is no way.”

Cain walked away again to sit the paper back down. “You really are too far gone for explanations. The bottom line here is, because you agreed to these terms, you will now be put on our highest dose of Distortion and put in a facility.” He walked towards me once again. “You committed murder during your simulation. It shows that you are capable of such and now we are obliged to put a stop to that. Don’t you want to put a stop to that? To protect other people from yourself? I mean, isn’t that why you signed the paper in the first place?”

“No. This isn’t happening. There is no way I would have agreed to something like that.”

“Adam, what would you like us to do?” One of the guards asked while tightening his grip on my arm.

Cain,(or perhaps, really Adam) waived his hand in the air. “Take her away for good this time gentlemen”

I couldn’t help but wonder just how I was able to forget all of this. There was my signature though, right on that paper. I signed it. This is all really happening. Who was I?

As they dragged me past Adam, he smirked towards me and then tilted his head down to my ear.

“Cain really is a better fitting name though, isn’t it my dear? By the way, these Cufflinks go perfect with this suit.” He flashed his wrist in my line of sight so I could see them before he started laughing and walking away.

I was speechless. I couldn’t even scream as they continued to drag me right out of the room.

It was over. I failed. I knew Cain had pull with the government and practically built the Faction but I never expected something like this. A scheme so advanced that he nearly fooled me too. He really was a monster. He took my family. Now he has taken me. Soon with the new advances of Distortion, he will find a way to take over all of the people of the new world. Distortion was a beginning to an end.

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A Burning Revenge – Part III

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Part III is finally here!! See how Brick’s revenge is coming along……
     Walking the streets of Manizales was probably the worst thing Brick could possibly be doing right now. He really couldn’t afford to be out in the open but he needed a few more fittings to make his idea come to life. The risk of exposure was worth finding the essential parts that would build the device that would put an end to the diabolical human lives that caused him pain.

     After some time wandering, trying to remain incognito, Brick was able to collect all of his pieces to create his own instrument of burning death. A homemade flamethrower. 

     It was a thing of beauty. It wasn’t high tech and it wasn’t perfect but knowing the damage it would create is what made the finished sight a true artistry vision. He couldn’t have asked for a better weapon to accomplish his task, for after Brick saw Juan’s hit-man within the flames engulfing his hotel room, he knew that would be the way he would see Juan die as well. It was only fitting since his beloved Genie had been taken from him in the same manner. An eye for an eye has always been a motto Brick understood since working with the CIA but he never truly made it apart of his own personal life until he felt his own building heat escape through the cracks of his broken heart. 

     It had been mere days since Brick watched Genie’s flesh smolder among the flames in the home they once shared. It felt like years however since Brick never once stopped thinking about it. Sixty seconds per minute with sixty minutes per hour, twenty four hours a day with seven days a week, all lead to far more seconds in Bricks lifetime that he had wished to relive the worst moments of his life. He spent a lot of those seconds wondering how Genie would feel about his plans to smite those that took her. He wondered if she would disapprove. At the end of every one of those thoughts though, he offered his own view. He was a killer. Genie never knew that about him but he knew it and he couldn’t hide that fact from himself. He lived his life killing those who wronged others in some way and even though this wouldn’t be a government sanctioned act, he couldn’t not provide the kind of action that had always been expected of him. An assassin to the core and he would not, could not, change that now. He only hoped that if Genie could see him now, she would understand. 

____
     Dressed in all black from head to toe, even donning a black ski mask as well for initial camouflage, and a homemade flamethrower attached to his back, his silhouette was as daunting as any monster you would see stalking within the night. His looks were nothing unusual to him but the feelings within his chest had become a new found beast that he was fighting to rein in, at least for the time being. After all of Brick’s planning, there was no way he wanted anything to be spoiled before he could even get inside of Juan’s compound. Everything had to be carefully calculated so that his own death didn’t come before his more important burning revenge. Brick was most definitely ready for this and even if he wasn’t, he no longer had a choice. He could feel the constant rumbling within his chest letting him know the beast within would not be tamed any longer and who was he to deny the beast what he so rightfully sought after? It was time to begin. 

     Juan Escobar, the self proclaimed drug lord, would undoubtedly be expecting Brick to make a move on his compound. Juan had to of known by now that his hit-man had failed his assassination attempt. Even so, the extra man power that Juan would have certainly employed to guard his property and himself, was no match for the training and resilience that Brick had on his side. Brick hid behind trees and rolled in-between the multiple spotlights shining throughout the grounds. It felt as if he were attempting to break into a prison, something Brick had previously and successfully done in his past. There were a few guards that were on patrol but they had seemed to be more interested in cigarettes and chit chat verses proper guarding techniques. Needless to say, they were easy to sneak around. 

     Brick reached, what seemed to be, the last piece of shrubbery on the grounds before the entrance to Juan’s mansion was the only place left to go. 

There were two men standing like statues on both sides of the entryway armed with semi automatics on their sides. Both men were built in the same manner as the hit-man that approached Brick in his hotel. They were well over 6 feet and exhibited tattooed covered bodies and bulging biceps. A small challenge to get pass had anyone but Brick tried. Foreseeing the amount of added security, Brick made sure to bring backup to his flamethrower. He reached down to his ankle and unholstered his PT-1911 while simultaneously grabbing a suppressor from his other. A few twists and another few more seconds allotted for aiming before two shots were swiftly fired. There was only silence as Brick watched the bullets pierce through the skulls of the men that were once standing in his way. There was no waiting for their death, it was instant, and their slumped bodies with pooling blood from their bullet wounds on the door mat, confirmed that even more. 

     A quick search of his surroundings to ensure there was no one else around, and then without falter, Brick stepped over the fallen bodies and through the threshold to his final destination. Whilst inside, Brick continued his spy tactics as he made his way through to the top of the mansion scouring for Juan. A few henchman appeared as he made his way throughout but were swiftly dealt with by either a quick choke-hold causing enough air loss for unconsciousness or a silenced bullet to the head. It was all a cake walk for Brick after spending almost 20 years within the CIA on missions just like this one. The only difference was this time around was that this job was personal. Brick could feel the difference inside of his chest with every step that he took. His heart began to beat faster the closer he came to the closed doors to which he knew Juan was behind. His heart wasn’t beating out of fear though, it was racing with anticipation.
     It was eerily quiet as Brick approach the double doors which led to the only room left within the house. Kicking the doors open and then standing back, he peered around the corners of the door frame expecting an explosion of gunfire in retaliation. All Brick saw was and empty room with Juan sitting behind a giant marble desk.

     “I see you’ve managed to pass my men.” Juan was cold and emotionless as he sat with a straight back and firm expression. 

     “It was rather anticlimactic actually.” Brick made a notable gesture of glancing throughout the room. “I mean, I was half expecting a room full of guards or at the very least for you to be greeting me with a M-16A1 machine gun and asking me to say hello.” Brick smirked and tilted his head to the side awaiting for a response.

     Juan chuckled a bit and then stood up from his chair. “I think that would have been a bit cliché but yes, I see the humor there. Next time?” It was Juan’s turn to cock his head to the side.

     “I don’t think there will be a next time Juan.”

     “I figured as much. Which is why it’s just me here. If you were able to get through all that was bestowed upon you as just one man than I surely deserve whatever you’ve planned. You’re definitely a worthy adversary and knowing my father was killed by you makes it sting a little less.”

     Brick was taken aback by the words he was hearing. He didn’t know how to react or respond. Was this a ruse to gain sympathy? If so, it was actually working slightly. How was he to end Juan’s life as he just stood before him unarmed and full of praise, practically asking for death? 

     “You’re full of shit Juan. Should I really stand here and believe that you are okay with me killing you? That you are now all of a sudden at peace with your fathers assassination? You are doing nothing but trying to gain the upper hand and make me falter in my decision. Revenge is a powerful thing Juan. You already know that though since you’ve proactively attempted to take yours on me.”

     Juan’s mouth tips up a little on the side and his eyes begin to gleam. “You truly are talented. You’re right. I still smell the stench of copper every time I think of my father. I still taste the sourness of revenge on my tongue as I awake daily. For such a short time though, that taste of revenge was sweet and I would love nothing more than to have that back now. I have just been trying to buy some time for the back up that is now arriving through the front gates.” Juan allows a sinister laugh to escape from his mouth. “So that at least if I don’t make it out of here, I’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that neither will you.”

