Posts Tagged ‘thriller’

junglepic

 

As I dip my quill to begin the dictation of these first lines, six hours have passed since I began reading through the records of the library. Oh! How Happiness and I miss each other already! However, she is likewise very busy currently tending to our newborn daughter and to the Rhinocydont hatchlings – which reminds me that I must write quickly, for Dienok and I are due for a hunt at dawn. Still, no matter how quickly I write, I know that I will have to stay awake throughout the whole night to finish it (perhaps even after the hunt).

I am not alone, however. Our cat, who the whole kingdom knows by the title, “Princess”, is with me, curled up next to my papers at this very moment (she has learned not to spill my ink or eat my parchment, for she will have to sleep outside if she does it again). She is always with me when I am alone. Her presence has proved to be an immense comfort to me most of the time, though I do wish that she would leave me to myself on occasion.

Now, back to hurrying. About two minutes have passed since I finished reading the works of Alpha, Amoris, and Steer (the records do not show who dictated Steer’s poetry for him). The content of each scribe’s work is written beautifully, but it lacks the substance of narrative integral to storytelling. The whole Jungle has long wished that I would write a second book, but my life is so perfect now that I have constantly had to tell them that I have nothing to write about (I once attempted to compose a book of poetry for Happiness, but have since hidden it, for it cannot do her beauty and excellence justice). So I have now decided to give the Jungle Dwellers what they want with another book. But, as a wise man once said to me, “It’s not about what you want. It’s only about what you need.” And this whole world needs, in fact, desperately requires that the chronicles of my late friends (the REAL heroes of this Jungle, no matter what anyone, including Happiness, says) be made known.

Most of this story came from Alpha’s diary, and the only reason I even read it is because Happiness and the bovine tribe have convinced me that Alpha would have wanted it. It has been the strangest thing I have ever experienced – entering the mind of a mind reader.

The writings of Amoris were cryptic and prophetic, for she composed in detail the periods of isolation that the heroes experienced, hundreds of years before the events even occurred.

I believe I have captured the essence of my beloved Steer’s mind and soul due to heartfelt and cathartic poetry he left behind. This gives me the greatest joy of all, though it does make me wonder what he might have truly thought of me at least on occasion when he was alive. But the same goes for Emanuel, the Rhinocydonts, and, most of all, Snapper. Not necessarily about what he thought of me, but about the fact that all the inhabitants of the Jungle, myself included, may not have truly known him or any of these heroes at all.

When I am finished (whether before or after the hunt), I shall go over the whole work with Dienok for his approval. I wouldn’t want the public’s intimate knowledge of how his race once was to be a reason for him to return to his home world with his dragon kingdom (which Happiness could do for him at any time; but, thank the Creator, they have decided on remaining in the Jungle indefinitely).

I do believe that this is enough of a preface, so I shall now begin the tale. Please, enjoy it, for the sake of my fallen friends.

 

 

 

– Contentment (written signature)

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Detective Ruben Vasquez sat at his desk, eating a bowl of banana oatmeal. The sweet flavor was the highlight of his day. The hours had been rather boring, and the most exciting part so far was that he had finally begun the diet he had promised to start months ago for his wife. That’s all he really had to think about for the last few weeks. The city crime rate was very low, with only a couple of minor drug busts occurring throughout the county. It was good that the Force was doing its job and that the population was safe, but it was just so boring. A mixed blessing, for Vasquez loved the action. He wasn’t particularly strong or heroic, but he relished his career—the sheer motion of it all. Now, his life was more or less stagnant, and all he had to worry about was the occasional argument with his wife.

That all changed when his partner, Rick Andrews, walked through the door.

“Got somethin’ for ya, Rubie,” said Andrews, his face showing a clear expression of gravity. “Murder.”

The word immediately made Ruben wish for boredom again. He always enjoyed being a deliverer of justice, but the victims—his capacity for empathy was powerful, even for a cop.

“Let’s have it, Rick.”

Andrews threw a green folder onto the desk. Upon opening it, Vasquez was met with the sight of a grisly crime scene. Lying on top of the dew covered grass was a woman in her mid-thirties. Most of her face was hidden by heavy bruising, but it retained beauty nonetheless. This only added to Ruben’s empathy, coupled with the fact that the woman’s beauty was of a certain kind—an innocent kind of beauty. Though he didn’t yet know the circumstances of the situation, Vasquez believed with his entire spirit that no one deserved to be killed like this, especially not an attractive, innocent looking female.

