[NeOPulP] Discordia: Installment Eleven

Chapter Nine:
Pretty Lies
The word spread through the neighborhoods and subdivisions of Baton Rouge like a rampant strain of mutant influenza: the one named Louis had arrived in Discordia.  Everyone wanted a piece of the action.  The bounty for his head ranged from a small island off the Mississippi gulf coast, to a spell to control minds, one of the more difficult and forbidden forms of magic.  All the gods and devils from human mythology, and a number of deities that had nothing to do with people, gathered in the divine dimension to watch the unfolding scenario.  It was like Super Bowl Sunday, and there was only one minute to kickoff.  The forces of evil converged on the fortress known as the Pentacle from every direction.
Most of the city’s neighborhoods provided a safe and peaceful environment to live in, back on Earth.  In Discordia most of the neighborhoods belonged to bands of evil warmongers, and every crew was named after the place they called home.  Street gangs on Earth were similar, but on Discordia the gangs were everywhere.  The notable exceptions were downtown, where the Pentacle stood as a bastion for the light, and the university area, where another fortress called the Quad had kept evil at bay for ten thousand years.
The South Side Wrecking Crew rolled up from McKinley Street in Cadillacs and Lincolns with boom boxes beating out earthquake bass.  It was an extravagant show of their power; not that seven hundred athletic black men armed with machetes and shotguns needed cars to show their strength.  The Garden District Black Guard brought human sacrifices along for the trip, hoping to boost their chances at capturing Louis Comeaux with a few burnt offerings.  The Hundred Oaks Hundred boasted closer to five hundred members.  The veterans of the group rode up on their signature motorcycles, and took a position between the fortress and the river.  They tightened the gears on their compound bows, and waited for targets to turn into pincushions. 
Every major mob turned out: the Bocage Bandits, the Highland Road Hellhounds, and the Valley Villains.  They all wanted the reward, but more than that they anxiously awaited the celebration that would follow the fall of the Pentacle.  The fortress had frustrated the progress of wickedness for far too long.  At last the time had arrived when a united front of evil would smash the place into a million pieces, and bathe in the blood of its defenders.  It was going to be quite a party.
An incredible number of warriors arrived almost simultaneously under the cover of nightfall.  The fortress sentries were caught off guard.  Nobody inside had a chance to escape.  The siege forces waited in the tree line surrounding the fortress, well out of range of guns and bows.  The forces of evil never before coordinated their attacks or showed discipline.  After thousands of years of chaos, their tactics had changed overnight.  Something finally quieted the infighting among the tribes of the wicked.
For their part the defenders lined the top of the wall surrounding the fortress.  They were outnumbered almost ten to one, and everyone knew it.  The night grew black as the pit.  Neither the moon nor the stars shone down upon the scene of the upcoming battle.  The defenders made peace with their creator, uncertain if they would live through another day.
The Order of True Love gathered in a large circle on the roof of the small fortress.  The thirty acolytes had begun work on a long and complicated spell.  They would meditate and chant silently through the night, building the energy necessary to cast the enchantment.  The air was filled with positively charged ions, and the bystanders sensed the energy crackling within the confines of the circle of magicians.
Jesus and Michael stood off to one side with Uri, engaged in a heated conversation.  Cara showed up to escort them to the roof just as the pair exited Michael’s room.  The woman didn’t want to be involved in their discussion with the high priest, so she joined the circle and aided in the stockpiling of magical energy.  The reason for her desire to remain aloof was apparent.  Jesus was angry, and his mood wasn’t improving.
“Everyone knew that Louis’ presence would bring an unparalleled response from the bad guys.  I assumed that someone would have the common sense to send out scouts to alert the fortress to troop movements.  On top of that, nobody woke me up until we were completely surrounded.  I expected this assignment to be difficult, but I didn’t think it would be made more so by our allies,” the Colombian ranted as he paced back and forth.
The blistering reprimand didn’t ruffle Uri in the slightest.  The old man waited for Jesus to run out of steam.  Uri’s parents were Russian emigrants, but the inscrutable expression on his face made him look like a wizened Chinese seer.  Jesus finally finished the tirade.  Uri conjured a small sphere of encryption, so that no enemy sorcerer listening from a distance could understand what he was about to say.
“I understand and share your concerns, Señor Mendoza, but please allow me to answer your accusations.  Scouts were sent out to the north, south and east.  We can only assume that they were detected and killed before being able to report back.  I should add that the encircling forces arrived en masse.  We were surrounded before we knew what was happening, no more than fifteen minutes ago.  Nobody dawdled in waking you up.  However, none of those facts are of any benefit to us now that we are surrounded.  That’s all water under the bridge, as some would say.
“I do have information that will be of immeasurable value.  As I told you, we escorted Louis to a safe room underneath the fortress when trouble started.  I understand your anxiousness to join with your ward, but I asked for your presence up here for a very good reason.  Do you see that stand of trees far down the river to the south?” 
Uri did not point, but instead gazed in the direction of the copse. Jesus nodded affirmatively.  It was too dark to see naturally.  Uri planted a vision of the trees in Jesus mind, so that Jesus saw the scene as if it were daylight.
Uri continued, “There is a tunnel under the fortress that runs three miles to the south and comes out in those trees.  The exit has a permanent ward on it that prevents its discovery.  You will be leaving through that tunnel, and shortly after that everyone else here will follow. 
“I discussed the situation with Moira, and the fortress will be abandoned.  A small group of volunteers will remain behind to draw the fire of the attackers, and everyone else will flee for the Quad.  The Pentacle was not designed to withstand an attack of this magnitude, and it would mean certain death to stay.  The Quad stood through a much more determined siege eight thousand years ago, and we believe that it will stand again easily.
“You, Michael and Louis should precede the wholesale evacuation.  The ploy won’t last for long, and our flight is bound to turn into a running firefight.  It would be safest if you weren’t with the group,” Uri finished.
“Oh, it will be much safer for you, that’s for sure.  As soon as they realize Louis isn’t with you, they’ll break off the attack and look for us,” Jesus noted bitterly.  “I know that you are right, though.  If we hole up in the Quad, then sooner or later they will take us down.  Evil has a world full of reinforcements, and we won’t have any.  We have no choice.”
“We took the liberty of bringing your car into the stockade while you were sleeping.  You didn’t have anything with you, so we assumed your belongings were in the vehicle,” Uri changed the subject.  The old magician didn’t want any part of their troubles.  He was a good guy, but he hadn’t been a good guy for very long.  He still looked out for number one.
“That’s a good thing, at least.  There’s a rocket launcher in the trunk.  Give it to the volunteers who stay behind.  I’m taking the M16 with me, but I can’t carry all the ammo.  If anybody here needs 5.56, then dole out what I leave behind.  It’s the least I can do.  Now point me in the right direction.  I’m tired of talking,” Jesus poured out all of the statements in one big breath.  The promise of battle affected him like amphetamines.  He was wired for sound.
“Cara will escort you to Louis.  I will send someone for the rifle and the ammo you mentioned, to save time,” Uri provided helpfully.  Uri was relieved that Jesus hadn’t asked for acolytes to accompany him, or insisted on traveling to the Quad.
Jesus marched over to Cara and pulled her out of the circle by the fabric of one of her robes.  Irritation spread over her features, but she didn’t make an issue out of the assassin’s behavior.  They headed for the stairs.
Uri said his farewell to the priest, “Father Michael, I wish we could have spent time together under more pleasant circumstances.  You have all of my prayers, for whatever they’re worth.”
“Prayer is worth more than any human knows.   Hope that we will meet again one day, Uri,” Michael called over his shoulder as he rushed off to keep up with Jesus and Cara.
The three entered the stairwell to descend to the basement when they bumped into Lena and Rosie.  Michael had forgotten all about them.  The look on Jesus’ face indicated the Colombian hadn’t included them in his planning either.  Lena saw the look, and set her jaw in grim determination.
“Where are you going, Jesus?” Lena demanded without the slightest concern for politeness.
“We’re, uh, leaving.  Everybody’s leaving.  These people will take good care of you, though, Lena.  You’ll be safe with them,” Jesus told her.  She was blocking his path, and he attempted to move past her.
Lena stepped directly in front of him and said, “No.  Absolutely not.  No.”
Jesus found himself looking directly at her latex covered breasts, and almost forgot what they were talking about.  He looked up into her face and asked, “No?  No what?  What do you mean no?”
“We’re coming with you, Jesus.  What did you think?  That you could just leave us behind?”
“You really will be safer with the soldiers, Lena,” Cara put in.
“All of those evil people out there will be coming after Jesus and Louis and I,” Michael added.
“Your objections are duly noted.  You brought me here, Jesus Mendoza, and I’m staying with you,” Lena informed them adamantly.
“And I’m staying with both of you,” Rosie spoke up from the stairs.  She sounded about as certain as a bride with cold feet, but she had made up her mind.  “You’re the closest thing to friends I have in this dimension.”
“Do as you like, girls, but I can’t promise that I can protect you.  Meanwhile, please get out of the way.  We are in a very big hurry.  Every second we stand here helps our enemies,” Jesus said angrily.  Lena got out of his way, but she kept up as he bounded down the stairs.
The five of them hurdled down the fourteen flights of stairs to come out in the basement of the fortress.  The basement was a massive affair that stretched out like a section of Carlsbad Caverns, as far as the eye could see.  The lighting ended long before the rock walls did.  Everybody knew that there weren’t any caves in the muddy Louisiana ground, which was why the designers of the fortress thought the caverns were such a good idea.  Nobody would storm the fortress with the intent of checking the caverns.  Cara was the only one of the group who appreciated their surroundings.  None of the others gave the caverns much thought.
Louis was with two female soldiers not far from the stairs, and further inside the cavern there were five horses tethered in a line.  The horses were anxious, because they could sense the apprehension of the people.  The women were the same two who rode out to meet Jesus and the girls.  The one with the scar introduced herself as Dorothy, and she introduced her fair companion as Elizabeth.  The two were heavily armed, but compound bows were still their ready weapons.
While introductions were made all around, two runners arrived with Jesus’ M16 and five cases of ammo.  They put the goods down. One of them told the assassin, “Nobody here has .223, sir.  You may as well take it all.”  Jesus nodded, and they hurried back up the stairs.
“We weren’t expecting this many people,” Dorothy admitted, “so there are only five horses.  We can send for more horses, but it will take time.  We have sleeping gear and basic essentials for five people.”
“I’m not going with you,” Cara announced.  She hugged Louis and told him, “Take care of yourself, Louis Comeaux.  I want you to have gained twenty pounds by the next time I see you.” 
The two female warriors exchanged glances.  They knew that Cara never displayed affection openly.  What they saw convinced them she must be attracted to extremely frail younger men.  Dorothy whispered to Elizabeth, “I knew she was the domineering type.”  Elizabeth giggled.
Jesus wasn’t paying any attention to the little drama.  He busted open one of the cases of 5.56, and removed the two hundred round blister packs from the wooden box.  He threw a couple of the blister packs to the idle priest, and instructed him to help load them into the saddlebags.  Louis saw what they were doing and rushed over to help.
“You never answered my question about the horses,” Dorothy reminded Jesus.
“I didn’t realize you asked a question.  Even if there was time to get more horses, I don’t think most of these people can ride.  Louis, have you ever ridden a horse?”
“No,” the young man admitted.
“That means you’re riding behind me,” Jesus told him.  “I assume your presence indicates that you two ladies are coming with us.  Dorothy, would you mind if Rosie rides behind you?”
“I am an excellent rider, thank you very much,” Rosie spoke up.  “Do you think all women are incapable, Jesus?  I’ll have you know I won many awards for my equestrian skills.”
“That’s great, Rosie.  Whatever.  How about you Lena?  Were you bareback rider of the month as well?”  Jesus grunted the questions as he broke open another case of ammo.
Lena got a brief mental image of Jesus riding her bare back, and she focused to make it disappear.  She tried to keep her sexuality at bay, but it had always been a big part of her life.  That was why she hated to say no to the Colombian.  She told the truth anyway, “No, Jesus, I don’t know how to ride a horse.”
“I can handle you,” Dorothy volunteered.  Lena blushed, because as disgusting as she found her own thoughts, her mind never stopped working.
Michael spoke up, “I’ve never ridden a horse before.  What do I do?”
Jesus rolled his eyes and said cynically, “Christ, help your servant.  Elizabeth, do you think you can ride with the good father?  We are leaving right now.  Which horse do Louis and I get?”
They all mounted, and Dorothy led the way into the caverns.  She was chosen to escort them because she knew the way to the surface, and very few people in the fortress did.  Dorothy was also a fierce fighter, as anyone who looked at her might have guessed.  Elizabeth was along because she and Dorothy were lovers.  Elizabeth wasn’t just another pretty face, though.  She was highly skilled at archery, and she had a gift for communicating with horses.  Elizabeth followed right behind Dorothy.
Jesus and Louis were next in line, with Rosie right behind them.  Dorothy and Elizabeth insisted they bring the extra horse, because they hated to leave the steed behind.  They tethered the unburdened horse to Rosie’s mount, pointing out that it wasn’t difficult to learn how to ride.  They also pointed out that having a fresh horse could mean the difference between life and death in a cross-country chase.
They traveled down an increasingly narrow passage beneath the earth in near absolute darkness.  Louis’ flashlight he brought from home provided the only light, but Dorothy didn’t need it to find her way.  The rode in silence for about thirty minutes before the ground rumbled.  The battle at the Pentacle was underway.
“Damn.  I hoped we would have more time,” Jesus complained loudly.
“We have more time than you may think.  Moira let me in on the battle plan,” Dorothy spoke from the lead.  “The sound you heard was probably the Order’s spell taking effect.  The spell is the key to everyone’s survival.  The attackers will see a full host of soldiers defending the fortress; in reality there will be fewer than twenty.  Right now the majority of the Pentacle’s forces are following through the caves behind us.  It will take hundreds of people a lot longer to traverse this tunnel than it will us, but that’s not why we have more time.”
Jesus thought she had a real flair for the dramatic as he waited for her to reveal the secret.  Dorothy intoned gravely, “When the last defender falls, a countdown will begin.  Sixty seconds after the Pentacle belongs to evil, the entire place is going to implode.  The rear of this tunnel will be sealed.  There will be no significant underground pursuit.”
“God have mercy on the men that stayed behind,” Michael said reverently.
“Moira stayed behind.  She wouldn’t abandon her post, and most of her honor guard stayed with her.  Our lives are being saved by eighteen women,” Elizabeth revealed sorrowfully.  “She saved my life once before.  I should have stayed with her, but Moira ordered Dorothy and I to lead you through the caverns.  She wanted me to live.”  Tears ran down Elizabeth’s cheeks, but the darkness hid the sight.
Louis spoke up in a voice that sounded alien to his body.  “I promise you that she will not have sacrificed her life in vain.  When I have the stone, everything is going to change.”
The sound of Louis’ voice sent chill bumps down Jesus’ spine.  He knew that it was not the young man speaking.  The powerful being inside of Louis was slowly rising to the surface.  Jesus hoped for the best, but feared for the worst.  He wondered what it would mean to his mission if Louis disappeared altogether.
Michael heard the difference too.  The priest still didn’t know how to approach his God appointed task.  He spent the day talking to Louis about God and salvation, while Jesus slept.  Louis had a flippant attitude about religion, and only listened to things he wanted to hear.  Michael felt no closer to saving the young man than he had before he started.  The sound of Louis’ voice in the dark tunnel worried the priest.
Rosie rode behind them in silence.  She hoped she made the right decision accompanying the small group.  Lena and Jesus had saved her life once already, and she hated to lose the only friends she had in such a harsh place.  She felt discouraged by the men’s aloofness, however, and began to experience acute loneliness at the back of the line.  She was thoroughly depressed when they reached the tunnel’s exit.
When Dorothy passed a point in the tunnel, a power circle lit up on a large metal plate blocking the exit.  It contained the symbols that hid the exit and allowed the giant plate to be opened and closed.  Dorothy dismounted from her horse and approached the power circle.  She touched several of the symbols in a rapid sequence, and the plate rolled out of the way.  They all rode forward into the fresh air.
It was midnight, but there was moonlight outside the tunnel.  The darkness over the fortress was the result of sorcery, and it did not extend that far down the river.  They were all relieved that there would be some light by which to ride the horses.  The disconcerting blackness of the tunnel had taken a toll on their morale.
“I know where we are.  Everyone try to keep up.  We must make haste down the river,” Jesus called out as he kicked his horse into a gallop. 
The others followed as Jesus set an insane pace for the swamps to the south.  Nobody looked back at the light show cast into the night sky by the fighting at the Pentacle.  Nobody wanted to dwell on the death and the suffering that was the inevitable product of such battles.  The small group was three miles south of Baton Rouge and riding hard when the night sky turned a brilliant white.  The sound of a thousand claps of thunder rolled down the river and washed over them.  It sounded like the heavens had burst.  The Pentacle had fallen, and the spell had taken effect.
“Moira is lost!” Elizabeth cried out to the sky and the earth and the river.  Her grief was inconsolable.
As the small, ragtag band of adventurers set off through the caverns beneath the fortress, the army of the Pentacle prepared to make a dash for the older, more secure fortress a few miles away.  Moira gave a direct order for all regular troops to abandon their posts.  Several hundred men and women  marched hastily down the stairs and into the caverns.  All of the members of the Order of True Love accompanied the soldiers.  The powerful spell cast by Uri and his acolytes covered their escape, so that the forces of evil would not know they were leaving.
Moira kept it a secret that she intended to remain behind when the other forces fled through the tunnels.  Moira’s second in command, a warlord known as Scorn, caught wind of what was really taking place.  He disobeyed his orders to lead the escape.  Instead he left that in the capable hands of Uri and the Order.  He spread the word to a few of his best fighters that he was staying behind with Moira.
Scorn and twenty of his men joined Moira and her ladies on the walls.  Moira showered Scorn with curses and insults, but she was gladdened at the sight of her closest friend.  She had known that he would never leave her.  Scorn, for his part, accused her of trying to steal the glory, and denounced her plan to exclude him.  His words didn’t hide his meaning.  He would be at her side when the end came, no matter the numbers they faced. 
To the enemy the defenders looked like hundreds of warriors.  That was little consolation to the defenders.  Twenty feet of space separated each soldier from the next closest ally.  The defenders didn’t intend to hold the walls for long.  Their presence was merely a ruse anyway, a ruse that they would buy with their lives.
The forces of evil received the order to attack, and sorcery glowed among their ranks as they charged.  Fireballs and lightning bolts crossed the distance between the forces on the ground and the wall.  Magic spells lit up the night sky.  Gunfire erupted when thousands of evil men drew within range of the walls.  Bodies littered the ground before the fortress walls, but the charge never faltered.
The men who reached the stockade hurled grappling hooks over the top and began to climb.  One woman shot a rocket into the attackers, and forty or more twisted men felt the agony of their demise.  Bullets and arrows filled the air around the defenders, and the men and women on the walls were failing fast.  The attackers paid dearly for their success, but Moira was forced to sound a retreat.  She had hoped to hold the wall a little longer, but she knew it was no use.  Her only choice was to retreat.
Half of Moira’s people got isolated on the far side of the fortress, and were cut down like dogs.  Only Moira and Scorn, and a few men and women, reached the interior of the fortress.  They quickly barred the giant doors.  Within seconds the enemy could be heard on the other side.  Moira ordered her small force back, away from the door and onto the stairs.  The door exploded inward with a deafening boom, and smoke filled the air. 
Hundreds of bloodthirsty warriors ran through the shattered frame, only to meet death and injury at the hands of the few remaining defenders.  The attackers were jubilant about how easily they breached the walls of the fortress. They never even noticed that the fortress was practically empty.  Bloodlust took control of the mob of evil men.  They charged up the stairs at the last guardians of the Pentacle again and again, and each time there were fewer defenders left standing. 
There was so much gunfire that many of the attackers in the front ran out of ammunition.  Unable to turn back because of the press of people behind them, they flung themselves at Moira and her people armed only with knives and sticks.  The number of attackers pushing up the stairs could not be measured.  Though they climbed over piles of dead bodies, they never faltered in their effort to exterminate the defenders of the Pentacle.  Within a few minutes the only defenders left were Moira and Scorn.
Moira had been shot at least thirty times.  Blood streamed out of her from wounds that would have been fatal to any ordinary human being.  Moira was a warlord.  She would not die easily.  She used guns early on, but eventually ran out of ammo.  After that, every man who came within her reach went down.  She swung her great mace Nutcracker with such force that men’s bodies were hurled right and left like rag dolls, but the terrible advance continued unabated.
Scorn stood by her side as they backed up the stairs.  Bullet wounds decorated his chest and his abdomen, and it seemed there was no end to the blood the man contained.  He wielded a great sword called Judgment, and none that were cut by the blade survived.  Scorn hacked clean through men’s torsos, legs and arms, and he never seemed to tire.
Scorn and Moira backed halfway up to the third floor when the crowd came to its senses.  Loaded guns were passed to the front.  The two champions didn’t stand a chance, so they charged into the gunfire.  Scorn skewered four people with Judgment as he flung himself down the stairs.  A bullet to his brain took all the fight out of him. 
Moira fought on with fifty or more bullets inside her, taking another fifteen men down to hell after Scorn fell.  She finally slumped to the ground with her giant mace still clutched tightly in her fists.  The men who killed her were awed to silence.  They had never seen such courage.
Their reverence was cut short.  The fortress turned into a giant ball of energy, and imploded with the power of a sun gone supernova.  The power involved to destroy the fortress was so great that it had to be directed inward.  If it had been directed outward, then most of the city would have been vaporized.  The fortress was too important to give to the power of evil, however, so it had to be destroyed.  The hundreds of evil attackers who survived the blast felt lucky indeed, and set about the task of finding out what happened.  It was hours before their sorcerers learned that the fortress had been abandoned.  The Order’s magic had worked beyond all expectations.
Years later, songs would be sung of Moira and Scorn and how they faced an army alone.  Their heroism was never forgotten.  Instead it grew with every telling.  Within a thousand years, songs told of the victory won that day.  Songs told of how Moira and Scorn won the battle, and walked out of the fortress hand in hand to live happily ever after.
Nobody ever liked the ugly truth.  People have always preferred pretty lies.  Where once stood a glorious fortress beside the Mississippi River, there was only a gigantic crater six hundred feet in diameter and two hundred feet deep.  The crater testified to the true story of what happened to Moira the Red and her loyal friend Scorn.  They died a bloody death at the hands of mindless, evil people, but they gave their lives so that others could live.  The truth meant more than any fairy tale, in a savage place where no fairy would ever fly.

