Categories > Original > Sci-Fi > The Hammergram Chronicles: The Dawn


by hgcmp 0 reviews

The wounds of Maureen's ravaged subconscious continue their assault on her mind.

Category: Sci-Fi - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Action/Adventure, Angst, Drama, Romance, Sci-fi - Warnings: [V] - Published: 2006-07-05 - Updated: 2006-07-06 - 8066 words

In the darkness of the night on a world not too different from our own, a couple moves feverishly through a dense forest full of gigantic trees that are almost like earth's own oak except for the very top that has flat lily pad-like leaves on top where braches would be, nearly blanketing the two in shadow and blocking out two of the three moons. The couple is dressed in very worn clothes that were once vibrant in color, but time and overuse have long since faded them to a brownish-gray color. Covered underneath his mother's coat, a small-bewildered boy is being escorted away from his village, the only world he has ever known. He has no idea where his parents are taking him as he was plucked out of bed by them and rushed out here. He can feel his feet tripping over the rocks and roots underneath, but his mother's grasp keep him vertical as the sound of the snapping twigs echo around them, the boy's feet desperately trying to keep in time with that of her own. Even though her covering blind's him, he still can tell that they are no longer in the forest from the acoustics around them and the ground has become much or softer as the sound of thrashing of grass and the chirping of small insects ring in his ears. Through all the noise, a rumbling can be felt as he can sense something approaching from far above in the distance. Suddenly, the small party's movement gets more rapid as the rumbling gets stronger, foretelling the immanent arrival of the source of the disturbance. Until finally, the vibrations come to a deafening and violent climax right in front of them as the group come to an abrupt stop. He peeps through a hole in the coat to see a large space craft with a legion of men dressed in black shining armor marching out in unison from a large entranceway, a blinding light masking the interior, and on a long metal ramp. The shape of the craft is aerodynamic looking that is reminiscent of a raptor style bird and looks to be made of the same metal as its passengers. The ship looks immense to the small child, larger that any structure he has ever bared eyes on, terrifying him. Equally frightening is the cold mechanized movement of the soldiers as they move in two lines on each side of the ramp, each with their large rifle-shaped weapons presented in front of them, until the front of each line reaches the end and abruptly stop in unison, about-facing each other. An even darker figure emerges from the craft and almost seems to glide towards them, a figure so dark that the small child mistakes him for a shadow as a eerie chill begins to crawl down his spine with an uncontrollable shake that is shared by his mother. It isn't until he sees the sinister looking eyes and cold blooded face beaming from this ominous presence that he realizes that it is the body of a man as he now stand directly before them, looking at his mother square in the eyes. His father runs between them and stands in a very protective stance as the man extends out his right with his palm open as if he is expecting some sort of payment, but is received with a hard a frustrated stare from his father, who quickly turns to the boy and plucks him from his mother's coat. He shoves him before the figure as an overwhelming sense of betrayal and a reinvigorated sense of fear rifle through the boy's mind, while the evil being grabs him by the shoulders, sizing him up like a piece of merchandise. His parents move a couple of feet back and stand at attention like two dogs expecting some kind of reward. The figure removes his left hand from his new purchase back into his blackened garments as to reach for something, but suddenly the child begins to convulsively shiver and resonate a low moaning sound. His parent's baited anticipation quickly charges to mortified terror as look at their child, the only movement being wet stains that appear on their clothing. Just as swiftly as it began, the moaning becomes a loud shrilling primal scream. The turncoats quickly clap their heads in agony as they wail uncontrollably and fall to their knees, while sparks fly out of the now apparently mechanical soldier, but the figure never winches once. As the eyes of the boy are covered with a bright white light, the head of his once loving parents explode into a bloody mess, as do the soldiers and space ship combust, leaving the air covered in smoke. At the center of it, the boy stands, panting in disbelief, as he raises his hands up and shockingly stares at the palms of his two hands. He looks up from them to see through the smog the dark stranger still standing in the same place where he was before. The man's begin to glow a blood red and quickly grab his palms, causing the boy to fall to his knees in unholy paralyzing pain wretches his body, as he can smell the burning of his own flesh. He looks up at the monster as he releases his left hand only to slap him diagonally across the face with the still glowing hand, as causing the now viciously scared child to fall unconscious.

