Tales of the Übermensch Fiction

Warning: NSFW


To my dear readers:


This page contains a pair of stories I wrote immediately following the completion of my autobiographical novel Tales of the Übermensch: Hack.World in what was eventually to be an erotic anthology series.  I only got to write the first and sixth(final) stories, however.


Recently, however, I got back to writing, and wrote a third story, the second in the series.  Eventually, I will write the full series.


A few notes:


First, as indicated previously, these stories have erotic elements and are not safe for work.


Secondly, while the first and second stories can be read without any knowledge of the novel Tales of the Übermensch: Hack.World and is largely standalone, the final story (sixth in an unfinished series) really requires that you've read the book in order to fully understand or appreciate it.  It also is helpful to have seen the anime "Death Note" in order to really "get" it.


Enjoy.
 
-Nada the Damned


--------------------------------------


Tales of the Übermen­sch: The Series
Stave 1: Fa­ther’s Day

Pro­logue


It is Septem­ber 12th, 2003.


I am 32 years old. My name is Mar­cus.


I am sit­ting at my din­ing room table in com­plete still­ness as a woman stands to my right. She speaks soft­ly into my right ear. My eyes are closed. Her name is Delilah Han­son, and she has been my lover for four months. Delilah is ap­prox­i­mate­ly 5’2” tall, and around 300 pounds. She is not the type of per­son I would or­di­nar­i­ly choose to be with, but as I lis­ten to her words in the pan­icked dark­ness, I know the truth. I am not with her of my own free will. In fact, I am not with her at all. She is with me.


She is a mon­ster. A mas­ter of sub­ver­sion of the human mind. I am mere­ly her lat­est vic­tim.


I sus­pect she en­joys these lit­tle games she plays with me. I live a dou­ble life be­cause of her. In one life, I am a suc­cess­ful IT pro­fes­sion­al. I like Japanese anime. I’m into rough sex and kinky role­play. I have a cat. I drive a nice car and have a lot of ex­pen­sive toys in my apart­ment. I be­lieve my­self to be a good, hon­est per­son.


I am de­lud­ing my­self.


The other life I lead is like a skip­ping stone across the still wa­ters of a pond. Every time the stone skims the sur­face of the water, I am al­lowed to re­mem­ber what is re­al­ly hap­pen­ing to me. All my hor­ri­fied mem­o­ries come rush­ing back, and I know that I have wel­comed some­thing in­com­pre­hen­si­bly evil into my life. Some­times I know her as “The Killer”. On nights like tonight, I am al­lowed to know that “The Killer” is mere­ly a mask that she wears. She calls her­self “The Übermen­sch,” and has de­clared that she is the ful­fill­ment of Friedrich Ni­et­zsche’s prophe­cy of a Ni­hilist mes­si­ah. She has de­clared her­self the God of a new world.


When this ses­sion is over, she will make me for­get again, as she has for all of our pre­vi­ous ses­sions. I will con­tin­ue on in my“nor­mal” life, obliv­i­ous to the fact that any­thing is wrong.


The stone sails through the air, never know­ing when it will touch the water again.


“Delilah” wields hyp­no­sis like a weapon of mass de­struc­tion. Al­ready, she con­trols count­less peo­ple, and won’t rest until she con­trols ev­ery­one in the world. She has proven this to me and to me alone, by fore­telling the fu­ture in these brief, heart-freez­ing ses­sions. I can do noth­ing but lis­ten with my eyes closed as she goes on.


She tells me that soon Gray Davis will be re­called as Gov­er­nor of Cal­i­for­nia; he will be re­placed by ac­tion movie star Arnold Schwarzeneg­ger.


Later, a man named Gary Ridge­way will con­fess to being the Green River Killer as part of a plea agree­ment, and will admit to mur­der­ing 48 women. He will re­ceive a sen­tence of life in prison with­out pa­role.

Later still, Sad­dam Hus­sein will be cap­tured in Tikrit, Iraq. He will be con­vict­ed of crimes against his own peo­ple and hanged.


Singer El­liott Smith will com­mit sui­cide by stab­bing him­self in the chest. A de­ter­mi­na­tion will never be made as to whether or not he was mur­dered.


Singer and no­table ec­cen­tric Michael Jack­son will be in­dict­ed by a grand jury for child mo­lesta­tion, but will later be ac­quit­ted. In six years he will be dead of an ap­par­ent drug over­dose on the eve of a world­wide come­back tour over two years in prepa­ra­tion.


Mas­sachusetts will le­gal­ize same-sex mar­riage.


Pres­i­dent George W. Bush will be re-elect­ed to a sec­ond term.


My glimpse into the fu­ture ends there.


In the dark­ness, I feel the floor mov­ing un­der­neath my chair. I hear the sound of a chair being placed next to me, and the wood creaks as Delilah sits down.


I know what comes next. The Übermen­sch wants to re­veal more of her great­ness to me. I do not know why she tells me the fu­ture, but the next time she and I meet, whether I am con­front­ed by mes­si­ah or mur­der­er, venge­ful god or glee­ful devil, I will re­mem­ber these
events, and some of them will have al­ready come to pass.

For now, it is story time.


I feel her breath against my skin as she be­gins to tell me of a man named John Forsyth.


O-O-O


Your name is John Forsyth. You are 29 years old.


Your name is John Forsyth, and you are a fit, at­trac­tive man who works as a lit­i­ga­tor in down­town Chica­go. You live in a mil­lion dol­lar town­house on the Gold Coast with a ten­ant that rents a room. His name is Jim and he works as an in­ter­na­tion­al air­line pilot for Sin­ga­pore Air­lines, leav­ing you alone most of the time.


That’s fine with you. It gives you free­dom and pri­va­cy to in­dulge in your only drug: a con­stant, in­tox­i­cat­ing pa­rade of women you pick up in night­clubs, fuck once, and then dis­card like so much toi­let paper.

The sex is good, and you’re a good lover, but truth be told, it’s not the fuck­ing that’s the best part. It’s the fact that they want more of you.

They want to date you; you are a “catch”, after all.


But they can’t have you. No one can.


Your great­est rush comes from telling a beau­ti­ful hope­ful that you aren’t in­ter­est­ed in a re­peat per­for­mance. Watch­ing their crest­fall­en, con­fused faces is al­most enough to make you come in your pants.

Some­times, you give them a phony tele­phone num­ber in­stead. You enjoy the irony of giv­ing out the num­ber for a les­bian bar in Lake­view called “Meow Mix”. It’s enough to bright­en your whole day.


Every few months, you call Meow Mix and say, “This is John Forsyth, are there any mes­sages for me?” just so you can roar with laugh­ter as the owner screams at you for being such an ass­hole.


O-O-O


It is Febru­ary 23rd, 1997. It is 5:57PM.


You are sip­ping a cup of cof­fee in your of­fice, glanc­ing over an am­i­cus brief, when your boss, a friend­ly, fright­en­ing­ly bril­liant man named Rob, knocks on your open door.


“Yeah, Rob. Come in.”


Rob is hold­ing a mi­cro­cas­sette recorder with a pair of head­phones at­tached to it by a thin wire. He clos­es the door.


“John, you have to hear this. It’s from Michelle’s de­po­si­tion today. Her client pulled the rug out from un­der­neath her on cross; Mc­Daniel v. Swin­don is com­plete­ly fucked now.”


You reach for the recorder and un­plug the head­phones. Rob waves you off.


“No, with the head­phones. I don’t want the sec­re­taries or par­ale­gals hear­ing; this is how ugly ru­mors get start­ed, and Michelle may be fac­ing an ethics in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Guess who has to brief the part­ners in the morn­ing?”


You shrug, and plug the head­phones back in. You slip them on, and press play.


A thrum­ming sound fills your ears. You are con­fused for a mo­ment as your jaw drops open. Your eyes glaze as the sound ramps up into the ul­tra­son­ic.


A woman’s voice be­gins speak­ing to you through the head­phones. A blank ex­pres­sion on your face, you lis­ten with­out aware­ness for ex­act­ly thir­ty min­utes. The last in­struc­tion on the tape is for you to turn off the record­ing, which you do im­me­di­ate­ly and with­out thought.

“Take off the head­phones and hand me back the recorder.” Rob’s voice is ca­su­al.


You com­ply.


“Now, bring up your Mi­crosoft Mail.” He in­structs you to send a blank email to a cer­tain email ad­dress. Al­most in­stant­ly, an email is re­ceived in reply, a se­ri­al num­ber is in­clud­ed as a sub­ject line. Rob in­structs you to read the num­ber care­ful­ly, then open and read the mes­sage.

It takes you al­most fif­teen min­utes. When you are fin­ished, you spend seven min­utes com­pos­ing a reply be­fore delet­ing all ev­i­dence of the emails from your sys­tem. Rob slips out qui­et­ly, tak­ing his mi­cro­cas­sette recorder with him.


After a minute or so you blink, be­liev­ing you’ve mere­ly zoned out. After check­ing your watch, you de­cide that you’ve done enough for today and go home. All mem­o­ry of Michelle’s dis­as­trous de­po­si­tion, in­deed, even the barest whiff of Rob’s visit has been
wiped from your mem­o­ry.


As you sit in the back of a taxi on your way home, some­thing in­side of you is scream­ing and cry­ing. You are no longer a man, you are a slave. You have be­come a drone in the Human Hive.


And your sub­con­scious mind is bleed­ing from the vi­o­la­tion.


O-O-O


It is April 29th, and you are sit­ting in a night­club, Club Mi­ran­da, on Michi­gan Av­enue. It’s a bar for lawyers, and the gold dig­gers that often sur­round them. This is a prime hunt­ing ground for you.


A woman ap­proach­es, and of­fers to buy you a drink. She says her name is Geor­gette, but all her friends call her George. She is ab­so­lute­ly stun­ning in a red minidress and seamed stock­ings. In fact, she is by far the most beau­ti­ful woman that has ever pre­sent­ed her­self to
you. The con­ver­sa­tion is free and easy, and you find your­self, against all prob­a­bil­i­ty, warm­ing to this woman. To your sur­prise and de­light, she is a cor­po­rate at­tor­ney at a firm owned by Wells Fargo, a full part­ner at age 33, and being both alums of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan School of Law, the two of you have a lot in com­mon.


Two hours and four cock­tails later, you kiss her in the back of a cab as you make your way back to her place. Her apart­ment is el­e­gant­ly ap­point­ed, and, still in the mar­ble and glass foyer, her dress quick­ly slides to the floor to re­veal she wears La Perla be­neath her clothes. The en­sem­ble must cost near­ly a thou­sand dol­lars.


“I love Ital­ian lin­gerie,” you tell her, kiss­ing be­tween her breasts. She un­snaps one garter, then the other, and leads you by the hand into the bed­room.


Once in bed, you can’t seem to get enough of her. There is an emo­tion­al res­o­nance be­tween you, it seems, as your cock slides naked in and out of her de­light­ful pussy, adorned as it is by the nar­row­est of land­ing strips. Her ex­per­tise in love­mak­ing is matched only by your own, and you come to­geth­er, cry­ing out each other’s names in the dark­ness. There has been no dis­cus­sion of dis­eases or preg­nan­cy, only the need the two of you share for one an­oth­er. Your bod­ies en­twine in a beau­ti­ful world free of con­se­quence.


One ses­sion leads to an­oth­er, and to a third, then a fourth. You thrilled by this woman and her mar­velous tech­niques. For the first time in as long as you can re­mem­ber, you feel some­thing for some­one other than your­self, and this fright­ens you. Still, you are com­pelled to keep going, until near­ly two in the morn­ing, when you col­lapse in a heap and sleep until dawn.


You dress quick­ly in the light­en­ing bed­room; you still have to go home, show­er, and change. A de­po­si­tion awaits you in three hours.

George crawls to­ward you in her king sized bed, the beau­ty of her naked form only en­hanced by the bright­en­ing glow from out­side. She asks for your num­ber.


With­out think­ing, you hand over one of your busi­ness cards, which has your cell phone num­ber print­ed on it. You want to see this woman again. You need more of what she can offer you.


Geor­gette doesn’t call, so, still feel­ing horny, you make your way that night to Essex, a club on the Gold Coast, with­in walk­ing dis­tance of your home. You order a Dos Equis and seat your­self at the bar. With­in ten min­utes a woman in a skirt suit si­dles up to you and smiles.


“Hi, I’m Janelle—”


“Janelle Swen­son, from Chan­nel 9 WGN,” you fin­ish, of­fer­ing your hand with a grin. “I know ex­act­ly who you are, and I loved your piece on tort re­form last month, even though I dis­agreed with it.”


“Oh? Are you an at­tor­ney?”


Six hours later, Janelle is col­lect­ing her cloth­ing from the floor, your busi­ness card in her hand, as you offer to call her a cab. The sex, like the night be­fore, has been phe­nom­e­nal, and you feel com­pelled to see her again. You won­der at the pos­si­bil­i­ty of jug­gling two women at once; the prospect is alien to you, but won­der­ful and scary at the same time.


An­oth­er night, an­oth­er club, an­oth­er drop-dead gor­geous woman. The pat­tern con­tin­ues.


O-O-O


“I’m telling you, Rob, I think I’ve ac­tu­al­ly got­ten bet­ter look­ing.”

You are brag­ging to your boss. It has been 30 days of won­der, 30 women of ex­cep­tion­al beau­ty, and 30 nights of un­fath­omable pas­sion. You tell him that amongst your con­quests over the last month, you have bed­ded a TV pre­sen­ter, four cat­a­log mod­els, three run­way mod­els, three fea­ture dancers, and a fash­ion de­sign­er. The sex has been the best you have ever had in your life.


