The Card – Rickson Finale

Rickson stared at the damn screen for at least twenty minutes before he shook his fucking head and decided to play with whatever fucking idiot was running this con. He typed, well, henpecked more than anything, and when he was done he was as proud of himself as he ever had been.

MY DEMAND IS FOR THE CITY OF LONDON TO HAVE NO FUCKING CRIME FOR THE NEXT 30 DAYS. NOTHING ILLEGAL AT ALL.

He hit send without thinking about it and went about the real work of the day without giving what he had typed another thought. However, had he been even vaguely observant he would have noticed that the phone had buzzed mere seconds after he had typed up the email and hit send. It was a single line, a single word.

APPROVED

——–

Three weeks later and Rickson was sitting on the porch of his house. There was no noise, no cars going back and forth, absolutely nothing but a light breeze high up in the trees that he ignored because it seemed as fake as the rest of this thing.

Three weeks and there hadn’t been…anything.

Not a mugging, a rape, a murder. Not even a speeding ticket was given in the entire City of London proper. The Mayor was talking of reallocating the police force to the outer parts of the country, where there had been a dramatic rise in crime in recent weeks with as many as 65 murders in Oxford alone. The world was going mad, but London was quiet, serene. People walked instead of taking cars, they smiled at each other and all but ignored The Tube, relishing the fact that they could safely walk anywhere they wanted to and not be molested by anything.

Mayor Khan had as much as got up in front of the city and guaranteed them that the police force was such a threat to the criminal element they had tucked their tails between their legs and they had run away to leave the righteous and beauty of London be as was it’s historic due.

Yeah, he really said that.

Rickson knew that wasn’t true. he knew the truth. He couldn’t believe it, but he knew the truth. That damn card was nowhere to be fucking found anywhere. he knew he had left the damn thing on the desk and someone had come by and bloody nicked the thing. After he says no crime there is a theft. Bullshit promises.

What he wanted to know. What he NEEDED to know and what kept him up for hour after hour the last few days is what would happen when the month was over and the crime returned. The police dispersed over half the damn country, there was going to be a…he couldn’t even think about it without going half-mad from the guilt of a thing he had thought a damn lark.

Nodding his head he walked back into the humble house he had inherited from his mum and dad when they passed a few years ago. He had never been married or even really dated. The job had been his life for more years than he was comfortable admitting and he knew, HE KNEW, that what was to come was directly his fault.

He sighed and stepped up onto the chair in the kitchen. It was a hickory chair his dad had bought when they had a holiday in America. It gave him a smile as he wrapped the bedsheet around his neck and tied it off nice and tight so that he wouldn’t fall out of it when he inevitably started to kick in a few moments. He had left a note on the table and that should be enough.

With a final sigh, he simply tilted the chair and fell into his noose, his neck breaking perfectly at the C2 vertebrae and killing him instantly. He didn’t kick at all it turned out.

_____

The letter was in some kids’ hand now, he had heard the old man next door make a lot of noise and had peaked in just as he had hung himself.

He walked in just as free as you please and loaded up his pockets with anything he thought might fetch a price later and pocketed the letter without reading it just in case it had some account number in it he could use.

There were no words on the paper when he opened it though, just a shiny black card with a .onion address on it and nothing else.

Music Soothes The Savage In Us, Releases The Primitive, Cages The Demons And Is The Memory We Can Always Count On

It is ironic what can make your heart bleed, isn’t it? For some people it is things that bring happiness and joy, for others, it is that which devastates and brings agony. Most of us are a combination of these things, however. For me, it is music. Music is that which does both for me. I have songs for virtually every mood I am in and the mood that I want to be in. What the music is isn’t so important to this as knowing there is a medium that conveys, nearly perfectly, everything you feel in life. Not everything, no, but enough to call it a majority by a landslide.

The plurality of the available options is staggering, even from the most modern artists. The farther back in time one goes the more exponential the number of things that can be conveyed. Or, and this is a thing that I think is wonderful beyond words, two people can listen to the same song and have diametrically opposite feelings towards it. You can hear me laughing over your weeping and you can see my sobs even as your skin crawls in ecstasy.