[NeOPulP] Blasphemers Gone Wild

Frightened easily
Like having first-hand knowledge
Of all the rapes and murders
That took place in public places
In front of large crowds
Every single time for nothing.

Nobody will ever have
No doubts
About people's basic goodness,
Yeah, about that.
Yeah, hmm.
Entertain the masses.
On the fast track to becoming a millionaire.
Think like the crowd.
It's all about the money.
Sell your soul.
It's sexy.
Another reason
For another starving artist,
To make another pathetic excuse.
About why they failed.
Painful childhood
Disturbed memories
Traumatic experiences
Cry me a river
All you poor fucking babies.
Now is now and not yesterday
So what are you going to do?
Weep and weep and slobber
Your excuses on someone else.
Once I was exactly like you
Which is why I hate you,
And will be glad when you die.

We can party where the lights are blinding
Inside a pin striped box
Where small animals hide
During thunderstorms.
When did it become okay to be like me?
When did it become fashionable
To be a freak in the sunlight?
Changed the hair
Changed the clothes
Shaved, showered, spiffed up
Still a freak beyond all hope.
Of all the sights most detested,
The posers with sadomasochistic flair
Sicken me the most.
I can only imagine,
They have happy happy homes
Full of credit card debt
And mom is drinking because
It hurts more that way.
Dad is a loser
Because all he ever did
Was try to do the right thing.
The world cut off his balls
And erased his identity.
It's all about money.
We were all fucked from the beginning,
Aside from the occasional lightning strike.
Give me fifteen minutes
And they would be ashamed of their existence.
Give me an hour and they would never be free
I take boys.
I'll take good care of them.
C'est la vie.
Next lifetime learn how to float,
The undertow... just don't even tell jokes about that.
I also have a religion I'd like to sell you.
Have you checked out
My latest piercing?
A dumbbell
Straight through my heart.
Top that
I finally got that Gothic chick
With all the shit in her face,
And the smile that lit up
When I talked about hurting her.
It was quite fine.
She loved every second of the pain,
As did I.
"This will hurt me more..."
I could not love her.
She was too pure for me.
Another half-assed lie.
The truth was that the big man got scared
When everything fit too well.
It fit perfectly.
My personal favorite:
The devil made me do it.
"That's great, sir or ma'am.
Tell us where this devil is
So we can go arrest him."
"Mr. Lucifer, you are under arrest
For contributing to the delinquency
Of every minor,
236 trillion counts of temptation
(it was a big number),
one gazillion counts of encouraging
lewd and lascivious behavior,
and one moving violation
from that year you stole Santa's sleigh."
Never trust categories.
This is not an excuse.
This is a boast.

In honesty
I am quite for sale.
Wealthy people totally
Deserve my subservience,
for a price.
I am very confident
Such a thing could never take place.
I have nothing to offer
But demonic ridicule,
A ridiculous collection of Hot Wheels from 1973,
And one bulging
Egg sac
From which the queen's babies will hatch.
Master or Mistress,
What would you have me do?
Be careful,
This thing before you bites,
And always draws blood.
Infection will set in,
And amputation will be
You boys out there wouldn't want that,
Now would you?
You ladies need never fear.
That which you possess
Is the finest treasure
The world has ever known.
Worship would be more likely.
(metaphorically speaking of...
uh, yep, its sex)
The subtlety award goes to
Not that guy with the keyboard,
No, that other guy,
Yeah, him.
[ish hard to lie]
The finest things
Can only be described
Through sensation.
If you got the cold fish
You had a lapse in judgment.
I think warm honey
Better describes the experience.
Pick more carefully
The next time a chance presents itself.
Even my close friends tell me
That I am too public.
I have no other explanation for that
Than my fondness for humiliation.
I love to get caught,
When catching up
On all the beautiful ways
The beautiful people left me behind.

Friends will come
And laugh in your face
To watch you suffer.