Years have gone by and fate has taken the boy to many worlds where he has lead numerous identities to this very moment where Raylin sits Indian style on the damp ground as a young man deep in an alley in New Spaniel. He has been sitting here with his mentor across from him and his mind trying to get lost himself in a state of meditation, but ghost of the past won't allow him. In the reflection of a puddle, he endlessly stares lost in thought as the events of the past play out in is mind over and over again, while droplet of water drip from above, distorting the reflection as ripples move outward, but the one image it can't change is the scare across is face.

His mentor breaks his concentration and looks at him, saying, "I'm sorry."

"For what?" he answers, looking puzzled.

"I'm sorry for being so hard on you the last couple of days. I forgot what day it we were so close to," he responds.

"The day you found me barely alive after I escaped from one of the Nore's camps and took me in as your pupil as a disciple of the order of the Morphus, protector of our world," the student replies while looking slightly downward and sounding rather melancholy as he continues, "Its also the anniversary of when he took me from my world and left me with these several years before," as he displays the scares on the back of his hands and taps the one on his face.

"Yes, you have been through quite a bit up until now and that has made you very strong and I promise you that after we return to Nerubia, I will put in a good word for you to start the trials in becoming a full fledged brother. I hope this will more than make up for my harshness towards you during these delicate times," his elder apologetically explains.

"Thank you, it will be an honor, showing to great strength of you teachings to the rest of our order," he responds as he raises his chin as if he was at attention.

"But please tell me this, to all our great hero stood for, please tell me the cause of you recent anger since we have arrived on this world?" the older one asks.

Raylin relaxes his chin and lets out a quiet groan and responds in restrained frustration, " It is just that this is the first sign of light in the deep darkness that has entombed our very existence for so long. Finally, a new era of illumination can be ushered and the legacy of our way of life can endure at the strong hands of the wearer of those rings."

"Yes, it is an exciting time, but why so much anger during a time of great hope?" his teacher wonders.

"I can't understand why when the light that will lead us to glory can be extinguished by a whisper that we leave it in the hands of theses two neophytes," he argues as pounds his fist in the muddy puddle, splashing the water and distorting its reflecting image even more.

The elder holds back a look of anger and calmly says, "Raylin, please tell me the story of the rings."

"They were once a single ring worn by the ruler of Nurubia, our home world, who had great power and wisdom. Upon his death, his life essence was stored into it and was passed down from generation to generation until it was torn into two and a great civil war broke out. It wasn't until the great scientist known as the Enlightened Ones brought peace to our world and the rings faded into obscurity. The two later resurfaced on the hands of Morphus, which through their powers was able to defend not only our world but the galaxy as well until he was murdered by the Nore and the rings once again vanished," he recites like a school boy.

"Your skills as a scholar never cease to amaze me, my boy, but tell me the purpose of the rings," the old man inquires.

"They are meant to give the wearer true power," he replies, looking rather confused at why he is being given this sudden lesson.

His mentor smiles and shakes his head as he rises, while reassuringly tapping his pupil on his left shoulder and optimistically saying," As you get older you will learn that "true power" is a very relative term. Soon, with our constant observation and a little patience, you will truly learn the true purpose of the rings," the teacher explains.

Waiting, waiting and more waiting that is all Maureen and her mother have been doing, just idly sitting in a piece of cheap furniture for an appointment in the office of Dr. Ruiz, she should have had fifteen minutes ago and all they seem to get from the rotund lady at the desk is that the one before them has run over at leas that is the story she gives. What is really annoying is the fact she just sits there in the tiny-wheeled acrylic fabric office chair with it circumference half the size of her gigantic rectal region as rolls of cellulite droop down. Her eyes stare into space through her quarter inch thick glasses as she spews out insincere charm in to her wireless phone headset as she plays with her bleach blond hair. The rest of the people in the room seem to be mired in their own activities, staying preoccupied while they wait their turn. A little boy is sitting next to a felt navy blue cover divider wall that shoots out from the wall that is to the right of the one her desk next to and rubs with his right index figure against it, drawing a large arrow to the preoccupied receptionist and then begins to write an obscenity. The mother quickly glances over the magazine in her hands to him and dryly says," There's a "T" between the "I" and the "C", Michael." The boy looks at his work and inserts the "T" as Maureen motions to chuckle, but her mother peers down at her in disagreement and her face relaxes back to seriousness. The man sitting across from her quietly reads the New Spaniel Times with the front and back page of the periodical staring back her. While utilizing her new found enhanced eyesight and photographic memory, she quickly read both pages in entirety. She continues to read the rest the pages as he turns the pages, moving from article to article. As she reads, a disturbing feeling quickly grows in her stomach. Nowhere in any of the articles does it mention horrifying events that transpired last night. There isn't even a single line about the boy, the massive explosion or even the S.L.A.P involvement. To the uneducated civilian, one would think it was just another normal night in the city.

