Jack and the Lilac Butcher, Part II


Spokane 

Jack awoke with a sudden heart-gripping jolt; his head was aching and his esophagus was scratchy like sandpaper.  He clumsily searched for the bedside lamp switch.  He lay naked, atop the covers, merely thinking.  He finally found the light and it slowly flickered to life.  The hotel was one of the nicest Jack had ever stayed at, which was proven by the comfortable warmth of the room.  Jack lay there for another couple of minutes letting the light wash over and his eyes to adjust till he finally sat to the edge of the mattress.  He got up and made his way to the washroom where he promptly grabbed a cup of water to quench his parched throat.  He tilted the glass at an angle with a slight of his wrist to look at the etched glass and the clear, crisp water.

“Certainly looks half empty to me,” Jack chuckled.

He stared into the mirror.  He was scruffy.  His brown hair was cropped short, but his face was covered in stubble.  He was taller then most men and was firmly built.  He had been a decent boxer in the military and had kept up the habits after he was out.  It showed in the mirror, but with a suit it was difficult to tell.  His brown eyes were the color of a Greek coffee; they were darker than most and spotted with black flecks.

“Still look like shit though,” he muttered to himself as he placed his glass back onto the sink ledge.

He’d shave in the morning he thought, and at that note he sauntered back to his bed and in exhaustion collapsed into it.  His body was tired, but his mind was still whirling.  Some included the trials of the past day others were much older and much more heart wrenching.  He was analyzing, contemplating, and planning for every eventuality whether Jack wanted to or not.  He finally fell asleep early in the morning, but tossed and turned as nightmares visited him. 

The Butcher lay there contemplating.  It was late and the smell of decay clung around him like a cologne.  He hated where he lived, but it was cheap and no one ever came looking for him.  He lay in bed pondering and toying with an innumerable amount of possibilities concerning the most trivial of circumstances.  He joyously went over all of the little details from the other evening.  How warm he felt on the inside, how the air bristled against the hair on his arms, the way his heart pounded when he crossed the threshold in her room, the way her lips and hot breath felt against the palm of his hand when he held her.

He lay there blinking for several minutes grinning to himself in the darkness before he finally got up.  Stark naked and alone in his greased up little shit stain of a shack he made his way to the washroom.  Even with the windows closed he could still smell the green river as if it where running right through his room.

He grabbed a dirty glass of water and looked at it intensely before chuckling to himself, “Looks half full to me.”   The killer looked at himself in the mirror.  He was scruffy, but handsome.  Plain features, but a nice square jaw and emerald colored eyes that almost matched the river outside.  He was about six feet tall and carried himself with confidence.  Muscularly built he could have been a boxer if he had been trained right.

The structure of the sport probably would have saved him to, but he personally didn’t believe in that religious, savoir complex bullshit that seemed to hang around the aristocratic like a dust cloud of pretension.  They were always the ones to sponsor and ogle the sport in the name of ‘structure’ and teamwork.  If it wasn’t them it was the God damn military brats; the killer’s hatred for those pricks stemmed almost as deep as his hatred for wealthy women.  The list of people he loathed was long, but carefully prioritized and catalogued and even in its irony it made him happy to think about.

Before heading back to bed he looked at his reflection in the cracked, warped mirror he said, “Not half bad,” and then sleepily shuffled back to bed where he promptly shut his mind up and fell into a slumber filled with what most men would call nightmares, but what the Butcher called pleasant dreams.

7am 

“How’d ya sleep?”

“Horrible,” replied a sleep deprived Jack.

“Wanna a drink?” said Ryan.

“At seven in the morning…,” Jack hesitated and thought for a quick moment, “…nah.”

“So what will be lookin’ at first, this morning, the body? The scene? The police house?  All of the above?”

“I figure we’ll hit the morgue first and then will head on over to the crime scene.”

“Sounds good,” replied Ryan through a mouthful of muffin.

