The Great Tale of Great Men

There was once a great man called Jonathan Rokes.
He was a brilliant man, a man of both Science and Religion, a man of the people.

As a young boy he seemed like nothing special to the untrained eye.
Just another small, timid child who spent his entire days sitting inside, reading his books and dreaming of greatness beyond the likes of Da Vinci, of Einstein, of Gandhi.
But, as only his closest friends could tell, he was a very special child.
As most small, skinny kids with glasses, he was often bullied by his fellow classmates.
He never did anything about it, never tried to fight back, never told anyone.
People would later ask him why, to which he replied: “Because I am not worth the effort. It’s as simple as that.”

He never fought for himself, but by God did he fight for others.
One sunny, Monday morning he and his best friend, little Richard, sat on a bench in the shade of a large oak tree overlooking the entire school yard where the other children were busy playing soccer, football and many other games of own invention.
Jonathan never bothered himself with sports, he always preferred a nice talk or a good book over anything else and this he did, day in and day out with his close friend, talking, dreaming, discussing any- and everything.
Only this day, as he was just discussing the recent troubles that bothered the world, and thus bothered him as well, a very unpleasant surprise came over him.
A soccer ball, made of thick, brown leather hit him right in the head as he sat enjoying the beams of sunlight falling on his face, listening to Richard.
The object had come in with such force that it had broken his nose, smashed his glasses and remained in the air for long enough to fly over the large iron fence behind them that separated the school yard from the outside world.
As his friend Richard took the broken glasses off of his eyes, continually asking him if he were okay to which Jonathan replied: “Do not worry. I’ll live.”, a large boy, the boy who had shot the ball, approached them.

“You little shit. You’re not even good for stopping a ball.”

It was a large boy who went by the name of Sam, a vile, mean child who had bullied Jonathan many times before.

“Leave him alone! Can’t you see he’s hurt!” Richard shouted to the giant in front of him, perhaps just a little too loud.

“And what do you care? Are you his boyfriend or something?”
“No… No. I was just…” Richard stuttered.
“You’re just like him. A weak, little idiot.”

Sam walked up to Richard, pulling back his massive arm, ready to take a swing at the now cowering child in front of him.
He punched, hard.
A few seconds passed, as Richard slowly opened his eyes.
What he saw shocked him.
It was Jonathan, the small, already beaten boy had jumped in front of him and had taken the punch for his dearest friend.
He now lay in the shade of the old oak tree, bleeding profusely, almost blind and shaking.
Even Sam looked at Jonathan in shock and awe, quickly dashing away with his tail between his legs.
Richard sat beside Jonathan and wept.

“You fool. You unbelievable idiot! WHY DID YOU DO THAT?! You could’ve gotten yourself killed…” Richard shouted, tears streaming down his face.
“Am I a fool, for giving my life, a futile thing, to protect that which I love most in this world.”

Jonathan was now looking straight at Richard.
He stood up and pulled his best friend back onto his feet.
He wiped the tears from Richard’s red cheeks.

“Perhaps, I am a fool. But I’d rather be a stubborn fool than a coward who won’t even protect his friends.”

Once again, Richard wept.
Jonathan embraced him, attempting to sooth his sorrow.
In the time this had all occurred, the other children who had witnessed the scene had brought a teacher to help them.
The teacher, he to shocked by such wise words from a kid, walked up to the two boys.

“Richard, Jonathan, I am very sorry this had to happen to the two of you. I’ll take you inside, Jonathan, and tend your wounds after which you may go home.”

The teacher looked at the boys and saw Richard clinging tightly around his friend’s arm.

“You may come with us, Richard, and you may go with Jonathan after he’s all patched up.”
“Thank you, teacher.” Richard replied, wiping away a last few tears that rolled down his face.

After that day, people started to recognize Jonathan was special.
They started to become more involved, help him more.
He became more popular with the other children, to the point where even Sam felt regret for the terrible thing he had done, though he never explicitly said so, one could see it in his eyes and the way he treated Jonathan and his friend Richard from that day on.
Jonathan’s life went well for many years after.
He graduated high school two years after, earning the highest possible degree together with his friend, the two of them having grown even closer to one another in that short amount of time.
They loved each other, and stuck together at all times, through better and worse.
Two months after graduating, Jonathan started his study in social sciences at the university.
His friend Richard, close as they were, had chosen a different study but obviously at the same university.
Many more years went by as the two became better and better known, not only among those they knew personally but throughout the whole nation.
Richard, who had begun studying medicine, had teamed up with Jonathan in an attempt to help as many people as they could using their many skills.
They were, only one year after starting university, discovered by a doctor who had asked them if they would like to take internships at the local hospital.
Both boys were quick to agree on this offer.
They worked hard, they worked long, they worked well.
At the time of graduating from the university, they had become the most famous doctors in all the land.
Everyone knew their name and people traveled from far and wide to ask them for their aid.
There was one thing though, that bothered Jonathan.
He would wake up at night, scared and saddened, for he could not shake a feeling of guilt that hung over him like the death that hung over the old and the weak.
The death he bravely fought day in and day out.
He would see dreams, horrible dreams of people in other lands, too poor and far away for their help, suffering terrible fates.
There was so much pain in the world, so much suffering and no one were able to overcome it.
Jonathan knew that it was a fools attempt, but he were rather a fool than a coward.
One day, a sunny day, he and his friend Richard sat in the park in the shade of a large oak.

“Richard, I have to talk to you.”
“What is it, my friend?” Richard smiled so kindly, it melted Jonathan’s heart seeing those eyes twinkle in the light of the warm summer sun.
“I want to do more.”
“More? What do you mean?”
“I want to help more people.”
“More people?! Aren’t we already drowning in work?”
“I mean, I want to help people who need our help. I am sick of curing these small ailments. A little cold is nothing to worry about. There are so many people in the world who need our help so much more.”
“The world? Do you mean you want to leave all of this behind to help people elsewhere?”
“Yes.”
“And you’ve come to bid me farewell, I assume?”
“Yes… I can’t expect you to come with me. Life in the big world will be rough. There will be many poor years. Many years surrounded by pain and suffering.”
“And you really think I’d let you go through all of that on your own, you blasted fool?!”

