Monday, November 28, 2011

The Last temptation of Chloe Part 4

I need to see you... it's really important.  Meet me at our usual spot.

The message from Chloe had Florence worried.  The young woman was confused, doubting and the people in her church were no help.  She sighed.  Same story she had seen time and time again, until she had left her church for good.  In the mainstream religions, they had a very Darwinist philosophy of shooting their wounded.  Only the most fanatical need apply.  It was like a hospital turning away the sick and injured, because "we can't have all those weak people around, they might infect the rest of us."

She had been a pastor's wife for ten years and she finally got sick of the grinning mask she had to wear.  Being head of a church was like being a politician.  Always in the spotlight, always having to have the right answers.  Never showing weakness.  It was a script that they taught her husband in seminary, and a play that you performed every Sunday to a captive audience.  Get your lines wrong or miss a cue, and there were those waiting in the wings ready to tear you apart.

They had torn her husband apart, spiritually, over some small doctrinal issue.  She would never forget the day she had found him in the garage, slumped over the steering wheel, the car engine running.  She still served God, as she had all her life, but she'd be damned if she'd set foot in a church again.

She spent her Sundays in the park, worshipping and studying her Bible.  That was where they had met.  Chloe had snuck out of a church service, stressed out and feeling guilty.  She saw a lot of those lately.  People like Chloe didn't need people telling them how sick they were.  They needed to hear how to get better.

She sat down on the bench, wincing slightly.  Her morning walks had used to be the highlight of her day, but now her joints and muscles ached.  The price of old age.  She still kept at it; they also gave her time to think and reflect.

She heard a sound behind her and turned and smiled.  "Chloe.  What's wr..."

The words died.  The wild look in Chloe's face, not to mention the gun pointed at her head dried up any warm words of greeting.

"I'm.... I..."  Her breath hitched and tears ran down her face.  "I have to do this, Florence.  Carpathia will do horrible things to me, if I don't.  I'm not protected.  I have to k... k... kill you."

A stunned pause, then she found her voice. "Nick Carpathia?  The Potentate wants me dead?  How does he even know who I am?" 

She shook her head.  "It's all my fault.  I told him all about the bunker and the tape.  He asked me about any other believers and I... told him about our talks.  He can make me do anything and y... you can't imagine what he'll make me do, if I refuse.  He considers you a... subversive element, and thinks it would be a lot smoother if you were taken out."

Don't get rattled or you'll set her off.  Carpathia's put this poor woman through hell.  Oh Jesus.  Show her that she's not alone.   She took a breath and spoke slowly.  "If that's true, Chloe, then why doesn't he simply make you shoot me now?"

She paused and shook her head.  "Good question."  Her voice was steadier now.  "I guess he gets a thrill out of manipulating me."

"Exactly.  The Devil's goal is not just to have bad things happen.  The whole point is to get people to doubt the goodness of God.  The End Times are meant to teach people about that goodness, while Satan works to undermine it.  Every one of us works for God's purpose.  The only question is, whether you will serve in the role of Peter... or of Judas?"

Her face hardened and the gun did not waver.  "God has abandoned me, because I can't be good enough.  Your "merciful" God is letting that man use me like a puppet.  For what?  To prove some point? I can't sleep anymore, because he sends nightmares showing what he wants to do to me!  Sometimes I want to put this gun in my mouth and pull the trigger, just to make it stop!" 

She clicked off the safety.  "And apparently I'm going through this, because Jesus loves me so much.  Piss on that!"

"Chloe, listen to me.  Jesus does l..."

"Say Jesus again!"  She put the muzzle against his forehead.  "Say it again!  I dare you!  I double dog dare you!  Say Jesus one more God Damned Time!"

They both stared at each other for almost a full minute.  Then Florence snickered, chuckled and finally laughed out loud.  Chloe stared at her, then a smile crept onto her face, her cheeks quivering.

"S.. should I t... tell... oh hee hee,"  Florence gasped between helpless laughter,  "w... what Marcellus Wallace looks like?"

"Oh God!"  That burst the dam.  Chloe collapsed onto the ground almost hysterical in laughter.  "Oh... d... did I break..."  She could barely get the line out.  "your con.. con.. centration?"

Her gun had dropped away, and Florence thought about grabbing it. She thought very hard about it.  Something made him stay his hand; something bigger than her own safety.  Something involving the fate of Chloe's soul.

