SHORT STORY 9

2016

S O M E W H E R E - T O - B E - A L O N E

SHORT STORY 9

2016

SOMEWHERE TO BE ALONE

DISCLAIMER:

Without proof of one's experience, one did not experience anything. When one is alone, one does not exist.

NACHT 1.

FRIDAY 26th FEBRUARY 2016

It was fucking freezing after the taxi pulled away leaving me on the side of the highway in the early evening. The asphalt was too wide for a backwater country road, but I wasn't sure if it was a highway, freeway, or autobahn either. Other than the departing taxi, there wasn't a speck of traffic out there. No headlights or any other form of illumination. The overcast German gloom hid the celestial bodies, and again I was straining to remember the last time I actually had a decent view of the constellations. For a moment, I began entertaining the notion that the cabbie was being a cunt and had dropped me off in the middle of nowhere. But my eyes finally adjusted to the depth of my woodland surroundings, and a pale building presented itself through the gusts.

At the end of last year, I had taken the bus to Halle, a university town near Leipzig, and an hour out of Berlin, I first saw this place. There were two fields, one with wild grass, the other a bare expanse of naked soil. In the middle of those two open plots was a narrow driveway that led to a two-story house. Its white-painted stone, elegant windowpanes, and gray-slate roof made it look anything but a typical farm house. It was love at first sight.

Clutching my suitcase in my right hand while clinging to my laptop bag with my left, I strode with a hunch toward that lonesome house. On my approach, I began regretting that I hadn't investigated further on Airbnb whether or not the place required coal-stoking for the heating. When suddenly searing white light covered the building and reflected back into my scorched fucking eyeballs! The headlights from an unexpected vehicle came slowly up behind me. At first, I assumed that it was the owner. Perhaps there had been a mix up and he had given me the wrong set of house keys when I was back in the township. As I watched the car pass and pull up to the house, I spotted the silhouette of two men sitting in the vehicle. My second thought was one was frustration as I reached for the back of my belt – I still hadn't bought a new knife since Scotland over a year ago. Once the strangers exited their vehicle, I was immediately addressed with the clinical formality of the German authorities, "Herr Knox?"

The cops, already? Who the fuck was complaining about me before I'd even arrived? But these guys weren't your standard, flat-foot beat-cop, (not that German cops walked anywhere). They were plain-clothed, older guys.

"You speak English, yes?"

"Don't pay you the big bucks for nothing, do they," I sneered, placing my black suitcase between the house and the BMW.

"Excuse me?"

"Why should I?"

The two big men shared a serious glance.

So, I crossed my arms in that arctic breeze, as snow began falling.

"My name is Kriminalkommissar Rosswald, and this is my college, Everett." And then up came their respective ID cards. In English, they were 'detectives', and so I will refer to them as such from henceforth. "We are from the Stuttgart division."

"That's a hell of a commute."

"Excuse me?" These guys were always so fucking polite but incapable of grasping sarcasm.

"Tell you what, chief. Let's see if the key opens that front door. If not, I'll be thanking you kindly for a ride the fuck out of here," I grinned, as snowflakes melted upon my shaved head. "But first things first. What exactly are you after?"

"We are here investigating a missing person."

The little white house was a couple-hundred-years-old but had been thoroughly renovated within the last decade – so no coal-shoveling for this lucky little Popsicle. I switched on the hot-water-system, as well as the kettle, and then I removed the coffee and tea supplies from my suitcase. The ground floor was mostly an open plan with the kitchen on the other side from the front door. An old, wooden clock sat on the mantle above a fireplace and tick-tocked loudly throughout that chilled lack of small-talk.

"Now, how about some common courtesy and spill the beans on how exactly you guys found me? All things considered, apart from the owner of this charming establishment, no one else knows where the fuck I am. And yet here you are. Got to admit, that's some fucking spooky shit right there."

The two detectives, in their late forties, sat on the other side of the large dining table, both cupping their tea with tilted heads above their loose, frog-like throats.

"Was it my phone? I'm sure I switched off the GPS–"

"It was your credit-card," Rosswald croaked. "The payment for this house."

A vague smile crossed my face, "Duly noted."

Everett lifted his snout, as I opened the yellow pack of slender Leibniz, lemon cheese-cake flavored cookies.

"So, who've you lost? And how can I help break the big case?"

"Lurlina Morgen. She was reported missed five days ago, on Monday morning, after she didn't arrive at an appointment."

"In Stuttgart?"

"Correct."

"Heidelberg."

"No, she is a resident of Stuttgart."

"No. Heidelberg. The closest I have ever come to Stuttgart, and that was Christmas 2006. Who the fuck's in Stuttgart that I'd give two shits about?"

"You have a strange way of talking to the police," Rosswald said, sitting back and lifting his saggy chin. "Perhaps the Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Medien were correct when they called you an, 'Obszönitätscharakter.'"

"You know, you look like a director that I used to work for. A big Belgium guy. Good guy. Had a real hearty laugh. Great way to judge a person, by their laughter. How authentic it is. He wasn't technically my boss, but he understood that I was more valuable than all the other kids in the studio. Was simple math. I did more footage than everyone else combined. Even after the debacle in India, he secured my immediate evacuation. As well as my continued employment. I can respect that. He was willing to stick his neck on the line, not out of some selfless act of kindness, but because he needed the work done. But even then, I never assumed that we were friends. It was just professional respect. However, who the fuck are you that I need to respect?"

The two detectives became more alert in their seats.

"The fuck is Lurlina Morgen, and what the fuck does she have to do with me?"

"On Facebook," Rosswald stated. "You know her as 'Lulu Mourning.'"

I leaned away, my eyes rolling into the back of my skull, as I rubbed my palms over my face.

"So, you see," Rosswald said, taking a sip of his Earl Grey. "We have been closely studying your private messages."

"Your conversations have been, as you say, explicit," Everett added.

"Explicit? I prefer to call them: gratuitous, unadulterated, and piss in the wind!"

"You are aware of her age?"

"Twenty-one, according to her driver's license."

"It is the nature of these communications which concerns us. Your encouragement of her self-destructive obsessions. Especially her fixation with the violence toward the refugees."

"Ah, so that's what this is all about."

"Excuse me?"

"The thought-crime of negativity toward the infallible asylum-seekers."

"Not at all. After reading your messages, neither of you spoke particularly critical of the Syrians. But you also in no way condemned the harassment of their plight. It is the violence itself that Lurlina seems fascinated with. However, it was the sexual tone of your messages toward the violence that was the most alarming."

"Plight? You're the first German I've heard say that word."

The two detectives didn't look amused. Rosswald then whispered, "Where is The Little China Embassy?"

Pausing, I glanced back and forth at the two gray-haired cops. "Isn't there some law protecting personal communications – no, no, of course not. Stupid me. Nothing's private on the internet. But what if we'd communicated the old-fashioned way, with hand-written letters. Did you expect to find letters lying around on her bedroom floor? Or what if we'd anticipated nosy fucks going through our personal shit, so we agreed to burn our letters as soon as we'd read them. Then, I guess, you'd have nothing to snoop through. But of course, that would never happen in this day and age. You must be glad that you've all those incriminating messages on Facebook to sift through. Unless, we didn't actually write anything actionable on-line at all. Then where would you be. Ah, here you are. With nothing!"

"What are you doing out here?" Rosswald smiled calmly. "Why haven't you told anyone, even your girlfriend, where you're going? You will admit, that is a little strange. However, now that we are here, it makes perfect sense. You are having an affair! So, is Lurlina going to show up any moment now, or is it some other woman?"

"Shit! You got me!" I laughed hatefully, raising both hands. "My girlfriend keeps telling me that I'm a terribly fucking liar. Haul me off in chains."

"You can stop being so unhelpful."

"Ask me a straight forward fucking question then!"

"Have you seen Lurlina Morgen recently, and do you know of her whereabouts?"

"No and no."

The snow tapped on the windows and the old clock ticked.

"You drove all this way just for those two questions? Your investigation really must have hit a brick fucking wall. But seriously, come on, you guys surely didn't drive across the entire country just for a runaway kid. She's probably in Rome for all I know. How is this honestly worth your time?"

Detective Everett subtly nodded his head with a frown.

"Or are her parents the rich conservative type?" Crossing my tattooed arms, I made my own speculation. "Pretty, rich white German girl goes missing amidst the rape-scandal of this immigrant crisis. Merkel fears a shit-storm in the headlines. So, let's hope it's some pervert on the internet that's abducted her, like back in the good old days, huh."