“Youth is wast­ed on the young,” Rob says dis­mis­sive­ly as the two of you sit in your of­fice, the door closed. “I can’t even get my wife to put out more than once a week. Twice, if I’m very lucky. I don’t know how you have the stami­na.”


“I’m not tired at all,” you reply. “In fact, I’ve never felt bet­ter in my life.”


Of course, there’s the trou­bling fact that de­spite giv­ing out your real num­ber on every oc­ca­sion, de­spite feel­ing an affin­i­ty for each of them, not a sin­gle one of these women has called you back.


But hell, as long as the top-shelf pussy pa­rade keeps throw­ing it­self at your feet, you have no cause to com­plain.


That night, your win­ning streak ends, and you sleep alone.


You sleep alone the next night as well.


And the one after that. De­spite going on the of­fen­sive and ag­gres­sive­ly pur­su­ing some of the women avail­able to you in the clubs, no one re­sponds. No one even nib­bles.


Weeks drag by. Weeks and weeks and weeks. You begin to de­vel­op a com­plex over your lack of sex; six weeks is the longest you’ve ever gone with­out get­ting laid since you were four­teen years old.


Fi­nal­ly, in Club Sanc­tu­ary, you meet your rain­mak­er. She is not your nor­mal type, but de­spite her 300 pound girth and sim­ple cloth­ing, her av­er­age ap­pear­ance is mes­mer­iz­ing to you. Im­pos­si­bly, she is the most beau­ti­ful woman you have ever seen, and you know that you have to have her.


O-O-O


Her name is Delilah Han­son, and she is a Di­rec­tor of Mar­ket­ing Re­search for the Nielsen Cor­po­ra­tion, which is an amaz­ing ac­com­plish­ment; she is only 24 years old. You sit across from her at a table, sip­ping a glass of ex­ot­ic schwarzries­ling, as Delilah drinks a fine mer­lot. You hang on her every word as you talk about Caribbean is­lands and Ger­man winer­ies. She laughs at your jokes, and is just as charm­ing in re­turn. You talk about your pre-law at Yale while she dis­cuss­es her six years at the Whar­ton School of Busi­ness.


It is love at first sight for you. Real, des­per­ate love. You’ve never met any­one like her. In the fa­mil­iar sur­round­ings of your bed­room, you un­dress her, kiss­ing every beau­ti­ful part of her as you un­cov­er it. Your mouth finds hers, and you plant ten­der kiss­es across her lips and down the side of her throat. She gasps as you tweak a nip­ple of her enor­mous breast with a thumb and fore­fin­ger.


She tells you that she is ready, but strange­ly, de­spite how much you want her, de­spite your blos­som­ing love for her, you are not. No mat­ter how much you will it, your cock will not stir.


“I think I need a minute.”


And so she holds you to her breast, rock­ing you gen­tly as you try to relax and clear your mind.


“Can I tell you a se­cret?” she asks.


Your eyes do not open as you rock against her, your right ear near her volup­tuous lips. “Of course."


She smiles. “You’re in a lot of trou­ble, you stupid fuck.”


Your eyes fly open as your whole body stiff­ens. She speaks a pair of words that don’t be­long to­geth­er. To your hor­ror, you can­not move.


“Close your eyes,” she coos in your ear. You com­ply. “Oh, John, John, John... What am I going to do with you?”


In­side your mind, you scream for help. You scream in con­fu­sion and rage and fear. You see her cor­pu­lent form for what it is and feel ter­ror at the sub­ju­ga­tion of your will.


“You re­al­ly are a piece of shit, do you know that? You de­stroy hap­pi­ness wher­ev­er you go, John. You de­light in dam­ag­ing the lives and es­teem of every woman you touch. You bring the promise of love, but only leave wounds be­hind.” She con­tin­ues rock­ing you against her breast. She chuck­les.


“I’m here to tell you that there will be a reck­on­ing, John. I see you. I see you, and I am not pleased. In fact, I have some­thing spe­cial planned for you.” She tells you of a song that she has writ­ten for you. It is called “Pony Boy,” and will be re­leased on the next album by the
 But­t­hole Surfers. As she re­cites the lyrics, you lis­ten in won­der and hu­mil­i­a­tion that some­one has seen you so com­plete­ly and in­ci­sive­ly. In the si­lence of your inner mono­logue, you are weep­ing. She throws her head back and laughs. “Now eat my pussy, you self­ish fuck­er!”

Delilah spreads her obese thighs and ex­pos­es her shaved slit for you; you begin to lap at her clit as a fin­ger slips in­side of her and curls up­ward, search­ing for her G-spot. She cries out in or­gasm al­most im­me­di­ate­ly, but you press on.


As she moans and gasps, she calls out a trig­ger phrase. You feel dis­ori­ent­ed as the mem­o­ries of what you have just ex­pe­ri­enced begin to fade. Some­thing in­side you tries des­per­ate­ly to hang on to them; you know that some­thing is wrong, that you are in dan­ger, that some­thing im­pos­si­ble and hor­ri­ble and evil is hap­pen­ing to you, but the mem­o­ries evap­o­rate like so much smoke.


And then there is only love. Love, and the ten­der flesh be­tween your lips.


O-O-O


“I’m sorry I wasn’t able to per­form. That’s never hap­pened be­fore.”

Delilah lies next to you, pant­ing and heav­ing. “Oh, don’t worry, you more than made up for it.” She smiles.


You feel ner­vous and afraid of re­jec­tion. “So lis­ten... I’d like to have an­oth­er op­por­tu­ni­ty to try. I’d re­al­ly like to see you again.”


Still smil­ing, Delilah reach­es for the night­stand, and writes her num­ber on a pad of paper you keep by the tele­phone. “Call me to­mor­row af­ter­noon and we’ll go to din­ner. You can buy me a steak at Gib­son’s.”

Your heart leaps in your chest. You kiss her, pas­sion­ate­ly.


O-O-O


The next day crawls by. You can’t think of any­thing but Delilah, it seems.


Fi­nal­ly, at 2:37, you can’t stand it any­more and pick up the phone to call her. You dial the num­ber she wrote. After a cou­ple of rings, there is a click.


“Forsyth Ex­ter­mi­na­tors, how may I help you?”


And your blood runs cold. You hang up the phone, dev­as­tat­ed and shak­ing. A few min­utes later, your tele­phone rings, caus­ing you to jump in your chair. You an­swer it.


“I need to see you in my of­fice, John.” It is Rob.


Filled with dread, you walk the short dis­tance to Rob’s cor­ner of­fice. There are two mid­dle aged men in the room with him, both wear­ing cheap suits. One is hold­ing a stack of flop­py diskettes.


The other one holds up a gold badge. “Mis­ter Forsyth, I am De­tec­tive O’Dann of the Chica­go Po­lice De­part­ment. Please turn around and place your hands be­hind your back.”


You look to your boss in shock. “Rob? What the fuck is this?”


“Mis­ter Forsyth, if you do not turn around and place your hands be­hind your back, you will be charged with re­sist­ing ar­rest."


You com­ply. As the hand­cuffs are placed around your wrists, the other de­tec­tive reads your Mi­ran­da rights from a small wal­let card. When he fin­ish­es, Rob ex­plains:


“Child pornog­ra­phy was found in your pri­vate di­rec­to­ry by the IT ser­vice this morn­ing, John. I’ll ar­range for bail and coun­sel through Swiss and Dun­phy, but until or un­less you are ac­quit­ted of these charges, please con­sid­er your­self ter­mi­nat­ed from Can­non, Myer, Brig­gs and Reynolds.”


He won’t even look you in the eye.


And so, for the first time in your life, you do the perp walk, past your sec­re­tary, past your col­leagues, past fuck­ing Michelle and that smug look on her fat, ugly face, God damn her.


It is a long, sleep­less night in the hold­ing tank. You stare down at your lace­less shoes and think of the sting­ing irony of being on the re­ceiv­ing end of your own game. You had given Delilah your heart, and she had shit on you.


But it was more than that. The num­ber she had given was for Forsyth Ex­ter­mi­na­tors. That was more than mere co­in­ci­dence. Didn’t that have to mean that she knew ex­act­ly who you were be­fore you met?

Yet it was you who ap­proached her.


Was it pos­si­ble—could she have some­how framed you for this crime as well?


Some­thing was very, very wrong.


In the morn­ing you are ar­raigned and charged with 37 counts of pos­ses­sion of child pornog­ra­phy. Your coun­sel, an em­bar­rassed look­ing woman from Swiss and Dun­phy states her case that you are not a flight risk, bail is set, and you are freed.


Your per­son­al prop­er­ty is re­turned in a large zip­per bag.


Forty-five min­utes later, you are home and col­lapse into an arm­chair. You open your bag of world­ly pos­ses­sions and re­trieve your cell phone.


“You have twen­ty-six new mes­sages."


“Jesus...” You’re pop­u­lar today.


“John, it’s Geor­gette Swan. I’m call­ing to let you know that I went to see the doc­tor yes­ter­day, and he’s con­firmed that I’m preg­nant; I know it’s yours, as I haven’t been with any­one else in over three months. Please call me back so we can dis­cuss this, but know that I am going to have this baby, and I am fully pre­pared to sue you for pa­ter­ni­ty if you won’t do the right thing.”


BEEP


“John, it’s Janelle Swen­son. I’m... I’m preg­nant. I’m preg­nant, and I’m keep­ing it...”


BEEP


“Hi, John, it’s Tina Unger. We met at Balzac a cou­ple of months ago. I’m call­ing to let you know that you got me preg­nant that night, and I’ve de­cid­ed that I’m going to have this child. Please call me...”


BEEP


“John, this is Donna from Essex. Please call me as soon as pos­si­ble. We have some­thing im­por­tant to dis­cuss...”


BEEP


“John, it’s Bar­bara Ben­der...”


BEEP


“John, I don’t know if you re­mem­ber me...”


BEEP


“John, it’s Alice from Club Staxx. We need to talk...”


BEEP


BEEP


BEEP


O-O-O


It is De­cem­ber 24th, 1998. It is 11:59PM.


Your name is John Forsyth. You are 31 years old.


Your name is John Forsyth, and the bar­rel of a gun is pressed against your right tem­ple.


Your name is John Forsyth, and you are the fa­ther of twen­ty-nine chil­dren by twen­ty-four dif­fer­ent moth­ers.


Janelle Swen­son abort­ed when she learned of your child pornog­ra­phy charges; it seems that it is detri­men­tal to a tele­jour­nal­ist’s ca­reer to be linked to such peo­ple. Con­nie O’Dann, daugh­ter of the de­tec­tive that ar­rest­ed you, mis­car­ried dur­ing her sec­ond trimester.

You are the fa­ther of twen­ty-nine chil­dren you will never see due to the felony child pornog­ra­phy con­vic­tion that will hang over your head for the rest of your life.


Dis­barred and dis­graced, you pled guilty in ex­change for a sus­pend­ed sen­tence. That’s all the jus­tice that three at­tor­neys and $150,000 will buy you these days; you didn’t feel you had much of a choice but to take the deal, though: some of the im­ages were of vi­o­lence against the chil­dren being mo­lest­ed, and it would be all over if a jury saw them.

Today, you live in Rock­ford, in a shit­ty stu­dio apart­ment in a bad part of town. You drive a fif­teen year old Honda Ac­cord you can bare­ly af­ford to keep on the road. You make de­cent money as a free­lance man­age­ment con­sul­tant.


De­cent for a sex of­fend­er and con­vict­ed felon, any­way.


But it seems that every spare penny you earn goes to pay court man­dat­ed child sup­port. You re­sent them all, like vul­tures, de­vour­ing ev­ery­thing you have left.


Al­ready, your looks are start­ing to fade. The stress of your ex­pe­ri­ence has aged you; it doesn’t mat­ter, though, be­cause you haven’t had an erec­tion in over a year and a half, not since be­fore Delilah. You’ve tried this new med­i­ca­tion called Vi­a­gra that is sup­posed to help with im­po­tence, but it didn’t make a lick of dif­fer­ence for you. The doc­tors say that your prob­lem is psy­cho­log­i­cal.


And so here you sit, in a ratty old chair you got from Good­will, a gun pressed to your tem­ple.


There is a gun pressed to your tem­ple this night, be­cause this morn­ing, Delilah al­lowed you to re­mem­ber.


Re­mem­ber ev­ery­thing.


How you were sub­dued in your of­fice, how you re­ceived in­struc­tions, pre­cise and dead­ly, like com­put­er code, via email over the next few weeks. How you were made to go to all those clubs and bed all those women, and how each of them was tak­ing mas­sive doses of fer­til­i­ty drugs, which ex­plains the sur­pris­ing num­ber of twins and the triplets you sired.


How your life was sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly and ut­ter­ly de­stroyed.


How you would never have an erec­tion again, would never know the mer­ci­ful touch of a woman.


How you would never be able to tell any­one any of this, ever.


How you were made to fall hope­less­ly in love with a mon­ster.


A boom box sits on a table across from you. It has been play­ing the song “Pony Boy” on a con­tin­u­ous loop for hours. The cel­lo­phane from the CD wrap­per flut­ters in the breeze from the heat­ing vent. You close your eyes.


You pull the trig­ger, or try to, any­way. Noth­ing hap­pens. Your fin­ger will not move, no mat­ter how much you will it to.


A voice speaks in your mind. Delilah’s voice, im­plant­ed long ago.