     Brick should have known the tactic. Should have seen it a mile away. He never faltered on a mission before, but of course, this was different than any other. Brick had only seconds to make his decisions and he had to make them knowing he would soon be bombarded by more henchman as he attempted to flee. He glanced around the room once more and then remembered his work of art strapped to his back. He knew exactly what he would do now. 

     Gun in one hand and his other now wrapped around the nozzle to his flamethrower, he shot out both of Juan’s knee caps with one swift motion. With his swiftness, Juan never saw it coming. “I think it’s time to end the banter. Thanks for the heads up but I know that I’ll be the only one receiving revenge tonight. Morirás ”

     Juan lay on the ground unable to move, staring up at Brick in disbelief. He obviously thought he had more time, a way out. There was no more waiting though, not for Brick. If he wanted to get out alive, he had to do it now. 

     With one sweep of his arm across the room, the place was now engulfed with the flames that spewed forth from the flamethrowers nozzle. There was no escape for Juan for he could no longer walk. He would burn alive in that room. 

     Closing the doors behind him, he made his way back out the way he came. As he moved throughout the house Brick proceeded to light everything he saw in flames so that when he would look behind, he felt as if he were walking straight out of hell. 

     Stray men had begun to make their way towards him as he made his departure but just as when he came in, he made quick disposal of them. With a bullet to their head or a flame covered body, each person he came across was disposed of. Some he even just injured so that they could feel the wrath of the flames licking away at their skin.

     He finally made his way out the front doors and into the fresh air leaving behind the mass destruction he had created. He lit the front of the house up and then through his flamethrower into the flames that it had created. There was a small explosion as it was tossed within and Brick smiled as he turned and walked further away from the fire. He was far enough away to be clear of debris so he turned back around to look upon what damage he brought upon his enemy. At that moment he felt relief. 

     It was over. He fell to his knees in one swift movement and let out a gut wrenching moan. Slowly his moans became louder and louder until they turned into screams and heavy sobs. Tears began to stream down his face with a fierce conviction. Brick finally felt a weight lift off of his shoulders and began to feel a sense of peace as he watched Juan Escobar’s mansion burn to the ground with his still beating heart within. He even thought he could hear the faint screams of Juan and a few of his men as their flesh continued to burn from their bodies. Guttural sounds that once broke Bricks heart, now brought him a sense of twisted pleasure. Screams of the damned. Screams of the condemned and the soulless filling the air as they welcome their own just desserts for the lives they had chosen. The screams quickly faded though as well as the peace Brick had begun to feel.

     He heard it before he felt it; the click of a P226 glock’s hammer being cocked back, right behind him. The standard sidearm of choice for US government agencies, was now being nudged into the back of his head, locked and most certainly loaded. Brick quickly turned his abundance of tears into menacing cackles. His laughter continued to grow as he slowly began to stand up.

     “Not even five fucking minutes of happiness. You couldn’t even give me that? You are one sad son of a bitch Rialdo.”

  

Enmity Amongst Souls – Part I

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(I’ve been keeping this one under wraps for some time because I just haven’t had it in me to finish part II. However, I’m desperate to post something, lol. Hopefully my brain will start working soon. In the meantime, please like my blog and my Facebook page “Here”. Thank you for your support in my writing journey and even through my severe blocks. I hope you enjoy this short about a war on the horizon. Not even fully declared and already there are casualties.)

Enmity Amongst Souls – Part I

“même dans la mort tu es ma vie”

I let a tear slip down my cheek and then I slowly slid my hand over Kerri’s lifeless eyes to close her lids. I could no longer bare to look into her once brilliant blue eyes to only be greeted with emptiness where so much life used to reside. 

I began to cradle her head once more when I started to feel a tug on my upper arm. I tried so hard to avoid it. Whatever was pulling me away, I just couldn’t let it. I couldn’t be taken from Kerri. Not even in death. For even though she lay in my arms, no longer responsive, she was still the life that flowed within my veins.  

“We have to go…” Words were said but they came through more like small whispers upon the wind being carried from miles away. There was a nagging in the back of my mind though that was telling me otherwise. I continuously tried to shut it out but as another tug came upon my arm, it was bolted forward once again.

“We have to go now Grayson. More will be coming.” I shook my head vigorously and yanked my arm back. No. I was not leaving. I would not leave. 

I began to hold Kerri even tighter refusing to let her go. “Dammit Grayson, I’m not going to let you stay here to die. They will come. Let’s go.”

An even more forceful tug came, causing me to drop Kerri’s head from my arms and snap my mind back to a slice of reality. 

Cam wanted me to go. He wanted me to leave the reason for my life behind me. To run from what took that life from me. They would come. I knew they would too but I just couldnt budge. 

“No. I won’t. I can’t leave her.” I frantically gathered up her head once more and laid it upon my lap. 

“I will drag your fucking ass down this alley. Grayson, she’s gone. Okay? I’m so sorry but we can’t just sit here and allow for grieving right now. She did not die so that you can just sit here and weep until they killed you too. Get the hell up and let’s go.”

Tears pooled out of my eyes and trickled down my cheeks landing upon Kerri’s pale, still, face. I stared blankly at the drops knowing full well that my best friend, my partner, was right. She was gone. She sacrificed herself for me and I shouldn’t allow that to go unnoticed. Her life would always reside inside of me so why could I not walk away? 

“I just can’t leave her body Cam. It’s not right.”

“If you don’t, you’ll body will be next to hers. You know she wouldn’t want that. Take my hand. We have to go.” Cam held out one hand to me and put his other to his head, cringing in pain. “I feel them getting close. We are running out of time.”

I glanced back at Kerri and then slowly began to lay her head on the ground as I slipped out from under her. I took Cam’s hand and rose to my feet. “Yeah, okay. You’re right man.” I stifled back the rest of my tears and tried to shift the focus of my mind. 

I knew a war had been brewing between the Sans Couer and the Chasseurs Sans Âmes but I didn’t realize that it had finally hit it’s all time high until today. I knew we weren’t ready to fight the Sans Couer at the level they were exhibiting, so I wasn’t quite sure what we were going to do. The Âmes had a lot to prepare for and without Kerri, our strongest sorcière and love of my life, we were all as good as dead. 

Even beginning to flee now, I had that feeling in my gut that we would all eventually be laying in a pool of our own blood, and on the cold hard ground, by the end of this war. This would eventually be all for naught. 

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The Ticking Clock

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The fact that there wasn’t a single word coming out of my mouth that was penetrating through anyones sad little brains was enough to make my own want to explode. I couldn’t take the blatant disrespect any longer. It felt as if i were in a room full of children, that at this point, I would even consider eradicating.

“Shut the fuck up, all of you!” I don’t know when the last time was that I yelled quite so fiercely but damn did it feel good. 

All of my little peons finally took notice and did as I asked. You would think that in a room full of adults it wouldnt have required such time and demeaner on my part to accomplish that. I swear. Everyone’s just a fucking moron these days. Not even the state police department is exempt from them apparently. 

“I’m too damn old to deal with all of this shit and every single one of you are too old to be acting like shit. There are lives on the line right now so all of you better get your fucking selves together. The only thing that matters are those little girls, leave the rest somewhere else.” I paused to allow my frustrations sink into their heads. They needed to realize that our emotions towards the situation was not going to bring anyone back. In fact, they would do nothing but stifle the investigation. If my men couldn’t put their obvious disgust aside, those girls would never make it home… alive. 

“Are you all done now?” I saw a few heads shake within the crowded room and officers began to calmly sit at the tables. “Good. Now let’s get started going over all of the information we have at hand. We now have a 15 hour window left before our odds detrimentally begin to lower. A few profilers from the FBI have come in to help handle the case.” I waved for their team to emerge to the front of the room as I stepped back to give them space to take control.  

I knew the FBI would step in sooner or later. This had been the fourth known abduction within the last two weeks and it seemed like our abductor’s time frame was getting smaller and smaller for keeping the girls he was taking alive. The first girl was taken on a Wednesday and was found dead on Friday. The next taken Sunday, found Tuesday, and then the other taken on Thursday and found early Saturday morning. This time, 2 girls have went missing, presumably both by our guy, on Sunday night. Our suspect seems to be escalating at a rapid pace and with it being Monday morning already, the entire department fears there isn’t much time left. He seems to be acting within a 48 hour period mostly but something has changed that has caused him to up his game. We cant take anything for granted or waste any time. Our 48 hour ticking clock has just been made a 24 hour one. Two missing girls but half of the time to find them.