There is a theory that the universe is always talking to you, but most people aren't listening. Yet if you allow yourself to see the signs you can find them right in front of you. The literal-atheist screams coincidence-superstition toward such a delusion. While the spiritually-impassioned is cautious of nefarious-influence. And yet the student-psychologist categorizes such projections as symptoms of the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon. Sometimes though, an omen is simply a fucking omen. Standing on the small front steps, I watched the two detectives slowly reverse their unmarked vehicle back onto the road fifty meters away, when BAM! Squinting against the snow, I slowly turned around. There was a window either side of the front door, three windows upstairs, and a lone central window in the attic. The front of the house didn't face the driveway but toward the grassy field where a crow had flown straight into a window. It lay twitching on the gravel, and I was reminded of my last weekend. While standing beneath the pillars of the Altes Museum, I had watched an enormous swarm of crows smother the evening sky. there I wondered why some birds migrated during winter, and yet others endured the scarcity. Google would have had some succinct explanation, but I didn't want to look away from such an impressive number of crows. I was too enthralled by that immense spectacle of a thousand howling ravens dominating the heavens, as if their wings were the very fabric of night stretching over everything. I had felt no desire to pull out my phone and take a fucking photo, I enjoyed focusing of that living moment, and I wouldn't let Google distract my awe. But on the front steps of that little white house, I still wasn't sure why some birds weathered the cold. Standing over the stunned crow, I noticed that its wing was broken. Its pain was pornography to me. Lulu would have filmed the injured bird and then e-mailed me a QuickTime, knowing that I wouldn't condemn her for doing so. The two detectives failed to grasp that. They were far too linear with their conclusions. To them, I was just another sicko corrupting a troubled youth. And they were totally right, of course. Ignoring the crow, I stepped back inside the toasty little white house filled with all that golden light. Plugging my MP3 player into the stereo, Monster Magnet, Dig That Hole, put a devious smile on my face as I sat upon a huge sofa with my copy of Othello. It had been the second work of Shakespeare that I had ever read at school, and I had instantly been drawn to Iago. I was still proud that he had become a definitively formative role-model of mine. "Work on, My medicine, work! Thus credulous fools are caught; And many worthy and chaste dames even thus, all guiltless, meet reproach."

-

It was well into the small hours when I finished reading, and then heard a loud THUD come from upstairs. The place was too brightly lit to feel like a haunted house, but it was old enough to raise an eyebrow. A second BANG, and I ran up the stairs and flicked on every light switch! There were two identical bedrooms on either side of a modern bathroom at the top of the stairs. All the windows were tightly locked, and there was nothing lying broken on the wooden floor. And then came another THUMP! It was coming from the attic. Above the stairs was a trapdoor that took some wriggling before it swung open. The lights were top-notch up there too. It didn't take two detectives from out of town to discover that the storm-shutter on the window had come loose. Deductive logic immediately banished the demons from the empty attic. There was a stack of candles in a far corner, and nothing else in that vacant space. Opening the small window, I grabbed the shutter, just as I spotted a tower beyond the surrounding forest. There was no steeple at the summit of that bleak structure, it was just a stone block among low hanging clouds. Securing the shutter, I stepped over to the only other window on the opposite side of that timber attic. Standing in the small alcove, I saw a shallow hill above the trees at the back side of the house. Retreating, to the middle of the attic, I looked from side to side. To my left was the tower, to my right was the hill. The house seemed perfectly positioned in the center.

Back downstairs, I glanced out the bedroom window, but just one level down and I could no longer see either the tower or the hilltop.

BOOM!

The shutter had already come loose. I wasn't surprised, the latch was a rusted piece of shit. Despite the modern fittings in the house, I wondered exactly how old the original structure was. My childhood home had been through several major extensions. I had seen a photo from the 1930s, when the house stood on an empty hillside as a much smaller building. When my parents bought the place in the 1970s, it had already been expanded upon. My father then built the downstairs and the front balcony. Of course, since my mother sold the house, it had been transformed into a yuppy's summer home: a forth incarnation. Human settlements are never static for long. Yet, as much as we rebuild upon of the same subsiding top soil, the bones of all those dead animals are still buried deep in the back garden of my youth. Unless someone happened to go digging. Then, what a find they would unearth!

In the kitchen, I found a drawer full of tools. Grabbing a nail, hammer, and a lighter, I climbed back into the attic and nailed that fucking shutter to the outside wall. Grabbing up a bunch of candles, I lit them in a circle upon the floor. I'm not a student of meditation, but I do practice indulging in psychosis. There, I sat and despised a possible future where animal-rights had banned the pleasure of watching a steak frying in a pan. One culture's cuisine is another's barbaric savagery, and yet no observable reality is more ethical than any other once you find the skeletons in the closets of every civilization's birth. Why should I obey the moral laws of strangers whose vacuous warnings had never stopped me before? If I ate Lulu's anemic meat that night, how was that worse than butchering her? And how was that worse than killing her? And how was that worse than sodomizing her? And how was that worse than objectifying her? And how was that worse than seducing her? And how the fuck was that any worse than simply knowing that she even existed in the first fucking place?! When I eat a schnitzel (of any kind), I feel fucking fantastic, especially knowig that it suffered! There is no moral crime if you repudiate the ethical dogma of giants in favor of your own experiential fucking conclusions!

TAG 1.

SATURDAY 27th FEBRUARY 2016

I woke up late, because I forgot how much I loved to sleep alone. After coffee, I took a stroll so that I might fathom the scope of my environment. Once I had gone straight out the front door into that field of grass, I glanced back and found the little white house gleaming brilliantly in the daylight. Continuing out, I came across a wooden fence holding back the brown and white speckled trunks of the forest. Onward I went in search of that tower. The woods were easy to pass through, as there were no shrubs, only dead leaves between the widely spaced trees. I loved that smell of damp wood. My thoughts returned to that of Lulu and the trickery of the internet. She had found me via my art six months ago. Just another curious kid. I remembered her first profile picture where she wore her brown hair slicked back and into a tight bun. Her cute face hid behind large, thin-framed glasses, while she was dressed in a snug, beige trench-coat and enormous scarf. Lulu was, by all accounts, perfectly lovely and genuinely so. She was perhaps too polite for my kind of virtual interactions. Though the cops weren't kidding about her interest in violent content. But so fucking what?! The other night, I saw a video of ISIS cutting off an old man's head, and I was fucking bored! After all, what did Schopenhauer say, "Life has no intrinsic worth, but is kept in motion merely by desire and illusion." Lulu's own infatuation with conflict was not repressed, denied, or abnormal. She embraced her fascination. She owned it, and had even dubbed her denomination, Devotion To The Demiurge. She would flagellate herself to this lesser god while masturbating in front of me on Skype. She was empowered because she empowered herself.

It hadn't felt like I had been walking for long before the trees parted and presented a small gorge where a shallow creek crept below. Directly across the broken landscape were the foundations of that blackened tower. From where I stood, it looked like a six-story structure with only a small ground floor extension crumbling to my left. The place was a ruin, but it definitely didn't resemble a church, more like the remains of a keep from a collapsed castle that was now half strangled by creepers. The creek was only dribbling, but it was still wide enough to cancel the idea of getting any closer to those looming fortifications. Besides, I had work to do. I hadn't come out to this geographical isolation for my health. I had two scripts to write. My Extermination pitch had been put on hold while my day-job had kept my idle hands busy with commercial animation. I had already laid out the first draft of the script, the basic three act structure was done, and I'd begun the second draft of act one back in Berlin. Though, I decided I needed to get out of town and away from my personal tensions so that I could focus on the rest of the script, but of course that was impossible – I couldn't escape myself. My predilection toward the original Terminator film had begun at an early age. A reverence toward the unstoppable force of death. I had seen it as a cautionary tale, and the underlying message was one of human tragedy. That was what had attracted me, it was the concept. Like my Alienated pitch from 2011, I had no intention on focusing on past characters, it was the setting that had potential. I had centered Alienated around those primal human concerns of extreme deprivation, the fear of the dark, and being trapped in a hostile environment. It's the simplest ideas that inspire me, however, the more violent the better.

Returning to the field, I shook my head spitefully. I knew that working on a script was just as futile as anything that I did. No one would give a fuck about it. So, why was I really out there? Because, what had Camus said about the myth of Sisyphus: I enjoyed my endless fucking toiling! I needed to expel the monstrosities in my head through creative exorcisms of desecration. Self-indulgence was a good enough reason for me to do anything at all.

That was when I spotted several figures in the distance to my left. They soon saw me too, and we all continued toward the little white house. There were four in the group. Local kids. They passed by the house about twenty meters ahead of me. All of them scowling. The only boy in the group couldn't stop staring back as I stood outside the front door, glaring at that scrawny runt. I didn't unlock the door until they crossed the highway. Scaring the shit out people was something I was famous for.

-

I spent the day working on my two scripts. The second one being part two of my picture book, Uncle Fingers. I sat at the dining table looking out over the fields, muttering words that rhymed, when I suddenly grinned. I'd finally become a raving lunatic, talking to himself in the woods.

That afternoon, while pouring another coffee, I glanced past my laptop, over the stereo that was playing Ken Mode, Blessed, and outside to where a man was standing in the middle of the field. His arms were to his side in a dominant stance. Sipping on my sweet, creamy coffee, I slowly approached the front window. He was African and wearing a scruffy jersey and jeans. I knew he could see me, so I just perpetuated the stand-off. It wasn't until I saw another guy step out of the woods that I placed my cup upon the windowsill – and then suddenly I knew exactly what I had to do.

Opening the front door, I walked out into that cold air and stood below the window where my cup was still steaming. There, I picked up the dead crow from last night and turned toward that distant man. He was unmoved, but the second person had sunk back into the shadows of woods. Holding the big, black bird straight out, I spread its silky wings. Placing the bird on the neat gravel path that surrounded the little white house, I started drawing sigils in the dirt with my fingertip. Even heathens can comprehend the message behind Enochian warnings. So, I welcomed this intruder to come a little closer. Come and take a look at the picture I had just made for him. Come closer so that my voodoo could soak into his paranoia. With blood on my hands, I waved bye-bye to the stranger as I casually walked back inside – locking the door behind.

