Friday, March 25, 2011

Damien's House

I've stood in the homes of many dead men before. I've stood over their corpses and looked through their drawers for clues and substances. Hell, I've sat on chairs and beds while trying to get my head wrapped around the crime without really feeling anything by the fact of being in a dead person's room. But I'll tell you now, standing in Damien's house last night gave me goosebumps that I never got when I was a working cop.

I stood in his main room for ten minutes, looking around at the dirty, shabby conditions that it had fallen into and wondered if it had been like that when it had had an occupant as well. There was dust all over the place, chair knocked over (most likely from that last scuffle), dishes and plates left untouched and uncleaned in the sink. A mouse scurried along the floor, looking for food, at one point crossing right over my boot.

I closed my eyes for a moment, though why I was doing that I wasn't entirely sure of even then.

Where are you, Damien? I thought. Are you really dead? Or are you still out there somewhere, being torn apart by your own subconscious? Do you feel me in your house right now? Am I supposed to feel you here?

Of course, I get no answer. Not like I was expecting one.

Once I was done with that, I got to work. I checked every square inch of that living room before I finally made my way to the bedroom. Looked basically like it should have, just as dirty, and the bed having not been slept in for a very long time. I poked through drawers, cupboards, closet, under the bed, even checked a couple of loose floorboards.

Nothing. No drawings. No bone. Nothing. The place had been cleaned out.

Damn, the thought ran through my mind. I knew it'd be cleaned out, but I thought there would be something of value. Nothing, though.

Guess the red building's the place to go-

It happened so fast I barely caught it, but even slight movement is movement. My eyes caught it out of the corner; a tuff of black, peering in through the window before leaving in the blink of an eye. Just as fast I was out the door, gun drawn, looking around.

Come ooon! Show yourself!” I shouted. “I know you're out here, fuckface! COME ON!”

The woods in the middle of the night; my worst nightmare. But someone was out there, for sure, and I wasn't about to let them go, but out here there was nothing, not even wind to blow the trees around. So there I was, standing in the woods with gun drawn, shouting for a shadow that was not there.

But it was there. I'm damn sure of that. Something is sure as fuck following me out here.

I'm going to the red building. It's the only place I can think of to go.

I'll post again after I get back.

Monday, March 21, 2011

365 Days Later...

One year ago today, my chief came into the office and handed me and my partner an assignment. We were to investigate a teenage disappearance in the forest off Point Hope, a sixteen-year-old girl that had up and left home in the middle of the night. No clues, no leads, nothing to go off of but the alcoholic mother's word. I figured it was a cut and dry case. I figured it would have been an easy solve.

One year later and look where I am now.

On the run, fearing for my life, both partners are dead, in hiding, being chased by something that by all logical accounts should not exist, the government cleaning up after him and putting me on the top of their list, all these kids running for their lives and coming to me and putting their fates in my hands.

Yeah, quite a bit has changed.

And yet this very morning, around midnight, I got a tip and a link to head into some chat. Why an online chat of all places, I don't know. I couldn't help but think it was another trick of Redlight's, him trying to convince me to take his offer, though it DID have that crazyman's name in it. Habit or whatever.

Well, I thought, can't hurt me over the internet. So I hopped in to see what he wanted and...

I still don't exactly know how to explain. There were over a hundred people in that chat, well over a hundred, and among them were Jeffrey, Evan, Noah, that doc fellow and the PTC guy. All of them, in there for those Hybrids, and yet here I was, put on the exact same pedestal.

I felt like I was being interrogated as questions were thrown at us, but what really got to me were when those side-messages came in from individual people, telling me not to give up, to keep on with my work, and that they were right behind me.

I can't wrap my head around it. All those people...were in there for us? For those of us that are running for our lives, being hunted by something illogical, being close to death time and again. I knew there were fans, but...Jesus.

And word to word with those kids was interesting. I've said it before, they've got the best chance out of any of us. Not a clear shot, but a shot nonetheless. And if shit gets messy, I think they know I'll help how I can. Maybe it's the cop in me. Maybe it's the adult in me. Maybe it's just the situation.

I was the last man out of that chat, not because I liked to keep a crowd or make a grand exit, but because I didn't want to leave the warmth that that chat and those people provided and go back into my cold, dark surroundings of the real world. I wanted to just feel their happiness, their awe, their feelings that had left me so many months ago, and let it be my blanket. A security that I longed for, to be among them, being the ones to maybe cheer the others on while I stayed safe, maybe in my real bed back in my real home with Lizzie right next to me.