You're left with what you had.
What's your excuse?
The devil made you do it?
Or was it a lesser devil?
Formidable linguistic adversary
That I am
(glottal stop),
Surely there are better excuses than that.
Psycopathia sexualis
Dear me...
Did I stake that claim,
Make satyriasis my personal game?
So come better than that.
Come with paraphilia,
The love that dare not speak its name,
Or something else of substance,
Like a lifelike rubber ducky
or an onion ring drizzled in caramel.
Come with fricatrice,
Or boondagger,
Or scotophiliac, or...
Do you think I have a problem?
Higgledy har.
I like this game.
The best toys
Are the ones that are
The most difficult to kill.
Thank you, Senor Frog,
For your insight and genius.
Yet an afternoon
In the company of Mr. Davis
And Mr. Coltrane
Relieve me of all concerns;
This is the finest exhibition
Of the human spirit.
 My entire life is baddable.
Take that away
And suicide is the only option.
In the wake of all this examined discourse
Impotent, perverted neuter,
Salacious imp with the gnomish gimp,
[It's hard to determine the sex just from looking]
Would probably be the diagnosis
With the mostest voteses.
If only that were true.
The wind blows and the sails furl,
Never at half mast.
It is a curse,
Not a blessing.
It's like living the staged Iwo Jima photograph
Over and over
Except there's nobody there but the flag,
Which, curiously enough,
Bears the coat of arms of Zaphod Beeblebrox,
Long may his name endure.
Imagine hunting with a lance
That never breaks.
The beast of venery dies,
But the lance keeps poking,
Over and over,
Like a mindless necrophiliac.
-philia, my favorite additive.
It's all about love, I tell you.

This should be
About a thousand pages longer
and contain
something besides vulgarity.
I'm still working on caring
What you think.
I don't reckon I'll ever get it.

Is this microphone on?

{{{Interestingly enough, though this version is less censored than my previously released version, I still can't bring myself to post this in its entirety. It turns out I'm sick. Very, very sick.}}}


[NeOPulP] Discordia: Installment Ten

“The name doesn’t ring a bell. Are you a male stripper or something?” she further inquired.

The god rolled his eyes and sighed. Sometimes he found it difficult not to hate Yahweh. A beautiful young woman was in his presence, and thanks to God she wasn’t impressed by his name at all. Apollo longed for the old days. In the old days she would have been down on her knees before him, begging him to use her so that she might bear his offspring. Unfortunately, it seemed he would have to talk to her.

“No, Lena, I’m a god. I was rather an important god a long time ago. I was the god of the sun. I had this fantastic chariot… never mind. I’m here to talk to you,” Apollo informed her.

“If you’re a god, then why do you want to talk to me? Surely if you’re in my dream, and you know my name, then you know I’m nobody important. So why me?”

Lena leaned back in her chair to wait for an answer. The fabric of the dress was beginning to chafe her nipples, and she no longer felt sexy without her undergarments. She felt uncomfortably exposed. She thought about trying to wake up, but Apollo was just so pleasant to look at.

“I wagered a lot on the outcome of a contest on Discordia. Jesus will play a key role in that contest. Judging from your dream, you have an interest in the handsome Colombian. If you were to stay close to him, then you might be able to perform a few services for me. Should you choose to help me, I will make sure you are lavishly compensated,” the Greek promised. He reached up and ran his fingers through his hair.

“I’m done performing services for compensation, mister. Even if I wasn’t, I’ve never liked a man who beats around the bush. Don’t get me wrong. You look great, but you’re just not my type. Besides, like I said, Jesus took me away from all that,” Lena put her foot down. The table rattled, because she literally put her foot down as well.

“You don’t understand. I want you to do a few things for me, and I will pay you…”

“I understood perfectly, and I’m not interested. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to wake up,” Lena told him sharply.

Lena stood up from the table and snapped her fingers, but nothing happened. She pinched herself, but the pain didn’t do the trick. She grew impatient. She clicked her heels together three times and said, “There’s no place like home.”

Apollo watched the spectacle with increasing disbelief. He had never seen anything like it. When Lena started into “Super-cala-fragilistic-expy-ala-docious,” Apollo knew he needed to do something. He cleared his throat loudly to stop her.

“Look, Lena, I’m one of the good guys. I don’t want you to have sex with me. I want you to have sex with Jesus. I have a side bet going, and it involves you and the Colombian. I can’t directly interfere, but I can make a deal with you. If Jesus tells you he loves you, then a certain Grecian goddess will allow me into her clamshell. I want that to happen. I want you to help make that happen. Get my drift?”

“No, I don’t. What the hell are you talking about? Are you trying to get into a girl’s pants? Is that it? You need my help getting into a girl’s pants?” Lena asked him good-naturedly. She understood very well, she just wanted to make him uncomfortable.

Apollo regretted his decision to visit the girl. He found her lusty innocence unnerving. “Yes, that’s basically it. If you can get Jesus to tell you he loves you, then the ‘girl’ will sleep with me.”

“I bet she would. You’re kind of cute. So what’s her name?” Lena inquired playfully. She sat back down in the chair, hungry for more information.

“Her name is Venus. She’s the most glorious creature in all of creation,” Apollo’s eyes clouded over as he drifted away on a memory of Venus. “She’s been teasing me for thousands and thousands of years. She always uses our lineage as an excuse for why we can’t be together.”

“What do you mean by that, Apollo?”

“She is technically my sister. I don’t see how that makes any difference, but every time we get to the heavy petting she stops me. She says it goes against the laws of nature.”

Lena gasped and jumped back out of her chair. “She’s right. You can’t have sex with your sister. You creep! Get out of my dream!”

Apollo attempted to calm her down. Lena grew even more frantic to wake up when he stood up and reached out for her. She hopped in little circles and hollered at the top of her lungs. Apollo realized that it was no use. He straightened out his toga and clapped his hands together.

Lena woke up in her bed in the fortress. Somebody knocked at the door and entered without waiting for an answer. All thoughts of the dream left her. Rosie walked into the room. Lena would have gotten angry, but the look of fear on Rosie’s face stopped her.

“What is it, Rosie?”

“There are thousands of soldiers converging on the fortress. We’re surrounded, Lena, and I’m scared,” she confessed. She started to cry.

“Come here, Rosie,” Lena said kindly.

Rosie went over to Lena. Lena patted the bed next to her, and Rosie sat down. Lena took Rosie in her arms, and the young woman cried and cried while Lena stroked her hair. Lena kissed her on the forehead, and wiped the tears off of her cheeks.

“Don’t worry, Rosie. Everything is going to be all right. I won’t let them get you,” Lena comforted her, and she meant every word she said. “Do you know where Jesus is?”

“Yeah. I think he’s on the third floor. He’s in a priest’s room,” Rosie told her.

Lena wished she had taken time to explore the fortress before she fell asleep. She had no idea where anything was. She held Rosie’s hand for another second, and then she stood up.

Lena was glad she fell asleep with her clothes on. She noticed Rosie was wearing a pretty pink negligée, and for a second she wondered if Rosie had lesbian tendencies. Lena put the idea out of her mind. She was sure Rosie really was scared, and it wasn’t the time to entertain such notions.

“You need to get dressed, Rosie. I’ll come with you. We need to stay together until we find Jesus,” Lena advised Rosie gruffly. Lena imagined what it would be like to dominate the young woman, and the idea appealed to her.

“Okay. Thank you, Lena, for holding me. It meant a lot to me,” Rosie said timidly as they crossed to her room.

“If we get out of this, then I’ll let you thank me as long as you like,” Lena informed her. Lena totally misread the signals that Rosie was giving out. Rosie really was frightened. The young lady didn’t have anything sexual in mind when she awakened Lena.

“What do you mean by that?” Rosie asked in confusion.

Lena decided the only defense was to pretend like she hadn’t said anything at all. Lena walked Rosie to her room, and waited for her to dress. When she was fully clothed, both of the ladies took off in search of their handsome assassin. They didn’t know what Jesus planned to do, but they knew they needed to be with him. Both of the girls were essentially helpless in Discordia. Neither one of them liked needing a guardian, but they liked the idea of death and torture a lot less.


For the past 20 years Kraftwerk has played almost the exact same set every time they played. No matter how long it's been since I've heard an actual recording of Kraftwerk, eventually some of the music comes back to me. Anybody who reads here and is familiar with Kraftwerk knows where some of the more obscure references come from.

Jeane Michelle Jarre also resides high on the list of musicians whose work has haunted me for decades. Zoolook was a masterpiece. Jarre holds the World Record for largest crown at a concert, with over 1 million people in attendance at a show memorializing the Challenger astronauts. Robert McNair was supposed to play the saxophone for Jarre's Rendez-Vous , but McNair was killed in Challenger.

Bush has many troll people burrowing into civil service jobs in the government. It appears the plan is to undermine the foundations of all major governmental building. After enough burrowing the government edifices will be structurally compromised. At that point they will sink down into the earth a few inches, or feet if the burrowers are hard workers. The burrowers will be allowed to eat all roots and worms they come across. the Bush Administration hopes they are never discovered, and definitely doesn't want light to be shown upon them.

That is happening over there in Bizarro, where lies are truth and truth is last week's leftover doughnuts. The truth doughnuts were good at first, but nobody cared enough to save them. They are still salvageable with a microwave and just a little sugar glaze, but if the doughnuts aren't eaten soon they'll become inedible. You would think with lard asses like Karl Rove around there would be no leftover truth doughnuts. The fact is, while Rove is one fat lump of feces, he's allergic to truth biscuits. He prefers dirty, conniving liar hummus, for which he can never get his fill and the trough is never empty.

Free thinkers, fast talkers, people of the DL, artists, musicians and writers, everyone, Everyone, should be careful where they go in Louisiana. There's some bad shit down there. The jails are more dangerous than the prisons because highly trained professional guards run the prisons. The jails are mostly run by nepotists and red neck backwoods good old boys. Everything you were worried might happen in prison happens in Louisiana jails. Lots of it makes it to the newspapers, but the people in charge never face accountability for all the illegal things that go on.

Does everyone remember when Orleans Parish prisoners were left locked in their cells during Katrina? They had no fresh water or food. Many of them almost drowned. According to firsthand accounts from some inmates an undetermined number of people did drown in the jail. The fact they were in jail usually means they had not been convicted yet. That really should be all anybody needs to know about Louisiana criminal justice, but just to make sure there's more. Deaths by tasing have occurred. Numerous questionable suicides happen a lot. Anal rape and sodomy is part of the jail guards playbook, and they aren't afraid of to do things like sodomize inmates. Why would the guards worry about legality? After all, they are the law. Nobody is around to stop them. People have even been beaten to death, and the guards involved walked on the charges.

Louisiana jails = bad. Got it? If there were such a thing as the Christian hell, there are plenty of "law enforcement officers" that should have seats reserved right next to Old Brimstone.

Still wondering if the world will be saved from a global depression? Meee tooo. So is mah kitteh:

Doh! Visual Saturday got lost in the work schedule. Damn, a perfect run of successful weekend image breaks. Next Saturday the record will begin clean, again.
Maybe next year the business won't need my services every single day.


[NeOPulP] Discordia: Installment Nine

Chapter Nine:
Lena’s Dream

The sight of the Pentacle’s interior left Lena and Rosie standing with their mouths wide open. The unusual shape of the fortress attracted attention out of doors, but the exterior walls were flat and unadorned. The inside of the fortress was completely different. Multicolored marble tiles covered the floor, and an elevated view showed that the tiles formed an enormous mosaic of a snake curled around a cross. A massive chandelier hung from the ceiling one hundred feet above the floor of the foyer, and a spiral staircase twisted out of sight to the floors above. Ornately sculpted molding outlined the floor and the ceiling, and gorgeous classical paintings covered every available flat surface. The place looked expensive beyond the girl’s wildest dreams.

“How did you all pay for this?” Lena allowed her awe to show through.

“It didn’t cost a thing. Most of it isn’t even real. If you can’t touch it, then it’s probably an illusion,” Cara revealed. “Most of the tangible work was installed through alchemical transmutation, and good old fashioned conjuring. A small percentage of the sculptures you see were crafted by hand, but everything else came from magic. The designers felt that aesthetic beauty improved the morale of the troops. We fight a very demoralizing battle, so we live in an incredibly beautiful place.”

Lena was disappointed by the answer. She preferred the idea that the place was expensive, because she had always been poor. It would have been nice to think she visited a place of great wealth. There was no denying the beauty of the place, however.

Cara led them up to the second floor, which apparently belonged exclusively to the women of the fortress. They turned up one of the north hallways, and Cara showed them adjacent rooms halfway down the hall. The bathrooms and showers were a few meters further north.

“There are towels and robes in both of your rooms. Rosie, once you get cleaned up we’ll take care of your injuries,” Cara referred to the mass of welts, bruises and cuts that covered most of Rosie’s body. “The Order of True Love maintains a women’s sanctum here on the second floor. Report there when you’re finished, and someone will heal you and provide you with new clothes.”

“Thank you, Cara,” Rosie shifted her feet and studied the ground. “I want you to know that I’m not a bad person, just because I wound up like this. I had a lot of problems back on earth, but I was never evil.”

“You should talk to the commander of the armed forces here, Rosie. I think she could tell you a story that would bring things into perspective. Everybody in Discordia has suffered before,” Cara allayed the girl’s fears gently. She turned and addressed the other woman, “Lena, did you hear what I told Rosie about towels, robes and fresh clothes?”