Jonathan looked at his friend who’s smile had made way for a look of utter seriousness but nothing than kindness and compassion in his eyes.

“Will you come with me, friend?”
“Of course I will. Now come here and give me hug!”

And so it happened.
They sold their practice in the small, American town and left for the big world.
Many people were sad to see them leave, even Sam, who had become a good friend of the boys over the years.
They bought a small plane, as this would be the safest and fastest means of travel, and set off with the few supplies taken from their practice before they had left.
A bag full of syringes, bandages and many different types of medicine.
They traveled the world together, first to Europe, as this was the closest from their home on the eastern coast.
They visited many doctors, universities and hospitals, known and unknown.
They learned much about both modern medicine and old tricks dating back to medieval times.
Even a small fortune could be acquired thanks to the smart deals that Richard was able to make selling medicine.
Still, Jonathan was not content.
He had not traveled all the way to Europe to make money, he had come to cure and heal those in need.
They traveled to the south, starting from the Netherlands through France, into the warm southern regions of the Mediterranean when they finally entered the massive continent of Africa.
Here, Jonathan found what he had sought, what he had desired for so many years.
Here, the two men found famine, thirst, illness and death.
The moment they crossed the border with Libya, coming from Greece, they found people, truly in need.
They came, they saw, they cured, the papers would say.
Their names had already become known throughout the western world, but now they made a name being saints, even saviors to some.
They would hand out free medical care and medicine, to the slight annoyance of Richard who had worked so hard to accumulate their small fortune.
Over time, though, even he saw the greatness of what they were able to achieve together.
Whole countries became cured of many terrible illnesses thanks to the great knowledge of both men.
They used Science and Religion in unison to battle the many evils found in the deserts, forests and cities of great Africa.
They helped the good, the bad and the innocent.
Jonathan was never a man of right and wrong, he just saw action and consequence and judged people as he saw fit, if he even judged at all.
The men helped western soldiers on the front lines of long lasting wars, they helped the rebels who fought those soldiers to regain their freedom and independence and they helped any random soul who were harmed by the wars, disease or plain misfortune.
The many different military powers in the world had thought of taking them down, many times, but due to their status on the world stage, this would be an impossible feat to perform for any nation.
Two men who took on the world, who won, and who did it in the name of good.
After Africa, which they left as celebrated heroes, they traveled the world further, first crossing the desserts of ancient Arabia into the mysterious lands of Asia.
They did this for many years.
Money was no matter to them, as they received massive donations from many different parties throughout the world.
It came even to the point where both the U.S. and their enemy at the time, the infamous Saddam Hussein, gave both with equal little greed to their cause.
The hardest part was to buy all the necessary medicine, due to Jonathan insisting on that they spend every dime on their cause, on his dream.
This was partly fixed by the fact that both gentlemen were clever, smarter than anyone known at the time and they learned. They learned much. They learned about many different types of foreign medicine.
How they could use plants to substitute the pills and ointments of the western world.
They would spend many days just gathering plants and herbs to aid them in their quest.
It were a glorious many years wherein these men lived.
They, two ordinary gentlemen of humble descent, had made the world a better place.
As Christ and Muhammad before them, they had united the people.
They had brought good, where there was once only evil.
But, even something as saintly as this had to come to an end.
It was during their final travel, the final country they had to visit, Vietnam.
The people there were kind, as they had heard of their legendary adventures, but even with their aid, they could not defend themselves from a great ailment that befell poor old Richard.
He died swift.
It took only a matter of days before he slipped into a coma and a matter of minutes before he had sung his final song.
A disease rarer than the rarest metal on this planet had struck the greatest doctor in the history of mankind, and it fell him as it had done to others.
It was a peculiar disease as it was untransferable, incurable and of unknown origin.

“Richard, is there nothing I can do?” Jonathan asked his friend who was slowly losing all life left in him.
“I fear not. This is one disease we cannot break. One man we cannot save.”
“Oh, God, Richard! WHY! Why did you have to die before me?!” Jonathan cried, for the very first time in his life.

It was a peculiar thing, as this usually dead serious man had never cried before, for he believed nothing bad had ever happened to him.
When his parents passed away he did grieve, but never cry, for he believed it was the natural order of things that people live and die.
Death was as normal to him as waking up in the morning.

“This is not the end my friend. It is merely a temporary separation.”
“What do you mean, Richard, my friend?”
“We all die, that is a fact. The only difference is that I died before my time. You will eventually die, as I, as us all, and then we will be united in the kingdom of the Lord, the heavens above where there is no pain, no suffering.”
“Oh, Richard. You blasted fool. You infernal fool. How would I have to live those years without you? How?”
“You will find a way, for you are a strong man, a special man, a man of God and a man of the World. A man of the people.”

That final night they sat side by side, talking, discussing and dreaming as they had done in that school yard in the shadow of the old oak tree so many years ago.
They spoke for hours when finally Richard told Jonathan he felt weak, that he felt tired.
Jonathan kissed him, telling him he had always loved him and Richard replied with the same.
He closed his eyes and breathed his final breath only moments later.
Jonathan wept for many days.
He wept on the flight back to America where Richard was to be buried in their home town.
He wept during the funeral of his dearest friend under the old oak near the school they once visited, now abandoned.
He would spend many days, even weeks crying over his grave, a large, beautiful, bright white stone cross with his name, date of birth and date of passing.
Under this was written a quote, a quote that belonged to his closest and most beloved friend and partner in the entire world.

“Am I a fool, for giving my life, a futile thing, to protect that which I love most in this world.”
“Oh Richard, please forgive me. If I had not brought you along on this journey, the journey of a madman, you would’ve still lived. You would’ve still been able to illuminate my darkest days with your smile, with your eyes.”

