Written and Read by M. Jones
Darkness was to be banished in her Light Everlasting. He would stay upon his bruised knees until she gave him the guidance he sought. He would press his forehead against her wooden throne until the knocks began, the staccato rhythm a Morse code that was meant for him alone to decipher. He would cleanse those who saw with rotted eyes, who pulled all they envisioned into putrescence. They didn’t understand the power of his Oculus. She would always be his guide, his mentor. His God.
She had given him an absolution this morning, a series of knocks on wood from within her holy enclosure, the code telling him what he had to do to further ease her suffering. He hated that she had to lie in there, every moment of the day, her tiny body trapped along with the massive energy of her power. But it was too dangerous to let her loose completely, he knew this, and he had many arguments with her as to why she had to remain caged, why her tantrums only served to make her suffer more.
This morning she had railed and cried and beat upon the wood so hard he couldn’t hear the rhythm and he had to beg her to slow down so he could write the lines and dots that comprised her code. Her request was simple enough, he had performed it many times before, but the additional instructions were more challenging. He would have to wait on that order, no matter how much it pained him and in turn, her. Instead, he would do what would ease her pain temporarily, to purify and make right that which had rotted within her. He had to fix the sight of the diseased lest their vision slice into her, hurting her.
The darkness shrouded him like a blanket, making him invisible. He could move among mortals and seem as if he was alive, though he knew, like her, he was long dead. He could bring the night inside of himself, where it spun like twisting worms within his veins, his skin undulating where it had seeped inside of him, ropes of night that ended in bloody starbursts that tore out of his flesh. He felt nothing.
It was two a.m. He stood in the shadows, hidden behind a thick collection of bushes covered in snow. There was a soft dusting falling upon the road, the snow glistening beneath the streetlamps. He didn’t feel the cold despite being underdressed in a black hoodie and black track pants. He had his instructions and it was thoughts of his Oculus that kept him warm.
If he listened carefully he could hear the mournful cries of urban coyotes off in the distance. Their howls stretched across the nearby highway, a collection of predators singing hymns for what he was about to do.
It was a long and tedious process, this long waiting game for a suitable sacrifice. This intersection was oddly busy for a Sunday night, and he’d had to wait for hours until the glut of traffic finally slowed, trickling down as the night wore on until there was finally nothing and no one on the road in the ghosted hours of morning. The one who would stop would be the soul to feed his Oculus. He hoped it would be a woman.
He searched for the piece of paper in his pocket and felt relief every time he checked and found it was still there. The Oculus had a message to give this time and he’d eagerly written down the code, its meaning set to burn the mind of whoever deciphered it. He was to leave it on the dashboard, for the Unclean to find it and get their warning. How honoured they should feel, knowing the Oculus had deemed them worthy to contact!
Finally, a car slipped out of the night, its wheels slow on the icy roads. It stopped at the lights, purely out of force of habit than necessity, for there was no one else on the road. He was excited when he saw her face, her blonde hair partially hiding it as she fussed with her purse and, after a fair amount of rummaging, pulled out a cell phone. He didn’t have much time.
He broke free of the bushes and, with his gun poised, he aimed and fired, smashing the passenger window. She was gearing up to scream but he pressed the silencer against her temple and fired a single shot that killed her instantly.
The shattered window gave him a thrill of panic, but the rows of houses were pushed far back enough from the street that it was unlikely anyone heard the sound of breaking glass. This didn’t stop him from circling the perimeter, seeking out all movement, his gun poised and ready should so much as the steam from a stranger’s breath bear witness.
When he was sure there was no one, save the ever-knowing eye of his Oculus, he approached the car, inspecting his work. The woman was slumped over in her seat and he arighted her to make sure her dead vision was fixed on the winter white horizon before her. He fumbled in his pocket for the nail and, as he had done several times before, he opened her impure eye. The pupil stared with grey animosity at him, and he could feel its rot beginning its slow descent into his soul, infecting him. He closed his eyes and shook off the horrible sensation, knowing his Oculus would cure it, but it didn’t make this work any easier. He didn’t like killing, and what he had to do now made him sick to his stomach, and bile rose within him, burning his throat.
But these weren’t his choices. He braced himself, his gloved hands on the broken glass of the passenger window, and let out a long, slow breath.