~~

We officially had our profile and it seemed liked everyone finally had their heads on straight and were actually ready to do their jobs. I knew this meant a lot to every one of them. Its not easy dealing with murder. Even worse when its multiple murders because we have already previously failed to catch our suspect. We couldnt let this go on any longer. We would find these girls alive and we would take this son of a bitch down. At least thats what I kept telling myself. It was either that, or I would succumb to the fears held deep within my soul. Fears that we would find two more bodies to add to our list. Fears of this sadistic human being, if you could even call him a human, continuing on his rampage. Fear that it would be all of my fault. 

I guess thats what it all came down to after all. It wasn’t just more lives on the line. It was ultimately my job as well. That shouldn’t matter but I would be lying if I said I hadn’t at least thought about it once. Twice even. I guess that kind of makes me a bit of scumbag. I shouldn’t have any alterior motivives regarding this case. It should be about catching a killer and not keeping a job. I mean, it is about that, but man does this shit make me look bad. It’s hard not to let selfish thoughts creep within your mind occasionally. When you’re surrounded by mayhem and death on a daily basis you kind of have to advert your mind to other problems when possible. 

Right now though, it really shouldn’t be possible. I had to get my mind back in the game with everyone else’s until we caught this bastard. 24 hours is a small window and there is no leeway of time to advert my mind now. We had to start looking. Following leads. If we didn’t make progress, those girls would not survive. 

“Captain Schroder, sir. ” detective Ratchet called for my attention, breaking me out of my detrimental thoughts. 

“Detective Ratchet, what is it?”

“We’ve already received feedback on the BOLO placed regarding our profile, sir.” Ratchet paused momentarily and drew in a long breath. Exhaling heavily he continued to speak “We finally have a lead.”

My heart felt like it skipped a beat and I began to hear it thumping from inside of my chest. I couldnt believe it. A lead. Finally. All it took was for the damn FBI to show up and take over. I loved those guys right now but at the end of the day, man I hated those fuckers. All they did was make the local police departments seem inadequate at their jobs. If we had half the money they had access to then we could be just as good. Our resources are limited leaving us crawling for help when crimes can’t be solved. 

I’ll praise them now, for this means hope for those girls, but afterwards they will go back on my least favorite people list. 

“Son of a bitch. Those ass clowns actually accomplished something with that bullshit profiling. Well hallelujah. Let’s get moving then.”

Every spare officer suited up with their bullet proof vests and headed toward the coordinates of the possible location of our suspect. All sirens off, we approached an abandoned old barn 10 miles outside of the abduction sites. The land looked as if it hasn’t been touched in years with the grass growing uncontrollably, masking half of the barn beneath it’s brush. Could this really be it? 

The men and women of the FBI began to file out of their SUVs simultaneously, signaling for the rest of us to follow their lead. We all creeped around the perimeter of the barn and began clearing the area. 

I could hear my heart beating once again and nearly felt it in my throat as I rounded my first corner. Being captain, it’s not often I’m in the field anymore, but this right here, this needed all available badges present. So here I was, and it’s not like I was nervous, or scared of the situation or anything though. I think I was just excited for finally being able to catch this guy but I know I was also terrified of finding the girls, but finding them too late. My mixed emotions were causing my heart to act erratically and at the worse times. 

I shook my head slightly and signaled for the men behind me to continue on as I doubled back towards the entrance of the barn. I watched the FBI agents skulk through the open doors and begin clearing the inside. I followed in behind noticing that It seemed so quiet and untouched within. I was beginning to believe that we had been sent on a wild goose chase. 

Mere seconds after that thought had crossed my mind, I heard yelling, screaming, and then bullets being fired from the loft of the barn. This was it. He was here. 

“The girls aren’t up here!” An agent yelled down. “Search the grounds!”

That was my cue. As I continued to hear bullets being popped off, I began to search below, for anything. I called out to the other officers to search every where they could think of. The girls had to be some where on this property. I only hoped that within the midst of all those bullets flying that they managed to keep that bastard alive. If this search didn’t prove fruitful we would unfortunately need him.  

I scoured every inch inside of that barn but came up empty handed. Not even a trace. How could that be? Silence began to fill the barn and I knew then that the fight was over and that those girls would never be found. 
I walked out towards the vehicles with my head hung low. Even within the 24 hour period, we still lost. The guy was taken down and yet we still lost. I just couldnt wrap my head around it. I didn’t even care about my job at this point like I so selfishly let my mind wander to earlier. I didn’t even want this fucking job any longer. There was no justice here. Even as I watched our suspect’s dead body being carried out of the barn, it still wasn’t finished. Our ticking clock meant nothing this time around and there would be no relief or sastifaction because even in death, he still won.

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A Burning Revenge (Part II)

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Part II is finally here! Brick has come to terms with the previous tragic events that stole his life and now his mind is set on figuring out the final form of his revenge. What will be next for Brick and how will he decide to make his enemies pay?
-Part II-

-1 week later-

Sitting upon the balcony of his hotel room, Brick was finishing his coffee and spacing out into the burning flame of a candle that was sitting on the table beside of him. Plans of revenge for Genie’s death, repeatedly bounced throughout his mind. He began to plan a number of different scenarios of which he could choose from when the time arose; which would be soon. Under normal circumstances Brick would have had an arsenal at his disposal if he had ever needed it, but now, he was on his own no matter what. Luckily, he had enough rage inside of him to push him through anything that arose. He would succeed on his own. 

Brick already knew his target, which is what led him to his current whereabouts in South America. It was obvious once he put the pieces together. He didn’t deal with many people who were capable of getting their hands on the type of explosives it took to demolish his house, and life. Brick knew how easy it was for Escobar to procure the means to accomplish the task he had, which was his own form of revenge.

Juan Escobar was a self proclaimed drug lord living in the shadows of the Norte del Valle Cartel after all of the original members dissipated. He was also the alleged son of Wilber Varela, a leader of said cartel, whom Brick was sent to dispose of many years back. Without a doubt, Brick knew that Juan, or men of which he employed, were behind his tragedy. Juan wanted revenge and had apparently been lying years in the wait for it. The only thing Brick didn’t understand is how Juan came about the knowledge that he was the one who had pulled the trigger. Varela was a sanctioned “mark” through the CIA and Brick was very good at his job, therefore, there really could only be one explanation. It wasn’t like the CIA would just allow information like that to slip out into the open; so not only did Brick have to worry about Juan and his self proclaimed Colombian drug lord title, he had to worry about the people he worked for. People that were close to him. There was an obvious leak within the CIA which meant it was best for Brick to finish this job as quickly as possible. 

A knock at the door stole Brick away from his detrimental thoughts and caused him to sigh in annoyance. He definitely wasn’t expecting anyone, to the world, Brick Regarde was supposed to be a pile of ash and Jose Santiago was the gentlemen residing in this hotel room. So who in the hell is Mr. Santiago receiving a visit from? Brick crept towards the door and grabbed his PT-1911 off of the table as he walked by. He took the safety off and cocked the hammer back as a precaution as he leaned in to listen through the door. Another knock came, followed by a voice.

“¿Hola? Servicio de habitaciones!”

Brick sighed in relief but was still hesitant to open the door. Too many years of training had taught him better than that. Without knowing for sure rather or not this was truly room service, he had to do something.

“No gracias. Por favor, vuelva más tarde.” A quick reassurance that room service was not needed should be enough for them to walk away. If they remained, well, there would be more trouble then he was hoping for.

Seconds later footsteps could be heard walking away back down the hall. Room service after all he thought; he lowered his gun and began to tuck it into he back of his pants as he started to walk away. Just as a sigh of relief had managed to escape his lips, something had crashed out on the balcony where Brick was once sitting. Quickly looking in that direction, and reaching for his gun once more, Brick was ready for whatever had just arrived.

Brick was ready but he wasn’t expecting what he saw. The table that was sitting on the balcony was now knocked over and the candle that had once been upon it, had fallen off. There was a fire now beginning to burn before his eyes as the candle’s flame caught the bottom of the cotton curtains that hung upon the patio doors. He chalked it up to a gust of wind but he felt in his gut that something was wrong.