After washing my hands in the kitchen sink, I tucked the claw hammer into my back pocket. Finishing my coffee, I found that the black guy was now standing only a few paces from the edge of gravel. He was leaning cautiously toward the mutilated crow, though his posture was spring-loaded and ready to high-tail it away from there. I got a good clear look at the guy. Real cola-colored skin, and he was obviously living rough. He could have possibly been one of the refugees that everyone kept complaining about (complaining regardless of if they were for or against them). If they had already walked all the way to Germany, it wasn't that much of a stretch of the imagination to suppose that some had continued this far north. I eyeballed him one last time, and he gradually backed away. I then smirked at my own reflection in the glass. Who the fuck was I to judge this guy? This wasn't my property, and this definitely wasn't my homeland. Even out here, I couldn't avoid the social politics of the time. Perhaps I could simplify the situation into: the essential need to assert one's own personal boundary. But then I heard the voice of the regressive-left declaring that there shouldn't be any borders of any kind at all! So then, did that make me right-wing? But if I was sincerely right-wing, then surely, I too should get the fuck out this foreign land? Therefore, I must have been a liberal at heart, as I clearly supported globalization. However, I never believe in equality, so then I had to be a capitalist pig! Yet, I wasn't wealthy enough, which meant I had to have supported the communist 99%. Though, I fucking loathed hippies, or were they called third-wave-feminists these days? Naturally, my penis made me a rape-advocate, which explained why I liked to fuck black chicks: so that I could assert my dominant, racist misogyny! Although, if I fucked black chicks, didn't that prove that I loved all colors? But you see, no matter what you do, any contrary argument could be made to condemn your motives. Yet you're never wrong if you know how to apply the Socratic-method correctly. Or then again, were you never right?

-

Those kids later returned. They were looking cranky as they gathered around the dead crow. Slowly rising from the table, I saw them kick gravel at the bird before drifting closer to the house. Opening the front door, I watched them continue by, before I scanned the field again. There hadn't been any sign of the black guy for hours. Turning toward the departing kids, I took note of a small shed at the edge of the forest. Guessing that the kids were on their way back home, I wondered how far they had come in that overcast countryside of half-naked trees. Again, I was distracted but the nature of things. Why was it that some trees lost their leaves and others kept them all year round? I felt the urge to switch on Mr. Internet for the first time, until the fourteen-year-old boy glanced back and squealed once he realized I was still watching them. The group spun, and everyone stood perfectly still. Hissing in Deutsch among themselves, one of the three ratty girls then yelled out, "Slender man!"

NACHT 2.

SATURDAY 27th FEBRUARY 2016

In the early evening, I needed to stretch my legs, so I headed around to the back of the little white house and across the field of dirt. The forest was an equal distance away from the building as on the field of grass side. While crossing that expanse of dust, I wondered why this land was left barren. Maybe it had recently been tilled, or maybe these were pastures and the livestock happened to be visiting the slaughterhouse at the moment. I didn't fucking know. I wasn't a farmer. There probably was a completely legitimate reason for the wasted space. Every process of production involved some aspect that, to the layman, appeared nonsensical. Why do some birds migrate and some trees lose their leaves while others don't, seemed inconsistent, but that only illuminated a hole in my own understanding. Reaching for my back pocket, I stroked the claw hammer that I had brought along. When you see any unknown person staring at you from outside your residence, you must take precautions! If he was merely passing by, he would have kept going. If he wanted something innocent, he would have said something. Strangers in cities are common place, but out here in the middle of nowhere, every encounter brought the defenses to the fore. Vigilance is necessary when you only have yourself to rely on.

Once I made it to the summit of the small hill, I was presented with a decent view of the surrounding territory. Apart from this hill, the countryside was completely flat and covered with reoccurring patches of woods, farms, and the settling mist. Facing the little white house, I glanced to my right, where those kids had returned – there was no town or any smoke signals of any kind. To my left, was the highway, and beyond was a lake not too far behind a stretch of trees. Scanning ahead, past the little white house, I focused on the stone tower. Stepping to my left, I began lining up the attic windows with the distant ruin. That's when I noticed I was stepping between several large rocks overgrown by the shaggy grass. I quickly realized that I was standing in the midst of a circle of small standing-stones. The boulders were only a couple of feet high, uneven, and in a ring about ten meters in diameter. Examining those dark stones, I uncovered even more that were almost totally buried. And then I looked up and saw a light coming from within the attic!

Rushing back to the house, I was glad that I had taken the foresight to hide my laptop after today's visitors, but that was beside the point, someone had invaded my fucking space! It was either the black guy, or those fucking kids. I was sweating in my overcoat as I charged across the field of dirt and noticed that there weren't any windows on this side of the house, except in the attic. No light came from upstairs as I reached the front door. My hammer was in hand as I keyed the lock. Scanning for any forced points of entry, I quietly scaled the stairs. Nothing seemed out of place and everything was silent – other than that fucking clock. The trapdoor overhead was still closed. Once I was sure that there was no one hiding in the bedrooms, I stormed up into the attic – but there was no one there. It had grown a lot darker, and as I stared back at the hill, it looked black against the haze of dusk. I was about to double-check downstairs, when I stopped dead in my tracks. I saw the light again! It was coming from the tower! One of the tiny windows in that ruin was shimmering with an amber glow. The optical illusion caused by the alignment of landmarks then became apparent. But who the fuck was in the tower?

Switching off my pen-light as I reached the creek, I peered across the small gorge at the gathering of people sitting around a campfire below the tower. At that point, I made the assumption that these guys were Syrian refugees, simply because they looked like the background characters in every news story on the topic. While standing there, watching the homeless, it dawned on me that I was doing the exact same thing that the black guy had done to my residence this morning. Shaking my head, I was in the motions of leaving those guys to their business, when I heard a violin (or some such Middle-Eastern instrument). The old men next to the campfire began singing in Arabic. The melancholy song was too beautiful to ignore, so I inched down the embankment, jumped across the stream, and climbed up around the trees along the side of the tower. I wasn't exactly hiding but no one noticed me, or at least no one cared that I stood just a few feet behind them. There were five middle-aged men seated, and I saw several others huddling further away. Once the song ended, they murmured something, and everyone laughed. Part of me wanted to sit, listen to them sing, and simply enjoy the campfire. But I wasn't one of them. And after all, my shaved head and tattoos painted me as the stereotypical portrait of those whom had sought to persecute these people the very moment that they had arrived in Europe. Prudence suggested that I didn't push my luck, and I began backing away. However, I glimpsed a flickering light within a hole in the tower, and it drew me inside. Fuck it, discretion be damned!

Creeping into the depth, I made my way up a staircase of ancient stone. Another small campfire crackled in the corner of a large chamber, though, no one attended this one. I headed further up the stairs, only to find the staircase bricked up, which didn't make sense. The light that I'd seen from the hill and the attic must have come from higher up than this first floor. A scream then erased the rational investigation from my mind! Clenching my teeth, I twisted on those dead-end stairs and found that same black guy howling at me from another doorway. Raising both of my hands in a non-threatening gesture, I restrained the urge to grab my claw hammer. Slowly heading down the stairs, I was followed and yelled at by the black guy the whole way. The group by the campfire looked too tired for the rantings of the hysterical man. Again, I kept my palms open and mouth shut. A few more gypsy-like guys stumbled over, and that's when the black guy's words must have registered with the rest of them. Suddenly they all lurched back, cursing at me! My claw hammer wasn't going to do jack-shit against this number, so getting the fuck out of there was literally running through my head – until they all beat me to the punchline. Just like that, every one of those exhausted looking men ran off like a bunch of stray cats. Whatever the black guy said, it had freaked them out so badly that they had even abandoned their violin, possibly the only material possession that they had saved after everything. Left alone by the campfire, I didn't want to sit by myself. The violin looked sad as I stared down at it. For a moment I was about to stomp it into a million fucking pieces and then kick the fucking thing into the flames. But I didn't. I just walked away, back through the woods, hating everything.

Arriving back at the little white house in the freezing wind, I slowly climbed into the attic where I no longer saw any light coming from the tower. That familiar rage then overcame my temper. Visions of Lulu choked, stabbed, and broken by my hands, only served to frustrate my contempt for that fucking place. Yet there was nothing more satisfying than bringing a beautiful female to her knees.

-

I had fallen asleep in the attic and awoken with my left shoulder feeling like I'd been kicked by a mule. A sound had caught my attention. A scrapping noise coming from downstairs. Tilting my head so that I could eliminate the background groans of the old house, I then heard a series of miniscule thumps. Footsteps. Footsteps getting louder. Coming up the stairs. From where I lay, I slithered on my belly across the attic to the edge of the trapdoor. Peering down into the dark, it was no surprise that I recognized those four adolescents, even though they were all wearing balaclavas. None of them noticed the open trapdoor or its extended ladder as they spread out into the two bedrooms. Either they were looking to do some thieving or planning on murdering me in my sleep. I couldn't have asked for a better gift from the gods. Watching them whisper, I could hear the anxiety in their trembling breath as they eventually gathered together above the stairs and directly below my spiteful little eyes. Without the slightest warning, I reached down with both arms and grabbed the closest kid by her face as I screamed like I wanted them dead! They all shrieked like they were shitting burning hot curry into their fucking pants! Ripping the balaclava off the kid in my grasp, she struck out in terror, shoving a friend down the stairs! She struggled like a spastic, but her ponytail was caught within the balaclava that was firmly locked in my grip. The horrified screams from those other little rodents was fucking hilarious as they crashed down the stairs and out the front door. How quickly they abandoned their own. The remaining child thrashed about as I lifted her up through the trapdoor, her panic was my kind of amphetamine. Her hands then caught the ladder and she frantically tried tearing herself free. Once we finally came face to face, I sneered into her terrified eyes, "I'm going to cut your fucking head off!"