“Yes, thank you, Cara. I really do need to slip into something more suited to this place. I kept worrying this dress would slip off of me last night while I was running. I doubt I could dazzle the enemy into submission,” Lena giggled.

“I’m sure that there are men among the forces of evil who would love to submit to you, Lena. There are a lot of freaks out there,” Rosie said, trying to be supportive. Her statement missed the mark, and Lena quit smiling. Rosie thought what she said was funny, until she saw the way Lena looked at her.

“I’m going to leave you two girls. If you need anything, then don’t hesitate to ask,” Cara insisted as she backed down the hall.

“Cara, why is everyone so helpful here?” Lena cast one more question to their departing hostess.

“Because it’s our last chance, Lena,” Cara remarked quietly, and then she turned the corner out of sight.

The two girls disappeared into their respective rooms. Lena hurriedly got undressed and found a towel. She didn’t want to be around Rosie. The woman bothered Lena, and it wasn’t just because of the circumstances they found Rosie in. Something about Rosie reminded Lena of herself. It was the way that Rosie walked blindly into terrible situations. That was exactly what Lena always did, and she hated the idea of being just as clueless as Rosie. Lena had made a lot of assumptions about Rosie, almost none of which were correct.

Lena walked out of her room at exactly the same time as the other woman. Lena cast dirty looks in her direction, but wanted a hot shower too badly to turn back. Lena ran her eyes over Rosie’s body, and was quite impressed by the woman’s figure. Lena noticed something that bothered her. Rosie wasn’t caked in grime and dirt. She looked relatively clean.

“If you haven’t bathed in weeks, then why don’t you look dirtier, Rosie?” Lena thought she had caught Rosie in a lie.

“I wasn’t allowed to bathe, but I had liquid to clean myself off with,” Rosie told her. When Lena finally got it, she was very sorry she asked Rosie about it. Lena filed that in her mind under the title, “Things to Forget About.”

Lena fretted over the possibility of a communal shower, and was greatly relieved to see that there were private shower stalls. The water was deliciously hot, and she stood under it for a long time. Clouds of steam filled the large bathroom. Lena sang while she used the soap she found to lather her entire body. Her mother always told her she had a pretty voice, but she never sang in front of anyone. Lena finished showering, dried herself off and wrapped the towel around her. When she stepped out of the shower she saw Rosie examining herself in a large mirror.

Lena almost hurried out without saying anything, but Rosie looked different. All cleaned up, with her hair hanging in wet curls, Rosie struck Lena as a pitiful sight. Lena hoped that the marks would go away when Rosie was healed.

“Rosie,” Lena said sympathetically, “I’m sorry about what happened to you.”

Rosie opened her mouth to say something, but Lena didn’t wait to hear what it was. She left the bathroom and went down the hall wearing only the wet towel. She found the place Cara told them about easily enough. It looked like a stoner hangout. There were three women sitting on big cushions on the floor, and they were all wearing the same kind of robes that Cara wore. They had their eyes closed, but they were humming in time with each other. When Lena walked in they stopped, and one of them stood up to help her.

The woman who helped her was called Moonshadow. Lena asked her how she earned that name. The woman admitted that it was her real name. Her parent’s were hippies. They conceived Moonshadow during the summer of love, and she was born in 1968. Lena thought it was the lamest story she ever heard, and thanked God her parents hadn’t named her Moonshadow.

Lena wound up with great clothes. Her top was wet look latex that hugged her skin tightly, accentuating her flat stomach and her prominent breasts. The top was asymmetrical. It stretched over one shoulder and across her bosom, leaving her right shoulder bare. Lena found out that was to allow greater flexibility, if she were to start using weapons. She got a webbed military belt, with hooks and pouches on it, and a pair of combat fatigues. She liked the baggy way the pants offset her skintight top, and she had plans for the huge side pockets. She kept her tennis shoes. Nothing beat a good pair of sneakers.

Rosie walked in as Lena finished getting dressed in her new outfit. Lena expected Rosie sooner. She hoped they could pick outfits together, because Lena thought it would be a good way to make a fresh start on friendship. Lena imagined Rosie’s tardiness was purposeful, indicating Rosie didn’t want anything to do with her. Rather than ask about it, Lena thanked Moonshadow for the help and the clothes, and stalked out in a huff. Lena always overreacted to small setbacks.

Lena wanted to show her outfit to Jesus, but she didn’t know where he was. She figured there would be time after she got some sleep. She went back to her room and closed the door behind her. The temperature in the room hovered at a comfortable seventy degrees, even though the window was open to the hot Louisiana summer. The more magic Lena stumbled across, the more she appreciated it. She stretched out on the bed and stared at the ceiling. She was trying to choose which dimension she liked better, Earth or Discordia, when she fell asleep.

The dream wandered between scenes of bloody violence and dispassionate lovemaking. Her mind cleansed itself of built up memories through rapid eye movement. Lena tossed and turned on the bed while the scenes replayed in her head. When the stale memories were cleansed from the forefront of Lena’s subconscious mind, she slept peacefully for almost an hour. Then another dream played out inside her.

Lena sat in a restaurant at the top of one of Baton Rouge’s only skyscrapers. She recognized the place. It was one of the most exclusive establishments in the city. It was called Pierre’s.

Lena wore a red sequined evening gown that showed off her cleavage, but at the same time looked tasteful. Vera Wang designed the gown especially for her. Her feet were adorned in Manolo Blahnik sandals with long straps and four-inch heels. A Prada handbag hung from her chair, and it looked as nice as she felt. The waiter complimented her stunning appearance as he poured her first glass of Dom Perignon. It was going to be a special night.

Jesus sat across from her dressed in a custom fitted tuxedo. He looked like every woman’s dream. Lena smiled inwardly at all the stares he was getting from the sexually frustrated wives in the restaurant. Jesus tasted his own champagne and smiled at her. His dark, handsome faced radiated sexual energy, and Lena’s stomach muscles quivered.

They talked about Jesus’ business. Before they got married, Jesus opened a chain of spas in South Louisiana. The businesses provided hair and nail care, tanning facilities and massage therapists, and Jesus made a fortune in no time. The world was full of women who wanted to be catered to and beautified at the same time. Within three years he owned thirty spas in three Gulf States.

The money allowed Jesus to buy them a big house in a gated community. The house contained six thousand square feet, and loads of luxurious touches. The entire kitchen was done in black granite, and all of the windows contained remote controlled blinds. The master bathroom contained a sauna, and a Jacuzzi bathtub big enough for two people to have lots of fun. Lena had her own walk in closet, with a revolving rack for her clothes, and Jesus made sure she had all the money she needed to fill it up with designer outfits. They had a pool and a tennis court, and the yard was an enormous botanical garden. Lena finally reached the level of financial freedom she always deserved.

Sitting in Pierre’s, Lena bent down and unfastened the straps on her sandals. She gave Jesus a naughty wink, and slid her feet across to him under the table. She ran her toes softly up and down his legs, all the while maintaining the conversation without any indication something unusual was taking place. The tablecloth and the soft lighting prevented anyone from seeing, so she slid down a little further in her seat.

Lena placed both of her feet on Jesus’ chair, between his legs. She tickled his crotch with her stocking covered toes, and enjoyed the feeling of his arousal. He smiled at her, and scooted his chair a little closer. She clasped her feet together around the object of her desire, and rubbed them slowly up and down the confined bulge. She couldn’t believe what a lucky woman she was.

After they got married, her perfect husband insisted she fulfill one of her fantasies and get the education she missed out on growing up. Jesus paid for private tutors to come in their home and teach her mathematics, grammar and science. Her tutors marveled at her intelligence, and the fast progress she made. Within three months she was ready for a high school equivalency exam. She passed the exam with flying colors, and got accepted to LSU. Jesus never missed an opportunity to compliment her, and tell her how proud he was of his beautiful wife. Lena found out the American dream was real.

Jesus put his napkin down and stared across the table into her eyes. Lena was busy trying to drive him out of his mind, but he appeared unruffled. He took a small sip of champagne and then leaned closer to her. He motioned for her to lean forward.

“You are a very naughty girl, Lena,” he whispered into her ear. “I want to make this evening special, and I think it’s too early to leave. Will you do something for me, honey?”

“You know I would do anything for you, Jesus,” she responded breathlessly, as he was stroking his nails along the insides of her calves.

“I want you to go to the bathroom and go into one of the stalls. Take off your stockings, your panties and your bra. I want you to come back with them in your hand, and place them on the table. Will you do that for me, Lena?”

“Of course, I’ll be right back,” she told him. Her cheeks were flushed from excitement as she put her sandals back on and pulled away from the table. She could feel men’s eyes on her as she walked to the bathroom. She was, after all, a gorgeous woman.

Once in the bathroom she did what Jesus desired. The dress was partially sheer, and she felt very exposed in the fluorescent light of the ladies’ room. As she walked back to the table the glances from the men took on a new meaning. She imagined she was being paraded nude in front of them, and her nipples hardened from the humiliating thought. When she got back to the table she put her undergarments in front of Jesus and sat back down in her chair.

Just for a second she remembered what her life was like before she met Jesus. In that moment, all of the years of pain and unhappiness flashed through her mind. She sold her body for drugs and alcohol. She killed her first boyfriend because he beat and raped her. She submitted to a lesbian while she was in prison. Sometimes she washed herself for hours, because she never felt clean.

One night Jesus changed all that. He took her away to a magical land, and killed everything that stood in their way. He fell in love with her, and she with him. They returned to Earth on a magic carpet, and got married in a fairy tale ceremony. They were wildly happy. Now she was sitting across from him in a restaurant, with no panties on, while he ran his eyes lustily over her body.

“I want you to reach under the table and pull your dress up above your waist. Then I want you to play with yourself while I call the waiter over. Be sure he can’t see you, but don’t stop while he takes our order,” Jesus commanded her.

Lena did as she was told, because she really would do anything for Jesus. He was the man who saved her. She pulled her dress up and caressed her pleasure spot with purpose. She figured as long as she was naughty, she might as well go all the way. Her husband allowed the pleasure to build inside her for awhile before he called for the waiter.

The felt hot all over as the waiter stood there describing menu items. Jesus kept asking her questions about the food. She had a hard time concentrating on what he said. The mischievous look in his eyes turned her on to no end. The fabric of her dress felt scratchy against her bare breasts, which heaved up and down slightly as she became more excited and her breath quickened.

The waiter finally left their table. [censored] Her eyes rolled back in her head, and every muscle in her stomach and thighs tightened up like the skin of a drum. A dull roaring filled her ears. The pleasure exploded in her pubic region and spread all through her body, bringing with it a comfortable numbness that relaxed all the muscle spasms. She opened her eyes to see Jesus gazing at her lovingly.

“It doesn’t look like you need me, honey,” Jesus teased. “You did just fine all by yourself.”

“Don’t be silly, darling. You drive me so crazy I couldn’t wait. That’s all. I’m all warmed up for later now,” she blew him a kiss.

“I’m not sure I want to wait that long either. I think I’ll get the food to go,” said her perfect husband.

She looked into her Prada handbag, knowing that it was a dream. She was sad that she would have to wake up. She was so close to consciousness that she could almost distinguish the sounds of the Pentacle. She wanted to sleep until she and Jesus made it to a hotel room, because she hadn’t really gotten what she wanted yet. She looked up from her bag, and was shocked. She was no longer asleep, at least not in the conventional sense, and Jesus was no longer sitting across from her.

“It’s called the astral plane. Your body is asleep, back in Discordia, but your mind is awake here,” the man across from her explained.

The man was beyond a doubt the most beautiful thing Lena had ever seen. He had curly blonde hair that radiated a soft golden light, and blue eyes the brilliant color of the sky on a spring morning. He wore a loose fitting white toga that hung off of one shoulder, and that did little to conceal his physique. The man’s body was gloriously muscular. Lena could see each individual muscle, and there wasn’t a hint of fat anywhere. He had a classic face, and the sound of his voice was like music.

“Who are you?” Lena asked him. She was certain that she couldn’t trust herself with the man, no matter where they were. She couldn’t take her eyes off of him.

“You probably won’t believe me, but my name is Apollo. I am really him, though. You just have to trust me.”

NeOPulP] Data Dump: Installment Three

She turned around and it was gone. Like flashing moonlight off the waves, she looked at him... at who... no one had been there. Nobody to take it all, and no one to take the fall. It all dissolved. She dropped a toaster in the tub, but it just shut the circuit off. There was barely a hint of smoke but she coughed, and wondered what the fuck was going on, with everything, with everyone. Sometimes she'd rather she had run, than looked at shadows on the wall. Nothing made any sense, and there was no way to slow it down.

Stacy stumbled down the hall. Her feet had blistered, her fingers numb, and no place else to call a home. She reached the phone and smashed it on the floor, then threw the receiver through the back door. The glass shattered.

She dropped to her knees and started to crawl. The glass cut her all over, in some places to the bone. The blood spread out in a glowing pool of despair, but when she looked she wasn't there. It wasn't like she ever knew, and she knew she would never know. The distant sound of crashing surf found it's way through the balcony posts and lulled Stacy into feverish shaking.

It was exactly like she didn't have time. She took a piece of glass and dug it into her right eye, and then into her left eye. The pain wouldn't come, and then she couldn't see. She tried to stop, to make it stop, to figure out what went wrong, and where, and was she? Right before she bled to death she remembered the email. For one shining moment it made perfect sense, but her spirit left her body and God only knows where it got off to.