Dear God.  If I have to give my life, I do so gladly.  Just don't let her suffer any more.

She held perfectly still.  "Chloe, I don't know why God has let Carpathia do these things to you.  It's the age old question of why bad things happen.  But I do know that it has nothing to do with how much faith you have, or what you feel inside.  I used to make that mistake, thinking that if only I could do more and more, then God would love me.  Eventually I couldn't play that game anymore and I gave up."

She then took a chance and reached over slowly and touched her free hand.  Chloe didn't flinch.  "When someone has no reason at all to love, and yet does so anyway, that is the purest form of love there is.  That is what God desires from you, and what Carpathia and his master fear the most.  Not pretty words, or even great deeds, but the simple act of making the right choices.  Even when it's hard."

Slowly, Chloe's thumb moved and he tensed, then relaxed as she clicked the safety back on and put the gun away.  Chloe sniffed once and wiped her eyes.  "Please don't hate me."

She patted her hand.  "Never dear.  These are strange times we are in."

As they left the park, arm in arm, she thought   A scene from a movie that a Proper Christian would never admit to seeing.  Dear me.  Mysterious ways, indeed.

End

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Last Temptation of Chloe Part 3

Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!
-Mark 9:24

How can I be lost, if I've got nowhere to go?
-Metallica


Chloe stood in front of her office nook.  No one paid much attention to what she did in here; everyone assumed that she was working on her Prophecy studies. She had been spending hours at her computer and at the library researching things, all right, but not prophecy.  She ran a finger over the stack of books on her desk.  Her reading tastes had certainly changed over the past week.  U.S Army Field Survival Manual. Primitive Skills and Crafts. Deep Survival. Constructing a Solar Still. Solar Energy. The only things that had anything to do with End Times were her Bible and her notebook open to the Checklist.

"Oh Chloe. What are you going to do?" she whispered to herself.  Grief washed over her.  She missed her mom terribly, but it seemed like there was no place for sorrow here at the End of All Things.

There was a soft ping.  The mail icon had come up on her computer.  Phone service was spotty at best, but still the spam found a way to get through.  Still, she opened up her email looking for any excuse to put off what she had to do..

The subject line was "RE: your assignment," but it was the sender's address that caught his eye.  Nicky_mountains@msn.com.  Who in bloody blazes...?

Chloe,
I expect my package to be delivered in a week.  You know the consequences for failure.  I am watching.
-NC

Her heart leaped into her throat.  She had to go through with it.  There was no other choice.  The visions he had been sending to her, usually in her dreams but sometimes when she was awake.  Visions of Carpathia, taking control of her, and forcing her to cut her father's throat.  In her mind, she saw herself holding a pair of metal shears, snipping off each one of Buck's fingers, laughing at him for thinking that she could ever love such an idiot.  All lies and perhaps they would know it, but then again they might not.  They were all so confident in their supernatural protection; if she didn't have it, then they might conclude that she hadn't been Really Truly Saved.

Perhaps they would be right.  Carpathia was able to control her with impunity, because God had deemed her unworthy.  She was on her own.

She pulled on her shoulder holster, then put her jacket on over it.  She felt top heavy, as if she was about to fall over sideways.  Luckily, the weather had cooled down enough so that she wouldn't look too out of place.  Resiting the urge the whistle the theme from "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly," she practice her draw.  She slider her hand under her amprit and pulled out the Baretta 9 mil. and clicked off the safety in one fluid motion.  As her gun teacher had predicted, Global Community had cracked down on personal firearms, so firing ranges were harder and harder to find.  To her surprise, she had not been that bad of a marksman.

She picked up the bundle of clothes she had thrown together and the case containing her Mossberg shotgun.  The used Surburban she had purchased on Carpathia's dime was already crammed full with everything she could think of that she might need.  After today's work, she would have to disappear.  She always liked camping.  Perhaps Utah or Colorado.

She stifled a laugh.  She suspected that Colorado Springs would be just about deserted now.  She shut down the computer and packed it up along with everything else on her desk.  Electricity would be hard to come by, but she'd gotten a generator.  Light and mobile, that was the key to survival.

Do you really want to survive?  There's an easier way, you know.