I then dropped her! She landed with a gasp, a snap, and a clatter, as she tumbled straight down the staircase. Jumping after her, I watched the little girl shriek and crawl for the open front door. I could hear her friends crying her name as they all run off into the night, while I laughed at their horror. Last month, I had gone to a live freak-show, where one of the performers drove metal spikes through his arms and face. My photo was taken during the act as I watched on enthralled, and a friend later commented on the picture about how abnormal my psychotic grin had been. I scoffed at the remark. The pleasure of sadism was nothing to be ashamed of.

Walking after the kids, in order to make sure that they had really fucked off, I approached that tool shed among the trees. The door was bolted shut, but I soon found the key on the set to the house, and I peered inside. It was near impossible to see anything in there, but I did spot several large bags of cement powder. There was also a weird hollow sound in the shed as I glanced around the pitch black. Returning to the house, I reminded myself that I needed to keep my pen-light on me at all times. A weapon in the dark was useless if I couldn't see what I was dealing with. Rain then came gushing just as I stepped inside. Coming to a standstill in the center of the lounge, an idea suddenly struck me: those bags of cement would be perfect for camouflaging the mutilated remains of Lulu. I could plaster individual bones until they set into unrecognizable configurations before dumping them in that lake beyond the highway. A bit of concrete should be enough of a disguise for nature to sweep them under the carpet of the great indifference of the universe. That all-seeing eye was right there with me in that little white house. It was outside and surrounding and consuming everything. An endless emptiness that filled even the spaces between molecules. Two months ago, I had awoken early, suddenly confused about my understanding of the expanding universe. Specifically, its acceleration. My mind was wrestling with the theory of the Big Bang. After the universe had initially expanded at a ridiculous rate, it had cooled down, creating galaxies and the like. According to the observed red-shift taking place, we know that the universe is not only still expanding, but it's speeding up. However, the confusion that awoke me so rudely was: why after the 'inflation' period did the expansion slow down only to then start speeding up again? Apparently dark-energy was causing this second-acceleration by pushing space itself apart. As I had laid in bed in those small hours, I wondered if the universe had already died? Was this second-acceleration in fact the universe exploding? After the first expansion, the universe had reached an equilibrium – and then it all went POP! But due to the size of the cosmos, we can't even tell. Now that the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate, eventually all the other galaxies will be traveling away from our galaxy faster than the speed of light, and once those other galaxies travel beyond the horizon of the observable universe, it will appear as if our galaxy is alone in dead space. That's the deep-future of the universe. But what had bothered me was, if you pushed that idea further, given a long enough time-line, wouldn't the very expanding space in our galaxy, solar system, and the very atoms in our bodies also get pulled apart too? We'll all POP like the proverbial balloon of the universe. I couldn't sleep with that in mind, so had spent that morning searching on-line for lectures on the subject. I discovered that this was an already established hypothesis, appropriately titled, the Big Rip theory. Therefore, this second-acceleration is the death of us all! We're already dead and the universe doesn't give a fuck!

TAG 2.

SUNDAY 28th FEBRUARY 2016

I woke just before sunrise. While sipping on my coffee, I stared out the front windows at the mist covering the field. The muddy footprints on the kitchen counter gave away where the kids had entered last night. I soon located a loose bolt on the window which I nailed shut. Cleaning the surface of dirt and cement dust, I couldn't stop staring at the blender in the corner as I made a second coffee.

Crossing the highway and another field of grass, I entered a thin section of trees, before arriving at the lake in the pale morning light. Completely surrounded by the forest, the pond looked like a thousand other insignificant lakes in Germany. Some distance to my left, I saw a tiny wooden jetty. There wasn't any kind of path around the edge, but the trees were widely spaced, so I navigated the terrain without difficulty. My fingers were dry after mixing the cement late last night, and I was fucking annoyed that it hadn't already set by now. Maybe I had used too much water in the mix? Strolling along the old jetty, I suddenly wasn't sure if cement would even last underwater, especially if it hadn't even dried properly. Best to investigate on-line before the next time. That was when a brown dog with a white chest came running down the jetty wagging his tail. An old guy in a fedora, with a walking cane, emerged from the woods and waved cordially as he approached.

"Morgen," the sixty-year-old nodded, as he kept his distance.

"Howdy."

"English?"

"Hmm."

"Your vehicle breakdown?"

"No."

"Strange spot for sightseeing."

"Is it?"

"Isn't exactly on the tourist map."

"Point being?"

"Just keep clear of the house on the other side of the road."

"Why's that?"

"For the best."

"You from around here?"

"Zurich. But have a farm back there."

"What's wrong with the little white house?"

"Where's your car?"

"Don't drive."

"What?"

"Came by taxi."

"How are you getting out of here?"

"I'm not."

"What?"

"Staying at the little white house."

The dog then sat between his owner and me.

"Why'd you move here if it's nothing special?" I finally asked.

The old chap ran his palm over his white beard. "Ah, well."

Taking a deep breath of the chilled air, I relaxed to the sound of the water against the jetty.

"Had enough city life. Got in too much trouble."

"Trouble? In Zürich? In Switzerland?"

"Yeah, we're not all neutral," he smiled, staring out over the lake. "Was a professor of biology at the University. Had to leave. No, I mean, I was obliged to leave."

"Teaching creationism?"

"No! No, not at all," he chuckled. "Always followed the guidelines to the letter. Unfortunately, keeping your personal life out of the workplace is a trickier little bugger. But that's the politics of human nature."

"You now a philosopher-farmer?"

"Less bother than trying to make it as a philosopher-king."

"Yeah, fuck Plato and his elitism."

"Indeed! Fuck Plato!"

"You fuck a student too?"

"If only it was that simple."

"Hell is not without its bureaucracy."

"And it's hierarchies too."

"What's your problem with playing the game?"

"Well, like Montaigne once said, "We are double in ourselves. What we believe we disbelieve, and we cannot rid ourselves of what we condemn.""

Nodding my head, I waited.

"We are a curious animal, and that is what gets us in trouble."

"And gets us fired."

"And then we flee to Germany."

"For the weather."

"Ha!"

"You prefer farming to teaching?"

"Very much so. I'm far too old to make a fuss over my own ludicrous notions about the world anymore. Not a crusade worth the effort. Just look out for my own well-being these days."

"Good old self-reliance."

"But you're a young man, with your 'Libido dominandi.'"

"Not so young," I grumbled, sinking my hands deep into the pockets of my overcoat. "Got to remember, men too righteous end up crucified. While those too cautious never get their head out of their ass. It's the tactician who wins the war."

"Well, I'm no tactician."

"So, what did you do, spike the university's drinking water?"

"Nothing so entertaining. Merely had a few pet theories about certain unexplained aspects of the world. But some ideas one must keep to oneself."

"Yet if you push an idea underground it can gestate and become malignant. However, if you nurture an idea it can latch onto like-minded individuals, where it too can metastasize. Either way ideas blossom in uncontrollable ways. I don't fucking believe there's any absolutely right course of action when it comes to channeling human potential. When inevitably, shit just happens."

"Indeed, some ideas simply can't be stifled."

"So, what got you fired?"

"Oh, you know. That old problem with evolution."

"Such as?"

"Life is rare. Rarer than we think. The planet is brimming with organisms, large and small – but. But I ask you, why don't new gene-pools spontaneously arise on the Earth all the time? We live in this Goldilocks-zone, which enabled our gene-pool to get started in the first place – but. But why aren't there other completely new forms of life springing into being and competing against our own evolutionary tree of life?"

"Because the initial event that sparked the primordial slime into life took more than just the right environmental conditions. And besides, haven't they found life thriving in some acids, and also miles under the ice? So, fuck the Goldilocks-zone!"

"Exactly! Thus, life is more unique than we already take for granted."

"And that got you fired? Seems a tad bit harsh."

"What do you know about dark-matter?"

"Huh, funny. Only recently learned that no one really knows what the fuck it is. Dark-energy is causing the accelerating expansion of the universe, by making more of itself – somehow. While dark-matter behaves, gravitationally, like regular everyday-matter, except that we can't actually see it. Right?"

"Correct."

"Were you fired for teaching astrophysics in biology class?"

"Ha! Almost!" He then pulled out a thin cigar and lit up. "Really crossed the line when I suggested that dark-matter could possibly be the unseen world of gods and devils."

"That's it?"

"What do you mean?"

"That's all that got you fired?"

"The problem was, I told it to three students – who I was fucking at the time."

"Three?! Bravo! It was fucking worth it!"

We shared a laugh as the dog watched the ripples.