The police weren't sure what to make of the scene they found, or what exactly had caused the death of Stacy Morgan. The homicide detectives saw that she attempted to kill herself by dropping a toaster into the bathtub. They figured out that instead of killing her it had somehow tripped the circuit breaker. That was where they got stumped. They saw her wet footprints leading into the living room, where they stopped next to the telephone stand. From what they could see she had smashed the phone and hurled the receiver through the sliding glass door. Then she had dropped down onto the floor and crawled toward the balcony.

Her bloody eye sockets were hard to look at, even for longtime veterans of the police department. They could see that she bled to death after her carotid artery had been cut. The fact that she jabbed glass into both of her eyes ruined their whole morning. It was ghastly. The older of the two detectives, Detective Steve Bishop, wondered out loud what could make somebody do that.

"I don't know, Steve, but it was definitely some bad shit," Detective Mark Hoskins responded.

"Well, she's not getting any fresher," Bishop motioned to the guys from the Medical Examiners office.

The two M.E. guys had been waiting to put Stacy in a body bag. They zipped it up, put her on the stretcher and took her out the front door before the two homicide detectives stopped dwelling on the grisly scene. The corpse trolley, as some members of the police force called it, was already gone before Bishop and Hoskins made it out the front door.

Once outside the two detectives were reminded how much colder it was by the ocean than in town. Bishop got into the driver's seat of the Crown Victoria and left his partner to finish up. Hoskins told the Crime Scene unit to go ahead with the forensic analysis of the crime scene, and told a uniformed officer to seal it up when everybody was done. He got into the warm car cursing under his breath.

"What's the matter, Mark?"

"I hate days that start off with horrible shit like this."

"It could be worse. It could have been you in the body bag."

"You're right," Mark sighed. "You're right. Hey, did you have breakfast this morning?"

"Nope. I got this call before I could eat."

"Feel like doin' IHOP?"

"Sounds like a plan."

[NeOPulP] Data Dump: Installment Two

1994. That year everything crumbled. All of the good things in Eric's life shattered into a million pieces. Eric was left walking barefoot on the broken glass. Fourteen years later he still didn't know how his life got so out of control. He remembered the days before the collapse, and sometimes it helped him get through the day.

Before all of the bad things happened, there were a lot of good things. Eric and Becky traveled all over the country. They spent six months on the road. Eric remembered that when they decided to go back home, the mileage showed that they had driven 18,000 miles. The distance seemed shorter than that, and time passed by like a blast of arctic wind. They had criss-crossed their own path a dozen times, and they had seen most of the United States in the process.

In February of 1994 Eric and Becky took a short vacation to the Key West. They had been there a week during bad weather when they decided they anted to see the rest of the country. And they didn't just want to see it, they wanted to experience it. They had payed for two more nights at the bed and breakfast, but the weather was so dismal they blew it off. The couple packed their bags an hour after the decision was made and left the Florida Keys to take a close look at the rest of the country.

Anybody who has ever made the long drive from the Florida Keys to the Natchez Trace knows how torturous a car ride can be. That morning the couple didn't notice the monotonous scrub pine forests that lined the Interstate and made the drive seem longer. They were too excited by their decision to hit the road indefinitely. They brainstormed places they had always wanted to go, and came up with a basic itinerary.

Only a month earlier Eric and Becky had been working overtime to make ends meet. Then Eric's aunt, Beatrice, died and he inherited a small fortune. Beatrice was his mother's sister. She took care of him as a young child because his mother had not been able to. His father looked after him from the age of five until the age of 12. Eric's father was killed in a car crash 1983. After that Eric went back to living with Beatrice until he was sixteen. Losing Beatrice was a lot like losing his mother, because he had never known his mother when she was sane. Beatrice had always been there for him.

Nobody in Beatrice's family ever knew she was well off. She lived a simple, humble life. Her death caught Eric completely off guard, because he had seen her a few days before and she looked healthy and happy. He was very shaken and distraught when he got the news. Then he found out about a $100,000 inheritance. There's nothing like $100,000 to help one overcome shock and grief.

Eric's Aunt Beatrice had preserved her last wishes in an iron clad will, which stated that Eric was to have access to the money immediately when she died. Eric's mother, Shirley, was Beatrice's only living relative. Shirley had been institutionalized for years because of schizophrenia and multiple personalities. Nobody stood in the way of Eric getting the money right away, and so he did.

Becky learned about it from being in the room when Eric got the call from the hospital. After he broke down and became emotional she knew exactly what the phone call had been about. She grabbed her husband and held him close until he managed to cope with the knowledge. They sat like that for a long time. When he had his feelings under control Eric asked Becky if she'd like some coffee, and he put his grief aside.

Two and a half weeks later later Eric made up his mind to take them on the honeymoon they never had. He reserved a room at Caylie's Bed and Breakfast, which was only a couple of blocks from the Hemingway house. He figured Beatrice would have wanted him to enjoy his life, and he couldn't think of a better way to honor her memory than taking a vacation with Becky. The drove from Tuscaloosa to Key West two days later.

On the way out of Florida from Key West, on their spontaneous cross country road trip, Eric thought about his childhood. He wondered what it would have been like if Shirley hadn't gone insane. He wondered how he would have coped with Beatrice's death if his mother had taken care of him. It occurred to him that the news may not have upset him at all. He didn't like that idea because Beatrice had been so much a part of his life for as long as he could remember.

Becky interrupted his silent reverie by pointing out a sign for Fort Pickens. They left Interstate 10 just north of Pensacola. From there they traveled south on I110 and then Highway 98, until they reached the coast. Before the string of hurricanes in 2005 it was possible to drive all the way to Fort Pickens, and that's exactly what Eric and Becky did. Becky wanted to see the old fort because of the time Goyathlay, who was called Geronimo, spent there. Anything Becky wanted Eric to do he did, and that's what she wanted to do.

After they pulled into the shell parking lot, Eric paid the National Parks Service fee. The admission was only a few dollars. He and Becky toured the fort for a little while. Eric took a pictures with his Nikon 35mm. Then they went down to water of the Gulf. They could hear nothing but the sound of the waves and the seagulls, and occasionally the wind when it picked up. It was still too cold to play in the water, so they just sat and watched the waves crash.

On the way back to the car Becky said she wanted to go into the cell where Geronimo was held. She wanted Eric to take pictures of her looking out of the cell's window. While she went inside he got his camera ready. He only had to wait a minute or so before Becky's face appeared in the window. Eric took a couple of pictures, and then told her to strike a couple of poses. She managed to look quite lascivious, even through the bars and the size of the window made it difficult to see very much of her.

Eric urged Becky to come back out so they could get back on the highway. He had enough of the Gulf of Mexico to last him a few years. As Becky moved out of the window Eric saw something else in the place where she had been only a second earlier. It looked like a face. Eric did not believe in the supernatural. He was absolutely certain there was no such thing as ghosts. He trusted his own eyes, however, so he walked up to the window to peer in. He didn't see anything.

At that precise moment Becky came walking out of the stockade. This time Eric did not trust his own eyes. From where he was standing Becky was surrounded by a soft glow, a glow that seemed to emanate from her and nothing else. Eric felt all of the hairs on the back of his neck and on his arms stand on end. Suddenly the atmosphere felt charged with electricity.

Becky had a completely normal expression on her face, as if nothing at all was out of the ordinary. Eric, on the other hand, was freaking out. The electric sensation begin to impinge on other senses. He could hear the faintest echoes of electric molecular, bouncing back and forth and up and down between low tones, high tones and tones that existed in a place that could not be described. It sounded like nothing he had ever heard before, and yet it had a familiarity that Eric could not quite put his finger on.

Before Becky took another step toward him he could see something in the air around her coalesce. All of the sounds he could not pin down were moving in unison with the almost tangible glow around Becky. For a brief instant Eric thought he had figured out what he was seeing and hearing. He thought he could discern a shape and form that he could only associate with energy, but which acted as though it fell within the boundaries of a carbon based life form. The glimpse was gone so quickly Eric wrote it off as his eyes playing tricks with him because of the many long hours he had been driving.

Everything he had just witnessed disappeared as quickly as it had appeared. Becky finally finished taking that step that would bring her one closer to being beside him. Time returned to normal. If not for Becky walking up to him he would never have known time had slowed down. Only because she provided a reference point had Eric determined that time had stopped behaving in the accustomed, familiar fashion.

Becky saw the look on his face as she closed the distance between them. She asked, "Are you okay, Eric? Is something bothering you?"

Eric answered, "I'm fine, honey. I've just been driving so long my brain is playing tricks on me." He wanted to believe that, but this time his logical explanation felt completely wrong. He suspected that if he denied the truth to himself there could be consequences in the future. A thought such as that did not fit well with his personality, but he knew it was his thought. He put his hands over his eyes and rubbed them for a moment.

"Would you like me to drive for a while?"

"Please do. I feel drained," he answered.

Thinking back on that moment from 14 years in the future Eric could not help but question his actions. He hadn't intended to betray Becky, he just didn't believe what he had seen. He reasoned that nobody would have believed him anyway, not even Becky, at least not at first. As the episodes happened more and more frequently he turned his back on the people he cared about. He didn't warn anybody, because he cared too much about what people thought of him. He didn't want to sound crazy. Ultimately that decision cost him dearly.

Roll Call of the Lesser Devils: 41-46

Motion seems to continue in the frozen galvonometer.  The ocean of internal reason strive to catch the sound of a voice in the moonlight.  The sky reveals only the voice of a bolt of lightning and the cry of a seagull.  The gull as it flies is closer to home in the skies, on the wind. Close the eyes that are tired, only sleep will heal too much knowledge. The soft woman longs to know she is desired.  Only love of nature can save the rose from demise in the cold glass, only the love of a woman can make her petals happy.  Neither were created for the sake of abuse. And death came crashing down on a small mind, it settled onto a prepared spirit. Some don’t fear death at the hands of those weak enough to declare war on beauty.  Their kind is owed a favor, repayment in caresses from the flames of hate.  This revenge gratifies those who do not forgive.  Those who violate the garden do not deserve to live, but their suffering is redemption enough. Surety of motion laps over the bridge to forever.  The wind seeks only to aid the reign of goodness and keep the gull in flight, the spirit spoken of by quiet men.  Only hearts believe in the certainty of faith, while those who lust only have animal needs. Then, the queen of light daintily traced her finger across the brow of consciousness waking the knowledge of the good and true that went undefeated, and of the ignorant and ugly of heart that lost all treasures.

When the wind is your friend and your enemy
It doesn’t matter if you face the door.
Life is a race against time
To reach eternal security before all hope crumbles
Under the crush of coming doom.
Sometimes people don’t make it.
They are long forgotten

diamond, fragment of the sky, in the most acute angle
reflects the gathering of the forces
that will ride when the mist thickens
the chosen will see that they are evil
mundane eyes will see only a thickening steam
before blue terror grips their chests tightly
no cry will escape their lips as the invisible assailants strangle them

Another vision roils through
on the tracks laid down for the future devotees of ancient lore.
The traveler on the power lines breathes;
The air tastes like victory.
According to an esoteric few.
This human plane dies, withers and is reborn,
As peace and confrontation collide.
The greatest certainty of the one holy creation
Lies in the fact it can not be conquered.
The wine of indivisibility, the elixir,
The sign and signature of vitality,
Tis a drink that frees one to peruse the haunts of madness.
Sins are easily read, and remedied if that is so desired;
The levity of that action craves a secluded haven.
Children are safe in homes of caring
Caring born of truth and love.
Parentage weep not the bastion lives still.
Home will remain true to the tenets of the great songs,
Like a pine tree clinging to life on a cliff face.

Pray prey
I dismay for my loss of words.
Read this hated game, this delay of truth.
Touch me, does me?
No leverage from now
Yet hear somehow
The ego goes unstolen.
Future is hidden
I follow you temptress,
Read these words,
They were meant for you,
From now in affection, to much later,
This is the way you say it must be.

The wheel of finality rolls on.
Lies traced to new learners
That clumsy few,
While education grows weary
And the champions of ignorance gather truth
For no reason but to destroy it.
Time tested the warriors of olde,
And they were found to be wanting of knowledge.
That unseen opponent hurt them the most,
A paradox that they could not see,
A blind warrior fighting toe to toe with fleeting shadows.
Patriotism takes advantage of blind obedience.
Parents teach children violence is fine.
Once grown they still have their childhood memories
They keep the teachings of hate close to their hearts.
Once, a long time ago, the plow swept the sand aside
A conscious attempt to save a condemned child,
A pretention of lunacy
For the sake of giving a baby his father.
When the baby fell into the path of doom
The father knew the act was finished.
Discredited as a lunatic, the father went away.
The salvation of the young often comes at the price of the mature
But not this time, not in this place.
Today's warriors are dedicated to a bloodless war,
They remain at home to set standards,
More knowledge of the oh so new.
Years of journeys swept the eyes of errant soldiers.
They clawed at them hoping to forget what had been seen.
Real war: carnage, brutal victory,
Bloody bread for ravenous mouths.
The Beauty scoffed in her high emerald laugh,
From her tower haughtily watching the brave men die,
At the base of her tower they died.
For this the unseeing had pledged to serve.
The disease has never been cured,
And so it has ever been so vile.