Words, while directly describing the feelings from time to time, are not a necessary element. Anyone who has ever listened to Adagio for Strings as arranged by Samuel Barber and felt it the way a great many do knows precisely what this means. Or when you are listening to the bass of the 1812 Overture as the cannons fire over and over or even when you hear the synthesized bass drops of Dubstep. Words may make it easier for things to be understood, but when you feel a song in the center of your soul, you will feel it whether or not it has words or not, I promise.

Examples.

When I listen to Cry Baby by Janis Joplin, even as I type it in fact, I start to tear up because, of all the demons my mother had in her life, and they were nearly infinite, that woman had a phenomenal taste in music and she passed it to her children. Being the hippie of the family, the folk and acid jazz from the sixties were my birthright and it is one of the few things I can thank my mother for without shaking my head in pain or rolling my eyes with sarcasm. Now while every song in the ten years that were the sixties is not known to me of course, enough are that I can close my eyes and remember the scant memories of childhood that are not contaminated with the foulness of everyday life they were dispersed in.

Couples have songs that they call their own. Whether it is in a laughing way or a way that makes you nearly see their love for one another, they are foundational characteristics of the relationship. My own are near and dear to me and I will not name them, it is one of the few things I keep very safe in a very clean room in the back of my mind that I go and sit in at least once a day with my eyes closed and allow myself to remember and feel everything and anything that was Naomi. I cannot do it all day or else I would be nearly catatonic, but when I need to find respite, even for a moment when the world has told me I am a failure for the hundredth time that day, I think of that room and I crawl to it and listen to these songs and smile with a purity I do not deserve.

I did not forget the anger. Music is a very good conductor of this often misunderstood emotion. It is not good to be violent at all times nor is it healthy to be angry at all times. However there are times when you can release that anger into the world, sometimes even by putting the headphones a little tighter, turning up the music a little louder and letting all of your emotions flow as the music takes away from you the foulness that you do not need and have never deserved.

So I ask you, all of you, during this time when we are all, hopefully, distanced from one another physically to tell me your songs that are the balm for your soul if you are comfortable sharing them. Or, if you are not, then simply listen to one of them when you can and find yourself in your own clean room in your mind and heart remembering that which deserves to be remembered the very most.

The Card – Rickson

The detective bent low over the body. He had gotten the okay from the tech guys that they had all the pics they needed so, after donning a pair of nitrile gloves, he looked down at what was left of a human being at his feet.

The head had been severed and was still actively being searched for. The hands looked like they had been whacked with something over and over until they were just sacks of flesh containing bits of bone, at least what bones hadn’t already come out and were, like the head, being looked for in the flat that the deceased had been found in. There were bruises and cuts everywhere on the torso. Distinctive marks from what looked like a baseball bat crossed upward from the left hip to the right shoulder.

It was just a bad scene all around. The detective shook his head and carefully reached into the victim’s pocket and almost immediately pulled it out because he could swear he had fucking stabbed himself on something. Afraid that it had been a junkie hypodermic, he quickly, but carefully, repeated the procedure and breathed a sigh of relief when he could find nothing resembling a needle or a blade in the pockets. In fact, all that was in there was this black card.

It was shiny, like one of those cards from that game where you come up with horrible answers to things. It was glossy and mirrored the light perfectly. Despite what had happened to the previous owner of it, it was untouched by any wear or tear. Without thinking twice, he slipped the card into his interior suit coat pocket and continued with his investigation, finding it weird he hadn’t found anything in the pocket after he had just felt a sting come it. He was just happy he didn’t have to go through the tests for HIV and Hepatitis.

—–

The detective, Rickson, sat down at his desk with a fresh cup of tea and saw that the autopsy report on John Doe from the other night was on his desk. A little early for gore and horror, but it went with the job. He took a sip from the tea and opened the report. Apparently they had found a wallet on the corpse that identified as a man named Alphonse Jacobi. A work-from-home accountant for the big firms. Massive internal bleeding was the cause of death, apparently, all signs pointed to him being alive when all of the injuries were sustained, the head was removed post-mortum for reasons as of yet unknown. Those things that were missing, the head and miscellaneous bone fragments, had yet to be found and a deep search of the area surrounding the flat was being conducted even as he read this grisly report in front of him.

He stretched, his arms shooting out to both sides and bunching his jacket like always happened. When he put his arms back down he noticed a black card on his desk. A shiny, black card, a playing card? It was completely devoid of detail, at least on the side that he could see. He picked it up and flipped it over and there was an email address printed neatly on it. Eyebrow raised in curiosity Rickson logged into his computer and put the email address through the database with no luck. The domain didn’t have any websites and, without getting the tech guys involved, that was all he would be able to tell.