Yeah.  She'd thought about it.  But she wanted to put off death as long as possible.  Death wasn't a release.  From what she'd learned in recent weeks "going to be with the Lord."  wasn't all it was cracked up to be.

One last thing.  She picked up a pen and tore a sheet out of her notebook. and wrote.

You won't understand.  I don't understand it myself.  I really wish I could have what you have, but for whatever reason, I'm not good enough for Jesus. 

I love you all
Chloe.



She got in the truck and drove.  A calm settled over her.  She had a purpose, a goal.  During the ten minute drive, she caught herself humming softly to herself.  She arrived at the park, and pulled in, scanning the people.

There she was.  Alone, walking along the bike trail.  No one else in sight.  Perfect.

She got out of the truck, and put one hand underneath her jacket.



Wednesday, November 16, 2011

New Story - Griefer


Neil Demont - New Jersey - July 2004

He awakens in the middle of the night to the sounds of shouting and breaking glass.  Something was happening downstairs.  He sits up, his heart pounding and he sees a figure standing by his bedroom door.  He opens his mouth to scream, but at the last minute, he realizes that it is his brother.

"What is it?" Fear has choked his voice to a loud whisper.

"Something is in the house," Karl hisses back to him.  He gropes around in the darkness and picks up a large heavy object.  It looks like the leg of his drawing table that had broken last year.  To save space, they had disassembled it, but never got around to fixing it or replacing it.  Now Karl held the heavy wooden leg, to defend himself and his brother.

"Stay here," his brother whispered.  Neil nodded slid out of bed and inched underneath it.  Karl went through the door and out into the unknown.

Long silence.  Then a loud gunshot.  Silence.  Then Another.

His mother's screams... suddenly cut off by a third gunshot.  Then the footsteps up the stairs, coming towards his room.




Demont sucked in a breath of air as his eyes opened.  The damn dream again.  The dream of how his family had died, leaving him an orphan.  He had heard of other people, suffering extreme trauma with gaps in the memories.  Not him.  His mind lovingly recreated the events in exquisite detail for him to review every few days or so.  His brain hated him.  Lousy ingrate.

He glanced at the digital clock on the nightstand.  Four twenty A.M.  Might as well get up.  He mentally shored up the effort to rouse himself up, when he heard the sound.

A clunk.  No several of them.  Footsteps.  Someone was in the house.  Was he still dreaming?  No, he was thirty years older and bigger.  And he was not afraid this time, he was pissed.

He also had resources that his younger self lacked.  He opened up his nightstand drawer and pulled out the Browning Hi-Power he kept underneath his socks.  Chances were that if he just shouted, the intruder would haul ass out the window or wherever he had crawled in from.  But Demont was not the kind of person to give an intruder fair warning.  The mood he was in, he might start shooting pieces off of the intruder, leaving the head for last.

He paused.  The alarm.  Why hadn't it gone off?  Whoever it was, had enough skill to get around the system that he spent a fortune on.  That meant that whoever it was was not a random punk.  This person knew what he was doing.  Be careful.

He checked the safety on the Browning, then he slid out of bed.  He walked on the balls of his feet, maintaining absolute silence.  He knew his room well enough that he wouldn't trip, but out of habit, he pushed his foot out carefully in front of him, to probe for any obstacles.  He had crept along like this a hundred times in strange rooms and had only given himself away once. 



He heard more movement. Then, incredibly, there was a click and the light in his kitchen went on. He heard the sound of his refrigerator door open. Oh he was beyond pissed now. Arrogant asshole was having a goddamn midnight snack! If he drank any of the beer, Eddie thought he might have to take a minute to look for his hunting knife, in order to carve his initials in this guy's butt cheeks.

Stealth was forgotten. He stomped into the hallway and turned into the kitchen. He pointed the 9 mil in front of him giving his eyes time to adjust to the light. "You picked the wrong house to burgle, you fuck," he growled.

She was sitting at his kitchen table spooning sugar into a mug. "Well, actually I can see now that I'm in the right house, Eddie." She was an older woman about forty or fifty with jet black long hair. She moved precisely with no wasted movement, as she took out a tea bag from his box and sniffed at it, wrinkling her nose. "These were buried in the back of your pantry. I imagine that the tea leaves originally came over with Columbus but I'm dying for a cup, so I won't quibble."

