The room was cold and sterile, white from floor to ceiling, a small table and two chairs decorating the center, leaving taste and décor at the door. On the far side, a man sat, meek and unseeming. His arms and legs were shackled, his head hung low. Hair drooped across his face, concealing his eyes.
Dr. Taryn Humbolt stood at the door, flanked on either side by orderlies dressed in white. She sighed and looked at the case file. Pictures of carnage, full of blood and bodies stared back at her. In her other hand, a portable CD player and a case filled with CD’s. She nodded to the nearest orderly, who pulled out a huge ring of keys. He selected one and inserted it into the key hole. The lock opened with a click and he swung the door wide, pocketing the ring and pulling out a canister of mace.
Dr. Humbolt stepped in, placed her belongings on the table and nodded.
“We’ll be right outside. He’s harmless, hasn’t said a word since he got here so you shouldn’t have any problems, physically anyway. If you need us, just tap on the door”, the orderly said, closing the door behind him.
She looked at the man across from her, his head hung low, unresponsive.
“My name is Dr. Taryn Humbolt, but feel free to call me Taryn. I’m the resident psychiatrist here. I would like to talk to you if I may.”
The man didn’t move, didn’t speak.
“I specialize in multiple personality disorders. I find that music helps patients talk, makes them more comfortable,” she motioned to the CD player on the table. “Would you like to talk”, she asked.
The man didn’t move.
“I want to help you, I want to understand.”
She reached into her bag and pulled out a CD, placing it in the player. She hit the play button and the sound of Bizet wafted from the speakers. She waited, staring at the man, looking for any reaction. He shifted slightly in his seat.
“I’ve read your file. Can you tell me what happened the night they found you?”
The man moved his head up slightly, his eyes locking onto Dr. Humbolt.
“You can talk to me. I’m here to help.”
She stared at him for what seemed like an eternity.
His lips parted with a raspy intake of air.
“What do you believe in, Dr.?” the man asked.
“I don’t understand”, she replied.
“Heaven…. Hell… do you believe in these things, Doctor? Do you believe in the pure innocence of man? Do you believe that God has a heavenly design for us all? What are your religious beliefs?”
“I was raised Catholic.”
The man smiled widely. “That’s not what I asked. I asked what you believe.”
“I… I don’t know. I want to talk about you, not me.”
The man chuckled softly. He brought his face up to meet hers and she gasped.
“If you want to talk about me, about what I’ve done, you have to believe in something. You have to believe that there is evil, and thusly good. Life is a dichotomy, Doctor. If you believe in one, the other must exist, correct?”
“I guess I believe that man can be what he chooses, good or evil. You have a choice. We all have that choice.”
He threw his head back and laughed, oddly filling the room with sound. She shuddered at the coldness of his laugh.
“You’re a naive fool. It doesn’t matter if you don’t believe in evil, it believes in you.”
“Can you tell me about the night they found you?”
The man licked his lips
“I can still smell their blood. I can smell yours, just waiting to be spilled. Oh, don’t worry; I have no desire to kill you. You’re innocent… so far anyway. Tell me doctor, have you ever lost anyone? Have you ever known loss, known despair so consuming that you’ve wanted nothing more than to die just to escape it? Have you ever cried so hard that you would do anything to stop, but you simply can’t, so consumed that you would sell your soul to escape your pain?”
“No… no I haven’t thankfully.” she said softly.
The man stood with such speed, she jumped back, terrified at the unnatural movement, Smacking the CD player to the ground, shattering it
“Then how do you expect to understand me” he yelled, his eyes locking onto hers. “How do you think to ever understand me? You think you can come in here and play your silly music and unlock the secrets of evil so dark that science can’t stand to admit that it exists?”
The orderlies rushed into the room, mace and a needle filled with some kind of cocktail at the ready. She raised her hand, stopping their advance.
“I’m alright. Wait for me outside”
The orderlies eyed the man, and then Dr. Humbolt. She nodded that everything was okay.
The orderlies stood a moment, then turned and walked back outside, closing the door again behind them.
She turned back to the man seeing his eyes were full of tears.
“I didn’t want this, no one could want this” he said through the tears and gritted teeth.
“Want what? Talk to me, help me understand.”