Jonathan collapsed and fell into a deep slumber.
He dreamt of Richard.
After he awoke, he left for his old home, the former home of his parents.
He had never attempted to sell it, the cause of it being that he were far too busy, if he were to be believed.
But even though Jonathan might’ve seemed like a cold and calculated man, he definitely felt, even for himself.
The last few years passed slowly.
He would sit in the park, under the old oak in front of the grave of his partner, his friend.
He would sit and sleep and dream of the days of old.
Of his days as a child, of his days of dreaming.
His death was a mysterious one.
There were papers that stated he had put an end to his own life, cause being the great grief over the death of his partner.
Some said he died of the same illness that had proved fatal to Richard only years before.
But to those who knew, to Sam, who had come to Jonathan’s funeral, and to the few who truly knew him, they knew that he had passed away gently from old age.
Like a bright candle light, who had just burned out over time.
It was his time, a natural occurrence.
One lives and one dies, and what a life it had been.

People still talk about Jonathan and Richard, the greatest men to have ever lived.
How they brought Religion and Science to the world, a fear filled world, and left peace for all.
How they cured what was thought incurable and how they united the many forces of man.
Great enemies had become the best of friends and for the first time in history there was no war, a voluntary peace.
The people had become one.
To honour the deeds of the two men, they made the oak a sacred tree, illegal to cut down, and all followed that law.
A silly law, perhaps, but a law worth upholding.
As for Sam, he still sits under the old oaken tree from their youth.

“I am so sorry, Jonathan and Richard.” Sam said as he sat alone in the shade, looking at their graves standing side by side.
“I know it is too late now, too late to ask for an apology, but I must. I beg you to forgive me and I truly hope you have both found peace as the living have, thanks to you two.”

Sam looked up from the ground, turned around and swore he could hear and see Jonathan and Richard, two children, playing in the field that now lay where once there had been the old school.
He smiled and they smiled back at him.

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The Great Tale of Great Men

A Blessing, A Curse

How I once thought I was blessed.

A man chosen by a god up high.

How naive I was.

I remember the day when it all happened.

I awoke from my sleep, only to find myself in an unfamiliar place.

Instead of lying in my bed, I found myself in some dark alley in a city I could not for the life of me remember ever visiting.

I just sat there, in that alley, in a disgusting puddle of peculiar liquid, thinking.

I must have been there for hours as, when I attempted to stand, I could no longer do so due to the numbness in my limbs.

I could do nothing but fall asleep once more, hoping that I would make it through the night.

Fearing I would never awake.

To my relief, I awoke once more to find myself lying in a hospital bed.

I quickly jumped upright and studied my surroundings with newfound strength.

It was a rather normal hospital room, the only thing of note being that there were no others in the chamber with me.

One room, one bed.

At the time I did not think much of it.

I just assumed it was a rather small hospital.

One that took care of only a few blocks of some massive city.

 

“The city!”

 

I jumped out of my bed and ran to the window on the other side of the room, facing my bed.

I pulled away the curtains and what I witnessed there shocked me.

This hospital, this lonesome hospital, stood not in a bustling city, known or unknown to me.

It stood in a field.

You might not find this odd, as it could have very well been a rural hospital, but this field was truly in the middle of nowhere.

There were no buildings, roads, nothing.

Not a sign of civilization.

I stared and stared, examining every inch of the seemingly infinite field that stretched itself out in front of me, but I could find nothing save for the long, yellow grass swaying in the wind.

I turned around and slowly walked towards the door at the other end of the room.

As I opened it I noticed the increasingly widening beam of light falling on the floor in front of me.

Light, how something so trivial could possibly confirm a fear so great, and confirm it did.

As I saw the light seeping past the slowly opening door I noticed how they were not the usual fluorescent white, but a bright yellow.

Sunlight.

I opened the door, only to witness what I had suspected the moment I looked out that window.

The door led outside.

The ‘hospital’ was nothing more than a single room in the middle of a field.

As I stood there, stunned with confusion and a mild sense of wonder, I heard a faint sound.

A buzzing came from inside the small building.

I approached it, noticing the source of the sound was a small, old cell phone.

One of those old bricks you could hurl at a person in case a weapon would be unavailable at the time.

I’ve always prefered those type of phones as they are far more trustworthy than all that new nonesense.

 

“One message.” It displayed on the screen in big green letters.

 

I unlocked the device, as no password was set, and read the mysterious text.

 

“A good day, James.

“I know you must be scared and confused right now, but this was the only way.

“I cannot say to you now, as to why we took you from your home and into our makeshift hospital.

“All I can say is that you must be careful.

“You have a gift, one that will bring you greatness.

“Whether it is greatness in joy or greatness in sorrow and pain is up to you.

“We will keep an eye on you,

“J. Evers.”

 

J. Evers…

A name I once thought nothing of now fills me with fear, anger and great sorrow.

After reading the message, the phone died.

A dead battery, how coincidental.

I put the phone in my pocket, thinking it might come in handy later, and went outside.

I knew not which way to go, so the first thing I did was circle the building.

This proved fruitful for I found a car parked behind the so called ‘makeshift hospital.’

It was a battered, old car, but a car nonetheless.

The keys rested in the lock on the door.

 

“J. Evers” It said on a small tag, linked to the keychain.

 

I entered the car and fired up the engine.

Hearing it sputter for a while, it did start without any other problems, much to my joy.

I know not much of cars, but I found it slightly suspicious that the engine went on that easily.

Especially with a car that looked as though it had suffered many years of quite severe abuse.

In the end I just shrugged it off and started looking for anything left by the previous owner.

I found a set of clothes on the beige, leather backseat and a sandwich and a map in the glove box.

I looked at the map first, hoping it might guide me towards civilization.

I was, once more, in luck.

The map had a small, red cross on it.

 

“You are here.”

 

It seemed to be correct, on first glance, for it showed the cross in a flat field and mountains towards the south, which was correct as well.

I also saw that the nearest town was not too far away.

Only nine miles and I’d be back where I belonged, where I could hopefully leave all of this behind.

I put on the clothes and ate the sandwich, as the sudden influx of emotions had made me rather hungry.

The map I placed on the dashboard, and off I went.

The first peculiarity on my path was what I saw when I had reached the end of the field.

The entire field was surrounded by a thick, almost impenetrable forest save for a single dirt road, the only way in and out.

As the road nor the forest were on the map it made me stop and think for a moment.

 

“Is this the wrong map after all?” I wondered.

 

I drove, slowly, towards and over the road through the thick forest.

It was truly ancient for the trees were plentiful and of kinds I had never seen before.