8:30am 

Jack and Ryan sauntered into the little shit-in-the-hole that Spokane called their morgue.  It was grimy, wreaked of death, and was dimly lit.  Ryan had seen ‘A Symphony of Horror’ recently and this place reminded him of Orlok’s castle in Bremen -In other words, not pleasant-.  Jack showed the receptionist their credentials and she let them pass without even a nod.

“We’d probably be able waltz in here with a fuckin’ grocery list as an ID,” Jack whispered.

Ryan snickered.  At that they reached the end of the hallway and passed through a pair of doors loosely hanging upon their hinges.  As soon as they passed the threshold they both realized that the doors where more for keeping the odor at bay and not for security.  Their nostrils where bombarded with the smell of decay and rot.  An old man by the name of Herbert skulked out the shadows to greet them.

“How are you this fine evening?” Herbert asked?

“Good, considering it’s almost 9am,” Jack replied.

Again, Ryan snickered at the sarcasm; Herbert was oblivious.

“Can we have a look at the body found in the Browne’s manor?”

“Of course, of course.”

Herbert led them through another archway; this one covered by plastic strips, and into a smaller, more foul smelling room than the last.

“Here she is.  Pretty little thing, isn’t she?”

Ryan felt tingles spike across as skin as the man spoke.  The hair on his arm was standing at attention.  Neither Jack nor Ryan replied to Herbert’s inquiry, but proceeded to take a closer look at the body.

Her face was intact, but from the throat down her body was mangled.  She was chopped and butchered beyond recognition.  Her hair was ash blonde, she was in her mid-thirties by the look of it, and according to Herbert she had been sexually assaulted post mortem.  Her skin was pulverized and it was difficult to tell what was flesh.  She had obviously been stabbed multiple times by a long blade but other than that it was hard to tell what was a wound and what wasn’t.

Ryan was getting a sick feeling in his stomach.  Between the way Herbert stood off to the side smiling, the smell, and the horrendousness of the body Ryan needed to step out for a moment.  As Jack continued to look over the body and scribble down notes upon his vellum pad Ryan stepped outside to take a breather.  Once he was outside he lit up a cigarette and glanced at the baseball card that came with the pack.  It was no Honus Wagner, but still better than those cheap caramel cards.  Jack followed suit a couple minutes later and lit up as well.

“So what do you think?” said Jack.

“I think Herbert’s a fuckin’ sicko is what I think.”

“I mean about the woman,” as Jack exhaled.

“I think who ever cut her up is a twisted son of a bitch and he should be put down.  I’ve never seen someone so tore up before.  And, to be fucked afterwards…takes a real kind of evil to do that,” Ryan said.

“I agree,” stated Jack simply, “Where do we proceed?”

“I think that we should go to the crime scene.  We should scout out for anything left behind that the locals might have overlooked.  Maybe interview a couple of the neighbors and see if anything unusual crops up.”

“Perfect I was hoping you’d say that,” Jack grinned, “I like a good feather rufflin’”

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Jack and the Lilac Butcher


Epilogue

          It was dusk.  All was quiet.  The neighborhood was coated in darkness.  It was thick.  A few lights dimly shown through the leaves of the numerous trees that dotted the hilltop.  No one would expect him, much less her.  He was alone just like always. He could see the moon.  It hung in the sky like a shy sun.  It goaded him.  It tried to show his location, but even the moon cast shadows.

          He had been here many times before.  Usually he would come in the daylight, but today was after all a special occasion.  He had killed before.  When he was young he always enjoyed capturing stray cats or dogs and ‘playing’ with them before bagging them and tossing them in the river.  He had become quite good at it actually.  First it was a simple smack to the head and then the one time he used a sharp rock and saw the first real spray of blood he knew he had to find a knife.  The next day he stole one from his father’s butcher shop.  He had never been sure if his father had known.  That night when his father back-handed him to the stone fireplace causing his head to rocket with pain and his lips to tremble with blood he had a fleeting thought that maybe his father had known about the knife, but he had never been certain.  Plus, the next hit from his father made him forget that last thought so it was a rather moot point anyhow

          The day after that he took his black-eyed self and used the knife for the first time.  He caught his ‘first’ prey behind the house and used the knife on it over and over again.  Splashing himself with blood until he became scared that he might be caught and hurriedly cleaned up and threw the remains into the river to reside with the others.