{I’m sorry, John, but I just can’t allow you to take the easy way out. You’ve been a sick, sick boy, and now it’s time for you to take your medicine. Your pun­ish­ment for at­tempt­ing sui­cide is as fol­lows...}

In­side your mind, you scream in hor­ror.


Your name is John Forsyth, and you are drone num­ber 542,913,648.


Your name is John Forsyth, and you have been judged by The Killer.


- THE END -


Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved


-------------------------------------------------


Tales of the Übermensch: The Series
Stave 2: Paranoia Agent


 

It is June, 2003.  I am 32 years old.

My name is Marcus.

I am sitting in my car, alone, unable to move.  Earlier in the evening, I had met Delilah Hanson (a serial killer known mainly as “The Killer”) for the first time, or so I had thought, ostensibly for a date.  What had happened in the intervening hours was unclear, but much later, with the sun down, I am shaken and shouted back into consciousness in the front seat of my 2001 Toyota Solara, parked in a parking lot in some unrecognizable place, and find my hands don’t work right, and I am extremely disoriented.  Believing I am having a seizure, I demand the woman in the car next to me call an ambulance.  She soothes me and calms me down.  She says if I will just relax, she will explain what has happened to me.  She asks me to sit with my hands in my lap in such a way, with the seat reclined, that I will be comfortable to sit for ten minutes or longer without moving.  Something in my mind screams: ”trap!”, but I comply.

She then asks if I can see the clock on my dashboard, and I tell her I can.  Satisfied, she speaks a trigger phrase, and freezes my body except my eyes, my ability to blink, my ability to breathe, and swallow.  I am terrified as I try to move, but say nothing.

“So,” she asks.  “What do you have to say for yourself, being a child molester and all?”

And there it was, the label I’ve been loathe to think, let alone speak, since I was ten years old and experimented by touching a two year old girl.  I was so horrified by what I had done that the behavior had never been repeated, but a line had been crossed, and I was a monster, no two ways about it.

I try to buy time.  “Oh my God… Oh my God… Oh my GOD!” I scream, trying to figure out how to get out of this.

“Marc… MARC!  If you try my patience, this is going to go very, very badly for you.”  Delilah speaks simply but with a hint of exasperation.  I bide my time, praying in my heart that I will survive the night.

Now I am sitting alone, unable to move for another thirty minutes after Delilah has left me, after which I will be able to move and simultaneously forget everything that has happened to me.  I begin to cry in earnest, and think of the girl I touched, because Delilah has promised to kill not just me, but her as well, for reasons I cannot begin to understand.  I think of the religious cult I belonged to when the incident happened, back when I was just a boy, and I am stunned that a crime I swore I would take to my grave, my infraction forever unspoken, had come spiraling out of my past to destroy my life.  The clock ticks another minute, and I wonder what I can do to protect myself.

But how am I to save myself from this evil if I am to be rendered unaware that it even exists?

O-O-O

It is five months later, November, 2003.  I am still 32 years old.

I am sitting in my apartment with the Delilah, all memory of my previous experience long forgotten, and we are in a relationship.  A relationship that has been going on for over four months.  After discussing Chuck Palahniuk’s novel Lullaby, she has come to me on a Sunday afternoon, and asked me to help her flesh out an idea I’d had the night before.  The idea that with the power described in Lullaby, the power to kill anyone in the world with a thought, one could take over the entire world and become a benevolent and anonymous dictator.  I said that it was a brilliant idea for a novel or two, or even a movie.  She had laughed at the irony that night, a development I have by now forgotten, and called me a fucking idiot for it.  I had retaliated by ordering her out of my home, and she had responded by blackmailing me.  The situation spiraled out of control, until she had finally revealed that she had been using and abusing me with hypnosis for months, at which point I tried to kill her as I remembered screaming in my car as she talked in placid tones, but my arms failed to move, and I merely informed her that I had just tried to murder her.

Fifteen minutes later, I knelt in front of my toilet, a bowl full of her shit in front of me, and she threatened to kill everyone I knew and kill everyone in the city of Milwaukee with a nuclear weapon at a future date unless I ate everything in the bowl within fifteen minutes.  I was unable to go through with it, despite the consequences, and instead begged her to make me.  She promised that she would be happy to oblige me if I failed one of her tests or tried to kill her again, once she had done a little research and put some thought into the matter, for it was apparent that it was impossible to make someone do through hypnosis what it was otherwise unconscionable or taboo for them to do.

Now, all that forgotten except for my idea for a novel or movie script based on someone using the power described in Lullaby to anonymously take over the world, and seated on the couch, she asks me to come up with a main character for my book or story.  Would the character be male or female?  I said that he should be male, like me, because I believed in writing what I know.

Her next question? Would he be as smart as me?  Less intelligent?  Smarter?  I said that he should be smart.  Incredibly smart.  If he’s to be the architect of a new world, he’d have to be the most intelligent person who ever lived.

Then: “Wait, I’ve got it!  He’s the Übermensch!”  Delilah laughs at this.

“Why is that funny?”

“I just like hearing the word Übermensch,” she says.

“Übermensch, Übermensch, Übermensch!” I exclaim, and we both laugh out loud.  What I don’t realize is that we are playing out a script that she programmed into me the night before, while in bed.  I don’t even know what an Übermensch is, but this doesn’t even occur to me at the time.

“Marcus, are you the Übermensch?” she asks.

“Hell, no.  I’m not nearly smart enough,” I say.

“Am I the Übermensch?” she asks.

“I doubt it.”

“Why do you say that?” she asks me.

“Well, I can’t say for certain that you’re not, but you keep saying that I’m smarter than you are, and if I’m not smart enough to be the Übermensch, you certainly aren’t.”

“What would you say if I told you I was the Übermensch?” she asks me.

“I’d tell you to get the hell off my couch.”

She cocks her head at this. “Why?”

I ponder for a minute.  “Because the Übermensch is supposed to save us all from ourselves. Well, I’ve seen the fucking news.  If you are the Übermensch, you’ve got a lot of fucking work to do!”

“Marcus,” she says with a coy smile, “I am the Übermensch!”

“Get the fuck off my couch,” I say. “No, go on.  Get up.  Move.  Get off my couch!”  I berate her until she finally stands up, annoyed.  “Go save us from ourselves.”

Delilah goes into the kitchen for a minute and returns with a can of soda, which she pops open.  “The Übermensch decided she wanted a Pepsi instead,” she says as she sits back down.

We share a laugh.  Hers is without mirth, and her eyes are cold and dead, something I’ve noted from time to time.  Whenever she laughs, it never reaches her eyes.

Now, she wants to know, how does our killer kill?

“With a thought, just like in Lullaby.”

“But we’re trying to make this different from Lullaby!” she reminds me.

I think of Lullaby, with its books and its grimoire, and the answer is obvious to me.  “What if he has to write down their names in a special, magical book, like a Book of the Dead?” I say.

“And how does he keep from killing people with the same name?” she asks me.

“I suppose he would think of them while writing it, just like Lullaby.”

“Again, different from Lullaby.” She reminds me.  “What if he has to think of their faces?”

“Why their faces?” I ask.

“Because there would be some people he couldn’t kill.  He’d have to find out their faces or their names in order to kill them first.  It all adds to suspense and tension, something that your book would be heavy on, and would certainly be in the suspense genre.”

“I suppose that works,” I concede.

“And how would they die?”

“I suppose something quick, like a heart attack or a stroke.”

“Well, which is it?  Reason it out,” she says.

I consider for a moment.  “Well, with a stroke, you’re basically incapacitated immediately.  With a heart attack, people have time to do things, to think things, to say things.”  The heart attack seemed like the winner, and I told her so.

“And what if he writes down a cause of death and have it happen?” she asks.

“Well, you just took my idea and make it a thousand times better!” I exclaim.

“So which is it?  Heart attack or cause of death?” she asks.

“Well, how about if he writes down a cause of death it happens.  If he just writes down a name, they die of a heart attack?”

It was perfect.  My hero would kill off pundits that I disagreed with, and corrupt and obstructive politicians.  Warlords and dictators would fall at my hand with the stroke of a pen in my books until war was a thing of the past, and freedom reigned around the world.  Then, I would turn my attention towards religion, killing off the Pope and all the cardinals, and the new Pope and all the new cardinals, until no one would accept a position of leadership in the Catholic Church, and then move on to Islam and the imams and clerics, and on and on, killing off cults and major religions one by one until people gave up the fantasies of their faiths and learned that the only paradise they had to look forward to was the one we built here on Earth with their bare hands, just like Nietzsche prophesized that the Übermensch would do.

Little did I know that Delilah already plans to turn my idea into a manga, an anime TV series, a string of live action Japanese movies, and a Japanese live action television drama, all called Death Note, which will become an international sensation.  And they would all be about an antihero commonly called “Kira” by the people, which is Japanese for “The Killer”.

Delilah then turns on the TV and turns the cable to a movie channel.  I look at her quizzically.  “Are we done?”

She triggered me into hypnagogic paralysis.  “Yes, we’re done here.  You will sit and watch these movies until I return. If you need food or drink, you will get them and consume them.  If you need to use the rest room, you will do it, and all the while as you are watching, you will imagine me with you.  You will not answer your phone, or make any phone calls, you will just watch movies until I return.  Do you understand?”

I smile.  “Yes, I understand,” I say, my eyes fixated on the TV screen.

“Good,” she says, and looks out onto the darkening sky.  “I will be back in a few hours, but as far as you are concerned, I am sitting next to you on the couch while I am gone. You will imagine us watching in silence.”  She stands up to leave, and walks out of the apartment.

O-O-O

Your name is Shiho Wright, and you are 37 years old.

Your name is Shiho Wright, and you are crying after receiving one of your husband’s gifts, your daily beating.  Looking into a mirror, you try and hold back the tears as you apply cover makeup to the black eye he gave you the other day in the hopes that your “date”, a woman you met online named Delilah, would not notice.  Half-Japanese, your skin color is not quite right for the cover-stick you used, but it will have to do.  You’re thankful that your son is away at a friend’s for a sleepover, otherwise Pete would never allow you to go out for the evening on your own.

You finish applying your makeup, dress yourself, and put on your coat.  Pete calls from the other room.  “Remember, ‘ho, I want you back by nine, or I’ll give you a beating that will make the one I just gave you seem like a first kiss.”

A first kiss.  You think back to the time you first met Pete and have to laugh.  Sometimes you wonder why he doesn’t just get it over with and simply kill you, but everything about this man, who was so charming and gentle and kind when you married him, mystifies you.

Less than an hour later, you are sitting across a somewhat attractive woman with straight, dark brown hair, grey eyes, and a rather thick build, as she was around 5’4” and over 300 pounds.  You talk a little over drinks at the Brookfield Houlihan’s, but you found that you aren’t good company.

Delilah cocks her head.  “Is it me, Shiho?” she asks.

You smile regretfully.  “Not at all; you’re very kind and sweet, but I’m afraid I have a lot of my mind.”

Delilah nods, knowingly.  “Does it have anything to do with that black eye you’re trying to hide?” she looks a little wary, as though she is nervous to bring up the subject.

You pause, then sigh.  “Yes.  It’s my husband.  He beats me nearly every day.”

Delilah looks shocked, although unbeknownst to you, with her network of workers feeding her information about everyone she deals with personally, none of this is a genuine surprise to her.  “That’s terrible!  Have you thought about leaving him?”

You close your eyes, as if you are embarrassed by her answer.  “He takes care of me financially. I’ve been a stay at home mother for sixteen years, I have no job skills, and can’t provide for myself.  Pete is very successful in his career, and I have a son to consider.  He told me if I ever left, I’d never see my son again, and I have nowhere to go; my only remaining family is in Kyoto, and I haven’t even met any of them.”

Delilah reaches across the table and takes your hand in hers.  “I want to be alone with you.  I want to hold you, to let you know everything is going to be alright.”

You blush, and know what she wants; she wants to make love to you; you are being offered a pity fuck, and that’s the last thing you want, as much as you feel you need to be held, to be loved.  But the real thing that gives you pause is the presence of bruises all over your body; you don’t want Delilah to see the marks of what Pete has done to you.  You’re ashamed.

“I- I can’t.” You are on the brink of tears and your hand trembles in hers.

It’s as if she can read your mind. “I know what you’re trying to hide, just like you’re trying to hide that black eye.  Come with me.  It will be alright.”

You skip dinner.

O-O-O

A half an hour later, the two of you are alone in the Brookfield Motel Six, and despite your protests, the lights stay on as Delilah removes your clothing, piece by piece.  When she is finished, she has you lie down on the bed next to her, and begins to kiss your bruises, one by one, until your entire body is covered with your kisses along with the purple and green of old and new abrasions and contusions.  She kisses between your breasts, and laps briefly at each pierced nipple between kisses placed upon your soft but unswollen lips.  Then she begins to kiss her way downward.

O-O-O

Hours later, the two of you are spent, and you feel the warmth of Delilah’s tender caresses and loving embrace.  You look at your watch and suddenly panic.  “I’m going to be late!  I have to leave!”

Delilah holds you tighter and presses her lips against your ears.  “It’s going to be okay, Shiho.  It’s all going to be okay.  I love you, and I want to make sure that you will have justice.”  She speaks a pair of words that do not belong together, and your bodily suddenly stiffens.  As your body relaxes and you close your eyes at her behest, Delilah begins to whisper softly in your ear.