Stunned, he lowered his gun an inch, but instinct allowed him to keep his grip on it. "Who the hell...?"

"Dreams keeping you up, Neil? I imagine they are Quite a horrible thing for a child to have to go through. But you've survived, haven't you?"

He pointed the gun at her head. "You'd better convince me in the next ten seconds why I shouldn't spatter your brains across my kitchen. Don't think I won't do it. I've killed..."

"Lot's of people." Her mouth was set in a hard line. "I know all about it. In fact I know more about you then you probably know yourself. I'm here to enlighten you about the kind of person you are."

"I know who I am!" 



"Do you? Those dreams you have? That's their way of punishing you. They think that a few sleepless nights will make up for what you did. Make up for destroying families? Well I don't think it does, so I'm here to change that."

She cupped her chin in her hand looking at him with contempt.  He'd had enough.  He had no patience for people who kept flapping their gums instead of either doing something or at least getting to the point.  He aimed directly at her forehead.  "Say goodnight, bitch."

Click

She laughed at the confused look on his face.  "You are such a sad little man.  You almost convince me that your fate is wretched enough for me to leave you be."  She leaned forward.  "Almost but not quite." 



TBC...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Last Temptation of Chloe 2

A wave of dizziness hit her.  One second she had been standing in front of Nicolae's desk, her hands behind her back.  Next she was on her knees, her palms flat on the floor.  Her face was wet with tears.

Nicolae had jumped across the room and was now smirking down at her.  "Welcome back, love."

Oh dear Jesus.  He mind rolled me.  What did he do?  How can he do that to me?  I'm supposed to be... protected.

"You see, dear Chloe?  I am your lord and master.  Any time I want, I can make you tell me anything.  Do Anything."  The last two words dripped with slime.

"What... what in the Hell did you do to me, you bastard!"

"Well why don't we see for ourselves... hmm?"

He went behind his desk and pressed a few buttons.  A black and white picture appeared on one of the monitors, the security feed for the room.

"Now, Chloe.  Be a good girl and tell me what your Tribble friends have got going."

Her face and voice were blank.  "They are building a bunker beneath the New Hope Church.... There are plans to..."

The Nicolae behind the desk snorted.  "Boring.  Let's get to the good stuff."  He hit the fast forward.

She had prostrated herself before him.  "Nicolae is my god.  There is no other god but Nicolae.  I will give my life for my Lord.  Everything I have is yours."

Chloe's hands flew to her mouth.  No... no... no..  She had betrayed them all.  Worse she had sworn allegience to the Antichrist.  Did it count if she had been mind controlled?  Probably.  Her faith was so weak that it hadn't protected her against his mind control.

"And what else will you do for me, Chloe" the recorded Nicolae said.

The hypnotized Chloe opened her mouth and started telling about the most perverted things she had ever heard.  Things that would make a phone sex operator blush.  She didn't even know how she knew what those things were, much less describe them in such detail.

She covered her eyes.  "Stop it! Stop it!"

He clicked off the recording.  "Now, I can assure you that all we exchanged were words, Chloe.  I'd much rather have you willingly.  But I can't help but wonder what your dad would think if I showed him this.  Or your husband, hmm?"

She huddled into herself.  "Please don't.  Just tell me what you want from me."

"I believe that Cameron has an assignment in Dallas next week?"

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Last Temptation of Chloe

I can't classify this as fanfiction.  But I've been having a blast taking the world's worst books and trying to turn a good story out of it.  It's a great exercise in seeing what works and what doesn't.



Not that she has any prospects, but if she did...

She remembered overhearing that conversation between her dad and Bruce, right after the Event.  It had hit her harder than anything to hear her life so summed up like that.  Hurt her more than she let on.  She had been so lonely in college.  She had never been good at meeting people, at making friends, much less making romantic attachments.

School had kept her busy enough and she'd been able to ignore the loneliness.  She had read once that if a person goes long enough without food, they stop feeling hungry.  That was a lot like the way she was now.  She had been this way her whole life, only recently had she come to see how lonely she was.

Her "purity" on her wedding night had been a testament to her social awkwardness, not to God keeping her for her husband.

After the Event, nobody had noticed how no one had tried to contact her from school.  Nobody called or emailed her, asking how she was doing.  Her family had been the only people who had given a damn, and now half of them were gone.