“I loved him. Jake… I loved him so much and they took him from me. I wanted them to pay, but hate only breeds hate. Tonight I will die, the piper paid his due. I did it all for him”
“Why don’t you start at the beginning?”
Tears streaked down the man’s face. He looked at her and took a breath and began to speak.
* * *
They were covered in sweat, dancing, drinking and now the humid night combined would make anyone a little moist. It wasn’t a long walk back to their apartment from Zim’Mars, the local gay hangout, though it was on the seedier side of Terre Haute, if a town that small had a seedier side to speak of. Jake’s legs were rubbery and he held on to Eric’s hand for support. Eric didn’t drink, but that didn’t stop Jake.
“Jesus I needed that”, Eric said.
“You and me both” Jake said, looking at Eric, leaning over to kiss him lightly. “Let’s get home, I need something else”.
“You’re such a slut when you drink”, Eric said smiling.
“Ya well, I don’t hear you complaining”.
“Why do you think I let you drink”?
“A-HA!” Jake let go of Eric’s hand and pointed. “I knew you were just using me for my body”, he said slurring his words. Jake took a step and stumbled and fell to the ground, laughing.
“Jesus boy, you can’t even walk”, Eric leaned in to give Jake and hand up, and Jake pulled him down on top of, kissing him. Eric rolled off.
“I don’t think this is the place to be having a make out session”.
“It’s dark, and no one’s around…. come on, gives it an edge of danger”, he said, trying to kiss Eric again.
“Nope, no sir. Let’s get home”.
“Fuddy duddy”, said Jake, stumbling back to his feet, wobbly and woozy.
“Ya ya, you’ll say that later”.
Eric heard the footsteps before he saw the man, walking up behind them.
“Hey, you guys okay?” the voice asked.
“Ya, were fine”, Eric said.
“Hey, didn’t I see you guys in the bar a little bit ago?”
“Sure did big boy” Jake said and laughed at himself.
“Can I…. Can I give you guys a lift home, your friend looks like he can’t walk. My car is just over there”, he said, pointing at the parking lot.
“No, thank you. We just live a few blocks over”.
“Aww come on, Eric. Let him give us a ride” Jake said humping the air.
“No” Eric said, looking at Jake. “Were fine, but thanks”, he said towards the man.
“No problem”, said the man. “But uhm, while we’re here, why don’t you go ahead and give me your wallets”.
“What?” asked Eric.
The man pulled out a gun and aimed it at Eric’s head. “Your wallets, give them to me”.
“Whoa man, hold on, now. Just take it easy.”
“Just give me your fucking wallet, faggots!” the man shouted.
Eric reached down and threw his wallet at the man. “Jake, give him your wallet”.
“NO! No, fuck him,” Jake yelled. “Fuck you asshole!” Jake grabbed at the gun, drunkenly, struggling with the man. The man kicked, knocking Jake to the ground. He heard the shot, but felt nothing at first. The man looked at Jake then back up at Eric, almost shocked, blood whelling up on Jake’s shirt.
“YOU SON OF A BITCH!” Eric shouted, jumping at the man. The man shot again, catching Eric in the shoulder, spinning him to the ground. The last thing Eric saw was the man running into the darkness, the sound of sirens blaring in the distance.
* * *
The doctors said that Eric’s wound was superficial, a bandage and a few stitches after removing the bullet and he was sent on his way. Jake, on the other hand…
Eric sat alone in his apartment, a picture of Jake and himself in his hand, his face soaked with tears. Three weeks have passed since the funeral and the pain hadn’t dulled. Eric reached for the bottle of whiskey at his side and took another drink, drunk having been reached a few drinks ago. He stood and paced the small apartment for the hundredth time, trying to shake the thoughts in his head. He sat back down at the desk and picked up his pen. It had taken hours, but he finally put the last few words on his letter, his last letter. He folded it up and placed it in his pocket, sure that it would be found when the cops arrived to take away his husk. Suddenly a strange thought passed through his head and Eric changed his underwear. Don’t want to let the cops find him in dirty underwear after all. Eric giggled at his final act of humor. At least his mom could be proud of that much.