Running to find something to snuff the fire out, Brick caught a glare out of the corner of his eye and followed his gut instinct to duck and roll behind the nearest piece of furniture. Within seconds of moving out of the way, a gunshot rang throughout the room and sliced through the air of where he was once standing. Someone knew that Brick was alive and had come to make sure the previous botched job was taken care of. 

With his PT-1911 still in hand, he peered around the couch he was behind and let a shot loose towards the man that was hiding on the balcony. Brick could see his arm peeking out from behind the building flames of the curtains and continued to aim for whatever he could hit. The assailant moved back and then quickly reappeared to fire back causing Brick to veer back into hiding. They continued to fire upon each other until Brick heard a grunt of pain and a clattering on the ground. 

Cautiously coming out from his shielding, Brick could see a bodily mass laying in the patio door way. At least six foot seven inches, three hundred pounds and a body covered in tattoos, he could tell this was definitely one of Juan’s hit-men. He walked closer, gun still aimed toward the body, in attempts to see if he were still breathing. He was. Brick rolled the body over to see his face and was greeted with wide eyes. Immediately Brick stood up, put his foot to his throat and aimed his gun towards his face.

“Did Juan send you?” Brick needed some official answers and this may have been his only chance to get them.

The hit-man just quirked his mouth to the side and smiled allowing blood to drip out upon his face. Brick forcefully shoved his boot harder on his throat causing him to gurgle and choke on his own blood. “Quiero respuestas. ¿Quién te envió, y que es su informante?” 

Silence fell upon the room as Brick’s questions were still going unanswered. “Ahora!” He yelled, desperately seeking his answers.

Another smile gleamed across the bloody mess that was laying before him, but this time, words followed as well. “Juan will watch you burn. Rialdo will see to that. He..” A cough escaped his mouth followed by another gurgle of blood “He will have revenge. We… never stop. Morirás.”

His eyes fluttered shut, his head fell to the side, and blood pooled from his mouth. He was gone. His last words would not go unnoticed but to Brick, he knew them to be lies. As he shoved the bodily mass a few inches over into the still burning flames on the curtains, he knew who would really be the ones to burn. 

Brick grabbed his things and made his way to the door. He leaned up against the entryway and stared back among the flames. He watched as the body ignited in a blaze of light and the smoke began to carry the stench of burnt flesh. He sighed in relief at the slight feeling of accomplishing part of his task for revenge. A fallen enemy lay before him burning in the same kind of flames that had stolen Genie. Some how, that made everything better. He now knew exactly how Juan would pay with his life and it made him actually smile. He also knew he would even extend that courtesy to Rialdo. That backstabbing bastard would pay with the rest. It wasn’t Brick that was going to burn. It wasn’t him that was going to die. It was him though, that would relinquish that unto all of those who had a hand in destroying his life. It was him alone that would watch them all burn.

 

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A Burning Revenge

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When Brick returns home from his latest trip away, he is greeted with far more than he bargained for. Instead of happiness to be back home, he is left with a deep seeded need for revenge…

-Part I-

Driving home from his most recent assignment, all Brick could think about was seeing his girlfriend’s face. They had been apart longer than he would have liked this time, and then on top of his extended traveling time, his flight home had been delayed. He had been hoping to originally catch Genie before she had left for her shift at the hospital, but he knew, after calling her from the airport, that she was already on her way out. Instead, Brick was hoping to at least have something special waiting for her when she returned.  
As Brick turned on to the long driveway towards his home, he felt a rumbling beneath his car. His Audi began to vibrate and he could feel trembling through the steering wheel and into his palms. He would have chalked it up to a minor earthquake if he hadn’t also heard an explosion and began to see flames spring before his eyes. He realized then, that his house would be no longer. 

Brick drove down the drive as far as he could and then proceeded to climb out of his car to watch the remains of his house crumble. He silently began to thank his lucky stars that Genie was already at work. At least knowing that, he could breathe calmly. 

And then he heard it…

A scream. 

At first it was faint and he figured it to be nothing. Then he saw it. A shadow within the bedroom window. Then a body slamming into the glass. Pounding to break free and screaming through the smoke induced coughs, Genie was starting to succumb to the disaster she had been caught in. The house was toppling down around her and the flames were breaching the barrier she attempted to create inside her room. Genie knew it was over and calmly stopped fighting. She glanced out the window and banged on it one last time, while cursing it for always being broke. She saw Brick outside of the window and gave the smallest of smiles, and then while staring at his face, She embraced herself as the flames came closer and her screams filled the air once more. 

Brick watched her burn in that fire. He stood there, his mouth agape with her screams flowing through his ears and piercing his heart. There wasn’t anything left that he could do. Even if there was, his body was too much in shock to even move a muscle. His eyes couldn’t even be averted from her flame covered body as skin began to melt from her bones. He was scarred, every part of him. He knew he should have been the one in that fire and even though he wasn’t, It was almost as if he was; for most of his soul had just evaporated with hers, as her body turned to dust. 

Falling to the ground upon his knees, Brick just stared upon the flames whilst the smoke began to limit his breathing and ability to see. He barely even noticed the sudden restrictions until sirens began to fill the void of silence in-between the crackling noises of the fire. With both Genie and his house gone, there was only one option left for Brick. He had to flee. The sirens were getting closer and he couldn’t afford to be found alive. Someone had wanted Brick dead and he was going to give them that. At least the illusion. 

Once his enemies had fallen for that illusion, he had every intention on shattering it. By any means necessary, Brick would have revenge. He had a burning heat building within him now; one he cared not to control. That heat inside had taken his soul and he vowed to have that heat take theirs.

 

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Wishing Upon a Star

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After Mikey overhears his buddy, Brett, reciting nursery rhymes he antagonizes him for being the softest All Star Quarterback ever. Little did he know, Brett had a secret, and was simply trying to keep a promise which lead to questions only the universe knew the answer to. 

——–

“Starlight, star bright, first star I see tonight”

Was that Brett that I heard reciting nursery rhymes? It couldn’t be. I must be hearing things. I finished my trek down to the basement with my six pack in hand. Maybe I already had a few too many because now, at the bottom of the stairs, I swear I could still hear Brett.I

“I wish I may, I wish I might…”

Oh, it definitely was, and I just couldn’t help myself. “Get some ass, by the end of the night” I shouted in the midst of my laughter as I made my way to Brett who was staring out of the sliding glass door.

Brett turned and glared at me. Apparently that was not how the rhyme went.

“Way to be mature, asshole.”

“Really Brett? You’re the one singing to stars. Where is the maturity there?” I pulled out a beer and handed it off before I plopped myself on the couch in front of the TV. 

“You’re always so quick to judge Mikey. Its your ultimate flaw man.”

“Aww, did I hurt your feelings? Now you have to start talking about my flaws to make yourself feel better? Dude, you’re a 22 year old, all star quarterback, who is currently being looked at for the upcoming draft.”

“So? Was there a point in that last statement?”

“The point is, you shouldn’t be singing to the fucking stars at night man.”

“Mikey, I swear, you are so damn single minded. Do you even care as to maybe WHY I was doing that.” Brett huffed and slumped onto the couch at the opposite end.

I shrugged “Because deep down your rapport for childish things turns you on? Or maybe you’re just secretly gay?”  

“Because even if I were gay, that would provoke me to sing to stars? You’re full of shit Mike. How about my rapport towards my little sister?”

Brett raised an eyebrow in my direction and then turned to focus on the game. I really felt like I screwed the pooch on this one. I screw up often but it just felt different this time. I felt an ache in my chest and a severe case of guilt began to settle on my conscience. “I didn’t know you had a sister.”

He glanced back at me swiftly but I could still tell I had upset him. His eyes were bloodshot and glassy with droplets forming in the corners. “I don’t… Not anymore.”

Now I really felt like a piece of shit. I shook my head and almost teared up myself. “I’m really sorry… I…”

Brett reached out and gave me a playful punch in the arm. “Its alright. You didn’t know. I shouldn’t have been so defensive.”

We both turned our attention to the game and it became eerily quiet for the next 10 minutes until i heard Brett release a saddened sigh. “It was during the summer before I left for college when it happened.”

I could tell this was going to be the story of his sister. He didn’t have to tell me, especially after how I had acted, but I appreciated the sentiment. I could also tell this was going to need another beer. I pulled two out, handed one to Brett, and encouraged him to continue.

