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03/03/2007 2:33 AM

[i]"You don't have any ambition, Eddie. How many jobs have you actually applied for this past week?"

"It's a bear market, what do you want? I'm making a decent enough wage right now, anyway."

"I want to stop living like our future is up in the air! I want some kind of security for us! You spent six years in one of the best colleges in the country, you got a full ride scholarship, and you got your degree in what? Microbiology? Were you even thinking about what good that would do you in the job market?"

"Guess I was too hung up on the idea of being able to look at myself in the mirror every morning. You're right, I should've planned my entire future around keeping you in the lap of luxury. Hell, I should write up an admission application to a business school. Then I can wear a suit and work in a cubicle all day. Your dad doesn't seem to mind it one bit."

"My father at least provides for his family, Eddie. That's what responsible people do; they provide for their families."

"To my knowledge we've never been behind on rent, all the utilities are paid up, and you're still able to afford birth control. We eat pretty good and even have money for cable. Seems to me that all the basic needs are covered right there, so what the hell are you complaining about?"

"That's what I'm talking about, Eddie! You have no ambition! You're perfectly fine with just living paycheck to paycheck in this crappy apartment, fucking me whenever you feel like it, and playing games on my computer in between."

"I'm more than willing to do things with you, if you would ever let me know that you feel like doing something. You get pissed off because we never do anything but fuck, and yet you never suggest to do anything else."

"Because you whine every time I don't want to have sex! You know how disturbing it was the other morning when we had sex even though I didn't want to? It felt like you were raping me!"

"Raping you? How fucking dare you. How dare you even suggest I would do that? God, I must be such a terrible fucking person! I like to have sex with my girlfriend!"

"Even when it hurts me? Even when it makes me really upset afterwards?"

"No! And you never say stop, you never even hint that I'm doing something I shouldn't, and when I see that you're not enjoying yourself you just tell me to keep going. So how the fuck am I supposed to know what's going on if you won't tell me?"

"I don't say anything because I know how you'll react! You'll get really moody and pout for hours, barely speak to me, and pull away when I try to have sex again because I 'ruined it for you'. I don't want to deal with that so I just take it."

"Jesus, I didn't realize sex with me was such a chore."

"Eddie... the truth is I'm not happy. There are times when you come home that I'm glad to see you, and other times I just loathe the thought of you walking through that door. I've asked myself for the past two years if I really wanted to marry you, and&"

"Don't even finish that sentence."

"I don't want to do this anymore, Eddie. I need to be on my own for a while. I need to be free."

Not another word was spoken; he grabbed his duffel bag in an instant, taking with him all the clothes, DVDs, video games, and assorted personal effects he could store in one bag.
They wouldn't speak again for another three months, around Christmas, when she would return the rest of his belongings and inform him of her new relationship. Eddie would begin his travels that following spring, eventually passing through the town of Millsborough in western Indiana, where a chance run-in with a thief would set forth a chain of events that would forever change his life.[/i]

[b]"He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."

-Fredrich Nietzche[/b]

Graveyard shift -- Eddie hated being stranded in this one-horse town, but having to work in the stock room of a general goods store at 12:30 A.M. was even worse. He cursed the chick that lifted his wallet while he was in his hotel bathroom with every can of tuna he shelved; he cursed the police for signing him up for a work program in lieu of throwing him in jail for vagrancy. Most of all, he cursed the girl who broke his heart and gave him the bright idea to go riding his motorcycle across the country as part of some walkabout spirit quest... thing. It was a life experience, he said to himself; something to write about when he got home -- provided he actually made it home.

He looked up at the television hanging on the wall, the constant blaring companion for those who were forced to compile inventory in the back of the store. For some reason, the local news was on at this hour. "--Which makes a total of five reported cases of sudden animal death in the greater Millsborough area. In other news, two men are wanted on charges of assault after a local man was reportedly beaten down and bitten by a pair of intoxicated men outside Flannigan's Pub downtown. The victim is in critical condition at St. Mary's hospital."

"Ugh... Nasty, dude." A male voice came from behind. Eddie turned to see Zach, the strung out punk rocker insomniac who worked the stock room with him. "You know what kinds of bacteria are in a person's mouth?"

"Mutans streptococcus, candida albicans..."

"Ye-- Woa, dude! How'd you know that?"

"I qualified as an immunologist in college. And now I'm stocking shelves with you, Zach. Irony: thy bitch is Edward Collins."

"Cheer up, man. The job may suck but at least you're in good company--"

"--Go away, we're closed!" A female voice shouted out from the front of the store.