His questioning getting the better of him, Rickson pulled out his mobile and opened the email app and placed the email address in the To field and simply sent a message saying hello. He hit send without a second thought and put his phone down and took another sip of his tea while he turned the card over in his hand. It felt like it should mean something, it was tickling some part of his brain but he couldn’t quite place it no matter how hard he tried.

He heard his phone buzz on the table and he picked it up and looked at the screen and saw that the email had been answered:

PLEASE STATE YOUR QUERY/REQUEST/DEMAND.

Well, wasn’t this just a big pile of shit all of a sudden.

Never Go Into The Dark When You Know You Can Never Leave

I know I said storytime, but we will have to push that off a little bit and let me ramble as a panic wave washes over me. I know a few of you like the stream of consciousness stuff, and if you are one of those people you are totally in for a treat right now.

I am not panicking for any particular reason. There is no trigger to it, I think it is the Dark in the world. The Dark in the world we are all stumbling through half-blind, reaching out with hands long bereft of fingernails and bloodied by scraping against incalculably infinite walls in our struggle to find something even vaguely resembling order, freedom, health, safety, love, honor, and faith. We walk in these endless tunnels that we make for ourselves and even if we are happier than we are not, we still refuse to admit that we are in the Dark until it is so all-consuming that we are in the fetal position screaming for parents who never loved us and friends that are far away and busy with their own lives and loves.

We cry streams and rivers, lakes and oceans worth of tears that burn so very badly with shame and regret and even the faintest thoughts of hope. We cry and yet here we are, still in the Darkness that eats all things and we know that there is an ending ahead and it will NEVER be the one that you desire, want, crave and need. We weep for the future and the past and the present and it all gets wrapped up in a horrible ribbon made from blood and twine and regret.

I know that I embarrass you. I know you aren’t proud of me. I know you don’t love me, like me, want me, need me. I know all of these things and I will come and beg you to do all of those things because how can you fucking live without it? How do you fucking do it? All of you, every damn day, HOW?

There are shadows, even in the Dark there are shadows. I can see these shades that make me think those I love the most hate me, think I am worthless and a burden and, worst of all, that they don’t think of me at all in the Dark as I think of them. They do not crave the attention I do, I know this, but they never cared, not at all. It is the best of all the lies to tell the blind man he is surrounded by the wealth of nations. I am so blind right now, blind to the hope that people seem to have that I just cannot feel no matter hard I try. These shadows make me want to just say fuck it and throw it all away.

No, not death. Death terrifies me more than everything else put together. Death is the thing that will finally get me, as it gets us all, it is a thing that I have been hyperventilating about since I was seven years old and my sister and brother found me under the table in the dining room begging them to make it brighter and not let the Dark take everyone we knew. I know it is a fucked up anxiety and depressive thing. I know the medicine is supposed to make me feel better. I KNOW that there is no truth in the things I feel, but you really think that matters in the Dark of the Night in the forty-degree room when you wake up sweating and trying as hard as you can not scream until forever?

There are shapeless things that frighten me not because they are scary, but because I can tell they are not. They are different and different is scary and scary is what drives me mad and crazy and makes me write this pseudo fucking pablum you are feasting on as we speak. I will reread this in an hour and laugh at myself for being so fucking stupid as to write down the lightning flashes and plane crashes that are in my head all the time. Who wants to hear how little bear bear is terrified of the things that go bump in the Night, even if the Night is only in his head and only lasts until he hears from those that melt the Darkness away?

That is the fear you always ask me about. That is the airplanes and the crazy talk and the panic and the worry and the sleepless nights and the heart palpitations and the cold sweats. This is what is ALL. THE. TIME. in the stupid chaos that is the inside of my stupid think locker.

The Card – Introduction – Part Two

Three Weeks Earlier

There was something so very wrong about sneaking out to the pub when he should have been trying to find a way to find the money he needed to find. The pub only made him owe the bastard more money, and he knew that by the end of the night he would be sitting at the bar ten pints in laughing like an idiot and cavorting with people he hadn’t even known three hours before. He knew he was an alcoholic, but there was this very dark part of him that simply didn’t care, as long as it got a pint or five poured on it, occasionally a gin or three, it stayed quiet and let Al do what he needed to do in his everyday life.