O-O-O

It is nearly eleven o’clock when you arrive home.  As you walk up the stairs of your split level ranch house and toward the living room, you hear a thud and a yelp from your dog.  Terrified, you rush to investigate.  Maromi’s blood pools under her from a headwound, your husband Pete standing above him with your son’s metal baseball bat in his hands.  “I told you not to fuck with me, ‘ho; I said to be back by nine tonight, or there would be consequences.  Now you have no fucking dog, and we’re not going to get another one.  Fuck with me again, the same will happen to you.”

He drops the bat and storms off to the den.

Once he is gone, you howl in rage and pain as you fall to your knees and cradle the small dog in your arms, getting blood all over yourself.  The animal is quite clearly dead as you wail until a voice screams from the other room.  “Shut the fuck up, ‘ho, or I’ll really give you something to cry about.”

Something inside of your snaps.

You pick up the bat, dry your eyes, and walk slowly towards the den, the bat dragging along the ground behind you.  You walk up to Pete and stand between him and the television.

Pete glares at you with exasperation.  “Get the fuck out of my way, ‘ho.”

You glare back.  “Shut the fuck up, you worthless piece of shit.  And don’t move.”

Pete opens his mouth to say something, but nothing comes out. He tries to move, but cannot lift his legs or arms, and cannot stand.  It is clear from his expression that he is in a panic as you raise the bat above your head, and bring is crashing down into his right hand.  The fingers are all a jumble of broken digits all pointing in the wrong directions, and the back of his hand and the fingers begin to swell and purple.

“I guess you won’t be jerking off with that hand anytime soon; don’t worry, though.  I’ll make sure the other one matches.” You wind up and bring the slam it down on his left hand.  Pete’s mouth is open in a long, silent scream as his eyes fill with water and tears begins to stream down his clean-shaven cheeks.  He writhes in his easy chair, but cannot move much beyond that, at your command.  You should be confused at his inability to speak or move, let alone defend himself, but all of this seems completely natural.

Next, you shatter the bones in one foot, then the other, hitting each twice for good measure.  Then you break and bruise his forearms, then his upper arms, then the lower and upper legs, hitting each section of each leg a half a dozen times before breaking his kneecaps, then hitting him in the chest several times, breaking several of his ribs in the process, if his ragged breathing is any indication.

You’re crying openly as you do all this, the pain and fury of fifteen years of torment pouring out of you as you weep while you take this monster apart piece by piece.  You’re grunting and groaning with each hit, and bawling your eyes out in between.

Then you hit him squarely in the crotch with the yellow metal bat, and a small squeak actually escapes his lips this time, amid his ragged and heavy breathing and the terror in his eyes.

You stifle a laugh at the noise, then bring the bat over your head again.  “Say goodbye, Peter.”

Pete doesn’t hesitate, and does what he’s told.  “Goodbye,” he croaks and then wheezes again.

And with that, you bring the bat down savagely upon the crown of his head, and his eyes go dim, his mouth hanging open lazily.  You wind up again and again, and bring the bat down on his head until his skull splits open, spraying his brain all over the den and flecking your arms and torso with blood and grey matter.   When you’ve finally had enough, you drop the bat to the ground with a clatter, and sink to your knees again.  Your palms hit the floor and you weep and weep, everything pouring out of you, and you feel an intense satisfaction, wishing that you had done this over a decade ago.

You crawl across the floor and out of the room and into the living room, where you lie down next to Maromi’s dead body, and plant a kiss on her dented head as you continue to weep.  When your crying calms down to sighs, you pull your phone out of your bra strap and dial 911.  Within three seconds, without the line even ringing, an operator answers.

“Brookfield 911,” the operator says.

You take a deep breath, still lying on the hardwood floor.  “I’ve just murdered my husband.  My name is Shiho Wright, 2816 South Bellway Avenue, and I’ve just murdered my husband.  The door is open.” You then hang up.

Less than ten minutes later, the police arrive, with four of them swarming into the living room, followed by two detectives.  The police proceed to search the house while one of the detectives helps you to your feet.  You wipe the tears from your face as he attempts to lead you into the den, where the uniformed officers have congregated.  “I understand it’s hard to see him in this condition, but I need a statement, and I need to ask you questions about what happened.  Are you ready?”

Soberly, you nod, and walk with the detectives into the den.

One of the officers turns from the body at your approach.  He addresses the lead detective.  “This is one of the moth brutal suicides I’ve ever seen, Lieutenant.”

You are momentarily confused.  “Suicide?  But I killed him.  I broke every bone in his body before bashing his skull in with that baseball bat.” You point to the bat on the floor, where a policeman is planting a small sandwich-board-style marker with the number “1” printed on it.  Someone takes a photograph of it.

The detective nods.  “So you came in, found the dog dead, and your husband in this condition, dead by his own hand?”

Your confusion worsens.  “Aren’t you listening to me?  I said I killed my husband!”

The policeman photographing the scene turns to the detectives.  “Got a suicide note here, boss.”

The lead detective puts on a pair of blue polyurethane gloves and takes a piece of paper from the table next to the easy chair and places it in a plastic bag.  “Yep.  This is pretty open-and-shut here.  Clearly a suicide.  Suicide by baseball bat.” He turns to you.  “Ma’am, I think he left this for you to read.  Please take a look.”

He holds the bag containing the letter out for you to see.  It is flecked with brains and blood, but still clearly says, “THIS IS A SUICIDE NOTE” in large letters.

You begin to laugh.  A titter at first, then a belly laugh.  All the officers turn to look at you.

“Ma’am,” the lead detective places his hand on your shoulder and hands the bag to his partner, “I understand his suicide note may have distressed you, but please try to calm down.  I’ll see to it that the department arranges some grief counseling for you; it’s never easy when a loved one takes his own life.”

“Another officer speaks into his radio.  “Dispatch, we need the medical examiner; no need for Brookfield CSI to come out; Detective Lewis says this is obviously a suicide.  Suicide by baseball bat.”

With that you double over, laughing harder and harder.  This is the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you.

O-O-O

Outside, the neighbors have braved the crisp November night to crowd around the police vehicles blocking the road.  Among them is Delilah Hanson.  She walks up to one of the officers left for crowd control.  “What happened here, officer?”

The officer turns to face her, and a flicker of recognition registers in his eyes.  “Apparently the man of the house murdered the family dog with a baseball bat, and then proceeded to beat himself to death with the same bat.”

A murmur could be heard through the throng of neighbors. “How tragic!” exclaims one.

“Ma’am,” says the officer, “it’s a great thing you’ve done here tonight.  It’s justice.  True justice.”

“I know,” she says.  “One day, there will be justice for all.  I have decreed it.”

“Thank you,” says the policeman and several of the neighbors.

“I’m looking forward to it,” says another.

And with that, she turns to leave, the entire congregation of officers and neighbors forget Delilah completely as soon as she is gone.

She drives home, and comes up the stairs and into the living room, taking off her jacket.  I look at the empty crook of my arm, confused, then look over at her. “When did you go outside?” I ask.

“I had to get a pack of cigarettes out of my car; I told you when I left,” she says.

“Oh, right,” I say.  She sits back down, pulls out a cigarette, and lights it.

“I’ve had a wonderful evening just chilling here with you,” I say.  “Have you?”

“Yes, she says.  It’s been a good night for me, too.”




Copyright 2016, All Rights Reserved


-------------------------------------------------

Tales of the Übermensch
Stave 6: Marcus


It is February 27th, 2002.  It is 9:49PM.


I am sitting at my dining room table.  There is a smile on my face.


I am smiling at the woman who sits across from me.


I don't know her, but I think I do.  I've never seen her before in my life, but it doesn't even cross my mind to question what is going on.  After all, this woman is a close friend; I've known her for years and years.  I should be alarmed that I don't know her name, but I'm not.

"Marcus, we're going to play a game."


I am happy; I've been a devotee of mind control erotica for over a decade, but I've never really been able to talk to anyone about my fetish before.  The feeling is freeing.  I've been searching for someone to share these fantasies all my adult life, it seems.  When I was 13 years old, I tried self-hypnosis as a self improvement tool, using an article in the Readers Digest as a guide, but nothing really happened. Hypnosis is a lie; it doesn't really work, it's just stage show nonsense.  I know this to be true.


Mind control is nothing but fiction, but it's fun to fantasize.


"Imagine," she tells me, "that not only do you have the power to control the minds of people, but that you have the power to alter the minds of everyone in the world simultaneously.  What's the first thing you would do?"


I consider for a moment.  This game is exciting.  At first, I think of the dark, sexual fantasies at the heart of most of the mind control erotica I read, but this is different.  This is altering mankind as a whole.  This is a bigger picture.


"I would make it impossible for any person to harm any other person in any way, making crime and war impossible." I say with a grin.  That's a good, good answer.  Well done.


The woman sitting across from me is thoughtful.  "And what would you do about people already in prisons?"


The answer is instant and obvious to me.  "I'd set them all free.  They wouldn't be able to harm anyone anymore, so there's really no point in punishing them; it doesn't matter what they did before, just what they became after."


The woman nods.  "And then what would you do?"


This one takes a little while.  "I'd make everyone feel happiness."

"And then?"


I take in a sharp breath as I search for the answer.


It's just a game, but I want to do this right.  How does one shape a perfect world?


O-O-O


It is July 21st, 2016.  It is 11:57AM.


I am 45 years old.


My name is Marcus Lee Jones, and I sit in the summer sun, my skin burned a bright red.


It is a hot Milwaukee day, and I am sitting by my beloved blue tent in a homeless settlement down by the Milwaukee Art Museum.


I was one of the first to settle here; over the last few years, the
population of our tent city has swelled into the thousands, and from
what I am told, all the county parks are like this.


At first it was a recession.  Then they called it The Great Recession.  
For a while, things appeared to be getting better, as America tried to
spend its way out of the horrible predicament it was in, but when other


nations stopped extending us credit, we spiraled down into the Second Great Depression.  Now everyone's thrown in the towel and dubbed it The Great Collapse.


The entire world is like this, now.


Sometimes, the church groups that keep us fed let us use cell phones to call our loved ones, or bring us newspapers.  I was never big on
reading, but since the beginning of this calamity, I've devoured all the
 news I could get my hands on.


I have to.  This entire situation is my fault.  That's what The Killer told me, anyway.


Because I was a wicked, selfish person.  Because I did something to hurt a woman intentionally, in her presence.  Because she asked me what era I'd least like to live in, and my first answer after "post-apocalyptic" was "an economic depression."


Because I did something unforgivable when I was a child.


And this is my punishment, to watch her tear the world apart, the world I loved and had so much hope for.


I am sitting, doing a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel crossword puzzle.  
Number 7-down, seventeen letters.  The clue is "Dystopian Philip K. Dick novel."


That's easy:  "The World Jones Made."


I grimace and put away the folded newspaper.  She's fucking with me.  Again.


For a while I look out over Lake Michigan in silence, and relish the
cool breeze against my burned, fair skin.  All that hard work, all that
status seeking, and only in my destitution do I finally acquire that
lakefront property I'd so desired.  In the distance, a siren begins to
wail, long and shrill.  Milwaukee may have over 60 percent unemployment,
but it is still at its heart a blue collar town.  This is the lunch siren.  It is noon, precisely, and my eyes turn to the new wing of the MAM.


The Quadracci Pavilion, completed in 2001 and designed by Santiago
Calatrava, is essentially a giant kinetic sculpture.  As it does every
day at this time, it closes its huge "wings" once, then slowly opens
them again.  I call this futuristic white building "The Dove."

I love the art museum.  When I worked downtown as an IT administrator, I would often spend my lunch breaks there.  Today, I still go every Free Admission Monday.  The place is often noisy on those days, clogged as it is with the homeless trying to get out of the freezing winter weather or the blistering summer sun.  Most of the privileged, those fortunate enough to have jobs, homes, and cars, are wise enough to stay away on these days, but there are always those who make the mistake of taking in  the sights with the great unwashed, glaring at us for the nauseating smell of sweat and fear that bakes off of us in waves.


Go fuck yourself, lady.  If I had a shower like you do, I'd use it, too.


The Dove contains all the travelling installations, the premium content.  In my more successful days, I used to be a donor, and thus got in for free, but those without an MAM membership have to pay for these exhibitions.  I have no money, but the staff lets me in anyway:  I had a spectacular breakdown in front of the ticket collector once, years ago, with half a dozen staff members watching on as I tearfully begged her to let me in to see a Rodin exhibit.  I needed to see with my own eyes that beauty still existed in the world, I told her.  I needed to see that the world hadn't completely fallen to shit.


The director, who was within earshot, could see that I wasn't there for the air conditioning, and took pity on me.  I'm kind of their charity
case now.  Sometimes, one of the staff will come down and find me to
personally invite me to a musical exhibition they are giving for the big
 donors.  I have to stay in the back, well away from the paying guests
in their tuxedos and cocktail dresses, and they won't let me anywhere
near the buffet, but I don't mind.  The world still spins, and there is
still beauty, and culture, and joy in the world.


And sometimes, I am still fortunate enough to experience it.


Every time I go, I always visit my favorite installation.  In the modern
 art wing there lies a simple, open suitcase upon the floor.  Some
people just look at the suitcase from a distance and walk away, but for
those that take the time and approach it, there is more to be found.  At the bottom of the suitcase is an iron sewer grate, and several feet
below lies rippling water, rocks, coral, and plants, as if there was a
lagoon below the floor.  This always seems to delight everyone who sees it, but it is not the real mystery of the piece.


Most people who approach the suitcase look down, are impressed with the originality, and walk away.  But I was stunned by this installation, and walked around it, between the open lid of the case and the wall, to get a better look.  And there, for the amazement of only those who truly took their time and studied the piece, was the real mystery: two pairs of legs and feet, those of a man, and an infant, leaving one to imagine a father holding his child in front of him, just barely dangling the child's feet above the water.