"What are you really doing out here? Most people around these parts turn their back on me the moment they hear my accent."

"Why?"

"I'm not one of them."

"So?"

"So, we don't share common beliefs."

"I'll enjoy anyone's outlandish ideas without necessarily agreeing with them."

"That's a dangerous position to take. Remember what you said about being a tactician. Sometimes you have to stand on one side or the other, or else everyone will ostracize you. History doesn't look kindly upon the pacifist."

"Says the Swiss."

"But ultimately, what does the organism of civilization care about the individual as long as you play the bills-game? However, in order to pay the bills, you need gainful employment, which requires fitting in. Your time is yours, unless those whom employ you no longer find you compatible. And then you have a problem – with everything! And mark my words, most of your friends are spies waiting to see you fail. Those people are beyond fighting, because they use the social system itself to tear you down. In the end, making them the better tactician."

"Yeah, well, with some people the best course of action is inaction. Sometimes reason doesn't work. By removing yourself from the equation, you allow the vacuum left behind to do all the talking."

"That's arrogance. How can we ever know that we make any difference at all in our absence alone?"

"Inaction in the context of how you end a bad habit. You just fucking stop doing it!"

"But by removing yourself from the problem, those causing the issue will see it as a victory."

"My father used to tell me, "He who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day.""

"Ha!"

"Why the fuck is it that philosophers are so prepossessed with the betterment of civilization as a whole? Are they all saying that in order to truly elevate yourself you must concentrate on the bigger picture? Or is it only because of their supposedly altruistic fucking endeavors that others have chosen to remember them? Fuck this daily facade that most people have for longing to live a harmonious existence, while the fucking world and our own self-sabotage leaves us all in ruins! No one knows how important their fucking principles are until their very fucking life is put on the line. We're all just fucking meat-insects! So-called intellectual power-houses should fucking know this by now!"

"It's all academic until someone straps on a suicide-vest. And then the pacifists run crying behind the authorities with the fire-arms."

"Fuck these smug optimists in their comfort-zones, forgetting how the little guy on the street is barely fucking surviving! I fucking hate listening to people that have never known what it's like to go hungry, and yet preach high ideals from ivory fucking towers!"

"Look at how well Trump is doing in his electoral campaign at the moment. People respond best to those whom don't talk down to them. No one likes being scolded over how things ought to be instead how they actually are. That kind of pretension tends to get you condemned by the masses. After all, who really votes on reasonable evaluations? It's nothing new. We are all openly bigoted behind closed doors – until the masses endorse our bias. And people in numbers are malicious entities. We'll seize any opportunity to humiliate and ridicule others. The end of an intimate relationship is a prime example of how easily we regress to our impulsive nature. We don't want to hear the truth, we're emotional-engines running on instinct. And when emotion gets in the driver’s seat, we abandon that most divisive delusion of all: the belief that other lives have value. But ultimately, we are all wrong about everything. If we observe, then we are missing out on experiencing. And if we experience, then we are not objective. The only way for one to understand the bigger picture, one must objectively-experience! One must coexist both inside and outside of the universe at the same time. Such as god and his only son."

"You know, you remind me of the-most-hated-girl-I-knew. Known her for nearly three years, though, had always been curious as to why this one particularly little specimen had inspired so much animosity from so many people. She was a fellow artist, and once the distraction of sex and sodomy had been taken care of, it was undeniable to me how talented she really was. Her parents were both success stories within the Hamburg art world, so it was no wonder that nepotism paved her career straight out of high school. However, once she moved to Berlin, I immediately noticed the hatred come toward her from multiple angles. After a couple of years of introducing her to various social circles, I could unequivocally confirm that she really was the-most-hated-girl-I-knew. So, I began watching others behavior around her. Naturally they all put up with the small-talk, accompanied with the social custom of faked smiles and quickly fading interest. But given enough of these observations, I could no longer ignore the general irritation felt by everyone who interacted with her. It had gotten so bad that people even questioned why the fuck I was hanging out with her. But fuck them! I've never required the validation from one set of friends before I could befriend another. I'm not embarrassed by the politics or dumbfounded by the presumptions coming out of the mouths of my friends. What interest is there in limiting myself to closed-communities of pandering yes-men with their one-sided friendship-conditioning. I want wildly abusive ideas, radical thought, and the voice of polemics permeating my sponge of a thought-process. Without truly free inquiry the conversation stagnates and becomes incestuous and fucking boring! I want backwater racists as friends, I want vegan fitness fanatics as friends, I want metal-head atheists as friends, I want catholic mommy-boy fagots as friends, I want junkie scene-climbers as friends, I even want 'Nazi-gangster-Jews' as my fucking friends! I want paradoxical influences from unreasonable sources to affect my perception, no matter how unsettling or counter-intuitive. I find myself adhering to Hegel's nugget of wisdom, "Learn from ideas you dislike." However, it seems that the-most-hated-girl-I-knew, was also one of those easily offended offenders in today's anti-shame-but-love-to-blame climate. I weep for Rosa Luxemburg. Yet it came as no surprise that one day she wrote to me, "You're plain ugly on the inside. I have no time and space in my life for your shit anymore. Not even for mindless entertainment." Soon afterward, another friend spieled off all the aspects that they despised about the-most-hated-girl-I-knew. The detail was extreme. From her obnoxious condescending attitude, to her contradictory claims of rebellion, and even went on about her unoriginal aesthetic. Listened to the lengthy criticism, I was still intrigued as to how she triggered such hostility in so many people. Perhaps on a spectrum of personality and physical traits, she encapsulated just the right amount of obnoxious-contradictory-unoriginality that sparked everyone's bile. I deduced that this reaction was due to two factors present in her haters: envy and disgust. The envy of what she had (money and looks). And the disgust as she reflected the elements that these people disowned about themselves (irrational insecurity). Their envy and disgust were a feedback loop of: THE INHERENT SELF-HATRED OF HUMANITY! Hate drives all human emotion. Negative emotions are always the dominant. Whether hate for what we have been, hate for what we are, or hate for what we will become. Love for anything is powered by the hatred of losing that love. Hate is the true constant of humanity, not love! The most popular delusion we tell ourselves is that we are better than mere hateful beasts. We aren't! We are all hateful. Love, hate's supposed counter-weight, is easily turned on its self-righteous head. Othello murdered his beloved based on little reason, and that exact same Shakespearean suspicion happens all the time in relationships. Hatred, however, is never easily forsaken, forgiven, or forgotten. The Freudian pleasure-principle is said to be oppressed by the reality-principle – but the key factor keeping the pleasure-principle in check is the 'hatred' of the reality-principle. Aversion outweighs attraction! There would be anarchy if all mankind conducted itself impulsively and did whatever we wanted all the time. Hatred toward life keeps life alive and very fucking hateful for doing so. Hate balances us. And then, whether we support whatever, we look for the appropriate means to vent our hatred, even in the name of compassion. We will back one side of a dispute for the indulgence of hating the contrary argument. Love has consistently been proven fleeting! Love will only temporarily numb the hate. And like a narcotic, love only dumbs down intelligence. Love can only ease the suffering of the masses when it is used as the illusion of the carrot on a stick, only retarding our perspective in the short-term. The external population's hatred is perpetual, and yet we hate being hateful so much that we run back to love as soon as possible like cowards. But love is always fading and quickly replaced by copious amounts of hatred. Inevitably, hatred wins in the end, every time! Hate has always been there. Hatred toward everything is what compels us to do anything. Sex, hunger, and the need to belong, are incomplete instincts without hatred's fuel motivating us away from their opposition: the hate of celibacy, the hate of starvation, and the hate of loneliness! But you have to keep in mind, when I say, hatred drives everyone, by 'everyone' I mean 'me'. You are just a hateful part of myself! And I alone am the inherent self-hatred of humanity!"

The old guy looked away and puffed on his cigar.

"Why the fuck should I stay away from the little white house?"

"Too late for that now. After all, what stops someone from crossing the line and doing something wrong?" the philosopher-farmer said. "Respect or fear of the consequence. And you have neither."

-

Writing on and off throughout the day, I took a break when the clouds parted, and wandered around the outside of house while drinking a coffee. At the back of the building, I found an area of the path where the gravel had been swept aside, revealing a totally different sort of stone below, much rougher and yet immaculately joined. The foundations of the house were seemingly made up of an older masonry. Maybe the place once had a patio around it. I then headed over to the tool shed, and in the crisp light of day I counted the remaining bags of cement. However, I was distracted by a strange stone structure in the corner. There, I found a padlocked iron gate that looked like the bars on a prison window above a black-hole. I could hear the vague sound of water sloshing below, as if a steady current was pouring smoothly by. It must have been a natural spring, though looked more like a medieval dungeon. Learning closer, I spotted some letters craved around the inside rim. As I reached for my pen-light, I heard a car pulling up to the house.

A white Mercedes-Benz was parked some distance from the house and a small woman reluctantly approached. With her arms crossed, she appeared as though she was cautiously crossing a minefield. Marching from the far side of the little white house, I grew more pissed off by the second. For fuck's sake, what part of going somewhere to be alone, doesn't the fucking universe understand?! Impatiently, I called out, "You lost?!"

The gray-haired woman paused. Her shoulders twitching as she replied, "Mr. Knox? Do you remember me? We met in Berlin."