          He smiled at the thought of his childhood and shook himself to the present once more.  Behind his back his co-workers had described his smile as murderous and he smiled again at the irony.  Tonight was special.  He had hunted and killed the most dangerous game before, but he felt more alive tonight than before.  Perhaps, because it was a full moon?

          He had been waiting in the carriage house for hours waiting…waiting for the perfect moment.  The way the moon had begun to shrink away told him it was time.  It had given up.  He slowly began to creep out of the carriage house making sure he didn’t make even the slightest of a noise as he slipped out of the backdoor which he had left slightly ajar for just this moment.  He clicked it behind him and began to move between the decorative foliage as he headed toward the main house.  It was large almost manor sized.

 “The rich always have a way of living in grander don’t they?” he thought.

          He reached the maid’s entrance and opened the door without hesitation.  How sad and humorous was it that the lady of the house was the person to provide him with an easy, afterhours entrance without even knowing it? Again he chortled to himself at the irony.  He was a ghost to most.  People told him things without even realizing it or caring.

          He silently fell into the shadows of the house and moved across the kitchen to the stairs.  He crept upwards.  It seemed almost as long as he had hidden in the carriage house, but he knew it had only been a couple of seconds…a minute at most.  He had finally reached her door.  He had dreamed about this moment for several nights and he had to wait to calm down from his excitement.  He didn’t want to be careless.  He finally grasped the doorknob and turned it…first a quarter turn, then finally a full one after hearing no rustle from the other side.

          Once the door was open enough for him to crouch through he was quick and efficient.  He stood, strode across the room swiftly, slipped the knife from his sleeve –the very same he had stolen years earlier- and began to stab.  She screamed and thrashed as the blood soaked through her expensive sheets and coated his face.  She desperately tried to escape, but it was already too late.

 As she started to choke out on her own blood he paused and crouched…he whispered, “It’ll be alright.  We’re having fun, right?”

Seattle

          “Fuck,” said Ryan in pain.

          Half-heartedly Jack replied, “What?”

          “I just burned my tongue on my coffee.”

          Jack just shook his head, and continued eating his scrambled eggs and browns.  The diner was quaint and sat nestled in downtown Seattle.  Not close enough to the Sound to see the water, but close enough to hear the ships passing in and out of port delivering fresh goods to one of the more prominent harbors in the Northwest.  It was cool and crisp, with a slight drizzle in the air that glistened once combining with the reflective nature of the diner’s glass.  The drips and drops coated the glass that Jack peered out of, and in reverse the newly etched glass read, ‘Miss Victory.’

          It had been a slow week, and he honestly would have retorted a quick quip to Ryan’s pain, but he was feeling rather stoic lately and was lost in his thoughts at the moment anyhow.  Nothing interesting had crossed his desk in several months; he and Agent Ryan usually ended up splitting their time between finishing paperwork and boring guard details that usually ended with a round of thanks from some miscellaneous VIP that Jack honestly could give a shit about.

          “Where we headed this time?  Portland?  Further South to California?”

          “Nowhere actually,” Jack replied solemnly.

          “What?” Ryan said with a slight lisp because of his burnt and probably now swollen tongue.

          “Nowhere, presently.”

          “No assignment…really?”

          “Not yet.”

          “This is bullshit,” Ryan said as he gobbled up the last bites of his steak.

          “I know, I know,” Jack said solemnly, and then added “Grab your coat. We’ll head to the office and see if something has come up since yesterday.”