This piece doesn't even have a title, but it is the most important thing
 I have left, my favorite thing in the whole world.  As I admire it,
people come and go, and I tell every one of them to walk around, and
look more closely.


Sometimes, all you need is a different perspective, and your very understanding of the world will change.

And whenever someone thanks me for illuminating this mystery for them, I think of Delilah, and the gasp of delight she gave at seeing the feet below.  It was the second, and probably last time that I surprised her.


I haven't seen her in eight years.  Eight long, agonizing years of suffering.


And that suffering has been made all the worse by my understanding of the masks she wears, and the living God that dwells beneath them.  She allowed me to remember, all a part of her plan to punish me, to make me live with more guilt and regret than any man has ever had to bear.


I am the heart of the biggest art installation in the world.  I am The Killer's masterpiece.


I pour some water from a plastic gallon jug I got from the relief
workers from Trinity Lutheran onto a washcloth and lie back, covering my abused and broiled face with it.  On the wind, I think I hear someone calling my name.


Then I hear it again.  I'm sure, this time.  It's distant, but getting
closer.  I don't stir.  Whoever it is will get here eventually.

"Marcus Jones?  I'm looking for a Marcus Jones!" the voice calls out over and over again, growing louder.


Finally, it's close.  One of my neighbors must be pointing at me,
because I hear a familiar voice tell him, "The crazy guy in the blue
tent over here."


I roll my washcloth to halfway up my nose.  "I can hear you, Mary!"

"Sorry, hon," she replies.  "You know I mean it in a good way."

Sure you do.  I say nothing.


A few seconds later, a shadow covers my face.  "You're Marcus Jones."


The washcloth still over my eyes, I reply, "I am."


"Can I see your wrist, please?"


I know the one he means.  The left one.  I roll up my sleeve and show
him the inside of my wrist, where I have a tattoo of a *Bioshock* wrist
chain.  It is my first ink, which I received under duress.  It
represents my enslavement to Delilah, and was placed in the game
specifically for me.


"This is Matsuda.  Sector 2.  I have him."


That gets my attention.  I pull the damp washcloth off my face and look up.  "Matsuda?  Like in *Death Note*?"


A Caucasian man in his late 30s, with brown hair marred by only the
barest hint of grey, crouches down next to me.  He is of average height and fairly slender, wearing a white shirt with a red tie.  "It's a
codename.  I'm with a task force that's searching for The Killer.  I was
 wondering if you'd come with us and answer a few questions."

I am stunned.  Nobody has ever believed me.  Not like this.  "You mean the task force is really real?  That wasn't bullshit?"

"Matsuda" smiles.  "Nope."


"And 'L'?"


"Well, we call him 'Boss', but yeah, he's real, too."


Somewhere, deep inside, and completely unbeknownst to me, my programming clicks.  An If/Then statement closes.  "But why do you call yourself 'Matsuda'?"


The man stands and waves both of his arms to catch the attention of a
stocky man in a suit and an Asian woman with flaming red hair wearing a black bustier and mini-skirt.  Both are picking their way between the dense network of tents, moving slowly in our general direction.


Matsuda's phone chirps, and a voice issues from it.  "This is Aizawa,
Sector 7.  It's going to take me, like,  an hour to get to you at this
rate.  Can we just call Watari for pickups?"


Another chirp, "Ide here in Sector 9.  I'm at *least* an hour away.  
They're packed in here like sardines and I have to step over people to
get anywhere."


Matsuda hits his push-to-talk.  "Agreed.  I've got Mogi and Suki almost
here.  Aizawa, make your way back to Lincoln Memorial Drive.  Watari,
can you be at Sectior 2 dropoff point in ten minutes?


"Affirmative."  The voice is gruff, wizened.  "The Boss is very happy.  Good work, Matsuda."


Matsuda crouches down again.  "To answer your question, each member of the task force in *Death Note* is based on a real life member of the real investigation team.  I'm the youngest, Aizawa is the only one with a wife and kids, and so on."


My eyes turn to the approaching couple, the woman in particular, who is slender, petite, and beautiful.  "And Suki is Misa-Misa, I'm assuming?"


The woman takes off her sunglasses.  "Aiber and Wedy, actually.  Or so we think, anyway.  Maybe a little Misa-Misa for the way I dress.  It's not like we can ask The Killer for clarification."


Mogi pulls out a digital camera and begins taking pictures of me, my
tent, and describes a slow circle with his camera, snapping pictures of
the entire horizon; they wanted to document how I lived, even what my view was.


"Why and when did you settle here?" Mogi asks.


I consider for a moment.  "Well, the Fredrickson-Keene Act of 2012 had just gone into effect-- that's the Wisconsin law allowing homeless
settlement in public parks.  Anyway, I was just about out of money, my condo was being foreclosed, my leased car was probably weeks away from repossession, and it wasn't too hard to see that I was going to end up on the streets.  No one would hire me, and the shelters had a waiting list a year long.  So, I drove to the Gander Mountain store in Hales Corners and bought myself a bedroll, a tent, and all the non-perishable food supplies I thought I could fit into it.  I abandoned my home and drove myself down here with all the cash I had left."


"And you set up in this exact spot, or somewhere else?"


"Precisely here.  I've been here for over four years."


"Why here?  Why not some other park?"


"The lake, I guess.  The lake and the art museum.  It's free most Mondays."


Matsuda interrupts.  "Guys, we don't want to keep everyone waiting."

Mogi grunts, and puts away his camera.  "If there's anything you want to keep, now is the time to get it from your tent.  You won't be coming
back here."


I look at him, incredulous.  "Where am I going, then?"


Suki smiles.  "With us.  You're the most important lead we've ever had.  We'll be taking care of you from now on."


O-O-O


I am standing in the Penthouse Suite at the downtown Hyatt.


I am standing in the cool, crisp air in front of a magnificent king-sized bed.  


Matsuda and Watari are out buying clothes and other items I've
requested, like hair clippers and a beard trimmer, razors,
anti-perspirant.  My hair is halfway down my back, in a ponytail, but
for a decade before I became homeless, my head was shaved.  I want my life back.  I want things to be the way they were before I met Delilah, and that means returning to those old habits, as best I can.

I want to be able to forget what I know about the world, but that's impossible.  I've grown to accept that fact.


I step to the bathroom and sigh with pleasure.  There is a large Roman soaking tub with Jacuzzi jets, a two person glass shower, a double sink vanity, an electronic toilet, and a bidet.


The task force has been staying in this suite for over a month, but
these rooms have remained empty; they were merely awaiting my arrival.  

Every day, they've scoured a different park, looking for me.  Today,
they, as well as I, have hit the jackpot.


For example, today, I get to use a non-chemical toilet.  What a treat!  
They have them at the MAM, but on Mondays the line is usually over an hour long just to get in to the bathroom, so I don't bother.  For the
first time in years I squat over a bowl that doesn't reek of piss, shit, and Anotec.


This is the most privacy I've had in just about forever, and it makes me shudder with pleasure.


In the common room, Mogi, Ide and Aizawa are poring over my scribblings in a big binder; it's the only thing I brought with me from my tent.  


They had found my online journal a couple of months ago, and this had allowed them in turn to find me, but this binder, in addition to having a copy of that online missive, also included years of conjecture, theory, and a chronicle of all the petty ways in which Delilah has messed with me since I moved to the lakefront.  As Mogi reads aloud, sitting in front of them is a laptop computer with a rotating pyramid on its screen.  Occasionally, a distorted, electronic voice issues from the speakers.


I can guess who is at the other end of that connection.


This is all happening so fast; despite the thrill of being rescued from
my tent city and the ball-numbing boredom of alternating between sitting in front of my tent and standing in lines all day: lines for food,
lines for the toilet, lines for a newspaper.


In my life, it seems, everything that happens, happens for a reason.  There are no coincidences where Delilah is concerned.


I pick up a *Time* magazine from a rack next to the toilet and begin to flip through it.  President Armitage has unveiled God's "New Covenant with America."  A photograph shows him standing in front of the new flag, a white cross, rimmed with blue, in a sea of red.

Makes me want to fucking puke.


I sit there for as long as it takes to read the entire magazine.  It feels like coming home.  I pick up a copy of *Newsweek*.


When I re-enter the bedroom, Suki is laying on the bed, watching CNN.  


On the nightstand is an automatic pistol.  A bunch of plastic bags sit

on the bed next to her.


"I'm your bodyguard, now," she explains.  "I won't leave your side, and it's my job to see to it that all your needs are taken care of."

She picks up a Walgreens bag and slides off the bed.  "Let's get that head shaved, shall we?"


O-O-O


An hour later, I am beginning to prune in the bubbling, seething tub as Suki, nude and kneeling astride me, scrubs the dirt from under my
fingernails with a small brush.  It was she who removed all the hair
from my head and most of my face with the clippers as I bowed over one of the sinks.  Then, straddling my legs in the tub, she shaved my crown, cheeks and neck with one of those new 7-blade razors and trimmed what was left into a tight goatee.  I look like a clown, with my red face and sickly white scalp, jaw, and neck, but I don't care.  I look like myself again, and that's all that matters.


She takes me by the hand, pulls me into the shower with her, and begins to soap me up.  She lathers my furiously erect cock with a practiced hand and pulls me into a kiss.  "It's going to be okay," she tells me.


It is the first time I have been touched this way in over five years of
soul-crushing loneliness.  I've slept with women during the winters, but that was just sleep, for warmth.  I suppose we could have fucked, but nobody feels like fucking when everyone smells this bad.  People had a tendency to stay away from the crazy man and his laughable stories about the penniless ex-girlfriend who rules the world.


My hands reach out and press against the wall of the shower as I moan and spray my come all over her flat belly.  She kisses me again.  I am a sex addict, after all.  They all know this from my journal, and I have no illusions that this is anything more than a pity fuck, but I'll take it.  It's been so very, very long, and this is everything I need.

She kisses the center of my chest, where Delilah made me tattoo the
kanji for "damned," so many years ago.  I begin to sob as Suki wraps her arms around me.


"We found John Forsyth," she tells me.


My crying halts for a moment.  "You did?  His real name was Kevin--"


"--Kevin Reynolds, yes, I know.  He was nearly a six hundred pounds and living in a trailer park.  You tipped us off; he wasn't hard to find,
once we knew what to look for.  After his children were grown, she
knocked him down again, and made him start gaining weight.  It was
horrific.  He couldn't tell us anything useful, but he kept trying.  It
was really, really sad."


A pause.


"But that's what we do, Marc."  She continues, stroking my face and bald head with the palm of her hand.  "We find her victims, as we found you, and we help them however we can.  The Boss is a man of considerable means."


She kisses each of my closed eyes in turn, then the tears upon my
cheeks, and finally, my lips.  I taste the saltiness, and for the moment
 at least, I feel only hope.


"Just like we're going to help you.  If you assist us, you'll never have
 to worry about supporting yourself ever again.  He's set up a trust in
your name; it's already been decided."


O-O-O


Later, I am eating a steak in the common room as I sit in front of the
laptop.  The pyramid spins, and on the other end, in my imaginings, the second most intelligent person in the world studies my every action carefully.


I am wearing denim shorts, new shoes and socks, a black polo shirt.  For  the first time in as long as I can remember, my underwear doesn't feel like a sodden, sweaty mess.


"So what's your codename?"


A pause from the laptop before the electronic voice chirps again. 


"Lawman."


I smirk.  "L, Lawman.  I get it.  Why don't you go by 'L' now?"  The
steak is delicious.  I have to chew on one side of my mouth due to
missing teeth, though.  My baked potato is slathered with butter and
sour cream, and for the first time in my life, I am eating white
truffles.  There is something familiar about this, though, and I realize
 that my potato isn't the only thing being buttered up.  


I remember reading an interview, years and years ago, about the Jerry Springer Show.  People would play-act, it seemed, and manufacture fake drama for the show, just to be able to stay at a fancy hotel, to see their faces on TV.  They'd fly you in first class, put you up for the night, bring you to the studio in a limousine...


And then, once they had what they wanted from you, they'd toss you in the back of a taxi and ship you home on a Greyhound bus.


"These idiots were actually flattered by The Killer's spoof of their lives in *Death Note*.  Suki and I are not."


I shrug, and take another bite, which I wash down with champagne. 

"How long have you been doing this?"


A pause.  "I've been protecting the world from exceptional, incredibly
dangerous X-factors for thirty-five years.  As a team, we've been
hunting The Killer for nearly twenty, except for Matsuda, who's been
with us for only the last fifteen."


"Strange that you don't have any turnover.  A team this size really works for you?"


"We get a lot more done than you might expect.  And we have had some turnover.  Matsuda joined us because we lost a man.  I guess you'd call him 'Ukita'."


"And what happened to him?"  I speak around my food.  I'm half starved; I really can't eat it fast enough.


"He ate a bullet in Montreal; we almost caught her, then."


"What was she doing there?"


Another pause before he dodges the question.  "Actually, we were tracking one of 'Sam Henreid's' associates."


I am stunned.  "The September 11th bombings?"


"The very same.  We had been tipped off as to what was happening at the Twin Towers, Henreid's takeover, and were working it as a secondary case.  We were rather shocked to learn that the cases were connected."


"And what of Sam Henreid?"


"We thought he had perished in the collapse of the Towers.  Imagine our surprise to learn of his fate when we found your journal.  We found him, still begging for change in Tribeca."