But nothing good lasts forever and I did have to leave, but I let them know that I was staying with it. Whenever there's hopelessness, those people out there unite to root for us. Makes me remember that we, I, have something to fight for. And that's not to let them down.

And hopefully, come this time next year, I won't have to be running anymore.

Hybrids, Noah, Doc, and the rest- you guys keep fighting.

It's been one year to the day.

I'm really hoping I don't go to two.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Found Damien's old workplace today. Went inside and went right to the manager's office, with nothing more than a personality to go off of. No name, no picture, no identity to go with, just a personality that he was a bit of a hard ass. All things considered, it went pretty well.

One of the employees pointed me to him, and he looked up upon my approach. I didn't look like a cop, with T-shirt, jeans and a leather jacket that I grabbed at some thrift store on the Montana trip, but appearance doesn't make the man so much as how he presents himself. And judging from his appearance, I think he took me seriously enough.

“You the boss?” I asked.

“I am. Name's David.”

“Been here long?”

“Long enough. You are?”

“Detective Riley.” Sorry, Eric, but you were a good enough cover name and there was no way your obituary would have made it this far south. I showed him my badge that I still keep on me for these just in case situations. “I'm investigating Damien O'Connor's suicide.”

All the activity around us seemed to stop dead as I said that. The manager was looking right at me with a frozen blank expression, and I assumed everyone working around us was as well. Sure enough, I glanced over my shoulder to see the workers frozen in the middle of their work looking right at me. Seeing my stare they broke out of their stupor and they returned to business as usual.

I turned back to the manager, who was also resuming work.

“I thought the police closed that investigation,” he told me.

“I'm re-opening it,” I replied. “There are still some details that are a bit hazy for me.”

He snorted. “You're new around here, aren't you?”

I shrugged. “More or less.”

“What's wrong with your voice?”

“Been sick. Just getting over it.”

He sighed and placed the box down and folded his arms.

“Aright, Detective,” he said, “what do you want to know?”

“Alright,” I said, pulling out my notepad and pen. Look at me, being all official. “You were his overseer during his time here, right?”

“I was.”

“How would you describe your relationship with him?”

“Like watching a train wreck in slow motion while the sun explodes and the moon catches fire.”

“Difficult, then.” Well, it wasn't as if I didn't expect at much. Damien's notes on his boss weren't exactly the most positive ones. “Would you say that was more on your part or his?”

“Damien was a very unique individual,” he told me. “And a particularly violent one as well.”

“He attacked you?”

“No, but he came close once or twice. Mainly with other customers. Seemed like I was pulling him off someone every other day. Mood swings, you know?”

“Well, were you aware of his medical history?”

“I was aware that he was taking medication as part of some study. And I saw what he was like off the drugs. And it wasn't fun.”

I wrote all that down, though it really wasn't anything I couldn't already figure out. Every employer needs to check their employees' history out to make sure they're liable. Still, facts are facts.

“When was the last time you saw Damien?”

“Let me see...” David closed his eyes, trying to remember. “It was after that friend of his died, but not long before Amelia's accident. Something happened that made him just stop showing up-”

“The Ellison murders,” I explained. “Emily Ellison was a friend of his.”

“Was she? Lord, no wonder he cracked, losing that many people in such a short time...”

“What was he like in those last couple of weeks that he worked here?”

“Pretty much like I described him, though times five. Paranoid, sweaty, thought he was going to have a heart attack at any second, increase in violence. Then he just stopped showing up. Didn't know what happened to him until the day after he died when his death made the paper.”

The entire time, I got the feeling that I was being watched by the other employees, but I tried to ignore it. Maybe Damien was just a touchy subject in this town. During his posts, I never really got the vibe that he was someone well known among his community. Maybe I was wrong. Or maybe it was something else. It was hard to say.

“I just wanted to ask one last quick one and then let you get back to work.” I told him, flipping the page of the notepad.

“Oh, leaving so soon?” He looked a mix of apprehensive and relieved.

“Just for now. I'll probably stop in again eventually.”

He nodded, seemingly relieved, so I dove into my final question. “At any point during those last few weeks he worked for you, did he ever mention anything about being stalked by a man in a suit?”

His face paled but otherwise he gave no visible recognition to my question. “No, none that I recall.”

Bullshit, I thought for no real reason.

“Thank you.” I closed the notepad and stuffed it away. “If I have any further questions, I'll come back. You have a good day.”

He nodded and returned to his work and didn't spare me a second look as I turned and walked out. The little busy bee workers had returned to work as well, though one or two threw a glance in my direction that they probably thought I wouldn't see. The whole place had a weird vibe to it. Maybe I was just too on edge.