It seemed as though all types of trees on this very earth inhabited that forest.

It took me not long, about 5 minutes, before I passed through to the other side.

I was greeted with a large, paved road.

My first sign of civilization.

I looked on the map once more, and it seemed to be the road leading towards the town I had marked before, the town that lay nine miles off of the place of my awakening.

I drove towards the village, keeping the same pace as I had before, looking left and right to see if I could find anything out of the ordinary.

But after five miles of finding nothing, I relaxed.

I do not know where I had been, or how I got there, but at least I was rid of it.

I entered the small town and saw something that startled me.

You know how, when you meet a person that looks rather… Peculiar, you start feeling a slight sense of dread.

As though you are being warned not to go to close to those kinds of people.

What I saw there was exactly that.

Only, I did not feel the dread, I could see it.

I could see the people, walking along like they normally would, but I also saw something following them.

A dark presence, not quite ghost, not quite human.

Almost as though their shadows had risen from the ground and begun stalking them.

It was a terrifying sight.

I quickly drove to a parking lot, which was thankfully empty save for one lone pickup truck, and parked the car.

As I opened the door, a little girl ran up to me.

 

“Heya mister.” She shouted.

 

I must have jumped almost a feet in the air out of sheer fright.

I looked, fearing what I expected to be there, but as I looked at her I could see no shadow breathing down her neck.

She was just an innocent little girl, nothing more, nothing less.

 

“Where is your mother, little one?”

“What do you think you’re doing there?!”

 

The mother had come up to the car and grabbed her child by the arm.

 

“I am sorry, but your daughter ran up to my car to say hi.”

“Come on, Alice. Let’s go home.”

 

I looked at the woman, confused, when I heard a loud whisper.

A whisper, trying to remain hidden but just too loud to do so.

 

“That pedophile. I should have him shot.”

 

I looked, and saw a dark figure staring back at me.

It was the woman’s shadow.

It had spoken to me.

I stepped out of the car and started walking through the streets.

Everywhere I went, I could hear the whispers.

 

“What is that doing here?”

“Why can’t he mind his own business?”

“I should round up the others and see who this mystery man really is.”

 

As I got bombarded with these insults, these threats, I quickly walked back to my car and sat down behind the wheel.

I sat and I thought.

What did all of those comments have in common?

The truth.

It seemed as though the shadows whispered to me that which the people themselves did not dare to speak out loud.

A peculiar thing.

A frightening thing, though less so now that I understood it.

 

“God, how I wish to just start CUTTING THAT CHILD!”

 

I jumped up from my chair.

That whisper was louder than the others.

Much louder and far more aggressive.

I looked around and saw a man walking close to my car, moving towards the pickup truck, the only other car in the parking lot.

I looked at him, and he looked at me.

 

“I should slit that prick’s throat. I’ve killed for less.”

 

I quickly averted my eyes to the map on the dashboard.

Did I hear that correctly?

Did he just say that he had murdered people?

That was the point where it all went downhill for me.

I thought I knew what I had.

I thought I could control it.

That I could use it.

And the fool that I am, I did use it.

I blackmailed, I schemed, I became that of which the shadows spoke.

I knew every dark secret, every unsolved murder and I loved it.

But one cannot live between such evil, between such hate.

It drove me mad, slowly but surely.

I started to fear again, fear what the people would do to me if they found out.

Fear of what the shadows could do.

Could other people hear them?

One of those days, a fear filled day, I sat in my large, rural based house in my favorite chair, drinking my now regular glass of scotch as I heard the doorbell ring.

I opened the door, but saw none there.

As I turned around, I heard a buzzing sound coming from inside the house.

I walked towards the source and saw it was the cell phone, the old brick with the still uncharged battery.

The very phone I had taken from that mysterious building two years ago.

I looked at the little display.

 

“One message.” Written in the same green letters as the ones on that damnable day.

 

I opened it, curious as to what it contained.

 

“A good day, James.

“Though I know that for you, it isn’t.

“Not anymore.

“We have watched you, James, watched your every move.

“We have studied, we have judged.

“We are starting to doubt.

“Yes, James, your greatest fear has come true.

“We know. We know everything.

“And we can end it, if we so desire.

“But I am not an unreasonable man.

“I will give you one final chance.

“One final chance to get it all right.

“We will keep an eye on you,

“J. Evers.”

 

J. Evers.

It had been two years since I had last heard that name.

Two years since I had last thought of the incident.

I had just forced it out of my mind.

Forced myself not to think about it.

But now, my fear, my confusion, my anger, it all came back to me.

One final chance…

It seemed as though this J. Evers was really the one who gave this ability to me.

I can no longer call it a gift.

Not after what I had seen.

What I had heard.

All I could think of in that moment was how.

How could I use this for good?

How could evil be used for good?

It took me a few days of pondering to come to a conclusion.

I had decided to become an officer of the law.

It was the perfect job.

I could interrogate like no other.

I would always know if someone were truly guilty, for no evil could remain hidden from me.

And so I went.

I became a cop.

A good cop.

In my career, which lasted a full year, I made almost a hundred arrests, all of them now in jail.

I was the hero now.

I was the good guy.

Funny, how a person can change so rapidly.

How I could’ve gone from being the worst scum on the planet to a nationwide hero in the matter of a year.

But still, I felt something gnawing at me.

The job had cost me much.

It was an honest job and with that comes a lot of work.

Even though I always knew who were guilty, the hard part was proving it.

I had to go through ridiculous efforts to be where I am now.

Perhaps I was just tired.

Tired of my job.

Tired of the constant pain, anger and sorrow around me.

Throughout my time with this ability, this damned curse, I have not found a single person without a shadow.

Not one innocent soul.

This does exclude children though.

I always assumed it was because children still have their innocence to protect them.

But, as I was saying, I quit my job.

Many people wept, more people cheered.

The shouting was almost deafening.

The shadows, how loud they can be.

Now that you have taken the time to read my story, I will let you in on a little secret.

Call it a ‘going away’ present.

Remember how I just said I had never met a person without a shadow before?

This is actually false.

There was one person.

It was during my time as a cop that I first met this individual.

The first time I saw her was on a ship.