Squinting at her, I did find her somewhat familiar. "When?"

"While visiting Natalie."

My mouth opened, and eyes drifted. "What was your name again?"

"Chloe."

"Huh. Portman finally want her portrait?" And then skepticism struck me. "How the fuck did you find me?!"

"Does it matter?"

"Yes! Yes, it does fucking matter! How the fuck did you find this exact location in the whole wide world? I seriously want to fucking know!"

The fifty-year-old woman in her thick woolen jacket and blanket-like scarf, took her glasses off, glanced around, and finally spoke up, "A worm told me."

"Holy shit. Well, come inside. Get warm. Would you like a tea or coffee? I only have instant if you can handle it? I know some people can't stand the shit. Like it really tastes any fucking worse than some of the puke that most cafes serve. Come in, come in. Tell me, how is little old Natalie doing these days?"

"Please, I'd rather stay out here."

Slowly turning toward the weathered woman, I still couldn't place her accent. Maybe she was Greek.

"I don't mean to cause a fuss. It's not my intention to intrude."

"We're long past that, sunshine."

"It's very difficult, you know, for me to be out here."

"Yeah, it's fucking freezing!"

"Please, let me say what I came to say."

"What's on your mind?" I said, taking a few steps forward. "Tell Uncle Fingers."

Chloe immediately inhaled and backed off, maintaining the gap between us. "You must leave! Come with me!"

"What? Why? Go where?"

"Just leave! This place! These cross-roads! Please! Come with me!"

"Takes two to make a fucking cross."

"I'll explain, but not here! At least let's take a drive to the nearest village."

"I don't think so."

"Please!"

"Where are you from?"

Chloe rubbed her arms as she looked around the fields and took another step backward.

So, I mirrored her and backed off too. "It's touching. So many well-wishing strangers concerned for my safety today, and for absolutely no apparent fucking reason. Would you look at this place. It's pretty as a fucking picture. So, what the fuck are you all talking about?!"

Shaking her head, Chloe soon nodded in surrender. "Lisbon. Been driving since Friday night. After the worm woke me."

"Should probably go see a doctor and get that shit checked out."

"Was in a dream. I was here. This house. I saw what you did to that girl. She trusted you. I didn't want to watch but was forced to. Those hands. Hands behind the curtain. They grabbed me. Made me watch you. They were so strong. But there was no one behind the curtain."

I was fascinated by her traumatic accounts, as visions from my own reoccurring childhood nightmares came to mind.

"I know what you have!" Chloe spoke louder, though her voice trembled as if she were about to burst into tears at any moment. "I know what you took from The Old Grahams house."

I was impressed, however, I also understood how cold-reading works, so remained silent as I smiled.

"It'll eat you! The gate! It will eat you!"

"You do realize that that worm was a fucking liar. You do realize that, don't you? And we're both lying to each other right now. So, who the fuck are you to decipher the truth in this labyrinth of deceit? Yet you believed a worm! A FUCKING WORM!"

"I found you here though, didn't I."

With a wink, I pointed my index finger at Chloe, as I walked away. "You drive safe now. Say hi to Natalie for me."

"Bruce!"

Oh, that tone, when females snarl my name like it’s a leash around my fucking throat.

"Seek out the one with the seven eyes and the backward arms!" Chloe strained her voice as she spoke. "Please!"

The whole time I watched that hysterical woman drive away, I was only picturing Natalie's mischievous smirk as she had laid naked on the floor of that hotel suite.

-

Later, while writing, I was listening to Montserrat Figueras & Jordi Savall, Les Trois Principes, Alef, Mem, Shin. The moment the song ended, I heard a splash of water. Reaching over my laptop, I killed the stereo. The tick-tocking clock kept the beat to my left, and birds murmured through one partially opened window, but that was it. Getting to my feet as I looked around the room, I was sure that I had heard something that had sounded like a brick dropping into a bath. Or was it like a cement-coated bone being thrown into the lake. Other rattling noises of the stretching building put my mind at ease. I liked this place. The short-term appeal was what I had found attractive, in relation to my long-term life in the city. There was always that balance to find. The professional verse the private life, the social verse the intimate, the internal verse the external. The duality of love was no different. The domestic verse the romantic. The two should always be kept at a distance. Like they say, never mix business with pleasure. Domestic love was the long-term relationship of couples living together, while romantic love should never be tainted by such mundane tedium! Romantic love was passionate and short-lived. Both sides had their benefits. To deny either was to become imbalanced. Yet Game-Theory says no one wants to come second place, so secrecy was the key to attaining a healthy balance of domestic and romantic love. When YHWH said, "I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me," he was stating what both the domestic and romantic lover says. It's a sentiment of devotion. Yet there are still other gods and plenty more females, you just choose to deny them. Females, unlike gods, have always been a formidable adversary, but like gods, inevitably jealous. Those that go looking for what is not meant for them, deserve to suffer from what they find. Domestic or romantic, they are all females: insidious beings, consumed with infallible rationalizations for their actions and disassociations. Keep the domestic separate from the romantic! However, chemistry always breaks down sooner or later. Heat-death is not only the destiny of the universe. There has never been any lasting cohesion between any female that I have fucked. Some are great lovers, some are shit. I have been a perfect gentleman by some standards, and a disgusting pig according to others. Once the definition of the dynamic blurs, all the pleasuring in the world will never hold off her nagging. No domestic or romantic relationship is worth suffering a nagger. Nagging is a creative downer. Nagging kills inspiration. Nagging suffocates freedom. Forgiveness in a relationship is much like Nietzsche's stance on Christian forgiveness: merely the inability to take revenge! Punishment or forgiveness, though, it makes no difference. She will always absolve herself to herself. In turn, I also do whatever I want, which happens to be exactly what she fears the most. Once the innocence has gone from a domestic or romantic investment, it is doomed. The innocence is systematically replaced with nagging. But out there in that little white house all by myself, I was spared the nagging, and instead, I was confronted with the great indifference of the fucking universe.

Making myself another coffee, I recalled Lulu talking about her rape-fantasy. The vanity of a female's ego was boundless. She craved being desired so much that she needed a man to lose all self-control and risk imprisonment just to possess her. However, Lulu's glorification of rape had failed to factor in being gang-raped by those she was actually appalled by. She was just another kid suffering the eternal delusion of controlling the uncontrollable. The reality of rape-fantasies was never as well directed as Gaspar Noé's, Irreversible. Lulu had often complained that whenever she saw people eating pork, it made her feel like she was being raped – in a bad way. I had recently asked how was one type of meat worse than any other? For surely her meaty fucking cunt was just as fucking disgusting! That was the last time that we had spoken on-line. I end friendships as easily as I begin them. I am no tactician. I am imbalanced.

NACHT 3.

SUNDAY 28th FEBRUARY 2016

At twilight, I climbed back into the attic while a wind battered the stone walls and whistled through weary gaps in the roofing. I wanted to see the sunset from up there as it fell on the backside of the house, and then I felt it. An awareness like I had just remembered a chore I had forgotten do. Scanning the framework, I found that pale, porous mass clinging to a corner of the ceiling. Bone colored and riddled with holes like a thousand spider eyes, it stared back at me. The sunset began drawing my attention, though, just before I looked away, I saw several of those wet black, eel-like things reaching out of their nest toward me. Ignoring the serpents, I realized that the sun was sinking directly behind the summit of the hill. I then turned toward the opposite window. There was light coming from several of the tower windows. Staring at the distant ruin, I was without a doubt that there was definitely access to the upper levels.

The creek was flooded when I came through the trees. It was a fucking torrent! The water was too wide and far too rapid for any kind of crossing. There must have been a storm somewhere south, in order to account for such a dramatic surge. Looking up at that imposing stronghold, I couldn't spot any refugees camped outside, but the narrow slits in the fortified walls continued to flicker with light from within.

It could have just been the wind, but the sound of crushed leaves drew my torch toward the woods behind me. Something caught my eye. At first, I thought it had started to rain. They looked like droplets in the beam of my small flashlight, until one landed on my sleeve. It was a maggot! There were maggots falling all around! Glancing upward into the swaying trees, my flashlight swept across the remains of dead animals hanging in the branches. Dozens of rotten carcases swung above. I don't know how I couldn't smell the stench that must have been produced by so many decomposing bodies, but I figured that I was upwind. The more I inspected the tall trees, the more gutted displays of mutilation presented themselves. It was hard to tell exactly what type of animals they were. Their hides were skinned, and the flesh putrefied. Pigs, dogs, or even horses. They weren't small carcases, these were big animals. Then I heard it again! There was something in the woods. I could clearly hear someone stomping through the leaves. I killed the flashlight. It was a human figure! And he was running at me! I replaced my torch with the claw hammer, but then I saw a machete in the hand of this stranger! Fuck this! Turning toward the river, I grinned, resigning myself to the only apparent option – and I ran at the fucking gorge! I heard that psycho screaming behind me as I leaped with the hammer still in my hand. The embankment on the tower-side of the river was soft with damp soil and I actually bounced off – luckily the claw hammer hooked onto an exposed root, and only one foot of mine sunk into that freezing water. Dragging myself half-way up the steep bank, I realized that it was the black guy shouting incessantly at my escape. In the weak light it was obvious that not only was he stark naked, but he was covered in deep lacerations. Glaring at the machete, I couldn't help wondering if his wounds were self-inflicted. He was seriously fucking irate and chopped at the ground with his weapon. Suddenly he went silent. Clinging to the roots, I watched as he slowly turned away from me. He had seen something in the woods that I couldn't make out from my vantage point. Shaking his head, he began sobbing like a child. Both his hands rose in front of him as if he was apologizing to someone. I was about to climb higher so that I could catch a glimpse of what had so abruptly terrified this big guy – when he was attacked! His body snapped back as his scream instantly turned shrill! The momentum of the collision sent him back off the edge of the gorge. There he defied gravity and levitated directly above the river. Before I had the chance to question what the fuck – he was split open! His body tore apart down the middle like a loaf of blood-filled bread. His guts spilled out in a single explosive moment. A fine spray of his blood even reached my face as his internal organs slopped into the relentless water, soon followed by his body. After that, I clung to the bank for a while, absorbing what I had just seen, and scanning the other side for signs of anything.