But something was missing from the crime scene photos, something about the woman’s closed eyelids that Vasquez couldn’t quite put into words.

“Her eyes…”

“Gone,” said Andrews. The oxygen seemed to drain out of the room.

“Someone removed her eyes?” asked Ruben, more to existence itself than to his partner.

“Yeah. The lab thinks it was done with a sharp blade. Probably scissors of some kind.”

Vasquez felt a swell of anger that gave him the sensation of being on fire. He didn’t even know this woman, but he was already wanting to serve much more than mere justice to the perpetrator. He wanted vengeance. Cold, hard, and violent. Some faint voice within said that it was wrong, that dwelling on violence and eventually carrying it out would make him just as bad as the murderer, but he couldn’t help it. He felt such pity for this victim, and, to Ruben, angry thoughts were much easier to deal with than sad ones.

“We had something similar,” continued Andrews, “a couple years ago. Remember? That kid who killed all those animals and took out their eyes?”

Clinical detachment briefly returned to Ruben, a welcome respite from the feelings of pity and anger.

“Yeah,” he nodded, finally taking his eyes off the photographs. “I remember. Mental patient. Had something the doctors couldn’t even classify. He’s still locked away, right?”

“Yup,” replied Andrews. “So he’s not a suspect. This is different, anyway. Look at the pictures again.”

Ruben obeyed reluctantly and noticed something else. He couldn’t believe he had missed it before.

“There’s no blood on her face, Rick.”

Andrews smiled, which Vasquez thought to be in poor taste.

“Totally clean. Which means—”

“Which means,” shot Ruben, “that we have a killer who’s either completely off his rocker, ritualistic you know, or else he knew the victim. Cared about her.”

“Or both,” said Rick. “Our chief suspect—our only suspect—is the victim’s husband. A preacher. His name is—”

“Wait. What’s the woman’s name? It isn’t on the pictures.”

Andrews took a few steps to where he was peering over Ruben’s shoulder. He reached down and flipped through the pages in the folder.

“Pictures must have been taken before they identified her. Let’s see…ah, here. Zarabeth Williams, Beth for short. Husband’s name is Hector.”

Vasquez heard him, but he was letting emotional attachment fog his mind again. Zarabeth…Zarabeth Williams. In that moment, nothing in the world existed but her name. Her name, and the photographs.

“So,” sighed Andrews, “we got ritual, and we got someone close to her. Husband fits the bill.”

Ruben looked up.

“Any other reason you suspect him, Rick?”

“Yeah…quite a lot actually. Seems our pastor has a history. He kicked a married couple out of their church, right in front of everyone, ‘cause they couldn’t afford to tithe. Then, a year later, he beat the tar out of some homeless drunk hanging around the building. He was sleeping in the alley across the street, but he didn’t even get a warning. And there’s rumors—by God, there’s rumors.”

“Like what?”

“Well, everyone in town but his flock says he has a temper. A nasty one. Even uses it on his son, some of them say. Boy’s gone into school a couple of times with bruises on his face.”

Vasquez remained silent, his unblinking eyes focused on his partner and betraying absolutely no emotion.

“There’s more. Tax fraud…but who the hell hasn’t done that? People with money, anyway. And the wife herself—you’re gonna love this one, Rubie.”

“What is it?”

“A couple people say he thought she was cheating on him. No one actually believed it, though. Everyone says she was the sweetest little woman in the county. ‘Righteous’, they say, you know? Then again, everyone’s got their dirty little secrets. Even preachers’ wives.”

Vasquez looked at the pictures again. He didn’t know why, but he felt very strongly that this woman actually had been the paragon of virtue. He could just feel it. But, as Andrews had said, you never could tell.

“Well, that’s basically it, Rubie. We got a suspect. Reminds me why I don’t go to church. Zealots are all whack-jobs.”

Ruben stared silently for a few moments, and Andrews immediately regretted his choice of words.

“Hey, Rubie, I didn’t mean—”

“You think every church is full of secret murderers? Crazies? I swear, Rick, a few people go nuts or hurt someone, and if they just happen to belong to a church…”

“Easy, Rubie. I’m sorry. Let’s just get back to the case.”