A large, Chinese freighter to be exact.

I could see her looking from out of one of the containers.

The only reason I even noticed her was because I did not see a shadow, I saw an angel.

There was no darkness, only light.

She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.

A short woman with bright, white hair and deep, blue eyes…

Oh, her eyes.

As if I were a snake and she were an enchantress, holding me in her spell the moment I gazed into her eyes.

I could not keep myself from looking.

I had never, in my life, seen such pure goodness.

But something else about her struck me as odd.

I could’ve sworn I had seen this woman before, though I knew not when nor where.

That same day I filed for an investigation into the Chinese freighter, but to no avail.

It was registered under the name of one of the most powerful people in the world, the boss of one of the most notorious human trafficking cartels in history.

What the white man has done to the black in the days of old was nothing compared to what this ‘human’ does to his ‘products.’

That girl, she was the reason I started the last job of my career.

A three month long infiltration into that notorious cartel.

A road that led straight down to the deepest circles of hell guarded by the most deplorable creatures known to man.

I had been working towards my goal for many weeks, constantly fueled by that vision of the girl.

Human traffickers have always disgusted me, but she made it a matter of life or death.

A being of pure good in the hands of the most evil, it could not be, it must not be, it cannot be!

To knowingly sell a human being, to break his, or her soul into submission for nothing more than money has repulsed me ever since I learned of the practice, and now I stood among them.

I had infiltrated the biggest cartel on this side of the pacific.

I had worked my way up from a lowly drug dealer to the big boss’ right hand man.

And today was the day the day I were to meet him in person, my only lead to the girl.

Strapped with my two most trusted guns, I waited.

I waited in a dark, empty room with nothing more than two chairs, a table and one door, in and out.

I waited and I waited.

I waited for what must have been an hour before I grew suspicious.

 

“Were they on to me?” I thought to myself.

 

I made my way to the door and opened it slowly.

A large, dark hallway stretched out farther than I could see.

Doors covering the walls, all numbered.

Product ID’s.

I walked.

Walked through the dark hoping to find the light.

I walked and walked.

I walked until, finally, I saw a faint light.

A small beam coming from under one of the seemingly infinite amount of doors.

I approached it, slowly.

First I listened, just to be sure I wouldn’t walk where I was not supposed to be.

Even the right hand man of the boss himself is not allowed to know everything.

I had heard nothing for at least three minutes, and deemed it safe to enter.

What I saw there, I will never forget.

It is what haunts me to this day.

My demon, an angel.

What I saw standing in that room was the woman, short with bright, white hair and deep, blue eyes…

Oh God, her eyes.

When I looked into them, this time from up close, I could not believe that she were a human being.

I snapped myself out of her gaze and looked around the small, dirty room.

I attempted to find what I had found with all the others.

A shadow.

Just to be certain, as I could still hardly believe a person this pure existed, but here I could find none.

I could only see her.

Her and her eyes.

Eyes that begged.

Eyes that needed my help.

 

“What is your name?” I asked her, trying speak with as little compassion as I could.

“Angelica.”

 

She spoke so softly.

Almost as if she were going to break.

She seemed so fragile.

 

“Come.” I said.

 

She looked at me, fear in her eyes but, as soon as she saw my face, she smiled.

 

“I can see you, angel.”

 

She hugged me, almost as if she knew that all would be well.

She was safe.

I left the small, dark room with her that day.

We came so close.

I had finally reached my car and was already attempting to find the key in my pocket.

It was gone.

All that I could find was a note.

 

“J. Evers.”

 

I heard a gunshot.

I felt her grip on my arm tighten, then loosen.

I felt her sliding down my leg.

I heard her falling to the ground.

I turned around to see what I should’ve seen coming.

 

“A good day, James.”

 

I saw a shadow, only a shadow.

There was no man, no creature that bound it.

It was evil in its purest form.

 

“Why?” I had fallen to the floor, and wept on Angelica’s slowly freezing body.

“My right hand man, I could’ve known.

“You know how much money is on your head.?”

 

A man walked from behind the shadow.

 

“A five with seven zero’s my friend.

“That’s no small fry.”

 

He came closer and closer, step by step.

 

“Too bad I had to off her as well.

“She seemed like a fine product.”

 

He stood beside me, looking at her corpse.

That was when I heard a whisper.

Not from him, but from me.

 

“Kill him.”

 

I pulled the two guns I had on me and started firing.

I just kept firing and firing, as I saw Angelica becoming less and less bright with every shot.

I emptied two full twenty round magazines into his body.

He fell to the ground, bleeding through more holes than any man would dare to count.

I looked at Angelica and saw the shadowy figure standing beside her.

He took her into his arms, placed her on the backseat of the car and drove away.

I did not attempt to follow him.

After the car had disappeared from my sight, I could hear a faint buzzing sound.

It was the cell phone.

I looked at the small, dark display.

 

“One voicemail.” It displayed.

 

I opened it.

 

“One message from the eleventh of November 2012.” A synthesized voice said.

 

2012.

Exactly 3 years ago.

Around the same time when I first discovered my curse.

A woman’s voice spoke.

 

“James?

“James, please come home.

“I miss you.

“I just want to help you.

“You’re not well.

“You’re seeing things.

“Please, even if you don’t want to be treated, at least come home to me.

“It’s so lonely here.”

 

A deep voice could be heard in the background.

 

“GET HER!”

“NO! GET YOUR HANDS OFF OF ME!”

“End of message.”

 

I sat there, stunned and confused.

Who was she?

Why did I only receive the message now?

Who were those other men?

What had happened?

I looked at the number and opened the list of contacts.

I passed out.

 

And now we have come to this point.

I awoke in the car, finding myself in the very same place where I had once left the field through the ancient forest, Angelica’s corps lying on the backseat.

The road is no longer there.

The shadow is screaming, but I don’t care.

It’s pleading, begging, but I ignore it.

I won’t be around for too long anyway.

This was my story, and of my late wife, Angelica Evers.

A Blessing, A Curse

A Little Bird’s Warning

A little bird, a hummingbird once envied by all but now old and grey, sat on a branch near the entrance of an ancient forest.
In the morning, it was the most beautiful sight ever witnessed by any creature.
The gentle wind would whisper to the lonely traveler, and guided the swaying trees

“Come to me.” It would say.
“Come to me.” The trees nodding in agreement.