As the feeling of frustration and disgust subside, a rush of fatigue floods every joint in her body as she idly sits in her chair, feeling the weight of her eyes and face become infinitely heavier, the effect of her insomnia rearing its ugly head. When she feels her eyes close and her body begins to drift downward, she quickly rises from her chair and tells her mom that she is going to the facilities. She exits the room through the door behind her chair into the white walled sterile hallway with cyan low pile carpet, solid faux oak doors lining the walls and another hall running perpendicular this one on the opposing wall several feet away. As she exits, she catches a glimpse of someone turning the corner and an overwhelming tingling sensation goes riffling through her spine as she recognizes her as her white clothed doppelganger. She quickly moves to the fork and looks around the corner, but she's gone, revealing nothing but an empty hall as a sigh of disappointment quietly hums out of her mouth. To justify her efforts, she reassuringly thinks to herself," Still, the bathroom is down this one anyway," and turns to the corner. As she walks with the muffled of her feet keeping her company, she begins to hear something else faintly in her ears, but still quiet enough for her not to recognize it, her mind muting it as just a sound from one of the offices. Still, as her mind concentrates more and more on it, the noise gets more and more familiar to the sound of throaty breathing. As she continues onward, the feeling of its presence grows nearer and nearer to her. Closer and closer the sound resonates, she can hear it as if it is a mere step away. Soon, it becomes so close that she literally feels the slap of the air from the owners lungs touching her ear, hearing the evil intentions hidden inside each inhale and exhale. The sheer terror forces her to violently turn around to reveal thin air. She looks forward again to reveal the white plastic icon feminine on the door at the end of the hall. Shaking her head back into reality, she continues into the bathroom.

She enters the surprisingly large bathroom with the walls, floors and ceilings covered by dark gray faux marble. On the far end, there is the usual line of matching gray enclosed toilets. She moves to one of three sinks that are directly in front of her mounted on the wall with a large mirror behind them. She turns on the cold water as she stares at the reflection as the water cascades into the sink, slightly appalled her haggard appearance. She bowels the water into with her hand together in a cup as she leans forward, splashing herself in the face with it. Shockingly, when her wet face looks up, her reflection is gone. Replacing it, a small girl stands with a stone cold piecing stare that gazes back at her, looking ghoulishly pale with an undeniably rage that fumes, wearing a faded flowery pink and long tattered blond hear drooping down to her shoulders. The sudden shock of her appearance causes Maureen to try and step back, but she realizes she can't move her legs. Like a bug trapped in a web, she tried to move the rest of her body, but falls under the grim realization that she is the one encased in glass and mounted on the wall. Suddenly, the heavy breathing starts up again in force, saturating the air. The tiny girl cringes in utter pain as the sound reverberates in both their ears. In a fit of psychopathic rage, the child veraciously pounds her arms into to the mirror, slicing all sorts deep cuts on her arms that is now encasing her elder as the noise continues. Maureen releases shrilling screams as she pleads her to stop, but her cries can't be heard over the sound of the child's rage. The younger one begins to throw her whole body into the glass until it finally shatters.

Maureen flinches to find to her third dimension has returned, but the mirror is still shattered. As the feeling of guilt comes over her, she bends over to pick up of the larger shards of mirror. As she gazes into the piece of glass, she sees the reflection of the masked boy in red staring back at her. She feels the sudden shock of someone touching her from behind and jumps up as she hears her mother's voice saying," Maureen, Maureen honey, are you okay?" A confused look grows on her face as she notices that there is nothing in her hand. Even more surprising, she looks up to see that the mirror is still on the wall completely in tact. Her look of shock is replaced by an exhaustive dejected one of defeat as she inhales while sulking. "I'm fine," she answers in a melancholy tone.

"What were you doing hear for so long? You've been in here for over twenty minutes. Are you sure you are all right?" she asks her once again as the all too familiar sense of paranoia begins fill her voice.

The urge to confide in her mother begins to fill her mind as she tries to find some kind of solace from her most recent delusion. Although, the sense of angst in her voice gives Maureen reason to believe that the revelation of her daughter losing her grip on reality may make matters worse. So, her usual superficial cheerful smile reappears on her face and turns to her as she says," I 'm fine, really. Just had a greater, um, urge than I thought," and then silently groans to herself at the lameness of her excuse.