Eric sat on the bed again and took another drink, bracing himself for the deed. He picked up the gun and looked at it, checked that there were bullets in the chamber, and placed the gun against his temple. Tears poured down his face as his hand began to shake. Eric squinted his eyes, tightened his grip and took a deep breath, steeling himself against the impact.
The sound of the doorbell jolted Eric back. He stopped and lowered the gun, looking at it. The doorbell rang again. Eric looked up and threw the gun to the floor, picked up the bottle and stumbled towards the door. He took another drink and looked through the peephole. A smallish man stood on the other side, ghostly white hair slicked back to his skull and a dark suit and tie that hung of his small frame like robes on a skeleton… Eric unlatched the door lock and opened the door.
“What”, Eric slurred.
“Eric Parker?” the man asked.
“Who are you?”
“I have many names, Mr. Parker. Most, however, simply call me The Engineer. May I come in; I have a proposal to discuss with you.”
Eric stood back and waved him in, closing the door behind him.
“Drink?” asked Eric, waving the bottle at him, plopping himself down in a kitchen chair.
“Thank you, no. Mr. Parker, it seems to me that you are not in the best possible shape at the moment.”
“Well that’s fucking obvious, don’t you think?”
“Perhaps I can rectify that situation for you, Mr. Parker. I read about your lover, my condolences to you. Have they found those that committed the deed?”
“Fuck the police. Those bastards aren’t even looking. What’s one less fag in the world? No one fucking cares about Jake.”
“I care, Mr. Parker.” The Engineer walked around the room, taking in the smallness. “You know, Mr. Parker, suicide is an easy thing to do. A quick pressure and a moment suspended in eternity before oblivion. Tell me, Mr. Parker, does your god frown on suicide?”
“God? You want to talk to me about God? Would God have let Jake be murdered because of what I did? There is no God, there is no good, no evil. No one is fucking watching out for us, hoping we do better. I got Jake killed, plain and simple.”
“You didn’t get your lover killed, Mr. Parker. Those thugs killed Jake, and what are the authorities doing about it? Nothing. That is where I come in, Mr. Parker.”
“Just get the fuck out.”
“What if I told you that I can help you get the revenge you seek? The justice that you’re beloved Jake deserves.”
“I said get the fuck out, Now!”
“All you have to do is ask of me, the power will be yours. The power to exact your vengeance, to find your justice, to take from these people what was taken from you.”
“Fuck you,” Eric said and swung his fist madly. The Engineer caught his fist, wrenching it behind him, dropping Eric to his knees.
“This rage, this pain”, said The Engineer, leaning in close to Eric’s ear, “This will be your weapon. You will be my instrument of fear, reaping the souls of those who have wronged you, rending the flesh of your tormentors and feasting on the hearts of the very people you destroy.”
He released Eric, stepping back. Eric grabbed his arm, cradling it, staring at the man hovering over him.
“Who the fuck are you, man?”
“I am your doorway to a new life, a second lease. Do you understand what I am offering you? A chance to be above the law, the laws of both man and God. All that I ask in return is your immortal soul. A small price to ask a man that has nothing, that was willing to throw eternity away in suicide.” The Engineer reached out with his hand, as if to pluck something from nothing. His hand started to glow and erupted in flame. Eric shielded his eyes and when he looked back a piece of parchment was in his hand.
“A small contract, standard for this sort of thing, you see.” The Engineer reached down and grabbed Eric’s hand, pulling Eric to his feet. “Sign the contract and the power will be yours!” The Engineer pulled out a small knife and pricked Eric’s finger, drawing a bead of blood and handed him the contract. The Engineer licked the tip of the blade and rolled the taste of blood across his tongue. Eric looked down at the contract, written in Latin, placing his finger on the parchment, smearing his name across the bottom in crimson.
“Wonderful!” cried The Engineer, grabbing the contract and placing it in his jacket. “Know here there will come a time that you will regret this dealing Eric Parker, and know at that time, you will be mine. For now, however…” he reached again into his jacket and revealed a long yellow gem that glowed with a power of its own, bathing the room in a yellow glow.
“What… what is that” Eric said softly.