But in the night, as the little critter knew, the forest would show all those within its darker purpose for it was no ordinary forest.
In it lay something long forgotten.
Something of which the people dare not speak.
All who knew what hid inside the dark twists and turns of the thick forest had perished to the evil that roamed within.
The little bird though, small, weak and weary as it was, still remembered.
Remembered what would happen to any and all who ventured too far and long past its gates.
It knew the whispers, knew the words and it even knew the being behind it.
A terrible thing, one that had scarred its little soul for this existence and the next.
And for this reason, the little bird would sit on his branch near the entrance, the maw of the great forest, and warn any passersby of their impending doom.

“Return now, for only death awaits those fools who venture onward!” It would cry out in a fiendish shriek.

Often, it would have the desired effect.
It was not the message, for warnings are seldom heeded by humans, but the startling cry, a cry of utter despair that would often break the spell the forest had on its prey.
But sometimes, when a mind was just too curious, or when they were there on their own accord, it would not work.
The little bird could do nothing but see the doomed walk towards their end.
Then, under the cover of night at exactly three past twelve, one standing near the entrance could hear the most horrifying things.
Cries, wails, screams and final prayers of those still on the beast’s grounds.
When, after a few minutes, depending on how many had entered during the day, the cries would stop and a faint laugh could be heard.
A laugh and a whisper.

“Come, little critter, come to me.”

The little critter would answer the same, every night of every day.

“Why would I?”

“A life for all life.
“Come to me and I will slay no more.” The whispers would say.

The little bird, old and wise as it was, knew this to be false but still…
It hurt the small, gentle creature.
It slowly chipped away at its soul, at its sanity for it was a saintly deal to be struck.
Imagine one had the power to stop all disease.
The price, a life.
Your very own.
Would you do this?
Most would, but what if it were a great risk.
What if it were uncertain that the disease would even stop, would one persist?
Would you?
The evil knew of this inner conflict as it knew all within its dark domain, for it repeated the damning words every night of every day.
One dark, winter’s day, after the beast had feasted well, it once again spoke to the bird.
It whispered into its ear the same thing as it always does.

“Come, little critter, come to me.”

Only this time, the little bird fell of its branch near the entrance of the dark forest.
It crashed to the soft, leaf covered ground below and lay there motionless for what seemed to be hours.
Eventually, the bird got up and started walking the path.
It hopped along, one of its legs slightly injured from the fall, toward its doom.
I just sat, watched and listened.
Then, at what my watch claimed to be exactly three past twelve, I heard a faint whisper in the dark.
A whisper so gentle that if one tried to force it into his mind, it would break and be lost forever.
It spoke thus.

“A little bird, old and grey, sat on a branch one dark, winter’s day.
“It sat and watched the people below, warning them of utter woe.
“Yet the people did not heed the cries of the little bird, and fell to me, their undying guilt.
“For this forest, a forest of death, with a creature of own design.
“It haunts us all, just a matter of time.”

A Little Bird’s Warning

Interview 1503: Louis Arlington

Interview 1503
Subject: Louis Arlington, Age: 7
Doctor to conduct the interview: Dr. James [REDACTED]
Note: Interview done on demand of a Mr. [REDACTED]

<Start of interview>
<James> – My name is James [REDACTED] and I will be conducting the interview of Louis Arlington.”
<James> – “Hi there Louis, is it okay if I ask you a few questions?”

The subject, Louis, nods in agreement.

<James> – “I will start with some simple questions.”
<James> – “What is your name?”
<Louis> – “Louis.”
<James> – “How old are you?”
<Louis> – “7.”
<James> – “Do you have any brothers or sisters?”
<Louis> – “No…”

The subject stares at his feet which he swings back and forth, seemingly sad.

<James> – “What are the names of your mother and father?”
<Louis> – “My daddy’s name is Jack.”
<James> – “And what is your mother’s name Louis?”

The subject mutters something unable to be heard properly.

<James> – “Could you repeat that last thing, Louis?”
<Louis> – “No.”
<James> – “Why not?”
<Louis> – “It would not be right.”
<James> – “Did you say something bad?”
<Louis> – “Yes.”
<James> – “And you don’t want your mother to hear this?”
<Louis> – “Yes.”
<James> – “And why do you think she’ll know what you’ve said here, to me?”
<Louis> – “Because you will tell her.”
<James> – “I am a doctor, Louis. This means that the things spoken of in this room will never go past it’s walls.”
<Louis> – “No.”
<James> – “No?”
<James> – “What do you mean with saying “No?”

The subject looks at the floor, seemingly unwilling to respond.

<James> – “Louis, can you remember when I asked you if you have any brothers or sister?”
<Louis> – “Yes.”
<James> – “Why did you answer no?”
<Louis> – “Because I don’t have any brothers or sisters.”
<James> – “Let me rephrase my question. Have you ever had any brothers or sisters?”
<Louis> – “Yes.”
<James> – “Was it a boy, or a girl?”
<Louis> – “My sister.”
<Louis> – “She has always been kind to me.”
<Louis> – “She was so scared, though. Have you ever had that feeling, Doctor? Where the person you love most is scared and there is nothing you can do about it?”
<James> – “Louis, the next question is very important and I must ask you to answer it, no matter the cost. Can you do this for me?”
<Louis> – “Maybe.”

The subject suddenly starts scratching his arm.
This might be something not directly related to the matter at hand as this behavior has not been shown before by the subject, but I will note it here for later reference.

<James> – “Do you know your sister is currently deceased?”
<Louis> – “Yes…”

The subject starts sobbing softly.

<James> – “And do you know that your mother, too, is currently deceased.”
<Louis> – “My mother? She is not dead! I just saw her! I saw her looking at me! Staring…”

The subject seems to have become slightly agitated.
I will continue the interview as the possibility has arisen to pressure the subject into answering some of the tougher questions at hand.