"Okay well, Dr. Ruiz has been waiting on us and I think the rest of the waiting room might string us by our heels if we make them wait any longer," she answers still sounding up tight. Her daughter nods back as the two exits.

"You know, I've always wondered if a person stayed down here long enough, one would have no idea what normal is," a skinny middle aged executive in a gray business suite that is covered by a white lab coat with S.L.A.P Corp. logo on its upper left breast. He is near the front of a crowd other high ranked executives, who are walking down a long wide steel clad hallway that looks like a prison block except these cells don't have bars, but a transparent wall of violet energy. At the front of the group, Gerald Walker proudly struts as they take a tour of their research department. In each cell lined against the walls are nine tube shaped containers mounted against the three opposing walls. In the tubes, stand being ranging from a huge assortment of diversity of physical appearance. Most of them look to be in their teens and mid-twenties with some that look even younger mixed in. Some look like average people and don't look much different than their visitors, but others look very much different, looking like very bestial as if they were found in the wild. Their body parts range from fur and claws to scales and pointy teeth, running many different varieties in between. Others seem to have taken forms that are so deformed and mutated that they don't seem to have come from this world at all. Despite their differences they all are wearing orange one-piece skintight outfits with numbers on their upper left chests and headbands that glow a bright neon blue color. All of these specimens in this bizarre menagerie are all standing motionlessly in these tubes with their eyes open, eerily staring into space.

"Beautiful aren't they?" Walker proudly proclaims as the others agree, collectively shaking their head like a group of trained seals, as their boss continues, "Of course they are, like any good father, I take pride in my children."

A voice from the his flock nervously says, "They are the spitting image of you," as he looks at a specimen who's upper torso looks like the backside of a normal person.

His employer arrogantly answers, "You think too narrow mindedly. Those fools who procreated them into this world didn't make them into what they are, but my lab experiments and I that has made them into what you see before you. For the last thirty years since the eventful breakthrough and further experimentations over the years, my special family has grown exponentially."

"The "breakthrough" you are referring to was the radiation leak incident that infected out half the city that many years ago," another peon asks.

"Correct, the term "incident" is used purely based on perspective. Do people refer the to the finding of penicillin as an "incident"?" he retorts firmly.

"So, the parents just willingly gave up their children to us," another nervously wonders.
He pays no attention to the question until he comes to a stop at a cell at end of the hall on the left hand side and begins to stare at the creature in the back of it, looking like a cross between a small bear and a large wolf with brown fur, razor sharp claws and fangs sticking out of both sides of it mouth.

"Of course they did. Fear is a powerful agent, my friend," he responds as he devilishly chuckles, "One way or another, you can get any person to do whatever you want them to do and it can be as simple as telling them that their darling little baby will grow up to rip them into itty bitty pieces of not properly taken care of by our special facility."

Suddenly, he feels something poke him sharply in the back. The sudden sensation causes him to exhale a smirk as he chuckles, "Mrs. Zefler, how wonderful for you to reveal your hidden intentions on this beautiful morning."

A rather plump looking middle aged brunet woman dressed in a white blouse with a blue vest and matching dress spastically holds a small pistol up against him as she orders in an enraged tone," Give me back my son, you son of a bitch."

His face hasn't lost an ounce of it composer or confidence as he silently continues to stare at the bestial creature.

"Answer me!" she yells in a voice that echoes the years of suffering he has put her through as she pokes again, "Where is he!?"

He laughs quietly and shakes his head as he proclaims," My poor demented dear, don't you recognize your on lineage? He stands right before us."

A look of overwhelming shock and disbelief briefly explodes on her face as she sees the horrid looking creature in the cell as she cries, "What have you done to him?"

"Nothing nature didn't intend for him," he replies in the same arrogant tone, "We just gave it a push in the right direction."

She regains some of her composer and retorts, "You mean what you carelessly did to all of us all those years ago. You sick piece of shit, how dare you make me one of your test tubes for one of your experiments!"

"Fine, call it what you like, but ask yourself: Where would our society be without so-called "careless accidents"? If it wasn't for such events, our race would be in a real dark place," he proudly replies.

Boiling over with rage, she snaps, "Just give me my son, you sick fuck!"