           They paid for their service and Ryan donned his tan trench while Jack grabbed his fedora and placed his jacket over the nook of his elbow and forearm.

          “Trolley?”

          “Yes,” Jack said, “The rain is a little heavier than usual, and like our assignments I’m feeling lazy.”

          Ryan merely smirked.  They headed on out and caught the nearest trolley without much effort and were on their way to the Seattle downtown Pinkerton office.  Within a couple of minutes they were off and briskly walking the block or two it took to reach the front doors of the Northwest branch of the Pinkerton office.  It was still drizzling, but it seems to have started to lighten with several streaks of light streaming through the clouds almost like a less colorful parade.  Standing at the door was a heavyset man of about thirty-five.  He didn’t look opposing at first glance because of his calm demeanor, but Wayne was more than just a doorman.  He was trained to handle ‘trouble’ and on more than one occasion had handled ‘trouble.’

          They showed their IDs and walked on through without the slightest indication that Wayne had even noticed them.  The building was fairly new.  The building boom was in full swing and it seemed as if structures had sprung up everywhere.  Taller and taller each time Jack thought to himself.  Jack and Ryan hopped aboard the elevator and began to upward.

          “Do you think we’ll have anything?” Ryan queried.

          “Who knows.  I’ve seen stranger things happen.  Remember when Reynolds caught that bank robber while he was taken a piss?”

         “Yeah, yeah, didn’t he ditch his partner to take a leak while he was grabbin’ a snow cone or somethin’?

          “It was a Cannoli, but anyhow, yeah he went around to the alleyway to shake the snake without knowing that the bank around the corner had just been robbed and the fucker was bookin’ it down the same alleyway right at him.  That fat bastard Reynolds tackled the guy with his dick out and everything.  I think he got a fuckin’ commendation out of it too.”

          “Lucky fuck,” Ryan sputtered through quiet laughs.

          “If Reynolds can catch a bank robber with his slong we can get a decent case today.”

           The elevator reached its destination and slowly bobbed to a stop. Jack grabbed the metal grate and slid it open with ease.  There were Pinkerton agents and interns hustlin’ and bustlin’ to and fro with stacks of papers.  Several arguments were in session like usual, but none seemed even a hair past a healthy debate.  Jack strode to the back of the office, straight down the middle of chaos with Ryan in tow.

           “Worthington!” Jack’s boss snapped from entrance of his office.

          “Yes sir” Jack hastily replied.

           It was one of the few times that Ryan ever heard his mentor’s voice waiver.

           “Probably the only bastard here with bigger balls than Jack,” muttered Ryan to himself.

          “You too Ryan.”

          Just as quickly as Jack he hurried into the boss’s office.

         “Word has it you guys are bored of guard duty.  Is that true, Worthington?”

          “Not bored per se. More.” Jack began.

          “Shut up Worthington” the boss finished for him.

          Ryan smiled.

          “Wipe that retarded smile off your face boy.  You two are going to Spokane.”

The Chronicles of Kaiden


Book One – Origins

Artwork by Celeste Sievers

Chapter One – The Beginning of an Eternity

“Damn!” Kaiden swore as he shakily began to stand as the dust was just beginning to settle about him.

He reached down and took hold of the wooden stake that was imbedded into his side; Kaiden grimaced slightly as the stake came loose.  With a feint thud of wood clinking the bloodied soil the stake as well as a sick sputter of blood fell amongst the stones beneath his feet.  The pain was surprisingly minimal, and in a few hours time it would subside completely as the deep lesion closed.  Being half-demon was not half bad sometimes.

He leisurely glanced around the newly created battlefield making sure that the dead were not arising.  It was not the first time that he had stood on the edge of a town encircled with corpses.  In fact it seemed as if it was happening more and more as the years waned on.  The demons that had perished in the Great War and arisen from the hereafter only to realize that resurrection did not necessarily denote rejuvenation.  As a temporary solution the demon elders erected camps to hold these horrors until something more permanent could be established.  He and his motley crew of knights were charged with regulating these encampments, but all too often did the camps end in devastation.