<James> – “Louis, do you remember the accident?”
<Louis> – “No! What accident?”
<James> – “Louis, how did your sister die?”
<Louis> – “She slipped and fell…”
<James> – “Louis, she didn’t slip and fall.”
<Louis> – “But she did! I saw it! I was there!”
<James> – “Louis, she didn’t slip and fall. But you were indeed there.”
<Louis> – “She… She was running with a knife. We aren’t allowed to do that by mother.”

The subject is silent for a moment.

<Louis> – “Mother would’ve been so mad at her… I helped her!”
<James> – “You helped her?”
<Louis> – “Yes! Yes…”
<James> – “How did you help her, Louis?”
<Louis> – “I took the knife from her. So she wouldn’t be hurt…”
<James> – “Hurt by whom?”

The subject seems to mutter the word “Mother” though I can not be certain of this.

<James> – “Louis. What happened after you took the knife from her?”
<Louis> – “I DONT KNOW!”

The subject seems rather furious, though I presume he knows of what I speak.
There is no confusion in his eyes or manner of speaking.
He is fully aware of his situation and of his acts.

<James> – “Louis, I know what you did.”

The subject remains quiet and has resumed to weeping softly, rocking his head back and forth.

<James> – “Louis? Are you alright?”
<Louis> – “Never better doctor! Why?”
<James> – “Do you remember what I just said?”
<Louis> – “Yes. You asked me if I could answer a few questions. A few simple questions.”

The subject seems to have forgotten all that has happened in the last few minutes.
His state of mind seems to have also, reset of sorts.
He is once again the same boy that walked in here during the beginning of the interview.
Or so he makes it seem.

<James> – “Louis. I know you murdered your sister.”

The subject remains quiet, yet it seems as though he is in no way shocked by my sudden statement, confirming my former hunch.

<James> – “I know you murdered your mother.”
<Louis> – “So close, yet so far away.”

I might be mistaken, as it was brief, but I thought I noticed a slight smile on the face of Louis.
I can confirm though, that if it were indeed a smile, it was not his.

<James> – “What is your name?”
<Louis> – “Don’t you know doc? Think real hard.”
<James> – “Please, what is your name?”
<Louis> – “My name. Lost in time. Lost in space. Lost like the mother’s and the sister’s ways.”
<James> – “TELL ME YOUR NAME!”
<Louis> – “Death and murder I have been called. Bundy and Gacy. Satan down below and God up high. You know me well for I haunt within all that dream.”

<End of interview>

PS. At the end of the interview the subject was returned to his cell and James [REDACTED] was discharged from the specific case on account of work related stress from the many interviews with the subject, Louis Arlington.

Interview 1503: Louis Arlington

Dying Breath

I lay here, breathing my final breaths with great anticipation.
It might seem odd that a dying man, like myself, were keen to die, but you must understand that I have waited long for this moment.
These final minutes leading up to the last liberating breath.
You must know that I am not a man of great depression or sorrow.
I have lead a good life, even though it has been a rocky road at times, but I have no complaints.
I have known true love, a feat not all dying men can share.
I have known great sorrow, for even the truest love is vulnerable to the uncertainty that is life.
Even so, it broke me not.
A strong will is a trait that runs throughout the family, the origin being on my mother’s side, and this has helped me overcome any obstacle I have encountered throughout my life.
Though I am still a young man, no older than eighteen years of age, I can say that I have lived a full life.
Whether I were to die now or at the old age of eighty would make no difference to me.
No, it is not depression that brought me here.
It was curiosity that shall soon kill the cat.

I have always had a fascination for death.
The idea seemed so foreign to me yet I could not shake the joy I felt when trying to envision my own demise.
I would spend many days wondering, thinking, dreaming about death.
How would I die?
Would I die of old age?
Would I be stricken down by disease?
Would I be slain by my fellow man?
As I lay here now I can tell you that it was all a construct of my own.
I suffer the most ironic of demise, by my own hand.
No, I hold no knife or gun to my throat or head.
I stand not on a bridge nor do I have a noose tied firmly around my neck.
No, I chose a softer passing.
I drank myself to death.
Many years of extensive consummation of alcohol has brought me to this point.
My liver is dying and my mind suffers.
They did ask me if I wanted to accept a donor organ, as a means to extend my shortened life, but I refused politely telling them that somewhere there would be a man or woman more deserving of such a thing.
Finding the right donor is a rare occurrence, rarer than winning the lottery, so I could not help but chuckle when they told me they had found one that fit me like a glove.
I could not help but laugh at their reaction when I told them no.
The doctor even asked me why.
I told him plain and simple that I wished to die.
That it would be a wasted effort to extend my life.
He merely looked at me in a strange manner and left the room.
I am certain he has told the others of what I had said, for no doctor or nurse now enters this room.
There is but one, a young woman whom I have grown fond of that comes in every now and then to bring me my food.
She is a truly good soul and I am glad I had the honour of meeting her before my final song is sung.
It is strange, but she seems very familiar to me.
The way she speaks to me.
The way she moves, even how she looks.
A peculiar thing.

But, as I was writing, I had a problem with alcohol. I still do.
The nurse I just spoke of, kind as she is, always brings me a small glass of whiskey with my dinner.
She refused the first two times and asked me why on the third.
I answered her question as I had answered the doctor.
She, however, did not shun my answer.
It almost seemed as though she understood, although I sincerely hope she doesn’t.
It is not that I even like alcohol, it is just a very elaborate way of taking my own life.
I have never been able to exercise the act of suicide.
My wrists know the knife as my head and neck know the gun and noose, yet I have never followed through.
Perhaps I am not that strong willed as I originally thought.
Perhaps I am just a coward, seeking an easy way.
I hope not, but I do wonder.
Nevertheless, I lay here now.
It is too late for regrets.
It is too late to change what I have done.
I have even made sure that I would hurt no one with my coming end.
Friends I have none, I made sure of that.
Children I never had for I would not make a good father nor husband.
I have never passed for a normal person and to knowingly transfer these genes to another human being would be nothing less than a sin.
None should be forced to live as I have.