“Nib’shugoth. A demon contained in this stone,” The Engineer said before he plunged the stone deep into Eric’s chest, piercing his heart. Eric felt heat burn through his veins as he grasped at the stone, trying to pull it free from his chest frantically. Eric screamed and dropped to the floor, writhing…
“The deal is struck; you are the new vessel of Nib’shugoth, the Old One. The gateway to hatred and vengeance is unleashed in you, Mr. Parker. I will call upon you to serve me in time, but for now, go and reap your vengeance young one. Let this world know hatred in its purest of forms!” and with that The Engineer left Eric to his pain.
* * *
Eric woke a few hours later and promptly retched the contents of his stomach across the kitchen tile, thankfully it was mostly liquid. Eric felt his chest where that Engineer guy shoved the stone. No marks, no blood, but a huge knot where there should be a gaping hole. Eric stood and grabbed a glass of water, letting it slide down, trying to cool the burning inside his chest. Eric grabbed his shoes and coat. Maybe a walk would do him some good, clear his head,
Forty five minutes and two miles later, Eric was still confused about what happened. Who was that Engineer guy, and why was he still alive after what happened. The streets were dark, the occasional car could be heard, and the random siren of emergency response heading somewhere else they were needed. Eric pulled out a cigarette and inhaled the smoke deeply. Jake always wanted him to quit, but he always said a man needs a vice. The light from the street lamp accentuated the smoke plume as it rose. Eric didn’t even notice the smell. The familiar smell of tragedy, of anger and hate. The smell of the two men that killed Jake. Eric sniffed, looking around, feeling weird. The smell lead somewhere, and every instinct in Eric’s body yelled at him to track it. He dropped to the concrete, sniffing the ground. The smell flooded his sense and blinded him in rage, feeling it build up inside him as he sniffed, losing control of his emotions.
Eric began to run in the direction of the smell, a pain burning in his legs. Eric stumbled and looked down, seeing his pants rip as his legs boiled and changed.
“What the…” Eric yelled into the night air, the rest of sentence cut off as pain shot through his body, emanating from his heart. Eric continued following the scent as his body rippled and changed, driven in a way that he shouldn’t be able to maintain under such pain. His head was pounding. He barely heard the tap of his teeth falling out, replaced with needle points of fangs. All he knew was pain and the urge to follow the smell, never noticing his hands changing, claws burrowing out from under his muscle and flesh. He never heard the plop of his flesh dropping to the ground. Follow the smell. Kill. Kill. Revenge. His muscles continued to ripple and change, forming scales. Rip. Tear. Follow. Hate.
“KILL!” Eric yelled into the night, now changed into something unimaginable, something not human, his voice deep and almost unrecognizable as human.
Eric stood before a door to a trash heap home in the back streets of the town. Nothing lived near here but ex-cons, registered child molesters and drug dealers. He reached up with a huge hand, covered in scales, claws and muscle and brought himself down on the door, splintering the wood. He could hear screams from the inside, taste the fear that flowed like a river through the frame of the house. Again he rammed the door with his fist, this time taking it from its hinges and shattering it on the ground. Eric stepped through and looked around at the squalor. He heard the click of the hammer striking the bullet before he felt anything slam itself into his chest. He looked up as one of the two men who killed Jake stared at him in awe.
“What the fuck are you”, the man mumbled and fired off several more rounds, each landing home, none having any effect. The rage and hatred welled up in Eric, who snarled, baring rows of needle like teeth.
“Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck”, the man chanted and turned to run. Eric launched himself at the man, landing on his back, tackling him to the ground. Eric bit down, hard, shredding the flesh in the man’s shoulder, feeling blood flow across his chin. Eric stood, pulling the man up, turning to face him. Holding him by the neck with one arm, Eric threw him against the wall, placing his free hand against the man rib cage. The man pleaded, begged for his life. RIP. KILL. He pushed his claws, slowly into the man’s ribcage, feeling the bone shatter and splinter against the pressure. Eric felt the beating, slowing, and grabbed, removing the man’s heart. HUNGER. EAT. Eric bit down on the organ in his hands, the muscle tearing easily into his maw.
“What in God’s name…” A voice from behind him caught Eric’s attention. He turned, dropping the first man lifelessly to the floor. He turned and snarled, spitting blood and gore at the second man.