Inevitably, I made my way up to the tower. There was a weird groaning noise coming from above. A howling. Circling the ruins for the first time, I assumed the sound was caused by the wind cutting through the cracks in the stone. Upon reaching the far side, I came across smaller, broken down walls leading to a courtyard below the tower. There had been a rather large building here once upon a time. But it was those three tiny windows next to an external staircase that zigzagged up this side of the tower which led me upward closer to their golden light.

Inside the first window came the moaning of men. Looking inside that darkness, I saw burning hot metal tools. Those torture devices illuminated only as much of the burning skin as they peeled from the flesh of what appeared to be an enormous pile of bodies. The room was full of people slowly being stripped of their meat. I couldn't make out whom the torturers were, until one of them was turned on by another who began hacking off his face! Whoever picked up the fallen instruments carried on doing the same to everyone else.

I continued upward. Inside the second narrow slit of a window the cries were louder but just as inarticulate. There was more than enough light in that chamber. Dozens of naked men, women, and children crawled over each other while they burned. Each seemed to have been burdened with a head-sized coal somehow implanted within their gut which was slowly roasting them from the inside out. Writhing in agony, nothing they did could diminish their suffering. It was an orgy of smoldering torment stacked upon itself.

The third window was almost completely silent. All I heard as I climbed those precarious stairs was the snorting of a hundred humans choking down molten hot iron. The heat scorched my face as I peered inside at that smelting chamber. There was a massive cauldron in the center were all those deranged people clambered against each other just so that they could reach into that insanely hot substance. Their hands instantly burst to flames as they cupped the liquid metal and then drank it down! Some even dunked their faces directly into the pot, and despite completely melting off their identity, they seemed incapable of quenching their thirst or resisting the immense damage they caused. Everyone was burnt and disfigured, and yet rabid for more. The only ones that weren't crowded around the edge of the pot, were those squatting as they shit or pissed out that still golden metal. Their genitals were charred to the bone, and some even began eating the burning fecal matter as it poured out of the rectum of another.

Once I reached the top of the tower, I followed a walkway around the internal and external parapets. Finally, I came to a sealed gate that stood between the open roof and myself. Looking through the old iron bars, I leaned away from the sight of a naked body lying in the center of that six-meter-square space. It was impossible, but it was Lulu's body! I recognized the tiny unicursal hexagram tattooed on her left ankle. The gate wasn't locked, yet it wouldn't budge as I violently shook it. I had to know if it was her. Using the outer battlements as a support, I climbed up and over the inner wall. Landing on solid stone, I looked up as Lulu herself slowly rose to her feet before me. The wind cut right through my overcoat, but Lulu stood without a stitch of clothing or even her fucking head! Reaching out, I took her in my arms and held her tight. Her skin was like all long-dead meat: cold and unappetizing. The stump of her neck felt soft against my jawline as I sniffed at it. She still smelt great. Her hands held on desperately as she began trembling. Glancing up, I saw a distant light. A huge fire back-lit the little white house! A bonfire on top of the small hill. Lifting my head for a better view, Lulu then twisted us around. One of her hands sunk into my pants while she grabbed her own breast with the other. I shoved her away, and she immediately turned and bent over, displaying her luscious ass. The fire on the hill then meant nothing to me. Though, suddenly she was no longer made of flesh. Her white meat had stiffed and was now punctured with thousands of holes. She was made of that porous entity that had haunted me ever since Loch Ness. And then, even her anus spread wide open as one of those blackened serpents slithered out of her ass like a infernal erection. A dozen more snake-sized leeches extended from Lulu's new orifices as she slowly stood and faced me. Her head was still missing but somehow, she wore a crown of such inhuman features that only a devil would flaunt it. Impatiently, she slapped me, and then grabbed my throat, pulling me close as serpents slid around my head! Pointing out to the distance, she wanted to show me something. While her grip crushed my throat, we gradually rotated as her outstretched index finger covered the entire circumference of the battlements. I tried breaking free with both of my hands tugging at her wrist, but then those serpents wrapped around my eyes and contracted until I was sure that my fucking skull would crack!

Blindfolded by black snakes, I then saw what they force-fed directly into my optic nerves. Through that pain the pith of human perception was peeled back, unveiling the unseen world: a vast desolate landscape bleeding as if it was mortally allergic to itself. The Earth had become the great-beast-with-two-backs while stricken the bubonic plague. Where the forests had been, now millions of ash-sodden, insect-like animals ate each other alive. It was a grotesque riot without end. Looking toward where the little white house had once been, I saw in its stead was a circle of stone pillars surrounding what looked like some kind of pit. All those writhing devils kept clear of the pillars. To my right, where the lake had been, was a massive entanglement of god-size serpents that were strangling each other as they stretched all the way to the fucking horizon. To my left, in the distance, I saw three enormous creatures that resembles mountains with horned heads, multiple limbs, and even more disproportionately huge mouths. They clashed with each other so abrasively that they sent chunks of the land miles into the sky. There was something even bigger looming behind me and casting a shadow over this entire hemisphere, but I was unable to turn my head any further. With one of my hands gripping little Lulu's hip, my other fingers sunk into her esophagus and trachea. But how the fuck do you choke the headless?! Then I saw the burning hill rise up as if hell itself was flexing its muscles. The shrieks of a billion victims of the battlefield filled the air, and Lulu's absent head gave rise to a sickeningly disembodied voice that screamed directly into my fucking ear!

Collapsing against the battlements and coughing frantically, I was instantaneously alone. There was no demonic Lulu anywhere to be found. In the light rain, I eventually got me to my feet. The bonfire was still blazing on the hill. I was once again looking at an Earth that geologists recognized. The only question that bothered me was, how come the fire on the hill was in both versions of my vision?

Taking one last look around the empty rooftop, I hurried down the dangerously slippery stairs. It wasn't until I reached the top window that I realized that the gate onto the roof was open when I left. Frowning against the gales, I ignored the now blackened windows. The Harrowing Of Hell then came to mind as I nearly slipped off the stairs. When Jesus had traveled to Hades in order to liberate the biblical forefathers, how the fuck was he meant to find them all so quickly? The Syrian refugees couldn't even walk to Germany in three fucking days. How was anyone hoping for salvation meant to rendezvous with Jesus in time? Sheol was a big fucking place. And let's not forget, evolution happens even in the depths of Gehenna. Environments shape everything into entirely different organisms. Given enough time in hell, the most egregious pain would eventually become the norm. Those that Jesus might have sought to save would no longer be who he was looking for. After all, the abyss changes even the best of us.

Once I made it to the gorge, the river had dried up into barely a few puddles. I never questioned why. Climbing up the other bank, I found the machete lying on the ground. The very moment I picked it up the voices of men yelling came screaming my way. It was the other refugees. A group of them emerged below the tower, searching the ruins with flashlights. The machete must have reflected their light, because they suddenly aimed their torches directly at me! Shaking my head as I backed away, I ran like a motherfucker for the little white house. Knowing that the front door wouldn't stop this angry mob, I considered my options in a fury. When I made it to the house, I was overheating, so yanked off my overcoat and flung it at the front steps. Sparing a moment, I glanced back and counted six men racing out of the woods, all of them screaming bloody-murder as they came! Running around the house, I charged straight for the hill, and the refugees followed. There have been times when I thought to myself that wearing black could come in handy if I ever needed to hide from sight. But my light-bulb of a shaved head destroyed that fucking idea! However, I found that working out at the gym had actually severed me better than expected, and I shot up that hillside within a fucking minute.

Up there, I found several small fires surrounding those standing-stones. As I approached, the random rain drops increased in frequency. In the midst of the stones, I saw a ball of long human hair. It was a head! It had to be Lulu! Running into the circle, I reached out – when a heavy chain swung over my head and looped around my fucking throat! A foot then kicked my legs out from under me, and a knee slammed into my kidney on the way down! The machete fell to the ground, as I clung to the noose around my neck. And then the mob stumbled up the hill. Squinting, I was honestly shocked that it was Chloe keeping me on a leash. Never underestimate the elderly. She scowled at those men as they spread out and slowly approached. Regardless of everyone, I had to see the face of that head lying on the ground. Clawing at the top soil, I strained against the chain with every ounce of energy that I could muster.

"What are you doing?!" Chloe snarled. "Who the hell are these people?!"

The head was only a few inches from my finger tips and I reached onward.