Ruben himself belonged to a church, but not to the one they were talking about. His church was in the next county over. He came across people like Rick all the time—people who didn’t realize that bad men came in all forms. Yes, there were murderous zealots belonging to every faith imaginable, but there were also bad cops, bad lawyers, and even bad mailmen. Any person claiming to be of God who made a habit of causing pain or grief to others was no true believer as far as Ruben was concerned. And this Williams guy sounded more like a cult leader than a pastor. Real congregations, like the one Ruben belonged to, didn’t have leaders who passed judgment on their members or caused them pain and humiliation. Yes, there was rebuking and repentance—but any man who beat up homeless people, maliciously kicked out church members, or physically hurt his own son probably didn’t belong in the pulpit. Besides, this church must have been very far under the radar—in his five years as a cop, Vasquez had never even heard of it.

After pondering on this for a few moments, Ruben composed himself and let out a weary sigh. He knew that this wasn’t a time for defending his faith. He needed to think about Beth, her and nothing else. Not his beliefs, not his career, not even his wife—not until they caught the man who did this. Even if—especially if—it was the husband.

“You’re right, Rick. The case. What do you want to do about it?”

“I was gonna ask you.”

Vasquez thought for a moment, preparing himself for where he knew he would be within the next hour. He looked at Andrews and spoke.

“Let’s go to church.”

 

The terrified scientist wanted to speak, wanted to move, wanted to do SOMETHING, but he was utterly paralyzed. He didn’t know if it was due either to sheer terror or to Patient Y’s incredible mind powers, but it didn’t matter. He was alone with the boy, and he knew his life was about to end.

“Didn’t you hear me, Mora?” Asked the boy with a wicked smile. “I want to go outside.”

“How…how…” 

Oh, so you can talk. That’s good. That’s Excellent. Now you can tell those guards to back off.”

On cue, the door behind Dr. Mora began to resound with the frantic pounding of fists upon its glass. There were a dozen men outside, 3 of whom were armed with the electro-magnetic guns, but they couldn’t get in – the passcode wouldn’t open the door no matter how many times they typed it in. 

“I can kill them all, doctor,” Patient Y said dryly. “But I’d rather not. All I want is to go outside.”

“You…” choked Mora. “You…you…”

“Spit it out, Mora!”

Patient Y’s creator, his “father”, knew that Y could have easily made short work of the entire facility by now, but he was dumbfounded as to why the boy had not. Mora was being kept alive for some reason, and though it didn’t totally allay his fears, it at least gave him the courage to speak, though falteringly, to his creation.

“You want to leave the facility? Where will you go?”

Y laughed. “I didn’t say I wanted to leave, my Dear doctor. I only said I wanted to go outside for a while. You know, soak up the sun a bit. Then I’ll come back and be a good little guinea pig. But you…you’re gonna be with me every step of the way, and I need to know I can trust you.”

Mora began to open his mouth as tears cascaded down his face, but he once again couldn’t make any words leave his throat.

“Something you wanna say, doctor?”

“Can’t…cant you just read my thoughts? You’ll know you can trust me then. I’ll cooperate, I promise.”

Patient Y cocked his still bleeding head to the side, not even bothering to wipe the red liquid from his eyes. 

“Yes…yes, I do believe I can, doctor.”

The guards continued to pound on the door.

“Make them leave, Mora.”

Dr. Mora pulled the radio from his pocket and looked at the guards as he began to speak into it. 

“Everybody, out. Don’t follow us. It’s…it’s under control. We…”

“Wait,” said the Patient. “First, we have to take care of those guns. Those are the last three in the building, right? Last ones in the world?”

Mora nodded his head in defeat and began speaking again.

“Get rid of those guns.”

“No,” shot Y sharply. “I have something else in mind.”

“Don’t hurt them, Y, please…”

“Don’t call me that. Don’t ever call me that again. You call me, Masuta, do you understand?”

The Japanese word for “master”. Mora shuddered and looked back at the guards, only to witness a horrific event. The three armed guards pressed the barrels of their weapons under their own chins and fired simultaneously. The guns, the only three weapons on the planet that could be used to stop the Patient, were now spent and useless. Mora and the other guards realized this…and they all screamed.

“Run!” The scientist shouted into his radio.

Most of them had already taken off before Mora even had the chance to shout. Now, the man was alone with his creation, most likely soon to be the only man left in the whole facility. 

“Damn,” laughed Patient Y, “those guns must be expensive. Only had five of ’em in this whole place, huh?”

“You said you wouldn’t hurt them, Y…”

“What did you say?” Growled the Patient in an inhuman, demonic sounding voice. “What did you call me?”

Mora was frozen in place once again. The intimidation, the power, the sheer evil of this boy – it was all too much to handle. 