I am rambling again, and I must ask for your apology.
Now that I am so close to meeting the reaper, I fear I’m growing weak.
Just a normal reaction, fear of dying.
It makes no sense though, for there is no way I will walk out of this hospital alive.
I can feel my limbs growing weaker by the minute.
I can feel my mind getting weary.
The moment I close my eyes I will pass on, but this is not how I want to go.
I know how I want to go.
I’ve always known that.
I want to shake his hand.
Shake the hand of the reaper.
My greatest desire and one of the causes of my current state.
When he comes for me, and he will come soon, I will meet him as a friend.
I will invite him to a conversation.
I will speak and he will speak.
We will talk from dusk till dawn.
We will talk until the nurse, Lillith is her name, enters the room and checks my silent pulse.
After she discovers my passing I will greet her a final farewell.
A final kiss on the cheek.
I just hope Lillith will not take it too hard, my passing.
I am sure she won’t, but I just fear her good nature will get the better of her.
She reminds me much of me, of how I once loved my wife.
How she loved me.
My friends have always said I worry too much.

I fear I must now interrupt my writing.
In these last few lines the air has become colder, more dense.
I can feel his presence.
It has been an honour, dear reader.

May I we meet another time, in a better place,
Signed…

 

“A peculiar man.”
“I agree.”

The two officers sit at the small table beside the bed of the late patient, one smoking a cigar as the other held the letter in his hand.

“There is just one thing I don’t understand.”
“Just one?”

The man chuckled as he made his remark.

“Who is Lillith?”
“I do not know. But I believe there is a question better answered first.”
“And that is?”
“Who was this man?”

Dying Breath

The Crypt under the Northern Star

“So.”

The old man took a sip from his mug.
A strange, seemingly glowing, yellow liquid flowed into his mouth and dripped alongside his thick, white beard.

“You have found me.”

The few candles, scattered randomly around the small pub shuddered for a moment as the old man turned to reveal his worn, wrinkled face.

“Are you ready to pay up?”
“Yes.”
“There is no going back.”

Another sip was taken from the large mug.
A strong, vile smell emanated from the mouth of the old man with each spoken word.

“I am certain.”

The old man sighed.

“As you wish.”

He stood up from his old bar stool, the drink had disappeared altogether, and started walking towards the back of the pub.
It was unbelievably dark, yet one could clearly see strange, almost human silhouettes sitting at the few tables strewn around the bar’s small interior.

“Do not stray.”

The old man walked and walked for far longer than the building could be long and after a journey of at least ten minutes through the suffocating darkness, a light could be seen in the distance.

It was a faint light, a warm light, yet it could not be trusted.
Almost as if it tried to speak.
Tried to warn.
The point of no return.
The old man walked towards the light, it’s source a candle on a small, dark, round table with two chairs of the same wood and colour.
The old man took the chair closest to me and pulled it away from the table, beckoning me to come and take a seat.

“Sit. Please.”

I moved towards the chair, noticing the many shadowy silhouettes from before were now standing around the circle of light.
They were just in the light, in such a way that it would’ve been impossible for them to be actual shadows, yet they stayed their place, seemingly afraid to come any closer.
They trembled, some even waved and shouted without a voice.
A final warning.
Impending doom.
But I was certain.
I would not sway from my quest.
I approached the chair and sat as the old man walked towards the opposite end of the peculiar table and took a seat of his own.
I had not noticed this from a distance, but the table was engraved with many signs, images and texts both known and foreign to me.
The engravings were odd as they seemed to emit a certain light.
A yellow light.
A moving light.
Almost liquid.

“Jonathan. I will ask you once more. Do you wish to continue?”
“Yes.”
“Very well.”

The old man beckoned into the darkness.
After a short delay, a shade holding a mug containing a yellow liquid walked towards the table.
The old man took the mug and the shadow disappeared without a trace.
As though it were nothing more than a figment of my own imagination.
The silhouettes shuddered for a moment, as the candles had shuddered before.
Slowly, the old man took a sip from the mug.
One sip, two sips and a third.
Then he stopped, placed the mug on the table and slowly moved it towards me.
I took the large cup and placed it on my lips.
The smell was even more vile this close to my nose.
It made me shiver, but not out of disgust.
Out of fear.
I drank, one sip, two sips and a third.

“Now that you are ready, listen close and remember my words, for I will only say this once and no more.
“Deep down under the far off northern star lies a crypt.
“A crypt older than man, older than the world itself.
“It has been there forever, and will remain even longer.
“This crypt is where you must go.
“You must venture to it, but never near it.
“You must await at a minimum of a hundred paces and a maximum of two hundred.
“After reaching a point that feels right to you, you must lay down and close your eyes.
“Only you must not fall asleep, for the creatures will drag your soul into their world if you do.
“After you have closed your eyes, you will hear much noise.
“There will be pain, suffering and pleading.
“You will hear your loved ones begging for your help, but you must not listen.
“I will not say they are not your loved ones, for they could very well be, but still you must not open your eyes.
“After roughly ten minutes you will start feeling sharp stings in your chest.
“Keep your eyes closed, the creatures can not harm you, not with the liquid running through your veins.
“After another ten minutes you must remain still for thirteen more.
“This is the most difficult part of all for what you will hear now, I can not prepare you.
“Your soul itself will be ripped from your body and placed across of you, begging you.
“It will bargain, pray, do whatever it can to save you.
“You must not listen, you must not open your eyes.
“After exactly thirteen minutes the sounds will stop and you may look.
“The crypt will now lay in front of you.
“It’s doors slightly opened, beckoning you to come and enter it’s long, damned halls.
“This you must do.
“For what reason you go, I know not and I wish not to know.
“It is your journey and yours alone.
“You may now ask me one question that I will answer truthfully, for I am no fiend.”

I looked around me.
The shadows had all disappeared, save for one.
It stared at me with a faceless grin.

“What happens when I open my eyes prematurely?”

The old man stopped and looked me straight in the eyes, his filled with terror.

“A fate more horrible than any imaginable.
“Not Lucifer nor God up high would dare open their eyes to the horrors that come from that infernal crypt.”

The old man stood up, and walked into the darkness.
The shadow approached me after which point I fainted.
I awoke to find myself back upon the Scottish hills where I had found the pub, only now it was abandoned and in a deplorable state.
I have yet to decipher the meaning of the old man’s words, but I know that their secrets will reveal themselves to me in due time.

The Crypt under the Northern Star