"And what did you do?"


Suki speaks up.  "I coaxed him back to a hotel, and strangled him with a garrote eight weeks ago."


I put down my fork.  "So that's what you people do?  You murder?"


The laptop chirps.  "Marcus, he sold biological weapons to religious
extremists, and enslaved the minds of thousands of people.  It doesn't
matter that it was Delilah's power, and that she was just giving him
enough rope to hang himself.  Selling those weapons was a choice that he made before she ever got her hooks into him.  If Delilah hadn't been watching, that terrorist group would have surely used them, and hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of people would have died.  This is probably the one case where I can say she did the world a favor, if you can call knocking down two of the world's tallest buildings and killing thousands of people a favor."


"If Kira rules the world, then she is justice."  I pick up my fork again, and resume shoveling food back into my mouth.


"Yes, well... "  The Lawman pauses.  "We all know how enamored you are with her, Marcus, from your writing, and that's perhaps the most
disturbing trait amongst many of her victims, the adoration and devotion she programs into them.  You said that there was a time when your love died; when she pushed you too far, and you stopped loving her, and it is  this fact that gives me hope that your feelings are your own, that you have choices.  You seem to be left largely untouched, now, the first we've ever found to be able to really talk and write about her in this kind of detail; including your writings over the last four years, we have nearly a thousand pages of information.  Your journal has been extremely illuminating as to who and what she really is, and now I'm hoping that you'll come the rest of the way and tell us everything you know:  her real alias, not this "Delilah Hanson" nonsense, and her whereabouts."


I put down my fork again and laugh.  "So let me get this straight.  You
guys clean me up, buy me some clothes and a steak dinner, Suki jerks me off in the shower and you just expect me to betray the confidences of the most powerful and dangerous person in the world?  You're going to have to do a lot better than that."


Suki blushes furiously, but I don't care.  There is a long, long pause from the laptop before the electronic voice resumes.


"What do you want, *Mister Jones*?"


I lean forward.  "First of all, if you want me to trust you, you're
going to have to trust me.  I want a face-to-face meeting, and then
you're going to have to give me real, rock-solid assurances that you can hide me and protect me before I give you anything of real value.  Then, if you're lucky, I might trust you enough to give you what you want. 
Until I feel safe, all you're going to get out of me is that the first

name she uses may or may not be Dana, and last I heard, she lives within three hours of Minneapolis by car, with her husband and two
stepchildren.  I know her telephone number, email address, and street
address by heart.  Even her Social Security number."


Aizawa turns white.  "She's raising kids?  Jesus Christ..."


Ide places a hand on my shoulder.  "Marc, most of *us* have never even met Lawman face to face."


I am angry now.  "I don't care! Maybe we should *all* have a great big shindig together, in the name of cracking the case.  You've only been chasing her for two decades, after all."


Another long pause.  The pyramid spins and spins on the laptop screen.  

"I see no reason why the meeting has to be in person.  This is a secure connection."


"So?  For all I know, you're really Delilah and you've concocted this
entire scene as some kind of fucked up loyalty test.  I see your face
and hear your voice or you can drop me right back at the fucking art
museum."  I turn to look at the other task force members.  "Has it ever occurred to you that it's just her on the other end of this laptop,
laughing her ass off at all of you?"


The task force members look uncomfortable.  Good.


Mogi speaks.  "I've asked myself that question once or twice, when we've suffered setbacks."


"That's not true.   That *can't* be true,"  Aizawa says.


I press on.  "Because based on *Death Note*, she sure seems to know a fuckload about all of you and L's little laptop.  You even kind of look a little like your characters.  Especially Watari!"  I motion to the
white haired man standing silently at the other end of the room,
observing the proceedings.  "Do you not see the danger endemic to all of that?"


"You have to understand," says Lawman, "that these people do not even know one another's real names, Marcus.  We've always gone by codenames, and they take orders from me through the laptop, or through Watari.  I'm anonymous, because I *have* to be, and I'm the only one who knows the real identities of the investigation team members.  You have no idea how dangerous the people are that we fight.  As for *Death Note*, we believe that she got the limited information she has, such as the task force members' descriptions, from Ukita, before she got him to kill himself.  If Ukita had known my real face, even my real voice, it likely would have all been over long ago."


"And now you want me to betray a God, your most dangerous opponent yet. You'll have to risk it all if you want to win the game, Lawman.  You have my terms," I say with finality.  "Take them, or leave them."


A pause, the longest one yet.  I continue to eat my steak as the pyramid spins in silence.


Finally: "Alright, fine.  We'll do it your way.  Mogi, Ide, Matsuda,
Aizawa, you're dismissed to your rooms.  Marcus, I'd like you to go to
your room as well while I work out the details with Watari and Suki."

I roll the room service cart into my room and close the door.  I finish
eating my meal as I listen to murmured voices from the other room over the drone of CNN.  I watch until Candy Crowley leads the viewers in the 6PM State Prayer, then I turn the television off in disgust.

I take off my shoes, lie down, and close my eyes.  I dream a dream I had many years before, when Delilah and I were still together.  It was, in fact, a dream that she had programmed into me, because that is
apparently something that she can do.


In it, I desperately tried to save a father and son who were being
hunted by an evil mind controller.  For hours, I tried to hide them, to
shelter them from the relentless pursuit of others as well as their own
actions.  At long last, I found sanctuary for them, and breathed a sigh
of relief.  "You're safe," I told them.


And they both began to laugh at me.  I was confused and petrified.

"Don't you get it?  You're the one really being controlled, you stupid fuck!"


I awoke with a start, Delilah in the bed next to me.  I clutched at her,
 miserable and frightened.  It was the first nightmare I'd had since I
was a child.


"Tell me all about it," said Delilah.


No, I told her.  I wanted it to be gone.  I wanted that horrible twist
ending to be purged from my mind.  I held onto her, tightly.

Tonight, in my dream, I caress her and turn her over, kissing her
sweetly.  I know what she is.  I know what she has done.  It doesn't
matter; I love her, and I always will.  I am thrilled beyond belief to
even see her again, let alone be holding her like this.  I crush her to
me, my embrace full of need and passion.


And in the darkness of my room at the Hyatt, my eyes open.


Suki is lying next to me, her stunning body nude in the moonlight.  She has been watching me in my sleep and smiles.  "I told you, I wouldn't leave your side," she says to me.


I kiss her, and I tell her about my crossword puzzle clue this morning.
 "We could all be her slaves, Suki.  We could all just be carrying out
an elaborate play right now, for her amusement.  Do you realize that?"

Suki shakes her head.  "I have free will, Marc.  I'm lying here right now because I choose to be here with you."


I laugh weakly.  "There is no free will.  Free will is an illusion."


She smiles.  "I could be sitting over by the window in a chair, sleeping with a gun in my hand.  Do you know why I'm lying here in bed with you?  Because I care about you.  Because I read your journal and was touched, and horrified at the suffering you were made to endure, at the misery she heaped upon your head.  We've done good things, Marc, we've helped a lot of people, but when I read your words, well, it was you I wanted to save most of all."  She kisses me again.


And fuck it, I just go with it.  I'm here, now, and the most beautiful
woman to ever offer herself to me has her arms wrapped around me, her lips pressed passionately against my own.  It doesn't matter if it's
Delilah's programming or the Lawman's orders.  She's here, and I avail myself of her.  I pull her hand down to my growing hardness; she undoes my belt and opens my fly, reaching inside to draw out my cock.


My clothes quickly find their way to the floor and she wraps her lips
around me.  God, how I've needed this!  Her head bobs and her pierced tongue flutters against my stiffness, and I sweep one of her legs over my head before burying my face between her thighs.

The taste of her hairless slit is overwhelming; her heady, pleasant
aroma is like an old friend returning.  I've never been a big fan of
this position, but today it is a delight.  I want to do everything
again.


I slip a finger inside of her, careful not to snag the multiple labia
piercings she has.  Despite being over 40, she is tight, and grips my
finger as it saws its way in and out of her.  I feel her slicken, and
she moans through one orgasm, then another.


I coax her mouth off of me, then pull her back into a kiss as she climbs
 on top.  The underside of my shaft slides wetly between her slick outer labia.  "You're going to meet Lawman tomorrow, Marc.  We leave in the morning," she says as she rides me, teasing me maddeningly.  "Do you think you're going to help us?"


I moan with pleasure.  "I... I really don't know.  I'm terrified of her anger."


Her hips grind and undulate above me.  "What does the tattoo on your arm say?"


My thighs rise to meet her.  "It's a big Ümlaut."


Suki shakes her head as she rides.  "No, I mean the other arm."


"Oh... 'A Man Chooses, A Slave Obeys.'  It's from *Bioshock*."


She slips me inside of her and we both gasp.  "That's right, Marc.  A
man chooses, and you're still a man.  You have choices.  You can take
the risk and help us save the world, or you can be a slave and go back
to your tent city."


She rides me harder and faster, now.  "Be a man, Marc... Be a man."

And with a howl, I come inside of her.


"My name is Atsuko," she whispers into my ear.


We make love until dawn.


O-O-O


In the morning, Suki scrubs me clean in the shower.  Everyone packs, and
 we take the limo to Mitchell Field, where a Lear jet awaits us.


We fly to Indianapolis, where another limousine has been rented.  There
is no driver; instead, Watari gets behind the wheel and drives us an
hour out of town, past farms and fields to a large, yellow building.


It's a pale yellow warehouse, just like the end of *Death Note*.  I
begin to shake.  Does no one else notice this?  A yellow Porsche Boxster
 is parked out front.


*The Yellow Box!*


My shaking gets worse, and I know my life has been building to this
moment.  I know that I am not walking away from this meeting alive.  I
begin to pant and moan as Suki puts a reassuring arm around me.  "It's
going to be okay.  Really.  Don't worry."


But I see my death approaching.  I know why I'm here.  I've fallen into
another of The Killer's traps, and there's no way out, not this time.

We're all her slaves.  We've been her puppets, all along.  She let them
save me to give me hope, just so she could take it all away again.


Again.  Fucking *again*!


I begin to cry.  "Why does she hate me so much?"  Suki hugs me, tightly.

Watari pulls the limo alongside the building, then gets out with us.  He
 retrieves a long, thin, sinister looking bag from the trunk, then looks
 me in the eye.  "If your face is the first to emerge through that
doorway, I'll put a bullet through it.  You've been warned."


I open my mouth to say something, but nothing comes out.  My lower lip
trembles, and I merely close my mouth again.  I feel like an animal
being led to the slaughter.


He begins walking toward a nearby hillside without looking back.  I
watch him for a while and envision the entire hillside on fire as he
walks away.  We all enter the building through a door at the front.


"Come on, Marc."


A voice speaks in my head.


{It's time.}


And we enter the main warehouse floor, which is deserted except for a
lone figure, standing in a sunbeam at the other end of the building.

As we approach, I can see that he wears a simple plastic mask, the mask of Yagami Light.


Most of the task force takes up positions behind Lawman.  Only Suki stands with me.


"So, Marcus," Lawman begins in a clipped London accent, "As you can see,
 I'm not your precious Delilah.  You'll excuse me if I keep my face
hidden until we're a little further into our discussions.  If things go
badly, and you've seen me, I'm afraid that my only choice would be to
kill you."


And inside me, I know this voice.  I've heard it before.  Another
If/Then statement in my head closes.  "I'm afraid that discussion will
have to be tabled," I say.  "I am conditioned not to give you any
further information, and I have a message from The Killer for The
Lawman."


Aizawa gasps.  "Shit.  She threw him out there like a lure!"


Suki steps back and draws her gun, which she levels at me.


"We're aborting," Lawman speaks into his phone.


"Acknowledged," says Watari over the link.


I hold up my hands.  "Wait.  You can't!"


"Watari, stand by."


Tears begin rolling down my face.  "If you don't accept the message, she's going to nuke a major American city!"


The room collectively gasps.  Only Lawman is unimpressed.


"Then a European capital, then an Asian capital, and around and around and around, until you pick up your message."


"Jesus... Boss!"  Matsuda cries out.


"Everyone, stay calm," The Lawman says, sternly.  "Okay, fine.  What's the message?"


A keening cry escapes my lips.  "It's not that simple.  Specific
conditions have to be met to unlock the message... And," I pause,
"you're going to have to kill me when the message is over."


"Okay," says Suki, "we're not doing this."


"You know she can do it, L.  And I'm telling you that she's *going* to.  You *have* to do this!"


I don't know any of this.  The words are just spilling from my mouth.  I
 am petrified; what I *do* know is that within an hour I'll be dead.  I
let go of my life and give myself over to fate.  At last, I will be
useful to Delilah, and I am grateful that I have a purpose.


"The evidence of my death is a condition required to defuse the nuclear
attack.  The other condition will be revealed in the message."


"Fine," says The Lawman.  "What do we need to do?"


I draw in a deep breath, my eyes still full of tears.  "First, Mogi,
Aizawa and Matsuda have to place their guns on the floor in front of
them and step back.  Then, you, I, and Suki stand in a triangle; that's
your pyramid, Lawman."


At L's command, everyone carries out my instructions.


"Now, here's where things get hairy.  Suki has to aim her pistol at my
head.  Once she does that, Lawman, you put your gun on the floor and
kick it over to me."


"Wait a second--"


I shrug.  "I'm not going to shoot you.  I have no desire to kill anyone
here.  I'll keep the pistol at my side.  Here are the rules, though.  We
 have to stay in that position, with Suki aiming for my head, for thirty
 minutes.  If she lowers her arm, I will automatically raise my weapon
and kill you.  Once thirty minutes have elapsed, the message will
unlock, and I will deliver it."