Definitely didn't help as I stepped out of the store and noticed some dark-haired girl staring right at me from across the street and didn't stop looking even as I stared back directly at her until she finally realized what she was doing and started walking off.

I don't know if it's the town or just me, but Jesus, Indiana is fucking weird.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Road Trip

Driving down a highway to somewhere, possibly nowhere. I think a song could be made around that line. Maybe one already has.

I probably could have made the drive in a day, it's only fifteen hours from where I am to Indiana, but...well, I do have to make whatever detours I can to avoid authorities. New York was the worst, it's car accident central up there and traffic's horrible. Spent a few days there living around Central Park out of my car. Once I got out, though, it was nothing but me and the open air.

I have to say, though, I've really enjoyed this drive. Fresh air blowing through the open window, radio blaring, almost makes me feel like I was in college again. I even went and got a haircut yesterday on one of my pit stops. I'm not used to short hair, it's been a while since the last time I had hair short enough that I didn't have to slick it backwards, but I kinda like it. Definitely don't look like the guy in the wanted posters anymore.

Now debating if I should keep the beard or shave it. On the one hand, I got a good Johnny Messner look going, and on the other hand the beard can be awfully cumbersome. Decisions decisions.

Of course, it hasn't been all smooth all the time. In fact, at one point this little trip almost had an abrupt ending.

This one motel in...I think it was Cleveland, though honestly once I got out of New York all sense of what state I was in went right out the window. Just me and the map that I couldn't read for shit. For all I know I could have ended up in Timbuktu. Fucking maps...

I'm getting off topic. Just picture a really crappy motel that you take one glance at and know that it probably rented by the hour. Imagine going into a cheap dinky room that smelled like sex, tears and fifty dollar bills, and sleeping on what feels like a haunted mattress and thinking to yourself that the dirty hand prints above the headboard really pulled the room together, and a shower that no matter how hard you scrubbed in the back of your mind you doubted if even the soap could be clean in that place.

Now picture all that and an FBI agent in a very similar room two doors down.

He wasn't dressed like an agent, none of the good ones are. The good ones being the ones that are on your tail. This one's been following me since day two of New York when I stopped in a convenience store for some Reese's and a FastBreak bar. They wear casual clothes when they're tailing you, but they usually have the same build, same haircuts, same Rolex on the right wrist. You'd think by now they'd pick a different schtick. Apparently that's not in their guidelines.

Sucks for them, I pay attention.

This one here had been following me since then. A rookie, by the looks of him, but a rookie Fed is just as dangerous as a veteran Fed when he wants to be. On my last morning he was sitting on the bench pretending to read the paper while I got some candy out of the vending machines and as I was headed back to finish up my packing (not that there really was much left to pack, but you understand) and as I was opening my door out of the corner of my eye I see him folding his paper, standing up, and coming my way as I slide through the door.

Shame he couldn't see through walls and see me move against the wall, out of sight for when he decided to come in after me, which he did without even knocking, the jerk. Well, he was a jerk, so I repaid the favor and knocked him in the back of the head so hard he fell flat on his face.

I checked his wallet- “Agent Leo Mellish”, his ID read- and pocketed it. Lord knows I could use another identity, if need be. Then I grabbed his cuffs and cuffed one of his wrists, then dragged him to the closet, through his arms over the bar, cuffed the other wrist so that he was hanging from the bar and then closed the door. I then finished packing and left, paying at the front desk on my way out.

Ohhh, Zeke, Zeke, Zeke. Why did you not take him with you? You could have gotten some answers out of him. Probably, but things to consider:

I spent three months investigating into Fisk and what he was doing. The entire fall, that whole period where I wasn't posting, was more or less investigating his special unit. Pretty sure nothing he says is going to be new info for me.

Where was I going to keep him? In the trunk of my car? Pretty sure any noise he made back there would fuck me over on the off chance I got pulled over. Same goes for if I dragged him into any place I was staying, hotel or whatnot. They'd notice someone making a lot of noise.

Finally, he'd slow me down. This thing I'm chasing, whatever it is and wherever it leads me, is more important to me than some suit. Priorities, people, priorities.

So why leave him alive? Because it's no fun to humiliate Fisk just by killing off his guys. Killing them would let him know I knew his men were tailing me, but why not have fun with it? Let's be honest, he'll be a sight to see whenever housekeeping finds him.

Which they will. Eventually. No guarantees.

I'm in Indiana now, and I'm pretty sure I'm closing in on Damien's town. Once I do, I intend to talk to any of the survivors from his story. His boss, his ex, Rick, maybe the doctors from his mother's asylum, anything like that. Hopefully I find something out.