Even though Kaiden loathed being appointed leader he was quite good at it.  His proficiency in combat along with an unrelenting desire to fix the wrongs of his past created a leader worthy of future lore.  He had requested that his second in command, Kane, lead the rest of the knights back East to base and rest up while he wrapped up a solo mission abroad in the West.  Kane new Kaiden well enough to let him go rogue every once in a while.  He knew the rules; if Kaiden did not return within a fortnight the Calvary would come for him and avenge his death to a man if necessary.

At an even six feet Kaiden was not tall, but he was by no means short either.  Kaiden’s eyes were always described as being a deathly blue; his eyes were lackluster and lifeless at first glance, but upon closer scrutiny his gaze indicated a deep sense of grief and unwelcome familiarity with battle.  His skin was coarse from the numerous nicks and scrapes he had received during battle.  Like his overcoat his mane and whiskers were a rustic auburn like a dark roast of coffee.  Behind his coat a single holster held his ivory revolver.  At twenty-three Kaiden had seen a lifetime’s worth of encounters, which had ultimately honed his skills as a combatant but in the end it, was his soul that had taken the damage.

Has father, Draken, had taught him to wield the family sword.  Most of his brethren were skilled in one art or another, but only the Lunguard family could brandish the famous, as well as infamous, Crescent Blade.  Besides the ability to wield this bringer of pandemonium the Lunguard family also had the supernatural ability to perfect more than one combat style.  Draken was legendary for wielding the Crescent Blade as well as his now equally famous rapier, Foreshadow.  Kaiden had taken a more unconventional approach, against his father’s wishes, by wielding the Crescent Blade along with an old earthly revolver.  Even though Kaiden used specially imbued bullets for his trademark revolver his father still goaded him over for his personal preferences.

The Great War between the demons and the wyrms had long since passed, but his father still clung to the old rules of conduct.

“You disgrace the Lunguard family name with your unorthodox behavior,” his father used to spat at him during their bouts of training.

Even though the anguish of his father’s memory still plagued his thoughts it did not matter.  He was far away from the birthplace of his ancestors.  He needed to concentrate on the task at hand.  He was to set out towards the Cerulean Mountain Range to the West.  Evidently a rather formidable wyrm from the Great War resided within’ the heart of Cerulean Range.  Common belief stated that all of the great wyrms had perished in the war, but in all actuality many had fled to the ruined corners of Earth at the closing of the war.  Over the past couple of years dozens upon dozens of these foul beasts had been discovered and slaughtered, many by Kaiden’s hand.  There were even rumors that Mistcabre, the dragon general, may still be alive somewhere within the turmoil of the new world.

He quickly gathered his thoughts and began methodically sifting through the corpses of those that he had killed.  The first time he had rifled through a dead man’s belongings he had felt sick, but over the years he had become accustomed to it.  He no longer felt any emotion for those that he had killed.  He killed them not out of pleasure or hatred; he did it for duty and defense.  After picking through a majority of the bodies he had amassed a fair amount of silver and trinkets, and it was now time for him to leave this place of butchery.

He gathered his belongings and set out.  He would have liked to ride, but unfortunately when a battle begins involving more than a dozen or so creatures the horses die first.  Sadly his horse had been the first one to perish.

Nevertheless, he needed to head onto the next town.  If his memory served correctly there should be a small town on the other side of the Bloodwing Woods that he crossed through many moons again when he had ventured to this region with his father those many moons ago.

He sped athwart the open field in between the woods and the destroyed demon village.  The sun was setting and he would rather fight in the woods than fight upon the open plains.  By nightfall he should be along the Eastern edge of the woods.