It was made even funnier when you learned was the accounts receivable clerk for a half dozen companies. A really good one at that. Loyal and honest and true and never once had he moved a number from red to black that shouldn’t have been moved. He did almost all of his work from home, mostly because he didn’t particularly enjoy wearing pants and offices frowned on that kind of thing. When he did go to the offices down on The North Colonnade, he was a sharp dresser and made sure that all of the ducks he needed to have set were in a row and he had a swig or two from the filigreed silver flask in his breast pocket.

He walked into the pub and took a deep breath and released every ounce of stress he had in his shoulders and his mind was at peace, or at least it would be when he got a couple in him to steady the nerves and hush that annoying inner voice that always seemed to want to get in the way of his fun.

He walked up to the bar and the barkeeper, Jake, shook his head as he saw him coming and lifted his arm and pointed to the smoky and mostly obscured back room of the pub.

“You go ask Loroche if you can a drink, not a damn drop from me until you do, understand you little fuck?” Jake’s right eye was swollen nearly shut and as purple like an aubergine. Loroche must have found out he had let Al top off a few pints last time after he had said he wasn’t allowed to drink anymore. Al held up his hands in surrender and nodded vigorously to the gatekeeper of his deepest desire.

“Oi, I will mate, I am going now.” Even as he said it he was walking toward the smoke, the walk of shame he liked to say. For a man to be so much in debt after getting himself such good jobs in life. It was pathetic, and that is precisely what men like Rochelle could smell in the air in every pub in London. Desperation and need, raw and hungry want. He walked through the thick smoke, it didn’t even sting his eyes anymore he had done it so many damn times. Loroche saw him right away and smiled.

“I thought I might be seeing you today lad, come and sit down and we will have ourselves a little chat.”

He was a gigantic man, close enough to two and a half meters than not and he must have weighed almost 29 stone. It wasn’t fat though. The man was made of muscle and all he did was accidentally flex the damn things one after the other. Antoine Loroche, or just Loroche, thought his first name was stupid and he hated the word Mister with a passion. So you addressed him like the comic book villain he wanted to be or you got to see all of those muscles moving in ways you never thought they could as they came toward you. Al sat down at the chair that had been vacated as the man spoke and looked at Loroche with as close to desperation as he could, which was good because the hunger for a nip of the Creature was getting to be fierce. Damn Irish blood.

“Al, my favorite lush. We have a problem that we need to take care of. You owe me a large bit of coin and I, in turn, owe that money to others. We all have our masters lad. Now, I will give you a few hundred quid credit for the night, you deserve to drink. You don’t get me the money I am owed, which is nigh on 240 thousand euro, by the end of the month, I will go to the house where you grew up and I will kill your mother, your baby brother, your blind as a bat gran. Your wee little sister will be sold to pay off your debt and I am pretty sure I don’t need to explain what that means. Now, get your ass out of here and make sure I have my money by the first.

Al got up slowly, his palms ice-cold, his face pale from what he heard from the demon-man and he walked to the bar and sat. Jake had one ready for him and as much as he wanted to be afraid, the Creature sang to him and he drank it and five of its brothers down as quick as you please.

“Excuse me, young man, would you perhaps be able to give me a light? I cannot for the life of me remember where I but my matches and I have this delightful cigar that I wish to enjoy and I cannot do much without a light, I am sure you understand.”

Al turned to the voice and he saw, well, the most ordinary-looking man he had ever seen. From his haircut to his loafers, he was the average bloke. He smiled and pulled a pack of matches from his pants pocket and handed them to the man without a second thought.

“I have been trying to quit for months, I don’t have the matches it can’t hurt the cause right?”

The man smiled and reached into the breast pocket of the jacket he was wearing and came out with the aforementioned cigar and a black business card.

“I thank you for your kindness stranger, so for you, I will do a service in return. If you are ever in need, call the number on this card and speak the words “Delightful Occurrences Happen For Reasons No One Ever Actually Imagines.” and then you will get the help you need.

Al took the card with a smirk and was going to come back with a witty remark but all he could do now was smell the faint smell of cigar as the man and everything about it was gone.

Shaking his head he shoved the card in his pocket and raised his hand for Jake to notice.

Fucking people are strange.