He pulled the nail out from the pocket of his black hoodie and, ensuring her gaze was fixed upon the expansion of Forever, he drove it home into her left eye. Instantly, the feeling of rot disappeared, and her diseased influence was cured.
He took out the small piece of paper from the same pocket and placed it underneath her slack, dead hand.
It is windy. It would blow away from the dashboard, he prayed.
The lines and dots were slightly smudged and this worried him. They had to get the message. They had to understand that what he was doing was important, that the Oculus had the most beautiful message imaginable.
The message was so clear, even a mortal like himself could understand it. For everyone, if they wanted it, the Oculus would bring the dead back to life.
“Cold as a witch’s tit out here.”
Rita stomped her feet, trying to coax warmth back into them. Highsmith was on her cell phone, talking to Superintendent Jackson, appraising him of the scene. Rita stood aloof from it, shell-shocked and tired from witnessing too much death in the past week. She could hear Highsmith lying on the phone, telling Jackson that this was just another one of those routine ‘girlfriend gets on the wrong side of the boyfriend’ things. They’d know more once the coroner got the body and did a proper work up, so there was no need for Jackson to come down to the scene. She had it secured and was doing the sweep right now. She’d meet him at the lab later.
Highsmith hung up her phone and gave Rita’s steady concentration on her a frustrated curse. She pocketed the phone as she stormed toward Rita, her steps uneven and slipping on the icy patches beneath the powdery snow.
“You’re going to be catching shit when he reads the report,” Rita said.
“I don’t care, he’s going on a need-to-know with this one. Is it what I think it is?”
“Looks like it. Gunshot through the window, execution style. Probably happened early this morning, just like the ones in the summer.” Rita shivered and rubbed her hands together, the thin gloves she wore doing little to keep her warm. Her fingers were bright pink beneath the beige rubber. “Nail in the left eye.”
“Fucker,” Highsmith said and braced her fists on her hips. She swayed where she stood and Rita knew she was calculating all of her various options, wondering how much to tell Jackson and what to leave out lest this case slip out of her grasp. It was a risky venture, one that could cost her the badge and leave them in even more shambles if the killer wasn’t caught.
“We need this,” Highsmith said to Rita, no doubt reading her mind. “I’m not having this go into the hands of the RCMP, I don’t care if he started his shit in Calgary, this case is ours and we’re going to be the ones solving it. Do you understand?”
“June, you are being foolish…”
“Foolish?” Highsmith railed on her, her voice piercing as it cut into Rita’s core, making the tall woman shrink. “Do you want to just sit back and watch more budget cuts, the officers in our team treated like imbeciles who can’t so much as do a fingerprint properly? That Slice Girls case finished us, Rita, we can all kiss the possibility of getting more money for the department goodbye if we aren’t more proactive and start showing results. Besides, we know what we’re really capable of. It’ll be nice to watch them kiss our asses for five minutes.”
Rita had to hand it to her, Highsmith really knew how to strike a nerve. Fifteen years on the force and Rita had scrounged her way from traffic cop to Inspector, a path lined with others backstabbing her with the lazy twins: racism and sexism. There was still talk in the department that she got where she did due to affirmative action, but of course none of them ever discussed how less effective officers got promotions thanks to their dad or an uncle being buddies with the Chief Superintendent. The only affirmation she got was how damn hard she worked, never calling in sick, doing her reports to perfection, following every procedure to the letter, being a living, breathing cop cliché. In Rita’s world, there was no room for error.
Still, being a tall, strong black woman who took no shit helped her get where she was at present, but she knew, and Highsmith knew, that this was where the ceiling would end. It didn’t mean they didn’t want to keep pushing it. It didn’t mean they were supposed to just get tardy and roll over and not care about getting the glory where they could find it, even if it ended up nothing more than a personal victory.
“You really think we can catch this one?” Rita asked, cautious. “If we take a misstep and he slips away…”
“That’s not going to happen,” Highsmith snapped. She stomped through a partially frozen puddle, and it shattered like glass. “When we get back to the station you get the reports from our man in Calgary. I’ll head off Jackson at the lab, talk to the medical examiner first. I don’t have to remind you, but I’ll say it anyway, if so much as a molecule looks like evidence, you bag and tag it.”
© 2016 Copyright M. Jones
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