Wooden Heart


The town fell silent as the night came crashing down upon the horizon.  The creak from the old wooden banners ceased to creak, the soft nay of the horses hushed as if the they had vanished, and the usual rustle of a tustle within the stained walls of the “Iron Lung” had been squelched.  The town wept and prayed for the ghost, nay the specter, that had come and gone without leaving the slightest mark of his deathly passing.

The mysterious rider felt the wind claw at his back as the lights danced beneath the moon in an arc.  A tingle, a rasp, a spark could be felt and seen spattering across the hardened, salted Earth as the mysterious rider pushed Slots into galloping further.  Slots’ muscles glistened with sweat as they pulsated with every sliver forward.  The rider laid low creating less resistance for Slots to more easily propel them forward through wasteland’s moon soaked sands.

Every dune that they rode past quivered and receded in fear of the pair.  As death approached and spread the sands in scattered despair the moon sunk as it sighed.

The rider rode.

As the next day fell into the night the town burned, and yet still the rider rode.  The timbers turned black as they were licked up by the flames.  The old creaks caused by the harsh winds upon the old desert town were replaced by the creaks of beams falling into sunken homes.  There were no screams.  There were no moans.  There was no sadness.  As twilight approached the smoke rose calling to the vultures and the only structure left standing was the “Iron Lung.”  It called to the destructor, it begged to be found, it wanted it’s tale to be told in whispers amongst the people of the old world.  It wanted to be known.

Slots continued with sparks escaping his hooves and fire from his nostrils.  The groans of moving metal could be heard in the distance.  Giant metal structures loomed in the distance; they swayed up and down with a constant ‘glug-glug’ as the black liquid of the Earth snaked it’s way to the crust.  Through the immense metal forest Slots ran.

And as the town burned the wells that surrounded Slots and his rider burst and licked in flames as well.

The moon yet again cried and sunk away in fright.

Super Mario Bros.


Normally I wouldn’t post so religiously, but due to a couple mixed drinks and bad bought with Mario I’ve decided to share my thoughts on the beloved classic that is Super Mario Bros. 

First off I’d like to mention that I have dusted off my old NES given to me but one of many partners in crime, A! Sauce John McDonell, and popped in my old Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt cartridge and begin my epic journey to beat the title that started it all.

My skills were definitely rusty, but as the avid gamer that I am I quickly began to regain my lost Mario abilities and soar into the sky like a plumber with a racoon tail!  I, as of this evening have finally reached the final castle which will hopefully behold Princess Peach.  Upon regularly reaching this castle I also seem to be regularly dying at this castle…coincidence…?  I doubt it.

Anyhow, I digress, my opinions regarding Mario are not solely concerned with its difficulty, but rather it’s insane concepts and ideas.  Why the hell am I plumber trying to rescue a princess?  If I’m residing within’ a kingdom, presumably the princess’ kingdom. aren’t there more competent royal subjects that could rescue a princess…lets say maybe a knight? 

Also…who the hell thought of the word ‘Goomba’ and the idea to bring a mushroom alive?  Was this said creator on mushrooms, perhaps?  He or she would have to be judging from the numerous other oddities surrounding Super Mario Bros. 

I have so many questions and no God damn answers…I feel as if ‘m watching the beginning “Lost” all over again! 

Cloud-man, as I refer to him, keeps plaguing me with spiked beasts that upon further analysis I believe to be the sick, twisted off-spring of an even greater cloud being and Luigi, and all the while my insanely nimble yet slippery little devil of an Italian man named Mario dodges to and fro as if this is the norm.

I am truly baffled, yet obviously truly addicted.

I’d like to leave the reader with one, two-part question:  Where does this take place, and how do I get there?

A goal I have set for myself is to ultimately learn why the oddities of Mario exists and how they came about…if anyone has got any clue as to how some of these truffles of knowledge slipped through into the gaming world drop me a line and shed some light into my cranium. 

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