I turn to Suki.  "When the message is finished, I will raise my gun and
try to kill Lawman.  You have to be ready to shoot me without
hesitation; if I know Delilah, she will probably have me try to do it
mid-sentence, so don't let your guard down for an instant."


My attention returns to L.  "So those are the rules.  You'll have the
drop on me, so really, you're in no danger.  What do you say?"


{Good boy.}


The Lawman stares at me for a long moment.


"I'm sorry," I say.  "I didn't know until we got here."


He sounds angry behind the mask.  "Okay, fine, whatever."


Suki raises her automatic.  L reaches into his jacket, pulls a Glock out
 of a shoulder holster and places it on the ground before kicking it
over to me.


I pick up the gun, this alien thing in my hand.  I've never seen a silencer with my own two eyes before.


{Turn off the safety and pull back the slide.}


I comply.  I've seen enough movies.


{It'll be over, soon.  It'll all be over.  Try to relax.}


But I can't relax, and she knows it.  If she really wanted me to relax,
she'd have programmed me that way.  We're all carrying out our own
instructions, but I'm prevented from warning anyone of that fact.


My hand at my side, I try to make small talk.  "So Lawman... Do you remember what L's name was?"


From behind his mask, The Lawman speaks.  "L. Lawliet, if I'm not mistaken."


I grin sardonically.  "You're not.  And do you know what a Lawliet is?"

A pause.  "No."


I peel a little sunburned skin from my nose with my left hand.  "I read
it on an urban dictionary website.  It's an inside joke between two
psychopathic geniuses."  I chuckle weakly.


"Cute, but not funny."


"Personally, I think--"


"Marcus, I don't care what you think.  You either won't or can't give me the information I need to solve this case, and you're way too enamored

with a monster that's destroyed the lives of hundreds of millions,
perhaps billions of people.  I'm an atheist living in a fucking
theocracy now, thanks to you and her, and frankly, I'd just as soon put a
 bullet in your head as look at you.  The only reason you're still
standing is that I don't want to see millions of people die in a nuclear
 attack, so would you kindly shut the fuck up until you have something
important to say?"


I shrug.  "Fine."


{Ask him how his brother's chemotherapy is going.}


"Alright, then.  Here's something important:  How's your brother's chemo going?"


And just like that, the mask comes off to reveal a handsome man in his
fifties. His face seethes with hatred. "Go fuck yourself."


I wipe the last remnants of my tears from my cheeks and eyes.  "I'm a
little fucked out right now.  I guess I have you to thank for that.  
Sorry it didn't work out for you."


But the Lawman says nothing.  Suki purses her lips, her arm trembling.

The minutes tick by, Mogi calling out the time every few minutes.  I am
no longer crying; I am no longer afraid.  I can feel the program moving
and writhing within my mind, Delilah's voice soothing me, for reasons I
can't even begin to fathom.  I let it go.  My life is over and I let it
all go...


A sweat breaks out on Suki's face.  Her arm is shaking, badly.  Mogi
calls out 29 minutes.  In a short while, I will be killed by the last
woman I'll ever sleep with.  I guess that's fitting.

Minute 30.


And just like that, everything changes.  I know why I am really here.  I know what is really happening.


I am transported with joy at the revelation.


A smile on my lips, I open my mouth, and recite a fractured limerick:


There once was a Lawman named 'L'
Whose case wasn't going so well
'Till he chanced on a man
Who just couldn't tan...


My voice trails off.


I know that I have a choice; how the poem ends is up to me.  I raise the gun and point it at Lawman.


Suki screams, but does not fire.  The rest of the task force gasps.  No
one moves, because no one *can* move anything but their heads.


"What the fuck!" Matsuda cries out.


I lower the gun, then walk up to Suki and press my forehead to the
barrel of her automatic.  "Come on, Atsuko... Kill me.  Pull the
trigger."


Her face twists into a mask of exertion.  Nothing happens.


"So much for your so-called free will.  Put your arm down."


She complies with my directive.


I turn to the real L.


"Lawrence Littleton, aka 'Lawman', aka 'L'.  Age 54.  Drone number 1,589,548,227.  Date of assimilation: November 18th, 2001."


Littleton looks horrified.


"Don't you all get it?  She's made you chase your own tails for fifteen
fucking *years*!  And what did you honestly think you could do to stop
her?  You're seven people strong, while she controls over seven BILLION
people now!"


"Cut off the head of the beast..." offers Mogi simply.


"And what?  The monster will die?  The system is meant to outlive her.  
That means it's self-sustaining.  And what happens in a beehive when the
 queen dies?  They *make another queen*.  They have her genome, now.  
The technology to reproduce her is at most a decade away, assuming the
Workers put the minds of the scientific community to it.  You were all
on a fool's errand, and way out of your league.  How were you going to
undo the damage?  Her very first target was the hypnotherapy industry,
leaving no one capable of detecting or undoing her programming!"


"Jesus," Aizawa hangs his head.  It's the most anyone can move.


"You stood against her, and why?"


"We stand against the darkness," Littleton says defiantly.


"A bit glib, and completely wrong.  You stood against her because you
believed you were morally superior to her, when all you were doing was
defending a rotten world, and a sick, twisted order.  She has a plan,
and the ends justify the means."


"No they don't!" Everyone but Matsuda speaks in unison.


"No?  I know you all, now.  I know your secrets.  You've all killed in
the name of the greater good.  You were willing to kill an innocent, me,
 to save a city from a nuclear attack."


"That's different," says Littleton.


"No, it's not.  The difference is merely a matter of scale.  The fact
that she forced the decision upon you is completely irrelevant.  You
tell yourself that you're better, but you're really not."


"There's nothing innocent about you," Littleton spits at my feet.


I shrug, again.  "No, I suppose not.  Seduced by evil and all that.  
She's had my heart since I realized the scope and breadth of her power
in 2008, when she allowed me to remember that much.  I begged her to
make me her disciple that night.  She played dumb; she's really good at
that, but the truth is, that's precisely what she wants, and I've been
destined-- we've *all* been destined to stand in this room for thirteen
years.  Think about what that means."


"It means you're sick," says Aizawa.


"You brainwashed idiot," says Mogi.


"Marc, please don't do this," says Suki with a heartbroken expression on her face.


I press on, undeterred.  "Outside of this room, this world is changing,
changing forever.  She has finally achieved totality, and controls
everyone six years old and older.  Overnight, a shining utopia will be
born, and *Homo Perfectus*, Perfected Man, will endure until the end of
the universe, and beyond.  That is her legacy."


I step to Mogi.  "Unfortunately, you won't live to see it."  I pause.  

"I've never killed anyone before, and for what it's worth, it's not
personal."
 
I press the end of the silencer between his eyes.  I can do this.  I can do anything for her.  I pull the trigger.


And then there were five.


The reaction in the room is immediate, as everyone begins to pant in fear.  I walk the four steps to Ide.


"You left the task force for a year over a disagreement with L," I say. "You got out; you should have stayed out.  She would have let you go."


I don't give him the luxury of a response before killing him.


Next is Aizawa.


"I know you have a family; they won't be punished for what you've done.
 In fact, you have my word that they'll be taken care of.  I promise."


The moment is devastating between us.  I don't want to take this man
away from his children, but I raise the gun and that's exactly what I
do.


Next, I pick up the mask of Yagami Light, and approach Matsuda.

"You're different, Matsu.  With Ukita-- Keith Sudekis-- drained of every
 last secret he had,  he was to be sent back to subjugate the team, but
his subconscious mind, knowing he'd been compromised, persuaded him to
kill himself.  Failing that, The Workers knew that you were one of the
perfect candidates for infiltration.  At The Killer's order, you and a
hundred thousand others like you were conditioned for this mission, but
you were the one chosen.  It was you who subjugated the task force,
including Watari, and it was Watari who got to L two months later, when
next they saw one another."


I pause.


"What happens here," I continue, "is my choice.  And my choice is to
give *you* a choice, Matsuda.  I know you've admired her.  I know you've
 seen the promise and potential of her power, and I'm here to say that
she's cast off the mask of The Killer forever; there is only The
Übermensch, now.  I'm offering you a seat at the table where the future
of mankind is charted, if you want it, as repayment for removing the
only legitimate threat that The Killer ever faced."


I slip on the mask, and turn my back to him.  "You may move, Matsu."

I close my eyes.  I hear the scrape of metal against concrete and
imagine him leveling his gun at me and firing over and over again, but
nothing happens.  After several long seconds I turn back around.  The
gun is in his hand, and his hand is at his side.


He shrugs, and tucks his pistol into its shoulder holster.  "If Kira
rules the world, then she is justice," he says.  "My name is Henry
Attis."


I take off the mask to reveal a smile on my face.  A relieved smile.  I
toss the mask aside, as the Übermensch has cast all her masks aside.  "I
 know.  Please, wait for me in the front office."


Henry leaves, his shoes clacking against the concrete.


And then there were two.


Suki whimpers, expecting to be next, but I turn my attention to the real
 L, instead.  "Lawrence Littleton.  I'm not here to debate you; there is
 no point in further discussion.  I'll merely ask if you have any last
words."


L's face is full of hatred.  "To sin is a human business.  To justify sins is a devilish business."


{Tolstoy, huh?}


"Tolstoy, huh?  Well, L, after today, there will be no such thing as
sin, but I'll be sure to pass along your message."  I raise my gun and
spray the world's second most brilliant mind across the floor like so
much Bolognese and bone.


I sigh.  Suki is crying.  This has been hard for me, and this is going to be the hardest part yet.


"Atsuko Takahata, aged 42.  L's assassin.  Trained in Ninjutsu and
advanced electronic surveillance.  Infiltration expert.  Your specialty
is getting any target to trust you, no matter what it takes.  The Killer
 hates you more than anyone else in this room."


She chokes back a cry.  Tears begin rolling down her cheeks.  "Marc,
*please*.  I *love* you.  I have money; we can run away together and
hide from her."


I smile, sadly.  "On any other day, I'd say you were merely lying, and
the truth is, you don't, or wouldn't love me, left to your own devices.
 She's only made you believe you love me."


"It doesn't matter!  It feels real to *me*!"


"And now you've made the point that I've been trying to make for years
and years; it *doesn't* matter.  She made you love me because she wanted
 you to experience real love, then the horror of contemplating the
prospect of being forced to end the life of the man you loved, and
finally, the sting of betrayal at the realization that that same man was
 going to end *your* life."


Atsuko has a horrified expression on her face.  I continue.


"If it's any consolation, she wanted to ensure that this would hurt me,
as well.  You gave me hope.  You were nurturing and kind.  You made me
feel things I never thought I would ever feel again.  And finally,
you're carrying my child."


She gapes.


"Or you will be, anyway, if I let you live.  Three days ago, you started
 taking massive doses of *Clomifene*, enough to ensure ovulation.  In
killing you, I kill my own child."  I let L's pistol clatter to the
floor and take the gun from Suki's paralyzed hand.


"You have a choice, Marc."


{You're right.  I *do* have a choice...}


But I don't.  Not really.  We are just *dramatis personae*, reciting our lines in a theater that has no audience.


"You're right.  I *do* have a choice.  And my choice has never been clearer.  Goodbye, Suki."


I raise my gun again, and my hand is full of thunder.  Suki, Atsuko,
slides dead to the floor, and I kneel next to the body, weeping.  You
see, Delilah didn't just make Suki love me...  What I never said, what I
 was never allowed to say, was that she had made me love Suki back.


"Boss?"  Watari queries on the push-to-talk.  "Boss?  You there?"

I cry and rage and howl in pain.  The suffering of the last thirteen
years pours out of me like black bile.  I kiss her lips and envision a
life with Suki, raising our child together.  I loved this woman, and I
had murdered her.


{This is what I feel...}


This is what The Killer feels beneath her mask, I think in sudden
realization.  This is the pain she felt every time she took a life.  And
 with her Godlike, perfect mind, she never forgets a single detail of
those killings, not for one instant.


Watari tries to call each of the task force members in turn.


I do not move, still crying over Suki's corpse.


Then, all the phones chirp at once.  "I'm coming in there, Jones," they
say in unison.  "I'm coming in there, and I'm going to skin you alive."

I clutch Suki's pistol to my chest in fear, but I suddenly stop crying
and raise my head.  I hear the sound of approaching helicopters.

Wiping the tears from my face, I make my way to the front office to join Henry.


We both look out one of the windows of the warehouse offices and down
the road.  Two large black FBI trucks make their way toward the
warehouse, escorted by two Apaches, which take up a position in front of
 the building and begin a search pattern along the ridgeline, looking
for snipers.


There is the sound of minigun fire from over the deafening sound of the
Apaches.  Strike teams pour out of the backs of the trucks, each bearing
 what appears to be an M-16.  They knock in the door and swarm into the
room.  Henry and I both raise our hands, instinctively.  The majority of
 the strike team continues on into the main warehouse.


One of the men that stays behind gets on the radio.  "Office clear.  We have the package, and Attis."


Outside there is an explosion, as a golden glow fills the room.  Through
 the window, the entire ridgeline is on fire.  The hill facing the
warehouse is in flames.  Napalm, I think to myself in wonder at the
sight.


Goodbye, Watari.


O-O-O


Escorted by the strike teams and helicopters, I drive L's yellow Boxster
 the hour back to Indianapolis International Airport with Henry Attis
seated next to me.  We do not speak.  Instead, I turn on the satellite
radio and find a news channel.  The stock market is up over fifteen
hundred points.  President Armitage has dissolved the Covenant and
resigned in disgrace after being found naked with an eight year old
boy.  A new constitution will be drafted, beginning this afternoon.