[NeOPulP] Data Dump: Installment One

A brown Buick pulled up in front of a dilapidated house at the corner of Cherry and Violet Streets, on the north side of town. There were two people in the car. One was called Huey. The other one was Max. They were brothers, and neither one of them wanted to be where they were at that moment.

Huey and Max were in a particularly bad area of Houston. The condition of the houses was terrible. The whole neighborhood smelled like untreated sewage, probably because of all the untreated sewage. It had been a very long time since any real money had been spent on infrastructure, as evidenced by the crumbling pavement and the nonfunctional drainage. On top of all that there were residents in that neighborhood who would just as soon blow a man's head clean off his shoulders as they would sit down for a nice slice of pie. Huey and Max knew all that, and yet they got out of the Buick anyway.

Huey went around to the trunk of the car and opened with the car key. His breath made small puffs of frost in the cold winter night air. Max pulled a Colt 1911 A1 .45 from a shoulder holster concealed under his coat, while at the same time Huey pulled a street sweeper out of the trunk. They both chambered rounds and made sure the guns were fully loaded and that they had extra ammo. Then they walked side by side up to the collapsing porch of the house.

Huey took one look at the porch and decided it couldn't be the main entrance to the place. The porch looked as though one step onto it would have finished off the near state of complete collapse. He was right. Nobody had used the front door in a very long time. When they got close to it the cobwebs they could see between the screen door and the front door proved it. They needed another way in.

Max motioned left, and Huey shrugged before going around to the back of the house on the left side. Max went around to the back on the right side. Those sides happened to be on the north and south sides of the house respectively. They made the corners into the back of the square two story house almost simultaneously. They checked out the back porch, which looked sturdy enough. Likewise the back door looked like it was in good shape.

Huey looked at Max and gestured at the entrance. Max shrugged his shoulders and walked lightly onto the porch, somehow not making a sound with his cowboy boots in the process. He took one big step and landed a powerful stomping kick right next to the doorknob. The door frame splintered and broke and the door almost came off its hinges from the force of the blow.

Huey darted up the steps and into the open house, but he had to stop because it was pitch black. He took a small flashlight out of his inside coat packet and affixed it to a small mount on the shotgun. He cursed himself for not having done that before they ever approached the building. Max gave him a look that spoke volumes, and Huey was sure he would hear about the incident again, probably many times. Max always gave him a hard time over mistakes, claiming it was his right as the firstborn son.

With the flashlight firmly affixed to the shortened barrel of the gun, Huey took stock of the room. It was a kitchen, and it had been in use recently. Huey slunk through the room and the doorway on the other inside, stepping into a hallway that ran the length of the house. He walked right past the light switch, even though it surely worked. He figured there was no reason to light the place up like a Christmas tree considering what they were there to do. Huey looked back to motion Max forward, but Max was standing silently behind him.

To their left a staircase led to the second floor, and beyond that a doorway to the front room with a southern exposure. There were three doors on the north side, spaced out unevenly. The rear most door likely led to a dining room, the middle to a bathroom and the front to a sitting room. It was a common layout in homes from that period in the Houston area. They didn't bother with the doorways, but instead went up the stairs, Max in front of Huey.

There were only two rooms at the top of the stairs, one on the north side and one on the south side. Max picked the one on the south side, because the door was closed. Both of the men could smell a strong chemical odor in the air. They looked at each other and Huey shook his head, more out of disgust than negativity. Max took a step forward, grasped the door knob and opened the door. Inside was exactly what they knew they would find, what they feared they would find. Huey cursed loudly and Max sunk to the floor just inside the room. They both had hoped it wouldn't go down the way it did.

[To be continued...]