"Okay, have it your way," he says as he looks up and affirmatively nods to a security camera hanging from the ceiling in the corner to its right, which results in the energy field protecting the inside to disappear. The cylindrical shape holding her son splits in two and reseeds in to the wall, causing the boy to fall onto the ground into heap. His mother drops her weapon and rushes to his side, caresses him as he lays silently face forward.

"Joshua," Walker forcefully announces.

The creature looks up at him attentively, while still in his mother's arms.

"Terminate her," he orders in the same tone with a sadistic smile on his face.

A look of total confusion grows on her face as she begins to look back at him through the new reactivated energy wall. Before she can even fully turn her head, Joshua violently rises and tackles her downward, letting out a blood-curdling roar.

"Joshua, please AGHHHH!" she helpless shrieks as the creature violently and swiftly rips and shred at her flesh like a blender through all so much cabbage, blood gushing out of her lying body as the sounds of her crying and choking fade.

With a beamingly proud smile on his face as he gleefully watches the carnage while he announces, "I hope this little demonstration at our former accounting executive's expense, which I allowed to take place, clearly shows the kind of potential power that we can harness from the many of our young genomes, when accompanied by our own central nervous system controlling devices like the one our young lad is wearing. We could have compete armies of the little puppets, willing to mindless do whatever tasks we put in front of them that we put in front of them. So, any questions?"

The rest of the party doesn't give an answer as they are still mortified by the gravely disturbing scene that is still going on before them.

"Very good, the let's carry on to the next floor, where they have prepared lunch for us," he adds as he continues onward," Joshua, you can stop now."

With some of them trying not to vomit, the pale slickly group follows behind their leader out the metal electric sliding door to the right. Joshua abruptly ends the slaughter and his blood drenched fury body rises to his feet at attention, awaiting the next order.

A half empty dark purple tinted bottle of bourbon and empty shot glass sit on a bar in a low lit tavern with Joe hunched over it, staring aimlessly at it in a drunken stupor, his mind drifting off in thought. Around him, the usual liveliness and merriment of this establishment fill the air with the majority of the patrons relaxing with the drinks. To his left, people are throwing darts, while at the same time others are shooting pool on the large faux-oak tables way behind him. Despite all the activity, he sits there in complete obliviousness to all of it, trapped in a deep bobble of depression as thoughts of the past weigh heavily on his mind.

To break his silence, he utters a single name, "Jimmy."

"And here I thought you said you would stop brooding over this," a familiar voice say behind him.

Joe doesn't react with even the slightest response and keeps in the same wallowing pose.

"C'mon man, it's been two years since Jimmy died. You got to let it go before it completely tears you apart," John pleads in a low tone as he moves next to his friend and sits in the adjacent stool. The bartender motions over to him, but he shakes his head "no" before she can ask him for an order. All the while, Joe never once breaks his concentration.

"Haven't you for one second thought about Anne and Janey every time you isolate yourself like this. I mean that they need you," he once again tries to plead with a little more urgency, but still he won't budge.

Letting out a subtle sigh of frustration, as he once again finds himself helpless in breaking down the wall Joe has put around himself, he lightly purses his lips and taps his index finger on the table.

He breaks the tension by saying, "The city is really cracking down on our little mystery killer."

"Why should we care? After that incident with S.L.A.P, I thought we were quickly taken off the case," Joe finally answers still looking downward.

"Apparently not anymore, one of their executives was found mutilated in the same part of town as the recent killings, a Loni Zefler. Witnesses say she looked some animal had torn her to shreds. Get this, they also I.D'ed a kid in a weird red outfit at the scene of the crime. Anyway Walker is putting extra pressure on the department to bring down this perp, which means you and I are back on the case," he excitedly replies.

"So, I take it the chief has get every person with a badge running around like crazed rabbits around the clock," Joe adds with a slight slur as he finally turns to him.

"Damn right," he agrees, "They want you back at the precinct ASAP. Well, maybe after a couple cups of coffee at least."

"Sure, just let me pay my tab and I'll meet you there. Bartender!" he drowsily shouts as the bartender nods in acknowledgement

"Actually, I think it might be better if we went together in my car," his partner adds as he slips off the stool to his feet, but when his feet land, he nearly falls to a heap, forcing him to use the empty stool next to him to regain his balance.