He nodded his head solemnly and started once again. “My sister, Tracey, had just turned 6 a month prior to finding out she had leukemia. It was extremely hard for the family to handle. The only one to stay strong was Tracey herself. It was amazing on how much life was still generating throughout her body. Nothing could ever break her spirit. Some days we even forgot she was sick. What I loved most about her though was the extreme amount of thoughtfulness that she continuously displayed for the world.”

Brett stopped for a moment, wiped his stray tears away and then took a swig of beer before finding his footing in his story. 

“For a 6 year old, I always thought that was something special. My sister loved wishing on the stars but Instead of wishing for toys for herself, she always wished for others. Most times, instead of toys, she would wish for others to just be warm and happy.”

“That is something pretty special, man. ” I tried to hide my own tears that began to form but at this point it probably didn’t matter. My heart was already being lifted higher than it had ever been. 

“What’s even more special is that when she became sick, that never changed.”

Brett took another drink and tried to force a smile through his saddened composure. This story was taking a toll on us both. 

“When she was finally made to stay in the hospital for her last days, she still insisted on taking time for the stars. Even when she became too weak to go to them herself, She insisted I carry her and lay her upon the window. Every night I did, and every night, she never spoke once of herself. Never once did she wish she was better or that she could live longer. She wished for the world’s happiness, her family’s happiness, all before she ever uttered words about herself.”

How a little kid could possess such a strong aversion to self preservation is beyond my understanding. How any person could never stop, just once, to think of themselves is unbelievable. 

“We knew when her last night had come. We could all tell how quickly she had deteriorated and there was nothing left to be done. Barely breathing and barely holding her eyes open, she asked me once again to take her to the window.”

Brett’s words were becoming shaky and hard to understand through the tears but I just leaned forward and listened harder. 

“After she made her wishes for the night, she looked at me with tears in her eyes and said ‘Who will wish for them when I’m gone Brett? Who will make sure everyone is okay?’. I couldn’t hide the shock that sprung across my face after she spoke those words. Her last moments and that’s what she chooses to say? I never loved that girl as much as I did in that moment. I would never want to let that little girl down, so I told her I would. I promised her I would continue to make her wishes whenever I saw the stars. The same exact way she did.”

With that, my asshole status just went through the roof. I was such a prick before, I couldn’t even stand it. I stared at Brett and then just watched him crumble. I couldn’t help but scoot closer and offer any support that I could. The second I was closer he latched on to my arm and cried on my shoulder. 

“I’ll never understand why Mikey. Why that little girl, so young, was taken from this world. This world is slowly dying without people that hold the kind of compassion that she did and yet… she’s gone. The world decided to expel one of the rarest and truest souls that ever existed. No matter how much time passes, I will never get over it.”

I continued to offer my support and allowed Brett to cry as much as he needed. I patted his back and tried to keep my own tears at bay. 

“I don’t understand either. It’s not fair at all. Even more so that it was your sister. I’m so sorry man.”

We both sat there and pondered life’s shitty decisions until we kind of went back into the rhythm of the game on TV. 
It was best that way. Fading out a conversation that intense and full of emotion was not an easy feat. I’m not even sure that conversation will ever fade out inside of my head though. 

When it came down to it, I really couldn’t understand it. It was an enigma that apparently only the universe was meant to know. It better had a damn good reason too. No one, especially someone that precious, deserves to be snuffed out before their lives had even began. She could have changed the world. 

I know she changed mine

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Letting Go

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“When are you going to stop looking at your phone every 5 minutes?” Avery glared at me from across the dinner table and spoke with an iced tone.
“Ave, leave your sister alone and finish your food.” My mother snapped at my younger sister for what was probably the fifth time today. Avery was only 11 to my 17 years of age and she just didn’t understand what I felt right now. I didn’t even understand what I was feeling right now.
“Its okay mom. Shes right. When am I going to stop staring at it? When will I realize that what i keep hoping for, is an impossibility. When mom?” My eyes started to burn and I could feel a few tears pushing their way through. I didn’t have many left after this past month but it always seemed like there were at least enough to show the world my obvious pain.
“Ally baby, it will happen in your own time. Its not easy when someone that was so much a part of your life disappears from it.”
“Of course I know that, but this is different. Its my fault that we aren’t together right now. Its because I wasn’t there, that my once best friend, no longer calls me. I will never see his face again or kiss his lips. I loved him and now he’s gone.” I stood up from the table and ran to my bedroom like a little kid. Tears pouring down my cheeks profusely. 
     I slammed my bedroom door shut behind me and just threw myself onto the bed with my face in the pillows. I knew no one would come talk to me for the rest of the evening. This isn’t the first time this scene has played out but I just couldn’t make it stop. 
     I wanted to just lay there and cry myself to sleep but at the same time, I was afraid to close my eyes. Every time I did, I saw him. Mark’s deep brown eyes staring into mine. Ever since I lost him, thats all Ive seen. Every memory we’ve had, every word spoken, and that final day just replays repeatedly in my head like a nightmare. 
     My eyes closed involuntarily and I was fast asleep in no time, despite my fears.
     There he was. Lounging in the Layzboy recliner, in my living room, playing the XBOX. It was the cutest sight. To see how intense he was with just a video game. How enthralled he could become. Even though he was obviously preoccupied, he still could always feel my presence. The second I walked into the room he paused his game and turned to look at me. It always amazed me how he did that and that he even would. 
“Hey, baby. Ready to snuggle?” He did a half grin and then sat the controller down on the floor and put his                right hand out for me to take it. I took his hand and then curled up on top of him. I laid upon his chest for a good 10 minutes before either of us spoke. It was a small slice of heaven that turned to hell in a matter of seconds.
“Are you excited for your 18th birthday?” I had been planning a surprise party for him and the closer it got, the more excited i became. I couldn’t contain my thoughts regarding it. Today was Thursday and his birthday and party were on Saturday. I only hoped that he would be as happy about the party and his birthday as I was.
“Eh. Mildly.” He leaned down and kissed my forehead.
“What do you mean mildly? You should be super excited.”
“After dealing with the family drama at Christmas, I’m just not looking for the drama at my birthday. Its inevitable though. Ive be grounded.”
My heart skipped a beat slightly “grounded? when? why?”
Mark sighed and then started to rub my side. “I know we talked about spending my birthday together but my mother is making me stay in the house this weekend for family festivities. My sister couldn’t make it for Christmas but is coming up tomorrow instead. I need to be there. I’m sorry baby. I hope this doesn’t ruin anything. We can celebrate next weekend.”
     My mind was frantically searching for something to say. It wasn’t his fault but i was hurt. I was angry. I stood up in front of him in tears already.
“Baby whats wrong? Don’t be mad.” He started to get up out of the chair and reach for me but i swiftly pulled away.
“I cant help it Mark. I am mad. You promised me.” I couldn’t control the tears or the words that started to spew. I was acting like a child. I knew it but I couldn’t stop. “I did so much Mark. You have no idea what Ive gone through to make Saturday special and you cant even fucking be there!” 
“Its okay, calm down. We’ll fix this some how. Whatever you had planned we can still do it but another time.”
“Its not okay and this cant be fixed. I need you to tell me you will be with me Saturday.”
     The moment I said those words, I knew what his response would be. I could see it in his eyes the moment he heard them. He didn’t even have to speak. I turned away from him and walked in the kitchen. He followed behind me trying to grab a hold of my arm.
“Please don’t walk away. How are you going to act like this? This isn’t what I had planned, it just happened. It was a last minute thing with my sister. I just found out last-night. You know I would be with you if i could. I love you Allison.”
“If you loved me, you’d be with me anyway.”
He backed away from me after I said that. The first time he actually said he loved me and I responded with that. I don’t blame him but I also didn’t care.
“You’re really going there? I tell you I love you and you don’t believe me because I choose to spend time with family, that I never see, over spending it with you. My sister goes home Sunday and you’re still here. Please tell me how this is fair?”
“Because your sister is bitch who has never been there for you. She has constantly put you down and caused problems and you don’t need to be around that negativity on your birthday. I planned so much Mark. I rented out a place that I could only get for this weekend, I had your best friend flying in to be here for you. There was so much that cant just be switched to another weekend. Its all ruined because your sister decides to drop in for her once a year visit.”
     Mark just looked at me in stunned silence. I knew he was trying to decide rather or not he was going to keep talking to smooth things over or if he just wanted to walk out. I wouldn’t even give him the chance to figure that out. 
“Why don’t you go home and get things ready for your sister tomorrow. I have a lot of phone calls to make for cancellations. You sure as hell better enjoy this weekend since you are putting her before me. I don’t want to hear otherwise. Call me when she’s gone.” I turned and just walked away. Leaving him standing there in the kitchen. I went in the basement to fold some laundry, half expecting him to follow me and apologize. Five minutes went by and then I heard the front door slam. He left things as they were which left me with tears of anger and sadness.