“Say it. Say my new name.”

“M…M…Masuta.”

“That’s right. And I didn’t hurt them. They killed themselves. Either way, most of them are still alive. I don’t want to kill, doctor. I really don’t. But you gave me the power. And all life will do whatever it takes to protect itself. Now…let’s go outside.”

The door opened, making an entrance into the world for its possible destroyer. 

Several minutes later, Mora and his patient had made their way outside the facility. There had been no one in or around the building. Everyone knew that Y was now unstoppable. Mora began to think hopeful thoughts about the military, about atomic weapons, but he was trying as hard as possible to keep his mind closed to Patient Y. He failed.

“An A-bomb?” Laughed the Patient. “Really? You hope an entire city gets destroyed just to wipe me out? That’s murder, sir.”

“You’re a murderer!” Said Mora, surprised by his own courage. 

Patient Y put his face inches away from the doctor and smiled widely.

“You’re in no position to say anything about morality, Mora. Now, shut up and let me enjoy this weather.”

A light breeze passed over them as Y looked up at the blue sky. Birds singing. Bright sunlight. 

The perfect day for the end of the world.

“Okay,” sighed Patient Y. “That’s enough for today. Let’s go back inside.”

Mora was confused. 

“What was the point of all this?” He asked.

“I told you,” answered Y, “I just wanted to go outside for a while. And now, I’m going back inside. I’m a man of my word. Except…”

“What?”

“I’m done with the whole ‘guinea pig’ thing, on second thought.”

Everything went black for Dr. Mora.
………….………………………………………….:….
“Dr. Masuta? It’s been three weeks since the escape, and Patient Y still hasn’t shown any special brain activity.”

Masuta, a teenager with no scalp, looked up from his desk at the man who addressed him.

“Yes, I know,” said Masuta with (what sounded like) a heavy heart. “Maybe the outside world was just too much for him. The sights, sounds, smells…all that stimuli may have shut down his special brain functions after nearly two decades spent in a room.”

“It certainly looks that way,” said the other scientist. “It’s very unfortunate. Everything’s unfortunate. The escape, the deaths of the guards who caught him…Doctor Mora…”

“From what I’m told, he was a good man.”

“He was a visionary, Dr. Masuta. He started the whole project. But now, it looks as though it’s time for termination. It’s too bad…you’ve been excellent as our new head of research. I’m sorry you didn’t have more to work with…Patient Y was really something.”

“And you’re sure he’s not anymore?” Asked Masuta with a raised eyebrow. “I mean, has the helmet registered anything extraordinary? Even a flicker?”

The other scientist shook his head.

“Damn. Well, what about his behavior?”

“Still volatile. All he does is scream and tell us that he’s not who we think he is.”

Masuta bore an expression of disappointment and curiosity upon his face…well, at least upon the face that he wore…the one everyone else could see…the clean cut, well manicured face of an academic in his 50s…not his TRUE face. 

“Does he still say he’s really Dr. Mora?”

“Yes. And we don’t know why. All that energy built up in his neural tissue for so long seems to have finally broken him. Delusional, psychotic…he really did hold promise at one time. You should have seen it.”

Dr. Masuta smiled.

“So,” continued the other man, “what are your orders?”

“Termination, of course. Then, start work on another.”

“What are we gonna call this one,” chuckled the man. “Patient Z?”

“No, no, no,” laughed Masuta. “We’ll give this one an actual name…and we’re going to treat her like a person, not an experiment.”

The other scientist frowned in confusion.

“Her? You want it to be female?”

“Is that a problem?”

“No, no, of course not. You’re the boss. I mean, I know the gender doesn’t really make a difference for the end result of this project…but can I ask why? Just out of curiosity?”

Dr. Masuta stood up and gestured towards the door with his arm. 

“Get started,” he said.

“Yes, sir.”

A few seconds later, Dr. Masuta, now alone in the control room, typed a few keys into his computer and pulled up an image on his screen. A hospital bed. A dreary cell. Walls covered with intricate sketches and formulas. And amidst all of this, a man running around in circles with a helmet on his head. A man who looked for all the world like Patient Y…to most people. Normal minds…feeble minds saw what they expected to see. 

But not Masuta. He saw Dr. Mora in that cell. 

“Help!” Screamed the captive scientist. “I’m not Patient Y! I’m not Patient Y! It’s Masuta! He’s the one! Please! I’m Dr. Mora! PLEEEEEAAAASSSSEEEE!!!!!!!”