Sitting up in her bed on Saturday, still looking rather pale, Maureen has recently been finding sleep less of an act of relaxation and more of constant battle to find a little solace from her unrelenting subconscious. From the looks of her, it doesn't look like she is winning with her actual hours of rest being few and far between. In her hand, she holds a silver beveled-edged frame with a picture of when she was little with a huge smile on her face, standing in outside in the sun from a time when smiles and even speaking became very difficult for her. Her parents were fortunate enough to catch one of those special moments on camera. They told her that if she ever forgot how to smile again that she could use this picture to teach herself how and make all of her sadness go away. As she grasps the artifact of her past for inspiration, she can't help but get the feeling that making a simple smile to solve her current problems would the equivalent to using a single pebble to dam a raging river. As she tries to bring it closer to her chest to concentrate harder on embracing the comfort the photo brings, the sound of clanging metal fills her ears as the ring making contact with the frame, forcing her back to reality.

She begins to rub her index finger with the thumb from her other hand as she exhales as a look of frustration builds on her face. Her mother and she have seen every know in specialist in the city that have run every test known to man on this devil's trinket and none of them can find a reason why it can't come off nor can they remove it with any device or cut it, defying all means of metallurgy. According to them, there is neither a physical reason why it shouldn't come off, as there is no trace of an adhesive holding it nor any sign of extraordinary pressure holding it in place. None of this gives her any hope that she and her recently acquired burden will be parting ways any time soon.

The knocking on her door in which she responses with a cordial "come in" breaks up her contemplation. The door opens to reveal Anne Smitherson to her surprise, but a welcome one. Besides her trips to the doctors, her mother has been strangely distant, spending more time with Jacky and divulging more into her work the last couple of days.

"Good morning," Anne says with a warm smile as she responds in kind, looking a bit embarrassed at her rough morning look.

"Your sister let us in," her guest adds. Maureen can only imagine the awkwardness of that exchange, as Jacky and her mother have customarily never been cordial to her. After a slight pause, she continues, "Well, anyway, we were worried about you and we came by to check up on you."

"We?" Maureen asks.

Anne looks down and to her right side as she nods affirmatively and takes a slight step back to her left. The small short brown haired and matching colored eyes of her daughter, Janey, rears her head in the doorway and asks quietly in a sheepish and melancholy tone, "Are you still mad at me, Moe?"

Maureen nervously lets out an uneasy smile as she remembers the bizarre events in the hospital and says as reassuringly as she can, "No, Janey, I was never mad at you. I just, uh, mistook you for someone else. That's all."

"Okay," the small child responds in the same tone.

"Janey, honey, why don't you go watch TV downstairs with Jacky," Anne asks as she turns to her host, "If that's okay?'

"I guess; it's okay," she answers.

The child look up her mother with a downhearted look as she had just given her a death sentence and slowly marches out of view to the right with her head down.

After an awkward pause, Anne asks, "So, how have you been feeling?"

Though this has been the millionth time she has heard this question, the way she said it was very refreshing to Maureen because it lacked the apprehension and angst that accompanies the way her mother says it, showing supportive concern. So, she calmly smiles and answers, "I guess you would say it's a day to day situation."

"Well if the problem persists, you and your mother could always stop by the hospital and we could run some tests," her guest offers.

Trying to resist the urge to fault her head forward, she replies, "Well, we actually already seen many of specialists."

"Oh," Anne responds and then is followed by an awkward silence, which she then continues with, "I was wondering if you or your parents would happen to know any social workers."

Taken off guard by the total randomness of the change in subject, she pauses with a confused look on her face and then answers, "Just mine from when I was real little, Rachel Langston. I think that's what her name is, but you'd better ask mom or dad how to contact her. Why ask?"

"Nothing, just curious. Sorry for asking," she apologizes and then quickly raises her left arm, twisting the back her wrist to her to look at her gold watch and putting the arm back down to her side in almost one motion. She continues in a more nervous frantic tone, "Well, we really must be going. You take care of yourself, now." She turns away to leave, but Maureen stops her by saying, "Anne," but apprehensively stops herself from saying anything further.

"Have you ever," she says, forcing the words out of herself, but once again stops out of angst and does a hard swallow, finding the courage to continue, "Have you ever felt like there was someone or something that their very presence," but hold herself yet again.