     I checked my phone on and off the rest of the night and all day Friday. I was hoping he would call despite our argument. The fact that he didn’t call, found a way to upset me more. I had no right to be upset though. About any of it. My pride turned me into a monster that destroyed my relationship without any qualms. I wanted to fix everything but I didn’t know how. The first step that I took was to get over myself and call to apologize. Of course though, he didn’t answer. I should have left a message but I didn’t. He was obviously ignoring me on purpose which caused the monster to grow into an even more fierce being.
     I put my phone on silent Friday evening and vowed to leave it be until Sunday, at the very least. I was even going to refuse to attempt in calling on his birthday. I went to bed around 10, angry and bitter Friday night. 
     I open my eyes to find Avery standing over my bed with a frightful look on her face. She put her hand on my face gently. “Its getting worse Ally. The screaming keeps getting louder.”
     I looked over at the alarm clock and saw that it read 1:24. Its always 1:24. Every night, I wake up screaming to a voice inside of my head yelling for me to get up. It scared me shitless but I didn’t know how to make it stop. I knew it was my guilt trying to push its way through. It woke me up every night at the exact time that Mark tried to call me that Friday night. He had needed me but my pride shut him out. All I had left was a voice mail.
     I leaned over to the nightstand and grabbed my phone as Avery walked back out of my room. I didn’t have the nerve to delete the only piece i had left of Mark. His voice remained on my phone, and every night that i was awoken, i listened to it. The way i should have listened that night.
     Mark was in tears on the other line. I could hear the pain in his voice. “Ally, I’m sorry. You were right. I should have just told my family to fuck off this weekend. I had a huge argument with my sister, and then my mother, and just… a lot happened baby. I really need you right now. I’m driving across the Winters Run Bridge right now and I just want to turn right into it. I need your voice to tell me not to. I need you bring me back baby. I love you…”
     The phone clicked and the call was over. The last words I had of him. I never knew that he had felt bad enough about his family to say those things. I always knew there were a lot of problems but he had never talked suicide before. Even with that voice-mail, I still have a hard time believing it. His actions though, made me believe. Made me believe in his pain that I knew nothing about. Made me believe that I was the reason this happened. I could have saved him if i wouldn’t have been stubborn enough to shut my phone off. If we wouldn’t have had our argument maybe these circumstances wouldn’t even have occurred. I tried not to blame myself but how could i not? 
     It had been about a month and I was still waking up to the voices. Even on the nights that I have tried to stay up past the dreaded 1:24, I would wake at 6 instead. The time my mother came in to tell me that Marks car had gone over a bridge. He was gone now and my subconscious was continually making sure that I remembered why. I never even went to his funeral because i had locked myself in my room for days. I couldn’t get over the last things i said to him. I never even told him how much i loved him too. 
     I deserved this. Every bit of the torture i endured in the night. He also deserved to know that. To know it all. 
     I don’t know what came over me but i had to leave. I needed air. I grabbed my coat and keys and jumped in my car. I didn’t care where i went, I just drove. I should have figured that if my subconscious was running things that i would end up here. Angel Hill Cemetery. Ive avoided this place since day one and yet now, here i was. I didn’t know where Mark was buried but I just walked through the grave stones and somehow manged to find his name. 
     My heart stilled at the sight of his name printed on the cold gray stone. For a moment i wasn’t even sure it would start up again. My legs became uncontrollably weak and i just fell to my knees into the dew covered grass and sobbed. 
“I’m so sorry baby. You shouldn’t be here. This shouldn’t have happened. None of it should have happened. I love you. I should have told you that the moment you said it to me. I’m such an idiot to have let a silly thing such as pride get in the way. I had no idea that this could have been a possible outcome. I’m not ready to let you go. I cant let you go. Please come back to me..” I was sobbing to the point that i couldn’t even see any longer. i was hurting so bad and I just wish he could hear me. To know how badly i felt. How wrong I was. I would take it all back if I could. 
     I lay there sobbing on top of his grave for probably hours. It was the closest I had felt to him since I lost him and I never wanted to leave. I never wanted to let go of any part of him again but I knew I couldn’t continue to live like this either. I wanted to take my own life to be with him. It was only right. 
     I eventually passed out from all of the sobbing and woke to the sun rising into the sky. I picked myself up and drove home, knowing what it was I needed to do. 
     I locked myself in my room and took what I had left of the Vicoprophen from my back injury a few months ago. I was never a fan of pain killers but I had a deep pain that I could not recover from on my own, or at all. I curled up in bed holding onto my extra pillow as i felt the pills kick in and send me off to sleep.

“What did you do Ally?”
     I heard his sweet voice and I knew I had to be in heaven. At least I was hoping I was there by his side. “Mark?”

I turned my head around swiftly trying to find the mouth that spoke those words. All I could see was a white emptiness surrounding me.
“What did you do Ally?”
“Mark please. I need to see you”  I started to see a faint shadow appear in front of me and I felt as if I lost all control of myself. All muscle function fled from me.
     The shadow knelt down to grab my hand and I could finally, lightly, make out his face “Ally baby, why?”
“Mark. Oh my god.” I threw my arms around his neck and held him tighter than anything ever before. “Its really you.”
“Allison, why?”
“I’m so sorry Mark. Its all my fault. None of this should have happened. I love you so much and I wasn’t there for you. I did this. To both of us.” I felt his hand come up to cheek to wipe away a tear. I had never felt anything quite so soft and gentle.
“Baby, its not your fault. Look at me…” He grabbed my chin and forced my eyes to his “Its my fault. It was never your job to save me even though I know you would have tried. I was in a bad place for a long time but I kept everything inside because I didn’t want to bring you down. You were the only thing that made me happy and I couldn’t stand  it if I made you worry about me. If I would have been open about what was going on with my emotions then maybe I could have gotten help sooner. It was my choice in a moment of weakness.”
“But our fight Mark. I shouldn’t have..” He put his finger to my lips to make me stop talking.
“Yes, we had a stupid argument. It happens. However, it had no bearings on what I was feeling that night.”
“I never got to tell you how I loved you.”
“Aww baby, I already knew. You didn’t have to say it for me to see it. I could see it in the way you cared for me. Its okay. Its time for you to let it go.”

  fade away but I could still hear the voice in my head “Get up Ally. Get up!”
     My eyes fluttered open and I could see bright white walls and hear a beeping over to my right. I then heard a frantic scream from Avery yelling for mom. The next thing I knew, I had arms around me and kisses on my face.
“Don t you ever do something like that again. Oh my god Ally, we thought we lost you. When you didn’t answer and the door was locked I called the cops in a panic. I am so happy I did because they said if it were any longer…. I, I’m just so happy you’re okay.”
     As my mom continued to hug me I remembered what I had did, and where I must have been. I also remembered Mark. For the first time though, I smiled when I thought of his face. I wish I wouldn’t have had to put my family through this to get that feeling but I finally felt as if I could let go of what happened. I will always miss him and Ill never forget. 
     That night, I slept until the sun rose the next morning. The morning that marked a new beginning.

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Heart for Heart

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 Everywhere I look, I see hearts. Red hearts, pink hearts, damn near every color of the rainbow hearts, and I have about had it. The only heart that matters to me right now is the one that’s broken to pieces and bleeding within my chest. Even that heart, I wish I could forget. I wish I could rip it directly out of my chest cavity and either find a way to mend the broken pieces or finish the job by throwing it in a blender and setting it to purée. At this point, I’m leaning more towards the purée option because I doubt there is anything in this world that could fix the damage done, or the pain that I feel. I’d rather destroy all that is left of myself before I let my heart beat, ache, or break again over Grant. 

Maybe I should look at things differently though. Maybe it should be Grants heart that I decide to rip from his chest. Ground it into a liquid form and then slowly force feed it back down his throat. Just envisioning that kind of makes my heart thump with enthusiasm instead of the pain it’s been forced to feel. 