[NeOPulP] Discordia: Installment Eight

Chapter Eight:
Jesus’ Tale
Carlos Ruiz Mendoza loved his young son very much.  Members of a rival cartel murdered the child’s mother during a vicious feud in 1972.  For that reason Carlos sent little Jesus away from Medellin when the boy was only five years old.  Carlos feared for his son’s safety in a world where assassination and kidnapping represented a viable method of social advancement.  Besides the boy’s personal safety, Don Mendoza also recognized the liability factor of showing his love for the child.  Carlos knew that his enemies would use his love against him in a heartbeat if given the chance, and he could not take that chance.
Jesus grew up in Antigua, Guatemala with his Uncle Fernando.  Fernando Mendoza owned a multinational export corporation that shipped coffee all over the world.  Fernando was Carlos’ younger brother.  He earned his livelihood safely and legitimately.  Carlos knew that Fernando wasn’t cut out for the drug trade.  Because Fernando lived a normal life, his plantation in the Guatemalan highlands provided a perfect place for a young child to grow up.
The plantation occupied two thousand acres of prime arable land on the side of one of the three volcanoes in the Antigua area.  Armed guards stood watch at the front gate because of the bloody civil war that raged in the jungles, and elsewhere.  The guards helped guarantee the safety of the estate.  The plantation’s remote location and limited avenues of approach guaranteed the privacy.  There was only one small road in and out of the estate, and nobody entered or exited without permission.  The property itself contained dozens of small tracks and trails, for the purpose of transporting the coffee crop.  To a young boy, it was like a natural fantasyland.
Jesus grew up on his uncle’s land, untouched by the bloody civil war that took place on many fronts inside the Central American country.  He played soccer with the children of the Indian plantation workers.  He loved to run foot races through the banana trees, but most of all he enjoyed the game of hide and seek.  Jesus lived so happily, he thought he was the luckiest boy on earth.  He sometimes missed his father, but he was very young.  His uncle showed him enough love to make up for it.
Fernando employed the best tutors in Antigua to educate the boy.  Jesus spoke perfect English by the time he was eight years old, and showed great promise in mathematics.  The boy’s athletic abilities greatly impressed his uncle.  Fernando hired a full time physical trainer to teach Jesus all the best ways to exercise.  Some of Fernando’s friends worried he was pushing the young boy too hard, but Fernando knew better.  Jesus enjoyed the tutoring and the training because he had no daytime playmates.  His friends worked in the plantation during the day.
Jesus’ father rose through the ranks of the Medellin Cartel.  By 1981 Carlos Mendoza was one of Pablo Escobar’s chief lieutenants, and obscenely wealthy.  He decided it was time to reacquaint himself with his son, and introduce him to the ways of the world.  Carlos arrived at a small airfield on the coffee plantation in his private jet.  Jesus was finally reunited with his father after eight long years.
Success in the cartel changed Carlos Mendoza.  He completely bought into the ideology of the drug lords.  He believed that God intended for the cartel to exploit the resources they were given, and that the violence of the business was simply part of the natural order of things.  Long years of cocaine abuse and self-justification warped the old man’s thinking. 
Carlos’ Spanish heritage instilled in him a deep sense of familial duty.  He viewed the drug trade as a divine inheritance.  He believed that it was his responsibility as a father to initiate Jesus into the cartel.  The time had come for Jesus to become a man, and begin his apprenticeship in the family business.    
The father-son reunion took place on Jesus’ thirteenth birthday.  Carlos allotted twenty-one days for the task, and informed his son of the time constraints of their time together.  Carlos spent the next three weeks educating Jesus about the nature of the organization and the inner workings of the business.  He presented Jesus with facts about the cocaine trade.  Carlos lessened the impact of the more graphic information with his own brand of homegrown propaganda.  Jesus swallowed the lies he was told, because his father gave him the information.
Signs of insanity showed through in Carlos’ paranoid ramblings and deluded rationalizations, but Jesus didn’t recognize the indicators.  Jesus often fantasized about making his father proud while he was growing up, and he welcomed the opportunity to demonstrate his worthiness and his love.  Jesus’ unconditional love for his father blinded him to the moral implications of the things Carlos told him.  The teenager basked in his father’s attention, which was something he dreamed about his entire life.  He would have done anything his father asked.
Carlos and Jesus spent three weeks of pleasant mornings talking in the plantation’s dining room and library.  They went on long walks through the shaded coffee fields, and lounged around the pool during the hottest part of the day.  Carlos congratulated Jesus on his passage into manhood, and gave him rewards for being such a good son.  Jesus tasted alcohol for the first time, when Carlos opened a bottle of fine cognac for just the two of them.  It was difficult for Jesus to feel that anything was wrong in that atmosphere.
On the last morning of their time together, Carlos embraced his son and expressed pride in him.  He told Jesus that it was graduation day.  From that day forward Jesus would be a full member of the Medellin Cartel.  He quizzed Jesus about some of the finer points of their discussions, and all of the questions related to the cartel’s methods of dealing with their enemies.  The subject matter and the look in his father’s eyes frightened Jesus, but he answered all of the questions to Carlos’ satisfaction.
“Are you absolutely clear that the men who stand against us must be destroyed, at all costs?”  Carlos asked his son.
“Yes, father,” Jesus answered.
“Would you kill someone for our family, Jesus?”
“Yes, father.”
“Then come with me, son.”
The older man led them from the house to the garage.  They got into Fernando’s Mercedes Benz.  Carlos drove his son down a small gravel road that wound far into the recesses of the plantation.  The older man refused to answer any of Jesus’ questions, and admonished him to remain silent as they rode. 
After about twenty minutes they arrived at a small shack near the base of the volcano.  A man with a machine gun sat in front of the place.  Jesus knew that his Uncle Fernando never posted armed men inside the property.  He got a sinking feeling that something bad was about to happen.
Carlos gestured for his son to enter the shack, and Jesus did so.  Inside there was only a table and a few chairs.  Tied securely to one of the chairs was a man Jesus didn’t recognize.  The man had been severely beaten.  Both of his eyes were black, and swollen almost completely shut.  Dried blood was caked on his chin where it dripped down from his mouth.  The man’s lips were puffed and torn from being smashed between knuckles and his own teeth.  The man groaned when they entered, dimly aware of their presence.
“Look closely at this man, Jesus,” his father told him.  “We discovered that he gave information to a United States DEA agent.  They collared him six months ago, and to save his own worthless hide he betrayed his friends and family.  At first we didn’t know who the traitor was, so we fed false information to several of our people.  The filthy betrayer turned out to be this man.”
“What are you going to do to him, father?”  Jesus asked his father. 
The scene disturbed the thirteen-year-old deeply.  He had never witnessed human suffering before, much less intentionally inflicted injuries.  What his father taught him about enforcing the secrecy of the cartel made perfect sense when it was only talk.  He saw nothing right about the practice in reality, however.  It made him feel sick.
“It’s not what I’m going to do to him, Jesus.  It’s what you’re going to do to him.  End his suffering, son.  Take his miserable life,” Carlos ordered.  He pulled a small pistol from a holster inside his belt and handed it to Jesus.
The request sounded so simple, but Jesus didn’t know if he could do it.  It was one thing to talk about killing someone, but an altogether different thing to carry out the task.  His emotions seethed inside him.  The Catholic values his uncle taught him warred with the desire to win his father’s approval.  He could not bring himself to take the pistol from his father’s hand.
“What troubles you, Jesus?”
“You know I listened to everything you’ve told me for the past few weeks, but in church I learned that it is wrong to hurt people.  I don’t know if I can do something so terrible,” the adolescent boy confessed.
“Listen to me, and try to understand what I am going to tell you.  By taking this man’s life you will be freeing him from a life of pain.  No matter what sins this man had in his lifetime, he has had time to make peace with God by now.  You will be sending him to heaven, unless he is truly beyond salvation.  In any case, you won’t be committing an unjust act.
“If we let people like this man get away with informing on the families of the organization, then we are essentially allowing evil to take place.  Cartel members are tortured and executed every day in Colombia, and they are the lucky ones.  Others are kept alive in prisons so terrible they seem like hell on earth.  This man sent a number of people to terrible fates, but not openly, like a soldier would.  He did it through treachery and betrayal of trust.  His actions remind me of Judas Iscariot.  Taking this man’s life is not a sin, Jesus.  It’s the right thing to do,” his father lectured him.
The ideas all made sense again, when his father explained them.  Jesus took the pistol.  His father tapped a finger on the man’s temple, and Jesus understood.  He placed the gun beside the man’s head and pulled the trigger.  After the sound quit ringing in Jesus’ ears, he realized that in its place there was only emptiness.
The act haunted Jesus for centuries.  He never forgot that moment.  It was the moment when he lost his way.  All the regret and hindsight in the universe couldn’t change something once it took place.  Jesus hated the laws of nature, almost as much as he sometimes hated himself for the things he did.
After Jesus passed his “final exam” he left Fernando’s plantation forever.  On the day Jesus left, his uncle refused to look directly at him.  Fernando knew what happened, and he couldn’t bear to see the evidence of Carlos’ corrupting influence.  Fernando’s stance infuriated his brother.  A few years later Carlos ordered his brother’s execution, and seized possession of the plantation for his own purposes.  Jesus never found out.
Once the young Jesus settled down in Medellin he was totally immersed in the lore of the cartel.  He carried a gun at all times, and became a victim of the paranoia that infects drug dealers.  He attended low level business meetings for the purpose of learning proper etiquette.  He also witnessed several more executions, though he was not asked to pull the trigger again.  He became immune to the nausea he originally felt at seeing a man’s brains on the floor.
Jesus was considered an adult in his society, and he acted like one.  He found that he enjoyed the presence of pretty girls, and spent a lot of money keeping different ones around at all times.  Carlos viewed Jesus’ licentious behavior as a sign of weakness, and banned the presence of prostitutes in the Mendoza hacienda.  Jesus became highly skilled at hiding women in his private apartment, in stark defiance of Carlos’ wishes.  Sex helped him escape reality for a little while.
The Santa Lucia Preparatory Academy in Medellin welcomed Jesus into the student body in the fall of 1982.  Jesus never realized how much he enjoyed normal life until he moved home with his father.  Classes and homework appealed to him much more greatly than listening to old drug dealers tell war stories.  He encountered the beautiful daughters of wealthy landowners at his school, and the school immediately became his favorite place to be.  He even gave up whores, because none of them could measure up to the señoritas he admired during the day.
Jesus trained in the martial arts on a daily basis, and joined the track team.  He became very popular among the other students.  The girls wanted to be with him because of his athleticism and good looks, and the boys wanted to be with him to improve their own chances with the girls.  Jesus forgot all about his home life while he was at school, but the fantasy of normalcy would not last.
In the summer of 1986 Carlos sent Jesus into the Peruvian Andes to study special subjects.  An old Indian named Silvio, who was tough as nails, schooled Jesus in the art of assassination.  Jesus learned thirty ways to poison a man with readily available ingredients.  He learned how to throw any item that could injure or kill a man, anything metal with a point on it: axes, knives, forks, nails, needles and screwdrivers.  Silvio taught him how to fashion booby traps in nature, using vegetation, tree limbs and rocks.  Jesus developed a morbid interest in the subject, and was always hungry for more knowledge.
When the summer ended, Jesus was surprised to find out that he wouldn’t be returning to Santa Lucia’s.  Carlos gave Silvio complete control over Jesus’ life.  The old Indian was under strict orders not to release Jesus until his education was complete.  Silvio told Jesus that three months of playing in the mountains did not make him ready to hunt human beings.  Jesus protested strongly, because he missed the young girls of Medellin.
Silvio finally lost patience with Jesus’ whining.  The old Indian told Jesus that if he could prove his worthiness, then Jesus could return to his soft existence at home.  He took Jesus to a hut high in the mountains, and left him there with no food or water.  Silvio agreed to send Jesus home if he could survive a week.
Silvio hid in the rocks two ridges over and watched.  On the fifth day Jesus failed to appear.  Silvio traversed the distance to find the young man unconscious, suffering from severe dehydration and hunger.  Jesus was so proud he refused to admit defeat, even if it killed him.  Silvio spent two days nursing Jesus back to health, and then resumed the young man’s education.
Physical training took on a completely different meaning under Silvio’s tutelage.  Every morning Jesus carried buckets of water up a steep trail that was almost a mile long.  He chopped firewood for over an hour almost every day.  He slept on a straw mat on the hard ground, and bathed in ice cold water.  The training was meant to increase his capacity to endure hardship and pain. 
Silvio constantly made conditions more difficult, because Jesus never seemed to tire.  The old Indian moved their camp back to the hut, seven thousand feet above sea level.  Jesus learned to collect dew for drinking water.  Silvio taught him that any moving creature constituted nutrition.  Jesus survived off of bugs and slugs for three days, while Silvio ate rabbit and venison.  The Indian considered the look of hatred in the young man’s eyes a good sign, but he didn’t take Jesus lightly.  Silvio slept with one eye open.
When winter reared its ugly head in June of 1987, Silvio told Jesus that it was time to return to Colombia.  Jesus rolled his eyes when he found out that Silvio was going with him.  Jesus frowned when he learned they weren’t going to Medellin.  The education had entered a new stage.
They traveled to the most dangerous area of Colombia, the coca rich region near the Peruvian border.  They passed through government checkpoints unmolested.  Money determined loyalty in the region.  Jesus father provided them with bank drafts to get where they needed to go without any problems.
The funds got them through the government checkpoints, but it took more than that to reach their destination.  The cartel employed leftist guerrillas to guard the coca region, and money didn’t mean so much to them.  Silvio and Jesus spent a tense day on the outskirts of a town called Putumayo, waiting for leftist soldiers to confirm their identities.  When the guerrilla commander found out who Jesus was, he offered the use of five men as escorts and guards.  Silvio refused the offer.
Life in Putumayo was very tense.  The threat of violence hung heavy in the air.  Everybody there looked for an opportunity to advance his or her own position by any means available.  Disrespecting or cheating the cartel was absolutely forbidden, but that’s where the rules ended.  Silvio and Jesus found lodging near the center of town.
Silvio explained, “Your father has high hopes for you, Jesus.  He wants you to lead the cartel one day, and his dreams for you don’t stop there.  He knows that to rise to such a position requires absolute ruthlessness, and that is something that can not be taught.  It can only be acquired.  You are here to acquire ruthlessness, Jesus.  I have given you the tools you need, and now you just have to use them.”
By that time Jesus no longer had any moral objections to his duties in the cartel.  The boy inside him no longer existed.  The man inside him wanted to take the world by the balls.  Silvio told Jesus he was there to eliminate members of a rival cartel trying to muscle in on the Medellin Cartel.  Jesus felt like a pit bull loosed from its chain.
Over the next six months Jesus tracked down the top eight representatives of the Cali Cartel in the region.  He killed them one by one without any hesitation or complications, even though each man was more cautious than the one before.  Jesus displayed a natural talent for assassination.  He came to be known as “Little Death” among the natives, because of his age and his deadliness.  When the last Cali representative was killed, Silvio embraced Jesus and bid him farewell. 
Silvio returned to his home in the Andes.  Jesus made the trip back to Medellin, where the cartel gave him a million-dollar villa for his efforts in Putumayo.  Jesus’ time with Silvio changed him so much that he no longer had any interest in school.  Jesus took his favorite girlfriend out on a date to celebrate his return, but he couldn’t relate to anything about her life.  He felt like a stranger in the normal world.  He couldn’t return to the home he longed for, because it vanished with his innocence.  He settled for a night with two of Medellin’s finest prostitutes.
Jesus rarely saw his father.  Carlos treated Jesus more like a project than a son, and Jesus knew that.  When Carlos showed up at the villa in March of 1987, Jesus knew life was about to change again.  The old man informed Jesus that he had been admitted to Louisiana State University in the United States, and that he would be attending in September.  Jesus mouth dropped open.  Carlos told Jesus the Cartel wanted him to be an attorney, and LSU was the easiest place for him to start.
It turned out to be true.  Carlos’ secretary purchased all of the necessary documentation in Medellin.  She submitted it all to the university, who had a hard time saying no to a valedictorian, and son of a Colombian diplomat.  Jesus thought she laid it on a little thick, but he was ecstatic that she had.  He couldn’t wait to get away from the atmosphere of fear and paranoia in Medellin.  His father ordered hits on six judges the month Jesus went off to college.
Life in the United States restored a certain amount of Jesus’ sanity.  Some world nations denounced the United States as a violent gun-toting society, but Jesus marveled at the peacefulness and optimism he encountered.  After a couple of months at LSU, Jesus wondered if he could ever return to the constant struggles of Colombia.  He found freedom and stability to be very agreeable.
Jesus should have suspected that there would be strings attached, but he was enjoying the experience too much to worry about it.  He forgot all about the cartel.  The cartel did not forget about him.  December 2, 1987, one of Carlos’ close associates in the states showed up at Jesus’ dorm room.  The man took Jesus for a ride in a Ferrari, and spelled out the hidden details of Jesus’ college experience.  The cartel didn’t really want an educated lawyer.  They wanted a hit man with a perfect cover.
The cartel had identified three high value targets in the United States that they wanted eliminated.  One of the targets was an oil tycoon in Houston, and another was a federal prosecutor in Miami.  The third target was a United States Senator.  The oil tycoon, Richard Putnam, stopped doing business with the cartel after he got rich, costing the cartel millions of dollars in lost revenue.  The prosecutor, Mark Ruben, was very outspoken about his intentions to pursue cases involving cartel figures in South Florida.  Senator Fenway spent most of the previous congressional term pushing for a war on cocaine.  The cartel held the opinion that those offenses warranted death.  Jesus had his winter break cut out for him.
Nobody in Colombia believed that Jesus could carry out the assassinations.  The highest leaders of the cartel assigned the contracts to Jesus in a surreptitious effort to eliminate him.  Carlos’ plans for his son came to light while Jesus was in Putumayo.  The plans concerned the big men at the very top of the cartel, and they didn’t like to gamble on their future.  They assumed Jesus would be caught, and spend the rest of his life in an American prison.