Then Buck had come along.  Put a Quarter Pounder in front of aforementioned hungry person and watch her stomach start growling again.  It was only after the hunger had been sated that she started to think... this is just a damn hamburger, and not a very good one at that.

She loved Buck... but she wasn't in love with him.  Before, she had rolled her eyes when she heard other girls say things like that.  But it perfectly described how she felt.  She had grasped at her last straw of happiness and discovered that she was still drowning.

She sighed and pulled out a pack of cigarettes; another one of her secrets.  Oh how the people at New Hope would have kittens if they knew about the little habit she had picked up three months in her freshman year.  It was weird when you thought about it, because according to Bruce, lung cancer would be one of the more humane ways to go during the Tribulation. 

She took a drag and exhaled it in a long sigh.  Tobacco.  A perfect picture of God, in a way.  A couple of puffs after a meal, or out in the cool evening air, a small pleasure that didn't hurt anyone.  Yet if you indulged yourself, what did you get?  Emphysema!  Cancer!  Deformed Babies!  Somebody definitely needed to get a little perspective on things.

"Well, well, the things we find in Central Park these days."

Hattie stood in front of her, dressed in t-shirt and shorts, her blonde hair tied back in a ponytail.  Her arms were folded and she had a knowing smirk on her face.  "Had to get out of the Legion of Doom for a while?"

Chloe almost stubbed out her cigarette, then took another drag instead.  She was already caught, why bother to hide?  "Your boyfriend outlawed these yet?"

"If he does, then he'd better legalize marijuana then.  Else I'll be climbing the frickin' walls."  She put one leg up on Chloe's bench and began stretching her calf.  "He wants you, you know."

Chloe's stared her mouth hanging open.  "Wants me?  What for?"

"Don't be dumb.  He wants you.  With him."

"But... but... I thought.. I mean you're carrying his child!"

A cloud of pain passed over Hattie's face.  "Yeah.  I'm his Number One in public.  But I'm not stupid and the refreshing thing about Nicoloe is that he's honest with me.  We like what we can do for each other, there's passion and even a bit of affection.  Love though... I don't think he's even capable of that.  He's the most powerful man who ever lived and that kind of power attracts.  He's got women in every city on the planet."

Chloe struggled to find her voice.  "Why me?"

Hattie shrugged.  "He says you have a shy beauty, with bright passionate fire smoldering just beneath the surface."  She laughed.  "All smoke, if you ask me.  I think the real reason is he wants to see the look on Buck and Ray's face when they find out.  It's not about you at all.  He gets a real thrill in throwing people's righteousness in their faces."

God help her, she was actually thinking about it.  She nervously twisted the ring on her finger and shook her head.  "I'm married, Hattie.  That might not mean much to you, but it does to me."

She nodded.  "I told him as much and he laughed it off as if he had been joking.  But I know him, probably better than anyone.  He won't let up."  The blonde woman leaned in close and whispered in Chloe's ear, her face suddenly twisted into a look of fear.

"He gets what he wants, Chloe.  I learned that the hard way.  Don't make it hard on yourself.  It's better to be at the Devil's right hand, than in his way."

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Madness Observed

I think I finally got my sleep apnea under control; in that I've been feeling better these past few days.  Of course for me, feeling better means not wanting to kill myself.  It seems like such a little thing... to make such a big difference.

For those who don't know, sleep apnea means that I stop breathing in the middle of the night.  I wake up just enough to get my breathing going again and I don't even remember it.  This happens dozens of times during the night, which means that I never completely fall all the way asleep.  Which makes me exhausted all the time.

To keep this from happening, I have to wear this complicated thing over my face that keeps my airway passages open.  It a hassle to wear and I've been neglecting it these past few months.  Also, it's noisy which means that I have to sleep in a separate room so that I don't keep everyone else awake.  But finally I think I got it so that I don't pull it off in my sleep and I manage to get through the night.

It's made a great deal of difference.  This past couple of months, my depression was spiraling down into a black pit, and I couldn't stop the slide.  I caught myself standing in the garage, wondering how I could fit the car in there, so I could sit in it with the engine running.  Thoughts like that.  They're scary.  It's like you have one of those shoulder devils... constantly berating you about how much you suck.

Today... not so much.  I actually found the energy to start writing again.  Is that all I needed?  A better night's sleep?  I hardly dare to hope.