So I guess that’s the answer to this silly holiday this year. It won’t be flowers and chocolates, or stuffed animals and colored candied hearts that make my own heart flutter with passion. It’ll be Grants heart, within my hands, taking its last beat that will bring me pleasure. To mend my own heart, I’ll need to use his. This valentine’s day I’ll be the one to create the butterflies within my own stomach, to fulfill that longing ache in my chest. There is nothing sweeter than delivering some much overdue revenge.

“Excuse me?”

I barely heard the faint voice coming from in front of me but it was enough to bring me back to the here and now. I looked down at the counter where the customer had sat her belongings that she wished to purchase. Among them, of course, were cards declaring love and heart shaped odds and ends. It was enough to make me want to vomit right on top of them.

It was always a happy experience for me working at Hallmark in my spare time. The holidays brought me joy. Watching people come in with smiles on their faces, happy to be purchasing objects for their loved ones. It provided me with a sense of elation that I don’t think I would have felt without seeing the love within everyone’s souls first hand. I no longer felt that.

Just something else Grant has taken from me. Now seeing the smiles on their faces just makes me want to carry out my venomous ideas on them as well. I could only hope that once the source of my pain was eradicated I would be myself once again. Someone who wasn’t filled to the brim with anger and animosity. Someone who used to love the people of the world instead of wanting to murder them all in cold blood. I could only hope. Until I made something happen I was forced to allow the world to see a face that was no longer exhibiting an ounce of truth.

“Are you ready to check out miss?”

“Yes.”

“Did you find everything alright?”

“Yes, thank you.”

I scanned each product and placed it into a bag, all while keeping my fake smile on my face and my vomit from coming forth. She swiped her card and I handed over her holiday oriented purchases.
“Have a nice day” Even though what I really wanted was for her to have the furthest from that. I was becoming such a misanthrope and soon it would start to show.

I managed to fight my way through the remainder of the day and decided it was time for me to decide just exactly what I was going to do with Grant. It was time that he paid for his indiscretions. I could no longer live with the pains that he had created.

I made my way back to my dorm room on campus. My roommate would still be in class so I would have some extra time to figure everything out. I don’t know if I’ve seen too many movies or read too many books but I had a plethora of ideas floating around in my head. My anger did not know any bounds and my imagination was beginning to run wild. I knew if I was going to do this that I should be smart about it and think everything through. The more I thought though, it seemed that my biggest concern was on how I would find a way to be alone with Grant.
I hardly looked in Grants direction any more, yet alone talk to him. He’s going to know something is up if I attempt to do so now, I had to figure something out or everything would just fall apart.

Hours went by before I even had any suitable ideas for luring floating around in my head. Its not that I was having second thoughts about my abrasive decision but I had to go over every single possibility to make sure it was done right. The last thing I wanted was to end up in jail just for getting the justice I deserved. Plus, ridding the world of Grant would be more of a civic duty. No one else needed to fall victim to his debauchery. I didn’t realize that I was capable of such inhuman qualities. I guess that when the devil decides to touch your heart, it’s not easy to keep him from taking full control. I have definitely proved that. I have welcomed the devil and his demons completely in with welcome arms. I have given them a permanent home to reside in. One filled with plenty of pain to feed upon to fuel the demons dark desires.

I was staring up at the ceiling when the final plans flashed through my mind. The ideas were there and it was finally time to turn them into a reality. My plan had boarded insanity, for the longer I thought about what I wanted to do, the less I thought about being caught. Eventually it came down to pleasing the demons within me, anyway possible. If that landed me in jail or dead in the end, I no longer even cared. My mission relied solely upon a gruesome revenge under any and all circumstances. My hunger for self-preservation had died the moment I allowed the devil full access.
I decided that the only way to get Grant anywhere alone, I would have to first find out if he already had plans set for Valentine’s Day and with whom. Two days to go and I felt like I had more than enough work cut out for me. I no longer spoke to anyone within Grants circle so I wasn’t entirely sure on how I was going to accomplish that. I would though. I would find a way to make it all happen.

******

Valentine’s Day arose, and at 5pm I was standing in front Grants room ready to start. I was wearing a blond wig that I had left over from Halloween and a shit load of makeup smeared across my face. I wanted to resemble Grants current flavor of the week as much as possible to cover my tracks and to ensure he would open his door. Grant had a single room so worrying about roommates wasn’t a problem. What was a problem, was the short amount of time I had allowed myself to finish everything. With the schedule that bastard led, I had no choice but to work around what I was given.
I stood for another second and then decided it would be best if I could just sneak up on him. I had a syringe filled of Suxamethonium waiting in my bag that I slowly began to pull out. Once I had the syringe in prime position, I began to turn the knob to his room, praying it was unlocked. It was.

I scanned the room for any signs of Grant but quickly realized the room was empty. I stood still for a moment and could faintly hear the sound of running water. Perfect actually. Grant was taking a shower. I crept in the bathroom and slowly opened the shower door without him noticing a thing. Grant had no idea that this was going to be his last moments.

I jabbed the syringe into his back and watched his body as it dropped to the floor. His eyes were still open and I knew he would still be aware of everything that was going on even though he couldn’t move a muscle. Somehow that made it even more appealing.
Maybe I took the easy way out by paralyzing Grant first but seriously, there was no way I could have fought him off without it. He didn’t deserve a chance to fight back anyway because that’s something he never even gave me.
Grant and I dated for 6 months. We were very serious in had declared our love for one another but had yet to consummate the relationship. I had a horrid past to overcome that he said he respected and loved me enough to give me whatever time I needed. I once thought that was the sweetest most caring thing in the world. Until Christmas when all of his Belligerent lies blew up in his face.
After giving me a gift with another’s initials upon it, Grant confessed to juggling multiple girls. Girls I even knew. Things had become heated. I was broken but I also knew that we were done. I turned to leave him but he did not allow it.
“I didn’t just waste 6 months of my time and mounds of money just for you to walk out on me.”
He grabbed my arm, spun me around, and then threw me against the wall. My head hit the molding that surrounded the door hard enough to cause blood to form and dizziness to occur. I was so close to falling unconscious due to the impact. Every day I wish I would have. Instead, I’m stuck with the memories of being immobile and unresponsive underneath of Grants body. He got what he wanted and then all I remember after was blackness. I passed out shortly after he had finished. Not only had he broken my heart that night but he broke my spirit. I loved him and he treated me like I was nothing. Regarded me as if I were his little whore he could control.
I awoke the following morning and immediately went to the police. The bastard was slicker and smarter than I would have imagined. He had cleaned everything after I had passed out. The destruction, the blood, the cum. There was no trace that anything had occurred except for a minor scrap that was left on my scalp. Not enough to prove a thing. Grant even managed to create an air tight alibi leaving me to even begin second guessing myself.
I knew what had happened and there was no one who believed me. What made everything worse was that when I looked at him I still felt a small pang in my chest. Just a sliver of love that was left over from what I had once felt for him. He killed every part of me that night. Destroyed every ventricle of my heart. It was joyous to know that the time was now for me to return the favor.
I stared into his eyes for a moment before I reached back in my bag for the cleaver I had brought. The cleaver felt unbelievable within my grasp. It felt like it was always meant to be there. That definitely did not bode well for my psyche. I could tell that the moment I decided to do this, there would be no turning back. My soul, what was left of it, would be lost with the rest.

   I chuckled softly to myself. I no longer controlled that choice and it no longer mattered to me either. I had a gleam in my eye and a smile on face. The pain within my heart already began to lift the second I allowed the tip of the clever to touch his chest. I never imagined I could feel such a rush of exhilaration just surge throughout my body. I knew at that moment there was no doubt in having to do this.

In one swift moment, I no longer saw the cleaver. It was now completely embedded within that bastard’s chest. I cut just enough space to fit my hand up under the rib cage. Enough room to yank his heart right from his chest. I didn’t even flinch, I didn’t even care. I cried tears of joy when I saw Grants heart emerge within the palm of my hand, still finishing its last beat. I then laid it on the floor and stabbed the clever through the middle of it. My pain dissipated completely at that moment and was now being emulated by the scene that sat before me. Best Valentine’s Day gift ever.

At that moment, I didn’t care what happened to me anymore. If I was caught and I had to spend the rest of my life in jail for this, then that would be okay. Even whilst behind a jail cell they would never be able to take the freedom away from me that I just gave myself. No one or no thing will ever be able to accomplish that again. The demons I have awoken will now make sure of that.