“Fuck this,” and the man ran down the hall, slamming a door behind him. The door was easy to remove from the wall. A bedroom was on the opposite side of what used to be a door; a woman was sitting on the bed, with the second man protecting her. Eric lunged, the woman rolling off the bed, and pinned the second man to the mattress. Eric studied his face. TEAR. KILL. RIP. FEED. Fear feeding his hatred and bloodlust. The man pounded on the side of Eric’s now changed head. Eric grabbed his arm, mid swing and tore off the man’s hand, blood shooting out of the stump. The man screamed in pain, grabbing at his arm, cradling it.
The woman stood and jumped on Eric, trying to pull him away from her lover. Eric stood, throwing the man across the room in a heap against the nightstand and turned on the woman, grabbing her and pulling her close. Eric grabbed a claw full of hair and pulled her neck back and bit down, chewing again and again, tasting her, until her head pulled away in a snap of bone and torn muscle. He threw the head back against a closet. The door bounced open revealing a car seat with a baby crying, strapped in, and sitting on the floor.
“My my my, you are an effective young demon, aren’t you”, The Engineer said, clapping his hands in the doorway to the bedroom. Eric spun around, hunching down on the floor, ready to strike again.
“You”, Eric growled.
“Now now,” The Engineer raised a finger, “We can’t have you attacking your creator.”
Eric struggled to stand. KILL. KILL. FEED. OBEY
“I’ve been in this business, since, well, forever, quite literally, and I have never seen someone give in to the hate quite like you did. I must applaud you. How does it feel, is the hole inside your heart plugged now that these two have gotten what they deserved?”
“I’ll kill you and eat your heart for doing this to me” Eric growled at The Engineer.
“Yes, I bet you will. But now, to collect what is mine”, said The Engineer, stretching out his hands. Lights rose up and out of the bodies of the three that Eric had killed, the sounds of children’s voices wafting through the room, screaming in terror, as the lights circled the room and was absorbed by The Engineer’s hand. “Souls, Mr. Parker. Their souls are mine, just like the souls of everyone that you kill, and kill you will. But first, I hear something… delicious.”
The Engineer walked to the closet and picked up the small child. He held it like a parent, cooing at its face as the baby screamed in fear. The Engineer walked over to Eric, stuck to the ground crouching.
“Darling, isn’t she. Fresh, pure, no sin. The soul of a small child… “he said, kissing his fingers, making a delicious gesture.”There is power in souls like these.” He set the child on the floor in front of Eric, offering it up like a sacrifice, which is pretty much what it was to be. “Smell it, so soft, so pink. All you have to do is eat, feed, and we will both get a taste.”
Eric stared at the small child, its flesh so soft, and such easy prey. His mouth watered for its flesh, drool falling onto the babies’ face and neck.
“Eat, my vassal.” The Engineer goaded.
Eric studied the child, its small arms and legs flailing wildly. He lowered his head and licked the baby with a giant, slimy gray tongue. The taste flooded his head. He bit down, the baby screamed, The Engineer laughed, Light flooding the room again as the child’s soul was lifted from its bloodied body as Eric continued to feast. The Engineer crouched down and placed his hand on Eric’s head, cold filling his body as it began to quiver and bubble again.
“Sleep now, my pet. When I call again, we will both feast on countless sinful souls.”
The pain overcame Eric, blackening out.
* * *
“And that’s where your file should pick up, with me naked and covered in blood.” Eric trailed off.
“Mr. Parker, Eric, that’s an, well, an interesting story.”
“I told you” KILL. “You don’t know evil, Doctor.” RIP.
“You said yourself that you had been drinking and near suicide. Your mind may be making things up to absolve yourself of guilt over killing the child.”
Eric winced, pain shooting through his chest. He grabbed at his heart and fell to his knees.
“Orderly! ORDERLY!” Yelled Dr. Humboldt. “He’s having a heart attack!’
The orderlies rushed the room, grabbing Eric. Eric swung wide, knocking them both back, into the wall.
“Get away! Gethefuckaway!” Eric said as he began to change. The Engineers words filling his head. KILL. RIP. TEAR. FEED. And Eric understood, The Engineer wanted him here, to feed, to kill the killers, the molesters, the sinners. The last thing Eric knew before his humanity slipped away, giving to the bloodlust, was the laughter of The Engineer and the smell of flesh, ripe and bloated, and oh so tasty.