"Maria - probably on the rag again. I swear to God, that woman has to be the biggest bitch I've ever--"

Several loud, repeated thuds accompanied by Maria's shrill cry for help alerted the two men and sent them racing up the front of the store. The source of the loud banging was a man of average height with pallid skin and a vacant expression, ramming his head into the glass section of the front door. Pain had obviously not entered into the man's mind, as he continued to ram the glass while streaks of blood were smudged from his forehead. At the front of the store, a basket full of child-sized aluminum baseball bats had been put out as part of a clearance sale. As the man continued to ram the door and cause tiny cracks to form in the glass, Eddie slowly reached into the basket and withdrew one of the bats. By this time, the glass began to buckle from the stress.

Zach grabbed onto the counter in shock. "Jesus Christ, what the fuck is he"
Suddenly the glass came loose in a solid mass and collapsed to the floor. The man stepped through the entrance, walking in awkward, lumbering steps. Eddie stood before him with Zach directly behind, and as the man lunged, Eddie sidestepped the clumsy attack only to leave Zach in the direct path of the assault. On instinct, Zach threw up his hands, locking arms with the attacker in a desperate defensive maneuver. The assailant harnessed a source of strength that seemed impossible given the repeated blows to his head, forcing skinny Zach's arms back and suddenly lunging forward to deliver a wicked bite to his neck. Zach screamed, the attacker's teeth sinking deep into his skin and tearing out a massive chunk of flesh. An artery was severed, pulled away from Zach's neck like a rubber band before snapping with a gush of blood. Right then, Eddie lined up the bat and slammed it into the attacker's skull. The well-placed attack, combined with Eddie's strength, delivered enough force to dent the bat and leave a massive fissure in the attacker's skull. This gave the attacker pause, but he soon started to move at Zach again, so Eddie delivered another powerful swing - this one fatal. The attacker slumped over into a lifeless heap at Eddie's feet, and then it was over.

Zach fell backwards, convulsing rapidly. Eddie did his best to grab onto Zach and ease him to the floor, shouting at Maria, "Get the gauze!"

Shock set in deeper with each ounce of blood lost, and with Zach's carotid artery ripped out and severed, the blood poured out rapidly. Jets of red shot out of Zach's neck, rapidly at first, but then slower as the seconds passed before Maria stumbled back from the pharmacy aisle with handfuls of gauze pads. She tossed them at Eddie, who bunched them up with the wrappers still on in a large wad and compressed it tightly against Zach's neck wound. He did his best to pinch off the artery to prevent more blood loss, but the effort was futile. Zach's body convulsed a few more times before the sharp odor of Zach's bowels being released filled the air. His legs twitched, his arms went limp, and the color of his skin went white tinged with red. A final shake went through Zach's body and his eyes glazed over. He was gone.

"FUCK!" Eddie screamed, pulling the gauze pads away and hurling them across the floor. He breathed heavily, arms shaking from adrenaline. Zach lay in a pool of his own blood while his killer rested a few inches away. The puddle glistened from the overhead lights and crept into the tiny cracks between the tiles on the floor.

[Edited by Jack_Dervish on Saturday, March 3, 2007 2:37 AM]

[Edited by Jack_Dervish on Saturday, March 3, 2007 2:39 AM]

03/04/2007 6:26 AM

Gunshots in the street pull your mind away from Zach for just a moment. A third and a fourth ring out, the gunman stepping backwards away from his target as he fires, now coming full into view. It's that asshole kid from the pool hall, what was his name again?... Skylar.

"Christ the fuck almighty", He yells, as rounds 5 and 6 rip into a man lumbering toward him.

Skylars shots from the 9mm rip through the mans chest, at a distance of less than 5 yards, but the man only gains speed, roaring like a demon towards him. As his assailant gets within 3 feet of Skylar, he screams and fires his last round, intended for the chest, it blows through the mans skull, splattering skylar's bare chest and jeans with blood.

The magazine falls automatically out of the pistol, the slide locked back. Skylar looks right, and spots Eddie. Skylar instantly swings the empty pistol in Eddie's direction, a look of overwhelming fear in his eyes.

"Stay the hell away from me Eddie! I don't know what the fuck is going on, but I swear to god I'll put lead between your fucking eyes!", he barks, his New York accent coming out in his duress.

The teen stares wildly at Eddie, shaking, His jeans covered in blood, more than what hit him just a moment ago... this wasn't his first encounter. His boots still untied, his hair down. This was the worst morning he has ever had.

03/04/2007 1:19 PM

"Louis wake up, the deadlines due in an hour!"

Louis shot from his desk. His Boss, Mr. Brooks, was vividly screaming in his ear. "Damn, I totally forgot. I have to go get the shots from the developing room. I will be back in a jiffy."