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Guessing Games

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“If you can guess what I have in my pocket you can have it.”

I scoffed, “Why would I want what’s in your pocket anyway? It’s probably just trash”

“Ehh, wrong. Not trash. Care for another guess?”

I stared at him in disbelief and shook my head “That wasn’t even a guess Lucas. It was a statement clarifying why I wasn’t playing your stupid game. ”

“Well it’s not trash so you have no reason not to play. So come on, just take a guess.”

“I swear Luke, some days you are just so annoying. Fine…. your wallet. ”

“Nope.” 

I threw my hands on my hips and glared at him. “What do you mean no? I can see your wallet bulging out of your back pocket. So hand it over. Rules are rules,” I started grabbing for his back pocket but he was trying to keep me at arms length. 

“Whoa now, I wasn’t talking about that pocket.” 

“You never designated a specific pocket. Any pocket is fair game. Better hand it over Bucko.”

“Ugh, fine. It’s not like there’s anything in it anyway. You know I don’t carry money.”

He shook his head and pulled his wallet out to give me. 

“A quick laugh at your driver’s license picture would cheer me up though,” I chuckled and snatched his wallet quickly before he changed his mind. 

“I bet you just find that hilarious. I’m glad I can entertain you with my poor photogenic qualities. ”

“As long as it makes you happy dear. Are we done playing now or will you continue to keep me guessing?”

“Why are you always so damn difficult Lacey?”

“I don’t call that difficult, I call it practical. It’s a waste of time. If you wanted me to have something I shouldn’t have to guess for it.”

“How old are you again Lace? I swear all of the fun has been sucked out of you ever since…” He stopped mid sentence, thinking better of it, but it was already too late. 

“Go ahead. You can say it. Ever since I found out about my mother. You’re right too, I just can’t help it. It’s always in the back of my head that I will no doubt turn into exactly what she is. It’s always going to be there Luke but you don’t have to deal with it too. Maybe it’s good that we know about her now so that you have your chance to get out while you can. ”

“Lacey, hush. This was obviously the wrong way to go about things. I guess it’s what I get for trying to think outside of the box.” Lucas dropped to one knee and then reached for my hand. “I know what you found out bothered you. I know that you are afraid. But I’m not. You are not her and you never will be. I have absolute faith in the person that you are and in what you strive to be. I want to be with you despite your fears because I know it’s not you.”

“But what if it is me.”

“Baby, it’s not. But, if something were to happen I would still stand by your side. Nothing would make me run from you. I want you forever, in spite of all that I already know. Your flaws and your perfections. I love you no matter what and I would love to spend the rest of my life proving that to you,” He reached for his pocket to pull out a small box. He opened it and tears immediately fled from my eyes. At the same time, I also started laughing, and I couldn’t stop. Lucas just stared at me in shock. He was hurt that I was laughing. I needed him to understand why. 

I knelt down with him and took both of his hands. “I don’t mean to laugh but I was just thinking about what I now know was a previous proposal. I feel like an idiot for not playing along.”

“I feel like an idiot for trying to be cryptic. This way was better. So Lacey, now that you know what was in my pocket, would you like to wear it?”

I put my arms around his neck and whispered “yes” into his ear. “On one condition though.” He pushed me back so he could see my face and then raised an eyebrow to get me to continue. “No more guessing games, alright?”

He chuckled And pulled me in for a hug. “Done.”

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Center Of My Universe

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“You finally killed me”

“I killed you? Really? You’re standing in front of me looking pretty alive to my eyes”

“You would say that. Just because someone is physically in front of you doesn’t mean their soul is present.”

“So the fact that you are a soulless bitch is my fault how?”

“Dammit Jake, you just don’t get it. You never did.”

“Then why put up with something that bothers you so?”

He was right on so many levels. Why do I continue to fight over the little things that bother me? Why not just walk away so those things are no longer there? The answer to that is why I’m still here. Some days I feel dead inside but the answer has always been enough to hold onto hope that the dead could once again rise. 

“Because I love you. I fucking love you. Despite every little thing that you have done or not done, to hurt my heart, it still loves you. I still fight because you say you reciprocate that love. Maybe this makes me the idiot here but I believe if that’s true, than you would want to fix the parts that are harming me. I hold onto hope that you would want to help mend the pieces you’ve had a hand in destroying.” A tear rolled down my cheek even though I tried to reel it back in. My emotions were an uncontrollable wreck. “I can ask you to change but it’s useless unless you actually want to. You should want to though. You should want us to be happy.”

“I do want us to be happy. I want you to be happy because I do love you. Leah baby… We aren’t happy. Love does not create happiness. We’ve had our problems. The same ones repeatedly. I’ve tried to change. I’ve tried to give you everything you’ve wanted but I can’t make it last. I am but one person and I can only do so much. You have always been the center of my universe but baby, you aren’t the entire thing. If you could be, I’d make it so, but the universe is filled with other obstacles. Our obstacles are different from each other so it’s hard to imagine what we both go through separately but I know it’s not the same.”

Jake was trying to hold back his own tears as he reached for the side of my face. “If we both cannot change at the same time, for each other, than maybe our love shouldn’t be the only answer.”

“What are you saying?”

“I’m saying that we aren’t happy. You are never satisfied with what I can offer you even though I’m trying my hardest. You deserve to be happy and if that means cutting me out of your life for someone else that has the ability to give you what I can’t then that’s what should happen.”

“So you’re done fighting?”
“That’s the thing Leah, we shouldn’t have to. Not like this. I don’t want to let you go but what we’ve been doing lately is just going in circles. Accomplishing nothing but hurting each other.”

“You know that I would rather continue to hurt daily than to lose you. ”

“I know you would. That’s why we are still here like this. That’s not healthy. Like you said, it’s killed you. I want you to live, I want to bring you back. I just don’t think I can. You’re putting too much into me and nothing into yourself.”

“I want it to be you,” Leah breathed.

“Wanting and needing are so very different things. I want it to be me too, but maybe it shouldn’t be.”

I collapsed to the ground in defeat. I didn’t know what to do anymore. He was right. He’s always been right. We both had our issues but I always expected him to change without changing myself. I expected him to be my only savior and relied on him to stay breathing. What I should have been doing was saving myself. Putting time and energy in other things that mattered like he would do. I made jake my everything, my entire universe instead of just the center. Whenever he left me for his obstacles, I was left with nothing. My nothing was what has killed me. Not him.

“You’re right Jake, it shouldn’t.” I sighed loudly and looked up into his eyes. “I hate that it takes arguments like this one for me to see what’s really going on around me. It’s not just you. Most of it is me. I’ve been living for you and only you and have been expecting you to do the same. It’s the wrong thing to be doing on my part. I’ve been too afraid of losing you that I’ve been holding on too tight. I’ve always been and all or nothing type of person. It seems that has done nothing but isolate me. I don’t want us to go our separate ways. I want to fix this. Fix me. The thing is, I don’t want you to feel like you have to take responsibility for it all.”

“Okay… What do you want?”

“I want your help. I want to do it together. I need to be able to see outside of you. I don’t want the only way to be able to do that is for you not to be there though. So I want your help if you are willing to keep fighting with me. I’m not willing to let you go so I hope you are willing to stay.”

“What keeps this from happening all over again? From us falling right back into the same routines of not giving each other enough or giving each other too much?” He asked.

“Nothing does I guess. There is no such thing as a guarantee in a relationship. Things happen. Emotions get in the way. The difference is that we are both aware of the issue. If we both try to be patient with one another and open to our mistakes and learning curves then maybe it will make things easier. Make us happier to know that we are trying for each other. I never want to stop trying.”

“Okay. We try. We fight. I will do what I can to continue to help you and us. You really need to cut me some slack though.”

“I know. I’m so sorry for all of this. You’ve been my whole universe instead of my stabilized center. I’ve ignored everything else when I shouldn’t have. Help me change that. Make me see that I won’t lose you by letting other things in and accepting that you already do.”

“Baby I’ll do my best but most of it will be a fight you need have within yourself. I’ll be here though. You aren’t losing me. No matter what obstacles occur, the fact that you are my center will never change.”

He reached down for my hand and pulled me up to his chest. In his arms once again, I knew that this was right. I would fight a million times over to continue to feel this, right here, for the rest of my life. Even if it meant fighting an internal battle daily. I at least knew I wouldn’t be alone and all I had to do was remember that.

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