A man then came running, a thick length of wood was held above his head!

Chloe released me, and I lurched onto the severed head. Scoping it up, I glanced back at the attacking man as Chloe raised some small trinket in her hand and spoke in an unknown language. The yelling man suddenly dropped straight to the ground in spasms! Chloe began addressing the others, but I didn't give a fuck. However, when I looked at what lay in my hands, I found nothing but a large clump of dirt. No hair. No head. Nothing!

"Where's your fucking car?!" I demanded, as the rain began.

"Why didn't you listen to me?!" Chloe hissed.

"Where the fuck's your car?!"

"Back down there. A long way off."

"Fucking run!" I snarled, as the five other men advanced! We rushed down the side of the hill in the opposite direction to the highway. "You fucking sure this is the way?!"

Chloe didn't reply.

I then realized that neither of us had brought the fucking machete! "The fuck are you doing out here?!"

Chloe struggled to keep up as the flashlights from the men swept through the trees behind us. I have often pictured myself being attacked by a random person who brutally murders me on the street. Though, I had never imagined that I would ever be running from a literal fucking lynch-mob!

The woods went on for-fucking-ever, and I was losing faith in Chloe, until I looked back and saw that we were no longer being followed.

"There!" Chloe gasped, pointing ahead. "I parked not from there."

I could only just see the shape of an ominous barn among the black trees – when a man leaped out from nowhere and slammed into Chloe! She screamed and was tackled to the ground. I kept running toward the barn as the rest of those refugees appeared from all angles. I guess Chloe's voice caught everyone's attention. I made it to the building and slipped in through a huge door without anyone coming after me. My lungs were exploding as I struggled to control my breath. I knew I should keep running the fuck away from that clusterfuck, but the reality was worse than my heaving lungs. I needed Chloe in order to find her fucking car! And why the fuck didn't I bring the fucking machete?! This was fucked! But then, in that pitch-black barn, I saw a welcomed sight: the long, wooden handle of a fucking ax!

I'm not saying that those five men were attempting to rape Chloe. No, I wouldn't want to sound like an Islamophobe, perpetuating the fear-mongering. So, let's just say that those five men were assisting her out of her pants while they insisted she relax and catch her breath face-down on the ground. I bashed in the face of the first cunt with the full force of my ax handle! If only the ax had a head, I could have gone CHOP, CHOP, CHOP all night long. Making do with my baseball bat-like friend, I continued going BASH, BASH, BASH through three heads before the other two scrambled the fuck out of range. I still got one guy in the knee cap, and another in the ribs. Grabbing Chloe by the elbow, I sneered, "Move!"

Two of the men soon came running back at us. His left ear then looked like piece of raw bacon after the ax handle had WHACKED into the side of his fucking face! The other guy hesitated, so I went for him! He ran the fuck off, and I didn't follow. Clutching Chloe's arm, we made it safely to the barn.

"Where exactly is the fucking car?!" I whispered, keeping a look out from the huge door. "Hey! Wake up! Hello! Where the fuck is the car?!"

"Not far. Next to the creek. Need to follow the creek back to the road."

"Go, get the fucking car started. I'll make sure they don't follow. If I'm not there a fucking minute after you, drive back to the fucking house. I'll meet you there."

"Wait!"

"The fuck out of here!"

"No!"

"Don't fucking make me use this shit on you!" I sneered so fucking bitterly that Chloe backed off without another word. Turning to the woods, I spotted several figures hurrying through the dark. Someone then grabbed my shirt and tugged at me from behind! Lurching with shock, I discovered a child gesturing for me to follow further into the barn. As the yells of the men came from all sides, I raced after the kid. It was that skinny boy who'd broken into the little white house. He was already at the other side of the cluttered barn, waving for me to hurry the fuck up. The sound of planks of wood breaking were joined by flashlights as the barn was suddenly raided! By then, however, the kid had led me out a rotten hole in the corner where I learned that the rundown building was actually an old watermill. The creek that Chloe had mentioned, eked past a huge waterwheel that had been long since clogged with weeds. The kid quickly jumped into the shallow pond and pointed under the motionless turbine. I shrugged with an expression of so-fucking-what?! The men were getting closer, so the kid pulled my ax and we both crawled through the icy water into an obscure cavity behind the towering wheel. It looked like a cave, but the water was trickling further inward. When I glanced back at the kid, that fucking prick kicked me in the shoulder – and I went head over ass off a ledge and plummeted into the void!

The water was terrifically awful. Just fucking terrific. I surfaced waist-deep in a subterranean cavern, while the screams of the kid echoed with the shouting men. The hole that I had fallen from was just above my eye level and I couldn't see what was going on. Searching with frozen fingers, I needed my ax handle. It was wood, so it should have been floating somewhere nearby. The voices above soon faded, and I was left in the hollow dark. Glad that I had hidden my phone with my laptop, I pulled out my watertight pen-light. Once the halogen beam came on, I was presented with nothing that I had expected. Cathedral-like arches were carved directly out of the solid stone. It was a man-made tunnel, and the renaissance statues framing the entrance encouraged me onward.

The passageway went from side to side, probably following the natural course of the original cave system. One thing I was not about to do, was get lost down that fucking rabbit hole. The moment the path might fork, I would head back the way I came. Fuck getting disorientated underground. But the tunnel led one way and one way only. Eventually, I came to hole in the ceiling. It was the well below the old tool shed, though, there was no way I could reach up and climb out, and besides, I couldn't even get through the locked bars at the top.

Further down the tunnel, it finally opened into a large circular chamber. As my flashlight swept above, it was obvious that I was standing directly where the basement of the little white house should have been. The main room's floorboards were about forty-feet overhead. That's when I heard the sirens arrive. Maybe the fire services had been alerted after someone had spotted the blaze on the hill. Or maybe Detective Rosswald and Everett had returned with reinforcements. Sirens all sounded the fucking same to me, "Too late! Too late! Too late!" Listening to men yelling in Deutsch, I heard more vehicles pull up. Someone thumped vigorously at the front door, and yet I kept quiet. Even when the water broke open and those beings slowly surfaced around me, I held my breath. My uncontrollable shivering suddenly stopped once an injection of adrenaline spiked my entire nervous system from what I saw. Turning, I shone my light on their opaque presence. They reminded me of totem-poles. Tall entities made up of countless limbs and other writhing body parts. They seemed without head or tail, looming clusters of flesh that wrestled with themselves as they stood alone, gently swaying like bare tree trucks in a strong wind. The even spacing between them made me realize that they were unable to move from their imprisonment. Twisting to compare those behind me, I spotted a second entrance to this flooded pit, where the current of the stream continued out. I accidently backed up a little too close to one of those unidentifiable towers of muscle, so it arched above me. Slowly leaning away, I heard it snarl. The chaos of multi-jointed limbs that made up its slender structure then spread apart in the middle as the head of a giant devil emerged. It roared with the voice of a thousand hungry lions! The rest of those infernal oracles then revealed their savage faces and fanged jaws as they too screamed at me! I lost my balance in the water, falling over just as one of the pillars of abomination swooped down, trying to bite my fucking head off! My stay was no longer welcome. Half swimming, half crawling, I lunged for the exit. Those things were big but lethargic. I was knocked over, but the devil that attacked was blocked by another fumbling beast. Thumping against the stone arch, I dragged myself several meters into the tunnel before glancing back. To my undying frustration, I spotted Lulu again standing naked in the middle of the chamber. Silence returned as those creatures began focusing on her, and just before they ate her alive, she whispered to me, "Do what you always fucking do."

-

By the time I crawled out of the lake, I was frozen to the fucking core. Stumbling to the tree line, I watched as the emergency vehicles drove away from the little white house. I finally understood what Chloe had alluded to with her mention of 'cross-roads'.

Never in my life have I showered for as long as I did in those small hours. I had had some serious concerns about the circulation in my toes, but gradually the color returned. Stepping out of the shower, I saw that I had forgotten about my little test in the bathroom basin. I had left a few pieces of cement fully submerged in water, there to verify if they would maintain their integrity. They had.

TAG 3.

MONDAY 29th FEBRUARY 2016

I hadn't slept that night. I never saw Chloe again. I didn't care. I had things to do. Evidence to dispose of.

While listening to Planet Of Zeus, Stab Me, I sipped on a coffee by the front windows as I watched the first signs of morning touch the tree tops. With the growing daylight, I saw thousands and thousands of females of every skin color and tit-size standing outside. Headless, naked females. All of them standing still as though the fields were finally ready for harvest.

The taxi soon arrived at 7am. Walking down the driveway, I found it paved with the heads of those reaped females. Climbing into the back seat, I never looked back as I smiled. Life is a game of what-the-fuck-can-I-get-away-with. I used to enjoy sharing experiences with someone special but had found that disappointing once they failed to see what I did. Why waste your time sharing anything when the universe teaches you to focus on the self and nothing else!

-

Arriving back at my flat in Berlin, I checked the letter box. There was an envelope with that familiar handwriting. It was a simple note from Lulu, stating that she had just arrived in Rome as we had planned. Our experiment had worked: no one could track her once she had abandoned all (electronic) dependencies.

However, that left me wondering whose bones I had coated in cement. But as Wittgenstein had once said, "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent."

Bruce

© 2016 BRUCE STIRLING JOHN KNOX