"Can turn you into someone you are not. You should," Anne finishes the sentence for her and turns around back to her but is interrupted by loud commotion from downstairs, followed by the pounding of small feet up the stairs and into the hallway. Janey quickly comes into view and clings to her mother's waste with fearful tears in her eyes as frantically tugs on her blue blouse. She tilts her head down to her as the child whispers in her ear, "Miss Jackie tried to bite me," which Maureen's newly found enhanced sense of hearing picks up. She tries not to give the impression or roll her eyes as the scene plays out in her head. Obviously, the small child got too close to her sister's precious sustenance during one of her many feeding times. She probably tried to grab for the some microwave. Her sister, not one to share, probably used one of her usual physical intimidation tactics to scar her off.

"Well, I guess we really, really have to be going," Anne chuckles as she waves goodbye with her free hand as the other one is still around her frightened daughter, "Glad you are feeling better."

Maureen smiles and waves in kind as the two exit from view. After they are gone she begins to look done once again at the picture that is still sitting face down on her waste. Before she can turn it object around again the phone rings, followed by the loud pounding of Jacky's feet downstairs. She can hear her picking up the receiver and greeting the person on the line with a "hello" that is said in the same way she says "what the hell do you want?".

She lets out a deflating sigh and yells up to her, "Maureen, it's your boyfriend!"

Maureen scoots to the left side of her bed and picks up the white receiver from her phone on the floor and says into it, "Hey, Tommy, what's up."

"What do you mean "What's up?". Bob's party is tonight! That's what's up and we're going. You forget or something!" he announces so loudly that she has to lift her left ear two inches away from the receiver.

She didn't forget. It's just that he never mentioned it to her until now. He knows very well that she doesn't like going to this kind of party, the ones hosted by rich obnoxious testosterone driven jocks. Whenever he tries to sucker her into something, he always does this routine that he acts like he has mentioned it several time before and tries to act all upset as if she forgot.

"Oh that right," she says, playing along, "No, I didn't forget. What time are we going again?"

"About eightish," he excitedly responds.

Maureen knows that he hardly gets invited to these things even though she literally gets beaten over the head with them. She figures that it's know fact at school that they are an "item".

"Well, I was just calling to see if you were feeling well enough to go," he adds.

"I'm fine. Never better," she replies, "I'll see you at the bus stop down the road at eight."

"Okay, later," he says, hanging up.

As she places the receiver back on the rest of the phone and leans back into her pillow, she grabs the picture in front of her and stares at it with a smile as the entry of the trivialness of her normal life begins to feel more soothing than usual.

Later that night, the pounding sounds of bass thunderously resonates from a very large palatial looking house with white marble framing around eight of its rectangular front windows with the ninth much larger having a dome like shape on its top, revealing a chandelier with three rows of transparent crystal, which is violently shaking in time with the throbbing beat. The owners of the house are not home except for their trustworthy son that has turned their home into a one-night only nightclub. All sorts of adolescent activity bustling on all levels of this four floor with drinking games being played in the entertainment room down in the basement as inebriated cheering can be heard from there. Walking up a large off-white plush carpeted steps with a mahogany guardrail in the foyer, a teen couple, eyeball each other with lustful intentions in their eyes. Another one fondles each other halfway up steps, pressing against each other while leaning against the rail. Further in the ground floor, the house opens up into a large room that is split into two areas with the back wall being made of glass and metal framing with sliding doors that go to the patio. The area to the left is a lavish white marbled floored kitchen with matching counter tops, cabinets and drawers. In the center of the kitchen, there is an island that has a stove taking half the counter space and on the over half Sally enthusiastically dances and sings with her slurred. Her small clique of friends on the floor also dances merrily as if the song being played was the anthem of their generation. Strangely enough, if they took the time actually pay attention to what they were singing, they would realize the lyrics are quite derogatory towards women and even go into great detail about fornicating every inch of her body. The other end acts as a living room with a stained wooden floor and a L-shaped couch that faces a sixty-three inch LCD flat screen television mounted on the wall. Over here, most are also dancing except for a few that are chatting among themselves. Maureen is sitting on the far right side of the couch with a cold can of soda in her hand next to a boy that definitely isn't Tommy with a longneck bottle of beer in his hand. He's a large muscular jock, who is filling her ear with his own verbal masturbation, going on and on about his entire athletic prowess. She silently curses her recently discovered photographic memory, forcing her to retain all of his self-gratifying rants. What really makes her feel uncomfortable is the fact that only time his eyes leave her pectoral region is to her hand when she takes a drink, which seems to have this strange almost salty after taste. Still, she sits with her usual cheerfulness and nods, her mind wondering how long it will take Tommy to get back from the bathroom. Feeling similar urge, she begins to ponder if it might be a good idea to begin her own excursion.