On the 15th of December, the oil tycoon answered a telephone call in his Houston office.  The phone exploded when he picked it up.  Law enforcement officials were quoted as saying, “This is a terrible tragedy.  Mr. Putnam was an upstanding member of the community, and a devoted father and husband.  We will find out who was responsible.”  Authorities found video evidence of a telephone company representative entering the building, but were frustrated in their attempts to learn the black man’s identity.  Little else of value to the investigation was ever found, and the case was never solved.
Two days before Christmas in Miami, Mark Ruben died of botulism.  The Dade County Medical Examiner ruled the death “accidental food poisoning.”  The bacterium was traced to green beans the man ate at lunch.  The concentration level of the organism in the green beans was incredibly high, and health officials were at a loss to explain how it happened.  Authorities expressed relief that the bad beans effected no one else.
Senator Joe Fenway and his family spent the holidays with his aging mother, at the family farm outside of Cedar Rapids.  On the second day of 1988 the senator boarded his private jet to return home to the nation’s capital from Iowa. Joe Fenway left to take care of business, but his wife and children were to spend another week on the farm.  One hour into the flight the pilot reported engine problems.  The plane went down over Illinois, and there were no survivors.  The FAA eventually blamed the crash on mechanical failure.
The three deaths propelled Jesus to the top of the list of the world’s most dangerous assassins.  Only two of the deaths were murders, but Jesus would never tell the cartel that.  The senator’s plane crash was a bizarre coincidence.  Jesus was still trying to figure out how to handle the senator when he got the news.  The crash caused Jesus to breathe a lot easier.  He already felt he was pushing his luck with the first two.
Within twenty-four hours of the senator’s death, and without telling anyone else in the cartel, Pablo Escobar put a hit out on Jesus.  It was the first of three contracts taken out on Jesus Mendoza’s life that day.  Francisco Ochoa, the manager of North American operations and Escobar’s second in command, took out the second contract, twelve hours before Pablo did.  Jose Villareal took out the third. 
Escobar and Ochoa wanted Jesus dead because they feared him, and they feared his father’s plans for him.  The young assassin had proved more dangerous than they ever expected.  The cartel leaders also feared the fallout from the assassinations, but that was secondary among their reasons for wanting Jesus dead.  Villareal’s hit on Jesus was just another bizarre coincidence.  Jose simply hated Carlos Mendoza.  It had nothing to do with anything else.  Jose wasn’t even privy to the information about the assassinations.
Jesus was walking down Chimes Street, on his way to get an early morning cup of coffee, when a crazed Colombian gang member drove down the street with a machine gun.  The hit man yelled as he rode up slowly on the street.  The hit man was sadistic, and he wanted his victim to see death coming.  Jesus looked up just as the man sprayed him with thirty rounds from the barrel of an Uzi.  Jesus went down bleeding from a dozen wounds, and the Colombian killer sped down the street screaming triumphantly.  The police pulled the gang member over for speeding three blocks away.  They discovered the Uzi and enough drugs to put the man away for thirty years.
A total of thirteen rounds struck Jesus.  Two rounds grazed the insides of his thighs just millimeters from his testicles, one on each side.  Two rounds grazed his hips, and the wounds were diametrically opposed.  There were six bullet wounds to the small strip of flesh that covered his ribcage, three to each side.  The two bullet wounds in his neck were slightly askew, but on opposite sides.  The final bullet parted the very front of Jesus scalp, right in the middle of his forehead, but the wound was so shallow it didn’t bleed very much.  Jesus picked himself up off of the concrete and ran back to his dorm room.  He was very freaked out, and his thirteen bullet wounds burned like bumblebee stings.
The image Jesus saw in the mirror weirded him out even more than being shot at.  He looked like a human connect-the-dots.  The wounds could have been a constellation of stars.  He could almost hear an astronomer lecturing,  “The thirteen stars of the Jesus Constellation represent the time when he almost got his balls shot off.”  Jesus came to the conclusion that something supernatural had happened to him, and he did it all by himself.
Once Jesus calmed down he pondered the implications of the attack.  He imagined that the attempt on his life would assure his eternal silence about the recent assassinations.  He assumed he knew too much for the Cartel to let him live.  It made him wish he had told the truth about the senator’s plane crash, but he knew it was too late for that.  The die had been cast.  Jesus knew exactly what to do.  The involvement of supernatural forces convinced him he needed to see a voodoo priestess.
Without a moment’s delay Jesus put some Band-Aids on his gunshot wounds, got dressed and went out in search of a voodoo priestess.  He parked his Toyota Celica in a legal student space, which meant that it was almost a mile away.  The long walk in the cold January air cleared his head.  He recalled the story of an old black woman named Camille Valoire who lived in Houma, Louisiana.  She was reputed to be one of the most powerful practitioners of black magic in the Northern Hemisphere.
The long drive to Houma on that gray winter day went by like a hallucination.  Some unseen force compelled Jesus to reach Camille Valoire immediately.  His will was not entirely his own.  Jesus had never been to Houma or the priestess’ house before, but he drove all the way there without asking directions.  He parked at Camille’s house and knocked on her front door.
The old woman looked like a voodoo priestess.  She had a tiny bone through the septum of her nose, and wild dreadlocks that stuck straight up from her head in every direction.  Camille appeared to have lived for centuries, so deep were the wrinkles in her face and hands.  She stooped so badly that she gave the impression that she was looking for something on the ground, until she never straightened up.  Her eyes were narrow, dark and penetrating.  She studied Jesus with them when she opened the door.
“You must be Jesus Mendoza.  The dark man told me you would be coming, and he doesn’t lie about those things,” Camille enunciated cryptically.
“I didn’t tell anyone I was coming here.  How do you know my name?”
“Don’t waste time on your doubts and fears.  What is the reason you came to see me, Jesus?”  The old woman hated to waste time.  She didn’t feel she had much of it left.
“I was shot thirteen times this morning.  I think you should take a look.  I believe I need the assistance of someone in your,” Jesus sought for the right phrase, “line of work.”
“Come in then, young man,” she invited him in and stepped aside.
Inside Camille’s shotgun shack it was comfortable and warm.  Jesus took off his coat while the old woman watched him intently.  Her gaze made his skin crawl, but the heat penetrated through the aching cold that settled into his bones while he stood outside.  He rubbed his hands together theatrically while he waited for Camille to say something.
“Aren’t you going to show me something?” she asked him impatiently.
Jesus took off his sweater and his shirt so the woman could look at the symmetrical bullet wounds.  Camille clucked in her throat at the sight.  She instructed him to remove the Band-Aids, and he did so.  The wounds did not resume oozing blood, and Jesus was glad for small favors.  She moved closer to him and touched one of the furrows in his side.
“You’re going to need to take off the rest of your clothes.  I’ll begin preparing for the ceremony immediately.  Once you’re naked, come into the back room,” she told him in voice devoid of humor.
For a second Jesus thought she was joking, or that she longed for the sight of a nude young male.  She left so abruptly that Jesus knew she was serious, and that his nudity wasn’t for her benefit.  He removed the rest of his clothes, and folded them neatly before tiptoeing to the back of the house.  The floor was cold on his bare feet, but the tableau in the back room chilled him in a different way.
The floor was covered in a large two-layered hexagram.  One layer was fresh chicken blood, judging from the bleeding chicken corpse Camille held in one hand.  The other layer was some unknown white substance.  At each corner of the hexagram a black candle burned.  In the center of the large symbol a much smaller circle had been drawn in a black powder.  The walls of the room were lined with shelves, and on the shelves were hundreds of jars.  Some of the jars contained items that alarmed Jesus.  He quickly averted his eyes from the jars.
The sight of Camille rattled his composure even worse.  She was naked, holding a headless chicken.  Her nipples were pierced through with human rib bones.  Though Jesus didn’t know the bones were human, the sight was disturbing enough.  Her breasts, free from the clothing, sagged almost to the floor.  Her pubic hairs were so prolific that the bush hung to her knees.  She had woven small bones into that hair also.  A large iron ring protruded through the hair at the level of her genitalia.  Jesus didn’t want to think about that.  Camille was busy painting symbols on herself with the chicken’s blood.  She didn’t bother to look at him.
When she was finished painting herself, she took Jesus by the shoulders and guided him into the black circle inside the hexagram.  A small bone materialized in her fingers, and Jesus had the sinking feeling she pulled it out of her long pubic hair.  She dipped the bone into the bloody neck of the decapitated chicken, and painted symbols on him as well.  She continued the process for another ten minutes, until Jesus was covered in symbols from head to toe. 
The light strokes of the chicken bone on his flesh caused his penis to stiffen into an erection, and his face flushed a brilliant red.  Camille never looked at his sex.  The erection didn’t go away when she moved away, nor when she began to chant in guttural tones.  Jesus felt strange, like he wasn’t in control of his body.
As the minutes dragged on, Jesus became aware of a burning sensation in his loins.  He had never felt so sexually aroused in his life.  The arousal was concentrated solely in the touch receptors of his genitals, removed from the perceptions he received from other places in his body.  The old woman’s chanting sounded like a rhythmic love song, and Jesus could feel his organ throbbing in response to the uttered tones and underlying beat.
Camille’s performance accelerated quickly into piercing cries delivered with quick, repetitive bursts of air.  Jesus climaxed uncontrollably.  The sound pulled the seed from his body in long strings, which dangled to the floor.  The involuntary jerking of his hips caused the semen to land on the floor with purpose.  When Jesus looked down he saw pearly white Sanskrit writing.  A name had come forth.
The hexagram and the letters on the floor began to glow.  Jesus glanced up from the floor and saw that he was no longer in Camille’s back room.  He floated in black nothingness, standing on an unseen platform outlined by the six-pointed star.  The Sanskrit writing rose before him and twisted in the air.  Jesus imagined he could see millions of potential lives in the thin strands, but he did not anticipate what happened next.  The writing shrunk down into a tiny shape that hovered before his face.  Jesus thought he could see a tiny person.
The shape expanded rapidly, and inched away from his face as it did so.  The human shape became unmistakable.  As it continued to grow Jesus changed his opinion.  It wasn’t human at all.  It had horns and a tail, and it was looking directly at him.  The figure swelled until the humanoid was larger than any human, and then the expansion ceased.
“Why have you summoned me, Jesus Mendoza?” the beast asked him through pointed teeth.
“Actually, I didn’t.”
The beast laughed heartily.  He looked at Jesus with amusement and said, “My current physical manifestation grew from your sexual excretions.  I don’t know how this came to pass, but I know where it came to pass.”  The devil looked at Jesus flagging erection.
“Who are you?” Jesus asked.
“My name is Belial.  It was the name you wrote before you, the name with which you summoned me.  What is it you desire, Jesus Mendoza?”
“An old woman named Camille conducted a ceremony.  It was Camille who summoned you,” Jesus attempted to make sense of the situation.
“And yet she’s not here, and none of her essence was involved.  I am only required to ask you this one more time, and then I am free to depart from your command.  I find it hard to believe you desire nothing at all, Jesus.  What is it you want, Jesus?”
The old woman had given Jesus exactly what he asked for.  He asked for assistance, and that was what he received.  Jesus suddenly understood that Belial was offering to fulfill his desires.  Jesus speculated silently about the devil’s motivations, and then decided it wouldn’t hurt to ask questions.
“Will you give me anything I want, Belial?”
“Of course, Jesus.  That’s why you called me here.”
“What do I have to give you in exchange?”
“At last we are getting somewhere.  What I require from you depends on what you ask of me.  Terms are always open to negotiation.  I am nothing, if not fair,” Belial professed with a sly grin.  “Why don’t you tell me what you want, and then I will tell you what I want in exchange.”
Jesus wished he had known he was going to bargain with a devil.  He would have brainstormed in advance.  He wracked his brain for an answer.  “I want to be immune to assassination, and I want to be the best assassin who ever lived.  But I don’t want to be evil.  I want to use my powers for good,” Jesus threw in as an afterthought.  He did some bad things in his life, but he believed in the cause.  He never wanted to be a champion of evil.
Belial dropped his sophisticated façade and ranted at Jesus in contemporary English.  “Are you kidding me?  Are you mentally challenged?  You summoned me, a devil, to make a deal, and that deal is to be a goodie-two-shoes assassin?  You woke me up out of a deep sleep for this, you freakin’ schmuck.  You better be freakin’ kiddin’ me.”
“Don’t forget about the immune to assassination part.  Yes, that’s the deal I want to make.  What do you want in exchange?”  Jesus inquired cheerfully.
“Let’s start the bidding at, say, you burn in hell for a gazillion lifetimes.  I think I can hook you up for that.  Yeah, that sounds about right,” Belial answered sarcastically.
“I thought you were here to bargain with me, but I don’t think you’re even trying.  I mean, I’m ready to do business, but you want an arm and a leg for a two-dollar item.  Can I speak to your boss?”  Jesus demanded irately.  The ploy paid off.
“No, there’s no reason to speak to the boss,” Belial returned anxiously.  “I am sure we can work something out.  Your talk about goodness threw me off, but never mind that.  Let’s get down to business.
“First of all, I can not make you immune to assassination.  I can give you certain advantages to make it more difficult for someone to kill you, but I can’t make you invulnerable to attack.  Secondly, you’ve got a lot of work to do to get yourself back into the good, pal.  I can’t make you a good guy.  Maybe you should consider putting the brakes on murdering people.
“Those considerations aside, I can enhance your natural senses and abilities so that you will be very difficult to kill, and a very lethal man.  You could have hearing acute enough to sense heartbeats and breathing at long distances.  You could even have the ability to hear thoughts.  I can give you superhuman strength and speed, and the ability to track your quarry like a bloodhound.  I can also throw in the ability to heal from injuries at many times the normal rate.  How does that grab you?”  Belial concluded his sales pitch.
“So essentially I would be like Wolverine?”  Jesus asked skeptically.
“Wolverine is a cartoon character compared to what you could be, pun intended.  You won’t have adamantium claws, though.  Sorry.”
“I’m not going to sign over my soul.  I’ve gone a long way to being a bad guy, by your own admission.  I’m likely to go to hell anyway, so why don’t you just give me the powers?”
“Do I look like I’m new at this, Jesus?  You may have been able to pull that off, if you hadn’t already told me you want to be a good guy.  Most deals don’t directly involve the soul these days anyway, so I’m willing to work with you.  I’ll give you the powers.  You will be as close to invulnerable as I can make you, and damn near the deadliest human who ever lived.  In return, you will have to work for us for a specified period of time, doing what you do best.”
“That sounds way too easy.  I’ve always heard that you screw people with the fine print.  Will I be damned?  I mean, you don’t need me to bargain my soul away if I’m already in hell,” Jesus countered.
“You won’t be in hell at all.  In fact, to sweeten the deal, you can work in the United States exclusively.  There are enough people in Louisiana alone to keep you busy for a long time.”
“Tell me more about the work.  How long, exactly, would I have to work for you?"
“You’ll have to work for us until you turn thirty years old,” Belial answered earnestly.
“I don’t want to be evil.  I’m not going to be killing innocent people, right?”
“You mean you’re giving that up?  No, you won’t be killing innocent people for us.  You’ll be killing people who have sold their souls, or who have in some way been excluded from God’s good graces.”
“And just until I’m thirty years old, and I won’t be in hell?” Jesus asked.
“That’s right, Jesus.  You listen well.”
“Then let’s do it,” he told Belial.
The devil gave Jesus all of the powers they agreed on, but Jesus didn’t ask enough questions.  He didn’t know that there was a dimension where people didn’t age, and that it would take him thousands of years to turn thirty.  He was shocked to discover that he could live in one dimension and work in another.  He didn’t know the peril of meeting death while in the employment of a devil.  Those things were the fine print of his agreement.
Belial hopped around on his cloven hoofs in unfathomable glee.  He had harvested another sucker for the forces of evil, and quite a handsome catch at that.  He kept Jesus around long enough to gloat.  Belial celebrated his victory with an obscene dance, and then sent Jesus to Discordia, with everything they agreed upon and a few extras Jesus didn’t want.  Belial’s celebration brought the devil as close to happiness as a devil could get, but Belial rejoiced too soon.
God never liked to see a devil cavort in jubilation.  Though Jesus displeased Him, still the Colombian was one of His children.  He tilted the odds in Jesus’ favor in every contest and encounter the assassin faced.  The contracts Jesus was given invariably involved evil men.  God felt no conflict making things easy for Jesus. 
After two thousand years Belial was no longer laughing.  Though Jesus hunted down people for the devil, more often than not the assassin performed his duties in such a way that the souls of his victims sought God’s forgiveness at the very end.  Jesus became a holy assassin, and he strengthened his abilities with magic and practice.  Belial became obsessed with collecting Jesus’ soul, and heaped work upon the assassin.  With every mission, Jesus drew a little bit closer to his thirtieth birthday and freedom. 
Pan offered Jesus a resolution to that contract in one mission. Jesus leapt at the opportunity.  Belial was insane with rage, but unanimously outvoted by the old gods and other devils.  That was when Jesus became Louis’ bodyguard.
“Wake up, Jesus.  You need to wake up,” Michael said from the doorway of his room, where the Colombian had gone to sleep.  The priest saw a look of incredible pain on the assassin’s face when he sat up in the bed.  “What is it, Jesus?  Are you okay?”
“I’m fine.  I was just having a nightmare,” Jesus answered.
“What was the nightmare about?” Michael asked.
“It was less a nightmare than memories, really.  I was just dreaming about my past.”
“Oh.  I was hoping you dreamed about a coalition of evil forces that surrounded the fortress with thousands of well armed soldiers, and perhaps dreamed some way to deal with the situation.  Go look out the window, Jesus.”
Jesus jumped out of bed and headed for the window.  He cursed himself for not asking someone to wake him up.  It was dark outside, which meant he slept through an entire day.  One glance at the moonlit world confirmed what Michael said.  The fortress was surrounded by thousands of soldiers.  Jesus could see moonlight glinting off of metal and polished leather, and he could smell the rotten stench of the grunts.  Somewhere under the distant trees there was an ominous rumbling.  The forces of evil beat heavily on large drums, to strike fear into the hearts of the Pentacle’s occupants.
“My nightmare continues,” Jesus sighed.
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Related written works at Angelfire, Sex Symbols, Cymbals of Silence.Repent or Die