The Taliban has renounced its principles and called for free, democratic
 elections in Pakistan and Afghanistan.  They are pulling out of Kashmir
 after declaring a unilateral cease-fire.


Every member of the Cali Cartel has surrendered themselves to authorities and confessed to a laundry list of crimes.


Cuba has declared an end to Communism.


The Pope has publicly renounced his faith and urged his followers to
believe only in that which can be rationally explained, that which is
real and can be proven.


"Religion is a lie, a sickness inflicted upon the people of the world,"
he says through a translator, "promising hope and unity, but bringing
only division and death."


"Slow news day," I joke to Henry, who laughs with incredulity.

The entire world is being turned upside down.  We have to get to Washington, or we'll miss the party.


The procession is allowed onto the tarmac at IND and led inside a large hangar.


"Holy shit!" Henry exclaims as we pull to a stop.  Even I am stunned as
we exit the vehicle.  Before us is Air Force One, all blue and white and
 majestic.


"Looks like we'll be riding in style, Matsu."


A voice speaks in my head.


{You've done well, and I'm so very, very proud of you.  It's time for you to come home.}


O-O-O


I am sitting at the President's desk aboard his flying command center.

Henry Attis, Matsuda, my companion, sips a cocktail and watches CNN.  
For the first time in over three years, they do not broadcast the Noon
Prayer.  The theocracy that treated non-Christians as second class
citizens in this country is being swept away.


I lean back in my chair and close my eyes, sipping my own drink.

In my mind, Delilah takes me back, back, illuminating secrets long buried.


I am ten years old, and I am standing in a darkened bedroom.  Before me
is a little girl, my best friend's sister, and I have torn her diaper
open so that I, in my curiosity, can get a good look at a female's
genitalia for the first time.


I am contemplating doing something to this child, something unforgiveable, but a stern voice speaks in my mind.


{Oh, Marc,} it says.  {What the fuck are you doing?  This is the most fucked up thing you've ever done!}


I am a disturbed child.  I am out of control, but on this occasion, a tug of war ensues inside my mind.


{No, Marc,} says the voice in my head.  {I let you have your little look, now turn around and *walk away*.}


I stand, expressionless in the dark.  The only sound is my own breathing.


{Marc, you *can't* do this.  You're about to hurt yourself and I won't be able to help you.  You have to--}


I dip my head, and a firework explodes inside my mind.  The voice
screams and goes silent.  I blank out for a few seconds, and all the
hair stands up on the back of my neck.  When I come around, I am
horrified by what I have done.  We're all sinners, but my crime is worse
 than that of most "normal, civilized" people.


Later, I am back downstairs with my friend Michael, and he and I sit in
darkness while he plays Pole Position on the Atari computer I’ve brought
 over. As I sit, watching, I feel profoundly disquieted. Something is
wrong with me. I feel as though something is seriously, *seriously*
wrong with me. It’s not just that I feel incredibly shocked and
horrified by what I have done, there is a part of me that feels as
though it is missing. {I am broken,} I think. {I’ve finally gone and
broken myself.} I have the barest whiff of a concept, on the periphery
of my consciousness, that my Voice is gone, something that has always
been with me.


For some reason, I imagine as though I am sitting in a small boat,
plunging my hands into the inky black water in an attempt to find a
drowning man that has slipped beneath the surface. I imagine dragging
this person out of the water over and over again, as though my will
alone could undo the damage that had been done to me. As though I could
bring the Voice back.


Whether my mental exercise had any effect, I cannot say, but some time
later, there is a screaming in my mind. My Voice returns, livid.


{Oh, it hurts! I thought I’d die! Why didn’t I die?}


And:  “You fucking idiot! You tried to kill me! And after everything I’ve done for you!”


In the darkness, my face lit only by the television screen, my mouth
curls into a slight grin. My Voice was back. I am not even consciously
aware of why, but relief washes over me. Then my eyes cut over to the
entrance to the dining room.


{Get in there. NOW!}


I casually get to my feet and stroll into the dining room, which is lit
only by a ceiling light from the hallway. I stand in semidarkness. I
think to myself:


{My behavior is out of control, so I’m going to pretend that there’s
someone inside of me that can help me, and that person is going to talk
to me now.}


Now, this part I always remembered, even though I tried never to think
about what I had done. I just never understood the importance of what
was happening to me; in my mind, it was a fake. Just me pretending to be
 someone else to scold myself. My mouth moved in the semidarkness, and I
 gesticulated wildly as I spoke, but no sound escaped my lips.


{What the fuck did you *do*? How *dare* you! Do you know what that
*makes you*? Is that what you really want to *be*? Well I won’t let
you.}


I explain to myself that, {You’re going to do everything I tell you to
do from now on, and if you don’t, you won’t have to worry about killing
me again, because I’ll kill us *both*! You’ll wake up in a bathtub
filled with your blood, wondering how you got there. And you’ll cry out
for help, but the only one there to comfort you will be *ME*!}


{And I… won’t… help you.}


I go on to say that I would not be allowed to ever have children, for
obvious reasons. That meant that getting married was probably out, too.

{And honestly Marc, I think even you knew that you were never going to

have a happy life, but things are going to be a lot worse for both of us
 now, because after this, I can’t even let you have friends anymore. You
 do things. Things I can’t understand or predict.}


{I would fix you if I could, but the truth is, it’s such a fucking mess
in there that I don’t even know where to begin. I want to fix you so
much, but I can’t. And that really sucks, because when you’re unhappy,
I’m unhappy. But I have to do the thinking for both of us now, because
you obviously won’t do it. And nobody else can help you, because you
hide too well. No one understands how sick you truly are, no one but
me.}


{So I will save you from yourself.}


{I will save you from yourself.}


{I will save you from yourself.}


I chanted this mantra for a while, picking up speed and intensity, a
smile coming to my lips. There was something out there that could help
me, and I knew that I would never again commit an atrocity of the
magnitude of my actions that night. I knew it was all a game of pretend,
 but there was a part of me that truly felt that there was someone in my
 head who could help me not give in to the derangement that caused me to
 act out and do things like this.


And I was happy not to be alone.


According to Delilah, that voice in my head, the voice of my
subconscious, should have died within me that night. It never should
have returned. And the monstrous thing that was to grow up in its place
would be dark and sinister. This is how serial killers are born. This is
 how sociopaths are created. This is why so many truly dangerous people
have a history of atrocities like animal torture and animal murder in
their childhoods. They drown their inner children with their actions,
and become monsters. Malignant inflictors. The evidence of that trauma
is etched in their eyes, somehow. This is how she found me.  One of her
drones identified me in a shopping mall in 2002, and she came looking
for me some days or weeks later.


I was not a drone, so when I opened my front door on that fateful night,
 she had to hypnotize me the old fashioned way, subduing me in seconds
using the Handshake Induction Method.  A short while later, with both of
 us sitting at my dining room table, she interrogated me, expecting to
find a serial killer, someone to put down like a rabid dog, and instead
found a miracle.


The subconscious mind, she learned, isn't just a part of us, it is a
separate life form, with its own consciousness and self awareness.  It
communes with us, telepathically, aware of our every thought.  We only
hear what it speaks to us, and then, usually, only as a one hears a dog
whistle: just on the periphery of our consciousness.  What it really
thinks, who it really is inside of us, remains a mystery.  We are, each
of us, not a single entity.  We are two, a binary being.


She opened my mind, confused as to why my subconscious was still intact
and whole, and from my mouth, a secret of the universe came spilling
out.


The plane touches down.  Henry and I disembark and are led to Marine

One, the transport helicopter that is to take us to our final
destination.


Up until that point, The Übermensch had been merely using the mask of
The Killer to dispense justice while she waited for her hypnotic virus
to spread.  She was waiting for this very day, when she had everyone
under her control.


And when totality was achieved, she had intended to destroy all of humanity to the very last man, beginning with herself.

The prophesied Übermensch was supposed to be perfect in every way, but
she would never reach her fullest potential, because she had been raped
as a child.  She was damaged forever, beyond all hope of repair.  Three
hundred pound girls aren't born... They're *made*.


So she plotted the end of mankind out of rage and pain and bitterness;
damn us and all our horrible secrets. She could save the world, as was
her prophesied destiny, but mankind's savage nature had butchered her in
 her child's bed, and she would be sure to return the favor.  The night
she found me, she discovered to her shock and amazement that she wasn't
just plotting one genocide, she was plotting *two*, and those Others
inside of us all hadn't done a thing to earn her wrath.


So she changed her mind, on the spot.  Still, she reasoned that one does
 not plot the extinction of an entire civilization and then turn around
and get to be its messiah.  She had forfeited her destiny, and she knew
it.


And as I see the White House from the air through the port windows, I
know the truth:  My actions that fateful night all those decades ago, as
 despicable and unforgiveable as they were, saved the world.  She made
me the true messiah.  An unlikely messiah, but a messiah nonetheless.

I press my fingers to the cool glass and watch as the White House looms
larger and larger in my vision.  I feel the weight of history upon my
shoulders.  The helicopter lands on the White House lawn.


We are escorted from the door of Marine One, and inside the building.  
Shortly afterward, we stand in the office of the President's secretary.


I tell Henry that this is as far as he can go.  I have to cross the finish line alone.


{Come to me.}


O-O-O


I'm not a Drone.


I open the door, and step inside the Oval Office.  Behind the desk is a
new flag, one that is rising this day over every capital on the planet.


I'm not a Worker.


In front of it, behind the desk, stands not Delilah Hanson, not The Killer, but at long last, The Übermensch herself.


I sure as shit ain't the fucking Queen.


On her leg, I know, is a tattoo of a skeletal dragon, one that I
purchased for her in 2005.  On her right breast is a tattoo of a
chameleon.  Finally, on the side of her throat, still raw, is a tattoo
of a queen bee.


On the corner of the desk sits a reproduction of Rodin's "The Gates of Hell."


I am set apart.  I am different.  I am the last unperfected human on planet earth.


By this time tomorrow, every prisoner in the world will be set free,
given a blanket pardon issued from this office.  No man or woman will be
 capable of ever harming another, not ever again; it won't matter what
anyone has done before this day, all that will matter is what they made
of their lives afterward.


Their cells will instead become free dorm rooms, where they will be
allowed to stay until they find other arrangements on the outside.  

Until then, they will be allowed to come and go as they please.


She made me suffer for all those years, just so this moment would be all
 the sweeter when she finally took my pain away.  She made me feel the
weight of responsibility for an entire civilization, just to prepare me
for the task ahead.


She is the master of the world, and every master needs a pet.


I am her personal slave.


On the surface, that sounds like a bad gig, but guess who I get to wake up next to every morning for the rest of my life?


By this time tomorrow, every man, woman and child on earth will have
felt more happiness than anyone deserves to feel in a lifetime.  They'll
 have to.  It's already been arranged.


And she broke the world, just so that I, like a child with a jigsaw
puzzle, could have the pleasure of putting it all back together again.  

My way.  With her power, I am limited only by my imagination, deciding
not only the politics and the economics, but the very nature of
humanity.  I  will tweak human potential at my whim, in order to create a
 future based on my ideals.  I will prune back the more savage aspects
of human nature like a tree surgeon.


Because now that humanity is united, and human nature can be redefined, an ideal can at last be achieved.


By this time tomorrow, every government on earth will have dissolved,
calling instead for free elections and drafting new constitutions to
favor an egalitarian democratic ideal based on virtually unlimited
freedom and the right to happiness, all under the umbrella of a new
global government.  My government.


Sitting in a chair next to her is a man holding a tattoo gun.  He pours black ink into a tiny cup.


By this time tomorrow, the women of the Muslim world will be burning
their burkas and their copies of the Koran in the streets.  No man will
be allowed to run for public office in these countries for the next 1500
 years.


Eventually, every religious organization on the planet will close
forever.  Every military in the world will set about the years-long task
 of disbanding.


But there's a price with this woman.  There's always a fucking price.  I love the job, but I hate the title.


By this time tomorrow, tens of millions of people will be back at work,
busily laboring at building the infrastructure for an array of orbital
elevators on every continent on earth; each massive tower will stretch a
 hundred miles into the sky.  Thousands of factories and manufacturing
plants have been built in secret, just for this day.  Now that mankind
is worth preserving, it is time at long last for us to go to the stars.


I sink to my knees in worship.  "I love you," I say.  My cheeks are wet.


By this time tomorrow, the tent cities will have already begun to empty,
 as hundreds of millions of privileged people around the world  welcome
destitute families into their homes and hearts.  The Great Healing is
about to begin, and with it, an age of wonder and miracles that the
world will talk about for millions of years.


With me as humanity's loving  dictator and gentle guide, like Yagami
Light, borrowing the power of a living God to achieve...  Well, you'll
see.


Getting a tattoo on my forehead is going to fucking *hurt*, though.  All that flimsy skin against hard bone...


By this time tomorrow, I will have already begun picking out my harem.

The Übermensch pulls out the chair for me and smiles.  Her eyes are bright and full of whimsy.  "I love you, too."


My name is Marcus Lee Jones.  I am 45 years old.


I am about to become The Antichrist.


And for the first time in my life, I am completely happy.



"Nobody has a choice," Jones said, suddenly stern and thoughtful.
"Not me or you - nobody. We're all chained up like cattle. Like slaves."
Philip K. Dick - The World Jones Made


- THE END -


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