"Man, you should have seen us out there. It was fourth and nine and the ball was in my hands," he proudly proclaims as she politely tries to tell him of her little bodily emergency, but when she opens her mouth he cuts her off as he continues, "Yeah, I know it shouldn't be much pressure, being state rushing champion three years running."

She raises her left index finger and begins to point to the kitchen and pantomime the words "bathroom" with her mouth, but to no avail. After he gets up and reenacts one of his obnoxious touchdown celebrations, he look back to find her gone.

Maureen wanders around the house, looking for the facilities, but all of them seem occupied. As she strolls, she gets this unnerving feeling that eyes form all around are following her everywhere she goes. It get so uncomfortable that she has to walk outside under the cloak of darkness of the backyard and keeps moving until she reaches the woods. She checks behind her to see that no one is following her and continues onward far enough that she cannot be seen from the house. For extra security, she ducks behind a tree, proceeds to drop her jeans and undergarment, squats down and relieves herself. As she silently sighs with the rapid comfort it brings when a faint disorientated groan can be heard in the distance in front of her. She quickly rises to her feet, quickly pulls up and zips her all her clothing below her waste and walks towards the noise. With every step, she nostrils begins to be filled with the smell of beer and urine, that her enhance smell can tell came from multiple sources. She follows the odor and comes to a sudden stop when she hears glass breaking underneath her feet. She picks up the object and recognizes it as Tommy's glasses. As a feeling of dread comes over her, she once again hears the sound coming from four feet above her and looks up to see Tommy dangling by his feet, which are tied to a branch of a huge oak tree, completely naked. He looks as if he has been beaten to a pulp with back and blue marks all over his body, including eyes, his chest and stomach. The worst area by far is his genitals that seem more black than blue. Knowing that he is not fully aware, she floats up to him, grabs the rope a foot above his legs and snaps the rope in half with both hands. She continues to hold the rope still attached to him with her right hand and she slowly descends, carefully supporting his upper back as he lands.

When they are both grounded, she still keeps her arm on his back, places her other one on his left hip and tries to coax him awake but saying, "Tommy, Tommy?"

He groans one more time, limply shakes his head as he opens his eyes and looks up at her as he asks drunk with pain, "What are you doing here?"

"What do you mean?" she answers, trying to sound in her usual cheerful tone but overwhelming concern is too apparent.

"I figured you would be off with Brad Brodler having "the night of your life" as he called it, while he and is teammates were trying to kick my nuts into my stomach," he replies, sounding like he's in a daze.

"Tommy, don't be silly. I spent all this time looking for you, because that's why I came here and that was to be with you. I mean, that if I hadn't been looking for you; you'd still be," she pleads, but stops herself as she realizes how damaging finishing it would be to him and puts the tip of her right hand lightly over her mouth.

He slowly sits up as she continues to support him, but he grabs her by the wrist with his left hand and angrily throws her arm back at her. He tries to undo his bondages at his feet as she stands up and sheepishly takes two steps back. An awkward silence fills the air that seems like an eternity to them as she waits for a response that never come.

"I'm going back to the house and call the police. Those guys shouldn't be allowed to get away with this!" she says as she begins to turn back to the house.

He stops trying to untie the ropes and lowers his head in defeat.

"Kiss me," he finally urges to her.

"What was that?" she asks as she turns around.

"If you meant what you said and since I'm too banged up to move right now, I want you to kiss me," he says with earnest as if he is about to cry.

She slowly walks over to him, drops to her knees, places her hand behind his head as they touch nose to nose and tilts her head as she softly places her lips against his. As his tongue enter her mouth, a look of surprise fills her eyes, but they quickly relax as her own joins his as they embrace each other. As she closes her eyes to take in the overwhelming thrall of passion and wonders why she has been so apprehensive about something so wonderful, the all too familiar animalistic growl begins to fill her ears as quickly and violently as of someone had stabbed her eardrums with an ice pick. She painfully forces her eyes open as her nose is greeted by the smell of burning flesh and the sight of Tommy's once again unconscious body hunched against her head, his tongue dangling out of his mouth. Smoke rises from his hair that is standing on end, his skin ghostly pale. Overwhelmed with shock, she tries to shake him awake, but to no avail.

"Tommy?" she quietly plead with tears gushing out of her eyes as she continues to frantically shake him as she screams, "Tommy!?"
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