Louis was the first one put on the new assignment. He was to take pictures and cover the new freak incidents. He was the first one on the scene at Flannigan's Pub downtown. The pictures he took were horrid. The victims' body was ripped to parts. He couldn't figure out how two drunks could chew into a guy so viscously.

With swift agility, Louis began running down to the developing department. He shot down the stairs and into the room. Neil Hobbs was checking out the photos. "Shit...Lou, you got some pretty sick pictures here. What the hell happened?" Louis shrugged, "Something about two intoxicated assholes assaulting some poor guy." Neil lifted an eyebrow, "You call this assaulting? I can't believe Brooks wants this to be on the front page. It's too disturbing."

Louis sighed, "Well, it's news. Whatever the case is, we got it. Now excuse me, I have to take these to Brooks before he [i]chews[/i] my ass." Hobbs shook his head and handed Lou the pictures.

He sprinted up the stairs and back into his office. He pressed his intercom and called for his secretary. "Mrs. Julie, can you come into my office please." There was a pause, [i]"yes Mr. Materazzi"[/i]

The young secretary came into the room. "Can you give this folder to Mr. Brooks please, and tell him everything is set for the print?" She nodded, "Yes sir." He smiled, "Thanks."

She left the room and Louis put his feet on the desk. With this assignment, he could easily get the promotion he deserved. Chief Executive of writing and photography. It sounded great. "Now what..." He scanned the room and looked at the TV. "Better check the tube."

He turned on the TV and was surprised to see the news.

[i]"--Which makes a total of five reported cases of sudden animal death in the greater Mills borough area. In other news, two men are wanted on charges of assault after a local man was reportedly beaten down and bitten by a pair of intoxicated men outside Flannigan's Pub downtown. The victim is in critical condition at St. Mary's hospital."[/i]

His story was on the news. Maybe this was the beginning of something serious. Maybe...

03/04/2007 2:51 PM

"No, Mrs. Ramone, we don't-
"- yes ma'am, I kno-
"- Ma'am, we're tryi-
"Yes, Mrs. Ramone, it is a sorry excuse. I can only offer-".

With a click Jodie found herself hung-up on.

She'd been fielding calls all night, and for the past hour or so, what with the increased news coverage, a tendril of hysteria had been creeping its way into the voices barking at her. Mrs. Ramone was one of the politer ones.

Putting her headset down she raised her arms over her head and stretched, wincing at the slight pop in her back.

[i]I'm not old enough for that kind of crap to be happening yet..[/i]

She didn't bother un-muting the tv. It was turned to the local news channel, and she could tell by the ticker scrolling along the screen bottom that they hadn't any new details yet.

Cursing Mabel- sweet old Mabel, who kept lighting candles at the local Catholic church for Jenny- for calling in sick, and cursing herself for getting the short straw to cover the phones, Jodie flipped through the call log sheets for that evening. The four hours she'd been on she'd fielded 87 calls.
Initially they'd been satisfied by the 'We're looking into it, no report back from the vet yet, call back tomorrow if you're still concerned' spiel, but as the night went on callers had been getting more irate. Frustrated at the lack of information, she guessed. Animal-lovers were quick to get riled at the slightest hint of a threat to their dear ones.

She checked her watch: 12: 33, patrol should be heading back in shortly, thank Christ. She'd grab a break and have a wander for some fresh air.

03/04/2007 3:35 PM

[i]Later that day, around 12:33[/i]

Louis couldn't sleep. His pictures haunted him. The scarred look on the victims face brought shivers down his spine. He got out of bed and went into the kitchen. It was a sin that there was nothing to eat. He would make a reminder to go grocery shopping. He went to the Wine Cellar and took a very old bottle of pinot grigio. He poured a glass and took a sip.

Louis' suite was very extravagant. It was funny that a man like him had such style and class. He envied famous Jazz musicians and billiards. Hell, his house reminded him of an expensive Jazz Club. His kitchen had top granite and appliances. Funny, a man of such authority was still single; still young though. Joey sat, drinking wine, thinking of the assignment.

Tomorrow night he had a dinner appointment with Brooks. Hopefully he could figure things out by then. He sat, hands pressed against his head; trying to clear his mind. Those pictures took a hold of him; some supernatural being was trying to tell him something. But what? He took another large sip and emptied the glass. Hopefully by tomorrow, everything would be clear.

03/04/2007 7:24 PM

Skylar's eyes, wild with fear, scan the carnage inside the store. Two bodies, mangled, and there stood eddie, dented baseball bat in his right hand, covered in blood. Skylar down the sights of his gun, seconds from firing, before he realizes the slide is back.

"E-eddie? What is going on eddie?!" He says, with an unusual innocence in his voice.

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